Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

Mid-Tier Wi-Fi 6 Contenders: Asus RT-AX3000 vs. Netgear RAX40 vs. TP-Link Archer AX50

RT AX3000 vs TP Link AX3000
The TP-Link Archer AX50 vs. its Asus rival, the RT-AX3000.

We have here three mid-range semi-entry-level Wi-Fi 6 routers that won’t break anyone’s bank. It’s the Asus RT-AX3000 vs. Netgear RAX40 vs. TP-Link Archer AX50 mashup.

While these are similar, they are different enough. And if you’re wondering which one you should get, you’re at the right place.

These three routers are very similar in terms of specs. All are dual-band 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 router with the support for the venerable 160MHz channel width. They are the sweet-spot routers considering there are only 2×2 Wi-Fi clients on the market.

All of them also have a full web interface with a similar set of features and settings. Each also has a free app for mobile users. Hardware-wise, they have the usual 4 Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN port, and one USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB 3.0) port.

None has a multi-gig network port. But the RT-AX3000 has Dual-WAN while the Archer AX50 has LAN Link Aggregation. The Netgear RAX40 has neither.

In my testing, they all had similar Wi-Fi coverage, which is only suitable for a small home. So if you live in one, these routers will give you the best Wi-Fi 6 bang for your buck, costing less than $180 each.

ModelRT-AX3000 RAX40Archer AX50
Full NameAsus RT-AX3000  
RT-AX58U Dual-Band 
Wi-Fi 6 Router
NETGEAR Nighthawk 
AX4 4-Stream 
Wi-Fi 6 Router
Archer AX50 
AX3000 Dual-Band 
Wi-Fi 6 Router
Dimensions8.82 x 6.06 x 6.3 in  
(224 x 154 x 160 mm)
13.38 x 8.11 x 2.24 in 
(340 x 206 x 57 mm)
10.2 × 5.3 × 1.5 in 
(260.2 x 135.0 x 38.6 mm)
Weight1.19 lbs (538 g)1.32 lb (600 g)1.24 lbs (.56 kg)
Hardware Specs1.5 GHz Tri-core CPU, 
256 MB Flash, 512 MB RAM
Dual-core CPUIntel AnyWAN GRX350, 
256MB RAM
Wi-Fi TechnologyDual-band AX3000Dual-band AX3000Dual-band AX3000
5GHz Wi-Fi Specs2×2 AX: Up to 2.4 Gbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
2×2 AX: Up to 2.4 Gbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
2×2 AX: Up to 2.4 Gbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs2×2 AX: Up to 600Mbps
(2×2 20/40MHz)
2×2 AX: Up to 600Mbps
(2×2 20/40MHz)
2×2 AX: Up to 600Mbps
(2×2 20/40MHz)
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Wireless Security64/128-bit WEP, WPA, 
WPA2, WPA3
64/128-bit WEP, WPA, 
WPA2, WPA3
64/128-bit WEP, WPA, 
WPA2, WPA3
Mobile AppAsus RouterNetgear NighthawkTP-Link Tether
Web User InterfaceYesYesYes
Bridge ModeYesYesNo
AP ModeYes
USB Port1x USB 3.01x USB 3.01x USB 3.0
Gigabit Network Port4x LAN, 1x WAN4x LAN, 1x WAN4x LAN, 1x WAN
Dual-WANYes (WAN+LAN/USB)NoNo
Link AggregationNoNoYes (LAN 2 + LAN 3)
Multi-Gig PortNoneNoneNone
Hardware specifications: Asus RT-AX3000 vs. Netgear RAX40 vs. TP-Link Archer AX50

There are some differences between these routers.

Design-wise, the Netgear RAX40 is better looking, but it’s also the bulkiest. The TP-Link AX50 and the Asus RT-AX3000 are a lot more compact, with the latter being the smallest and lightest, but also a bit boring coming in the traditional router design.

The Asus delivered the best performance among the three in my testing and has the most features. That includes the support for the popular AiMesh solution — you can use it with another router to build a Wi-Fi system for a large home.

The Asus has an excellent QoS engine — especially for those working from home — but its Parental Control feature could use some improvement. The other two’s QoS features are a bit hard to configure. The Netgear has no Parent Control while that of the TP-Link is the most effective.

READ  TP-Link Archer AX10 AX1500 Router Review: An Underrated Wi-Fi Machine
Netgear RAX40 vs. TP-Link Archer AX50
The TP-Link Archer AX50 next to the Netgear RAX40.

These three performed relatively the same in my testing, all having enough power to deliver a typical broadband connection in full. They can also work as a casual mini NAS server, with modest performance when hosting an external storage device, as shown here.

RT AX3000 vs RAX40 vs AX50

ASUS RT-AX3000 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

$179.99
8.5

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • 160 MHz channel support
  • Fast and reliable performance
  • Ton of useful features with excellent AiMesh support
  • Full web interface and well-design mobile app
  • Compact design, wall-mountable

Cons

  • No multi-gig port or Link Aggregation
  • Modest hardware specs
  • Relatively short Wi-Fi range
  • The Parental Control feature could use some improvement

Netgear Nighthawk AX4 4-Stream WiFi 6 Router (RAX40)

8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.0/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Affordable pricing, reliable performance
  • 160 MHz channel width support
  • Good set of network features and settings
  • Responsive web user interface, useful mobile app
  • Wall-mountable

Cons

  • Fluctuating Wi-Fi speeds
  • Wi-Fi range could be better
  • No multi-gig port, Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation
  • Mobile app require a login account with vendor

TP-Link Archer AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 Router

8

Performance

7.0/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Reliable Wi-Fi, good coverage
  • Tons of network settings and customization
  • Responsive web user interface, useful mobile app
  • Light weight, wall-mountable

Cons

  • Middling Wi-Fi specs
  • Fluctuating Wi-Fi connection speeds
  • No multi-gig port, USB 2.0

Again, these are very similar routers. Any of them can handle a small home with sub-Gigabit Internet.

That said, if you want the most features, including an effective QoS and the best performance, the Asus is the best choice. As the most expensive option among the three, it also has the most to offer – more than enough to justify the extra cost. I’d use it for myself.

Between the other two, the TP-Link Archer AX50 did better in my testing. But the chances are that you will not notice the difference between the two at all in real-world usage.

However, the TP-Link’s is more affordable and includes an excellent Parental Control feature. So if you’re a parent and want to watch over your kids, it will make a slightly better choice than the Netgear.

Looking to compare other Wi-Fi solutions? Check them all out here.

25 thoughts on “Mid-Tier Wi-Fi 6 Contenders: Asus RT-AX3000 vs. Netgear RAX40 vs. TP-Link Archer AX50”

  1. Don, was the TP-Link the TP-Link Archer AX50, or AX3000? Your title and comments mention the AX50, but the specs at the end mentions the AX3000.

    Reply
  2. You said AX50 does not have Link aggregation but have for 2 LAN ports, also no AP and it have a dedicated menu page just for this.
    Have 160 MHz channel support. Indeed does not have Bridge.
    AX3000 (217$) is almost 3 times more expensive now than AX50 (81$) in my country.

    Reply
  3. Hi,
    I’ve just found a repurposed RAX40 on Amazon for $75 – yes, you’ve read that right. 🙂
    It’s on its way, it should be more than enough for 500/500 FIOS in a 700sqf apartment (thick walls though), I assume – am I right?
    (I have a very expensive ~2 years old Meraki kit but it is hard-capped and no way on Earth I’d spend the money they want for their gigabit-capable gear.)

    Reply
  4. Wow, your blog has exactly the answers to the questions I’m asking. Really nice job. I did want to ask you about specifics when you say “small” vs “large” house. I’m about to upgrade our house with to gigabit from 75/75 and also remove Verizon TV. This means we’ll be going from coax to ethernet from the ONT. Since I won’t have to use their G1100 router anymore I originally thought I’d go to a mesh network to cover my whole house. But looking online I noticed that the Verizon gateway G1100 only has a 325sq foot range where something like the Asus AX3000 has almost 3000sq foot range. My house isn’t large in terms of sq footage, but has 3 floors (basement, main and 2nd floor). My house also isn’t wired with Cat6 so if the Verizon tech is going to bring ethernet into my house from the ONT it’ll most likely be to the basement. Do you think the Asus router could cover my whole house (1700 sq feet spread across 3 floors)? Or should I go with a mesh network with the main router in the basement and a hub on the main and 2nd floor? Is that overkill? Eventually I’m going to do some wall damage and try to wire Cat6 to at least my main floor and then the main router will be centrally located, but until then what do you think my best option is?

    Reply
    • G1100 is an old AC wifi router, with terrible coverage. Any AX3000 would cover yours better but having three floors is tricky if you have an old-school, big house (eg brownstone or brick townhouse), their floors could be tough to penetrate.
      Your best bet is getting an Asus one, put it on the main floor and see how it works across the house. If it’s too slow above and below then just move it down and add another Asus on the top floor, *wired* to the first one and turn on AI Mesh and you’ll be fine.

      Reply
  5. Greetings Don,

    Thanks a lot for the help you are doing through all this great information. I was trying to decide myself without troubling you but could not.

    I am trying to update the router to WiFi 6 one

    I need

    Good parental controls (No need for smart home etc)
    Great connectivity
    MESH or MESH ready (I don’t think I can get MESH for my budget) – for future needs if I can add a satellite.
    Budget max $200

    Thanks a lot for your help!

    Reply
  6. Hi Dong,

    I just got the Tp Link Ax 50 router but it heats up quite a bit, it performs pretty well but my concern is that the heat is going to end up causing problems later and I will have to buy another router or get this one replaced, my other options is the Asus AX 3000 but that is like double the cost of TP Link.
    Just wanted to know if I am being a little paranoid with regards to the heat or is that normal, as it heats up the glass it sits on pretty well.

    Thanks

    Reply
  7. Hi Dong,

    Really appreciate the work you put into this. It’s helped me understand networking a lot better than I did before (which wasn’t very much to be honest). As a new homeowner, I’m in the market for a router but am still having trouble deciding which would best suit my needs. Which of these would be the best choice for us?

    Asus RT-AC86U
    Asus RT-AC88U
    Asus RT-AX3000/RT-AX58U
    TP-Link Archer AX50
    Netgear Nighthawk RAX45 (stripped down version of RAX50)
    Something else?

    I live in a 1700 sqft 3-story townhome, with attached neighbors on both sides. Currently, the router sits on the second floor, I work from home on the first floor, and bedrooms are on the third floor. There are only 2 of us and we have 500/500 fiber internet. We currently don’t game or have any WiFi 6 capable devices. I don’t think we need mesh, but the option to expand wouldn’t hurt.

    Thanks, and Happy Thanksgiving

    Reply
      • Hi dong, excellent article as always. I was just wondering on two questions. Firstly, what’s the difference between asus tug ax3000 and the normal ax3000?

        Secondly, as I am staying in an apartment (100sm). I thought maybe it’s overkill getting better routers like ax88u or ax11000. Would I be losing out a lot of I go for the ax3000 instead given that I don’t play games, no NAS and basically more normal stuff.

        Your kind advise appreciated

        Reply
        • It seems the TUG is a gamer version of the AX3000 for the Asian market, Chris. It has the same hardware with a gaming firmware and is not available in the U.S or EU. It’s not overkill if you want top speed and lots of features. But, yes, for casual Wi-Fi needs, the AX3000 will do. Check out the full review for more.

          Reply

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