Everything about what you see on the surface of the TP-Link AC1900 Archer C9 Smart Wireless Router would make you think it’s just another a mid-tier, run-of-the-mill consumer router that gets the job done and not much else; but oh, how wrong you’d be.
TP-Link is a brand most often associated with low-cost, mid-tier routers that are good value for money. It’s something that we’ve identified in our past reviews, and something that’s certainly travelled via ‘word-of-mouth’ in forums where such things are discussed. Now TP-Link has upped its game when it comes to performance and price bracket, with its Archer C9 wireless router hitting an 802.11ac rating of AC1900.
Video – TP-Link AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router (Archer C9)
TP-Link AC1900 Archer C9 Smart Wireless Router Features
– One of routers for wireless internet, delivers AC1900 speeds up to 1.9GBPS (600+1300 Mbps), compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older.
– Next-generation beamforming technology creates direct connections to all your devices for reliable, fast WiFi.
– 1GHz powerful dual-core processor easily handles multiple devices (laptops, tablets, phones, smart home, Alexa-enabled devices & more).
– Easily share media w/ 1x USB 3.0 and 1x 2.0 ports to easily share printers, files, and media across your network.
– Effort-free network setup w/ the TP-Link Tether App on iOS & Android.
– Environment: operating temperature: 0℃~40 ℃ (32 ℉~104℉), storage temperature: -40℃~70 ℃ (-40 ℉~158℉), operating humidity: 10%~90% non-condensing, storage humidity: 5%~90% non-condensing.
– Includes industry leading 2-year warranty and FREE 24/7 technical support.
J.D. Power Ranked TP-Link Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Wireless Routers in 2017.
– Simultaneous 2.4GHz 600Mbps and 5GHz 1300Mbps connections for 1.9Gbps of total available bandwidth.
Our TP-Link AC1900 Archer C9 Smart Wireless Router Review
The TP-Link AC1900 Archer C9 Smart Wireless Router is among the cheapest AC1900 known-brand routers you can buy, undercutting the likes of the Netgear R7000, yet it wants for little when it comes to other extra features, such as USB support for sharing hard drives and printers and four gigabit Ethernet ports. So, if you want to get the up to 1,300Mbit/s wireless speeds of AC1900 but don’t want to break the bank, it’s well worth a look.
Video – TP-LINK ARCHER C9 AC1900 Wireless Router Overview
AC1900 Archer C9 Design and Features
Unlike the rather aggressive, angular styling that D-Link and Netgear have opted for on their high-end routers, TP-Link has kept things modest with the Archer C9. Its front is a smooth, curvy, glossy expanse of white with an elegant silver-painted stand propping it up from behind and three matte white aerials sticking out its top. If you’re an Apple hardware fan, then it’s the clear choice for you.
Elegant it may be but it’s not necessarily the most practical. The stand means you can’t lay the router flat or mount it on a wall. Moreover, it isn’t sure footed enough and will fairly easily tip over. For most households these will all prove to be fairly minor points as once installed you’ll leave the router alone.
Otherwise it’s a clean bill of health as the three aerials are removable, yet sturdy, and are easy to position. The lights on the front for indicating power, Wi-Fi connection, Internet connection and the like are all easy to see and tell apart – unlike the uniform rectangular lights of the Netgear R7500.
Round the back the selection of connections is nothing special but ticks all the crucial boxes, and again they’re clearly labelled. From left to right you have got the USB 2.0 port, WPS and reset button, the Ethernet socket that goes to your modem, four more gigabit Ethernet ports for the rest of your network and the power socket and switch.
On the side is a second USB port, and this time it’s USB 3.0 – ideal for sharing files on your network from a USB drive – while the one on the rear is only USB 2.0, but it’ll do for sharing printers. The main event with this router is of course its AC1900 Wi-Fi capability. That amounts to up to 600Mbit/s transfers over 2.4GHz and 1,300Mbit/s over 5GHz.
As ever you’ll only achieve the latter if you have compatible triple-antennae hardware, which is still pretty rare. Most laptops and phones don’t have it – most stop at dual-aerial arrangements – which only really leaves the option of a few PC cards or having a router-to-router setup where the speed of the AC1900 connection is used to span the gap between two remote buildings, for instance.
All that said, the triple aerial setup makes for potentially better beam forming and multi-device throughput rates, so there are still benefits for users of non-AC1900 products.
AC1900 Archer C9 Setup
Outside the basic setup dialogue, the interface is a joy to use. The network map layout of icons in the basic view is really useful and the selection of options on the left is pretty much ideal. Jump into the advanced menu and the layout again makes it really clear as to what will be where and everything is cleanly and logically presented.
TP-Link doesn’t make an app for your PC akin to Netgear Genie. Instead, the only software you should ever need to install is the USB printing tool (there are both Mac and PC versions), which you only need run when printing.
This is an approach I’m generally a fan of as it means there’s no extraneous software running in the background. Instead, if you do want a quick and easy way to administer your router without logging into the web interface you can download an app for your phone (Android or iOS). See video below for full setup tutorial.
Video – TP-Link AC1900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Modem Router (Archer D9) Setup Tutorial
AC1900 Archer C9 Software
Unlike Netgear or Linksys, TP-Link doesn’t have any special name for its router configuration dashboard – but that doesn’t make it any less special. The key features of any respectable configuration dashboard are simplicity, tweakability, and how well the interface is laid out. The TP-Link C9 hits a checkmark on each one of those boxes but doesn’t make a scene about it either.
On the surface the software is unassuming, and uncomplicated. Wireless settings, network mapping features, and parental controls are easy to find, easy to manage, and perfect for any level technology user in the house to catch on quick. The advanced settings were also plentiful however, allowing us to dive into more nerdy features like QOS management, setting up a media server, and configuring access ports for our wireless printer.
The TP-Link “Tether” app was also a welcome change with a clean, easy-to-understand interface and deep customization options if you’re logging in from the road. It’s not so intuitive that you would use it over a laptop or desktop from home, but still great if you’re on vacation but need to keep an eye on the parental controls while you’re gone.
AC1900 Archer C9 Speed & Distance Tests
The TP-Link Archer C9 is at a price point where expectations aren’t high, and a router’s performance doesn’t necessarily have to be the absolute best of the best (given how much you spent on it). You plug it in and think “should be good for streaming and gaming, and that’s enough for me”, without expecting it to blow the doors off your devices anytime soon.
With all this in mind, you can imagine our surprise when the speeds posted below started rolling in.
On the 2.4GHz network at a distance of 5ft, we were able to max out what the frequency can transmit (and then some): with 64.97Mbs download, and 96.35Mbps upload. The reliability of the 2.4GHz was a bit shoddier at 30ft, but only for uploads. Once we moved outside we actually noticed a gain in download speed at 67.18Mbps, but the upload dropped by nearly 2/3’s, to just 34.26Mbps up.
5GHz results were a whole other story entirely. When tested from a distance of 5ft, the Archer C9 shattered every record we have on the books at a blistering 289.97Mbps download, 483.37Mbps upload. Somehow the 5GHz network downloaded faster than the wired connection, blowing away our expectations and the competition’s chances all in the same breath.
At a distance of 30ft the same reliability issues that plagued the 2.4GHz tests reappeared, but the dropoff wasn’t as immediately noticeable. At 30ft, the C9 posted a download rate of 181.40Mbps download/132.40Mbps upload.
Switching over to the 5GHz spectrum bumped this figure up considerably. Again, at a distance of 5ft, our Nighthawk X6 review showed an average download speed of nearly 210Mbps, with an upload speed of 280Mbps. At a distance of 30ft this number dropped off a bit to 170Mbps down/169Mbps up, but that’s to be expected on the 5Ghz spectrum, which can suffer more significant signal loss when transmitting through walls or doors.
The C9 even trounced its closest competition, the Netgear Nighthax X6, on the wired performance front.
Video – Speed Test of TP-LINK C9 Router vs FIOS Stock Router
AC1900 Archer C9 Wired Speed Test
When plugged directly into the source, the C9 pumped out a staggering 556.59Mbps download/416.66Mbps. Just as it was with the X6, this is still a long way off from the 990Mbs down/897Mbps we get when piped directly into our fiber modem, but the router still shines bright under the fact that it’s still significantly cheaper and faster than the competition without breaking a sweat.
AC1900 Archer C9 Performance
The Archer C9 isn’t a class-leader when it comes to performance, but it still largely lives up to its AC1900 billing. At peak I measured a throughput of 47.7MB/s, which is some way behind the 70MB/s of the fastest routers out there.
However, the drop off at greater distance is much less dramatic than those same routers. While the likes of the Netgear X4 R7500 go from 81.3MB/s at 2m to 36.2MB/s at 5m, the Archer C9 drops to only 35.1MB/s at 5m. At 10m (through two brick walls) the R7500 regains its lead, delivering 28.0MB/s while the Archer C9 can only manage 14.3MB/s, but again that’s a decent pace in the grand scheme of things.
Nonetheless, on average the Archer C9 is the slowest AC1900 router I’ve tested using the 5GHz band, it’s just that most users won’t find the deficit a huge concern, and it is still an upgrade on most Wi-Fi N routers.
This applies double when it comes to 2.4GHz where the overall spread of results is much tighter. At 2m you’ll get 17.1MB/s while the fastest we’ve tested only delivers 17.8MB/s. At 5m it’s 10.4MB/s compared to 14.0MB/s while at 10m the Archer C9 will get you 7.1MB/s while the fastest we’ve tested hits 8.1MB/s.
It’s a similar story when it comes to USB performance. The Archer C9 delivered 23.46MB/s read and 13.31MB/s write from its USB 3.0 port, which is some way behind the 60MB/s the fastest routers will deliver, but it’s still pretty fast.
So, the Archer C9 can’t quite compete for the ultimate performance crown but it did manage to stay rock solid when used as my main router for a couple of weeks, which is more than can be said of some top-end routers.
Video – TP-Link Archer C9 (AC1900) – My Performance test
The TP-Link AC1900 Archer C9 Smart Wireless Router may look a little out of place when it’s shining its status light right in your face from a standing position, but that’s really easy to forget about once you see how this little box screams. The vertical design could use a re-work and there’s nothing eye-popping about the software. But for the amount you pay and the performance you get, the Archer C9 is the best router for your buck.
If you’re in the market for a top-spec, future-proofed router but don’t want to spend megabucks, the TP-Link Archer C9 is a great choice. It isn’t the fastest but it’s reliable, easy to use and sensibly priced.
TP-Link AC1900 Archer C9 Smart Wireless Router Customer Reviews
“I purchased both the TP-Link AC1750 Archer C7 & AC1900 Archer C9. Both routers are excellent, but I decided on the C9. From my experience the distance on the C9 is better than the C7. The C7 did reach every area of my house and property but I found a stronger signal on both 2.4GHz & 5GHz signals with the C9 in the same areas. The 5GHz signal on the C9 also reached further. I am in a 4000sqft house and 1/2-acre property. The C9 router reaches every inch of my house and every acre of my property. Going through 4 walls and upstairs I get 3 bars of connection in my master bathroom. My previous set up of having 2 routers on each end of my house only yield 2 bars. At the furthest end of my property line I am getting 3 bars of connection where as my previous set up could not reach beyond my patio.
Set up is a breeze. Having the router for almost 1 month I have not had to reset at all. Initially my older laptop connected but could not get an internet signal. I had to make an adjustment to the laptop’s wireless card setting. So, if anyone is having a connection problem try the following –
1. Got Network & Internet Settings
2. Go to Change Adapter Options
3. Find your wireless connection (can be wired connection too) and right click on it
4. Click on Properties
5. Look for Internet Protocol Version 4 (TCP/IPv4) and single click on it, this will highlight it and allow access to the Properties tab
6. Click Properties tab and make sure both Obtain an IP address automatically & Obtain DNS server address automatically are selected.
My DNS server address property was not selected and was set to a particular address. Once I changed it to the automatically selection I was immediately connected and have not been disconnected. The C9 is the best router I have owned followed by the C7.” …. Read More
“Upgraded my 8.0.11n router. I took my time in setting it up and was up and running in all of 10 minutes.
The web interface is easy to navigate and dig into the advanced features. It has a few things I may not use, but are very nice to know are there… usb ports for setting up a drive to share on the LAN, parental controls, ability to access files from the internet, ability to function as a media server (I already have my own set up, but this is nice), guest wifi, etc etc. Really a well featured router, and the gigabit is nice!
Ran some speedtests before and after installing this router:
laptop w/builtin wireless n : 52MBps -> 78MBps (and up to 118Mbps after installed an ac network adapter)
desktop wired : 74Mbps -> 134 Mbps
My wireless range increased as well. Router is on the 2nd floor, and computers in the basement get a much better signal than with my previous router.” …. Read More
Video – TP-LINK Archer C9 AC1900 Dual Band Wireless AC Gigabit Router Review
TP-Link AC1900 Archer C9 Smart Wireless Router Review Verdict
Overall, the TP-Link AC1900 Archer C9 Smart Wireless Router is a swift router (both in terms of close-range wireless speed, and the responsiveness of changes made to its interface), that stands tall — literally. It has a nice enough design to be used out in the open near a home entertainment unit, for example, with blue LEDs that aren’t overbearing, and we found it to be a reliable performer during our prolonged tests.
A couple of blemishes, one being its storage sharing, which was mainly accessible via FTP and DLNA devices, but not over our Windows network. For the price, though, it’s a worthy AC1900 choice. The Archer C9 doesn’t look like much but performed way outside its paygrade on every test we threw its way so well worth considering for your next router.
TP-Link AC1900 Smart Wireless Router - Beamforming Dual Band Gigabit WiFi Internet Routers for Home, High Speed, Long Range, Ideal for Gaming(Archer C9)
1 used from $ 88.11
- One of routers for wireless internet, delivers AC1900 speeds up to 1.9GBPS (600+1300 Mbps), compatible with all Wi-Fi devices, 802.11ac and older
- Next-generation beamforming technology creates direct connections to all your devices for reliable, fast WiFi
- 1GHz powerful dual-core processor easily handles multiple devices (laptops, tablets, phones, smart home, Alexa-enabled devices & more)
- Easily share media w/ 1x USB 3.0 and 1x 2.0 ports to easily share printers, files, and media across your network
- Effort-free network setup w/ the TP-Link Tether App on iOS & Android
Video – TP-Link AC1900 Wi-Fi Dual Band Gigabit Router (Archer C9) Access Point Mode Setup Tutorial