Tech review: TP-Link Archer AX6000 an affordable Wi-Fi 6 router

The TP-Link Archer AX6000 is a dual-band model that the firm says supports speeds of up to 4,804Mbps on its 5GHz channel and up to 1,148Mbps on its 2.4GHz channel using the Wi-Fi 6 standard.
The TP-Link Archer AX6000 is a dual-band model that the firm says supports speeds of up to 4,804Mbps on its 5GHz channel and up to 1,148Mbps on its 2.4GHz channel using the Wi-Fi 6 standard.PHOTO: TP-LINK

Joining a handful of new Wi-Fi 6 routers that support the latest wireless standard - also known as 802.11ax - is the TP-Link Archer AX6000. It is the Chinese networking firm's first Wi-Fi 6 router.

Like many TP-Link products, the Archer AX6000 is priced to compete. While its $499 retail price is not cheap, it is relatively affordable for a Wi-Fi 6 model. Similar routers from Asus and Netgear are in the $500 to $600 range.

The Archer is no slouch in terms of features. It is a dual-band model that the firm says supports speeds of up to 4,804Mbps on its 5GHz channel and up to 1,148Mbps on its 2.4GHz channel using the Wi-Fi 6 standard.

Take these figures with a pinch of salt as they are impossible to achieve in real-world conditions. You also need Wi-Fi 6-compatible devices - such as the Samsung Galaxy S10 smartphones - to benefit from the Wi-Fi 6 feature.

It is the first router I have tested to have a USB-C port. This, along with its USB Type-A port, can be used with an external storage drive to back up files from computers and devices in the home network.

Its WAN port, which connects to your Internet modem (the optical network terminal for fibre broadband users), has a top speed of 2.5Gbps, compared with the standard 1Gbps port. It also has eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, which is four more than a standard router.

Like many modern routers, you do not need a computer to set it up. Simply download TP-Link's Tether app (available for iOS and Android) to a smartphone, enable Bluetooth functionality and follow the instructions. The app offers the essential settings required to operate the router and I like that I can send a QR code to guests using my smartphone so they can connect to the router's guest network.

  • FOR

    • Competitive price

    • Useful software features that offer malware protection, Quality of Service and parental controls

    • Rich connectivity options

    AGAINST

    • Average performance

    SPECS

    PRICE: $499

    ETHERNET INTERFACE: 2.5 Gigabit WAN, 8 x 10/100/1000 Gigabit LAN

    STANDARDS: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax

    SECURITY: WPA/WPA2

    ADVANCED FIREWALL FEATURES: NAT, DoS and SPI

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3.5/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

More advanced options, such as the DNS setting or port forwarding, are available only on its browser interface.

My favourite feature is TP-Link HomeCare by security firm Trend Micro. It includes malware protection, a Quality of Service feature that lets you prioritise traffic by type, such as streaming or gaming, and parental controls.

The parental controls are easy to use. It lets you create a user profile for each child and bind the profile to multiple devices in the home network. It comes with preset filters based on the age of the child, but these can be further customised. You can also block apps and websites and set time limits on use.

To test the router's Wi-Fi 6 performance, I used a Galaxy S10 with the WiFi Speed Test app to measure the transfer speed between the S10 and a laptop within the network.

The S10 showed a connection speed of 1,200Mbps on paper, compared with 866Mbps for my reference Google Pixel 3 smartphone.

But the results were in the same ballpark as my experience with another Wi-Fi 6 router, the ROG Rapture GT-AX11000.

Both performed well for uploads, with speeds in the 500Mbps range with the S10, compared with 100Mbps for the Pixel 3. But download speeds for the S10 were similar to that of the Pixel 3, at about 300Mbps.

In my usual speed test involving two laptops using the older 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) standard, the Archer managed an average download speed of 407Mbps. This is slightly lower than the 500Mbps managed by the Asus Rapture.