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Lifewire / Erika Rawes
Wi-Fi 6 capable
Plentiful wired ports
Alexa and IFTTT compatible
Still awaiting WPA3
The TP-Link Archer AX6000 has just about everything you want in a wireless router, except an attractive design.
Wi-Fi 6 routers, like the TP-Link Archer AX6000, continue to hit the market, promising faster speeds and better network performance. You may be hearing more about Wi-Fi 6—the next generation of Wi-Fi that can help improve data flow on crowded networks, and even promote improved battery efficiency on your connected devices. Most Wi-Fi 6 routers are still pretty expensive, with prices hovering in the $250 to $500 (plus) range. The TP-Link Archer AX600 is priced in the lower range, but it still has an impressive spec list, including smart home compatibility, multiple ports, powerful hardware, and some of the latest and greatest features. I tested the TP-Link Archer AX6000 to see how the long range router performs in the real world.
The TP-Link Archer isn’t exactly a showstopper, but it’s reasonably attractive. It’s all black, square-shaped, and it has a significant amount of venting along the top. The unit resembles an upside down spider when it’s antennas are in the up position. The router is on the larger side, but it doesn’t look too bulky or obtrusive. It’s a 10.3 inch by 10.3 inch square, and the antennas swing out from the sides. The antennas only adjust 90 degrees, from flat to upwards, and you can’t adjust them multi-directionally.
TP-Link managed to pack a lot into the AX6000’s housing. The main indicator light sits on top, positioned smack dab in the middle of the router. On the back, there’s a power button, power supply port, eight LAN ports, a WAN port, and the reset button. The remaining tiny button controls sit along the front face, and two additional ports (a USB-A and USB-C port) sit along the side perimeter.
The setup process took about five minutes. You can use the TP Link portal, or you can use the Tether app on your mobile device. There’s a QR code in the quick start guide, so you can find the app, or you can just search for it in the App Store. Once you download the app, you just click the + button to add a device, select Archer AX6000, and follow the prompts.
I created a separate 2.4 and 5 GHz network, but there’s also a smart connect option where you can have the system assign a network band based on optimal performance.
The dual-band TP-Link Archer AX6000 has a max speed of 4804 Mbps over 5 GHz and 1148 Mbps over 2.4 GHz. It’s unlikely you’ll actually see speeds this fast, as these speeds indicate what the router is capable of in the perfect environment with blazing fast provider speeds and maxed out equipment.
For wired devices, the AX6000 has plenty of Ethernet ports—more than the Nighthawk RAX120. It has a total of eight 1 gig LAN Ports, as well as a 2.5 gig WAN port.
The internet speed from my service provider is 500 Mbps in my test home, which isn’t bad. On an Wi-Fi 6 compatible phone, the AX6000 clocked 483 Mbps while standing five feet away from the router. When I traveled to the opposite end of my 1,600 square foot test home to a room where I usually experience dead zones, the speed dropped to 442 Mbps.
I also tested speeds on a device that isn’t Wi-Fi 6 compatible, a budget IdeaPad laptop. I used the smart connect feature, allowing the router to decide which band was optimal. Standing right next to the router, the speed clocked in at 398 Mbps. In my “dead zone room,” where I typically experience drop offs, the speed dropped, but still came in at a respectable 351 Mbps. This is the fastest router I’ve ever tested.
From the moment I connected the Archer AX6000, I didn’t experience any dead zones or connection issues on any of the devices in my test home. I have a large backyard, and even in the back corner, I can still get a clear connection on my laptop. The Archer AX6000 provided a fast, stable, buffer-free connection even when running multiple gaming and streaming media devices. I had no problem running a gaming PC, two PlayStations, and two FireTVs simultaneously.
Under the hood, the AX6000 boasts a 1.8 GHz quad-core CPU, 1 GB of RAM, and 128 MB flash memory. Because the Archer AX6000 is a Wi-Fi 6 router, it includes advanced technologies like OFDMA that promote a faster and more efficient network. Beamforming technology gives it the ability to concentrate Wi-Fi signals on the devices that matter to you most, while range boost allows the signal to travel farther. Upon its release, the Archer AX6000 was still awaiting WPA3 encryption, but the company says in its website that WPA3 should be coming soon.
The AX6000 has a USB-A and a USB-C port, so you can connect an external hard drive and share files across your network. It’s also compatible with Alexa and IFTTT, so you can use voice commands to control your router. You can say things like, “Alexa, pause PlayStation for 30 minutes,” or “Alexa, ask TP-Link to enable guest network.”
There's also a smart connect option where you can have the system assign a network band based on optimal performance.
You can manage your network remotely via the Tether app. You can manage devices—block specific devices, set priority, and set parental controls for individual devices or groups of devices. The app also includes HomeCare, a collection of features that promote a fast, stable, and safe network. You can set parental controls, turn on antivirus protection, and prioritize online activity for streaming, gaming, web surfing, and more. There’s a speed test feature powered by Ookla directly in the app, as well as other tools for managing your network.
The app is a trimmed down version of what’s on the website, so you can’t access all of the features on the app. The app will direct you to the TP-Link site for certain features like setting up a VPN, IPv6 creation, and NAT forwarding.
The TP Link Archer AX6000 typically sells for $300. While it's not a budget router by any means, the price is very reasonable considering the router’s features, hardware, software, and speed.
This is the fastest router I’ve ever tested.
The TP-Link Archer AX6000 and Netgear Nighthawk AX12 (view on Amazon) are similar in some ways. They’re both dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers, and they boast many of the same technologies like OFDMA, beamforming, and smart connect. They both have quad-core processors, except the Nighthawk’s processor is 2.2 GHz, and the TP-Link Archer only has a 1.8 GHz CPU. The Nighthawk AX12 is a 12-stream router (compared to eight streams for the Archer), and the Nighthawk features the WPA3 security protocol, while the Archer AX6000 does not yet have WPA3.
The Nighthawk AX12 is about $100 more than the Archer AX6000, and the AX12 has some better specs than the TP-Link. But, in spite of its lower price point, the TP-Link outshines the Nighthawk in a few areas. TP-Link Archer AX6000 has more Ethernet ports, includes antivirus protection, and has better integration with smart home platforms. In my test home, the TP-Link Archer AX6000 clocked slightly faster speeds than the Nighthawk AX12.
One of the fastest routers in its price range.
The TP-Link Archer AX6000 can handle pretty much anything you throw at it.