TP-Link Archer AX21 Review

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TP-Link Archer AX21 (AX1800) Wi-Fi 6 Router Review

Richie’s Verdict
4.5 Stars
The TP-Link Archer AX21 is a great choice to upgrade your home network to Wi-Fi 6 and enjoy faster Wi-Fi speeds and extra security with the built-in VPN client and server. It’s also easy to set up with the TP-Link Tether app for Android and iOS. It’s a nice-looking unit with a good feature set and a bargain at less than $100.
Pros Cons
✅ Easy setup ❌ No advanced features
✅ Built-in VPN client/server ❌ Won’t max-out Gigabit connection
✅ Strong signal range ❌ Capped input speed
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Contents

Overview

The TP-Link Archer AX21 hits the mark with a hassle-free setup experience and superior range compared to the previous model Archer AX20. The newer Archer AX21 outperforms its price-bracket competitors with faster Wi-Fi 6 speeds and an extensive feature set for under $100.

The Archer AX21 is best suited to small and medium-sized homes and apartments and users who use streaming services, social media, WFH, and other general use.

Setup

The Archer AX21 is easy to set up with TP-Link’s free app Tether for Android and iOS devices, rather than messing around with IP addresses. You can have the Archer setup in under 10 minutes, even if you’re a novice. The Tether app also allows you to remotely connect and manage your router from anywhere in the world. You can monitor each device connected to your router and remove unauthorized users.

The AX21 is Amazon Certified for Humans, meaning you can integrate your Smart Home devices using Alexa. It also uses the latest WPA3, 192-bit encryption technology for device connections.

Speed and Range

The Archer AX21 offers dual-band Wi-Fi 6 on 2.4GHz and 5GHz spectrums and transfer speeds of up to 1.8Gbps, which for a budget router is quite good. It features four high-gain antennas with Beamforming to extend coverage inside your home and OFDMA technology to connect more devices to the network. Beamforming focuses on signal strength/range at the cost of speed, which is a compromise worth taking.

In testing, I found the Archer AX21 range was considerably higher than routers in this price bracket and the previous Archer AX20 model. Stability and signal strength are also exceptional compared to the AX21’s peers. Ethernet ports on the AX21 are all Gigabit, including the blue WAN uplink port.

VPN

The Archer AX21 has a built-in VPN client and server that uses OpenVPN, PPTP, or L2TP/IPsec protocols. When acting as a VPN client, you can set up a connection to a VPN service provider like ExpressVPN, NordVPN, or IPVanish VPN and secure your connected devices.

As a VPN server, the Archer AX21 can negotiate external WAN connections from remote devices to access your home network resources. For example, if you’re in New York and your home network is in Chicago, you can connect directly to the Archers VPN server to access your home network.

Suitability

The Archer AX21 is best suited for:

  • Small to medium homes and apartments
  • Home offices
  • WFH (Work from home)

TP-Link Archer AX21 Specifications

WIRELESS
Standards
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • IEEE 802.11ax/ac/n/a 5 GHz
  • IEEE 802.11ax/n/b/g 2.4 GHz
Wi-Fi Speeds
  • AX1800
  • 5 GHz: 1201 Mbps (802.11ax)
  • 2.4 GHz: 574 Mbps (802.11ax)
Wi-Fi Range
  • 4 Fixed High-Performance Antennas
  • Multiple antennas form a signal-boosting array to cover more directions and large areas
  • Beamforming concentrates wireless signal strength towards clients to expand WiFi range
  • High-Power FEM improves transmission power to strengthen signal coverage
Wi-Fi Capacity
  • Dual-Band – Allocate devices to different bands for optimal performance
  • OFDMA – Simultaneously communicates with multiple Wi-Fi 6 clients
  • Airtime Fairness – Improves network efficiency by limiting excessive occupation
  • 4 Streams – Connect your devices to more bandwidth
Working Modes
  • Router Mode
  • Access Point Mode
SECURITY
Wi-Fi Encryption
  • WPA
  • WPA2
  • WPA3
  • WPA/WPA2-Enterprise (802.1x)
Network Security
  • SPI Firewall
  • Access Control
  • IP & MAC Binding
  • Application Layer Gateway
Guest Network
  • 1× 5 GHz Guest Network
  • 1× 2.4 GHz Guest Network
VPN Server
  • OpenVPN
  • PPTP
  • L2TP/IPsec
SOFTWARE
Protocols
  • IPv4
  • IPv6
OneMesh OneMesh™ Supported
Parental Controls
  • URL Filtering
  • Time Controls
WAN Types
  • Dynamic IP
  • Static IP
  • PPPoE
  • PPTP
  • L2TP
Quality of Service QoS by Device
Cloud Service
  • Auto Firmware Upgrade
  • OTA Firmware Upgrade
  • TP-Link ID
  • DDNS
NAT
  • Port Forwarding
  • Port Triggering
  • DMZ
  • UPnP
IPTV
  • IGMP Proxy
  • IGMP Snooping
  • Bridge
  • Tag VLAN
DHCP
  • Address Reservation
  • DHCP Client List
  • Server
DDNS
  • TP-Link
  • NO-IP
  • DynDNS
Management
  • Tether App
  • Web browser
HARDWARE
Processor 1 GHz Dual-Core CPU
Ethernet Ports
  • 1× Gigabit WAN Port
  • 4× Gigabit LAN Ports
USB Support
  • USB 2.0 Port
  • Supported Partition Formats: NTFS, exFAT, HFS+, FAT32
  • Supported Functions:
    • Apple Time Machine
    • FTP Server
    • Media Server
    • Samba Server
Buttons
  • WPS/Wi-Fi Button
  • Power On/Off Button
  • LED On/Off Button
  • Reset Button
Power 12 V ⎓ 1.5 A
PHYSICAL
Dimensions (WxDxH)
  • 10.2 × 5.3 ×1.5 in
  • 260.2 × 135.0 × 38.6 mm
Contents
  • Wi-Fi Router Archer AX21
  • Power Adapter
  • RJ45 Ethernet Cable
  • Quick Installation Guide

Images/Video

Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 Router Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 Router - rear ports Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 Router - retail box Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 Router - VPN Explainer Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 Router -  High Gain Antenna Explainer Archer AX21 Wi-Fi 6 Router - Wi-Fi 6 Explainer

Conclusion

For a budget router, the Archer AX21 is the best of its class and a good choice for small to medium homes or apartments. It has good speed, excellent range, and extra security with the built-in VPN feature. The Archer AX21, in my view, is the best budget Wi-Fi 6 router on the market.

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Categories Routers & Switches, VPN

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