Gaming laptops are traditionally full of compromises.
TP-Link TL-WR741ND wireless router
An inexpensive TP-Link router for those wishing to upgrade to 802.11n
- Easy to set up, produced reliable performance in testing, features Wi-Fi Protected Access
- Doesn't have multiple antennas, some parts of the interface unclear, short wireless range
It may only support 802.11n Lite, but TP-Link's TL-WR741ND is a suitable upgrade for anyone still using 802.11g. It can be found for a price between $60-70 online, but if you can afford to spend a few dollars more on an full-blown 802.11n router, you'll get be rewarded with much faster throughput and a greater wireless range.
Price$ 114.95 (AUD)
TP-Link's TL-WR741ND is a wireless router that supports 802.11b/g/n wireless networking, 10/100 wired networking, and it can be used distribute either an ADSL2+ or BigPond cable Internet connection. It's a small unit and it has only one antenna, but it outputs reasonable performance and distance when used in an apartment or small office.
The TL-WR741ND wireless router is not a full-blown 802.11n router, instead it features the 802.11n Lite specification and a single antenna. This limits the router to a maximum theoretical throughput of 150 megabits per second (Mbps), whereas a regular 802.11n wireless router has a theoretical maximum of 300Mbps. While it won't give you the full speed of 802.11n, it will still give you much better throughput than an 802.11g router, and it's still a suitable router for distributing a fast Internet connection and streaming video.
This router is designed to be a simple 802.11n solution for users who just want a wireless network that will be reliable and easy to set up. To this end we can vouch for its ease of use, and to a certain extent its reliability. It supplied reasonable performance in our wireless transfer tests to 802.11n clients, averaging speed up to 3.84 megabytes per second (MBps) in a typical home environment. This is approximately half the speed of a regular 802.11n wireless router (such as the Belkin N+ Wireless Storage Router, for example). We attained the same speeds from a close distance of 2 metres away from the router as we did from a 10 metre distance, but the speed and reliability will vary depending on your own environment. It supplied a usable signal up to 15m away, which is a shorter range than the 30 metres that a router with multiple antennas can reach.
Setting up the TL-WR741ND wireless router is a easy task. Simply attach the single antenna, plug in your modem (if you are using a modem that is part of a router, you will need to set the modem to bridged mode), switch on the router and log in to its Web interface. Next the Quick Setup portion of the interface gives you the option to let the router auto-detect your Internet settings, and it worked perfectly during our evaluation; all we had to do was enter our username and password details. The Quick Setup is true to its name as the next step lets you enable the wireless network and implement wireless security before saving your changes and rebooting the router.
Most routers display the wireless network and wireless security settings are on different pages, so having them both on the same page in the Quick Setup makes for a more efficient configuration (the TPL does display the security settings on different pages too if you venture into its advanced settings). You can only choose WPA-PSK/WPA2-PSK combined security from the Quick Setup, which is the highest level the router supports, so if you want to choose a different type of security then you have to do this from the Wireless Security portion of the interface. Note there is no need to do this unless you have older devices that don't support WPA or WPA2. You can also choose to use Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), which is marked on the front of this router as QSS (Quick Setup Secure). It worked flawlessly with our laptops running the Windows Vista OS in our tests.
With this wireless router, you don’t get niceties such as the ability to run multiple wireless networks off the same access point, nor do you get an 802.11n speed greater than 150Mbps, but it still has all the features that are expected of a wireless router designed for home or small office use. It has NAT, DHCP, a built-in firewall, VPN passthrough, and parental controls. For parents, you can configure it so that kids' PCs are only allowed to access up to eight sites that you select. You can also limit the speed of your Internet connection for the PCs on your network, and although this doesn't look easy to do, the help file in the Web interface adequately explains this feature.
Port forwarding, DMZ and port triggering are also featured. Forwarding ports on this router is simple enough to do through the Virtual Server setting. Of note, the ports cannot be clearly labelled, and all you get is an ID number, which may cause some confusion should you forward more than a handful of ports.
While it might not be the fastest wireless router on the market, the TP-Link TL-WR741ND's has good features and it's affordable. It has a recommended retail price of $114.95, but you can find it online for between $60-70. This makes it one of the most inexpensive 802.1n routers on the market, but if you want to spend a few dollars more, you can pick up the TP-Link TL-WR841ND wireless router, which supports full speed 802.11n.
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