Linksys vs TP-Link

Last Updated on August 1, 2017 by Dave Farquhar

If you’re looking for the pros and cons of Linksys vs TP-Link, I have experience with both and I’m glad to share it.

Linksys is a well established brand. From 2003 to 2013, they were Cisco’s consumer products division. Since 2013, they’ve been part of Belkin. Prior to Cisco buying them, they were an independent company, founded in 1988. Linksys was the first company to sell 100 million routers.

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.


linksys vs tp-link
This Linksys WRT54G is one of the best pieces of computer hardware of all time. It elevated Linksys from a low-tier brand to something professionals grudgingly respected. People still buy these things today even though they’re ridiculously underpowered and overmatched  by modern routers.

Linksys started making consumer routers in 1999, when it released the BEFSR41. At the time, Linksys was just a second-tier maker of network cards and network professionals looked down on the brand, although plenty of consumers bought them. IT pros grudgingly accepted the BEFSR41 because it provided a way to give early work-at-home types a firewall for protection.

I remember the network guy at work telling me the BEFSR41 was junk, but that it only cost $200, so he’d use them. It turned out to be a pretty good device in the end, though. They were no less reliable than the computers we used them with, and I knew people who were still using them as late as 2007.

Its successor, the WRT54G, is a legend. It was Linksys’ first wireless router, released in 2002, and it’s still on the market today. It’s obsolete and painfully overpriced when you buy it new, but it’s reliable, so people keep buying them.

I don’t think as highly of newer Linksys devices. My experience with them has been that they overheat too much. You can fix them, but you shouldn’t have to. Their pricier routers do seem to be better built than their cheaper ones.

One thing I will give Linksys credit for is that they remain open to aftermarket firmware. Not every Linksys device lets you load third-party firmware like DD-WRT, but many do, and Linksys committed to letting anything with “WRT” in the name stay compatible with DD-WRT.


TP-Link TL-WR841n
This is the TP-Link TL-WR841n. It makes a nice modern alternative to the WRT54G.

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.

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