Wi-Fi 6 (or 802.11ax) is one of the latest developments in wireless networks. Launched last year, even it is not yet definitively finalized, this standard is becoming more and more democratic.
It must be said that Wi-Fi 5 (or 802.11ac) is no longer very young… it dates all the same from 2014. Even if it still remains efficient today (especially with the 5 GHz frequency which offers good bit rates), it can reach its limits quite quickly in some cases.
Its successor, Wi-Fi 6, obviously provides better performance and better manages a large number of devices connected simultaneously on the same wireless network. It can be practical at home as in a shopping center or in a sports arena, for example.
Powered by a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor, TP-Link’s Archer AX11000 router has 1 GB of RAM and offers no less than 9 Ethernet ports, or a 2.5 GbE WAN port and 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports for the local network. On two of these Gigabit Ethernet ports, link aggregation is possible, which is obviously a good thing.
On the connectivity side, there is a USB 3.0 type A port as well as a USB 3.0 type C port. These allow you to connect a hard drive or a USB key, and thus share the content on the network.
This Wi-Fi 6 router is tri-band and therefore creates three networks : one on the 2.4 GHz frequency (speeds up to 1.2 Gbit / s) and two on the 5 GHz frequency (speeds up to 4.8 Gbit / s). Most routers and box operators are content with two wireless networks (2.4 GHz + 5 GHz) but having a second 5 GHz network is clearly a plus, even if it can easily be deactivated if it is not useful.
The first start is really very simple and intuitive thanks to the Android or iOS application “TP-Link Tether”, provided that you create a TP-Link account if you have not already done so. Otherwise it remains the good old method with the Ethernet cable and by connecting to the web interface (by default 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1). The installation is done step by step, you just have to choose the mode (router or access point), the time zone and the administrator password in particular. You don’t have to be a network specialist at all, and that’s nice.
This is a “gaming” router according to TP-Link, we cannot say the opposite with its rather distinct look but which will not go everywhere. With its 8 antennas, very easy to set up by the way, the Archer AX11000 router is not the most sober. But all high-end Wi-Fi 6 routers are a bit like that, regardless of the manufacturer.
With its dimensions of 28 x 28 cm (and as much in height with the antennas), theAX11000 is rather imposing but quite uncluttered on each side. Indeed, beyond the many Ethernet ports, there are on the other hand three small buttons which respectively allow to activate the WPS connection, activate / deactivate the Wi-Fi, and activate / deactivate the LEDs of the router. We obviously find the classic reset (or Reset) and ignition (Power) buttons. The weight of the router is 1.5 kg with the antennas, to which must be added the external 60 W power supply (which is unfortunately still the case on all similar products).
To finish on the design, we must also address the packaging of the Archer AX11000 router and the Archer TX3000E network card: they are really well thought out, the accessories are numerous and well protected. It’s a detail but it confirms the high-end positioning of this Wi-Fi 6 range at TP-Link.
For my tests, I used my desktop PC (Ryzen 3700X, 16 GB RAM, NVMe SSD) with the TP-Link Archer TX3000E PCI-Express network card. Any Wi-Fi 6 network card could have done the trick, it is the same Intel chip (AX200). But the TP-Link card is particularly interesting with an irreproachable red finish, complete packaging and above all two multidirectional antennas for optimal reception.
The installation of this network card, which is also Bluetooth 5.0, is really simple. All you have to do is put it in a PCI-Express slot and connect the small cable from the network card to a USB pin on your motherboard (to take advantage of Bluetooth 5.0). Then the drivers for the network card should automatically install on Windows 10. The only complaint: the cable which allows the antennas to be moved is a little short, it deserves to be longer to offer more freedom.
About the smartphones, more and more of them are compatible with Wi-Fi 6. Especially at the top of the range. Besides, I was able to use a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ as a second device to do some performance tests and see what it brings (or not) on a daily basis.
Before we get to the pure performance of this TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 router, it is important to mention some cool features of the product. First of all, there are “Game Center” or “Game Accelerator” functions but they are limited respectively to choosing priority devices (temporarily or without time limit) and reducing latency, which is always appreciable for playing. .
It is possible to configure everything as on any router worthy of the name: the parameters of the three Wi-Fi networks, guest Wi-Fi, port forwarding, parental control, IPv6, and many more. still other options. As a bonus, we are entitled to a VPN, an anti-virus, content sharing (via USB ports), etc. The options are really numerous and the menus are relatively self-explanatory, as long as you like the red and black “gaming” style of the web interface (which does the job well, though).
The Archer AX11000 router was connected near my Internet box, the Freebox Delta (which is not compatible with Wi-Fi 6, as a reminder) and its 8 Gbit / s fiber connection.
So I used both my stationary PC and its Archer TX3000E network card as well as Samsung smartphone Galaxy Note 10+. In particular, I did speed tests with the Speedtest application under Windows 10: around 3 meters from the router with my fixed PC in my office, as well as about 12 meters in my room with the smartphone.
The result is always impressive: we reach, with my fixed PC a few meters from the router, close to 936 Mbps downstream (download)… versus 703.62 Mbps in Wi-Fi 5. Difficult to do better, even with an Ethernet cable, because we are clearly approaching Gigabit … without any wire.
As for speeds on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ to ten meters from the router, the results are always interesting on the 5 GHz frequency. We still go from 328 Mbps download in Wi-Fi 6, against 112 Mbps in Wi-Fi 5. It’s just three times more in Wi-Fi 6. On the smartphone, navigation is clearly much smoother on Wi-Fi 6, synchronization of photos in the cloud, video playback on YouTube or Netflix, etc.
Wi-Fi 6: is it really useful, even in 2020?
As one can easily see, there are not yet very many Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices. Certainly, this new wireless standard is a very good development. It will not be useful to everyone. At a time when optical fiber is being deployed more and more in France, Wi-Fi 6 has an interest.
But it will have to pay the price. The quite futuristic and powerful Archer AX11000 router from TP-Link sells for around 400 euros. Which is a significant sum. But it should still be taken into account that the router acts as an 8-port Gigabit switch. It embeds many functions that allow it quite easily to replace the Internet box of its operator (which does not always offer a stable Wi-Fi network).
As for the Archer TX3000E network card, it can be found at around 60 euros or sometimes even cheaper on promotion. It is a necessary investment to switch your PC to Wi-Fi 6.
I was still pleasantly surprised with its two products. Indeed, TP-Link’s Wi-Fi 6 range remains fairly complete and accessible to all budgets. There is still no need to spend 400 euros to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6, some cheaper routers can be more than enough to start.
TP-Link Archer AX11000
Public price: 399 €
8.0 / 10
- Performance and stability
- Ease of installation
- Mobile app
We like less
- The price
- Rather limited “Gaming” functions