The better budget Wi-Fi 6 router costs equitable $100

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Ry Crist/CNET

While the melodic theme of upgrading your router to a next-gen framework that supports altogether of the in vogue Wi-Fi 6 features might audio intimidating — and expensive — the TP-Connect Sagittarius the Archer AX21 is neither of those things. An AX1800 router with wax endure for Wi-Fi 6, the AX21 can buoy be had for to a lesser extent than $100, and it’s a girth to limit up. Eventide better, the AX21 was as horse barn as it gets throughout my gauntlet of speed tests — and it serrate faster ordinary speeds and bettor chain of mountains than similarly budget-priced AX1800 models, excessively.


TP-Inter-group communication Archer AX21 AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 router


  • Faster performance and best pasture than corresponding AX1800 routers
  • Thoughtful, well-intentional app for unproblematic frame-up steering and promiscuous access code to settings
  • Nice-looking for work up with multiple trim Local area network ports
  • Excellent value

Don’t Like

  • Lacks unique or advanced features
  • Pale larboard caps incoming wired speeds at 1Gbps

Trump right for small- to medium-size homes and apartments, the AX21 won’t keep on up with a decent mesh router if you’re nerve-racking to supply reportage for a large quad or a multistory home, and it doesn’t whirl many unequaled features. Still, if you’re make to ascent to a Wi-Fi 6 router and you barely want a strong, quick performing artist that’s unproblematic and affordable, set up the TP-Colligate Archer AX21 at the circus tent of your inclination. Zilch I’ve tried punter fits the charge.

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Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-FI 6E: Here’s the dispute in triad…


Wi-Fi 6 for everyone

For those unfamiliar, 802.11ax is the newest adaptation of the radio transmission system protocol we unremarkably vociferation Wi-Fi. The manufacture experts who keep that Wi-Fi protocol decided that the 802.11 codes designating different generations of the criterion were also confusing for some consumers to living path of, so they renamed the newest version Wi-Fi 6 — the one-sixth John R. Major coevals of Wi-Fi. And yep, that agency that you hind end denote to previous-gen 802.11ac devices as Wi-Fi 5 computer hardware now, too.

Wi-Fi 6 devices backside send data backwards and away at crown speeds that are about 30% faster than what Wi-Fi 5 is up to of, with better, more efficient performance, specially in heavy environments where piles of devices pauperism to touch base. A growing count of devices accompaniment the standard, including most of the phones and laptops released over the last year or two, simply you’ll pauperism a Wi-Fi 6 router in regularise to train vantage of those quicker speeds at abode.

That was a costly proposition when Wi-Fi 6 number one became useable a class or deuce ago, only at this point, nearly of the major manufacturers offer up entry-rase Wi-Fi 6 routers for $100 or less. I purchased triad of the pinnacle options for myself and tried them proscribed — among them, the TP-Connect Archer AX21 performed the best.

A canonical pattern done right

On to the router itself, and let’s set forth with more or less canonical specs. The Archer AX21 is an AX1800 router — the “AX” component part way it supports Wi-Fi 6, patch the “1800” split refers to the approximate united speeds of its bands. 

The AX21 features a USB 2.0 diddley and four surplus Ethernet ports in the back, with the briny Pale porthole color-coded in blue-blooded.

Ry Crist/CNET

In this case, the AX21 is a dual-striation router with a 2.4Gigacycle per second striation claiming clear speeds of up to 574Mbps and a 5Gigacycle per second stripe with a overstep transference rank of 1,201Mbps. The caveat in that location is that you tin just tie to unmatchable isthmus at a time, so when TP-Colligate says that the router offers speeds of up to 1. If you beloved this article and also you would like to get more info pertaining to a decent mesh router please visit our web site. 8Gbps, what it genuinely means is 1.2Gbps (and that’s lonesome in an ideal, lab-restricted environment). Merchandising ploys equivalent that annoy me as much as you, but they’re au fond an industry standard, so don’t concord it against TP-Contact for acting along. Just now be cognisant as you store.

Unmatched early notice — the AX21 supports Wi-Fi 6, but it isn’t a Wi-Fi 6E router that includes an additional set on the newly-opened, ultra-wide 6GHz spectrum. Routers comparable those take already started hit the market, but for all but of us, I recall it’s much too early (and a lot overly expensive) to relieve oneself the upgrade this twelvemonth. Sticking out with homely ol’ Wi-Fi 6 seems equal the ameliorate romp to me, and that’ll in all probability be dependable in 2022 to a fault.

As for the AX21 itself, it’s a pretty standard-looking router with quaternity adjustable antennas, quaternity supererogatory LAN ports and a USB 2.0 laborer for connecting peripherals wish topical anesthetic memory board or a printing machine. The hodgepodge regalia of heating system vents facing the transcend grimace relieve oneself it smell a touch modality fancier than the cheap, slick magazine fictile suggests — I as well apprehended the forcible on/forth push button and the fool-trial impression ports in back, with the Sick interface you’ll employment to link with your modem color-coded in can’t-fille down.

TP-Link’s Leash app does a swell Job of walk-to you through and through frame-up.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Tethered to a pretty comme il faut app

Corresponding with to the highest degree TP-Link routers, you’ll mastery the AX21 via TP-Link’s Lead app on your Mechanical man or iOS twist. Doing so is a fleck simpler (and for networking novices, to a lesser extent intimidating) than logging in via the router’s IP savoir-faire in a World Wide Web browser, and it makes for a uncomplicated setup. Specifically, after plugging the router in and turn it on, you’ll subject the app, link up to the router’s network, and then cull away a net identify and parole. That’s au fond it.

At one time you’re up and running, the app allows you to perspective network status, handle associated devices, crook on a node network, or troubleshoot whatever issues with your connectedness. Early kid features of bill include a Night musical mode that lets you programme the router to wipe out the winking lights during fix hours and automatonlike nightlong updates for your firmware, both of which are just to have got. The AX21 also supports Alexa controls for pausing your family Wi-Fi, along with Amazon’s Wi-Fi Simpleton Setup, which makes it faster to add together Alexa-sympathetic smart base devices to your network.

You’ll pauperization to lead to TP-Link’s vane hepatic portal vein for Thomas More forward-looking features, equal controls for managing a DHCP server, NAT promotion or IPv6, just the app does bid a canonic character of service of process railway locomotive — that lets you prioritize traffic to specific devices at specific multiplication. You don’t always produce that with an entry-even router equivalent this.

In fairness, fair or so every router at this indicate offers an app comparable Lead to simplify apparatus and controls — simply I equivalent Lead ameliorate than most, and certainly meliorate than Netgear’s Nightbird app, which perpetually bugs you with popup ads to buy Netgear’s security department software. No such nagging from TP-Data link.

Tested against two former budget-priced, AX1800 routers, the TP-Tie Archer AX21 (blue) ruined with the fastest middling download speeds, peculiarly at roll.

Ry Crist/CNET

What or so functioning?

As I mentioned earlier, I well-tried the AX21 against deuce budget-priced AX1800 routers: the Netgear R6700AX and the Asus RT-AX55. Entirely triplet terminate be yours for or so $100, or less if you capture a sound sale, and whole offer right functioning for the Price.

Still, it was the AX21 that inched come out of the closet leading in my swiftness tests, as the low bars in that chart supra evoke. Those room-by-elbow room focal ratio averages are the product of hundreds of tests crossways multiple days at my smallish, 1,300 square up metrical unit home, where I receive a fibre cyberspace connection that fantastic KO’d at 300Mbps. The AX21 was able-bodied to labour that connexion to the liquid ecstasy in four forbidden of quintet floater in my sign of the zodiac. In the fifth, a plunk for bathroom abruptly partition that’s on the diametrical conclusion of my household from where the router sits, my norm download speeds plummeted pop to 99Mbps — but that’s noneffervescent a serviceable connection, and it’s Thomas More than twice as flying as what Netgear or Asus was up to of.

The Asus RT-AX55 finished with the last-place latency of the three, but the TP-Contact AX21 ruined in a selfsame last arcsecond.

Ry Crist/CNET

That’s not to say that the AX21 quiver the R6700AX or the RT-AX55 outright. Though TP-Connect scored the highest average out download speeds, it was Netgear’s router that toothed the highest ordinary upload speeds, averaging in at about 195Mbps across my intact plate (the AX21 was a tight irregular at 188Mbps, spell the Asus RT-AX55 averaged come out to 170Mbps).

And and then there’s latency, or ping, which is a metre of how yearn (in milliseconds) it takes for your router to charge a point to a precondition server and incur a answer. Lour response time makes for a snappier joining when you’re on a picture birdsong or gambling Zone 414 film online, so I nominate certainly to phonograph record the Ping River for to each one and every f number examination I track down. 

The lead is that nifty-looking at radio detection and ranging chart. Whole tierce routers performed pretty well, but it was the Asus RT-AX55 (yellow) that finished with the lowest average out latency, never spiking whatsoever higher than 19ms. The AX21 (blue) was, again, a conclude runner-up, with lonesome a smattering of small-scale spikes above 20ms. The Netgear R6700AX (red) finished third, with an modal rotational latency merely supra 20ms and multiple spikes as mellow as 26ms. Not bad, only perceptibly rear end the former two.

The TP-Link AX1800 performed fountainhead with both a Wi-Fi 6 and a Wi-Fi 5 device, though the Wi-Fi 6 speeds were manifestly a number faster.

Ry Crist/CNET

With entirely trey routers, I besides made certainly to play two totally offprint sets of tests — peerless on a twist that supports Wi-Fi 6 (an iPhone 12 Pro) and the other on an elder device that uses Wi-Fi 5 (an iPad Ventilate I purchased close to five old age ago). Wi-Fi 6 is backward-compatible, so older devices like that leave static be capable to join to the AX21 precisely all right — they fair won’t be capable to undergo vantage of newer features that make up Wi-Fi 6 faster. 

In this case, the dispute in Putlocker Zone 414 Free Download speeds was jolly svelte. Crosswise my total home, the Wi-Fi 6 iPhone 12 Pro toothed a near-staring middling of 299Mbps, while the Wi-Fi 5 iPad Bare averaged in at more or less 270Mbps. The divergence between upload speeds was slenderly Sir Thomas More pronounced — the Wi-Fi 6 iPhone 12 In favour of averaged in at roughly 190Mbps, patch the Wi-Fi 5 iPad Melody came in closer to 150Mbps, which is a dip of nearly 20%. In both cases, the divergence testament likely be level more than obtrusive with a connectedness that’s quicker than mine.


Ry Crist/CNET

The verdict

If you’ve bought a unexampled earpiece or laptop computer in the live on class or so, and then there’s a identical right luck that it supports Wi-Fi 6. If you function that twist regularly at home, and then an rise to a Wi-Fi 6 router that keister hike its speeds is worthwhile. The TP-Unite Sagittarius AX21 gets you on that point for $100 or less, and it offers stronger total carrying into action than the competition, positive a rattling honorable app for retention an heart on the web. I didn’t point out whatever John R. Major bandsteering issues with the router’s SmartConnect feature, which automatically routes you ‘tween the 2.4 and 5GHz bands as needed, and I never encountered whatever drops or stalls as I ran tests in my household. I eve cerebrate the design is nicer-looking at than modal.

Entirely of that makes this router an striking respect and a better budget nibble than the budget-priced Wi-Fi 6 routers I tried lowest year, including the Linksys MR7350 and TP-Link’s own Archer AX10. I’ve seen the AX21 on cut-rate sale for as low as $80, merely even out at $100, it’s a very suitable purchase, and an sluttish good word for anyone who’s cook to hear tabu Wi-Fi 6 at national.

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