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TP-Link Archer AX21 Review

True Score

76
74
2

Experts

83
17.4k

Consumers

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GR Certified

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Expert Rankings

The budget TP-Link Archer AX21 suits mid-sized homes with low data usage. It offers parental controls but has slow download speeds, limited long-range throughput, and no USB ports.

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Table of Contents

Product Snapshot

Overview

The TP-Link Archer AX21 is a dual-band WiFi 6 router released in 2020. Its maximum bandwidth extends up to 1201Mbps over 5GHz and 574Mbps over 2.4GHz, but it lacks the 6GHz support that has become ubiquitous with the best routers. It has four antennas, MU-MIMO support, 1 x Gigabit WAN, and 4 x Gigabit LAN ports. There’s WPA, WPA2, WPA3, and WPA/WPA2-Enterprise encryption support along with VPN. The router isn’t a standalone mesh but can be used in a mesh network. You can manage the AX21 using the Tether app, which is available on iOS and Android and includes parental controls.

Consensus

our Verdict

The dual-band TP-Link Archer AX21 is an averagely speedy entry-level router suited for mid-sized homes with low data consumption (4K streaming, competitive gaming, and limited AR/VR streaming). Its close-range throughput can sustain a moderate number of devices without congestion, but its download speed of 309Mbps over 5GHz sits in the bottom third of our verified tested routers, while 40Mbps over 2.4GHz trails towards the bottom of our certified tested roster.

The 2500 square feet coverage is excellent for three-bedroom homes, but moving more than 30 feet from the router gives 50 to 55% less speed. Setup can be done over a web browser or through the Tether app, which feels more straightforward with illustrations. Parental controls are basic, letting you restrict websites and set time limits.

ReasonS to Buy

  • Satisfactory WiFi speeds
    • The TP-Link Archer AX21 is good for mid-sized homes with low data consumption and limited devices. It can manage 4K, AR, VR streaming, and competitive gaming across limited devices.

    • Its close-range throughput of 120Mbps over 2.4GHz and 694Mbps over 5GHz can sustain a moderate number of devices without congestion.

  • Great range
    • Its 2500 square feet of wireless coverage will be sufficient for most three-bedroom homes.

  • Easy setup and basic parental controls
    • Setting up is remarkably easy with the Tether app (iOS and Android), which provides instructions with illustrations. You can also do it over a web browser.

    • Standard parental controls let you set weekly time limits and restrict access to specific websites.

Reason to Avoid

  • Slow download speeds
    • Its download speeds are slow but satisfactory, with 40Mbps over 2.4GHz sitting at the bottom of our certified, tested roster and 309Mbps over 5GHz ranking in the bottom third.

  • Limited throughput range
    • Moving beyond 30 feet away from the router sees a 50 to 55% drop in speeds.

  • No USB port
    • The absence of a USB port limits wired connectivity.

TP-Link Archer AX21 Specs

# of LAN Ports# of LAN Ports
# of Phone Ports# of Phone Ports
# of WAN Ports# of WAN Ports
App CompatibleApp Compatible
Available StorageAvailable Storage
Band TechnologyBand Technology
Data Encryption TypeData Encryption Type
Energy Star CertifiedEnergy Star Certified
Frequency BandsFrequency Bands
Integrated ModemIntegrated Modem
LAN PortsLAN Ports
MU-MIMO SupportMU-MIMO Support
Mesh SystemMesh System
Number of AntennasNumber of Antennas
Parental ControlsParental Controls
Processor CoresProcessor Cores
Processor SpeedProcessor Speed
Quality of Service PrioritizationQuality of Service Prioritization
WiFi RangeWiFi Range
WiFi SpeedWiFi Speed
Wired SpeedWired Speed
Wireless StandardWireless Standard

All Specs

Test Results

2.4 GHz Download speed (Mbits/s)40
2.4 GHz Upload speed (Mbits/s)0
5 GHz Download speed (Mbits/s)309
5 GHz Upload speed (Mbits/s)190
Router Range (ft)0
Latency (ms)20
6 Ghz Download speed (Mbits/s)0
6 Ghz Upload speed (Mbits/s)0

All Tests

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Product Comparison

TP-Link Archer AX21 Review

True Score

76
78
79
79

Ranking

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32

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37

#

27

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37

#

23

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37

#

24

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37

Market Context

The TP-Link Archer AX21 is a dual-band WiFi 6 router released in 2020. Its maximum bandwidth extends up to 1201Mbps over 5GHz and 574Mbps over…

The TP-Link Archer AX21 is a dual-band WiFi 6 router released in 2020. Its maximum bandwidth extends up to 1201Mbps over 5GHz and 574Mbps over 2.4GHz, but it lacks the 6GHz support that has become ubiquitous with the best routers. It has four antennas, MU-MIMO support, 1 x Gigabit WAN, and 4 x Gigabit LAN ports. There’s WPA, WPA2, WPA3, and WPA/WPA2-Enterprise encryption support along with VPN. The router isn’t a standalone mesh but can be used in a mesh network. You can manage the AX21 using the Tether app, which is available on iOS and Android and includes parental controls.

The TP-Link Archer AX10 has a throughput of 79Mbps over the 2.4GHz band and 755Mbps over 5GHz, but at a distance of 30 feet, it…

The TP-Link Archer AX10 has a throughput of 79Mbps over the 2.4GHz band and 755Mbps over 5GHz, but at a distance of 30 feet, it drops to 40Mbps over 2.4GHz and 215Mbps over 5GHz. At a close range, the TP-Link Archer AX21 has a faster throughput of 120Mbps over 2.4GHz, but the 5GHz band is slower at 694Mbps. Nonetheless, at a distance, the AX21 is faster (309Mbps over 5GHz and 40Mbps over 2.4GHz). Suitable for 2 to 3-bedroom houses, the AX21 also has better WiFi coverage than the AX10 (apt for two-bedroom homes). To learn more, read this TP-Link Archer AX10 review. And for a triband router, consider this TP-Link AX11000 review.

The TP-Link Archer AX55 has a much faster download speed of 98.635Mbps over 2.4GHz and 485.2Mbps over 5GHz than the TP-Link Archer AX21 (40Mbps over…

The TP-Link Archer AX55 has a much faster download speed of 98.635Mbps over 2.4GHz and 485.2Mbps over 5GHz than the TP-Link Archer AX21 (40Mbps over 2.4GHz and 309Mbps over 5GHz), making it more suitable for data-intensive activities. Although both have 1 x Gigabit WAN and 4 x Gigabit LAN ports, the AX55 also has 1× USB 3.0 for better wired connectivity. Check our TP-Link Archer AX55 review for more information.

The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) has a faster throughput of 860Mbps over 5GHz at close range, making it preferable for managing large amounts of data…

The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) has a faster throughput of 860Mbps over 5GHz at close range, making it preferable for managing large amounts of data than the TP-Link Archer AX21 (694Mbps over 5GHz). Even at 30 feet, the XT8 is faster (347Mbps) on the 5GHz band than the AX21 (309Mbps). The XT8 also has faster download speeds of 95.3Mbps over 2.4GHz than the AX21 (40Mbps), but its 5GHz download speed (287.82Mbps) is slower than the AX21’s 309Mbps.

# of LAN Ports

4

3

# of Phone Ports

n/a

n/a

# of WAN Ports

1

1

App Compatible

Yes

Yes

Available Storage

256MB

Band Technology

Dual

Tri

Data Encryption Type

WPA, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK

WPA-Enterprise, WPA-PSK, WPA2-Enterprise, WPS

Energy Star Certified

No

n/a

Dig Deeper

TP-Link Archer AX10 Review →

TP-Link Archer AX55 Review →

Asus ZenWiFi XT8 Review →

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Score Card

E

Expert Score

74

*.75

We place a 75% weighted value on Expert Test Scores

C

Customer Score

83

*.25

We place a 25% weighted value on Customer Scores

True Score

76

Expert Scores

  • PC Mag
    85.3

    Category Trust Rating

    35
    TP-Link’s Archer AX21 is a value-priced dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router that’s short on features but… Read More

    By:

    John R. Delaney
  • CNET
    78.11

    Category Trust Rating

    82
    If you’ve bought a new phone or laptop in the last year or so, then… Read More

    By:

    Ry Crist