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TP-Link SafeStream TL-R600VPN review

Verdict

A budget router with a good range of features, but it’s only suited to very light VPN duties

Review Date: 11 May 2012

Reviewed By: Dave Mitchell

Price when reviewed: £50 (£60 inc VAT)

Overall Rating
3 stars out of 6

Features & Design
4 stars out of 6

Value for Money
4 stars out of 6

Performance
2 stars out of 6

IPsec VPNs are one of the cheapest methods of connecting mobile workers securely to the main office, a cost that TP-Link’s new TL-R600VPN reduces even further. This little desktop unit simultaneously supports up to 20 IPsec and 16 PPTP VPN tunnels, yet costs a mere £50.

Its LAN and WAN connections are Gigabit all-round and there’s an integrated SPI firewall. There isn’t much to see at the front of the device, with status LEDs for each port, but an unusual feature is its built-in electrical surge protection.

Installation is simple enough, and the router’s web interface offers a quick-start wizard to get you up and running. The SPI firewall is switched on by default, but there are no options for customising it with your own rules for controlling access to specific services or protocols.

Most security features are similar to lower-cost consumer routers, with options to create virtual servers, port-forwarding rules and a DMZ for a single-host system. You can also apply control rules for internet access – comprising hosts, domain or IP address destinations – a time schedule, and allow or deny actions.

TP-Link SafeStream TL-R600VPN

For IPsec VPNs, the router is aimed primarily at providing site-to-site connections, since TP-Link includes no client software for remote users. All the key encryption schemes, including AES-256, are supported, and TP-Link provides useful tutorials on its website.

We tested performance using the router’s PPTP VPN server and found it very simple to set up. You enable the PPTP server and MPPE encryption, define an IP address range for incoming connections, and create necessary users and passwords.

Using the Windows 7 PPTP VPN client, we had no problems connecting to the router from its WAN side and accessing systems on the LAN. However, the router struggled to handle the encryption overheads. TP-Link claims a maximum VPN speed of 2.5MB/sec, and running simple file copies over the link returned average speeds of 2MB/sec. We also noted that while these copies were running, the management web interface froze, showing the router was heavily stressed.

The TL-R600VPN is one of the cheapest VPN routers on the market. It’s simple to use, but has major problems coping with heavy traffic loads.

Author: Dave Mitchell

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