Question TP-Link Archer VR900 v3 & VR2100 v1 comparison.

exponential

Well-known Member
Hi all.

I'm looking into replacing my BT Home-Hub 6 as I find it very frustrating to use within the web interface.
I have numerous smart plugs and WiFi extender sockets but it fails to recognise half of them even though they are the same manufacturer and type.
When I do get it to recognise something, I'll rename it for future reference only for the Home-Hub to forget it again within a day or so after saving the device.

After reading many reviews, I have settled on the TP-Link brand as a replacement but am unsure which to choose?
The above two models in the title seem to fit the bill but the Specs seem almost identical.
Can anyone who knows about this kind of thing point me in the right direction?

I didn't realise that the issue of routers and modems could be so confusing! :D
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
There's a "block diagram" of the internals of a typical SOHO router attached to the "Using Two Routers Together" FAQ pinned in this forum, though IIRC I didn't include a MODEM on it; a MODEM (inbuilt or separate) would be logically upstream of the WAN port.

It doesn't "matter" that your HH is not recognising other devices downstream of it, everything will work just fine. LAN's are peer level infrastructure and everything attached is "equal" to everything else - nothing is "in charge." You router sits at the "edge" of the network connecting to other networks (ie the Internet via your ISP) not in the "middle" bossing it.

Of course, different devices avail various and different services to the network, so a media server serves media, a Wi-FI AP avails Wi-Fi device connection, an printer prints, etc. etc. Connecting you to the Internet is just one such possible service which is what your HH does, albeit that the package also bundles a load of other useful things such as a built in switch, Wi-Fi AP, DHCP Server and a bunch of other stuff to deliver a "network in a box."

Routers process data on a packet by packet basis and forward each packet towards it's intended destination, rather like the posties working in real world sorting offices. Routers (and posties) have no requirement to have any knowledge of the world beyond their own walls - all they need is a set of rules that tell them how to deal with any packets that reach them and which way to send them next. SOHO routers set that all up for you straight out the box without you having to do anything.

Devices like BT's HH try to be "helpful" to non-IT people by showing you things they have learned about, (and stuff like upload/download totals and so on) but this is very much an aesthetic nicety for the benefit of human beings. It's not at all necessary for a router to "work" properly and indeed many routers don't have such features at all.

So if your only beef with your HH is that this "dog an pony show" isn't working reliably, then you are literally wasting your money replacing it. If the incumbent HH is otherwise working fine, I'd ave the cash for something else.

A lot of this is confusing at the outset, especially if one tries to digest it all in one go, but like so many things, if you take it one step at a time and build up your knowledge, is eventually all fits together - like building a big lego set with lots of sub-assemblies that then all come together to complete the whole. In much of IT, the individual components are pretty simple - it's when you start integrating it all together that life (rapidly) gets complicated! :D
 
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exponential

Well-known Member
There's a "block diagram" of the internals of a typical SOHO router attached to the "Using Two Routers Together" FAQ pinned in this forum, though IIRC I didn't include a MODEM on it; a MODEM (inbuilt or separate) would be logically upstream of the WAN port.

It doesn't "matter" that your HH is not recognising other devices downstream of it, everything will work just fine. LAN's are peer level infrastructure and everything attached is "equal" to everything else - nothing is "in charge." You router sits at the "edge" of the network connecting to other networks (ie the Internet via your ISP) not in the "middle" bossing it.

Of course, different devices avail various and different services to the network, so a media server serves media, a Wi-FI AP avails Wi-Fi device connection, an printer prints, etc. etc. Connecting you to the Internet is just one such possible service which is what your HH does, albeit that the package also bundles a load of other useful things such as a built in switch, Wi-Fi AP, DHCP Server and a bunch of other stuff to deliver a "network in a box."

Routers process data on a packet by packet basis and forward each packet towards it's intended destination, rather like the posties working in real world sorting offices. Routers (and posties) have no requirement to have any knowledge of the world beyond their own walls - all they need is a set of rules that tell them how to deal with any packets that reach them and which way to send them next. SOHO routers set that all up for you straight out the box without you having to do anything.

Devices like BT's HH try to be "helpful" to non-IT people by showing you things they have learned about, (and stuff like`1qs upload/download totals and so on) but this is very much an aesthetic nicety for the benefit of human beings. It's not at all necessary for a router to "work" properly and indeed many routers don't have such features at all.

So if your only beef with your HH is that this "dog an pony show" isn't working reliably, then you are literally wasting your money replacing it. If the incumbent HH is otherwise working fine, I'd ave the cash for something else.

A lot of this is confusing at the outset, especially if one tries to digest it all in one go, but like so many things, if you take it one step at a time and build up your knowledge, is eventually all fits together - like building a big lego set with lots of sub-assemblies that then all come together to complete the whole. In much of IT, the individual components are pretty simple - it's when you start integrating it all together that life (rapidly) gets complicated! 1

Hi.

Thanks for the much valued advice! It really is a PITA as I'm trying to understand if I need Port Fowarding and what a DDNS is and do I separate the 2.4 & 5gHz bands. :D

Don't get me started on the multitude of different routers/modems
 

exponential

Well-known Member
There's a "block diagram" of the internals of a typical SOHO router attached to the "Using Two Routers Together" FAQ pinned in this forum, though IIRC I didn't include a MODEM on it; a MODEM (inbuilt or separate) would be logically upstream of the WAN port.

It doesn't "matter" that your HH is not recognising other devices downstream of it, everything will work just fine. LAN's are peer level infrastructure and everything attached is "equal" to everything else - nothing is "in charge." You router sits at the "edge" of the network connecting to other networks (ie the Internet via your ISP) not in the "middle" bossing it.

Of course, different devices avail various and different services to the network, so a media server serves media, a Wi-FI AP avails Wi-Fi device connection, an printer prints, etc. etc. Connecting you to the Internet is just one such possible service which is what your HH does, albeit that the package also bundles a load of other useful things such as a built in switch, Wi-Fi AP, DHCP Server and a bunch of other stuff to deliver a "network in a box."

Routers process data on a packet by packet basis and forward each packet towards it's intended destination, rather like the posties working in real world sorting offices. Routers (and posties) have no requirement to have any knowledge of the world beyond their own walls - all they need is a set of rules that tell them how to deal with any packets that reach them and which way to send them next. SOHO routers set that all up for you straight out the box without you having to do anything.

Devices like BT's HH try to be "helpful" to non-IT people by showing you things they have learned about, (and stuff like`1qs upload/download totals and so on) but this is very much an aesthetic nicety for the benefit of human beings. It's not at all necessary for a router to "work" properly and indeed many routers don't have such features at all.

So if your only beef with your HH is that this "dog an pony show" isn't working reliably, then you are literally wasting your money replacing it. If the incumbent HH is otherwise working fine, I'd ave the cash for something else.

A lot of this is confusing at the outset, especially if one tries to digest it all in one go, but like so many things, if you take it one step at a time and build up your knowledge, is eventually all fits together - like building a big lego set with lots of sub-assemblies that then all come together to complete the whole. In much of IT, the individual components are pretty simple - it's when you start integrating it all together that life (rapidly) gets complicated! 1

Hi.

Thanks for the much valued advice! It really is a PITA as I'm trying to understand if I need Port Fowarding and what a DDNS is and do I separate the 2.4 & 5gHz bands. :D

Don't get me started on the multitude of different routers/modems out there that I either need or don't need! :D

The reason I was going to buy the TP-Link was for its plentiful features in comparison to the HH. I like the fact it has a "guest" network and it is controllable via a simple app but if you don't feel its a necessary purchase then I'll give it a miss.

I'm eager to learn though so I'll do some digging on the various abilities on offer.
 

psychopomp1

Well-known Member
Both are great routers, however the VR2100 has slightly better specs as it has a 4x4 5ghz radio rather the 3x3 5ghz radio on the VR900.
 

exponential

Well-known Member
Both are great routers, however the VR2100 has slightly better specs as it has a 4x4 5ghz radio rather the 3x3 5ghz radio on the VR900.
Ah yes. Didn't notice that. I did a comparison on the Scan Computers website but whoever filled in the specs for each device obviously didn't have their shredded wheat that day as it was all over the place! :D
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the much valued advice! It really is a PITA as I'm trying to understand if I need Port Fowarding and what a DDNS is and do I separate the 2.4 & 5gHz bands. :D

The reason I was going to buy the TP-Link was for its plentiful features in comparison to the HH. I like the fact it has a "guest" network and it is controllable via a simple app but if you don't feel its a necessary purchase then I'll give it a miss.
Perhaps I can take that in several separate chucks to cut down on the size of the posts a bit:

"Guest networking" - is certainly a useful function. Often (in SOHO routers) it's restricted to "just" Wi-Fi devices. One could argue that BT's "FON" is sort of guest networking, albeit that it's public access and you have no control over who uses it with the quid pro quo that you can also use anyone else.

"Normal" guest networking in SOHO kit is essentially a separate/different Wi-Fi SSID, and sometimes a different IP subnet (don't worry about what that means, in the context of this discussion it's not really important) and the routing "rules" within the router are set up so that traffic from your "main" network cannot reach the guest network and vice versa, albeit both can reach the Internet.

I have an (old) WD router with a guest facility and it's great for when relatives visit as I can let them use it without exposing my "main" network to anything nasty they might bring with them and no chance that little Johnny might inadvertently happen upon my, er, adult art collection.

Of course, I've still got to trust my guests aren't doing anything "naughty" out to the Internet as it' still going up my Internet connection and I'm liable (it's my name on the ISP contract) and, if I had them, it would count towards my usage limits.

Multiple SSID's from a single Wi-Fi AP in no big deal, enterprise kit has pretty much always been able to do it, but bear in mind that all Wi-Fi devices are competing for the same "air time" however many SSID's you have - you are not getting double the capacity because you have multiple SSID's.

Incidentally, I like a US web site called SmallNetBuilder for SOHO kit reviews. He does a better job than most of objectively and methodically testing kit and tabulate the results by various performance metrics. You might care to see he's checked out the kit you are interested in. Just bear in mind he's US based - if you are outside that territory the exact spec. may differ, though often it's just the PSU supplied and a few niceties to do with which ISP's they know how to talk to.

TBC
 
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mickevh

Distinguished Member
2.4 & 5gHz bands.

Wi-Fi uses two distinct wavebands ("bands") of radio frequencies. There are a range of channels available for use in bother waveband, but they are in the realm of frequencies of 2.4GHz and 5GHz and IT professionals not being prone to inventing imaginative names for things (we leave that to Apple) we call them, unsurprisingly, the 2.4GHz band and the 5GHz band.

Note these radio frequencies and not the "Wi-Fi Frequencies" they are the "frequencies that Wi-Fi uses." Other things use them too such as baby monitors, microwave ovens, video senders, car alarms and weather RADAR. Some of these things can prove to be interference sources affecting Wi-Fi, and vice versa.

It is not mandatory for all Wi-Fi devices to support both wavebands, but these days a lot of SOHO routers and AP's do - so called "dual band." back in the early days, plenty of kit was 2.4GHz only - indeed my current laptop still is!

A "dual band" router/AP is like have two Wi-Fi AP's contained in the same box, one serving 2.4GHz, one serving 5GHz. A lot of kit will let you choose whether to give each waveband the same or different SSID names just as if they were separate physical AP's. There's no "right" or "wrong" way to do this, but with SSID's the same, client may shift (or "roam" as we call it) from one waveband to the other automatically, with SSID's different client with never roam automatically and you have to explicitly choose which SSID you want to bind to (called "Associate" in Wi-Fi speak.)

Some of the Wi-Fi protocols are specific to particular wavebands as mandated in the standards. B/G only works in the 2.4GHz waveband. A/AC only works in the 5GHz waveband. N can operate in either, but it's not mandatory for N device to support both. By was of example, my laptop supports N protocol, but 2.4GHz only.

TBC
 
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mickevh

Distinguished Member
Port Fowarding

When IP devices talk to each other, it's kind of like making a telephone call. Let's use the example of a browsing a page on a web site. The client looks up the "telephone number" (IP address) of the web site, dials the number, it the site answers they engage in a "conversation" for a bit to exchange some date, then when finished they hang up the call. That works both ways - if something out on the Internet wanted to try and "call" something in my network, it would work the same way.

Most SOHO routers contain something called a firewall which exerts a degree of control over this. Usually out-of-the-box SOHO routers permit all outbound "calls" and block all inbound "calls." Once established, calls proceed "two-way" - it's a conversation - the firewall is policing the call initiation.

If you wanted to host a service from your home that permitted access from the Internet, say you set up your own web server, such a firewall would prevent anything on the public Internet accessing anything on your LAN. "Port Forwards" are about selectively punching holes through the firewall to let selected "calls" in to certain devices. So, again using the example of a web server, you'd create a port forward rule in the routers firewall that permits all inbound connection to your web server (on the standard web server port) and direct that traffic to your internal web server. (It'll also do something called address translation AKA "NAT" on the fly.)

If you don't plan to allow anything from the public Internet to access resources on your LAN, you don't need (or want) any Port Forwards. Out the box, a SOHO router will block all inbound sesssions by default.

TBC
 
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mickevh

Distinguished Member
DDNS (Dynamic DNS)

Your router's external "WAN" interface will be assigned a public Internet IP address by your ISP when you connect. (Some people refer to this as your "external" IP address.) That IP address is not yours for all time and it could change. ISP's are generally reluctant to give you a "fixed" public IP address, though some will if you pay them enough. Big companies all have there own, for example.

DNS is the process of translating human readable Internet domain names (all that ww.this.and.that.blah.blah) into what the machines actually use which is IP addresses.

If you wanted to make your resources available from the public Internet, probably the easiest way is to register your own DNS name with a service provider and as part of that process, you tell them what public Internet IP address you want the name to translate to.

Because your public Internet IP address could change, it could render your DNS name inoperable if your ISP changed your public IP address and your DNS name now points to the "wrong" IP address.

DDNS is a mechanism to automatically keep your DNS name registration current such that if ever your IP address does change, a DDNS "client" running somewhere on your network will automatically update the DNS name provider to reflect the new IP address. You could technically run the "client" side of DDNS anywhere on your network (some NAS's do it for example) but it's neater if it's integrated into your router as the router is likely to detect the change of IP address quicker.

Some ISP's bundle a domain name registration and DDNS service as part of their offering.

Again, if you are not planning to permit things on the Internet access to your home network, you don't need DDNS and you don't need to register your own domain name.
 
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