TP-LINK Archer C7 Follow Up – New Firmware

Last week I wrote an article on the new TP-LINK Archer C7 802.11ac router. I was having some throughput issues with their latest official firmware so I found a beta firmware on a .de site and that seemed to fix the issues. Then the following day the TP-LINK support sent me an email following up on the review. They then provided me with a new beta firmware that further fixed the wireless throughput issues and improved stability.

softwareupdateI installed this about a week ago and since then the router has been stable and the throughput issues have been ironed out. I have about 10 devices on the 2.4ghz network now and have had Apple devices on it without any issues. I am running it in a 20mhz bandwidth mode now since there is too much overlap in my condo building but I still manage to pull in about 25mbps up and down.

Now the 5ghz band has improved in stability and throughput is consistently between 400mbps and 600mbps. I am very happy with the performance of the 5ghz band with this firmware. It’s nice to finally have a wireless connection that is more than capable of handling large file transfers without a dropout and at high speeds.

If you want to try it on your TP-LINK Archer C7 hit the download link here: TP-LINK Archer C7 130812 Beta Firmware

Dealing with Vendors and/or Service Providers

As someone that works in the information technology field I constantly have to work with vendors to get support on issues and the pattern is usually always the same. Call in, get low level tech support, request higher level support, they “will call you”, they never do, and then you get to play phone tag.

On the phone with AT&T

This pattern is almost the same with every company whether you are dealing with Dell or AT&T or RingCentral. Any large vendor and/or service provider will always have a bunch of hoops that you will have to jump through to get to speak to someone that actually knows what they are doing.

What you need to do is be persistent until you get someone (usually Level 3 or higher) that is not just reading a pre-determined set of sentences and checks, but someone that actually understands the product and/or service that the company provides. Until you do you will run the risk of prolonging and sometimes completely mis-diagnosing the issue. One major thing to do is get a hold of someone in the United States and not somewhere that is overseas. I have yet to find someone that is overseas that actually knows what they are talking about in terms of diagnosing and fixing an issue.

Hopefully this helps someone out. Just recently I had this happen to me and if I had gotten the guy I have now our issues and pains would have been much less than they are now. Until next time!

And Dell if you are listening – Since you bought SonicWall your tech support has become horrible and the people you are employing in the call centers do NOT have the know-how to fix even basic issues. Also fire the firmware team as they seem to break more than they fix.

TP-LINK Archer C7 Review and Fix

Overview/History

For the past 2 years I have been running 2 separate access points to facilitate a 2.4ghz and a 5ghz wireless network. Since I moved into a condo a year and a half ago I have had to rely on the 5ghz band to provide me with fast wireless access since there are over 20 SSIDs on the 2.4ghz band in my living room. With all the sales on equipment on Black Friday and all the other holiday sales I saw the TP-LINK Archer C7 router on sale for $100. I managed to get $5 off with a NewEgg.com promotion and then on top of that there is a $20 mail in rebate. All in all I got an 802.11ac router for just under $75.

TP-LINK Archer C7 Router

Now I suspected that there may be some weird issues since it is a cheaper router but I was actually pleasantly surprised at it’s performance. Now I am only running this as an Access Point (DHCP disabled) and not as a router so I can only comment on it’s wireless throughput and stability.

Network Setup

For my main router I am running a custom built Atom powered embedded solution with PfSense 2.1 running under the hood. All my switches are 8 port HP ProCurve 1410-8P gigabit switches.

I am running the 2.4ghz on Channel 1 with a width of 40mhz and I am running the 5ghz channel on channel 36 with a width of 80mhz. There are separate SSIDs for each band.

The wireless card in the laptop I am testing with is the Intel 7260-AC Mini-PCIe card in my Asus X202E laptop. Android testing was done with a HTC Droid DNA running the Venom 4.2.2 ROM v2.0.3.

I should add that I have friends over all the time with different Android devices, iPhones, and laptops. So far they have all been able to connect and use the wireless network without any issues.

2.4ghz Band Performance

In my heavily saturated 2.4ghz enviroment with a 40mhz channel width I regularly see speeds of 15-30mbps on the downstream and the same on the upstream. I am very happy with the 2.4ghz performance and range. I am able to pickup my 2.4ghz network almost 500ft on the ground from my 3rd story condo. My previous DD-WRT powered Linksys Valet M20 AP barely could manage 10mbps on a good day in the same conditions. Some users were complaining of low signal on both 2.4 and 5ghz bands but this covers my 1500sq feet condo and my friends same condo above me through the flexicore ceiling just fine.

802.11ac File Transfer

5ghz Band Performance

Luckily the 5ghz band in my condo is almost completely untouched at the moment. There are only 2 other SSIDs on this band and they are both at the higher end of the spectrum. Since I am using a lower channel number these do not affect me.

Now the 5ghz channel is running in full 80mhz AC mode and the speeds are great. On the download and upload I manage between 300mbps and 600mbps. These speeds are great and it reliably transmits files over the LAN without any issues.

Firmware Issues

Until today I was getting random slow downs and some dropouts from the router on all the devices that I am using. I already checked that the router was not getting too hot to rule that out. Then while searching to see if anyone else has this issue I managed to stumble upon a beta firmware on the TP-LINK .de site. I flashed it on my router and appears to be working the best without these issues. I have posted a copy of the firmware for download here: TP-LINK Archer C7 130625 Beta Firmware.

Conclusion and Thoughts

This is my first 802.11ac and TP-LINK router. I have seen these before and they also seem to usually get supported by DD-WRT or OpenWRT at some point so that is why I decided to give them a try. For the more advanced users that would want to tweak more this router may annoy them as they have some more common settings locked down (channel width selection on the 5ghz band, b/g/n/ac mode selections are limited). But for the average user who just wants a solid 802.11ac router or access point this is a good solution. If I have any other issues with this router or the above mentioned firmware proves to be unstable I will post an update.

All in all I am happy with my purchase and it is nice to have the 802.11ac in my home. It’s also nice to only have 1 AP instead of 2 separate ones. Thanks for reading!

My Journey with Crypto Currency – A Short Intro

As most of you have heard BitCoin has taken off and ended up being a stable investment for a lot of people. If you are like me and did not really pay any mind to BitCoins and just kept up on the news you probably are regretting not getting into it sooner.

Unfortunately there is a little bit to learn and now BitCoins are no longer worth mining due to the power that is required and the hardware that is required to actually mine the coins. However there are plenty of other crypto currencies that are taking off. After reading up on the others that are taking off and gaining popularity I have started mining LiteCoins and FeatherCoins.

bitcoin image

There are a few things that you will need to get in order so that you can not only mine but also buy and sell your coins. Once you get started and all the framework in place to buy and sell coins then you will be able to start getting into this new market and hopefully make some money off it. At the least you’ll have some fun in the process.

  1. You will need a fairly powerful computer. This means a decent CPU and preferrably a dedicated graphics card (I am only going to cover ATI as that is what I have)
  2. You will need to join a mining pool (you can go solo but its not profitable)
  3. You will need to setup an account with MtGox – https://www.mtgox.com/
  4. You will need to setup an account with BTC-e – https://btc-e.com/
  5. Patience. Lots of patience.

Those are the basics. Stay tuned for more posts as I progress on this journey.

Basic Sonicwall SonicPoint Ni/Ne/NDR Troubleshooting

At my job I get to work with all sorts of wireless technologies. We have been using Sonicwall SonicPoint access points at a lot of our clients and for the most part they are very solid. However we have had some issues with them dropping traffic and/or locking up. If you are having the same/similar issues try a few things.

  1. Check under SonicPoint > RF Analysis and see what your “RF Score” for the AP that is having issues is. If it is less than 6 look and see what channel is the least crowded and make note of it.
  2. Under SonicPoint > SonicPoints go to the edit properties for the AP you are troubleshooting. Go to the Radio (0 is 5ghz on NDR and 1 is 2.4ghz on NDR, Ne & Ni only have 1 radio that operates on either band).
  3. Change the band to “Standard – 20MHz Channel” and then select the channel that had the least interference in Step 1.
  4. Disable (uncheck) “Enable Short Guard Interval” and “Enable Aggregation”. Apply the settings. NOTE – If you have iPads and iPhones it is ALWAYS recommended to disable Aggregation as they do not adhere properly to the 802.11n standard and this will cause issues.

After you have made these changes you can also try adjusting the power from Full to Half, this has helped in the past with unruly APs probably due to heat. If you are still having issues with dropped traffic or disconnects then change the “Fragmentation Threshold” and “RTS Threshold” from 2346 to 2300 and keep going to a lower number until you find one that helps stabilize the connection. Be sure to set BOTH of them to the SAME number.

I hope this helps someone out. Send me any input and/or suggestions if you have them.

SonicPoint N Series