TP-Link Archer T4U
The Archer T4U is TP-Link's current-gen USB-attached AC1200 Wi-Fi adapter with an omnidirectional antenna and a USB extension cable to help optimize signal strength.
TP-Link is a frequent favorite with our forum members because its products tend to cost less than the competition. In this line-up, the Archer T4U is indeed the least-expensive contender.
- AC1200, up to 300 Mb/s on 2.4GHz and 867 Mb/s on 5GHz band
- USB 3.0, backward compatible with USB 2.0
- Omnidirectional internal antenna
- Supports 802.11ac, 802.11n, 802.11g and 802.11a
TP-Link includes the following in the box:
- T4U Wi-Fi USB adapter
- Software CD
- Quick-start guide
- USB extension cable
This is the only adapter that comes with an 80mm mini CD, which is great for saving space. But it also makes the install a little slower since the outer edges of the media can't be read as fast as a 120mm disc. TP-Link's manual is available as a PDF file on the CD.
TP-Link's Archer T4U includes all of the features you'd expect, including a WPS button on the adapter and a status LED, which lights up green. The antenna is fully internal, facilitating a smaller profile than some of the other contenders. Overall, the Archer T4U's chassis is kind of square and chunky, and the plastic feels less durable than its competition. It's particularly glossy and shiny, which makes it prone to scratches, too.
The aforementioned LED transmits light down a strip of clear plastic. This is a clever trick that makes the output look like more than a single LED. In fact, no other USB adapter in our round-up is as bright. If you're gaming on a tricked-out PC or notebook, the Archer T4U will look right at home.
In use, the Archer T4U struggled to maintain a consistent connection on both the 2.4 and 5GHz bands. It occasionally lagged and encountered delays opening Web pages, both issues not seen from the other products we're reviewing. This translated to inconsistent performance in our benchmarks.
1: USB 3.0 connector
2: WPS button
3: Dual internal antenna (both are indicated)
Note the lack of an RF shield over the circuitry. We asked TP-Link about this and confirmed that no parts were missing. Apparently, this design was chosen for certification reasons. Still, given the Archer T4U's instability during our tests, we have to question the lack of a component used by competing adapters.
TP-Link's software can manage your Wi-Fi settings if you want it to. While the utility does not provide a Windows Network Settings map, other essential information is there, including the SSID, type of network, type of encryption, wireless mode and a transfer rate estimate.
There are also two advanced features for power users: SoftAP mode and power-save mode. Both are toggled off by default. The driver we used for testing was V1_141219.
The Archer T4U has a list price of $50 and a street price on Amazon of $30. Both of those prices make this the least-expensive adapter in our review. TP-Link includes a two-year warranty.