There seems to be a TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 router at every price point. If you have only S$200 to spend on a router, the one to get from the Chinese networking firm is the TP-Link Archer AX73. This router sits below the Archer AX90, and lacks some of the AX90's features. The AX73 notably has only two Wi-Fi bands, and does not have a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port. But it is also cheaper by around S$100. Because of the differences in price and features, you may find the AX73 a better fit than the AX90, especially if you're staying in a small to mid-size apartment.
- Supports latest Wi-Fi 6 standard
- 1x Gigabit WAN port, 4x Gigabit LAN ports and 1x USB 3.0 port
- Dual-band router (up to 4.8Gbps on 5GHz channel)
The AX73's design is also quite different from the AX90. It has a flat top that stands out with a rather striking pattern. There are six antennas on the dual-band AX73 compared to the eight antennas on the tri-band AX90. You can wall mount the AX73, which has a relatively light plastic chassis. In terms of connectivity, the AX73 is fairly typical. At the rear, there are four Gigabit LAN ports and a Gigabit WAN port. There's also a USB 3.0 port at the side, which can be used with an external storage device to backup files. Apple's Time Machine backup feature for Mac computers is supported, for instance.
You can use TP-Link's Tether mobile app or a web browser to set up the AX73. The latter offers more options for those who like to muck around the settings, while the former is the only way to access TP-Link's HomeShield software suite (parental controls, QoS and security). To use the free version of HomeShield, you'll need to sign up for a TP-Link account. But the more useful features, like DDoS protection and IoT device security are locked behind a paid subscription (S$8.98 a month). TP-Link is not an outlier here. While these software packages used to be bundled free several years ago, manufacturers are now charging for them.
The AX73's Wi-Fi connections do not seem to be optimised when using the Smart Connect feature that automatically assigns Wi-Fi bands to devices. There were times when my Wi-Fi 6 notebook was using the 2.4GHz band instead of the faster 5GHz band. Perhaps this is why the AX73 clocked an average download speed of 675Mbps. It's not the slowest, but those who need higher speeds may have to tweak the AX73's Wi-Fi settings. Personally, I'm inclined to go with the Smart Connect option for convenience.
As usual, the Wi-Fi connection is weak in my furthest bedroom, which is why I usually run a mesh router system. For the AX73, it managed around 125Mbps in the bedroom. The good news is that the AX73 supports TP-Link's OneMesh feature that lets you create a mesh network with a compatible TP-Link extender like the RE605X. Overall, the TP-Link Archer AX73 offers decent performance and useful features at an affordable price. Get it for S$209 at Shopee and Lazada.
Note: Review set provided by TP-Link.
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