Reliable routing

TP-Link Archer C7

Amazon exclusive

TP-Link Archer A7

The Archer C7 is the budget router a lot of people depend on for reliable internet in their home or small office. It covers a large area and it's suitable for a variety of uses, but the main thing that sets it apart from the A7 is lack of Amazon Alexa compatibility.

$76 at Amazon

Pros

  • Support for OpenWRT
  • Two-year warranty, 24/7 support
  • Great range
  • Two USB-A ports

Cons

  • Doesn't support Amazon Alexa
  • Costs more than the Archer A7

The Archer A7 is essentially the same as the Archer C7, but it has the ability to control some of the router's main features with Amazon Alexa. It also has one less USB-A 2.0 port on the back.

$70 at Amazon

Pros

  • Works with Amazon Alexa
  • Works with OpenWRT
  • Two-year warranty, 24/7 support
  • Great range

Cons

  • Only one USB-A 2.0 port

These routers will both deliver great range and the same AC1750 throughput, but only the Archer A7 works with Amazon Alexa.

TP-Link Archer C7 vs. TP-Link Archer A7 tech specs

TP-Link Archer C7 TP-Link Archer A7
Performance AC1750
(450 Mbps + 1,300 Mbps)
AC1750
(450 Mbps + 1,300 Mbps)
Frequency 2.4 GHz
5 GHz
2.4 GHz
5 GHz
Processor Qualcomm QCA9558
720 MHz
Single-core
Qualcomm QCA9558
720 MHz
Single-core
Wireless standards 802.11ac/n/a (5 GHz)
802.11b/g/n (2.4 GHz)
802.11ac/n/a (5 GHz)
802.11b/g/n
Memory 16 MB Flash
128 MB RAM
16 MB Flash
128 MB RAM
Ports Two USB-A 2.0 One USB-A 2.0
Ethernet Four LAN
One WAN
Four LAN
One WAN
Antennas Three internal
Three external
Three internal
Three external
Amazon Alexa No Yes

Performance

These two routers have essentially the same hardware inside, including processor (CPU), RAM, and Flash memory, altogether delivering theoretical AC1750 throughput over the 2.4 GHz (450 Mbps) and 5 GHz (1,300 Mbps) radios. Either router is capable of handling a standard household full of wireless devices — TP-Link claims the A7 can deal with 50 or more devices at once, though I wouldn't push it anywhere near that — and range should theoretically hit about 2,500 square feet, though that number too is only an estimate. The layout of your home, the thickness of walls, and plenty of other factors will knock that number down, but it will provide enough coverage for a medium to large home or office.

If you'd like to connect external storage to your router for multimedia sharing, the Archer C7 has two USB-A 2.0 ports on the back. The Archer A7 is likewise using USB-A 2.0, so speeds will be the same, but it only has one port, meaning you can only connect one drive at a time. As for wired Ethernet connections, both routers have four LAN and one WAN ports.

Features

With either of these routers, you're getting parental controls, guest networks, WPA and WPA2 encryption, and the ability to flash with custom firmware, like OpenWRT. Both are easy to set up, and both have an available app for management thereafter.

What the Archer C7 doesn't have is the ability to work with Amazon's assistant. The Archer A7 is an Amazon-exclusive product and lets you control some of its features with Alexa. You can do things like tell Alexa to set up a guest network, connect a new device, perform a speed test, and perform certain Quality of Service (QoS) tasks, like prioritize gaming data among other things.

Conclusion

Those of you getting started on or continuing to build a connected home centered around Alexa will no doubt find great value in the Archer A7. It is missing one of the two USB-A 2.0 ports found on the back of the Archer C7, but other than that it's essentially the same router. It's also usually a few dollars cheaper than the Archer C7.

If you have no need for Amazon Alexa and want to stick with two USB-A 2.0 ports on the back, the Archer C7 remains a viable option.

Reliable routing

TP-Link Archer C7

One of our favorite budget routers.

The Archer C7 is the budget router a lot of people depend on for reliable internet in their home or small office. It covers a large area and it's suitable for a variety of uses, but the main thing that sets it apart from the A7 is lack of Amazon Alexa compatibility.

Amazon exclusive

TP-Link Archer A7

A tested design, now with Amazon Alexa.

The Archer A7 is essentially the same as the Archer C7, but it has the ability to control some of the router's main features with Amazon Alexa. It also has one less USB-A 2.0 port on the back.

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