Do you remember the old days when you connected to the internet?
Yes. Double click on an icon and the telephone modem buzzes with unEarthly noises. Around a minute later — boom — you’re connected to the internet at blazing fast speeds of “32 kilobits per second!” Yes — those were the days where even 32Kb/s speed was fast enough to get your email through.
Fast forward to 2020 and if your internet speed is less than 15Mb/s, you may find your friends smirking back at you. Broadband connections at home are available with different plans. You pay lower for a slower connection, while you pay higher accordingly. The plans also depend on the period (monthly to 1.5 years) and the FUP limit. So, in short, if you opt for a pre-payment of 6-month and above, you could get lucky to avail unlimited internet connection with higher speed. For example, I have a fibre connection at my residence offering 100Mb/s speed with no FUP limits at a mere ₹600/m.
However, in order to utilise the high-speed internet, you need to use a compatible, future-ready wireless router because your olden-day router will just not be able to give you the entire throughput you paid for.
While there are many dual and tri-band routers available in the market, we were run across by TP-Link’s Archer AX6000 Wi-Fi router. Impressed by the design and the scary looks (pun intended), this one was instantly set up on our office desk to find out what it could do better and how it’s different from the conventional ones out there.
For starters, this router isn’t as cheap as you would expect. Conventional routers cost anything between ₹800 to ₹2,000. However, they aren’t good on performance. If you are a sheer gamer or prefer watching high-quality 4K content, or simply a workhorse who needs to transfer large amounts of data, then you need a high-performance router that will cater to your needs. And that’s where the AX6000 shines for you.
TP-Link Archer AX6000: Design and Build
The TP-Link Archer AX6000 looks very rugged at first glance. It looks like a square-shaped aircraft carrier with two/four runways. Open up the antennas and it looks like an oil rig platform. Turn it over and it looks like a scary MIT robot that could do weird stuff, or otherwise, it simply looks like a drone. Whatever way you see it, it looks marvelous — plain, flat and simple. The body is built with dual-tone hard and rugged plastic where the top has ample perforations that work as heat vents for cooling the internal guts. The sides have two small high-performance antennas each, eight in total, and can be lifted to a 90° angle. The bottom has rubber pegs for placing on a desktop, and also wall mounting options should you want to hoist it on your wall or ceiling. All this in a black 10.3×10.3×2.4in package.
TP-Link Archer AX6000: Specifications and Features
The rear is the main business end where the router interacts with the inside and outside world. Eight high-speed 1Gb/s LAN ports, one 2.5Gb/s WAN port, a 12V power socket, a power switch and a reset switch. The right side is another important business area, which highlights two USB 3.0 ports, of which one is a Type-C. Yeah – future ready Part #1. The front has three buttons — two for turning off the LED lights and Wi-Fi, and the third one for WPS. Lastly, the top has a square logo with multi-colour LED lights glowing underneath. The colours of these LEDs depict the status of the router.
Digging deep under, the AX6000 is built around a powerful 1.8GHz quad-core processor supported by two more coprocessors, 1GB of RAM and 128MB of flash storage. Now these seem more like a mini-PC or smartphone-grade performance — right? But why do we need all that muscle power for browsing through the internet? Well, for a single device connection and basic internet use, this router may be an overkill. But things change when you have your entire family’s smartphones and tablets connected to this black box, along with your 4K smart TVs and your smart speakers around the house, not to forget your gaming rig or console, all leeching the internet at probably the same time. Then this router can make sure that none of those devices are declined of their internet juice.
Heading ahead, the AX6000 is a dual-band Wi-Fi router that operates on 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. It can obtain throughput speeds of up to 4804Mb/s on the 5GHz (802.11ax) and up to 1148Mb/s on the 2.4GHz (802.11ax) network — a combined speed claimed to be 5952Mb/s. And all these sheer speeds are delivered by 8 high-performance antennas boosted by 1024QAM — a scheme for the communication industry with regards to data transmitted over radio waves. In short, these 8 antennas can support multiple amounts/streams of data in and out simultaneously.
Lastly, there’s the standard support for guest networks, DHCP service, Port Forwarding, and the rest. What’s different is that this router can also work as a VPN server, has a built-in antivirus to protect your network devices from external attackers, connect even your Type-C storage or other compatible devices to use for backup or media streaming or file servers, and set up and remotely manage it using a simple app.
TP-Link Archer AX6000: Performance
Speaking on the performance of a router is highly technical. To break it down to common-man terms, the router is definitely blazing fast when it comes to data throughput speeds, feature-rich when it comes to usability, a great and intelligent multi-tasker when it comes to performance and a long runner when it comes to distance or range. We tested this little beast in our office for a few days while allowing our colleagues to connect their smartphones and lappies to the router simultaneously. Thanks to the intelligent QoS feature, our 4K streaming test and gaming tests were uninterrupted by the other users who were simultaneously demanding their own internet searches.
The router intelligently finds out the importance of the data speeds and the latency importance for each user and deploys/allocates the bandwidth with priority. In short — if you are gaming online, the router will ensure you get the max speed and lowest latency so that your gaming performance does not take a hit. Or if you are streaming 4K content, the router will make sure that you don’t see that irritating buffering wheel on your screen. However, all that depends completely on the internet connection speeds from your ISP.
Tip: To make sure your devices get the highest speeds, you should use the 5GHz network if compatible because 2.4GHz will give you slower speeds for additional reasons such as disturbances from other devices – Bluetooth devices and microwave ovens around your home – that use the 2.4GHz frequency. Neighbouring Wi-Fi routers also affect the performance of your network. However, do note that 5GHz can perform at a short distance only — so high-speed devices should be in close vicinity to the router. Smartphones and laptops that don’t require high-speed internet can be connected to the 2.4GHz network with ease.
On the other side, as we mentioned that the router is feature-rich and future-ready, you should know that the AX6000 is also compatible and integrates with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT. Simply command the router via an Alexa-enabled speaker and you can control a number of features on this router.
For example, it can announce the guest network password for your friends, turn off the LED lights, carry out speed tests to the ISP, adjust the speeds for certain devices based on QoS or even turn on or off the Wi-Fi network. With IFTTT, you can design your own steps and automate or trigger actions when new devices are connected / disconnected on the network — saving you ample time heading to the app / firmware to configure them.
There’s also a free Trend Micro antivirus built into the router, and it auto-updates the threat database to ensure that your data and the devices on the connected network are always safe. Parental controls are also incorporated so that you can control how your family (especially those little ones) is using the internet to keep them safe.
TP-Link Archer AX6000: Verdict
To be honest, we haven’t witnessed a router that can come close to this one in terms of performance. As for the features, yes, they are good, but we have seen other routers featuring a bit more than what’s seen here. For example, we have seen routers that can do auto backups to, or run as a media server from the connected USB storage. Some even run torrents and have auto-downloading agents to offload your downloading tasks from your smartphone or laptop. Well, routers are designed for different purposes. While you can use it as a home router, this one is specifically aimed at the power user. You can use it for small businesses too.
And with Wi-Fi AX or Wi-Fi 6, the performance is almost 2 to 4 times better than conventional AC routers; it’s good to know that you are instantly ready for the next big change in Wi-Fi requirements. As for the price, it may not be practical for a standard home user to invest in one of these. Moreover, if you are not a power user, then this router will make no sense to your internet performance, but just burn a big hole down your pocket. However, if you are looking for a good router for your home or business with a large number of devices with performance as priority, then we don’t see any reason not to recommend the TP-Link AX6000.