Routers that can be used with Superhub to overcome its limitations

on #18-08-2015 18:38

Experience with TP-Link Archer C7

Many VM cable broadband users have reported Wifi performance problems (speed, or
range) and have been advised to replace the wifi on the superhub with an
external wireless router.

I thought it might be useful to have a thread under "Wireless and Networking"
with solutions that users have found, so that commonly suggested solutions can
be found in one place without trawling through hundreds of messages in dozens of
threads (as I recently had to do when the recent firmware update stopped my SH2
working in modem mode with my (very old, but still very useful, Dlink DIR-615
router).I had put the SH2 in modem mode and used the Dlink because I found that
despite its age its wifi reach to distant parts of the house was far superior to
the SH2 Wifi.

After that stopped working, and I got no help from VirginMedia, I experimented
and (eventually) stumbled across a solution that allowed me to get back my
previous wifi performance: I put the SH2 in router mode, with its wifi disabled,
and turned off NAT (and all routing functions) in the Dlink. So the Dlink went
back to handling wifi while the SH2 did routing, and I had 8 ethernet ports --
four on the SH2 and four on the Dlink. That was a usable solution. (It's
possible that others had mentioned that, but I did not find that option in my
searches, and it wasn't mentioned by the VM person at the call centre.)

It's also possible that that sort of solution will work for others who can no
longer use the SH2 in modem mode and already have a good wifi router than allows
NAT to be disabled. That won't work for users with more complex requirements.

One consequence of that solution is that you get more working ethernet ports:
four on the SH2 and possibly three on the NAT-less router (as one has to link to
the SH2). That may be useful for some people!

Seeing my PC perform directly connected to the SH2 drew my attention to the fact
that the Dlink had been slowing down my cable and wifi access because it has
only 100Mbit ethernet: I got at most around 90Mbps downloads with wired
connections to the Dlink (plenty for most purposes!), but I could get 105 with a
direct connection to SH2. Also wifi was limited to 70-90 Mbps (depending on
conditions), because it also had to share the 100Mb connection between Dlink and

So I decided to invest in a wifi router that could do better than the Dlink,
both in maximum speed next to the SH2+Router and in range at which wifi speed is

Several users have posted recommended routers and Sephiroth in particular
commented on several of the Asus routers, particularly recommending Asus RT-N66U
as an excellent choice under #100 (#95 at Amazon). I prefer, when possible to
support my local PC-World (partly because of the convenience of being able to
look at things). They had advertised the Asus for #84.99, but had run out of

So I looked for alternatives and comparisons in online router reviews. In
several reviews comparing different recent routers (including TP-link, Asus,
Netgear, and others) one router was selected as particularly good for its 2.4G
wifi range, the TP-Link Archer C7 (version2) (also known as AC1750). It also has
a lot of happy users on Amazon (USA and UK).

Since PCworld were selling it for #79.99 I ordered it and picked it up the next
day. So far I am very happy with its 2.4G wifi performance -- but not everything
else (see below). My Dell E6410 (5 year old) laptop gets close to 100Mbps
downloads now (sometimes up to 105) but most importantly the wifi reach in far
corners of the house and even out on the back terrace onto the lawn, is much
better than it used to be. In a particularly difficult corner, on the floor
below the router in a direction that goes diagonally through several walls and a
floor, I can get 25-30Mbps down, and over 5 up, where previously it was a
struggle to get 3-4Mbps download. A google nexus 7 also works there, though it's
a bit slower. (I use for all tests as that doesn't go outside
the virginmedia network, where I assume more factors can affect performance.)

The 5G performance of the TP-link with my equipment and my (simple) tests (no
file transfers) is only marginally better than the 2.4G close to the router.
But, as I've found in the past, e.g. with the SH2, 5G degrades rapidly with

So I've turned off 5G for now (saving power??).

I've tried the new router in two modes: (a) with NAT disabled on the TP-link,
and the SH2 in router mode with Wifi disabled (like the configuration with the
Dlink) and (b) with NAT and full routing on the TP-link but the SH2 in modem

So far it doesn't make much difference in performance. I have settled on SH2 in
router mode with Wifi NOT enabled on it, and with several devices connected to
it directly by cable, and the TP-link with NAT off, partly because then our
cable connections will still work even if something goes wrong with the TP-link.
But the TPlink has more options.

Although I don't regret the purchase, I've found that the TP-Link has some
dreadful design features (even with the latest firmware: April 2015), though the
documentation alongside the setup menus is far better than either the Dlink or
the SH2 (the only others I've experienced recently).

An annoying feature is that it requires too many re-boots during initial set up.
I don't see why more menu choices were not allowed before the first reboot.
(Reminds me of the SH1).

A more annoying feature is that the list of reserved DHCP addresses shows only
the ip addresses and the mac addresses, not the names of the connected machines.
The list of connected clients does show machine names however. Worse, it doesn't
allow a connected client's details to be copied into the DHCP reservations list.
So setting up the list is more hassle than it needs to be. And you can't
simultaneously see the connected clients and the reservations list: you have to
flip between screens.

There is one very big flaw, which wasted a lot of time. If you turn off NAT
(routing functions) on the TP-link it becomes impossible to log into it to turn
it back on. You have to use the "factory re-set" button, after which it reboots
with all the user information lost!

There are many complaints about this on the internet, but I missed them all when
comparing routers! The TP-link chat-helpline confirmed the flaw. The lesson is:
before turning off NAT make sure you save all settings in a backup file. Then,
after the re-set you can just restore the backup. There is no warning about this
in the user menus, nothing in the printed documentation, and nothing in the PDF
user guide which I managed to download. I cannot understand such stupidity.

Anyhow anyone reading this, and considering turning off NAT so that the SH2 can
be left in Router mode while the TPlink handles wifi, has been warned: Save
everything before turning off NAT.

It's possible that other routers have the same flaw -- but not my ancient Dlink!

I hope others who have had to buy routers because of inadequacies of Superhubs
will report on their advantages and disadvantages here, to make it easier for
others to make choices.

Re: Routers that can be used with Superhub to overcome its limitations [Update
on Tp-link C7]

Options on #20-08-2015 03:15

Since posting my comments on connecting TP-Link Archer C7 to SH2 I have been
informed by TP-Link support that I can leave the SH2 in router mode with wifi
turned off, and connect the TP-Link to act as a router without turning off NAT.

To make that work I had to turn off DHCP on theTP-Link and also go back to its
WAN page and unset everything. NB: in this mode the web address on the base of
the router ( does not work. Instead it connects to some sort of
commercial web site. Nothing in the TPlink documentation that I have read warns
about this.

In this mode, the ethernet cable connecting to the SH2 must not be plugged in to
the WAN port on the TPLink. It can go into any cable port on the SH2.

To simplify access to the TPLink while it was not functioning as a router, I
copied the information about its mac address and IP address (which I had set) on
the LAN address page into the DHCP table on the SH2, and gave it a fixed IP
address. (In my case I had to do that manually because although the
mac address on the LAN port was shown on the TP-Link web interface, it did not
show up among connected devices on the SH2. By specifying that LAN address both
on the SH2 and on the lan web page of the TP-Link, I was able to ensure I could
connect to the TP-Link when it was no longer functioning as a router, only as an
access point.

I then re-booted the TPlink, with the SH2 running in router mode. After that
everything worked. I had three spare cable sockets on the SH2, and three spare
on the TPLink. I connected desktop PC and powerline to the SH2.

As before I could use the Tplink for wifi, but the 2.4G worked much better than
5G, so I disabled 5G. As before, wifi download speeds varied from about 75 up to
105Mbps close to the router and up to about 40Mbps in the furthest corner on the
floor below, very much better than SH2 or my old Dlink router. Upload remains
around 6Mbps. Cable via the Tplink is the same as via the SH2, around 105Mbps

So apart from the inadequate and misleading documentation, the Tp-link Archer v7
provides what I was looking for, at what seems to be a reasonable price.

Their email support works, insofar as I got a fairly quick response to a query.
The most useful information was that I did not have to turn off NAT, only DHCP,
to get the device working as an access point connected to SH2 in router mode

[Apologies for typing and other errors. This file needs more checking!]