The TP-Link TD-8616. It’s a modem. It seems to work.

The TP-Link TD-8616 is a low-priced, acceptable replacement for whatever DSL modem your ISP issued you. As such, it’s less exciting than a can opener, but a DSL modem is one of those things that you shouldn’t ever think about. Just like your can opener, the only time you’re likely to have any opinion at all about your DSL modem is when it’s not doing its job well. This is my review of the TD-8616.

The TD-8616 is just a modem, but then you can pair it with a router with whatever capabilities you want, including the ability to run third-party firmware on it, which I recommend of course. Might I suggest a TL-WR841n running DD-WRT?

There’s one thing you have to look out for with the TD-8616: It comes from the factory set to 192.168.1.1, and there’s a very good chance your router is configured for that IP address. So before you try to set it up and use it, connect it directly to a computer via Ethernet, hard-code your computer’s IP address to 192.168.1.2, point a browser at 192.168.1.1, log in as admin/admin, and change the IP address to 192.168.1.253 or 192.168.1.254. Then change the admin password, and write it down along with the IP address on a piece of paper and tape it to the underside of the modem. You’ll rarely, if ever have to visit the modem’s administrative page but this saves you an IP address conflict.

There’s not much else to say about this modem except it costs half or a third as much as buying a replacement through your ISP, and about all it will take for it to be better than the typical ISP-issued modem is for it to work reliably for a period of one year. In my experience it does better than that. So it’s not like this thing has any real competition. And while you may or may not have heard of TP-Link, in tech circles TP-Link is generally regarded as no worse than the bigger-name stuff and frequently it outperforms it, and usually at a lower price.

My recommendation: If you still have old-school copper DSL and don’t plan to switch to fiber DSL or cable any time soon, go ahead and buy one of these because the day will come when your modem will quit working, you’ll call your ISP, and your ISP will run some basic diagnostics and tell you your modem is bad. Then you can do what I did on my mother in law’s behalf: Tell customer service you have a new-in-box TP-Link modem you can swap in. It’ll save you $50 and a couple of days without Internet access.

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