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Top prize for 2010’s longest product name goes to TP-Link, whose TL-WR1043ND 300Mbps Ultimate Wireless N Gigabit Router gets the Hands On treatment today. We’ve previously looked at a couple of lower spec routers in TP-Link’s networking range, namely the TD-W8950ND 150Mbps Modem Router and budget TL-WR741ND models, both of which scored highly with us offering a compelling feature set and user experience at low cost. Both of those models were compromised with limited support for the 802.11n standard. The TL-WR1043ND is said to be the daddy, however, with true 802.11n Wireless support, Gigabit wired networking and transfer speeds up to 300 Mbps. That said, this router is still eminently affordable, at $69.99/£32.00, so the extra features are not going to break the bank. But those budget routers were pretty good…. How will it measure up against its own competition? Let’s take a look and see.
Sitting at the top of TP-Link’s tree in terms of specification, the WR1043ND is a true 802.11n wireless router, with high transfer speeds of up to 300 Mbps, 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports for networking, and USB port for sharing files around the home from a USB hard drive. Like the previous models reviewed, the router includes TP-Link’s QSS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) for easy connection of devices to the network. The router can be flashed with the open source DD-WRT firmware, although this is obviously unsupported by the manufacturer. Note that the WR1043ND does not have an integrated Cable/DSL Modem, so a separate modem is required.
Features are as follows:
- Gigabit Ethernet ports enabling ultimate transfer speed
- Centrally storing and content sharing by connecting USB storage drives
- SST™ dramatically increases link robustness and stability
- CCA™ improves wireless performance while automatically avoiding channel conflicts
- Wireless N speed up to 300Mbps makes it ideal for bandwidth consuming or interruption sensitive applications like video streaming, online gaming and VoIP
- For home and office use, supports PPPoE, Dynamic IP, and static IP broadband access and various kind of dialing requirements
- Supports UPnP, DDNS, static routing, VPN pass-through, and data forwarding
- Features IP, MAC, URL filtering which flexibly controls online access and time
- Supports SPI firewall and access control management
- Supports QSS (Quick Secure Setup), provides 64/128/152-bit WEP encryption, WPA/WPA2, WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK authentication
- User interface supports free web software updates
- 3 detachable antennas (reverse SMA connector)
What’s in the Box?
The router arrives with the following components in box:
- TL-WR1043ND Wireless N Gigabit Router
- Power Adaptor
- Quick Installation Guide
- Resource CD
- 3 x Antennae
- Ethernet Cable
The design of the TL-WR1043ND is consistent with other models in TP-Link’s router range, white acrylic with a black band running around three sides, with side slats to reduce heat.
On the rear, you’ll find connectors for the three antennae, power socket, a small, recessed reset button, USB port WAN port and the four RJ-45 ports for your networked devices. It’s a common sight that, aside from the USB port (more on which later) offers few surprises – colour coding the WAN and Network ports is a nice touch, however, to help ensure the correct ports are connected during the install. With all three antennae fitted, the TL-WR1043ND looks a little cumbersome – as a budget device, you won’t find integrated antennae here, but once the router is tucked away, it’s reasonably unobtrusive
We’ve been impressed with TP-Link’s ease of installation on all of the routers we’ve reviewed recently, and the TL-WR1043ND continues that trend, with a step by step wizard which guides you from opening the box through to completion. The initial configuration of the router is completed on a PC directly connected to the router via an Ethernet cable. The wizard will help you connect the router to your modem, set up an SSID and wireless security (full support for WPA2-PSK is available for the strongest wireless security) and once configured, a text file is saved to your desktop with a reminder of your settings. Follow the wizard step by step and you’ll be up and running in less than five minutes.