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 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.
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 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.
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 BE900||Archer BE800|
|Dimensions||9.12 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)
|11.9 × 10.3 × 3.8 in |
(302 × 262.5 × 96 mm)
|Weight||2.45 lbs (1.11 kg)||4.78 lbs (2.16 kg)||4.78 lbs (2.16 kg)|
|Wi-Fi Standard||Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be)||Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be)||Wi-Fi 7 (802.11be)|
|Wi-Fi Bandwidth||Tri-band BE9200||Quad-band BE24000||Tri-band BE19000|
|1st Band |
|2x2 2.4GHz AX: Up to 574 Mbps|
|4x4 2.4GHz BE: Up to 1376Mbps|
|4x4 2.4GHz BE: Up to 1376Mbps |
|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)|
|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)|
|None||4x4 6GHz BE: Up to 11520Mbps (20/40/80/160/320MHz)||None|
|Backward Compatibility||802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax/axe Wi-Fi||802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax/axe Wi-Fi||802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax/axe Wi-Fi|
|Wireless Security||WPA / WPA2 / WPA3||WPA / WPA2 / WPA3||WPA / WPA2 / WPA3|
|Web User Interface||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Mobile App||TP-Link Tether|
|TP-Link Tether |
|Operating Roles||Router (default) or Access Point||Router (default) or Access Point||Router (default) or Access Point|
|USB Port||1x USB 3.0||1x USB 3.0|
1x USB 2.0
|1x USB 3.0|
|Gigabit Port||Archer BE550: None|
Archer BE9300: 3x 1Gbps LAN
(none in reality)
|1× Gbps LAN||None|
|Multi-Gig Port||Both 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
|4× 2.5 Gbps LAN|
1× 10 Gbps WAN/LAN
1× 10 Gbps SFP+/RJ45 Combo WAN/LAN
|Link Aggregation||LAN only|
(LAN2 + LAN3)
LACP or Static
(LAN2 + LAN3)
LACP or Static
|LAN only |
(LAN2 + LAN3)
LACP or Static
|Power Consumption |
(per 24 hours)
|≈ 310 Wh|
|not yet tested||≈ 565 Wh|
|Release Date||October 2023||May 2023||May 2023|
|1.0.3 Build 20230911 rel.70411(5553)||not yet reviewed||1.0.2 Build 20230509 rel.67343(5553)|
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.
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."
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 6E||Wi-Fi 7|
|Max Channel Bandwidth|
|Number of Available Channels||7x 160MHz or 14x 80MHz channels||3x 320MHz or 6x 160MHz channels|
|Max Number |
of Spatial Streams
(theoretical on paper / commercially implemented)
|8 / 4||16 / 8 (estimate)|
|1.2Gbps (at 160MHz)|
600Mbps (at 80MHz)
|≈ 2.9Gbps (at 320MHz)|
≈ 1.45Gbps (at 160MHz)
|Max Band Bandwidth|
(theoretical on paper)
|Commercial Max Band Bandwidth Per Band|
|Available Max Real-word Negotiated Speeds(*)||2.4Gbps (via a 2x2 160MHz client)|
1.2Gbps (via a 2x2 80MHzclient)
|≈ 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)
(*) 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).
3. Multi-Link Operation
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.
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 RUs 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.
TP-Link BE9300: Detail photos
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.