The TP-Link Archer AX21 ($99.99) won’t wow you with features, and it’s not the fastest router on the market, but it gives you Wi-Fi 6 technology for under $100 (well under, since we’ve seen it online for as little as $69.99). Armed with a quad-core CPU and 802.11ax circuitry, this dual-band router delivered good throughput and showed strong signal strength in our testing. It’s a cinch to install and can be used in a mesh configuration, as well. The Archer is a good choice, though you’ll get better all-around performance from our top pick among affordable Wi-Fi 6 routers, the ZTE AX3000 Pro.
Design and Features
The AX21’s sleek black enclosure resembles that of TP-Link’s Archer AXE75, but instead of a textured top and six antennas, it has a grillwork top and four non-removable, adjustable antennas. The router is designed to sit on a desktop or can be mounted on a wall using two holes on the bottom. It measures 1.5 by 10.2 by 5.3 inches (HWD) and has six small LED indicators up front for power, activity for both radio bands, internet connectivity, and WPS and USB activity. Around back are four 1Gbps LAN ports, a 1Gbps WAN port, WPS and reset buttons, a USB 2.0 port, and the power button and AC adapter jack. Link aggregation is not supported, and you won’t find any multi-gig LAN/WAN or high-speed USB ports, but that’s not surprising considering the router’s low price.
You Can Trust Our Reviews
The Archer AX21 is a dual-band AX1800 router that can hit maximum (theoretical) data rates of 574Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 1,201Mbps on the 5GHz band. It’s powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU and supports most of the latest Wi-Fi 6 technologies, including Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) transmissions, WPA3 encryption, MU-MIMO data streaming, and direct-to-client signal beamforming. However, unlike the ZTE AX3000 Pro, the AX21 does not support 160MHz channel transmissions. It does, however, support OneMesh technology, which lets you create a mesh network using the AX21 and other compatible routers and extenders.
This is one of the few TP-Link routers that does not offer HomeShield parental controls and anti-malware protection. Instead, you get…