Friday, October 15th, 2021 • Welcome to the 💯 No-Nonsense Tech Zone! • 😷 Get Vaxxed 💉!

TP-Link Archer AX3200 Review: An Excellent Buy for a Modest Network

The TP-Link Archer AX3200 is somewhat of a rare find. That’s because, in the U.S., it’s available exclusively at Costco, which requires a membership. And it proved in my testing to be a great find, too, for certain users.

Being a product for an exclusive retailer, the Archer AX3200 is a bit quirky. It has muted hardware and doesn’t include features available in other TP-Link routers.

Here’s the lowdown: If you need reliable Wi-Fi and not much else, this tri-band router delivers! It’s an excellent Wi-Fi 6 broadcaster for the sub-$200 price tag.

But if you’re looking to get the most out of your network, consider a general retail version, like the Archer AX50 or Archer AX6000, instead. Or any one of these current top Wi-Fi 6 routers.

Update: You should check out the souped-up but similar Archer AX90, too.

TP Link Archers AX3200 Front
The Archer AX3200 Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router from TP-Link

TP-Link Archer AX3200's Rating

8 out of 10
TP Link Archers AX3200 Label
Performance
8/10
Features
7/10
Ease of Use
8.5/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Reliable Wi-Fi performance, with decent throughput speeds

Tri-band with 2.5Gbps network port

Affordable

Standard web interface

Cons

Modest hardware specs

No Antivirus

No 160MHz channel width

Slow NAS performance when hosting a portable drive

Simple QoS and Parental Control

The Archer AX3200 is a bit of a sad tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router. In many ways, it reminds me of the Walmart-exclusive Archer AX3000.

However, it looks totally different, coming with six non-removable antennas and a housing made of thick and hardened plastic.

Still, overall, the Archer AX3200 looks like a typical router. The only thing noteworthy about its design is the color-changing status light at its “nose.”

TP Link Archers AX3200 Status Light
The nose status light is the only thing that keeps the Archer AX3200 from looking dull.
Full NameTP-Link Archer AX3200 
Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Router
ModelArcher AX3200
Dimensions10.91 x 7.32 x 1.26 in 
(277.11.2 x 185.92 x 32 mm)
Weight1.9 lbs (.86 kg)
Processor1.5GHz Quad Core
Wi-Fi TechnologyTri-band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) AX3200
5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs2×2 AX: Up to 1201 Mbps
Channel Width: 20/40/80MHz
5GHz-2 Wi-Fi Specs2×2 AX: Up 1440 Mbps
Channel Width: 20/40/80MHz
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs2×2 AX: Up to 574 Mbps
Channel Width: 20/40MHz 
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
Wireless SecurityWPA / WPA2 / WPA3
Mobile AppTP-Link Tether
Web User InterfaceYes
Bridge ModeNo
AP ModeYes
Mesh-ReadyYes (OneMesh)
USB Port1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
Gigabit Port3x LAN, 1x WAN
Multi-Gig Port1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN
Link AggregationNone
TP-Link Archer AX3200’s hardware specifications.

Very modest specs

Indeed, the Archer AX3200’s total advertised bandwidth caps at just 3200 Mbps of all three bands. That’s lower than the existing theoretical 4800Mbps of a single 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 band.

In fact, many Wi-Fi 5 routers have more impressive numbers. The Asus RT-AC88U, for example, is an AC3100 router. Or the TP-Link Archer C5400X has a total bandwidth of 5400Mbps.

The Archer AX3200 has the lowest Wi-Fi 6 specs as can be. Each of its 5GHz bands is features 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 specs. But without the support for the 160MHz channel width, each caps at 1200Mbps at best. The real-world speeds will be significantly lower.

See also  Nexus Link GPL-2000PT Powerline Kit Review: A Slow Cord-cutting Time Saver

So even on paper, this router has nothing to call mom and dad about. It’s a tri-band router that has less bandwidth than many dual-band counterparts. That brings us to something quite interesting about its network ports.

Multi-gig port

The Archer AX3200 comes with three Gigabit LAN ports, which is usual. What makes it different is the fact it comes with two LAN/WAN ports. One is a Gigabit, and the other is a multi-gig port of up to 2.5Gbps.

These are LAN/WAN because you can only use one as a WAN port. Pick one to use like that, and the other will now work as a LAN port.

Due to the low Wi-Fi specs, though, the multi-gig speed port will not make any difference. The router also has a USB 3.0 port, but its modest hardware power fails to deliver fast NAS performance when hosting a portable drive. More below.

Standard setup process

The Archer AX3200 shares the same web interface as other TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 routers, including the top-tier tri-band Archer AX11000. As a result, you’ll enjoy the standard setup process.

The router comes with a little card that contains its default Wi-Fi information, which you can use to connect a device to it for the initial setup. Alternatively, you can also use a computer connected to one of its LAN ports.

TP Link AX3200 WAN LAN Role
During the initial setup process, you can pick which LAN/WAN port to work as the WAN role.

Now launch a browse navigate it to the router’s default IP address, which is 192.1680.1 (or tplinkwifi.net), and the rest is self-explanatory. There’s a wizard that will walk you through the rest of the process, including designating one of the two LAN/WAN ports, as mentioned above, as the WAN port.

Important note: Out of the box, the router uses the 2.5Gbps port as its WAN. So, if you connect a computer to this port, you’ll have a problem setting it up. So, use one of its Gigabit LAN ports for the setup process instead.

TP Link Archers AX3200 Box
The TP-Link Archer AX3200’s retail box.

TP Link Archers AX3200 Power Adapter
The router comes with a little card with its default information.

TP Link Archers AX3200
The Archer AX3200 comes with six non-removable external antennas.

TP Link Archers AX3200 Side
The router is made mostly out of plastic.

TP Link Archers AX3200 Top
The Archer AX3200 is relatively larger, which is common for a tri-band router.

TP Link Archers AX3200 Underside
The router’s underside. Note how it’s wall-mountable.

TP Link Archers AX3200 Hand
The router comes with five network ports and a USB 2.0 port on its back.

TP Link Archers AX3200 Multi Gig Ports
The Archer AX3200 comes with two WAN/LAN ports, one of which is a 2.5Gbps multi-gig port.

TP Link Archers AX3200 USB 3 0 Port
The router’s USB 3.0 port is on its right side.

TP Link Archers AX3200 vs Netgear RAX200
The TP-Link Archer AX3200 is about the same size as the Netgear RAX200.

Responsive interface with common settings, neutered features

After the setup process, you’ll be able to use the router via its familiar web interface, similar to that of the AX50 or the Archer X6000. There’s a menu on the left side that opens up different sections on the right part of the webpage.

Archer AX3200 Interface
The Archer AX3200 shares a familiar web interface to that of other TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 routers. Note the omission of the Home Care section, however.

You’ll note missing, however, is the Antivirus online protection feature, which is part of TP-Link’s Home Care. This entire section is not there. There are Parental Control and QoS, nonetheless, but both are neutered.

Specifically, Parental Control is a simple keyword blocker that you can program based on a schedule. So you can block certain client(s) from a certain website based on keywords (such as “Facebook” or “youtube”), and that’s it.

It worked in my testing, but if you want real Parental Control, you’ll have to spend a long time figuring out the keywords and programing them in.

Similarly, you can turn on prioritization for some connected clients and then hope that works out. I tried it out, but it didn’t seem to make any difference. A real QoS feature should allow you to prioritize based on application types.

Other than that, the Archer AX3200 comes with a standard set of settings. You can set up Dynamic DNS, port-forwarding, IP reservations, etc., with it. There’s also a VPN option.

Apart from the interface, you can also use the TP-Link Tether app for the job. In this case, you’ll need to sign in with a TP-Link ID account, which can cause privacy issues. In return, you’ll be able to manage the home network from anywhere in the world without the need to configure Dynamic DNS.

See also  TRENDnet TEW-829DRU Review: A Home-Friendly SMB Wi-Fi Router

Mesh-ready

Interestingly, the Archer AX3200 is the first Wi-Fi 6 router from TP-Link that supports TP-Link’s OneMesh approach.

One Mesh
The Archer AX3200 is the first Wi-Fi 6 router from TP-Link that officially supports OneMesh.

First announced in early 2019, OneMesh is a way for you to scale Wi-Fi coverage by using certain TP-Link extenders. Since then, there’ve been very few viable options for OneMesh, both on the router and extender fronts.

As a result, it’s been a much less successful approach than the alternative, namely Asus’s AiMesh, Netgear’s Orbi, or Linksys’s Velop. Considering that OneMesh extenders are always of meager hardware specs, I decided to forgo testing this feature of the AX3200.

Considering the router’s hardware specs, it did well in my testing as a tri-band router. Interestingly, it worked better with Wi-Fi 5 clients than it did with my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 ones.

Respectable Wi-Fi thoughts

With a 2.5Gbps network port, the Archer AX3200 can deliver the top speed of its Wi-Fi band. And in my testing, my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients indeed could connect at 1.2Gbps and had a sustained speed of more than 850Mbps at a close range of <10 feet (3m) away. Farther out, it averaged some 700Mbps.

TP Link Archer AX3200 Wi Fi 6 Charts

It’s safe to say the Wi-Fi connection is the bottleneck, considering I used the 2.5Gbps port to connect the router to the test server, per my test methodology. So, compared with other multi-gig-read routers, the Archer AX3200 was the slowest. But its Wi-Fi 6 performance was decent overall.

TP Link Archer AX3200 Wi Fi 5 Charts

The router did even better with Wi-Fi 5 clients. My 4×4 Wi-Fi test machine managed to have a negotiated speed of 1.7Gbps and registered almost 870Mbps of sustained throughput at a close range. At 40 feet (12 m) away, my 3×3 clients averaged almost 770Mbps.

TP Link Archer AX3200 2 4GHz Charts

On the 2.4GHz band, the Archer AX3200 did similar to the most recent router, averaging between 100Mbps and 180Mbps — enough to deliver a modest Internet connection in full.

In all, Wi-Fi-wise, the Archer AX3200 is a great alternative to the AX50. For detail on the comparison, check out my post on the matchup between the two.

Reliable, decent coverage

The Archer 3200 had about the same Wi-Fi coverage as the Archer AX50 or the Asus RT-AX58U. If you live in a house of 1800 ft² (167 m²) or smaller, this router will likely take care of that when placed at the center.

Note that the Wi-Fi range depends greatly on the environment, so your mileage will vary, but Archer 3200 proved solid performance. It passed my 3-day stress test with no issues at all.

So-so NAS speed

I had high hopes for this tri-band router’s NAS performance when hosting an external drive, considering its 2.5Gbps port. It didn’t turn out t be the case. I tested it with a couple of high-end portable drives and consistently got sub-Gigabit performance.

TP Link Archer AX3200 NAS Charts

Specifically, via a 2.5Gbps wired connection, the router averaged a sustained write speed of less than 40MB/s. It did better in reading, but still, it was just slightly higher than 65MB/s. These numbers remained the same when I used a Gigabit connection.

So, yes, you can use this router as a mini NAS server — it even supports Time Machine backup — but if you truly want a network storage service you can count on, get a dedicated NAS instead.

Conclusion

The TP-Link Archer AX3200 is a “high-end” router for a household with low-end Wi-Fi needs. It’s a tri-band router with the same (if not less) bandwidth than many dual-band ones and a stripped-down feature set.

But for a sub-$200 price tag, it’s an excellent router for those who need a reliable performer and not much else. If you’re that kind of user, get it, and you won’t regret our decision.

But, still, for more options in terms of performance and features, it’s a good idea also to check out this list of top Wi-Fi 6 routers.

☕ Appreciate the content? Buy Dong a Ko-fi!

21 thoughts on “TP-Link Archer AX3200 Review: An Excellent Buy for a Modest Network”

  1. I loved your review and actually learned something. Without being very technical but wanting a router that works well, what would you suggest. I have a 2700sf house, 2 story, with router located in the basement furnace room. I know it’s a bad location but it’s the only way right now. Which router would be best suited under $300?

    Reply
  2. I just got internet service from Century Link Fiber Optic they supply the Modem/router I run speed test only getting 39 mbps download I will like to buy my own compatible router with Fiber Optic will the TP-Link Archer AX3200 work with Century Link ? Once I connect the new router to the ONT box, do I need to change the set up on the router ?

    Reply
    • That depends on the ONT, David. If you can plug a computer into that ONT and get Intenet, then no, but if it quires another device (like a “modem”) then you will need that first. Or you can use the current gateway in the bridge mode. More here.

      Reply
  3. Did they change the AX3200 specs and/or add the 160Mhz channel or am I not understanding how this works? Looking at their spec sheet I noticed these 2 statements: 1)5 GHz-2: 11ax HE160 MCS11:-53dBm and 2) Use of Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), and features including OFDMA, MU-MIMO, 1024-QAM, and HT160 require clients to also support the corresponding features. 1024-QAM is only available on 5 GHz-1 band and 2.4 GHz band.

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the info! I’m having a lot of connection issues with my Netgear RAX35 in my 1100sqft condo so I was looking at this or the Asus AX3000 to replace it with a more reliable/stronger signal to the bedrooms. Between the Asus AX3000 or this TP-Link AX3200, is there one you would recommend since both are in the $180ish range?

    Reply
  5. Thank you for reviewing this router. I am on the fence if I should buy the TP-Link AX3200 or the AX11000. I live in a 2,700 Sqft home, and I have some dead spots. My router is over eight years old, and it is time to upgrade. We are also working from home due to Covid, and kids are doing virtual school. So I wanted to know which one of the two routers would be better for my current situation or if there is no real difference? I know the AX1100 is $130 more expensive than the AX3200. So, I would appreciate your suggestion.

    Reply
  6. I just tried the RBK50 and Deco x60 coming from a Netgear R7000, and I’m shocked that my 10 year old Netgear still gives me better range on a single unit that either of the others. How do you think this new Archer AX3200 would fare?

    Reply
  7. Thanks so much for the review. I was looking to “borrow” a router from Costco because of their return policy. I am using a TP-Link AX3000 from Target, which I finally found the correct non-DFS channel and bandwidth to give me low pings (45 ms compared to my usual 90 ms in every other channel/bandwidth). DFS kept kicking me out. I was looking at the AX3200 from Costco, but without the 160 Hz it will be a no-go. I guess I will go for the TP-Link AX11000 for now.

    Thanks again sir!

    Reply

Leave a Comment