TP-Link Archer AX6000 - One of the Fastest Gaming Routers
Value is the name of the game for the TP-Link Archer AX6000 router. Coming in at $100 less than Wi-FI 6 competitors, like the Netgear Nighthawk RAX80 and the Linksys MaxStream MR9600, it's a good all-around router to build a home network around.
Our TP-Link Archer AX6000 review shows that it should provide more than enough bandwidth for all but the most craven gamers. By adding in router-based security and 8 wired Ethernet ports, the Archer AX6000 stands alone on connectivity, proving itself to be just as good with wired devices as it is with Wi-Fi. It's one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers available, if you want to upgrade over older wireless-AC models, and it earns a welcome spot on our list of the best Wi-Fi routers you can buy.
TP-Link Archer AX6000: Specifications
Based on Broadcom’s BCM43684 Wi-Fi chipset, the Archer AX6000 uses the same underlying technology as the Linksys MR9600. It has a 1.8GHz quad-core processor, 1GB of RAM and 128MB of flash storage space for firmware and settings instead of the RAX80’s 512MB.
The Archer AX6000 combines ultra-wide 160MHz channels with beamforming technology to efficiently move data back and forth to several devices at once. Its dual-band 802.11AX design creates 5GHz and 2.4GHz networks that are rated at 4.804Gbps and 1.148Gbps. This puts it a step behind tri-band routers, which have an extra 5GHz band for extra bandwidth.
The Archer AX6000 also has eight LAN connectors, arranged in two rows of four ports. That’s twice as many as the Linksys MR9600 and three more than the Nighthawk RAX80. On the downside, it’s a tight fit for the top row of four networking ports, making the cables frustratingly hard to remove. All of the networking ports can handle gigabit per second data flow, making it the router to get if you have lots of wired accessories, like printers, scanners and networked hard drives.
The Archer AX6000 can handle 2.5Gbps WAN input from some of the newer broadband modems and aggregate two LAN ports for a peak flow of 2Gbps; but limits you to using two specific ports for aggregation.
TP-Link Archer AX6000: Performance
Using Ixia’s ixChariot’s network simulation software, the Archer AX6000 performed satisfactorily, peaking at a maximum throughput of 884.4Mbps with the receiving device set up 15 feet from the router. This falls short of the Netgear Nighthawk RAX80’s 1.389Gbps of throughput, but surpassed the Linksys MR9600’s 822.0Mbps at the same distance. In other words, it provides a nice speed boost compared to Wi-fi 5 (802.11ac) routers, as seen in our Netgear Nighthawk AC2300 (RS400) review (at 566.7Mbps) or TP-Link Archer C2300 review (at 682.3Mbps).
The Archer AX6000 delivered 396.4Mbps at 50-feet, making it the leader of the Wi-Fi 6 pack at middle distances compared to the Linksys MR9600 (at 363.3Mbps) and the Nighthawk RAX80 (at 277.1Mbps). As expected, the bandwidth available fell off with distance. The Archer AX6000’s throughput dropped off to 149.9Mbps at 75-feet, where it barely beat out the Nighthawk RAX80’s 142.3Mbps but was second best next to the MR9600’s 227.0Mbps.
The Archer AX6000’s range was 85-feet and it missed out on a throughput reading at our terminal distance of 90-feet. By contrast, the Nighthawk RAX80 delivered 20.8Mbps at that distance. It fell short of the mark when we tried to move data through a wall, with 738.0Mbps of throughput. The RAX80 managed 30 percent more bandwidth at 1.077Gbps. When the signal had to travel upstairs to a bedroom, the system registered 667.3Mbps upstairs, about what the RAX80 and MR9600 provided.
TP-Link Archer AX6000: Usability
TP-Link Archer AX6000 review: Setup Using my iPad Pro and the TP-Link Tether app to get the Archer AX6000 online and distributing data took all of five minutes. On the downside, the app only operates in vertical orientation, meaning it was likely intended for use with a phone; there are iOS and Android versions. Alternatively, you can use the Web browser of a computer that’s connected to the AX6000, but it’s less visually satisfying.
TP-Link Archer AX6000 review: Configuration Rather than being restricted to either an app or a browser connection for making configurational changes and monitor the data flow, the Archer AX6000 offers both. Unfortunately, you can have both connected at once, leading to errors when two logins conflict with each other. While the Tether app is visual and can make minor changes to the router’s settings, it lacks many of the advanced configuration choices that the browser approach provides.
On top of the ability to run as an IPv6 router, there’s an Operation Mode for changing the router into an access point, as well as options for encryption (WPA/WPA2-Enterprise, -Personal or no security), Wi-Fi mode (802.11ax only or 802.11b,g,n mixed) and channel width (up to 160MHz). The Archer AX6000’s System Tools take this to a new level.
Security is front and center with the Archer AX6000’s Firewall and the ability to create a Virtual Private Network (VPN). The router’s built-in antivirus protection uses software from Trend Micro. It’s part of the system’s firmware, so it’s all automatic, and can block malicious content, prevent intrusion from hackers and quarantine infected systems. Unlike Eero’s $99 a year malware protection, TP-Link’s is free forever. There are powerful parental controls that can be customized for each child in a household.
TP-Link Archer AX6000: Verdict
With eight wired networking ports and the ability to pair two together to create a 2Gbps stream of data, TP-Link’s Archer AX6000 router leads the way for Wi-Fi 6 routers that are just as good with wired devices as they are at Wi-Fi, although it can be hard to unplug some of the cables.
It's Wi-Fi transmissions were more than adequate for most family uses and far better than 802.11ac routers, but fell short of the pace set by the Netgear Nighthawk RAX80 winged router when it came to delivering high-performance data streams. In other words, discriminating gamers or data hogs run the risk of being disappointed.
Think of the Archer AX6000 as the value router for the first generation of Wi-Fi 6 devices. That’s because at $300 it can save $100 compared to the Nighthawk RAX80, Linksys MaxStream MR9600 and other high-performance routers.