TP-Link Archer AX10 Review: An Underrated Budget Wi-Fi Machine

Archer AX10 Hand
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The TP-Link Archer AX10 is a compact router, sharing the same physical deign as the Archer AX50.

It’d make sense if you think you can just cut the Archer AX50‘s performance in half to figure out that of the Archer AX10. But you’d be so wrong.

Indeed. The AX10, an AX1500 router, proved to be a strong performer in my testing, rivaling the AX50 as well as other AX3000 routers. But with a price tag of just around $80, this router is one for the budget-minded. And that means it’s important to set the right expectation.

So, here’s the lowdown: If you just need a dependable Wi-Fi 6 router to share a typical broadband connection in a small household, the TP-Link Archer AX10 fits the bill exceptionally well. Are you looking for even slightly more than that? Check out other more expensive options, instead.

TP-Link Archer AX10 AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Router

$79.99
8.6

Performance

8.0/10

Features

8.5/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

9.5/10

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Excellent performance for the specs
  • Easy to set up and use

Cons

  • Subdued feature set, no USB port
  • No support for the 160 MHz channel bandwidth

The AX10 looks almost the same as its cousin, the AX50. From the front and the sides. You can’t tell the two apart until you notice the AX50’s little Intel logo on top. On the inside, though, the two can’t be any more different.

No USB port, or 160 MHz channel support

The AX50 uses an Intel Wi-Fi chip, while the AX10 uses Broadcom’s BCM6750 1.5Ghz Triple-Core CPU, similar to the one used in the Asus RT-AX58U.

But among all these mid-tier Wi-Fi 6 routers, the AX10 is the only one that doesn’t support the 160 MHz channel width. As a result, it has the lowest ceiling Wi-Fi bandwidth, capping at just 1.2 Gbps when working with a 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client.

The router also the only one without a USB port — you can’t make a mini NAS server out of it.

Stripped-down features

The AX10 also shares the same web interface (and the optional TP-Link Teather mobile app), but its features are now more subdued.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The TP-Link Archer AX10’s QoS feature is not as comprehensive as that of the Archer AX50.

Specifically, the QoS now requires you to test and enter the Internet speeds manually. What’s more, it can only prioritize the Internet for specific clients, and not by applications.

As a result, if you want to, say, have good Wi-Fi calling on your phone, you’ll need to put that particular handset on the priority list first. If you could make VoIP as the priority, any phone that connects to the router would automatically enjoy the benefits.

The Parental Control feature is also overly simple compared to that of the AX50. You can only filter the web by specific keywords and that’s it.

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And finally, the router AX10 doesn’t include AntiVirus, a valuable feature that protects the entire network from malware and online threats in real-time.

Archer AX10 Box
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Archer AX10 (right) looks exactly like the Archer AX50 minus the Intel logo on top.

Archer AX10 Front
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The TP-Link Archer AX10 looks like a typical Wi-Fi router with four antennas.

Archer AX10 Front Angle
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech These antennas are not removable, but you can swivel them around.

Archer AX10 Back
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The TP-Link Archer AX10 (bottom) comes with four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port. It has no USB port.

Archer AX10 Underside
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The TP-Link Archer AX10 is wall-mountable.

Similar setup process, network settings

Other than the differences above, the Archer AX10 has the same setup process and network settings as other routers in TP-Link’s Archer family.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Archer AX10 share the same web interface and common network/Wi-Fi settings as other routers in TP-Link’s Archer family.

Thanks to the web interface, you can set it up the way you do any other standard routers by pointing a browser on a connected computer to its default IP address, which is 192.168.0.1, or tplinkwifi.net.

After the first initializing of the router, you’ll note that the interface allows for a lot of common settings required for a robust home network, including Dynamic DNS, port-forwarding, IP reservation, and so on. The router can also work as a VPN server.

As for Wi-Fi settings, you can do almost anything you want. From using Smart Connect to naming the two band as two separate networks, to changing other parameters. Or you can just keep them all at the default (Auto) settings.

Again, the Archer AX10 doesn’t have much to impress in terms of features. But it’s always the performance that counts. And the router sure delivered on this front, for its modest hardware, in my trial.

Like its other siblings, including the Archer AX50 and Archer AX3000, the AX10 doesn’t have a multi-gig port. So, according to the way I test routers, its performance will cap at 1 Gbps, no matter what.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

In effect, that means the fact the router can’t do 160 MHz won’t matter much — its ceiling 1.2 Gbps Wi-Fi 6 bandwidth is about as fast as its LAN ports, anyway.

And the test results showed just that. My 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients got the sustained speed of some 730 Mbps and more than 630 Mbps at the short and long distances, respectively. The latter was faster than that of the Walmart-exclusive Archer AX3000.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

In tests with Wi-Fi 5 clients, the AX10 did quite well, too. At a close distance, my 4×4 client averaged some 650 Mbps, and at 40 feet (12 m) away, my 3×3 client registered almost 580 Mbps. Again, one of the two was faster than the higher-end Archer AX3000.

On the 2.4 GHz, which I consider a “backup” band since it’s extremely slow (compared to any standard’s specs) where I live, the Archer AX10 did like any other router, averaging some 110 Mbp for the close range and more than 50 Mbps for the long-range.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Note that this band of the AX10 uses Wi-Fi 4 (802.11n) while that of most others on the charts is of Wi-Fi 6. But that’s only to say, the changes in Wi-Fi standard has little effect on this band’s performance.

The AX10 passed my three-day stress test with no issue. It had the same coverage as the AX50, meaning if you have a home of around 1800 ft² (167 m²), place it in the middle and you’re set.

Conclusion

The TP-Link Archer AX10 is one of the most affordable routers on the market. Period. It brings the cost of Wi-Fi 6 to below that of many Wi-Fi 5 routers. But it’s not a cheap router. Instead, among those I’ve worked with, it’s one of the most dependable.

The fact the AX10 is a stripped-down router with limited features means it won’t work for everyone. But for the majority of users who just need a frill-free Wi-Fi machine to share their typical Internet connection in a typically modest home, this is an excellent buy.

The thing is, even if my assessment above is wrong, which it’s not, for the price, this router sure is a low risk, to say the least.

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34 thoughts on “TP-Link Archer AX10 Review: An Underrated Budget Wi-Fi Machine”

  1. Hello Dong,

    I am upgrading from from Belkin N600 DB N+ as it died completely after super 6 years. Now, I am looking on internet and comparing below models. Can you suggest better choice? I live in 1 storey house and router is place in staircase, midway.

    A10 AC2600
    C80 AC1900
    A9 1900
    AX10 1500
    Netgear R6850

    Reply
  2. Dong,
    Please consider testing how many clients you can support in parallel, and what throughput you can achieve on each while operating in parallel…
    Many providers show max real world wifi performance for a single device, but I haven’t seen any that look at whole home performance with iot, mobile, laptops all cranking at once.

    Reply
      • Fantastic article…thanks
        However, it was about theoretical performance, whereas the above article is about measured performance. It would be interesting to see future, real-world, measured performance characteristics of not just single-client, but multi-client. I realize that leads to hundreds of permutations, which is impractical to test… but it’s easy to conceive that even a fixed tested-bed of 10 devices, some b/g/n, some ac, some ax would lead to unexpected anomalies (not just ‘max single rate’/10, but something more complicated where you might see a device starving…)

        Reply
        • It’s impossible, Nicholas. Try it! It’d take you ALL day just to get them connected if you want to try all different Wi-Fi settings the way I do — some even won’t connect at all. That’s not to mention hours to copy data and measure the performance. And what do you get as a result of that much effort? I’m not trying to cure cancer here. More on how I test.

          Reply
  3. Isolating the external network from the internal network does sound like it’d take work (but doable) for the purpose of these tests. Doing something like setting up a separate & isolated machine or router “outside” the local network might work. This could allow for the ability to test for “bufferbloat” and test methods like air-time based queue limit, codel, cake, or whatever the router uses. I notice there’s a section on QoS but maybe someday there could be more awareness brought to the more useful QoS techniques out there. (Simple QoS is supposedly not as effective.) I’ve had a (wired) router on the local network that’s spiked to over 60ms at times, down from under 1ms, while the loopback on my machine never went over 0ms. I don’t know the cause, but I imagine there are routers out there that have latency that isn’t always zero milliseconds. Also, wireless environments can be very complex, so perhaps it would be impossible or difficult to test for wireless latency but that might be another aspect worth testing. (I know if there are issues with Wi-Fi, it’s probably an issue outside of the router. That’s fair, but I don’t know if that’ll always be the case.)

    Just some potentially useful ideas. Thanks for the useful and informative articles.

    Reply
  4. Dong, please consider adding latency tests to your router reviews. This looks like a very good wireless router but it’s not supported by DD-WRT and OpenWRT (and that makes it difficult to utilize Smart Queue Management algorithms.)
    Your ~40 foot long-distance measurement is line-of-sight, right?

    Reply
    • I thought of that but it’s not possible Mushini. That’s because Internet latency varies from time to time and only meaningful if all routers are tested at the same time. Within a local network, it’s always zero millisecond. And yes, it’s LoS, for the most part, there’s always me moving around and there might be little things hanging here and there.

      Reply
  5. I’m afraid I know the answer of my next question already also 😉
    Honor’s new Honor router 3 seems to be a very attractive offer. Could you please test this router?
    If not (see your answer above) could you say something based on the specifications compared to the AX10 please?

    Reply
  6. Torn between AX50 and this AX10. Does the AX10 have slower 2.4Ghz performance if it’s not a wifi6 and only wifi4? Thanks.

    Reply
  7. I guess you will be giving the new Xiaomi AX routers a look too? As always Xiaomi will shake up the market. I hope they will this time too.

    Reply
  8. Hi Dong, thanks for the very informative piece. I’m undecided between tplink Archer ax10 and c80. Would like to hear your opinion. My apartment is small 92sqm, I’m currently using an old tplink ac1350 but experienced dropoff and slowness when multiple devices connected, the router is placed in the middle of the house. My fibre broadband is 500mbps.

    Reply
  9. Great review. Just I was looking for.
    I wonder if this AX10 has competition to consider in a certain pricerange, let’s say under $100. An USB port is a bonus but not a must for me.

    Reply
  10. Hi dong, I have gigabit Internet at my home. I’m living in an apartment in large city. I have many neighbours. On average through my laptop I can see nearly 20 other networks present.

    Currently where I live, the Netgear rax40 and tp-link ax20 costs about 110usd and the tp-link ax10 costs 70usd. Which would you recommend I get? For the 160mhz band, does my phone or laptop etc need to support it or just the router itself support will do?

    Also, does the cpu on the router affect the performance it outputs?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • First, read this post on Gigabit Internet, Keith. Then get the Netgear RAX40, or higher-end router if you really want to take advantage of your Internet speed, which is way faster that you need. The RAX40 is similar to the TP-Link AX50 so it’s much better than the AX20. Both sides need to support the same standard (and its nuances) for the connection to work at its best — more on that here. The CPU power has a certain level of effect on Wi-Fi speeds, but mostly on other features, like USB storage, QoS etc.

      Reply
  11. 10MB/s (80mbps) transferring a large file between PC’s located 15ft from the router. Appreciate the response!

    Reply
  12. Cool. I currently have an Asus AC68U. Should I upgrade to this? I added Intel AX200 to all of my PC’s, and I live in a dense apartment block with 50+ visible networks. My LAN file transfer throughput is only 10MB/s, I’m guessing due to all the congestion.

    Reply
    • No, then the Archer AX10 won’t help. Keep the Asus. I assume you meant 10 Mbps and that’s your Internet speed. If that’s the LAN speed, then it’s something wrong with the wiring or you’re using a Fast Ethernet (and not a Gigabit switch) somewhere in the network. More on that here.

      Reply
  13. Thanks for the review. Didn’t expect you to review this cheapie router after it has been on the market for 7 months! Two concerns: 1) the firmware hasn’t been updated in 7 months. 2) I wonder if MU-MIMO up/down and OFDMA are actually enabled.

    Reply
    • Sure, Waingro. I wouldn’t worry about OFDMA, and MU-MIMO, though. Considering the router’s bandwidth, they won’t make any difference since you shouldn’t use it in a place with a ton of devices anyway.

      Reply
  14. In your testing do you test to see if OFDMA works? Do you do any kind of testing to see how many devices a router handles without bogging down?

    Reply
  15. Please test the TPLink X20. I need coverage more than speed. I can do without all the bell and whistles as well. Thank you Dong Ngo- You’re the best 👍🏻👏🏻

    Reply

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