A Modern Update to a Classic Black Box
The Archer AX75 and AX75 both use the same textured black enclosure as last year’s Archer AX73. It has six non-removable adjustable antennas and measures 1.9 by 5.8 by 10.7 inches (HWD). Seven LED indicators let you see the router’s status at a glance, including power; 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio band activity; internet activity; ethernet activity; USB activity; and WPS activity. The only way to tell the AX75 apart from the AX75 is the former’s lack of Wi-Fi 6E badging; the AX75 doesn’t support this cutting-edge 6GHz Wi-Fi spectrum.
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The rear panel is home to the power jack, four 1GbE LAN ports, and one 1GbE WAN port. Physical controls include a Reset button; LED, WPS, and Wi-Fi On/Off buttons; and a Power button. The single USB 3.0 port is located on the left side of the router. This router is not equipped with multi-gig network connections and does not currently support link aggregation, although the company says this advanced feature, which enables speeds in excess of 1Gbps using two Ethernet cables, will arrive in a future firmware update.
Under the hood are a 1.7GHz quad-core CPU, 512MB of memory, and 802.11ax circuitry, which supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 technologies, including OFDMA transmissions, MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming, direct-to-client beamforming, 160MHz channel bandwidth, Dynamic Frequency Selection (DFS), and WPA3 encryption. It’s an AX5400 tri-band router that can reach theoretical data rates of up to 574Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 2,402Mbps on each of the two 5GHz bands.
The AX75 comes with a free HomeShield Basic plan that gives you network security scans, and parental controls that let you block internet access for individual users, apply age-based filtering, and see how long a user has been online with a list of most- frequently visited sites. For $5.99 per month or $54.99 per year, the HomeShield Pro plan provides more robust parental controls that let you set time limits and create Time Rewards that give your kids extra internet time as a reward for completing tasks. Additional security features include malicious content filters, Denial of Service protection, and network security reports.
You can manage the AX75 with the TP-Link Tether mobile app or via the web console. Both are user-friendly, but the web console offers more advanced settings than the app does, such as NAT forwarding and DHCP server settings. On the other hand, you’ll need the app to access the HomeShield QoS, parental controls, and network security settings.
The Tether app opens to a Home screen which has a network map up top that shows the router name, its internet status, and the number of connected clients. Tapping the Router icon displays the device’s firmware version, IP address, and model number. Tapping the Clients icon shows you which devices are currently connected to the router.
Below the map you, can view the names of the main and guest Wi-Fi SSIDs. Tap any band to edit the SSID and password and to enable Smart Connect, which uses a single SSID for all three bands. At the very bottom of the Home screen are buttons labeled Home, Clients, Security, Family, and Tools. The Home button takes you back to the Home screen from wherever you are in the app, while the Clients button takes you to a screen with a list of connected devices, both wired and wireless. Tap a client to view its IP and MAC addresses, enable parental controls, enable QoS, and block internet access.
Tap the Security button to perform a network scan and view scan details. If you are subscribed to the Pro plan, you can also block access to malicious websites, enable Intrusion Prevention to identify potential threats, and protect your IoT devices from hackers. Tap the Family button to access Parental Controls, where you can create profiles, block websites, assign age-based filters, and set Bedtime and Off-time rules.
The Tools button takes you to a screen where you can configure Wi-Fi settings, analyze channel selection, create a guest network, configure internet connection and IPTV/VLAN settings, and create a OneMesh network. This screen also gives you options to configure device notifications, share Wi-Fi credentials, and update firmware.
Testing the AX75: Easy Installation, Respectable Performance
Whether you choose to install the Archer AX75 using the TP-Link Tether app or with the web console, either method is quick and easy. I chose the latter and started by powering off my modem and connecting the AX75 to it using the included LAN cable. I powered up the modem and the router, opened a web browser on my desktop PC, which was connected to the router, and typed 192.168.0.1 in the address bar. This opened the TP-Link web console, which prompted me to create an admin password, select my time zone, select a connection type (Dynamic, Static, PPPoE, L2TP, or PPTP), and enter a MAC Address (I chose the default ). I disabled Smart Connect, which allows the router to select the best radio band, a Wi-Fi password, and created a few seconds for the router to perform an internet connection test. After a 3-minute firmware update, the router was ready for testing.
The AX75 turned into respectable scores in our throughput performance tests. Its score of 126Mbps on the 2.4GHz close-proximity test was identical to the score that we got from the Synology RT6600ax router, and a bit faster than the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 AX5400 (121Mbps). The Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400 led with a score of 128Mbps. On the 30-foot test, the AX75 managed 52Mbps, beating the Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400 (44Mbps) and the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 AX5400 (42Mbps), but not the Synology RT6600ax (60Mbps).
On the 5GHz throughput tests, the AX75’s score of 811Mbps was faster than the Synology RT6600ax (791Mbps) but not the Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400 or the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 AX5400 (846Mbps and 830Mbps, respectively). At a distance of 30 feet, the AX75’s score of 273Mbps was the slowest of the pack; the Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400 took top honors with 424Mbps, the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 AX5400 delivered 400Mbps, and the Synology RT6600ax delivered 301Mbps.
To test file transfer performance, we move a 1.5GB folder containing photos, video, music, and office document files back and forth between a USB 3.0 drive and a desktop PC, both of which are connected to the router. This gives us write and read speed results. The AX75’s write speed of 42MBps was slightly faster than the Synology RT6600ax (39MBps) but significantly slower than the Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400 (69MBps). The Linksys Hydra Pro 6 AX5400 came in second with a score of 55MBps. On the read test, the AX75 managed 44MBps, once again beating the Synology RT6600ax (40MBps) but not the Linksys Hydra Pro 6 AX5400 (57MBps) or the far-and-away leader Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400 (85MBps).
Finally, we use an Ekahau Sidekick Wi-Fi diagnostic device and Ekahau’s Survey mobile app to test wireless signal strength and generate heat maps that illustrate the router’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz signal strength throughout our test home. (Note: Ekahau is owned by Ziff Davis, the publisher of PCMag.com.). The circle on the map represents the location of the router, and the colors represent signal strength. Dark green areas indicate the strongest signal, and lighter yellow areas indicate a weaker signal. Gray areas indicate no measurable signal reception.
TP-Link Archer AX75’s 2.4GHz signal strength (Credit: PCMag)
TP-Link Archer AX75’s 2.4GHz signal strength (Credit: PCMag)
As shown on the maps, the Archer AX75 did a good job of broadcasting strong 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals throughout our test home, but both radio signals became slightly weaker in the far corners of the garage.
Verdict: Solid Throughput, Wide Signal Coverage
You don’t get high-speed Ethernet ports with the TP-Link Archer AX75, and you’ll have to subscribe to a HomeShield Pro plan to take advantage of some of its more advanced parental control and network security features, but what you do get is solid Wi-Fi 6 throughput with wide signal coverage for under $200. The AX75 is easy to install and configure, and offers a user-friendly mobile app, and you can press it into duty as a base station for a mesh network that uses TP-Link OneMesh compatible devices as nodes.
That said, our Editors’ Choice winner for midrange Wi-Fi 6 routers, the Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400, delivers better all-around performance and offers several game-friendly optimization features, as well as free lifetime parental control and network security software. . It’s only $50 more. Meanwhile, if you’d rather keep your networking budget under $200 and future-proof your Wi-Fi at the same time, the Archer AX75 is nearly identical to the AX75, but adds support for the cutting-edge 6GHz band.
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