So recently we checked out the TP Link Archer AX10 on the channel, which is a really great budget Wi Fi 6 router, but it was kind of a basic router, so today we’re going to take a look at its more expensive sibling, the Archer AX50, and this costs 50% more than the AX10 at 9000 Rs., or 120 US Dollars, so we’ll see how big of a difference there is.
Design of TP Link Archer AX50 (AX3000) Wi-Fi 6 Router
The design of the AX50 is identical to the cheaper AX10, except for the Intel logo that it has on it, because it has an Intel Dual core chip inside it. The surface is again a fingerprint magnet, which you can’t avoid when you have glossy plastic, but the mixture of different patterns and finishes on this router with its bow-tie like design do make it look good.
You have 4 non removable antennas on it that you can position at different angles to get the best coverage and the green LEDs on the router look kind of cheap for its price point, but I don’t think that most people care about that. At back we have a Gigabit WAN port, along with 4 Gigabit LAN ports, and two of these LAN ports support Link Aggregation which wasn’t possible on the cheaper AX10.
We also have a USB 3.0 port on this, and along with the Wi Fi and WPS button, we also have a dedicated button to toggle the LEDs, which you can also schedule to turn off automatically. One thing that really makes shopping for these routers confusing is the fact that TP Link has 6 different routers that look identical to each other.
The AX50 looks EXTREMELY close to another router named TP Link Archer AX3000, and the AX50 actually also has AX3000 in its name, but these are NOT the same routers, and AX50 is better, and the only way to differentiate between these two models is checking out their back, where the AX50 has a blue USB 3.0 port, but the AX3000 has a grey USB 2.0 port.
So just make sure you buy the right model, and don’t get confused between these two routers, because some of them are almost impossible to differentiate between. But at least the setting up of the router is simple, and you can do it with your PC, or with your smartphone directly using Wi-Fi.
We have the familiar TP Link interface to control the features of the router, which is quite simple and easy to work with and you can also access these using the TP Link tether app. You have many useful features here, we have the guest mode, Time Machine support via USB device for Mac users, parental controls which block different categories of content based on the age you select and also allow you to schedule internet access.
Quality of service is available based on device or the type of workload, the router supports OpenVPN and PPTP VPN, and then we also have an antivirus on this router which wasn’t present on the AX10, and this is one of its highlight features which could save you from getting infected, but personally I never use it as Windows Defender will probably do a better job of protecting you, and Android devices don’t really need an antivirus unless you click on one of links that would make you date hot singles in your area.
The Archer AX50 also support 2 x 2 MU-MIMO, and beamforming, but the most important feature is of course the upgrade to Wi Fi 6, and I’ve talked about it before, but Wi Fi 6 offers features like OFDMA and client scheduling, so if you have a lot of devices connected to your router, you are going to get a better experience, and in places where you have lots of other networks, Wi Fi 6 is also going to help a lot.
For online gaming you’re also going to get a smoother experience, and the overall jump may not be that noticeable if you just have a few devices connected, but if you have a LOT of devices connected, then Wi Fi 6 should offer big improvements in the quality of the connection. You’re of course going to need Wi Fi 6 compatible devices to get benefits of all the features, but it is backward compatible with Wi Fi 5 AND older devices, and we’re slowly seeing new Wi Fi 6 devices like this ROG Strix B550 Motherboard that I’ll be soon building my first mini-ITX PC in, so make sure that you’re subscribed to the channel with bell icon so you don’t miss that.
One issue I noticed is that this router gets very hot. Now it does have an Intel processor, so that is not a surprise these days, but I have used very high performance routers which also get hot, but this just gets so hot that it makes me feel concerned about its longevity in hot countries like India. The ventilation on this router is quite poor if you just put it flat on a table, so what I had to do was take an empty adhesive tape roll, and put this router on it so I can have proper ventilation under it, and that did reduce the temperatures significantly.
Coming to the performance, the only Wi Fi 6 device I currently have is the ROG Phone 3, and I’ll get to why that is important, but in my tests, I was able to get 829 mbps transfer speeds in the best case scenario with the phone very close to the router, and then in the next room with one wall in between, I got 593 mbps, and then in the room further away, I got around 250 mbps. Now unlike the AX10 that I reviewed recently, the AX50 also offers 802.11ax standard on its 2.4 GHz band, so I was able to get better speeds on it with my WiFi 6 phone, and I got 206 mbps with my phone close to the router, which is quite impressive for 2.4GHz band, in the central room I got 175 mbps, and the speed was 122 mbps in the room further away.
For these speeds, even on 2.4 GHz band, you will need a Wi Fi 6 device, and with my Oneplus 6 phone which doesn’t have Wi Fi 6, I did get slower maximum speed of 140mbps, even on 2.4 GHz band, which is around 70 mbps slower than my ROG phone 3. The maximum speed results on this router are actually slightly slower than the Archer AX10 that I reviewed recently, and even though my results are within margin of error, both of these routers gave me practically the same speed. The Archer AX50 supports 160 MHz channel bandwidth, which the AX50 doesn’t, and while that may have some real world benefits, at least I wasn’t able to notice better speeds due to it with my ROG Phone 3.
Coming to the range of this router, it will provide a good enough 5 GHz signal for a single medium sized home, and I also found the 2.4 GHz range to be above average, as I was able to get 30 mbps in the furthest room of my second flat, which is of course not that amazing, but it is still good enough to browse the internet. I also tested the USB 3.0 port on the AX50 with a hard drive, and I was able to only get around 35 megabytes per second of transfer speeds, which is lower than what I was expecting considering that it is a USB 3.0 connection. You will still be able to stream your legally downloaded videos from your hard drive and play it on a TV or phone, but if you’re planning to use this as a NAS and you need to frequently transfer big files, then the speed is going to be limited.
Now just like many other TP Link routers including the Archer C6 and AX10, the AX50 also lacks a repeater mode, which means you can’t use it to extend the range of an existing Wi-Fi network. The AX50 also doesn’t have any plans to get OneMesh support added to it via a firmware update, but I recently learned that you can’t use two Onemesh supporting routers to create a mesh network like Asus Ai Mesh, and Onemesh only works with a router, and an extender that supports Onemesh.
Onemesh could be useful for you if you were planning to create a mesh network using TP Link range extenders, but you can also just use a simple non mesh extended network. But it is still unacceptable for me that at this price, there is no way to make this router usable as an extender, because it is a very basic feature that makes your old routers useful, and with the performance that this router has, it would have been really great to use it as an extender, especially in a mesh network. We also don’t have support for third party firmwares like OpenWRT and DD-WRT, so the only way to extend its Wi Fi Range is with a dedicated range extender.
So while this is quite disappointing for me as a person who needs WiFi in multiple flats, it may not be a problem for you if you don’t need to use multiple routers and the range of this router is enough for you. So overall, the TP Link Archer AX50 is good for the price, the features we have on board are nice, the performance is great, especially on the 2.4 GHz band, the interface is easy to use, and the USB port is also nice to have. But it is not great for people who want to use it to extend their Wi-Fi range or want to use this in a mesh system even with TP Link’s own WiFi Range extenders.
Compared to the AX10, it may not be that big of an upgrade considering the price increase. You may be able to get better speeds using one of those Wi Fi 6 adapters from Asus, but we’re already reaching close to the limit of the Gigabit ports on these routers, even with the AX10, so I am not sure how much value the AX50 provides at 50% extra price, because the AX50 costs 9000 Rs. or 120 US Dollars, while the AX10 is priced at 6000 Rs. or 80 US Dollars.
This also gets quite hot in comparison to the AX10, so the only advantage for me is the USB port, which is also not that fast, and is also available on the AX20 which already has Onemesh support, and I just hate the fact that all of these routers look so similar but have different features, and some of them don’t support Onemesh even though it looks like they totally should.