Introduction

No matter how great the service from your ISP, if your modem and/or router has issues then you’ll be plagued by connection drops and poor internet performance.  Back in December of 2010 I found a great new modem/router device, and  wrote a review on the TP-Link TD-W8960n Wireless N ADSL2+ Modem Router.

I brought this modem to the attention of the folks over on a popular Thailand based forum in their Internet/Computers/Tech area and immediately took some abuse from proponents of other devices asking what made me an expert.  I’m not an expert in this area, but I am an educated consumer who knows when something is working well.  And my TP-Link TD-W8960n was humming along beautifully with no connection drops and higher speeds in all areas.  I challenged them to give it a try.

They did and the rest is history. This review quickly became the most popular piece on my site with thousands of hits racked up almost overnight and it continues to do well as people in Thailand look for a solution to the shoddy gear provided by True and an alternative to the almost equally shoddy D-link models most often carried in computer shops throughout the Kingdom.

My personal TP-Link TD-8960n has served duty in several well known service trouble spots, immediately fixing the users dropped connections and poor performance.  I still highly recommend this model.  But what if you don’t want a modem as part of your router, or what if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where True is offering their new cable internet service?  Is there a TP-link product with the same great quality available for these users?  Yes!

Several months ago I took delivery of my second TP-Link WR1043ND Ultimate Wireless N Gigabyte Router.   I say my second one, because I sent the first one to my son in America as a gift and it immediately corrected all the issues he was having and he loves it.  So I ordered another for myself to be used at my new stateside address, but it’s totally compatible for use in Thailand with True’s cable or ADSL modems.

 

TP-Link TL-WR1043ND Ultimate Wireless-N Gigabyte Router

 

TP-Link is a little known Chinese company in Shenzhen China. As most of the big name routers, including the Dlink and Billion Sky are manufactured in China, the TP-Links origin didn’t bother me at all. They’ve proved to be a reliable company with great customer support and they’ve quickly gained a foothold in the American market as well.

 

TP-Link is a little known Chinese company in Shenzhen China.  As most of the big name routers, including the Dlink and Billion Sky are manufactured in China, the TP-Links origin didn’t bother me at all.  They’ve proved to be a reliable company with great customer support and they’ve quickly gained a foothold in the American market as well.

For the most part the TL-WR1043ND is the same router as the TD-W8960n but without the integral ASDL modem.  It’s a single band (2.4ghz) wireless N/B/G wireless 300mbps router with four physical Ethernet RJ45 ports, a USB 2.0 port so you can access external storage for NAS and/or FTP purposes, the latest in security options, and 3 detachable antennas.

It includes all the expected features including VPN tunnel capability, QoS protocols, and QSS which allows for easy connections between compatible devices, and isn’t hampered by the speed limitations of a built in modem.  It will pass information up to its full gigabyte rating.  I can’t think of a modern feature this router doesn’t have.

 

The front panel LED’s are standard, power, system, WLAN, QSS, USB and 4 WLAN Ethernet port activity/connection LED’s. The overall appearance is small, white, and attractive in a functional plain sort of way.

 

The front panel LED’s are standard, power, system, WLAN, QSS, USB and 4 WLAN Ethernet port activity/connection LED’s.  The overall appearance is small, white, and attractive in a functional plain sort of way.

Here is a full list of specifications:

 

Here is a full list of specifications:

 

 

Installation

I was happy to see they’d kept it small like the TD-W8960n and not big and loudly styled like you’ll find with other popular brands.  I have mine sitting on top of the cabinet which holds my networking devices (NAS drives, gigaswitch, modem, and supporting UPS device) behind a plant where it can’t be seen.  Height rules when it comes to getting a good signal out, get your router’s antennas as high as you possibly can and you’ll be rewarded with the strongest possible signal throughout your networked area.

 

Back panel connections are standard.  One standard USB port for external storage, four Ethernet RJ45 ports, a reset button, a power connector, The three antennas screw on in seconds.  A surprising omission is a physical on/off switch.  I like having one, but in actual use you can reboot the router via the web browser interface if needed, and mine hasn’t needed rebooting in months since it’s initial setup.

 

Back panel connections are standard.  One standard USB port for external storage, four Ethernet RJ45 ports, a reset button, a power connector, The three antennas screw on in seconds.  A surprising omission is a physical on/off switch.  I like having one, but in actual use you can reboot the router via the web browser interface if needed, and mine hasn’t needed rebooting in months since it’s initial setup.

 

Making the connections was simple.  I connected it to my modem, and then a single RJ45 Ethernet patch cord into my Cisco 8 port gigaswitch already connected to my NAS devices and the 7 cables routed to different locations in my home.  I connected the one Ethernet patch cord, plugged the power transformer into my UPS device, and screwed on the antennas to their threaded mounts.  I powered it on and left the office.

 

Making the connections was simple.  I connected it to my modem, and then a single RJ45 Ethernet patch cord into my Cisco 8 port gigaswitch already connected to my NAS devices and the 7 cables routed to different locations in my home.  I connected the one Ethernet patch cord, plugged the power transformer into my UPS device, and screwed on the antennas to their threaded mounts.  I powered it on and left the office.

 

Setup

 

The TP-Link TL-WR1043ND was very easy to setup. Type into your browser URL bar “192.168.1.1” and you’re immediately rewarded with the login window. The default ‘admin/admin’ user/pass combo gets you into the main menu. I recommend you change these passwords as your first order of business.

 

The TP-Link TL-WR1043ND was very easy to setup.  Type into your browser URL bar “192.168.1.1” and you’re immediately rewarded with the login window.  The default ‘admin/admin’ user/pass combo gets you into the main menu.  I recommend you change these passwords as your first order of business.

 

I’m not going to go into the 50 pages of setup choices the user manual lists.  I’ll just tell you I found their user interface totally intuitive and in less than five minutes I’d configured my LAN default address, configured my Wireless security protocol, enabled the DCHP server, entered and tested my dynamic DNS account information (needed to run an FTP, IP cameras, etc), and forwarded 5 different ports thereby enabling my NAS devices, FTP’s, IP cameras, and my other LAN devices.  I also changed my user name and password information.

 

I’m not going to go into the 50 pages of setup choices the user manual lists.  I’ll just tell you I found their user interface totally intuitive and in less than five minutes I’d configured my LAN default address, configured my Wireless security protocol, enabled the DCHP server, entered and tested my dynamic DNS account information (needed to run an FTP, IP cameras, etc), and forwarded 5 different ports thereby enabling my NAS devices, FTP’s, IP cameras, and my other LAN devices.  I also changed my user name and password information.

I use other NAS and FTP devices, but for the heck of it I connected a USB storage drive and was pleased to see I was able to access the drive on my network and from an external connection.  If you don’t already have an NAS or FTP device, you’ll be happy to have this feature available.

Each menu heading expands as necessary into the appropriate sub-headings allowing you to easily find and configure only the areas you need.

In under five minutes I was done and pressing the “update and reboot” button was rewarded with the internet coming on-line, the wireless connect to my laptops, NAS’s worked, FTP’s functioned fine, and all this on the first try and without help from the True Somchai’s!  Well, now they’re Comcast Somchai’s, but it holds that I was pleased to be able to do this myself without assistance.  A pleasure for sure.

I will say this, there are MANY menu choices, and even for functions you’ll recognize there will be more choices than you’re previously been familiar with.  Looking through the menu choices I saw it was configurable and supported every major VOIP service, game, and device I’ve ever heard of.  This is the most complete user BIOS I’ve ever seen.

More, it gives you three login choices.  You can assign an administrator with full privileges, a support user/pass set in the event you need TP-Link’s excellent customer service, and a User login if you just want to limit certain users to logging on selected VPN’s or games.

 

More, it gives you three login choices.  You can assign an administrator with full privileges, a support user/pass set in the event you need TP-Link’s excellent customer service, and a User login if you just want to limit certain users to logging on selected VPN’s or games.

 

There is also a complete statistics and logging center so you can keep track of line drops, line condition, up time, and about 100+ other line controls.  The Diagnostics section tests every line condition for you and the help section explains each test.

 

There is also a complete statistics and logging center so you can keep track of line drops, line condition, up time, and about 100+ other line controls.  The Diagnostics section tests every line condition for you and the help section explains each test.

 

What a great User Interface!

 

Performance

 

Two minutes to install, five minutes to configure my setup (and I have a complex setup), and a ‘save/reboot’ later I was up on line and I haven't dropped or had to power cycle since!  Very nice.

 

Two minutes to install, five minutes to configure my setup (and I have a complex setup), and a ‘save/reboot’ later I was up on line and I haven't dropped or had to power cycle since!  Very nice.

Usually I don’t review hardware until using it for a few months, and this is no exception.  While I brought the TD-W8960N review on-line after just a few weeks, I had the time to wait with this one.  Nothing would have changed and that’s good.

Going to Speedtest www.speedtest.net I confirmed I was actually exceeding my promised 50mbps download speed. I was getting 62mbps download, and 17mbps upload.  Excellent! www.pingtest.net confirmed the line (router included) earned an A rating.  This is a big difference from the D’s and F’s most common with Thailand ISP’s.

But the real proof is in using the net.  Page to page loads are extremely fast, my Slingbox can sling at full HDTV speeds, and even a 20gb+ torrent downloads in under 10 minutes provided the torrent is healthy.

Wifi performance you ask?  My son’s computer is upstairs and he gets full signal strength and is able to see 30mbps speeds via his Wireless-N connection. My laptop downstairs (where the router is located) gets about the same.  I think we’re seeing the limitations of the wireless protocol vs. the router itself.  30mbps is still faster than most internet connections.

 

Summary

I couldn’t be more pleased, there are zero glitches, and anyone can set one of these up.  Other than the color (white) I have zero complaints and only praise.  Wifi performance is great, you get a USB port supported by NAS/FTP functions as a bonus, and with the QSS features you can connect most any device in just seconds.

The TP-Link TL-WR1043ND Ultimate Wireless-N Gigabyte Router exceeds my expectations and is a great alternative to the TD-W8960N if you don’t need or desire it’s built in ADSL modem.

I got mine on Amazon for $64 USD’s.  When compared to the competition a great deal for sure.