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TP-Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Review: A Tale of Two(?) Affordable Wi-Fi 7 Routers

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The TP-Link BE9300 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 7 Router dropped with a bang earlier this month. It's the most affordable Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster you can get today. How affordable exactly? That's where things get a bit confusing. The hardware is available in two variants: Archer BE550 and Archer BE9300.

Getting the standard Archer BE550 model would set you back one cent less than $300. However, if you can find the Archer BE9300, you'll save another $50. Either is cheaper than many Wi-Fi 6E and even Wi-Fi 6 counterparts.

These two variants are similar to the case of the Archer AX50 vs Archer AX3000 back when Wi-Fi 6 was still a novelty. It's safe to call them the "cheap" Wi-Fi 7 options. They are both entry-level hardware of the new standard.

No matter which you buy, you'll get the same experience. And while I'd generally recommend the standard model, you'll end up with a great deal if you run into the supposedly "stripped down" Archer BE9300 -- that's the case in my experience.

Still, neither will give you the type of Wi-Fi you'd expected. And that's not all because the Wi-Fi 7 standard is still in draft.

Dong's note: I first published this post on October 12, 2023, when the router was unveiled as a preview, and updated it to an in-depth review on October 24 after hands-on testing.

TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Wi Fi 7 Router
The new TP-Link BE9300 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 7 Router has a now-familiar hardware design that looks more like a speaker than a Wi-Fi router.

TP-Link Archer BE550 vs Archer BE9300: Untangling the unnecessary confusion

The TP-Link BE9300 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 7 Router can be quite confusing. There are a couple of things to keep in mind.

First off, this is a Tri-band BE9300 router. Conventionally, the BE9300 notion is used to signify that this is a Wi-Fi 7 (BE) router with a combined Wi-Fi bandwidth of 9300 Mbps.

Similarly, the Archer BE800 is a Tri-band BE19000 router, and the Archer BE900 is a Quad-band BE2200 router.

However, if you add up all of its three bands -- as shown in the specification table below -- the total bandwidth is slightly over 9200Mbps. TP-Link's marketing language accurately says the router can deliver up to 9200Mbps of bandwidth. So, the new router should be classified as BE9200β€”rounding it up to BE9300 is a bit too generous.

Secondly, the new router is available in two variants. There's the Archer BE550 model that comes with all Multi-Gig ports, including one 2.5Gbps WAN and four 2.5Gbps LANs. TP-Link uses this model for its announcement via press releases and media outreach.

Then, there's the Archer BE9300 model, which supposedly has one 2.5Gbps WAN port, one 2.5Gbgps WAN port, and three Gigabit LAN ports. This model is silently being on sale at select US stores. Besides the ports' speed grades, the Archer BE9300 is identical to the Archer BE550, including the firmware.

On the surface, the full support for Multi-Gig makes the Archer BE550 the winner for those who love wired connections -- it can host up to four multi-Gigabit clients right off the box. As described, the Archer BE9300 can host just one -- you need a switch to support more.

However, in my experience, despite the specs and ports' labels, the Archer BE9300 also has all 2.5Gbps ports. It's literally the same as the Archer BE550, just $50 cheaper. In real-world usage, you will not notice the difference between it and the Archer BE550 simply because there's none.

TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Wi Fi 7 Router PortsThe TP Link Archer BE9300s 1Gbps LAN ports all support 2.5Gbps
Despite the port's "1 Gbps" labels, my TP-Link Archer BE9300 actually has all 2.5Gbps ports. In the photo, a laptop connects to one of its supposedly Gigabit LAN ports via a TRENDnet TUC-ET2G 2.5Gbps adapter, and the connection shows the 2.5Gbps speed grade, and it performs that way, too, with sustained real-world rates of over 2Gbps.

To avoid confusion, I'll use the shared TP-Link BE9300 name for the rest of this review to convey the two variants as a single router.

Due to the port grade, the TP-Link BE9300 has a ceiling bandwidth that caps at 2.5Gbps (including overhead). Specifically, 2.5Gbps (slightly lower in real-world sustained rates) is the fastest broadband connection they can handle and the fastest speed you can get on any connected clients, wired or wireless, no matter how capable the Wi-Fi standard is.

TP-Link BE9300: The just-right Wi-Fi 7 router for a small home

The TP-Link BE9300 Archer router shares the same design as the Tri-band Archer BE800 and the Quad-band Archer BE900. It's a standing rectangle box with a front that looks like a dot-matrix screen and all the ports on the back.

However, it's noticeably smaller than its slightly older and much more expensive cousins -- about half physically. And that's not a bad thing.

Thanks to the smaller size, the new router feels more grounded when placed on a surface. It doesn't topple easily, like the case of the older cousins.

Its front is no longer a dot-matrix "screen" where the entire surface is active. Instead, there's only one vertical line in the middle where the dots can light up to show the status. You can turn this light off using the router's local web user interface or the Tether mobile app.

Overall, I like the BE9300's design. It has fewer gimmicks and is more practical. But the more compact design also means modest hardware specs on the inside.

First, the TP-Link BE9300 doesn't have any 10Gbps ports or support SFP+. Secondly, as mentioned, it has only 9,200Mbps of total Wi-Fi bandwidth, lower than many Wi-Fi 6 or 6E routers.

The table below shows the differences between the new TP-Link BE9300 and the previous Wi-Fi 7 Archer routers.

TP-Link Archer BE550/Archer BE9300: Hardware specifications

TP-Link BE9300 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 7 Router TP-Link BE22000 Quad-Band Wi-Fi 7 Router TP-Link BE19000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 7 Router
Archer BE550 Ports Archer BE900 WiFi 7 Router Archer BE800 WiFi 7 Router
ModelArcher BE550
Archer BE9300
Archer BE900Archer BE800
Dimensionsβ€Ž9.12 x 7.99 x 2.99 in
(231.6 x 202.9 x 75.9 mm)
11.9 Γ— 10.3 Γ— 3.8 in
(302 Γ— 262.5 Γ— 96 mm)
11.9 Γ— 10.3 Γ— 3.8 in
(302 Γ— 262.5 Γ— 96 mm)
Weightβ€Ž2.45 lbs (1.11 kg)β€Ž4.78 lbs (2.16 kg)β€Ž4.78 lbs (2.16 kg)
Processing PowerUndisclosedUndisclosedUndisclosed
Internal FanYesYesYes
Wi-Fi StandardWi-Fi 7 (802.11be)Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be)Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be)
Wi-Fi BandwidthTri-band BE9200Quad-band BE24000Tri-band BE19000
1st Band 
(channel width)
2x2 2.4GHz AX: Up to 574 Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4x4 2.4GHz BE: Up to 1376Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4x4 2.4GHz BE: Up to 1376Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2nd Band
(channel width)
2x2 5GHz-2 BE: Up to 2880 Mbps (20/40/80/160MHz)4x4 5GHz-1 BE: Up to 5760Mbps (20/40/80/160MHz)4x4 5GHz BE: Up to 5760Mbps (20/40/80/160MHz)
3rd Band
(channel width)
2x2 6GHz BE: Up to 5760Mbps (20/40/80/160/320MHz)4x4 5GHz-2 BE: Up to 5760Mbps (20/40/80/160MHz)4x4 6GHz BE: Up to 11520Mbps (20/40/80/160/320MHz)
4th Band
(channel width)
None4x4 6GHz BE: Up to 11520Mbps (20/40/80/160/320MHz)None
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax/axe Wi-Fi802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax/axe Wi-Fi802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax/axe Wi-Fi
Wireless SecurityWPA / WPA2 / WPA3WPA / WPA2 / WPA3WPA / WPA2 / WPA3
Web User InterfaceYesYesYes
Mobile AppTP-Link Tether
(optional)
TP-Link Tether
(optional)
TP-Link Tether
(optional)
Operating RolesRouter (default) or Access PointRouter (default) or Access PointRouter (default) or Access Point
Mesh-ReadyYes
(EasyMesh
formerly OneMesh)
Yes
(EasyMesh
formerly OneMesh)
Yes
(EasyMesh
formerly OneMesh)
USB Port1x USB 3.01x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
1x USB 3.0
Gigabit PortArcher BE550: None
Archer BE9300: 3x 1Gbps LAN
(none in reality)
1Γ— Gbps LANNone
Multi-Gig PortBoth models: 1x 2.5Gbps WAN
Archer BE550: 4x 2.5 Gbps LAN
Archer BE9300: 1x 2.5Gbps LAN
(4x in reality)
4Γ— 2.5 Gbps LAN
1Γ— 10 Gbps WAN/LAN
1Γ— 10 Gbps SFP+/RJ45 Combo WAN/LAN
4Γ— 2.5 Gbps LAN
1Γ— 10 Gbps WAN/LAN
1Γ— 10 Gbps SFP+/RJ45 Combo WAN/LAN
Link AggregationLAN only
(LAN2 + LAN3)
LACP or Static
LAN only
(LAN2 + LAN3)
LACP or Static
LAN only
(LAN2 + LAN3)
LACP or Static
Dual-WAN SupportNoNoNo
Power Intake100-240V100-240V100-240V
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
β‰ˆ 310 Wh
(as tested)
not yet testedβ‰ˆ 565 Wh
(as tested)
Release DateOctober 2023May 2023May 2023
Firmware
(at review)
1.0.3 Build 20230911 rel.70411(5553)not yet reviewed1.0.2 Build 20230509 rel.67343(5553)
US MSRP$299.99$699.99$599.99
TP-Link Archer BE550/BE9300 vs Archer BE900 vs Archer BE800: Hardware specifications

The modest but seemingly just-right hardware specs

As noted in the table above, the new TP-Link BE9300 is inferior to its older Archer cousins by a large margin.

On the wired connection front, that doesn't matter much. The reason is that 2.5Gbps is faster than most homes would need. It's enough to deliver a Gigabit broadband connection in full.

As a matter of fact, after overhead, you can count a solid 2Gbps out of it, and most residential broadband plans are lower than Gigabit. Most importantly, nobody needs faster than a Gig -- I speak from experience.

Still, those with faster-than-Gigabit broadband or multi-Gigabit local bandwidth needs will find it lacking due to the omission of 10Gbps ports.

On the Wi-Fi front, things can be complicated.

For one, Wi-Fi 7 is still in the draft -- there are hardly any clients. And just because the router has decent Wi-Fi 7 specs doesn't mean its support for the older standards is the same. In my testing, the TP-Link BE9300 was slower than many older routers when hosting Wi-Fi 6 and legacy clients, especially over an extended range.

A familiar Archer Wi-Fi 7 router

As part of the Archer family, the TP-Link BE9300 shares the same firmware as the rest of the ecosystem and, for the most part, provides a familiar experience.

Specifically, it has a robust web user interface accessible via the default IP address, 192.168.0.1, for standard setup and management.

In my trial, this interface was responsive and included all traditional Wi-Fi network settings and features. You can expect common components, including VPN, port forwarding, Dynamic DNS, VPN (server and client), and more.

TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Web Inteface Wi Fi Settings TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Web Inteface HomeShield Pro
The TP-Link BE9300 has a standard, self-explanatory web user interface with an optional add-on HomeShield Pro package. It also has in-depth Wi-Fi settings.

The router also has a simple Quality of Service (QoS) feature -- you can only turn it on or off -- and light parental controls as part of its included HomeShield Basic. If you want online protection and more in-depth parental controls, you must opt for the HomeShield Pro add-on, which costs about $60/year after a 30-day trial.

It's worth noting that HomeSheild Pro requires the otherwise optional Tether mobile app. The app needs a login account with TP-Link to work.

TP-Link and your privacy

Having to sign in with an account generally means your hardware always connects to the vendor. That translates into inherent privacy risks. On this matter, the Chinese networking company, among other things, insists that it is based in Hong Kong and offers this assurance:

"TP-Link takes privacy seriously and complies with U.S. policies to protect consumers."

TP-Link's Privacy Policy page.

Managing your home network via a third party is never a good idea. Privacy is a matter of degree. Data collection and handling vary vendor by vendor.

As for wireless performance, the new router is slated to feature all Wi-Fi 7 has to offer. For now, though, you can expect just part of them since the standard is still in draft, likely until 2024.

If you're new to Wi-Fi 7, the cabinet below will fill you in with some highlights.

Wi-Fi 7's highlights

Below are the major improvements the new Wi-Fi 7 standard will bring when fully certified.

1. The all-new 320MHz channel width

The first is the new and much wider channel width, up to 320MHz or double that of Wi-Fi 6/6E.

This new channel width is generally available on the 6GHz band, with up to three 320MHz channels. However, Wi-Fi 7 can also combine portions of the 6GHz and 5GHz bands to create this new bandwidth -- more in the Multi-Link Operation section below.

Details of Wi-Fi channels can be found here, but the new channel width generally means Wi-Fi 7 can double the base speed, from 1.2Gbps per stream (160MHz) to 2.4Gbps per stream (320MHz).

So, in theory, just from the width alone, a 4x4 broadcaster 6GHz Wi-Fi 7 can have up to 9.6 Gbps of bandwidth -- or 10Gbps when rounded up. But there's more to Wi-Fi 7's bandwidth below.

Depending on the configuration, Wi-Fi 7 routers and access points will be available in different speed grades, including those offering bandwidths higher or lower than 10Gbps on the 6GHz band.

Wi-Fi 7 also supports double the partial streams, up to 16. As a result, technically, a 16-stream (16x16) Wi-Fi 7 6GHz band can deliver up to over 40Gbps of bandwidth, especially when considering the new QAM support below.

Like Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, initially, Wi-Fi 7 will be available as dual-stream (2x2) and quad-stream (4x4) broadcasters and dual-stream clients. Going forward, the standard might have 8x8 broadcasters and single-stream or quad-stream clients.

Again, you need a compatible client to use the new 320MHz channel width. Existing clients will connect using 160MHz at best. In reality, the 160MHz will likely be the realistic sweet-spot bandwidth of Wi-Fi 7, just like the 80MHz in the case of Wi-Fi 6.

2. The 4K-QAM

QAM, short for quadrature amplitude modulation, is a way to manipulate the radio wave to pack more information in the Hertz.

Wi-Fi 6 supports 1024-QAM, which itself is already impressive. However, Wi-Fi 7 will have four times that, or 4096-QAM. Greater QAM means better performance for the same channel width.

As a result, Wi-Fi 7 will have a much higher speed and efficiency than previous standards when working with supported clients.

Wi-F 7 vs Wi-Fi 6/6E: The realistic real-world speeds

With the support for the wider channel width and higher QAM, Wi-Fi 7 is set to be much faster than previous standards.

The table below summarizes what you can expect from Wi-Fi 7's real-world organic performance compared to Wi-Fi 6E when working on the 6GHz.

Wi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 7
Max Channel Bandwidth
(theoretical/top-tier equipment)
160MHz320MHz
Channel Bandwidth
(widely implemented)
80MHz160MHz
Number of Available Channels7x 160MHz or 14x 80MHz channels3x 320MHz or 6x 160MHz channels
Highest Modulation 1024-QAM4096-QAM
Max Number
of Spatial Streams
(theoretical on paper / commercially implemented)
8 / 416 / 8 (estimate)
Max Bandwidth
Per Stream
(theoretical)
1.2Gbps (at 160MHz)
600Mbps (at 80MHz)
β‰ˆ 2.9Gbps (at 320MHz)
β‰ˆ 1.45Gbps (at 160MHz)
Max Band Bandwidth
(theoretical on paper)
9.6Gbps
(8x8)
46.1Gbps
(16x16)
Commercial Max Band Bandwidth Per Band
(commercially implemented)
4.8Gbps
(4x4)
23Gbps
(8x8)
Available Max Real-word Negotiated Speeds(*)2.4Gbps (via a 2x2 160MHz client)
1.2Gbps (via a 2x2 80MHzclient)
β‰ˆ 11.5Gbps (via a 4x4 320MHz client)
β‰ˆ 5.8Gbps (via a 2x2 320MHz client or a 4x4 160MHz client)
β‰ˆ 2.9Gbps (via a single stream 320MHz client or a 2x2 160MHz client)
β‰ˆ 1.45Gbps (via a single stream 160MHz client or a 2x2 80MHz client)
Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 7: Theoretical data rates on the 6GHz band
(*) The actual negotiated speed depends on the client, Wi-Fi 7 specs, and environment. Real-world sustained rates are generally much lower than negotiated speeds. Wi-Fi 6/6E has had only 2x2 clients. Wi-Fi 7 will also use 2x2 clients primarily, but it might have 4x4 and even single-stream (1x1) clients.

Considering the 2x2 implementation and the sweet-spot 160MHz channel width, generally, it's safe to conservatively expect real-world rates of the mainstream Wi-Fi 7 (160MHz) to be about 20% faster than top-tier Wi-Fi 6E (160MHz).

Multi-Link Operation, or MLO, is the most exciting and promising feature of Wi-Fi 7 that changes the norm of Wi-Fi: Up to Wi-Fi 6E, a Wi-Fi connection between two direct devices occurs in a single band, using a fixed channel at a time.

In a nutshell, MLO is Wi-Fi band aggregation. Like Link Aggregation (or bonding) in wired networking, MLO allows combining two Wi-Fi bands, mostly 5GHz and 6GHz, into a single Wi-Fi network (SSID) and connection. The bonded link delivers higher bandwidth and reliability.

One Plus 11 5G Wi Fi information MLO
Here are the Wi-Fi setting pages of the One Plus 11 5G. Note that its "Dual Wi-Fi acceleration" might have nothing to do with MLO since the feature uses a single SSID. Also, a Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster, such as TP-Link Deco BE85 used in the screenshot above, has a separate MLO network in addition to the existing traditional network for backward compatibility. At the time of writing, this SSID might just be a placeholder since the feature needs the support of the client to work.

Generally, MLO will help increase the efficiency of Wi-Fi 7's range, allowing a broadcaster to deliver faster speed over longer distances than previous standards.

It can be a game-changer in a wireless mesh network by fortifying the wireless link between broadcasters -- the backhaul -- both in terms of speed and reliability. While that doesn't apply to systems with wired backhauling, MLO can make seamless handoff (or roaming) truly seamless.

On top of that, MLO allows each band to intelligently pick the best channel and channel width in real-time -- it can channel-hop, just like Bluetooth, though likely less frequently.

For clients, in more ways than one, MLO is the best alternative to the existing so-called "Smart Connect" -- using the same SSID (network name) and password for all the bands of a broadcaster -- which doesn't always work as smartly as expected.

But MLO is not all perfect -- a few things to keep in mind:

  • MLO only works with Wi-Fi 7 clients. Older clients, such as Wi-Fi 6 or 6E, will still use a single band at a time when connecting to a MLO SSID. (As mentioned, a computer needs to run at least Windows 11 version 24H2, set to release in late 2024, to support MLO.)
  • MLO requires the WPA3 encryption method and generally won't work with Wi-Fi 5 or older clients.
  • The reach of the combined link (of 5GHz and 6GHz) has a range as far as that of the shorter band.

By default, the 6GHz band has just about 75% of the range of the 5GHz when the same broadcasting power is applied. That said, MLO can only be truly meaningful with the help of Wi-Fi 7's next feature, Automated Frequency Coordination.

4. Automated Frequency Coordination

Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) applies only to the 6GHz band, which is the fastest yet the shortest range compared to the 5GHz and 2.4GHz. AFC is an optional feature, it's not required for the general function of a Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster.

At any given time, there can be existing applications already using the spectrum. For example, fixed satellite services (FSS) or broadcast companies might have already had called dibs on certain parts of the 6GHz band. A new Wi-Fi broadcaster must not impact those existing services -- a concept similar to DFS channels in Wi-Fi 6 and 5.

That's when the AFC feature comes into play. The idea is that all new 6GHz broadcasters check with a registered database in real-time to confirm their operation will not negatively impact other registered members. Once that's established, the broadcaster creates a dynamically exclusive environment in which its 6GHz band can operate without the constraint of regulations like the case of Wi-Fi 6E and older standards.

Specifically, the support for AFC means each Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster can use more broadcasting power and better flexible antenna designs. How much more? That depends.

But it's estimated that AFC can bring the broadcasting power up to 36 dBm (from the current 30 dBm max) or 4 watts (from 1 wat). The goal of AFC, at least initially, is to bring the 6GHz band's range to be comparable with the 5GHz band -- about 25% more.

When that happens, the MLO feature above will be truly powerful. But even then, Wi-Fi 7's range will remain the same as that of Wi-Fi 6. Its improvement is that its 6GHz band now has a longer reach than in Wi-Fi 6E.

Before you get all excited, this feature requires certification, and its availability is expected to vary from one region to another. It likely won't be available in the US before late 2024.

All hardware released before that is said to be capable of handling AFC, which, when applicable, can be turned on via firmware updates.

A crude AFC analogy

Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) is like checking with the local authorities for permission to close off sections of city streets for a drag race block party.

When approved, the usual traffic and parking laws no longer apply to the area, and the organizers can determine how fast traffic can flow, etc.

Wi-Fi 7’s other improvements

On top of that, Wi-Fi 7 will also have other improvements, including support for Flexible Channel Utilization (FCU) and Multi-RU.

With FCU, Wi-Fi 7 handles interference more gracefully by slicing off the portion of a channel with interference, 20MHz at a time, and keeps the clean part usable, as opposed to the case of Wi-Fi 6/6E, when there's interference, an entire channel can be taken out of commission. FCU is the behind-the-scene technology that increases the efficiency of Wi-Fi, similar to the case of MU-MIMO and OFDMA.

Similarly, with Wi-Fi 6/6E, each device can only send or receive frames on an assigned resource unit (RU), which significantly limits the flexibility of the spectrum resource scheduling. Wi-Fi 7 allows multiple RUs to be assigned to a single device and can combine RUsΒ for increased transmission efficiency.

The router supports TP-Link's EasyMesh, allowing it to host a supported extender to form a seamless Wi-Fi system. At the time of this review, there was no Wi-Fi 7 extender. In my experience, EasyMesh is not a good way to build a robust system. Rebranded from OneMesh, TP-Link's EasyMesh, for now, has no way to deliver bandwidth higher than a few hundred megabits per second, making it unsuitable for Wi-Fi 7.

If you want a mesh, it's better to opt for TP-Link's Deco or Omada instead.

TP-Link BE9300: Detail photos

The TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Wi Fi 7 Router is quite compact
The TP-Link BE9300 is a compact Wi-Fi 7 router. It's much smaller than previous Archer Wi-Fi 7 routers.

TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Wi Fi 7 Router Front Light
The router has a vertical line of LED lights on the front to show its status. The light can be partially lit and move up and down to show different statuses.

TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Wi Fi 7 Router TopTP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Wi Fi 7 Router Bottom
The top and underside of the TP-Link BE9300 router. Both work as ventilation.

The TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Wi Fi 7 Router's power adatper
The TP-Link BE9300's standard 110-240V power adapter.

Performance

I tested the Archer BE9300 and Archer BE550 for over a week and can confirm that they are the same router on all counts. For good measure, I tried a second BE9300 unit, and all of its ports were also 2.5Gbps-capable.

However, considering the port labels, TP-Link might release future Archer BE9300 hardware that indeed uses Gigabit ports or new firmware to deliberately render existing hardware's LAN ports Gigabit. While it's a nice surprise to get discounted hardware that's better than official specs, discrepancy is always troubling.

That said, if you want official 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig support in all wired LAN connections, the slightly more expensive Archer BE550 is the way to go.

Standard throughput speeds, relatively short in range

I didn't have any computer-based Wi-Fi 7 clients during my testing, so the numbers on the charts will only reflect Wi-Fi 6E and older clients. I did have a few Wi-Fi 7-cable phones, and while they could connect to the TP-Link BE9300 at around 4Gbps of negotiated speed, none could draw faster than 1.5Gbps in real-world connection from my 10Gbps fiber-optic line.

TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Wi Fi 7 Real world Test
And a good distance within a line of sight, my Wi-Fi 7-enabled phone could connect to the TP-Link BE9300 at around 4Gbps, but its sustained speed remained Gig+ out of a 10Gbps broadband connection.

But that's only anecdotal since I generally don't use broadband speed as part of my Wi-Fi testing method. And considering Wi-Fi 7 is not yet ready, a Wi-Fi 7 router, for now, can be judged mostly by how it serves existing Wi-Fi 6E and older clients.

As such, the TP-Link BE9300 performed quite well, although not better than its Wi-Fi 6 and 6E counterparts. I noticed that the router had a noticeably shorter range than high-end routers, which explains the significant difference in its close and long-range throughput.

Specifically, on both 5GHz and 6GHz bands, my test clients start losing a bar about 40 feet away. The range is always tricky to pinpoint, but if you have a home of around 1,500 ft2 (135 m2) or slightly larger, the TP-Link BE9300 will get the job done when placed in the center. But your mileage will vary.

TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Close Range Wi Fi PerformanceTP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Long Range Wi Fi Performance
The TP-Link BE9300's Wi-Fi performance

The router passed my 3-day stress test with no disconnection. It also remained relatively cool even during high loads. There's an internal fan, but I only heard the subtle humming sound when I placed my ears on the router. That can change in a hot climate.

TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Multi Gig Wired Performance
The TP-Link BE9300's Multi-Gig ports' wired performance

The TP-Link 9300's Multi-Gig ports worked well and delivered about the same performance as other routers and switches of the same port grade.

Good network NAS performance, buggy storage feature

Like most routers with a USB port, the TP-Link BE9300 can work as a mini NAS server when hosting an external storage device. In this case, it can also work as a media streaming server and a Time Machine backup destination.

I tested it with a fast, portable SSD, and the performance was quite good, fast enough for those with light network attached storage needs.

TP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Network Attached Storage Write PerformanceTP Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Network Attached Storage Read Performance
The TP-Link BE9300's storage performance when hosting a portable SSD

The feature proved buggy, however. For example, while I can easily copy data to a shared folder, deleting or editing them can be an issue. It seemed certain files and folders were randomly locked as read-only somehow.

I ran into a similar problem with the Archer BE800. Hopefully, this will be worked out via firmware updates.

TP-Link Archer BE550/Archer BE9300's Rating

8 out of 10
TP-Link Archer BE9300 BE550
Performance
8 out of 10
Features
7.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 7 and Multi-Gig support; competitively priced

Robust web user interface; lots of network and Wi-Fi settings

Useful (optional) mobile app; EasyMesh-ready; compact and practical design

Cons

No 10Gbps ports or Dual-WAN; Ethernet discrepancy in Archer BE9300 model; limited EasyMesh hardware

Online protection and advanced parental controls require a HomeShield Pro subscription

Wi-Fi performance for legacy devices and overall range could be better; internal fan

Unnecessary variants with incorrect product descriptions

Conclusion

TP-Link BE9300 has everything a small home with a Gigabit or slower broadband would need. It's an excellent router with a friendly price, especially if you can get the Archer BE9300 variant.

But, like all Wi-Fi 7 routers at this stage, it's not a must-have, and if you're looking into real multi-Gigabit and the best of what Wi-Fi 7 has to offer -- whatever that might end up being --, this new router can be a bit subdued. I'd take a high-en Wi-Fi 6 or 6E over it if the price is right.

Despite the hype, Wi-Fi 7's time has just gingerly begun, so there's no rush. So far, the TP-Link BE9300 proves that the new standard can be affordable. And that's never a bad thing.

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19 thoughts on “TP-Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Review: A Tale of Two(?) Affordable Wi-Fi 7 Routers”

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  1. Cheap price at walmart convinced me try it out. I thought that I would get two and create a cheap multi-gig mesh with 2.5GB wired backhaul and WiFi7. Alas, it does not support wired backhaul and there are no plans to do so. That’s on me for not doing my research but back they go.

    Reply
  2. Does the easymesh wired/ethernet backhaul work with these two routers be9300/be550. From the review it sounded like you had used the wifi option for easymesh.

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  3. I don’t think it’s a negative thing that it doesn’t have 10 or 5 Gbps ports. Wi-Fi will never come close to those bitrates.

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    • You need a wired network out of a router, too, Franco. And yes, you can totally use 10Gbps, sooner or later, if not already. More here. But this router is not all bad if you actually read the review.

      Reply
  4. Is this backward compatible with 6e, 5Ghz (ax and older)? I currently have GT-AXE16000, looking for a good mesh to expand, there are some options in Asus, but this is tempting to try as a separate access point and for wired multi-gig connection. I have 2Gbps fiber internet.

    And as you mentioned, I couldn’t find any catch with the pricing!

    Reply
    • I used this router briefly, had gotten in for $259.99 at Walmart. I had the V1.0 hardware version. The hardware specs looked good coupled with WiFi 7 and a 6ghz band, so I pulled the trigger.

      However it gave me issues from day 1. I used it as an AP only with the firewall and DHCP disabled and anytime the wifi channels were enabled it would reboot at random times. Even after updating to the latest firmware it would reboot, and it didn’t seem to be hot at all. Obviously you’re not going to by this to _not_ use the wifi?!

      Though it does have a heatsink installed so it’s possible there are thermal issues with the paste or attachment, though there’s not telnet or ssh to check temps and no temps listed in the Web UI, so who knows.

      I ended up returning it.

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      • Thanks for the input, John, I haven’t received mine yet. Generally, a router is not intended to be used primarily as an AP, though. So, maybe there are still bugs in its firmware for that role.

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  5. For the last decade, I have had the all consuming passion of increasing my speed to the max. With a limited 20Mbs WAN, I still chased top end mesh WiFi to serve all my NAS traffic and many ioT gadgets. Now this year as I sit on 500Mbs WAN and Wifi6 that can shift over 800Mbs from A to B, I’ve lost the drive to get more. I have everything I wanted. I wonder what uses Wifi7 can be put to. I’m looking for some encouragement to upgrade my Asus base mesh node and have gotten all philosophical in the process πŸ™‚

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  6. I don’t know if this is an error in your article? You mention “No option for 2.5Gbps WAN or Dual-WAN” in your “CON”s. The router has a 2.5Gbps WAN port.

    Reply

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