Earlier this year, Jim reviewed the TP-LINK Archer D9, an ADSL2+, 1900Mbps 802.11ac router. Recently, I’ve been testing the TP-LINK Archer VR900, which is a very similar model but for the fact that it features support for VDSL2, as well as backwards compatibility for ADSL2+, ADSL2 and ADSL.
VDSL2 stands for ‘Very-high-bit-rate digital subscriber line 2’…so you can see why it has been shortened, but what does it mean? In essence, it’s a way for telecoms providers to provide higher speeds to homes using existing copper cabling, and therefore saving money by just installing fibre optics to telecoms cabinets in the street (FTTC: Fibre to the cabinet).
Having VDSL built into a router means that there’s no need for an external modem that a fiberoptic broadband service would usually provide (for example, the VR900 took the place of my router and BT Infinity modem).
Aside from this (and a slight layout change on the back) the D9 and VR900 are identical, so if you’ve read the D9 review, I won’t be offended if you skip to the end. Otherwise, hold on tight!
What’s in the Box?
- The VR900 unit
- A pack of three antennas
- DSL splitter
- Quickstart guide and warranty information
- UK 3-pin mains adapter
- Ethernet cable (RJ-45)
- DSL phone line cable (RJ-11) (supposedly one, but the box I had contained two)
The first thing that occurred to me is that this is a big device! It dwarfs my current Almond+ and the “hidden-in-a-box” BT Home Hub routers, and that’s before you connect the 3 antennas. The abundance of features available on the VR900 comes at a price, and in this case, the tradeoff is increased size.
Aesthetically, the VR900 is quite pleasing. Although large, it’s not an ugly, boxy unit. The white plastic with rounded edges and subtle logo/activity lights means it doesn’t stick out too much. No-one has ever nominated a router for a Turner prize, but with the VR900, you won’t automatically try to hide it in a cupboard. The brushed aluminium stand feels sturdy and adds contrast.
On one side, buttons to enable/disable LEDs and Wi-Fi, plus another for WPS, can be found. On the other, a USB 2.0 port. Along the back (left to right) you’ll find a VDSL/ADSL RJ-11 port, a USB 3.0 port, a factory reset button, 4 gigabit LAN ports (with the 4th also doubling as the WAN connection port if using an external modem), a power rocker switch and a DC power connection.