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Phicomm K3C AC1900 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router Reviewed

Jeroen1000

Regular Contributor
I was just testing AP mode (i.e. disabling DHCP). It seems to work on the latest firmware V33.1.33.197_02_03_2018 that is... until you reboot it. Then the DHCP server gets enabled again although the GUI still says it is disabled. I've mailed Phicomm about this. Sounds like an easy fix:)
 

Jeroen1000

Regular Contributor
2nd ticket to Phicomm. Annoyingly, the K3C is pinging every device whose address and MAC it learns over its switchports. So it does not ping clients connected to its wifi-radios. I admit, this is only a minor issue.

small addition: it also keeps sending ARP reqs. when it can no longer ping a device because that device went offline. It does seem to stop ARPing after some time.

I uploaded a screenshot of an example of the ping flooding. .253 is the Phicomm. .4 is my PC. Note that it will do this to every device it learned about via its switch ports.

 
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Jeroen1000

Regular Contributor
Alrighty, I fixed most of this by putting the Phicomm K3C in a /30 subnet I carved out the /24 catering for my LAN. So I lose 4 IP's. Maybe I'll try a /31 later if it accepts this to minimise the loss.

Now, it no longer sees other hosts and obviously will not try to ping or send ARP requests to hosts for which it has not learned the MAC's . A small annoyance is that I have to change my PC's IP to fall within the /30 if I want to manage the K3C. I wish DDWRT or Lede would official start supporting it.

Below statement is incorrect. It was some other Chinese gear that was doing this:)!

The only thing I do still see is some gratuitous ARP's for hosts directly connected to the K3C switch. It also seems to reply to ARP requests instead of letting the actual hosts behind its switch (proxy arp?) do this. Still investigating this behaviour though.
 
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Easy Rhino

Regular Contributor
can you spoonfeed more what you changed, and where, to get the K3C on the /30 subnet? And most importantly, when it's set up like that, can hosts see each other at the layer 2 level? (print and file sharing mainly)?

oh yeah and what was the chinese gear chatting on your network?
 

Jeroen1000

Regular Contributor
Well the K3C is not chatting as I have the WAN port disconnected I guess (it is set to dhcp with no cable connected to the physical port). It doesn't try to chat to the internet via the LAN AFAIK.

edit: misread your Q. The Chinese gear (not the K3C! ) was sending gratuitous arps at regular intervals. So fortunately nothing malicious.

So my LAN for all hosts is, for instance, 192.168.50.0/24. I changed the K3C's LAN IP address to 192.168.50.101/30. But you can pick freely where you carve out the /30 of course. Do you know where to change this? Otherwise I'll take a screen shot later on.
So 192.168.50.100 - 192.168.50.103 is the full IP range for that subnet. .100 (network address) and .103 (broadcast address) are not usable. Whenever I want to mange the K3C, I need to change the IP on my computer to 192.168.50.102/30.
 
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Easy Rhino

Regular Contributor
I think I tried setting it up with the subnet as you described... but it still seemed to have the same fundamental problem: rebooting causes the dhcp server to kick into play, and that just doesn't work.

I've bit the bullet and done a router flip flop and make the K3C my primary router again. It worked fine for 12 days as a subNATted AP, so hopefully it will work well as the main router.
 

Jeroen1000

Regular Contributor
Yes DHCP is broadcast so the Phicomm will still see DHCP requests from clients (and be tempted to reply). I see the same behaviour as you do after a reboot. Try to enable DHCP again while it still confined in the /30. Set the DHCP pool to contain 1 IP only. And make this 1 ip the SAME ip as the LAN ip you gave the Phicomm's LAN int. This works for me. The Phicomm is still replying to every DHCP req. in my LAN but always with NACK's now (which is good) as the real DHCP server will then 'win'.
 

Easy Rhino

Regular Contributor
So I re-installed my K3C as my main router. In addition, just to learn about it and be gratuitously fancy, I learned to set up my old DDWRT router working as an AP so that it would also work as a DHCP/DNS server within the same subnet. The two routers' DHCP's had different scopes though so it seemed to avoid any conflicts.

However, after 1 or 2 days, any client connecting to the K3C (wireless or wired) wouldn't get a valid DHCP IP address.
* setting up the client with a static IP would work great with the K3C.
* connecting to the AP would work great, the clients got IP addresses and could still access the internet or anything.

So it's almost like the DHCP was... tired? I had a max of 24 clients on the K3C's list, and the pool was about 75 big, so I don't think it would get filled up unless other IP's were getting reserved somehow. And I wasn't show how to see the DCHP leases in more detail.

A reboot fixed it. And I disabled my gratuitous second DHCP server, so we'll see how it works.

Yes DHCP is broadcast so the Phicomm will still see DHCP requests from clients (and be tempted to reply). I see the same behaviour as you do after a reboot. Try to enable DHCP again while it still confined in the /30. Set the DHCP pool to contain 1 IP only. And make this 1 ip the SAME ip as the LAN ip you gave the Phicomm's LAN int. This works for me. The Phicomm is still replying to every DHCP req. in my LAN but always with NACK's now (which is good) as the real DHCP server will then 'win'.
that's... interesting. And you've got it plugged into your router via a LAN (not WAN) port? Is there any problem setting the DHCP so it's set in the same subnet as the LAN. The clients that connect are happy getting their IPs from the real DHCP?


... In other news, I'm really disappointed that I don't know Chinese, because it looks like some Chinese boards are doing some really exciting things with the firmware.

http://www.right.com.cn/forum/thread-250546-1-1.html
http://www.right.com.cn/forum/thread-304861-1-1.html
http://right.com.cn/forum/thread-266825-1-1.html

it looks like they've gotten openwrt up and running, Asus-Merlin up and running (faux Blue Cave) and even the Intel SDK running. Google translate isn't really up to the task of walking me through this, and some versions are meant for a version with 512MB ram instead of 256MB.

Oh, but one of the pasted bootlogs does show the CPUs identifying as 800mhz. So at least we know that :)
 

Easy Rhino

Regular Contributor
Welp I think my K3C just lost all wife acceptance factor. Because our internet went out at night while she was streaming spotify. and then our phones were complaining that the wifi connection didn't have internet connectivity.

When I logged into the K3C to check status, I got these two error message regarding DHCP:

Code:
Please restart your upstream device or clone the MAC address of your device that is able to accessible to Internet by enabling Clone MAC Address.

or

 Internet service is not available under the DHCP mode. Please confirm your upstream device is providing DHCP service properly.
Weirdly, restarting the K3C didn't fix the problem. I had to restart my cable modem. But before that, I was able to log into the cable modem, and it said the connection was hunky dory.
 

Jeroen1000

Regular Contributor
Yes I have the K3C connected to a switch (which ultimately connects to my router) using a LAN port. Every time DHCP is requested by client devices, I can see the K3C answering with a NACK and I also see the reply of my router (aka the 'real' DHCP server). This has worked without a hitch since May 7th and it keeps on working after a reboot. The Phicomm forces you to set the DHCP range in the same range as its LAN interface. So they do perform a sanity check.

Also Phicomm is not replying to my tickets. I'm going to phone them why that is.
 

CrystalLattice

Senior Member
Yes I have the K3C connected to a switch (which ultimately connects to my router) using a LAN port. Every time DHCP is requested by client devices, I can see the K3C answering with a NACK and I also see the reply of my router (aka the 'real' DHCP server). This has worked without a hitch since May 7th and it keeps on working after a reboot. The Phicomm forces you to set the DHCP range in the same range as its LAN interface. So they do perform a sanity check.

Also Phicomm is not replying to my tickets. I'm going to phone them why that is.
This is not a company that listens to its customers. Probably learned it from Netgear, Linksys, & D-Link!
 

Easy Rhino

Regular Contributor
well i just retired my k3c at least temporarily. but i had used it successfully as a main router for three weeks after my hiccup with the cable modem. only reset it once when the FBI asked everyone to reset they routers for the vpnfilter virus. and it did have higher peak 5ghz performance than my old dir 859, even though i wss only testing wirh a 2x2 laptop.

Ultimately i learned that the usb port couldn't power a laptop hdd that drew one amp. and the 3 lan ports were crimping as a main router. i might still want to use it as an AP if they ever fix the firmware ap bug or if a decent open source solution comes out

tldr: great radio, spotty firmware.
 
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jjackson

New Around Here
Thinking of buying one of these (I missed the BF deal @ BB on a Blue Cave). I'm consumer oriented needs lots of help from the router in setting it up, will I be able to set this one up??
 

Easy Rhino

Regular Contributor
Thinking of buying one of these (I missed the BF deal @ BB on a Blue Cave). I'm consumer oriented needs lots of help from the router in setting it up, will I be able to set this one up??

i dont recommend it. the bugs that o was complaining about earlier? they havent changed their firmware since spring.
 

jjackson

New Around Here
i dont recommend it. the bugs that o was complaining about earlier? they havent changed their firmware since spring.
Thanks for feedback. I can wait a bit longer just this is #3 i router ranker and only about $90. This is type of feedback I need, thank you. I'll wait ..
 

rfbrfb123

New Around Here
Using K3C as Access Point - My $35 solution

In my case, the K3C as AP takes control of dhcp on reboot ONLY if it reboots BEFORE the main router(serving as network dhcp server) after a power blackout.
I have solved this problem by putting the K3C behind a Wemo smart switch connected to the internet through my main router wifi. Since the Wemo switch defaults to OFF after a power blackout, the K3C will stay down until activated by the Wemo switch. As the Wemo switch cannot connect to the internet before the main router has finished its boot sequence, this ensures that the K3C always boots AFTER the main router.

To automate the process, I control the Wemo switch with the IFTTT app (*) called Keep Alive After Blackout. It usually turns on the K3C within 5 mins but sometimes goes to 20 mins.

BTW: We travel quite a bit and need to connect reliably to our slingbox behind a wifi bridge and to our home computers.

K3C Firmware: 33.1.33.197

(*) https://ifttt.com/applets/416019p-wemo-switch-keep-alive-on-after-power-outage
 
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Groch

New Around Here
Fakespot analyzer detects high deception on k3c amazon reviews, only 20% are real..
Reviewmeta gives it a passing grade....so I guess it depends on what algorithms you are using.

The K3c is currently available from various vendors on Amazon/Ebay for less than $60. (The K3 about the same). I have not tried a K3c, but I have owned a K3 for 3 months now, bought because of the well below $100 price. Using the most recent stock firmware, it has been the fastest and most stable router I have tried. Previously I several Linksys routers that needed weekly reboots.

My use case is simple...I have a lot of streaming devices in a small apartment. But for someone who has simple needs...setup was easy/trouble free. I consistently get the full 250 MBS Comcast that I pay for.

My point is, the firmware would certainly be a major negative to anyone who wants features it does not support (and there are a lot it does not). I am pretty sure most readers of SNB forums are in the sophisticated user category.

But, it has worked great for me and I just ordered a K3c for a neighbor with similar needs cause $40 is worth a try for the #3 rated router.
 

psychopomp1

Senior Member
Reviewmeta gives it a passing grade....so I guess it depends on what algorithms you are using.

The K3c is currently available from various vendors on Amazon/Ebay for less than $60. (The K3 about the same). I have not tried a K3c, but I have owned a K3 for 3 months now, bought because of the well below $100 price. Using the most recent stock firmware, it has been the fastest and most stable router I have tried. Previously I several Linksys routers that needed weekly reboots.

My use case is simple...I have a lot of streaming devices in a small apartment. But for someone who has simple needs...setup was easy/trouble free. I consistently get the full 250 MBS Comcast that I pay for.

My point is, the firmware would certainly be a major negative to anyone who wants features it does not support (and there are a lot it does not). I am pretty sure most readers of SNB forums are in the sophisticated user category.

But, it has worked great for me and I just ordered a K3c for a neighbor with similar needs cause $40 is worth a try for the #3 rated router.
Thanks for the heads up. I've also heard great things about the K3, some Chinese users are even saying that its better than the Netgear R7800 for wifi range/coverage….wow! Anyway I've managed to order one for $50 on eBay, its a good price though I certainly wouldn't pay >$100 for it. Btw did it come with a 100-240V power supply?
 

Groch

New Around Here
....Btw did it come with a 100-240V power supply?
My K3 was purchased via eBay U.S. from a dealer who was U.S. based. It did come with the official 100-240V power supply. Also of concern would be whether it comes with the international or China only firmware, I know they make both. My K3 came with the correct international firmware, and it updates by hitting a button, I am hoping my K3c, bought from an Amazon merchant, does also.
 

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