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TP-Link Archer AX21 vs. Netgear R6700AX: Which Wi-Fi 6 router under $100 is worth it?

TP-Link Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 router review
TP-Link Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 router review (Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

TP-Link Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 Router

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The TP-Link Archer AX21 is a fast and cheap router with AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 speeds with four streams. This router has four gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB 2.0 port for network storage. Mesh expansion is available with OneMesh extenders using the same app and WI-Fi name.

Only the essentials

Fast AX1800 Wi-Fi 6
Four Ethernet LAN ports
OneMesh expansion
USB 2.0 port
Limited parental controls
No HomeShield included

Netgear R6700AX

Netgear R6700AX

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The Netgear R6700AX is a fast AX1800 router with four streams and Wi-Fi 6 support. It has four Ethernet ports for LAN devices alongside three external antennas. Advanced security from Bitdefender is available with Netgear Armor and Netgear Smart parental controls.

Netgear R6700AX

Software bonuses

Fast AX1800 Wi-Fi 6
Four Ethernet LAN ports
Netgear Smart Parental controls are available
Netgear Armor is available
Netgear Armor requires an expensive subscription
No mesh expansion support

As far as wireless speeds go, these routers are nearly identical. Both of these are fairly compact and with coverage for up to medium homes, they solve largely the same problem. The TP-Link Archer AX21 is often available for a slightly lower price, though both start at just shy of $100. The Archer also supports OneMesh meaning you can expand your wireless coverage down the line with compatible extenders. The Netgear R6700AX comes with support for Netgear Armor and Netgear Smart parental controls for added security for your family.

Both of these routers come with an AX1800 dual-band Wi-Fi 6 connection with around 600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1200Mbps on the 5GHz band. Most 5GHz This connection is fast enough for most families and should have no issue supporting multiple 4K streams if you have the internet speed for it. The four streams mean that speeds will start to suffer as more connected devices request data though, for most people, it will hardly be noticeable.

For the majority of users, both of these routers offer plenty of speed with enough capacity for the whole family.

TP-Link Archer AX21Netgear R6700AX
WirelessDual-band Wi-Fi 6
4-stream AX1800
Dual-band Wi-Fi 6
4-stream AX1800
Ethernet1x gigabit WAN
4x gigabit LAN
1x gigabit WAN
4x gigabit LAN
USB1x USB 2.0None
Mesh expansionOneMeshNone
Parental controlsURL filtering
Time controls
Netgear Smart Parental Controls
Dimensions10.2 x 5.3 x 1.2 inches9.27 x 7.26 x 2.25 inches

Both routers are fairly compact though the Archer may be a bit easy to place on a shelf thanks to its shallower dimensions. Neither should be particularly difficult to place and both can be easily wall mounted if that works better for your setup. The Archer may have a slight advantage in coverage consistency thanks to its four articulating antennas compared to three on the Netgear though, in most homes, it should be about the same.

Both routers have four open gigabit Ethernet ports on the back with another for the incoming WAN connection. The Archer has a USB port for a network storage drive though at USB 2.0 speeds, it won't be any replacement for a great home NAS. Still, it's nice to have for sharing a few files in a pinch.

TP-Link Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 router review

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Both routers have coverage for small to medium-sized homes though it's important to remember that each home is different when it comes to coverage. This is down to how thick your walls are or the materials they're made of. HVAC systems and appliances can also cause signal degradation. Your best bet is to overbuy when it comes to signal or you may find that you need an extender later.

When it comes to network expansion, the Archer AX21 has a serious advantage with support for TP-Link's OneMesh extenders. This allows you to manage your extenders from the same app as your TP-Link router. This also means that the extenders will use the same Wi-Fi name as your base router and your devices will be able to seamlessly roam from your base router to your extender.

Netgear makes some mesh Wi-Fi extenders that use the same Wi-Fi name as your base router though you'll miss out on some of the roaming and management features present on the Archer. If you know you'll need a mesh system in your home, it's best to start with a purpose-built Wi-Fi 6 mesh system.

Netgear R6700AX TV

Source: Netgear (Image credit: Source: Netgear)

Both routers can be set up with an app for Android or iOS and it only takes a few minutes to get connected. These devices can also automatically update to the newest software to improve stability and security. If you want more advanced controls, you can use a web browser to access those settings.

The Netgear R6700AX makes a big comeback when it comes to security and parental control software. Bitdefender-powered Netgear Armor is available and it comes with antivirus protection as well as protection from known risky connections. This includes unusual connections to previously approved devices as well as blocking known bad sites before they ever reach your device. Netgear Armor does require a subscription at a fairly steep $69.99 per year, though a 30-day free trial is available so you can decide if you want it.

The Netgear also comes with Netgear Smart parental controls. This is a fairly standard set of parental controls with basic scheduling and content blocking but it's great to have. To get the most out of it with more in-depth controls, a subscription is available for $7.99 per month or $69.99 per year. If you really want advanced parental controls, you might save some money in the long run with another router with parental controls like the Asus RT-AX56U.

The TP-Link Archer AX21 has a few basic parental controls including URL blocking and time controls but these features are much simpler than even the free tier Netgear offers.

If you're looking for a basic router to get online quickly and cheaply, either option is great. The Netgear R6700AX has a solid advantage when it comes to parental controls thanks to Netgear Smart Parental controls software though the subscription price for the more advanced features won't be worth it to the majority of people.

The Archer AX21 is the better overall package with all of the features most people want with some nice extras like OneMesh support. While both of these routers have a suggested price of $100, the Archer can often be found at a lower price than the Netgear with discounts applied. Still, if you're looking for a great cheap Wi-Fi 6 router either option should do a great job.

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, 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.