TP-Link is a Chinese manufacturer specialising in affordable networking products aimed mainly at the consumer and SOHO markets. Its new TL-R470T+ load-balancing router is a good example of the impressive value it can cram into its products.
Smaller businesses needing multiple WAN connections, whether for improved bandwidth or redundancy, can choose from many dual-WAN routers for a couple of hundred pounds, but the TL-R470T+ ups the game by offering no less than four wired WAN ports for just £30 (ex. VAT). The router is very compact, measuring just 21cm by 13cm by 2.6cm, with an all-metal chassis and a built-in power supply. Small activity lights on the front panel show green for LAN and orange for WAN traffic, and at the rear are five 10/100Mbps network ports. One of these is permanently configured as a WAN port, one as a LAN port, and three others are user-configurable as either WAN or switched LAN ports.
By default, two ports are assigned to WAN use, and this can be easily changed via the simple web admin interface. A very basic setup wizard makes it pretty easy to get a basic internet connection up and running, although this simply lets you choose the WAN connection type (PPPoE, Dynamic IP or Static IP). The default configuration disables the integrated firewall, but enabling this just requires a check-box to be ticked.
The load-balancing options are surprisingly comprehensive for a product in this price range, with automatic balancing or manual balancing. Additionally, incoming and outgoing rules can be created based on IP addresses and ports so that they always use a particular WAN port. Simple bandwidth-based Quality of Service rules based on IP addresses and port ranges can be applied to inbound and outbound traffic.
As well as an SPI firewall, there are IP, MAC and domain filtering options, plus a wide range of configurable network attack defence mechanisms. The switch also has several options, such as per-port traffic limits and a port mirror facility.
Considering the price, there's a lot on offer in the TL-R470T+, and although it has some advanced capabilities it's surprisingly easy to configure and is a good entry point for those interested in implementing multi-WAN operations.