Best TP-Link Router System Android Central 2020
TP-Link has been making networking equipment for ages and it's quite good at it. Not only that, TP-Link routers more often than not offer competitive specifications at great prices. If you're looking for a great balance of features including fast AC Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO and tri-band, the Archer A20 is a great fit.
- Best Overall: Archer A20
- Best Value: Archer A7
- Best Wi-Fi 6: Archer AX50
- Best Gaming: Archer C5400X
- Best entry-level mesh: Deco M5
- Best Mesh: Deco M9 Plus
Best Overall: Archer A20
Wi-Fi 6, or 802.11AX, is the next big thing in Wi-Fi routers. The only problem is that very few devices support it and the prices for those devices are quite high. The TP-Link A20, however, comes close with fast AC Wi-Fi providing up to 1,625Mbps on either 5Ghz band and 750Mbps on the 2.4Ghz bands.
There are four gigabit Ethernet connections for wired devices around back and one more for your internet connection. With the speed of the Wi-FI, it would have been nice to see a multi-gig option such as a faster Ethernet port or link aggregation. Still, 1Gbps should be plenty for most applications.
The styling is simple and utilitarian, allowing the A20 to avoid standing out too much. The matte black finish with relatively short antennas can keep a low enough profile that it can be placed high enough up on a shelf to provide good coverage. Still, at around 7.9 inches across, it is still quite big.
- Fast AC4000 speed
- Six antennas
- No multi-gig ethernet
Fast AC Wi-Fi
The TP-Link Archer A20 provides a great balance of speed and features with tri-band connectivity and MU-MIMO. AC Wi-Fi is great for most wireless devices.
Best Value: Archer A7
Most people don't need absolute top speeds or six antennas on their Wi-Fi system. For a smaller house or apartment, the TP-Link Archer A7 will be able to provide a solid wireless experience. Four gigabit Ethernet ports let this router fit right in with your current wired setup.
You do give up a few features for the lower price, such as MU-MIMO and tri-band connectivity, which can lead to some slowdown if you want to connect a lot of devices at once. Still, with 450Mbps on the 2.4Ghz band and 1,300Mbps at 5Ghz, the Archer A7 should be more than adequate.
Traditional styling with tall antennas makes this router a bit harder to blend into a room but the black color and subtle design mean it won't stand out too much. This router is a great balance for a network that doesn't need a ton of performance.
- Adequate AC1750 speed
- Four Gigabit Ethernet ports
- No MU-MIMO
- Only USB 2.0
AC1750 for less
Fast dual-band wireless speeds at AC1750 is enough for the vast majority of users. Four Ethernet ports and three antennas help connect plenty of devices.
Best Wi-Fi 6: Archer AX50
If you absolutely need Wi-Fi 6, or just want to get in on the new standard, the TP-Link Archer AX50 is your best bet. At around 10 inches wide and only around 5 inches deep, the AX50 has a minimal and relatively subtle design but packs a punch. It has wireless speeds up to AX3000, which breaks down to 2,402Mbps at 5Ghz and 574Mbps at 2.4Ghz. Of course, this router is backwards compatible with the older Wi-Fi standards including Wi-Fi 5 or 802.11AC.
It is a bit disappointing that there are no multi-gig Ethernet ports available so your maximum wired speeds will be 1Gbps, though this is enough for most current applications. If you intend to use a fast storage server on your network, it will be worth it to get something a bit faster like the Archer C5400X.
Still, if you're looking for a fast and consistent Wi-Fi 6 solution without breaking the bank, the AX50 is a great option.
- Wi-Fi 6 compatible
- AX3000 speeds
- Minimal design
- No multi-gig Ethernet
- No tri-band
Best Wi-Fi 6
Wi-Fi 6 performance
Wi-Fi 6 is coming and your can be ready for it with the TP-Link Archer AX50. Four streams allow it to reliably hit 3Gbps on supported devices.
Best Gaming: Archer C5400X
The C5400X is just about the best performance you can get in an AC Wi-Fi router. There is a Wi-Fi 6 version available exclusively to Costco members if you want the absolute best performance. If you wish to stick with the AC version, you aren't giving up much with a potential speed of 5,400Mbps.
This router is also a great fit if you have a fast network storage server thanks to link aggregation, which allows a wired connection of up to 2Gbps. Speaking of wired connections, the C5400X has eight gigabit Ethernet ports meaning you can stick to wired on all of your game consoles and gaming PC.
While the appearance does shout "gamer," quality of service software helps it live up to the appearance and will keep gaming latency low even when there are a lot of devices connected. Combine all this with tri-band Wi-Fi and MU-MIMO and you should have a consistent and fast Wi-Fi experience.
- Fast AC5400 speed
- Eight Ethernet ports
- Link aggregation
- Gamer aesthetic
- Wi-Fi 6 only available to Costco members
Fast gaming performance
The Archer C5400X is one of the fastest AC routers around. With plenty of speed for wired and wireless devices, you can't go wrong with this router.
Best Entry-level Mesh: Deco M5
Mesh networking is the biggest trend in Wi-Fi. These routers work together to provide great coverage by combining multiple small routers into a single network. The TP-Link Deco M5 isn't the fastest mesh router around but with a great price and an easy app-based setup, it is a great option for someone just getting into mesh networking.
This router has two ethernet ports on each one so you don't need to give up on your wired devices but the focus here is on Wi-Fi. Speaking of Wi-Fi, this Deco M5 sports a dual-band connection at AC1200 speeds. That's 867Mbps at 5Ghz and 400Mbps at 2.4Ghz. With a three-pack covering an estimated 5,500 square feet, this can be a great solution for a home that's hard to cover with just one router.
Since you'll be placing mesh routers in more rooms of your home, it's nice that the Deco M5 is so small. You can always add more Deco routers if you want to strengthen your network as well.
- Dual-band Wi-Fi
- Compact size
- 5,500 square feet of coverage
- AC1200 speed feels lacking
- Only two Ethernet ports per unit
Best entry-level mesh
Solid starter mesh
The TP-Link Deco M5 is a simple and easy way to build a mesh network in your home. The Wi-Fi speed is fast enough for most users.
Best Mesh: Deco M9 Plus
The Deco M9 Plus is a tri-band mesh Wi-Fi router with support for MU-MIMO. This allows it to achieve speeds of AC2200, which breaks down to 867Mbps on each of two 5Ghz bands and 400Mbps the 2.4Ghz band. You can easily set up your mesh network with the Deco app. The M9 Plus also supports Zigbee for smart home connections.
Even with this extra power, these routers maintain a compact size and two Ethernet ports per unit. A three-pack will cover an impressive 6,500 square feet in ideal condition. Even if these routers don't cover your entire home, you can add more to strengthen your mesh.
Though not that many devices will support tri-band connection, the extra 5Ghz band will form a dedicated backhaul connection to keep the speed between routers fast no matter which router is closer to you device.
- AC2200 speed
- Zigbee connection
- Compact size
- Only two Ethernet ports per unit
A smarter mesh
With ZigBee and tri-band Wi-Fi, the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus is one of the fastest mesh routers you can get. An app makes setup and expansion a breeze.
TP-Link likely has a solution for anyone's networking needs. Even with intense competition in the mesh space from newer companies like Google and Eero, the Deco mesh routers are a great value whether you need the faster M9 Plus or the cheaper M5. Gaming is also an option with modern quality of service software to keep gaming latency low even when there are a lot of users online.
One of the reasons there are so many different routers to choose from is because they all fill a different set of requirements. If, however, you want a great balance of the most important features in a router, the Archer A20 is a great choice. With tri-band and MU-MIMO on top of AC4000 speeds, this router is a great choice for most homes.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking and carriers, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.
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