One network - one password: create OneMesh network from TP-Link Archer A7 router and TP-Link RE300 signal amplifier

If your Wi-Fi router does not cope with the coverage of the entire apartment (home, office), you have several options

solutions to the problem. You can install a second router by connecting it to the first in access point mode, or purchase a Mesh system (for example, Deco M5) and organize a “seamless” network of several access points. But in the first version, your smartphone or tablet will have to connect to one or another access point, while losing the connection for a while, which is not good when watching a video or listening to music online. The second option, of course, is as convenient as possible - one SSID, one password, seamless switching between signal sources. But this is an expensive solution, besides it will be redundant if Wi-Fi coverage is not enough for just one room or kitchen. For such cases, there is another option, which we will consider below - using a signal amplifier paired with a router and creating a WI-Fi mesh network on their basis. You may not even have to change your router to a new one; all you need is to update the firmware and purchase an amplifier.

TP-Link provided editions for this review. gg gigabit dual band wifi routerArcher A7, for which a firmware update with support for OneMesh technology is available, and the new Wi-Fi signal amplifier - TP-Link RE300, which initially supports this technology. To get started - a brief introduction to these devices:

TP-Link Archer A7

This is a relatively inexpensive model from the line.Archer is a wireless router for an apartment or a small house / office with a total Wi-Fi connection bandwidth of up to 1.75 Gbit / s (1300 Mbit / s and 450 Mbit / s in the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz bands, respectively).


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Externally and functionally, this is the twin brother of the model.C7, the differences are apparently in the components used. In addition to the WAN port and four LAN ports (all are Gigabit Ethernet), the router is equipped with a USB port for connecting an external data storage device. It looks gorgeous thanks to the “black mirror” of the upper part of the case and unobtrusive, but rather large and well-readable indicators that glow green in the operating mode and red if something went wrong. There is wall mount in horizontal position.


Software traditional for the lineupArcher, includes almost all the standard functions and capabilities of routers (DHCP, VPN, DDNS, NAT, QOS, administration tools, statistics, parental controls, etc.), as well as the Smart Connect function, which allows client devices to automatically connect to the range (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz), in which the data exchange speed is higher and the connection is more stable. There is no built-in antivirus here, but there is a firewall and protection against DOS attacks. The drive connected to the USB port can be opened for general access, and also used for downloads without a computer, including on a schedule (for example, at night or during business hours when the owners are not at home). It supports local and remote control of the main functions of the router using the TP-Link Tether application for Android and iOS.


In general, this is a fairly productive router,deprived of some additional hardware and software features like MU-MIMO, not particularly in demand by most home users. Its cost in Ukraine is about 2500 hryvnias with a two-year warranty from the manufacturer.

TP-Link RE300

This Wi-Fi signal booster is designed asthe most simple to configure and use device for expanding the coverage of a wireless network (by the way, in the original it is referred to not as an amplifier, but as an “extender” - Range Extender, hence the “RE” in the name).


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It is also dual-band and supports standardIEEE802.11ac, but its throughput is lower than that of the A7 - 300 Mbit / s in the lower range and 867 Mbit / s in the upper one. Structurally, the extender is made integral with the power supply and plug for connecting to the mains. To turn it on, you just need to plug it into a power outlet. This design is convenient due to the absence of wires, but the amplifier is quite heavy and when installed in a simple universal socket it does not hold well in it. It is better to plug it into a deep euro-outlet (with protrusions and grounding contacts inside, as in the header photo).

The indicators on the device display the status of work(flashing - loading, constantly on - working), the presence / absence of a sufficient level of the received signal and the status (on / off) of the wireless network in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands (here we mean connecting the amplifier to the router, and not client devices to the amplifier). Wired connection is not provided. There are only two buttons - quick WPS connection and reset.


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The price of RE300 in Ukraine is about 1000 hryvnia with the same two-year official guarantee.

Creating a OneMesh Network

List of TP-Link Devices That Have Already Receivedor will soon receive OneMesh compatibility, can be found on the TP-Link website. So far, only Archer C7 and A7 routers, as well as Archer MR600, have such an opportunity. If you have one of them, but in the web interface of the router in the “Network Diagram” section there are no elements marked in the screenshot below, you need to find the item “Firmware Update” in the advanced settings and update it, if possible. In our test instance, the firmware was updated to version 1.0.11 Build 20190810 rel.50990, after which the corresponding settings appeared in the interface:


Installation of the amplifier is as simple as possible: plug into the outlet (the router should already be turned on and configured), wait for the download to finish and look at the indicator of the received signal. If it glows white - the signal is good, you can continue to configure, if red - you need to move the device closer to the signal source. It’s easiest to connect the amplifier to the router using WPS: we press the WPS button on the router so that the indicator lights up, then we do the same on the amplifier. If you need more control, you can use the Tether application on your smartphone or the web-based interface on a computer that has a Wi-Fi adapter. The following shows the amplifier setup process in an Android app.


By the way, using the application you can more accuratelychoose a place to install the amplifier so that it can send data to a computer or smartphone at a far point in the room at about the same speed that it receives them from the router. By placing the amplifier too close to or too far from the router, we reduce the connection speed. Within the two-room apartment, I could not position the amplifier “too far”. It’s better to look for a place for the amplifier by connecting it to the extension cord, because each load of it when plugged in takes up to two minutes.


After successful connection on the amplifier shouldall indicators light up. If the Smart Connect option is enabled in the router settings, then the user will see one access point, and switching between physical transceivers will occur automatically.

For guest networks included afteramplifier settings, OneMesh and Smart Connect functions do not work, these networks are not combined into one virtual network and are not amplified by the connected extender. If there is a need to expand the guest network, this can be done, but only by sacrificing one of the main ones. To do this, you will have to disconnect the amplifier from OneMesh and attach one of the guest networks to it. But it would be more correct to use a separate amplifier for them.

Range Test

This test took place at my workplace in the samethe office where the Deco M5 mesh system was tested. Naturally, I did not expect that the 5 GHz network could reach the far corners of the office measuring 35x17 meters (almost 600 square meters) with a large number of internal walls, but the signal in the 2.4 GHz band was received everywhere. First, I walked around the office and took screenshots from the Wi-Fi Analyzer, then slowly walked again, turning on Youtube video with a resolution of 1080p on my smartphone - the video everywhere played without delay. True, when rewinding the video back and forth in the far rooms there were pauses for buffering up to 10 seconds, but without an amplifier there was no way to connect to the network at all.

Speed ​​test

I conducted this test at home. My home computer, it just so happens, connects to a router connected to the gigabit network of the Lanet provider using a Wi-Fi adapter without support for IEEE802.11a / ac (only b / g / n). Therefore, a smartphone was used to test the 5 GHz band, and both devices for 2.4 GHz. Incoming connection - gigabit (Lanet). A computer and a smartphone were 5 meters from the router through one internal wall. Just here the border of reliable reception for the 5 GHz network passes, and the smartphone often switches to the 2.4 GHz band. Installing an amplifier between the router and the workstation was supposed to correct the situation.

The test was carried out by measuring speedInternet connections using the website Speedtest.net on a PC and the application of the same name on a smartphone. An amplifier was installed between the workstation and the router at a distance of about a meter from client devices. The absolute numbers are not so important, the main thing was to see the effect of installing an amplifier.

At first I conducted a series of 5 measurements without amplifierto get a reference point.

1.1. Smartphone, 5 GHz:


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The connection is unstable, the average speed is 28 MB / s “down” and 25 MB / s “up”.

1.2. Smartphone, 2.4 GHz:


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Stable compound, very close results. In principle, an amplifier is not really needed here. The average download and upload speeds were 47 and 44 Mbit / s, respectively - about 1.7 times higher than at 5 GHz. .

1.3. PC, 2.4 GHz:


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Stable, but for some reason asymmetric results in the region of 19 MB / s for downloading and 45 MB / s for unloading.

Turn on the amplifier:

2.1. Smartphone, 5GHz:


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A completely different matter! Average 57/38 MB / s and quite stable results.

2.2. Smartphone, 2.4 GHz:


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And here is a surprise - the connection speed is slightly lower,than without an amplifier (average 41/42 MB / s). The reason is on the surface: the amplifier and the client are close to the router, and delays in relaying the signal reduce the speed more than its attenuation (not as fast as in the 5 GHz band) at such a distance from the client.

2.3. PC, 2.4 GHz:


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And here the amplifier really helped - speeddownloads caught up with download speeds (45 and 43 Mb / s on average). Apparently, the reception sensitivity of a cheap USB adapter is lower than that of a smartphone. It is worth looking for a replacement or just throw it away and connect the computer to the router with a cable.

This test confirmed the obvious, in principle, things:

  1. for small rooms it makes sense to amplify only a fast decaying signal in the 5 GHz band;
  2. on a Wi-Fi adapter for a PC is better not to save.

By the way, the RE300 has a bandwidthWi-Fi is one and a half times lower than that of Archer A7, did not affect the result. This is just the best combination, because when the amplifier is removed from the router, the data exchange speed between them decreases (the maximum speed next to the router was within 90 Mb / s), and no amplifier can transfer data to client devices faster than it receives from the router .

What if without OneMesh?

The question is not idle - the fact is that the networkOneMesh is not all RE300 features available. For example, you cannot disable one of the ranges only on the amplifier, because all Wi-Fi settings in the amplifier are synchronized with the settings of the router. And only on an amplifier that is not connected to the OneMesh network, you can turn on high-speed mode, which can work in two versions:


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I tried both options on a smartphone with the samethe location of the devices, as in previous tests, making sure that he accurately connected to the RE300, and not to the router. The results were not impressive, perhaps this mode could manifest itself in some other conditions.

3.1. Option 2.4G -> 5G:


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3.2. 5G Option -> 2.4G:


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Here, the last time is frozen (the uppertable) is clearly out of line, it seems that there was some kind of sudden hindrance. The next few attempts were even worse, so be it. For this option, the location of the amplifier was clearly not optimal, so I moved it closer to the router and repeated the test.

3.3 Option 5G -> 2.4G, amplifier at a distance of 1.5 m from the router:


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It is faster and more stable.

As you can see, the effect of high-speed modeminimal, no + 100% here and does not smell. Again, perhaps I chose a bad configuration for testing. But in any case, to use this mode you have to sacrifice the convenience of OneMesh and compatibility with older devices in the first inclusion option.

In theory, RE300 can amplify signals from two different routers. And even practically - I managed to set up such a combination with the test Archer A7 and my home Tenda.


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It is clear that if at least one of them does notSince it supports OneMesh, it will not be possible to merge them into a continuous network. What if both support? For lack of a second compatible router, I could not answer this question.

In the dry residue

Building a mesh network based on a router and amplifierSignal is a good idea. This is more profitable than buying a full-fledged mesh-system, especially when the area by which you need to expand the network coverage is not very large. Although nothing prevents connecting several signal amplifiers to the router. For large rooms, 2.4G coverage with the addition of one RE300 is almost doubled; for small rooms, the use of an extender makes sense if you want to have a high-speed 5G connection throughout the apartment, and not just within 5 meters of the router. The cost of the RE300 signal amplifier, in principle, is comparable to the cost of a full-fledged router with the same Wi-Fi bandwidth (for example, Archer A5), but connection without interruptions when moving around the house, ease of setup and lack of wires play in favor of RE300. For which we give this useful device our editorial award “we recommend”.

3 reasons to buy TP-Link RE300 for building a mesh network:

  • You do not want to configure the connection of your devices to several access points and annoying disconnections and pauses when switching between them;
  • The relatively small area of ​​the room makes the acquisition of a finished mesh-system unjustified;
  • You already have a TP-Link router that supports OneMesh technology.

2 reasons not to buy TP-Link RE300:

  • The area of ​​your premises exceeds 400 square meters;
  • Between the rooms that you want to cover with a mesh network, there is an obstacle that greatly dampens the Wi-Fi signal, and you need a wired connection between the amplifier and the router.

TP-Link RE300 Signal Amplifier Specifications

Dimensions

124x69x52 mm

Antennas
Embedded

Nutrition
220 V AC

Energy consumption
7.3 W (max.)

Wireless Standards
IEEE 802.11ac / n / a 5 GHz, IEEE 802.11b / g / n 2.4 GHz

Transfer speed
5 GHz: up to 768 Mbps
2.4 GHz: up to 300 Mbps

Wireless security
Encryption Modes: 64/128-bit WEP, WPA / WPA2, WPA-PSK / WPA2-PSK

Transmitter power
<17 dBm (2.4 GHz)
<17 dBm (5 GHz)

Wireless Features
Wireless Broadcast Statistics
Simultaneous Wi-Fi amplification at 2.4 GHz / 5 GHz
Access control
LED control
Domain Name Login

Amplifier Wi-Fi network TP-Link RE300

A simple solution that improves home network coverage

Wi-Fi Home Devicesbecoming more and more, they are needed today not only in the office, but also in the kitchen, in the living room and even in the children's room. Easy to configure and connect, and an inexpensive device - TP-Link RE300 amplifier will enhance the signal of your home network and significantly improve Internet access throughout the house.

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