Optimal speed router: Zyxel Keenetiс Giga III vs TP-Link Archer C7

    Well you are a programmer, which router to buy home? This is a common question that is constantly asked to any person in the slightest degree connected with IT. Moreover, all the explanations about ranges, channels, etc. are reduced to the original question - this is, let's be simpler, which one to buy, so that it can be fast and taken everywhere.

    In fact, the task is much more interesting than it seems. In most cases, a spherical user needs a machine that he will set up once in his life, she will easily “finish off” to the far room and satisfy him with gradually increasing needs of 5 years. The funny thing is that most router reviews do not answer these questions and come from some other, I would say, alternative logic. Look, here we tested the speed of 4 threads on our steep test bench with a router, which was located at a distance of 3 meters from the computer. Cool! And what about updates, what is stability, what is the same speed when transmitting over long distances? Silence.

    Therefore, we decided to write this post just to facilitate the search for those who need other, especially consumer characteristics. Well, send it as a link in response to a question from the introduction.

    Part one, theoretical

    (Mentor tone): we all know that a modern router should work in two bands. 2.4 and 5 GHz. This is not even discussed. At the same time, it is advisable to take the router only from 802.11ac, since 802.11n at 5 GHz does not help much in conditions of several rooms, because the signal in this band attenuates and weakens due to any obstacle. Thanks to 802.11ac, due to the initially higher theoretical speed achieved by using a whole bunch of new algorithms, an acceptable real speed can be achieved even with strong attenuation.

    In addition to the standards on the box, as a rule, it is also written the designation of the type N600, AC1200, AC1750 and so on. This is the maximum speed at which the router’s wireless network can operate. However, it turns out cleverly - due to the summation of the maximum connection speeds in different ranges. For example, the previous generation router designated as N600 has a 2T2R scheme and supports connecting two spatial streams of clients in the 2.4 GHz band at 300 Mbps (150 + 150) plus up to 300 Mbps in 5 GHz. Total 600 Mbit / s. The AC1750 router typically has three streams in the 2.4 GHz band (150 + 150 + 150) and three in the 5 GHz band (433 + 433 + 433). In the amount of 1750.

    The first caveat: this, of course, is not so much about the router as a router, and not even its built-in Ethernet switch. The ACxxxx formula describes only the built-in Wi-Fi access point. Where a 1750 Mbit / s router, which has only a gigabit WAN port, can be issued / pumped up, for some reason, few people think. Likewise, there are many routers on the market with the AC750 / 1200 wireless formula, but with a 100-megabit port for connecting to the Internet.

    The second architectural caveat: the speed of the ACxxxx formula cannot be summed up in any real task, because at least in real routing (read connections to the Internet), at least in switching (read transmission on the home network) it always comes up against a bottleneck. Suppose we have a gigabit router (with a gigabit WAN port and an Ethernet switch) with the AC1750 formula on a gigabit Internet connection. The maximum speed from the Internet, provided that the wireless client ideally corresponds to this formula (AC 3x3 - and you still have to search for such!), You will receive no more than 1000 Mbps, similarly in a local network. When transferring from one such wireless client to another - you can even theoretically expect only half as much as 1300 Mbit / s. And if you transfer between networks 2,

    The third disclaimer (usually already known to many Wi-Fi users): any declared Wi-Fi speeds are link speeds in one pair router (access point) - client (wireless adapter). This speed is brought to the formula we are discussing; it is shown by the adapters and routers themselves in their interfaces; however, the actual data transfer rate that can be felt in the speed test, downloading a torrent, or downloading a file will usually be less than in laboratory conditions, roughly speaking, twice as low ( for simplicity, consider that because of the overhead of protocols and unavoidable interference). If the access point has to communicate with two clients (for example, transfer from one to another), the real speed drops even twice (there is an explanation below). On the other hand, a 2x2 AC point can easily distribute 500-megabit Internet to two 2x2 AC clients,

    From here it becomes clear the right to exist models AC1200 with one hundred megabit WAN-port. Imagine the scenario for now and for the next 2-3 years: the TV pulls heavy content via Wi-Fi (say, a high-quality video stream from NAS), a backup is being simultaneously held, a couple of laptops are surfing the Internet and someone is downloading a torrent (I don’t even mention smartphones ). The Internet here is a maximum of one hundred megabits, and the rest is just about 300 Mbit / s remaining from 400 possible in AC867 5 GHz. Web surfing can also be connected via 2.4 GHz. Although, of course, having a NAS on a router with a 100-megabit switch is usually unwise.

    Ideally, it would be good for different devices to connect to the router on different threads, so as not to share the speed. However, how they will actually connect is a difficult question. Therefore, the more threads - the greater the likelihood that the device will fall on the free. The higher the speed per stream, the more likely it is that the devices will operate at sufficient speed even if they are working on the same channel. An important point: 100-150 megabits is quite enough to enter information from outside the network (say, from the provider), but they become scarce when several productive devices begin to work within the network.

    It is worth mentioning the so-called tri-band routers. Now these are devices that, in fact, have three access points: one at 2.4 GHz and two not intersecting at 5 GHz (while models with the third 60 GHz range in the 802.11ad standard have already appeared on the horizon, but this is a completely separate story, because as many users have not really experienced 5 GHz). Such a router gives an advantage if the devices between which the maximum speed is required (for example, a high-performance laptop and a computer) are connected to different 5 GHz points. But even in this case, taking into account the above, one can rely not on the promised formula “AC_to_Elimity”, but only on the maximum speed of one of them.

    However, even if you have a 3x3 adapter (as in a Macbook Pro), or even an extremely rare 4x4, remember that the classical Wi-Fi technology still provides for a clear time separation when servicing client devices: the access point transmits (or receives) the necessary portion of data is initially from one client, then from another, and so on. At the same time, it cannot transmit to two at once. All this takes time, as a result, really high-speed customers lose less speed, slow, it turns out, they spend resources of a point for good reason.

    This could not continue, and for a couple of years now we have been offered the MU-MIMO technology, which, theoretically, should just allow simultaneous transmission to several clients. However, its implementation is stalled. First, it has many limitations. For example, the maximum number of actually simultaneously serviced devices is limited to four, and simultaneous postback from clients is not supported (a critical minus for surveillance cameras and users actively distributing torrents). Secondly, in many routers where MU-MIMO was declared, it didn’t really work. And thirdly - it should be supported by the clients themselves, which are quite small (here’s the problem with 3x3)

    Thus, based on all the above, now the best choice will be a router with a gigabit port, working according to the standard 802.11ac and having a total speed of not lower than AC1200.

    Part two, practical

    Knowing the technical requirements, and armed with another criterion - a relatively low price - we can find two different models:

    Interestingly, many Western publications of TP-LINK Archer C7 are recognized as the best home router for most users. Moreover, when measuring the speed and range of a signal, it confidently bypasses many of its competitors, for example, the same Asus RT-AC68U or Netgear R6400. Moreover, Archer C7 allows you to achieve a maximum connection speed of 1750 Mbps, and Keenetic only 1200. On the other hand, Zyxel Keeneti is deservedly loved in the CIS and its firmware is perfectly adapted for the Russian market. Well, the more interesting it will be to compare both devices. So, we order and test.

    Important point: the TP-LINK Archer C7 router must be taken necessarily the second revision. The first one was somewhat buggy, did not have the Russian language in the interface and allowed connecting fewer devices to itself. Audit number can be viewed on the box.

    Zyxel Keenetic Giga III or TP-LINK Archer C7?

    In most cases, a Wi-Fi router is categorized as set, configured, and forgotten. Therefore, there are only two main requirements for it - to work quickly and stably and to “finish off” as far as possible.

    With the stability of both candidates full order - for two months of use, none of them had problems. As for the speed and range, we will now demonstrate it.

    So, the work of both routers was compared in the following conditions: we have a room in which both devices are located. Turn on and alternately test the signal level and speed on the end device. To measure the signal level, an application for Android WiFi Overview 360 is used, for measuring the speed, the iPerf3 program in server mode running on a computer connected by wire to a router via a gigabit port. And it is also in client mode, running on a laptop with a dual-band Wi-Fi adapter.

    The measurement is carried out at three points: directly in the room with the router, in the room located around the corner through two main walls (a very difficult task for any router) and in the room located at the end of the corridor 30 meters long.

    In each of the three cases, we measure the speed on both bands (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz).
    So, three measurements of the signal level: in a room with a router, behind two concrete walls and at the end of the corridor.

    In the same room with a router, when measured at the opposite end, we see that the signal level in the 5 GHz network is almost the same, but in the 2.4 GHz band the TP-Link router will be more powerful.

    Measured through two main walls and at the end of a long corridor:

    In both cases, we see that the 2.4 GHz band is better for TP-Link, and in the 5 GHz band - for Zyxel. In theory, 5 GHz is more important to us - in this range, the data transfer rate is higher. However, let's see how things are in practice.

    Measurements again, now there are speeds in three positions in each of the ranges of the network. First we connect the laptop directly with a wire and check the data transfer rate. We get 901 megabits from the kinetics and 902 from TP-link. As they say, close to the gigabit ceiling channel. Ok, now we start the measurements at the desired points.

    No difference at all. The numbers are so close that their difference can be written within the limits of error. And, please note, the difference in the signal level, which we saw in the pictures above, has virtually no effect on the data transfer rate.

    Of course, the laptop is partly to blame - it does not know how to work on three spatial streams, like, say, Macbook Pro. If he could do this, it is quite possible that TP-Link would show a higher speed (after all, AC1750 versus AC1200 in Zyxel). However, we have quite an average AC chip operating at medium settings.

    Theoretically, we can achieve a situation by going to where the 2.4-network signal kinetics disappears completely, and TP-Link will still barely glow. In practice, it will be uncomfortable to use the network in this place.

    And if there is not much difference, then how to choose?

    As I said above, if you have several top 2016 laptops in your home that simultaneously pump a large amount of traffic through you, you may notice a difference in the performance of both routers. In practice, the next 2-3 years is unlikely. Therefore, the router should be selected on the basis of secondary features, such as user-friendly interface and additional features.

    So, the interface, ease of configuration and additional features. Here he confidently holds the palm Keenetic. Firstly, he has Russified everything, including the inscriptions on the ports at the back. Secondly, its interface is more convenient and allows everything to be set up quite finely. Compare:


    To be fair, I must say that you can install an alternative firmware on TP-link, which allows you to significantly extend the functionality. However, it is unlikely that most users will do this.

    And third, when starting up, Keenetic immediately offers to set a password for access to the router and immediately checks for new firmware versions (which, by the way, come out often). In TP-Link, in order to change the password, you need to know where to go. Well, changing the firmware requires you to go to the manufacturer’s website, find the firmware from the router of the desired revision, download it, then order the router to upgrade to it. In other words, most users will never do this. For this, Tp-Link gets a fat minus on security - no one has canceled holes in the firmware.

    network storage

    Modern routers are powerful enough to turn them into an analogue of NAS - network storage, which can be used by the whole family and all network devices in the house. Those. you can store movies, music and common documents there without taking up precious space on the hard drives of personal devices. There you can also “dump” backup copies of important files, which are usually much more valuable than the devices themselves. Of course, it is better to buy a specialized device, if you do not have an external hard drive.

    So, modern routers allow you to connect an external hard drive to them and provide round-the-clock access to files. Yes, this is such an entry-level NAS, but it copes with simple tasks and allows the user to understand if he really needs it. I’ll say right away what is needed (backup above all!), However, many need to make sure of it on their own experience.

    Both considered routers allow you to connect an external drive via USB. However, unlike Tp-Link, Keenetic has USB 3.0 on board that provides high write / read speeds.

    We compare these indicators in practice:

    As you can see, thanks to USB 3.0, we have a five-fold increase in reading speed for Keenetic. The write speed is not so different. An important point: when measuring, a very mediocre Silicon Power hard drive was used (an attempt to imitate an average user screw), which, frankly, does not shine with high-speed characteristics. The use of more “thoroughbred” media accelerates reading speeds up to 80 megabits. It was decided to leave the schedule in such a way as to illustrate the difference in speed even on mediocre gland.

    Plus, Keenetic has a software module that allows you to download torrents autonomously. Those. You give him a command to download, and he himself writes the file on the connected hard drive. Another plus in favor of the kinetics.

    Another caveat: the work of USB 3.0 can adversely affect the data transmission in the 2.4 GHz band. Many manufacturers even have a special tick in the interface - disable USB 3.0. However, I didn’t notice any interference when working with kinetics.


    Based on the above, TP-LINK Archer C7 is the best combination of price / functionality that I have met (especially among the routers in the AC1750 standard, we remember that there are few streams) and it’s not for nothing that the Western press likes it.

    Keenetic Giga III is a little better. Moreover, this “better” is achieved due to additional functions, which include both the above and excellent work with printers' zoo, security with Yandex.DNS or SkyDNS, connecting DECT handsets, or gaining access to internal resources on gray. ”Through domains of the fourth level. True, the question remains - whether the owner will use all of this?

    If to retell it in other words, then TP-LINK is such a router that once set up and forgot about it for many years. He has such a philosophy of use. But Keenetiс, and this is evident, was done in order to work with him more often. Therefore, each of us is free to choose what suits him best.

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