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TP-Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Review: Solid Wi-Fi 7 on the Cheap

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The TP-Link BE9300 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 7 Router dropped with a bang in October 2023. It was among the first Wi-Fi 7 broadcasters on the market and the most affordable, at $300 retail. Seven months later, it's even more affordable today, at just $250 on the street.

That is if you buy the standard Archer BE550 version. Yes, there's an Archer BE9300 variant that's supposedly a bit different. Or is it?

These two variants are similar to the Archer AX50 vs. Archer AX3000 back when Wi-Fi 6 was still a novelty. It's safe to call the two the "affordable" 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 might end up with a slightly better deal of the same hardware with the supposedly "stripped down" Archer BE9300.

Dong's note: I first published this post on October 12, 2023, when the router was unveiled as a preview. After thorough hands-on testing using pre-Wi-Fi 7 clients, on October 24, I updated it to an in-depth review. On May 16, 2024, I updated the review for one last time with Wi-Fi 7 performance.

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 pretty 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 BE9200—rounding it up to BE9300 is a bit too generous.

Secondly, the new router has 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 sold 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 port 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 ports' "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 (LAN 3) via a TRENDnet TUC-ET2G 2.5Gbps adapter. 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 refer to the two variants as a single router using the shared TP-Link BE9300 name for the rest of this review.

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 its smaller size, the new router feels more grounded when placed on a surface. Unlike the higher-end models, it doesn't topple easily.

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 of which the dots 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. However, 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 PortsArcher BE900 WiFi 7 RouterArcher BE800 WiFi 7 Router
ModelArcher BE550
Archer BE9300
Archer BE900Archer BE800
Dimensions9.12 x 7.99 x 2.99 in
(231.6 x 202.9 x 75.9 mm)
11.9 × 10.3 × 3.8 in
(302 × 262.5 × 96 mm)
Weight2.45 lbs (1.11 kg)4.78 lbs (2.16 kg)
Processing PowerUndisclosed
Wi-Fi StandardWi-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)
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)
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-Fi
Wireless SecurityWPA / WPA2 / WPA3
Web User InterfaceYes
Mobile AppTP-Link Tether
(optional)
Operating RolesRouter (default) or Access Point
Mesh-ReadyYes (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)
1× 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)
4× 2.5 Gbps LAN
1× 10 Gbps WAN/LAN
1× 10 Gbps SFP+/RJ45 Combo WAN/LAN
Link AggregationLAN only
(LAN2 + LAN3)
LACP or Static
Dual-WAN SupportNo
Power Intake100-240V
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
≈ 310 Wh
(as tested)
not yet tested≈ 565 Wh
(as tested)
Release DateOctober 2023May 2023May 2023
Firmware
(at review)
1.0.7 Build 20240119not yet reviewed1.0.2 Build 20230509 rel.67343(5553)
U.S. Price
(at launch)
$299.99$699.99$599.99
TP-Link Archer BE550/BE9300 vs. Archer BE900 vs. Archer BE800: Hardware specifications

The modest but 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. 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 SettingsTP-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, which are included in with Basic Security. If you want online protection and more in-depth parental controls, you must opt for the Security+ and Advanced Parental Control add-on packages via monthly or annual subscriptions.

It's worth noting the add-on subscriptions require 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 connects to the vendor at all times, which 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.

The new router is slated to feature all that Wi-Fi 7 has to offer in terms of wireless performance, though this depends on the client side, too. 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 supported clients are available—by late 2024.

1. The all-new 320MHz channel width

The first thing to note about Wi-Fi 7 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.

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. In the future, 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, manipulates 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 be much faster and more efficient 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 on paper.

You might have read somewhere that Wi-Fi 7 is "up to 4.8 times faster than Wi-Fi 6," and hardware vendors will continue to combine the theoretical bandwidth of a broadcaster's all bands into a single colossal number—such as BE19000, BE22000, or BE33000—which is excellent for advertising.

Like always, these numbers don't mean much, and things are not that simple. In reality, a Wi-Fi connection generally happens on a single band at a time—that's always true for Wi-Fi 6E and older clients—and is also limited by the client's specs.

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
7x 160MHz channels, or
14x 80MHz 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)
2.9Gbps (at 320MHz)
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), or
11.5Gbps (4x4)
Available Max Real-word Negotiated Speeds(*)2.4Gbps (via a 2x2 160MHz client)
1.2Gbps (via a 2x2 80MHz client)
11.5Gbps (via a 4x4 320MHz client)
5.8Gbps (via a 2x2 320MHz client or a 4x4 160MHz client)
2.9Gbps (via a single stream 320MHz client or a 2x2 160MHz client)
1.45Gbps (via a single stream 160MHz client or a 2x2 80MHz client)
Available Clients
(example)
2x2
(Intel AX210)
2x2
(Intel BE200 / Qualcomm NCM865)
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—capping at about two-thirds at best. 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.

Like Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, Wi-Fi 7 has been available only in 2x2 specs on the client side. That, plus the sweet-spot 160MHz channel width, means, 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) counterparts.

However, the new standard does have more bandwidth on the broadcasting side. So, it can handle more 2x2 clients simultaneously with high-speed real-world rates. And that's always a good thing.

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—they use a single link to transmit data.

It's worth noting that MLO is a feature and not the base of the standard, meaning it can be supported by a particular device or not. It's not expected to be universally available until late 2024.

In a nutshell, MLO is Wi-Fi band aggregation. Like Link Aggregation (or bonding) in wired networking, it allows combining two or more Wi-Fi bands into a single Wi-Fi link—one SSID and connection.

There are two MLO operation modes:

  • STR-MLMR MLO (Simultaneous Transmit and Receive Multi-Link Multi-Radio): It's multi-link aggregation using all three bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz) to deliver higher throughput, lower latency, and better reliability.
  • E-MLSR MLO (Enhanced Multi-Link Single Radio): It's multi-link using dynamic band switching between 5GHz and 6GHz to deliver load balancing and lower latency.

No matter which mode is used, the gist is that the bonded link delivers "better" connection quality and "more" bandwidth.

It's important to note, though, that at the end of the day, MLO increases the bandwidth, allowing different applications on a client to use the two bands simultaneously. The point here is that no application on the client can have a connection speed faster than the fastest band involved. A speedtest application, for example, still uses one of the bands at a time. This connection speed is still limited by the hardware specs on both ends of the link, whichever is lower.

So, the MLO feature affords a supported client the best probability of connecting successfully at the highest possible speed using the fastest band at any given time, which changes depending on the distance between the client and the broadcaster.

MLO can be a game-changer in a wireless mesh network by fortifying the Wi-Fi link between broadcasters—the backhaul—both in terms of speed and reliability. Most systems I've tested had the sustained wireless backhauling link over 5Gbps at 40 feet away. In systems with wired backhauling, MLO can make seamless handoff (or roaming) genuinely seamless.

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

In fact, you can think of MLO as the enhanced version of Smart Connect. Specifically, MLO requires Smart Connect for the broadcaster's primary SSID. As a result, if the hardware doesn't allow for additional virtual SSIDs, segmenting a network via different SSIDs (such as one for each band) is no longer an option. In other words, with MLO, you have to choose between the following in terms of SSIDs:

  • Having a primary SSID (via Smart Connect), which is MLO-enabled, and an optional 2nd virtual MLO-enabled SSID. Or
  • Turning off Smart Connect to manage the band individually and losing the MLO option.

Additionally, keep the following in mind about this feature:

  • By nature, link bonding will be more complicated than single-band connectivity—there are just too many variables.
  • MLO only works with supported Wi-Fi 7 clients. Some Wi-Fi 7 clients might not support it. Considering the different performance grades and hardware variants, the result of MLO will vary case by case.
  • Wi-Fi 6E and older clients will still use a single band at a time when connecting to a MLO SSID.
  • An MLO SSID requires the WPA2 or higher encryption method and generally won't work with first-gen Wi-Fi 5 or older clients.
  • The reach of the bonded wireless link is as far as the range 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 fifth and optional feature, Automated Frequency Coordination, mentioned below.

4. Flexible Channel Utilization (FCU) and Multi-RU

Flexible Channel Utilization (FCU) (a.k.a. Preamble Puncturing) and Multi-RU are two other items that help increase Wi-Fi 7's efficiency.

With FCU, Wi-Fi 7 handles interference more gracefully by slicing off the portion of a channel with interference, 20MHz at a time, and keeping the clean part usable.

In contrast, in Wi-Fi 6/6E, when there's interference, an entire channel can be taken out of commission. FCU is the behind-the-scenes technology that increases Wi-Fi's efficiency, 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 given to a single device and can combine RUs for increased transmission efficiency.

5. Automated Frequency Coordination

Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) is an optional feature and deals with the 6GHz band, so it's not Wi-Fi 7-exclusive—the band was first used with Wi-Fi 6E. It's not required for a Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster's general function. In fact, it wasn't even mentioned in the initial certification by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Due to local regulations, the 6GHz band's availability differs around the world. For this reason, some Wi-Fi 7 broadcasters will not adopt it and will remain Dual-band.

Still, Wi-Fi 7 makes AFC more relevant than ever. That's because the 6GHz band has the highest bandwidth (fastest) yet the shortest range compared to the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands when using the maximum allowed broadcasting power. Originally, AFC was intended only for outdoor applications, but when implemented, it's significant for all applications.

Here's how AFC would work when/if available:

The feature enables a 6GHz broadcaster to check with a registered database in real-time to confirm that its operation will not negatively impact other existing 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.

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.

However, it's estimated that AFC can increase the broadcasting power to 36 dBm (from the current 30 dBm limit) or 4 watts (from 1 wat). The goal of AFC is to make the range of the 6GHz band comparable to that of 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, which is available only on the 5GHz band. Its improvement is that its 6GHz band now has a more extended reach than in Wi-Fi 6E. In other words, AFC allows the 6GHz band to have at least the same range as the 5GHz. And that's significant.

This feature requires certification, and its availability is expected to vary from one region to another. 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.

The router supports TP-Link's EasyMesh, allowing it to host a supported extender to form a seamless Wi-Fi system. Rebranded from OneMesh, TP-Link's EasyMesh is oversimplistic and similar to using an extender with a router. 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's front has a vertical line of LED lights 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

The first time back in October 2023, I tested an Archer BE9300 and an Archer BE550 for over a week and could confirm they were the same hardware on all counts. At the time, 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 since have released newer Archer BE9300 hardware that indeed uses Gigabit ports or firmware to deliberately render existing hardware's LAN ports Gigabit. The point is that if you want official 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig support in all wired LAN connections, the standard version, Archer BE550, is the way to go.

This second time in May 2024, I only tested the Archer BE550 briefly to see how it performed with Wi-Fi 7 clients.

Standard throughput speeds, relatively short in range

I initially tried the TP-Link BE9300 with multiple Wi-Fi 7-enabled smartphones, and while they could connect at around 4Gbps of negotiated speed, none could draw faster than 1.5Gbps in real-world connection from my 10Gbps fiber-optic line.

I only use phones for anecdotal testing since I generally don't use broadband speed as part of my Wi-Fi testing method.

TP-Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Wi-Fi 7 Real world Test
And a reasonable 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.

This time around, with Wi-Fi 7 having been finalized, I managed to test the router with the proper clients. As you will note on the charts, the router performed as well as I had expected from its specs in terms of throughput speeds.

Even with the latest firmware, its range, on both 5GHz and 6GHz bands, was relatively short. Both bands started losing a bar about 40 feet away. The Wi-Fi range is always tricky to pinpoint, but if you have a home of around 1,600 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 Archer BE550 Router Long Range PerformanceTP-Link Archer BE550 Router Close Range Performance
The TP-Link Archer BE550's Wi-Fi performance when hosting Wi-Fi clients of different standards.

The router passed my 3-day stress test with no disconnection. It also remained relatively cool even during high loads.

The TP-Link Archer BE550's Multi-Gig ports worked well and delivered about the same performance as other routers and switches of the same port grade after overhead. You can expect solid 2Gbps out of them.

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

Excellent network-attached storage (NAS) performance

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

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

I tested it with a fast, portable SSD, using a 2.5Gbps wired connection and the performance was excellent. It was about as good as a 2.5Gbps connection could be after overhead. That said, the router proved to be a viable storage server for those with light network-attached storage needs.

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 with a good set of network features and Wi-Fi settings

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

Cons

No 10Gbps ports or Dual-WAN; mid-tier Wi-Fi 7 specs and real-world performance; comparatively short-range

Online protection and advanced parental controls require subscriptions

Conclusion

The TP-Link BE9300, be it the Arhcer BE550 or the Archer BE9300 variant, has everything a small home with Gigabit or slower broadband needs. It's an excellent router at a friendly price. The router proves that the new Wi-Fi 7 standard can be affordable. And that's never a bad thing. If you have Gigabit-class broadband, you won't go wrong with it.

For more on the best Wi-Fi 7 options, check out these best-five lists.

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41 thoughts on “TP-Link BE9300 Archer BE550 Review: Solid Wi-Fi 7 on the Cheap”

    • I believe heard it when I was testing it. I will open it up to check and will update accordingly in a few days.

  1. The Achilles heel for all the BE Tp-Link series is the lack of DoH , dns over https.
    If Tp-Link would introduce the DoH and maintain the current pricing it would surpass for sure Asus wifi 7 series in the sales field.

    • Good point. I assume it was there since it’s only a matter of firmware and DoH has been present in many Archer routers since Wi-Fi 5. Maybe DoH is turned on by default and the option to turn it off is no longer available. Most routers have DoH turned on by default these days.

      • According to TP-Link official staff some models might benefit in near future via firmware upcoming updates. Sadly currently NO… DoH isn’t there in the firmwares of BE900 nor BE800 and not even BE550.
        In these crazy days that we are living with ISP’s wildly collecting and selling our data a vpn client and the DoH feature should be a must have for any router especially for those over 500$ price.

  2. I just purchased the BE550 BE9300 and I just want to let everyone know that this QoS feature doesn’t work. It just makes all Wi-fi devices unable to reach the internet. I’ve contacted Tp-link about this and I’m not keeping my hopes up. The advice so far is to reboot the router, which does nothing. Clearly the QoS function is broken.

      • I have an update. Turns out the QoS was broken because of a bug. Turning on VLAN to bypass using the ISPs gateway was the problem. TP-Link tech support told me they will fix the issue and push it out in a future firmware update.

  3. If I use it as a Wireguard server, what speeds would we be looking at? I’m looking at replacing my {…} which is rated up to 500Mbps using Wireguard and just over 100 for OpenVPN.
    Kinda odd TP-Link doesn’t list the CPU these new WiFi 7 routers use.
    Thanks!

    • If you use a separate VPN server, Zippy, that server’s performance generally has nothing to do with the router more than the general throughputs mentioned in the Performance section of the review.

      This router doesn’t have built-in WireGuard.

      • That’s disappointing to hear it doesn’t have Wireguard built-in.

        I was planning on using the router as a VPN server. One less thing to manage and easier to setup than a do it myself prosumer style router, such as pfSense or OPNsense (which would completely negate the need for this router. Not to mention it’s ridiculously easy setting up and managing a VPN server on an Asus or GL inet router, along with all the other settings). I just want something easy and quick to setup. I understand I can get more out of a do it myself router/dedicated VPN server.

  4. Is it possible to aggregate two of the 2.5Mbps ports in the router? Even if they are 1Gb from my NAS?

    Thanx, Skip

  5. thanks, Dong
    You have made my year. I ended up with this 9300 router I have 10 gig ports on my macs. EPB offered 2.5 gig Internet this week and I had to sign up.
    my Wi-Fi is 40% faster and ethernet is almost double from my gig plan
    fast.com speedtests are 2.9 gigs 95% of the time and sometimes 3.
    Ookla speed test are just over 2350 up and down consistently.
    What was interesting to me was after they changed out the fiber box I was getting way over a gig on the old plan.
    I love this site

    • Looks like something is not right with the Fast.com tests, Paul. It’s not possible to get over 2.5Gbps with this router. The Ookla numbers are more accurate. But glad you had a good experience! Cheer!

      • I thought they had better server network, but they are always consistently higher. That’s probably why epb recommends using it.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    • Follow the link to read more about it, DW. It’s the same as OneMesh. The quick answer is no.

  8. 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.

    • 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.

  9. 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!

    • 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.

      • 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.

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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.

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