TP-LINK RE580D Wi-Fi Range Extender Review

Fear those Wi-Fi blackspots no more!

by Greg Hook
Tech Review

8

Recommended
TP-LINK RE580D Wi-Fi Range Extender Review
SRP: £99.99

What is the TP-LINK RE580D?

We all know the pain. You’ve been banished to a distant room in the house because the TV is monopolised for Emmerdale, Strictly or some other tat and the only thing left to do is catch up on your favourite Netflix series. You start the stream and get into the episode and just a few minutes later it’s gone, only to be left with a spinning icon or blank screen. That’s when you discover the ‘room of banishment’ is not in the all-powerful ‘Wi-Fi Zone’.

Fortunately, with today’s technology, there are numerous options to extend wireless and network access to all areas of the home. Whether that be Powerline Adaptors for wired and wireless access, additional wireless routers, or as is the subject of this review a Wi-Fi Range Extender. The RE580D AC1900 Wi-Fi Range Extender from TP-LINK offers the latest dual band 802.11ac Wi-Fi with three 700mW external antennas and 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports for £99. Based on past experience with TP-LINK’s easy installation p and good value for money products, we have high hopes for the RE580D. Read on to see how it fares…

Design & Connections

Routers and Range Extenders aren’t normally the nicest bits of kit to look at; functional would be the best description but here with the RE580D range extender, TP-LINK have created a product that you wouldn’t mind having on show. With a sleek grey metallic surround and a gloss black diamond patterned top it definitely has a modern look to it. This is only spoilt slightly by the three chunky black external antennas coming from the rear, but we'd imagine this isn’t going to be the design centrepiece of your home anyway, most likely it will be hidden away in a corner.

If you do have it on show or in a bedroom, TP-LINK have helpfully included a button to completely turn off the numerous flashing blue LEDs. The device can either be laid flat or vertical, with the included stand, to best suit your requirements. As for its size, it is pretty close to that of a fully functional router coming in at 242 x 162 x 44mm so is not small by any means.
TP-LINK RE580D AC1900 Wi-FI Range Extender
On the top we find the five LED lights to show the status of the power, Ethernet connection, wireless connection to your host network and also a blue or orange ‘RE’ LED which indicates how good the connection to the host wireless network is. To the rear we find the power connection, LED, power on/off and reset buttons and the 5 Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Setup and Features

We’ve yet to come across a home networking product that has required any real thought or brain power to install. Across the various manufacturers we review they all are extremely easy to install and setup and this range extender is no different. The easiest method is to use WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). You simply press the WPS button on your router, then immediately press it on the extender and once the wireless LED has turned solid blue your range extender has been setup and is ready to use.

The second installation method is slightly longer and requires additional input, but is still very simple. You connect to the range extender wirelessly or by Ethernet cable, open a web browser and connect to the correct URL and then follow the very simple instructions and menu to setup the range extender on your network. As with the WPS setup method, you have the option of the range extender using the same SSID and password as your current wireless network, or if you have one of those devices that is completely confused by this, Apple we are looking at you here, you also have the option of setting up new SSIDs just for the range extender.
TP-LINK RE580D AC1900 Wi-FI Range Extender
Once fully setup, the same URL used for installation can also be used to configure the range extender to best suit your requirements. We mentioned previously the button on the extender itself to turn the LED lights off, well there is also a night mode option. You can set an on and off time for the LED lights, very useful if you don’t always want the LEDs permanently off, but have this in a bedroom where at night they may disturb your sleep.

There is also a useful access control system, should you wish to blacklist certain devices from the extender and features seen on most routers such as configuring the DHCP server and network settings are also present. By default, any devices connected to the Ethernet ports will use the 5Ghz wireless network, if this presents a problem you can also change this in the settings to just use the 2.4Ghz network.
TP-LINK RE580D AC1900 Wi-FI Range Extender

Performance & Testing

The testing is carried out in a standard four bed detached house. The router is a BT HomeHub5 (located on the ground floor), connected via Gigabit Ethernet to both a PC at one end, then with an 802.11ac compatible laptop via the RE580D Range Extender at the other end. We use a program called LANSpeedTest by Totusoft which is a simple but powerful tool for measuring Local Area Network (LAN) speeds. It does this by building a file in memory, then transfers it both ways (without the effects of Windows file caching) while keeping track of the time, and then does the calculations for you. This gives us the results of transferring files from our main PC to the Laptop via our existing wireless network and with the range extender.

For a baseline we carried out three tests as shown below in two locations with our laptop connected to the existing wireless network. The extender is placed roughly in the middle between the laptop and our router. Location 1 is with the extender on a floor directly above the router and the laptop 5 metres away from the extender through 2 walls. Location 2 is with the extender on the same floor as the router, about 3 metres away with two walls between, then the laptop 5 metres from the extender. The wired tests were with the laptop directly connected to one of the extenders Gigabit Ethernet ports.

Our tests are as follows:

1. 1000 x 1MB files successively transferred.
2. 2 x 1GB files successively transferred.
3. 1000 x 10KB files successively transferred.
TP-LINK RE580D AC1900 Wi-FI Range Extender
As you can see from the test results above the Range Extender does what it says on the tin although we did hope to have seen slightly faster speeds. Ignoring the quoted combined speeds of 1900Mbps, with the wired tests showing the peak speeds achievable, a significant drop off in Location 1 was a tad disappointing given the short distance to the extender, although the 5Ghz results were promising. Location 2 provided speeds of almost 30Mbps using the 5Ghz band where previously we were unable to get a signal at all. This is more than enough speed to accommodate the likes of HD Netflix for example.

If you have several devices in another room requiring network access but you are unable to connect back to your main router, then the wired results show the extender can output a decent speed to allow for HD streaming and gaming at the same time, with perhaps one client using the wireless too. With a device such as this it’s always best to play around with the positioning as if you are getting a low speed going into the extender, you won’t magically get a fast one coming out. We have been testing this for around three weeks now and have received no issues with signal loss or dropouts excluding of course our iPad which has always been confused by range extenders.

Verdict

Pros

  • Very easy to install
  • Good value for money
  • Decent features
  • Reasonably speedy 5Ghz

Cons

  • 2.4Ghz not the fastest

TP-LINK RE580D Wi-Fi Range Extender Review

Should I buy the TP-LINK RE580D?

For around £99 (and currently with £20 cashback from TP-LINK if ordered before the end of March) the RE580D provides a simple method of extending your wireless range to banish those nasty blackspots. With a very easy installation and setup, within minutes you are up and running. Our results whilst not fantastic, were promising with peaks of 75.81Mbps Wireless and 222.66 Wired.
It doesn’t look too bad either with the stylish black diamond finish top and modern design.

Features such as beamforming, dual band 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz, 802.11ac, 5 x Gigabit Ethernet ports and a good set of configuration options all gives the RE580D a lot of ticks in the right boxes. There are some devices that just can’t handle cloned SSIDs and fortunately you can set up a new wireless network if that is the case.

What alternatives are available?

As for the competition, extending network access is available from a wide range of devices and to suit most budgets. The most versatile ones that spring to mind are the Powerline Adaptors with Wi-Fi enabled kits available from just £45. As for range extenders, if you aren’t looking for speed then there is a whole host available from just £20, from the likes of Belkin, Netgear and TP-LINK’s own range.

In the same class as the RE580D, the competition is a lot narrower and considerably more expensive with Netgear’s Nighthawk EX7000 coming in at £129.99. Even without the current £20 cashback offer the TP-LINK RE580D offers excellent value for money giving a very well specified and good performing device. If you are looking to easily extend your wireless range and want reasonably quick speeds to boot, then the RE580D is one that comes recommended.
Recommended

Scores

Build Quality

.
.
8

Connectivity

.
9

Ease of Use

10

Connection Speed

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
9

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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