TP-Link seems to try to fill in all the slots of Wi-Fi 6, case in point, the TP-Link Archer AX73. This dual-band AX5400 router is an incremental improvement from the Archer AX50 (AX3000) while a tad below the Archer AX6000.
And it proved to be just that in my testing. It's somewhat of a mundane option if not for its relatively new look. In all, this is a typical Wi-Fi 6 router, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
And here's the good: With the current sub-$200 cost, the TP-Link Archer AX73 makes an excellent buy for those needing a Wi-Fi 6 broadcaster for a medium home without digging a hole in their wallet.
Like most of its peers, this router is far from perfect, as you'll see in the review, but it's definitely worth the cost.
TP-Link Archer AX73: A sensible dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router
The Archer AX73 is the fifth dual-band router I've reviewed from TP-Link, and it manages to be different from the rest, thanks to a relatively new look. It now has a sizeable shiny island -- or maybe a peninsula -- on top. That's just a matter of style.
Another new design touch is the USB 3.0 port on the side instead of the back. The router also comes with six external antennas, compared to four of the AX50 and eight of the AX6000.
These little poles are not removable, but you can swivel them half a sphere around.
On the inside, the Archer AX73 sure is an upgrade to the Archer AX50.
Archer AX73 vs Archer AX50: Hardware specifications
Specifically, the Archer AX73's 5GHz is a 4x4 band that supports the 160MHz channel width.
As a result, it has double the bandwidth of the AX50. With existing 2x2 clients, you can get up to 2.4Gbps out of it. In reality, though, the router's speed will cap at Gigabit at most since it has no Multi-Gig port.
|Full Name||TP-Link Archer AX73|
Wi-Fi 6 Router
|TP-Link Archer AX50 |
Wi-Fi 6 Router
|Model||Archer AX73||Archer AX50|
|Dimensions||10.7 × 5.8 × 1.9 in|
(272.5 × 147.2 × 49.2 mm)
|10.2 × 5.3 × 1.5 in |
(260.2 x 135.0 x 38.6 mm)
|Weight||1.61 lbs (734 g)||1.24 lbs (560 g)|
|Processor||1.5 GHz Triple-Core CPU,|
512MB RAM, 16MB Flash
|Intel AnyWAN GRX350 SoC,|
256MB RAM, 16MB Flash
|Wi-Fi Technology||Dual-band AX5400||Dual-band AX3000|
|5GHz Wi-Fi Specs||4x4 AX: Up to 4804Mbps|
|2x2 AX: Up to 2402Mbps|
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2x2 2.4 GHz: 574Mbps|
|2x2 2.4 GHz: 574Mbps|
|Backward Compatibility||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi|
|Wireless Security||WPA / WPA2 / WPA3||64/128-bit WEP, WPA/WPA2, |
|Mobile App||TP-Link Tether||TP-Link Tether|
|Web User Interface||Yes||Yes|
|USB Port||1x USB 3.0||1x USB 3.0|
|Gigabit Port||4x LAN, 1x WAN||4x LAN, 1x WAN|
|Link Aggregation||Yes (LAN1+LAN2)||No|
Archer AX73: Detail photos
The Archer AX73 looks like a typical Wi-Fi 6 router, though different from most thanks to its top.
Archer AX73: The familiar general experience
The TP-Link Archer AX73 deliver the same experience as previous TP-Link routers in setup, settings, and feature.
Mobile app and login account required for some features
This router has a standard web user interface. However, if you want to use any of its extra features, including QoS, Parental Controls, and security -- all are part of the HomeShield suite -- you'll have to opt for a TP-Link ID account and the Tether mobile app.
(The included version of HomeShield has limited functionality. You'll need to pay a $6/month subscription fee to unlock all features via HomeShield Pro.)
In other words, it's part of a new privacy-concerning trend that Linksys and Netgear have been practicing. That's because associating your router with a vendor's account means the vendor can generally keep tabs on your Internet traffic and all that implies.
You can opt out of this mobile app altogether, but that all means you'll not be able to access some of the router's valuable features.
By the way, I tried this app out briefly for a few days, and it didn't always work as intended. The router randomly appeared offline within the app, although it was working fine. So maybe it's a good idea to skip this app and use the web interface instead.
Excellent web interface with commons settings
I always prefer the web interface, and that of the Archer AX73 was consistently excellent in my trial.
You can reach this interface, by default, via the router's IP address, which is 192.168.0.1 (or tplinkwifi.net). If you have worked with any router's interface before, everything about this interface is self-explanatory.
Within it, you'll find a standard set of network settings, including Dynamic DNS (with the option to use TP-Link's free server), port forwarding, IP reservation, and so on.
The router can also work as a VPN server (either OpenVPN or PPTP). Its USB 3.0 can host an external drive for network-attached-storage-related features, including file sharing and the ability to work as a Time Capsule alternative.
Flexible Wi-Fi setting, mesh-ready
The Archer AX73, like most TP-Link routers, has a lot to offer in Wi-Fi settings.
You can customize the two bands to the max, including making them work in a certain Wi-Fi standard, channel, and channel width. You can also use them as a single network (SmartConnect) or two separate ones.
The router comes with a Guest network for each band, and for these, you can customize their password and network isolation.
Finally, like a handful of other TP-Link Wi-Fi 6 routers, the Archer AX73 supports OneMesh, where it'll work with a supported extender to scale up the Wi-Fi coverage.
OneMesh is a bit underwhelming, in my opinion, and generally doesn't have good performance. But it sure is a convenient option for those needing to cover a dead zone.
TP-Link Archer AX73’s Performance: Fast but with a lot of fluctuations
Overall, the TP-Link Archer AX73 did well in my testing.
However, note that its 5GHz band's performance fluctuated a lot when working in the 160MHz channel. It was more stable when I changed this setting to Auto or 80MHz.
Interestingly, the router delivered the same performance in either setting (80MHz or 160MHz.) That was likely because the router doesn't have a Multi-Gig LAN port -- in my testing, its Gigabit port was the ceiling speed.
Good Wi-Fi throughputs
Considering the Archer AX73's hardware specs, I didn't expect to be blown away, but the router did decently well. My 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 client registered almost 900Mbps at a close range of 10 feet (3m). At 40 feet (12m) away, it now averaged almost 800Mbps.
My 4x4 Wi-Fi 5 client also did quite well at the close range, registering a sustained speed of some 715Mbps. However, at 40 feet away, my 3x3 device averaged just over 250Mbps. That was a considerable reduction, and I repeated this test many times.
On the 2.4GHz band, the Archer AX73 performed similarly. It did pretty well at close range, but farther away, you'd have to take quite a bit of discount in sustained Wi-Fi rates.
So, in all, for the cost, I'd say the Archer AX73 performed as expected. And it had a good range, similar to that of the Archer AX3200.
It's hard to determine the range because that depends on the environment. However, the router, placed at the center, could handle a home of about 2000 ft² (186 m²) in my trial.
I tested the router for over a week, and at first, it passed my 3-day stress test with no disconnection. I experienced a disconnection during the extended testing on the 4th day, which I resolved via a manual restart.
It's worth noting that the router has a function where you can make it restart by itself every day, week, or month. If you set that up, chances are you won't experience the unexpected disconnection.
Decent NAS performance
The Archer AX73 wasn't the fastest among Gigabit routers with a network-attached-storage (NAS) feature I've tested, but, interestingly, it was faster than the Archer AX90, which has a Multi-Gig LAN port.
When hosting a My Passport SSD via a wired Gigabit connection, it had sustained copy speeds of over 90MB/s for reading and almost 60MB/s for writing.
At these speeds, you can expect a decent experience in network data sharing. For Time Machine backup, though, the write speed might be a bit too slow, especially if you have more than one Mac.
TP-Link Archer AX73's Rating
Fast Wi-Fi with an excellent range
160MHz Channel width support
Standard web interface with lots of useful settings
Fluctuating Wi-Fi speeds
Mobile app and login account required for advanced features
Mobile app not reliable
Write performance for network storage when hosting a portable drive could be better
The TP-Link Archer AX73 AX5400 Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router is another viable option for those needing a relatively affordable broadcaster for a small or medium home.
As long as you don't need the feature that requires the login account and mobile app to work, this router will serve you well. Get it.