TP-Link TD-W8980 N600 modem-router

This dual-band ADSL2+ modem-router is reliable and inexpensive

  • Review
  • Specs
  • Images
  • User Reviews
  • Buy Now
TP-Link TD-W8980 N600 modem-router
  • TP-Link TD-W8980 N600 modem-router
  • TP-Link TD-W8980 N600 modem-router
  • TP-Link TD-W8980 N600 modem-router
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Dual-band
  • Reliable overall performance
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • External antennas can be cumbersome
  • Media streaming didn't work off attached hard drive

Bottom Line

There's not much to dislike about the TP-Link TD-W8980 modem-router. It wasn't the fastest performer in our tests, but was dependable. The only feature we didn't have much luck with was the built-in media server for the USB drive. Apart from that, this inexpensive piece of kit barely gave us any grief at all.

Would you buy this?

TP-Link's TD-W8980 N600 is an ADSL2+ modem-router that's fit to the run the Internet distribution needs of a fairly typical home network. It supports 300 megabits per second (Mbps) 802.11n wireless connections, and its Ethernet ports are of the Gigabit variety. We found it to be a reliable performer during our extended test period, and it was also very easy to set-up and use. Not bad traits at all for a model that's also inexpensive.

Need an 802.11ac router instead? We've also reviewed the TP-Link Archer D7 wireless ADSL2+ modem router.

Physically, the TP-Link has a piano black finish that looks sleek and modern thanks to some slight curves. There are three antennas at the rear, and this is the only part of the router that's a little old-fashioned. We're used to seeing more routers with internal antennas these days; the external ones are a little cumbersome to manage, but they do the job. We had no problems streaming video across a 10m area from the router to our smart TV. The router distributed the videos on our server PC without any fuss whatsoever.

It's a dual-band router, too, which means you can separate traffic in order to keep things running optimally. You could use the 2.4GHz network to distribute videos to your TV, and then use the 5GHz network for your laptops and computers in order to facilitate faster file transfers without impacting the streaming performance to the TV. Now we should mention that the wireless performance we saw from this router wasn't blazing fast by any means, but it was still quick, and very reliable. We didn't experience any slow-downs or drop-outs at all while streaming video or conducting wireless file transfers.

We tested its wireless performance with our usual Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6300- based notebook, transferring files to it from a wired (Gigabit Ethernet) PC over short distance (2m) and a mid-range distance (10m). When using the 2.4GHz network, the short-range test averaged a speed of 9.79 megabytes per second (MBps), while the mid-range test lost a little speed across the extra distance and averaged 8.19MBps. This is actually very good 2.4GHz performance that's faster than a couple of other wireless routers that we've seen in recent times, such as iiNet's Budii and the ASUS DSL-N55U, even Belkin's AC1200 wasn't as fast. More high-end modem-routers such as WD's My Net Central N900 and D-Link's DSL-2890AL managed to transfer a few more megabytes per second in the same 2.4GHz test.

In the 5GHz Wi-Fi test, the TP-Link N600 improved only slightly on its 2.4GHz showing. It recorded 11.69MBps in the short-range transfer and 9.41MBps in the mid-range test. High-end routers like the previously-mentioned WD and D-Link averaged in the early 20's and high teens in these short- and mid-range transfers, respectively. The ASUS also got faster results from both distances at 5GHz, and the iiNet Budii was faster in the mid-range test.

Basically, the TP-Link N600 isn't the fastest performer when it comes to dual-band networking, but we can vouch for it being a consistent performer, and we found it suitable for a typical home environment in which there are a couple of wireless computers, a couple more mobile devices and a smart TV. Furthermore, the ADSL2+ performance was as fast as we expected out of our iiNet connection (it reached 16.5 megabits per second), and we only had to restart the unit once during our evaluation period — there was a day when we noticed unusually slow download rates. Apart from that one little blemish, we didn't ever have to think about our connection.

There is a USB port on the rear of the N600 that can be used to share a printer or to distribute the contents of a mobile or desktop USB drive, but the media serving capability for it didn’t work during our tests. We couldn't see this drive when attempting to access it from our smart TV. The drive can be accessed from a computer by typing the router's address into the Windows Run command, and you can create shortcuts to the folders on the drive that you want to regularly access. File transfer performance when copying files off the drive to a wireless laptop was in the vicinity of 5Mbps.

The router has an FTP function and also support for dynamic DNS (dyndns and no-ip). So while it might not have the cloud features of some other routers on the market, such as the ASUS router, for example, you can access local files remotely if you know how to set it all up. Other features include QoS, parental features (time-based usage and URL filtering), port-forwarding facilities and UPnP.

The TP-Link N600 (TD-W8980) has a recommended retail price of $129, but it can be found for around $110 from many online stores (before delivery charges are factored in). We think it's a good model to consider if you're on a budget and want modem and router capabilities from the same piece of kit. We found it to be a reliable performer and, while it wasn't blazingly fast, it still managed to run our home network smoothly.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Read more on these topics: Networking, ADSL2+ router, TP-Link
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?