A rather new member of TP-Link family has been donated to be tested for use in wlan slovenija network – thank you, Robas. We have nicknamed this router Darth Vader, since it is the first one in the collection looking black and cool, compared to standard white cases.

Wireless router WDR3500 is quite comparable to widely used WR741ND with standard configuration of 5 100Mbps Ethernet ports and 2.4GHz 300Mbps 802.11n radio, but in addition boasts a single USB port and 5Ghz 300Mbps 802.11an radio as well. Removable dual-band antennas with RP-SMA connectors are a welcome addition. The TP-Link website promises rather magical speeds of 300Mbps per radio, which we strongly doubted. And we were right.

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Throughput tests were performed with OpenWrt firmware and the results on the 5GHz and 2.4GHz radio, were 94Mbps and 40Mbps respectively, tested with iperf. Tests were repeated with factory firmware and the results were identical. Although the network card reports rate is set to 300Mbps, real throughput is significantly lower.

As this is one of the lowest costing devices with dual radios, it may be suitable for community networking by using one radio for meshing and the other for client access or potentially in home applications if a bit more is required then only a 2.4GHz radio. There is a rather similar router WDR3600 available, that upgrades the ports to 1Gbps and has a second USB port, however the wireless section is reported to be identical, thus no better wireless performance can be expected.

The performance of the tested router is by all means suitable and expected of a device in this price range.