TP-Link TD-W8980 N600 modem-router
This dual-band ADSL2+ modem-router is reliable and inexpensive
- Reliable overall performance
- External antennas can be cumbersome
- Media streaming didn't work off attached hard drive
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.
Price$ 129.00 (AUD)
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 Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Lexar® Portable SSD
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Huawei Mate 9
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Acer Swift 7
Google Daydream VR headset
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell XPS 13 laptop
HP Pavilion x360 13”
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Surface Pro 4
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
- 2 Finally! LG OLED TV 2016 range review
- 3 Fetch TV Mighty review: Better than Foxtel
- 4 Fetch TV Mini review: Make your TV a smart TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera DX900U UHD 4K smart TV review
Latest News Articles
- Largest DDoS attack ever delivered by botnet of hijacked IoT devices
- Hackers have a treasure trove of data with the Yahoo breach
- FBI faces lawsuit because it's stayed mum on iPhone 5c hack
- Google's Gmail finally adds the ability to block email, but there's a better way
- Twitter gobbles up more cookies with retargeted ads, says users have privacy choices
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
- Horizon Zero Dawn review
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Japan's pop culture, anime-friendly, J-Pop shrine, Kanda Myojin
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer - NetApp SpecialistNSW
- TPFront End DeveloperNSW
- TPICT Contracts Compliance ManagerWA
- CCSME in Openstack, AWSNSW
- FTHRIS ConsultantQLD
- CCData Analyst - AutoHaulWA
- TPIT Project ManagerNSW
- CCWicked Front-End DeveloperQLD
- FTAnalyst Programmer (Natural/Adabas)SA
- CCSenior Project Coordinator - Banking/Financial ServicesNSW
- CCData Engineer (SQL/Big Data/Scala)VIC
- FTSAP BW ConsultantACT
- FTProject Manager (Software product development)VIC
- TPDigital Project ManagerVIC
- CCCA ITCM / ITCA Engineer with some hands-on knowledge of scripting.NSW
- FTDigital Strategist - Global Consulting FirmACT
- FTLevel 3 EngineerNSW
- CCSenior Storage System Engineer - Tivoli Storage SpecialistNSW
- FTClient Delivery ManagerSA
- CCStorage System EngineerNSW
- TPDigital Strategist - Newcastle BasedNSW
- TPProject Manager to manage two concurrent ProjectsQLD
- FTSAP BOBJ ConsultantACT
- FTData Conversion LeadNSW
- CCLevel 2 Helpdesk Support (CISCO)QLD