Before I start this is in no way any kind of promotion of TP-Link – I just stumbled on the V2 version of this router originally and now own both the V2 and V3 and am very happy with the results with one caviat – see WiFi later in the article. The full title of this 4G router is “AC1200 Dual Band Gigabit LTE WiFi Router – Archer MR600” with the symbol 4G+ on the latest box. As you may see elsewhere in the blog, I’m no stranger to routers out of the box and hacked.
There’s a long backstory to this so I’ve split my blog about 4G broadband into the original and this one.
For some time now I’ve been using the TP-Link MR600 router, not realising there are three versions of it – not firmware but three actual hardware variations. I knowingly bought version 2, specifically because of improved 4G sensitivity over version 1 – that much is well documented on the web. See the TP-Link PDF downloads. I recently convinced a friend here in Southern Spain to buy an MR600 as he wanted to take advantage of my experience on the subject and when his router arrived, it turns out his was/is version 3. Accordingly I’ve just purchased the same.
If you follow my original 4G blog entry you’ll know I have a GL-iNet 4G router back in the UK and I’m fairly confident that the MR600 V2 will out-perform it so I thought I’d go for gold here with V3. For general broadband routers, GL-iNET remain my favourite (and the later models with AX suffixes support WiFi6) – but for pulling in 4G it looks like TP-Link are the better option.
What a learning curve
A mere week or so ago I read several articles suggesting that the differences between the versions was not well documented – presumably by people who’d not been to the TP-Link website where (once again) you can find PDF manuals for MR600 versions 1, 2 and 3, not to mention emulators for all three and a host of other information.
My logic behind grabbing the latest version is that I want the fastest speed I can get here at the edge of a small Spanish town – in a street where fibre is unlikely to appear for years and where the only other well-documented alternative is a wireless dish-based system with a transmitter in the middle of town, run by a company not known for keeping promises and a system that attracts more complaints than I could count here. That’s it for history – all covered in the first blog. The 4G mast is located near the town centre not very far from the other dish-based setup.
What am I expecting out of the V3 MR600 – well, there are a couple of really minor changes, V2 uses a micro-SIM whereas V3 uses nano-SIM. The English language manual has had some remaining Chinese removed – and they claim they’ve improved the (removeable) 4G antennas. To look at, V2 and V3 are the same. The V3 box makes a big deal of OneMesh – but there seems in fact to be nothing new in that area – indeed were I not pushing for that last extra bit of speed I’d be happy to stick with V2.
It is worth noting that the box makes no mention of WiFi6 and in fact when you look at the router from a mobile phone there is no little 6 on the WiFi indicator – but both V2 and V3 (I’ve no experience of the original V1) have both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz WiFi. In my case the lack of WiFi6 is not an issue as the router will be simply feeding hardwire Ethernet output to a GL-iNET router which DOES have WiFi6.
Results will of course vary depending on your situation. The MR600 box actually claims – complete with THEIR mistakes:
“Boost your 4G Speed:- Supports the 4G+ Cat6, which used Carrier Aggregation technology to boost the 4G+ speeds of up to 300Mbps”
How’s THAT for a mouthful – as for 300Mbps 4G – really? I don’t think I believe that figure.
Note that when discussing versions of the MR600, I’m not talking about firmware here but of the hardware upgrades. I just assume the latest firmware as this is readily available on the TP-Link website as are online PDF manuals and overviews.
So before diving in – I’ve already said that the MR600 is better than the earlier MR400 model – but where does that leave the MR500 which came out AFTER MR600 V1 and V2? When I asked – TP-Link helpfully pointed me to this online comparison page which details the differences between the MR500 and MR600 models. I’m sticking with The MR600 – V3 hardware is new (came out around February 2023).
Differences between V2 and V3? It took a little digging, having downloaded the PDF manuals and after running them through an online PDF comparison utility – differences are MINIMAL – shall we say. Same number of pages, almost but not quite identical content…. TERMS in V2 were in Chinese, now in English… slightly improved 4G antenna tech, a change from micro-SIM to nano-SIM, the addition of IPSec to the VPN section of the V3 model, also, under PARENTAL CONTROLS – my V3 had content restriction turned on by default – and that’s all I’ve found so far. On the left are the VPN options of the MR600 – quite basic..
Compare the above to the VPN options in the GL-iNet routers with their latest firmware:
The black panel on the left shows the GL-iNet standard options in the VPN section for comparison – but also there are important additions in the APPLICATIONS section below left – again missing in at least the TP-Link MR600 models. Using VPNs without a fixed IP (not common with 4G providers) is a whole other conversation but I’ll leave you with these two GL-iNET screenshots to ponder. Sadly the GL-iNet routers I’m using do not have 4G inputs of the sensitivity of the MR600 – so – swings and roundabouts – I use both – the MR600 provides an Internet connection to my GL-iNet FLINT so I get the best of both worlds – probably well over the top.
BUT it’s the claimed V3 further 4G input improvements that interest me and so yesterday, having talked a pal of mine into buying the MR600 only to find he received the new V3 as against my V2, I offered to set it up so I could get the chance to do a side-by-side comparison.
Of course, 4G signals are not exactly consistent – earlier this week my V2 pulled in up to 100Mbps download and 40Mbps upload, yesterday the V3 with careful positioning identical to the V2 router position in my office, managed 59Mbps download, 43Mbps upload, then 62/44, 66/25, 86/44. Hours later, back to my V2 router I managed 87/45, 60/24, 78/43, 75/24.
If I moved the router ever so slightly, I’m sure I could have changed all of that and with external antennas (supported by at least the V2 and V3 models) I could possibly get more – but do I want to drill holes and worry about Spanish rain at one end (thunderstorms yesterday) and EXTREME heat (40c in the shade not unusual in summer) at the other end? Not sure I want to do that. I’ve watched YouYube videos on the MR600 with comments debating whether the two external antenna on the MR600 are 4G or WiFi – it seems that lots of folk need to check out the manuals I’ve linked in here.
See what I mean about speeds? Consistency is not something you can count on with mobile signals – but in all cases I’m not griping compared to what I used to get with the dish-based broadband – and reliability for the past year, almost 100%. Is the V3 better than the V2? I can’t tell at this point but it’s better than routers I’ve discussed above and several others – and the MR600 pricing on Amazon.es is not at all bad (around €120 all-inc). Only one way to find out…
Apart from the good 4G performance, most of the features of my MR600 V2 are wasted on me as it simply feeds my GL-iNET main router WAN input – but looking at the TP-Link WEB and APP interfaces, I’m impressed with what else this router has to offer. Sadly the GL-iNet routers (not 4G) directly support Wireguard, TailScale and other VPN technologies that the TP-Link does not. If I could talk GL-iNET into bringing out a direct competitor with 4G CAT6 tech, or TP-Link to add such features into the MR600 -then all that might change – for now – I like the MR600 a LOT.
TP-Link Web Interface:
TP-Link Android APP Interface
At this point it may seem I’m getting fanatical about TP-Link – a trip to their website will show you emulators for all 3 models of MR600 – GREAT – except – the V2 emulator shows a control panel main section on IPTV – and in my fully-up-to-date firmware on the V2, no such section exists. On reader hinted that the IPTV feature could possibly be geo-limited? Maybe TP-Link should make that clear in their emulators which can be seen in any country? Ok, it’s a minor point… anyway I contacted TP-Link yesterday and the (human) response from “Luna Lu” was helpful – she suggested always referring to the online PDF manual for the most up to date information on the relevant model.
Just to round this off – with the 4G TP-Link MR600 V2 the same distance (under 3 metres) from my phone as the GL-iNET FLINT (FLINT has WiFi 6, MR600 does not) and bearing in mind that MR600 is SUPPLYING FLINT with it’s broadband, I tested speed using SPEEDTEST.NET (2.4Ghz WiFi in each case) – MR600 came back 43/32 then 47/22 within 2 minutes – FLINT came back with 96/36 then 80/40 2 minutes later. This is WAY from conclusive – I’d need to do this 50 times over a day to be convinced the overall difference was real – but for what it’s worth.. in case it isn’t obvious I’m referring to download/upload Mbps speeds.
The MR600 V3 router just arrived – I can confirm that even the latest model does not have WiFi6 – consistent with earlier versions.
Oh and I’m pleased to note that both versions of the router supported a scheduled auto-reboot – handy for example if you are away and for whatever reason the 4G signal does not connect after, say a power failure – that has happened to me ONCE in the year I’ve had the V2 – I just noted the auto-reboot command.
Something else I’ve noticed – I’m trying out a new service provider – DIGI in Spain and in the v3 D600 an consistently getting shotrer PING times than I get with the other provider, Xenet (they use the same mast in our village). I may be just being lucky but for several hours now I’ve been running speed tests (SpeedTest.NET) on my PC with the new provider (making sure the router is in exactly the same position and angle as before) and am reliably getting 140Mbps down, 38Mbps up and pings of around 36ms. The pings are maybe 25% shorter than the other provider (Xenet) – whether or not that is helping improve download speeds or not, I’m not entirely sure – but I’m not arguing 🙂
4 thoughts on “TP-Link Archer MR600 AC1200 Dual Band LTE Router”
About the missing IPTV menu: TP-Link tends to firmware geo limit features, if I know it correctly: e.g. the scheduled auto reboot in an earlier model was limited to the Israel firmware version (or just the location setting?… not sure). You might want to Google / play around a bit.
Given your comment I’ll modify the blog slightly then look it up – hardly an important feature.. maybe they don’t want to be seen to be encouraging illegal TV watching in some countries….
Thanks for the feedback
FWIW this is my router:
It costs a bit more than the MR600 but the mesh capability was important to me.
I recently moved house (Leicester to Newcastle) and wanted to avoid my internet connection disappearing. My ‘new’ home doesn’t have a landline & from past experience anticipated a lengthy wait.
To test the water I bought a cheap DLink 4G travel router & a Smarty unlimited data SIM (£28/month). It worked well in Leicester so I was confident about retaining connectivity.
When I was installed in Newcastle the Dlink began to show its limitations: it could only handle 16 devices & the wifi range wasn’t brilliant. It was perfectly happy streaming Netflix & Amazon but less so with other TV streams. It only cost £40 so I wasn’t complaining.
I’d previously had a Virgin fibre connection which was fast but not cheap! So I bought a TP-Link mesh router with a 4G ‘hub’ & it’s great! I live in a fairly large bungalow with very thick walls so wifi penetration is an issue. The mesh router gets around this very elegantly. I currently have the hub and two other devices. They all have a pair of ethernet sockets which adds to the fun!
In terms of speed I don’t have a clue! I’ve always been deeply suspicious of speed tests but this setup does exactly what I want at a sensible price! I won’t be going back to wires or fibre in a hurry! As an added bonus I can take the SIM card away with me in my Dlink router!