Archer AX3200 vs. Archer AX50: TP-Link’s Budget Tri-band vs. Dual-band

TP Link AX3200 vs AX50
The Tri-band Archer AX3200 is much larger than the dual-band Archer AX50.

On the face of it, the Archer AX3200 vs. Archer AX50 matchup doesn’t make sense. These two TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 routers are totally different. But folks have asked for this comparison, so there must be a reason behind it. And the whole thing turned out to be quite interesting.

There are very few things in common between these two. First, both are relatively budget-minded. The AX3200 costs around $180 while the AX50 goes for some $30 less. So they are routers for the budget-minded.

Both are from TP-Link and, for the most part, share the same set of settings and features via the common robust web user interface. You can also use both with TP-Link’s Tether mobile app if you’re willing to link your router with a TP-Link ID account.

Archer AX3200 vs. Archer AX50: Hardware specifications

Archer AX3200 vs. Archer AX50: Differences

There are a lot of differences between these two. First off, the AX50 is a standard worldwide version — you can buy it anywhere. The AX3200, in the U.S., is available only at Costco.

The AX3200 is a tri-band dual-stream (2×2) router with the total bandwidth (of all bands combined) capping at 3200Mbps. The AX50 on the other hand is a dual-band 2×2 router capping at 3000Mbps.

If you notice the small difference between the numbers, that’s because the AX3200 doesn’t support the venerable 160MHz channel width, so each of its 5GHz band caps at 1200Mbps at most.

The AX50’s single 5GHz band, on the other hand, can handle up to 2400Mbps. In other words, thanks to the support for 160MHz channel width, the AX50 has the same 5GHz bandwidth as the AX3200 despite having one band fewer.

Both routers come with four network ports. However, while the AX50 is a pure Gigabit router (4 LANs + 1 WAN) with Link Aggregation. The AX3200 has one 2.5Gbps port that can work either as a WAN or a LAN port.

Both have a USB 3.0 port, but the AX3200 also has a second USB 2.0 port.

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TP Link AX3200 vs AX50 Back
The two routers have the same number of network ports though they are not all the same.

While sharing the same web interface, the AX50 has a better feature set. For example, it comes with built-in Antivirus protection that helps keep the entire network safe. Not only the AX3200 don’t have that, its other features (QoS, Parental Control, etc.) are also the stripped-down versions of those in the AX50.

There’s one thing the AX3200 is clearly better, though, it’s the first Wi-Fi 6 router that supports TP-Link’s OneMesh. As a result, you can add a select extender to it to form a mesh system. The AX50 is slated to get this feature, too, though that’s not a warranty.

Archer AX3200 vs. Archer AX50: Performance

I originally tested the two routers at different times but did some additional tests on both routers at the same time for this matchup.

Specifically, in the additional tests, I used two 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients to find out their wireless-to-wireless performance. The test aimed to show the difference in bandwidth between the two.

In the case of the AX3200, I connected each client to one of its 5GHz band. For the AX50, both clients are connected to its only 5Ghz band. The test showed the tri-band router edged out the dual-band cousin by a small margin at a close range and by a larger one father out.

The AX3200 also did better with Wi-Fi 5 clients, but in the rest of the tests with Wi-Fi 6 clients, the AX50 was almost consistently faster. The two delivered about the same coverage in my testing. Either can probably handle a home of some 1800 ft² (170 m²) when placed in the middle.

Archer AX3200 vs Archer AX50 Performance Chart

While both routers can host a portable drive and work as a mini NAS server, even with Time Machine backup support, neither is really available one due to their modest performance, as shown here. Though faster in this test, I find the AX3200 more disappointing considering its’ the one with a multi-gig port.

Archer AX3200 vs. Archer AX50: Ratings

TP-Link Archer AX3200 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Router

8

Performance

8.0/10

Features

7.0/10

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
TP Link AX3200 vs AX50 Box
The two routers come in two packages of totally different sizes.

TP-Link Archer AX50 Wi-Fi 6 AX3000 Smart WiFi Router

8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Ease of Use

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • 160 MHz channel support with fast and reliable performance for mid-tier router
  • Tons of useful networking and Wi-Fi settings
  • Valueable features, including free real-time online protection
  • Comparatively affordable
  • Compact design, wall-mountable

Cons

  • No multi-gig network port or Dual-WAN
  • HomeCare requires mobile app and login account with TP-Link to work
  • Slow NAS performance when hosting a portable drive
  • Runs a bit warm

Despite being so different, these two are similar routers in terms of Wi-Fi experience. If you want a slightly higher Wi-Fi bandwidth, i.e., if you have many clients, the AX3200 is somewhat a better deal. If you have a Costco membership that is.

On the other hand, if you want something compact with no constraint in terms of features and settings. Go with the AX50. Save yourself a couple of bucks to buy your friend a coffee.

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

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