If you’re looking for the pros and cons of Netgear vs TP-Link, I have experience with both and I’m glad to share it.
Netgear is a well established brand, having been on the market since 1996.
I don’t blame you if you’ve never heard of TP-Link. They were founded in 1996 but if you were buying their stuff before 2005, you’re well ahead of me.
Netgear started out as the consumer products line of Bay Networks, a 1990s competitor to companies like Cisco and 3Com. Bay started producing the Netgear line in 1996 and spun it off in 1999 after Northern Telecom (Nortel) purchased Bay Networks. Nortel went on to become the largest bankruptcy in Canadian history, but that has nothing to do with Netgear.
Netgear survives as a maker of consumer networking gear, though it has branched back up into enterprise gear to some extent. Consumer gear remains its forte. Netgear produces routers, switches, and related products.
I’ve been buying Netgear products since they were part of Bay Networks. They made my go-to network card for several years, because it was inexpensive and worked equally well with Linux and Windows. My first dual-speed hub was a Netgear. It still works, but I have no use for it today. I also own a Netgear R6300, configured as an access point.
Through the years, I’ve had reasonably good experience with their products. They’re never the cheapest option, but they’re rarely the most expensive one either. Many consumer networking companies don’t update their products, but Netgear does a nice job of releasing updates for the R6300. Every company has security flaws; it’s fixing them that matters, and Netgear does a better job than most at that.
Netgear is certainly a mid-tier brand with a price to match. But I’ve had much better luck with it than with other brands with similar name recognition.
TP-Link gear is cheap. But I’ve had nothing but great luck with it. I loved my TP-Link routers. Not only were they reliable, they were incredibly stable. I used one as an access point for several years without rebooting it. That’s unheard of.
TP-Link controls its own supply chain, which it believes allows it to build better products at better prices. I’m a believer.
The two things I don’t like about TP-Link were how it caved to the FCC over DD-WRT. It relented, but no other maker was so quick to ban third-party firmware on its devices. And while TP-Link does release firmware updates sometimes, it doesn’t do it as quickly as I’d like.
That said, the next time I need a $20 router, I’ll be buying a TP-Link TL-WR841N, or whatever model replaces it at that price point. Even TP-Link’s cheap routers are durable. I’ll load DD-WRT on it and it’ll be great.
TP-Link doesn’t have the name recognition to be a mid-tier brand, but it definitely gives mid-tier quality at a price more in line with off brands.