Phicomm K3C AC1900 MU-MIMO Gigabit Router Reviewed

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psychopomp1

Senior Member
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.
Thanks! Sorry, another question: i believe the LCD display on the K3 displays your actual download/upload speeds, how often does the router update this? This is actually quite a cool feature, I wish more routers offered this.
 

uberAC

New Around Here
It looks like this Phicomm is available on eBay for less than $50 and $39 on Amazon today. I've been holding off trying one, but at $39 it's probably hard to beat.
 

psychopomp1

Senior Member
It looks like this Phicomm is available on eBay for less than $50 and $39 on Amazon today. I've been holding off trying one, but at $39 it's probably hard to beat.
Yeah at that price it was too good to turn down. I ended up paying £80 in total (incl shipping & taxes) to UK, expecting to receive it this week. Will post my feedback once its up and running :)
 

psychopomp1

Senior Member
Received the K3 (b1 hardware) a few days ago and have been using it on my 330 Mbps FTTH line. My impressions so far:

Positives:
- Great build quality, looks great, not too big. Probably the best looking router out there.
- Firmware is pretty slick. Everything works as it should, making changes take effect immediately.
- Firmware has VPN client built-in and when I used this with my vpn.ac subscription, I got around 150 Mbps on a L2TP connection, so no issues there.
- Comes with a 100-240v power supply so can be used worldwide (I am in UK)

Negatives:
- Has only 3 LAN ports. Not an issue for me but I suspect for many, that will be too low.
- Wifi range/coverage isn't that great even with beamforming & Mu-Mimo switched on. In my 4 bedroom home with wafer thin walls, wifi speed tests on my iPhone X go as low as 150 Mbps in the farthest corners. Yet both the Netgear R6300v2 and Linksys EA9500v2 give me the full 300 Mbps on my iphone no matter where I am in the home.

I think I will keep the router because for the price I paid - £80 - its not a bad router at all. I will probably keep it as a spare router (eg for testing) and may use it again if/when Phicomm update their firmware (last one was from April 2018) to see if wifi performance has been improved.

Hope this helps :)
 

psychopomp1

Senior Member
Ok an update: have re-plugged the K3 in and changed to wifi channel width to 40MHz and 80 MHz on the 2.4 and 5ghz bands respectively. This has improved the wifi speeds, almost on a par with the EA9500v2. I will keep using the K3 as its far more living room friendly = wife friendly :)



Couple of minor issues:

1) The display on the router lists my speed as xx KB/s yet it should be around 40 MB/s or 310 Mb/s. Not a biggie though as I have the display to switch off after 5 mins.

2) The K3 iOS smartphone app only appears to be on USA app store, not outside (eg here in UK). Again not a biggie as I'm using a PC browser to config the router.
 

Above&Beyonder

New Around Here
Hello; Do you guys think it's worth spending an extra $33 on the K3 vs the K3C on amazon? I'm looking for an AP that will have more range that my current Asus 1900P.
 

psychopomp1

Senior Member
Hello; Do you guys think it's worth spending an extra $33 on the K3 vs the K3C on amazon? I'm looking for an AP that will have more range that my current Asus 1900P.
Definitely. Though the K3 can be purchased for less than $50 on ebay - I bought mine for $40.
 

psychopomp1

Senior Member
What was your sellers username on eBay? I see one for $50 but he has 0 feedback so it doesn't seem legit.
I bought mine from ebay seller nonastar555 for $49.99 but I've noticed the seller has jacked up the price to $102 now. Cheaper to buy it from amazon.com for around $80 at present.

 

Above&Beyonder

New Around Here
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.

Hello; would you be able to test the range of the K3 vs K3C when it arrives please? Super interested to know which one has more range.
 

Easy Rhino

Regular Contributor
for the record, I still don't recommend this router. I went to check phicomm's website to see if they had ever updated the firmware.... and their site was down. hopefully just temporary?


2) The K3 iOS smartphone app only appears to be on USA app store, not outside (eg here in UK). Again not a biggie as I'm using a PC browser to config the router.

you're not missing anything with the smartphone app. it's basically just a repackaged version of the mobile web interface. I just my phone's web browser.

As for K3 vs K3C... there's no inherent reason why one should have better range. They have a similar number of antennae in a similar configuration. And I don't think the broadcom vs intel chips are obviously better in terms of range. Not saying there aren't differences, but they shouldn't be too large.
 

CrystalLattice

Senior Member
Does anyone think the K3 would have better range than the K3C?
It's been reported that the K3 (not K3C) performs better wifi-wise with beamforming turned off. Give it a go!

Also, K3 is 4x4 with faster processor and mainstream chips, which will have openwrt available in near future
 
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CrystalLattice

Senior Member
already running openwrt from factory, cant get intel sdk for radios
 

hcker2p00

New Around Here
Did they just re-skin openwrt? From this install guide it looks like there are some restrictions like it only using the 192.168.2.* range
 

Easy Rhino

Regular Contributor
yeah their firmware is based on openwrt, you can even download source from their website.

but it excludes the driver for the radio, which is a binary from Intel. on some chinese boards there is a guy that has obtained the driver from.... sonewhere, and gotten open wrt to work. i haven't tried it myself
 

hcker2p00

New Around Here
Ahh gotcha I'm more interested in running openwrt on the K3 rather than the K3C. Either way are there instructions on how to flash either model? I'm seeing its showing a tftp which I have never done before.
 

Easy Rhino

Regular Contributor
Ahh gotcha I'm more interested in running openwrt on the K3 rather than the K3C. Either way are there instructions on how to flash either model? I'm seeing its showing a tftp which I have never done before.

I don't know Chinese and Google translate couldn't quite explain it well enough for me.


As for the price drop... well I dont think I'd get this for almost any price. Phicomm hasn't updated firmware in a year. So no security patches if you use it as your main router. And bugs prevent it from working as an access point. And I don't kniw of a non dodgy way to get open source firmware.

I'm keeping it in the closet in case I need a 3 port ethernet switch.
 
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