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Lifewire / Rebecca Isaacs
Weak Wi-Fi range
While the price tag is certainly one of the best on the market, it can’t make up for the TP-Link TL-WN725N's slow speeds and weak range.
Finding the perfect Wi-Fi adapter to suit your home or office needs can be a challenge. Should your needs require something more portable, nano adapters can be the way to go. The TP-Link TL-WN725N adapter aims to complete all of your portability, versatility, and connectivity needs all in an adapter the size of your pinky finger.
Since the TP-Link is a nano adapter, it only measures 0.73 x 0.58 x 0.27 inches (LWH). This makes it a great portable device that doesn’t jut out from the USB port. It’s great if you need to stick it in a laptop on the go, or if you’re limited on USB port plugs like all-in-one PC desktops tend to be.
While most of its size is ideal, I did run into one minor issue when trying to remove it from my Eluktronics laptop. Because it’s so tiny, getting a firm grip to remove it is a real pain. This isn’t a big deal if you’re planning on keeping it there indefinitely, but if you’re using a portable device that requires you to unplug and reinsert the adapter with some frequency, it’s definitely something you might want to consider.
The TP-Link comes with a CD, which you will need to insert into the drive. A pop-up screen will appear. You’ll have to select your PC’s or laptop’s model (i.e. Windows, Mac, or Linux). Once it knows what system it’s running on, the CD does the work from here on out. You’ll need to wait until the installation bar reaches 100 percent, which only takes a minute or two. Finally, you’ll need to search for and connect to it manually on your computer.
Admittedly, I didn’t have high expectations for a 150Mbps downlink maximum nano adapter with only a 2.4GHz network. Coupled with the fact that my 2019 desktop PC was located in the basement, while the computer lives on the third floor—I assumed that the TP-Link was probably going to struggle.
If you’re looking for a ranged nano adapter, this is not the one for you.
If you’re looking for a ranged nano adapter, this is not the one for you. In running a speed test from the third floor, I only got measly speeds of 15Mbps. If I wanted to run my level 50 hobbit in Lord of the Rings Online, I’d need a stronger adapter—or a closer signal—if I didn’t want to constantly rubber band in Bree. And rubber-band I did, over the course of the four long, arduous days I tested this adapter. Still, in a pinch, the TP-Link could handle some kind of ranged signal, albeit weak.
So, I swapped machines, switching to a 2014 all-in-one PC one floor closer to the router. To my horror, the Windows OS PC didn’t like the TP-Link at all. Whereas I was running up to 15Mbps upstairs, the all-in-one only registered 6.92Mbps. Needless to say, I was not going to be playing Elder Scrolls Online on this machine anytime soon—not without risking my ESO character in battle. However, when surfing Reddit and YouTube, the TP-Link handled these tasks with ease and without buffering.
It’s a great adapter if you’re solely using the TP-Link to surf the web and watch a couple light videos on YouTube. For gamers who rely on speedy connections, this isn’t the adapter for you.
Finally, I went to a home in Chicago with state-of-the-art tech equipment (250Mbs down) and set up my laptop one room away from the home’s router. I thought that by shifting to a more modern router and connectivity options, the TP-Link might shine. Checking the speed, however, I was wrong. Instead of bumping up closer to the 150Mbps it promised, it only bumped me to 23.2Mbps. It’s a great adapter if you’re solely using the TP-Link to surf the web and watch a couple of light videos on YouTube. For gamers who rely on speedy connections, this isn’t the adapter for you.
In terms of adapter cost, this is at the very bottom of the budget, at around $8. While it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of some of the more expensive, it’s a steal if you’re using it for basic internet browsing.
The TP-Link TL-WN725N is one of the most inexpensive options on the market, which initially makes it appealing.
TP-Link and Ourlink both boast nano adapters that can handle fast speeds, so it makes sense to compare the two, especially if you’re determined to use this kind of adapter. The Ourlink adapter (view on Amazon) retails for about $12—a little pricer compared to TP-Link’s $8 price tag. If you’re looking for a gaming adapter, Ourlink wins by a long shot. In speed tests, it consistently outshined the TP-Link, with speeds of 25.8Mbps on the same all-in-one PC, and a whopping 209.7Mbps when I transferred to Chicago.
The only place the TP-Link TL-WN725N performed better was in range testing. There, while the TP-Link showed 15Mbps, the Ourlink only managed to pull off 2.3Mbps. If you’re needing a ranged adapter, the TP-Link might be the better option. However, I recommend spending the extra $4 to get a super speedy nano adapter with the Ourlink.
Decent for surfing, not so great for gaming.
The TP-Link TL-WN725N is one of the most inexpensive options on the market, which initially makes it appealing. For those who want to solely use it to surf Reddit, it’ll suit your needs. However, gamers will want to look elsewhere and spend a little more for speedier connections.