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TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Review: A Solid Budget Wi-Fi 6E Mesh with Caveats

The 2-pack Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System, also confusingly available as the 3-pack Deco XE5300 variant, is TP-Link’s very first real Wi-Fi 6E solution. Finally.

Indeed, the networking vendor made all kinds of buzz about the new standard in early 2021 with nothing to show during the entire year. And then, it recommitted the Wi-Fi 6E promise in early 2022.

And now, when the world is getting excited about Wi-Fi 7, the XE75 is here.

So, the new Wi-Fi solution is late to the game — it’s the 6th Wi-Fi 6E mesh on the market so far — but you already knew that if you had read my reviews on the rest of them (save the no-good eero Pro 6e).

Consequently, you might find this review a bit predictable. My mantra has been how Tri-band Wi-Fi 6E is generally not a great idea for a fully wireless environment but is excellent for a wired home. And that applies in this case, too.

So let’s cut to the chase: If you want a reliable wireless mesh system with relatively modest sub-Gigabit performance, at the suggested retail price of just $299.99 for a 2-pack, the XE75 is a great, if not the best to date, Wi-Fi 6E deal. It’s the most affordable by far.

On the other hand, if you buy into the marketing that tends to pick (the speed of the 6GHz band) and choose (the range of the 2.4GHz band), you’ll be utterly disappointed.

The TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System
The TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System includes two identical routers.

TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400: A typical Deco set, now with Wi-Fi 6E

Despite the support for Wi-Fi 6E, the Deco XE75 is very similar to previous deco sets, including the X60 and X5700. If you have used a Deco set before, you’ll feel right at home with this one.

The review XE75 is a 2-pack system that includes two identical mesh routers. Out of the box, the two are pre-synced, you only need to set up one as the main router, and the other will automatically become a satellite unit once plugged into power.

Afterward, you can manually add more mesh units to the system to extend the coverage. That’s generally how a mesh system works anyway.

Simple design, no Multi-Gig port

Each Deco XE75 router is a relatively compact tube measuring 4.1-inch (105 mm) wide and 6.7-inch (169 mm) tall. It looks like a smart speaker.

On the front, toward the bottom, it has a little indicator status light. And on the back, there are three auto-sensing Gigabit network ports — each can work as a WAN (available only in the unit working as the router) or a LAN port depending on what you plug into it.

There’s no Multi-Gig port which is a big disappointment. And there’s no USB port either.

TP-Link Deco XE75: Hardware specifications

TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System
ModelDeco XE75
Mesh Availability2-pack (as tested),
3-pack
Pre-Synced HardwareYes
Possible Dedicated Backhaul Band
(default)
None
(6GHz as default)
Wired BackhaulYes
Dimensions 
(WxDxH)
4.1 ร— 4.1 ร— 6.7 in
(105 ร— 105 ร— 169 mm)
Weight1.43 lbs (650 gram)
Wi-Fi DesignationTri-band AXE5400
1st Band
(2.4GHz)
2 x 2 AX 
Up to 574Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2nd Band
(5GHz)
2 x2 AX 
Up to 2402 Mbps 
(20/40/80/160MHz)
3rd Band
(6GHz)
2ร—2 AXE 
Up to 2402 Mbps 
(20/40/80/160MHz)
Backward Compatibility802.11ac/n/g/a/b
Guest NetworkYes
(One for each band)
Mobile AppDeco
Web User InterfaceSimple
(No local management)
AP ModeYes
(as a router or a mesh)
USB PortNone
Gigabit Port3x Auto-Sensing
Multi-Gig PortNone
Link AggregationNo
Dual-WANNo
Processing Power1.7 GHz Quad-Core CPU
Firmware Version
(at review)
1.1.2 Build 20220224
Rel. 41924
Release DateApril 2022
Power SpecsInput: 100-240V (50/60Hz 0.8A)
Output: 12V, 2.0A
Real-Word Power Consumption
(router unit, per 24 hours)
โ‰ˆ 156 Wh
(as tested)
US Retail Price
(at launch)
299.99 (2-pack)
Hardware specifications: TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 mesh router

TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400: Detail photos

TP Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 6
The TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System’s retail box.

TP Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 9
And here’s the content of the box

TP Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 14
The system includes two identical mesh Deco XE75 AXE5400 routers.

TP Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 15
The Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh routers look like smart speakers from the top.

TP Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 13
Each TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 router has three auto-sensing Gigabit ports.

TP Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 16
The underside of a TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 router

TP Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 8
Each Deco XE75 has a standard 100-240V power adapter.

TP Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 4
A Deco XE75 router in action

TP Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 2
The TP-Link Deco XE75 is very compact compared to the ZenWiFi Pro ET12.

App-operated, simple local web interface

Like all TP-Link Deco sets, the XE75 requires a login account and is app-operated.

You must use the Deco mobile app for the setup process. And during this time, the phone (or tablet) must connect to the Internet via a cellular connection or an existing Wi-Fi.

But other than that, the setup process proved smooth in my trial. The app’s setup wizard covered all necessary steps in great detail, and I got the system up and running within less than 10 minutes without a hitch.

If you’ve used a mobile app before and can pay some attention, you’ll likely also find this a walk in the park.

Tp Link Deco XE75 Settings
The TP-Link Deco XE75 has relatively poor network settings than a standalone router, including TP-Link’s Archer family. But it does have support for TP-Link and Philips Hue smart home devices.

After the setup, the app allows for managing the system from anywhere globally, as long as you have Internet access on your phone.

Locally, there’s also a simple web interface, accessible via the router’s default IP address (192.168.68.1) or tplinkdeco.net.

This interface has a simple network map that shows connected clients. And then, there’s an Advanced page with the system’s status, log, and low-level functions, including manual firmware updates, time-zone configurations, and a few WAN settings.

Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E Network Map Web Interface System Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System Web Interface System
The TP-Link Deco XE75's Web interface is relatively poor and can't work as a local management method.

It’s worth noting that this web interface is only available after the initial app-based hardware setup. And there’s no way you can use just the web interface to manage the Deco XE75. You can’t use it to change any important essential settings of a home Wi-Fi network.

So the Deco app is the only way to use the mesh system, and all that implies.

Your privacy matters

It’s important to note that having to sign in with an account with TP-Link means your mesh system connects to the vendor at all times — you manage your home network through TP-Link.

And that translates into inherent privacy risks. Here’s TP-Link’s Privacy Policy — make sure you trust the company and are comfortable with what it collects from your network.

Privacy is a matter of degree. While it’s never a good idea to have your network managed via a third party, the data collection varies from one company to another.

Relatively thin on features and Wi-Fi settings

The XE75 shares the same features set with the previous Deco set. It comes with the support for Dynamic DNS — in this case, it only supports TP-Link’s free domain –, IP reservation, and port-forwarding. There’s also a simple QoS engine where you can add individual devices to the priority list.

On top of that, there’s a light version of HomeShield that include a simple basic Network Protection and Parent Controls. If you subscribe for HomeShield Pro — as the app will often nag you –, which costs $6/month or $55/year, you’ll get the more in-depth version of the two.

Read this  Asus Blue Cave Router Review: A Hole Lot of Excellent Wi-Fi
Tp Link Deco XE75 Mesh Backhaul
The TP-Link Link Deco XE75 can work via wired backhaul, but in wireless backhaul, there’s no way to know which band it uses for this role in real-time.

There’s not much you can do about Wi-Fi settings other than creating a network name (SSID) and password.

After that, you can turn the radio of the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band on or off, effectively making the network 5GHz- or 2.4GHz-only.

Extra on backhaul

This extra content is part of the explainer on mesh systems.

Backhaul vs fronthaul

A Wi-Fi connection between two direct devices takes place in a single band, using a fixed channel, at any given time. (That’s always been the case before Wi-Fi 7, which might work differently.)

Generally, when you use multiple Wi-Fi broadcasters like in the case of a mesh network, there are two types of connections: fronthaul and backhaul.

Fronthaul is the Wi-Fi signal a mesh hub broadcasts outward for clients or its network ports for wired devices. That’s what we generally expect from a Wi-Fi broadcaster.

On the other hand, backhaul, a.k.a backbone, is the link between one broadcasting hub and another, be it the main router or another satellite hub. This link works behind the scene to keep the hardware units together as a system. It also determines the ceiling speed of all devices connected to a satellite hub.

When a Wi-Fi band handles backhaul and fronthaul simultaneously, only half of its bandwidth is available to either end. From the perspective of a connected client, that phenomenon is called signal loss.

When a band functions solely for backhauling, it’s called a dedicated backhaul band. In a mesh system, only traditional Tri-band hardware with an additional 5GHz band can have a dedicated backhaul band.

Generally, it’s best to use a network cable for backhauling — that’s wired backhaul. In this case, a hub can use all of its Wi-Fi bandwidth for front-hauling.

In networking, using network cables is always much better than wireless in speed and reliability.

The pseudo dedicated backhaul band

As for the 6GHz, it gets interesting: By default, this band is set as the dedicated backhaul for the mesh system. But you can also make it available for clients, too.

Tp Link Deco XE75 6GHz band
Using the 6GHz band as the “dedicated backhaul” only means that the TP-Link Deco XE75 will not make this band available to clients. The system still uses the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band as backhaul when the 6GHz is out of range. The 6GHz will be available as a separate Wi-Fi network (SSID) when opened up to clients.

When you choose to use the 6GHz as a dedicated backhaul, you only make this band unavailable to clients — and the system will still use its other two bands (2.4GHz or 5GHz) as backhaul when necessary.

And that is necessary in most cases since the 6GHz band’s range is very short.

When I placed the satellite unit behind a wall in my testing, the mesh immediately stopped using the 6GHz band as backhaul. I figured that out via testing — there was no way to know which band was working as backhaul via the app.

That said, there’s no point in using the 6GHz as the dedicated backhaul unless:

  • You have no 6GHz clients, and
  • You can place the hardware units at a relatively short distance — some 65 feet (20 meters) — from each other within a line of sight.

When you open the 6GHz band to the client, it’ll be able as a separate network name (SSID), though you can name it the same as the other two bands.

Like all applicable Deco sets, the XE75 support wired backhaul, which is also what I’d recommend for best performance.

TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400: Reliable sub-Gigabit performance

In my testing, the Deco XE75 did well for its hardware specs. I tested it both as a single router and a wireless mesh system.

Since it doesn’t have a Multi-Gig port, its sustained speed is generally capped below Gigabit. And compared to other Wi-Fi 6E broadcasters, it did quite well, as you can see on the chart below.

Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E Mesh Router Performance
The Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Router’s single router performance
(AC Client): a 4ร—4 client was used for the close-range tests and a 3ร—3 AC client for the long-range tests.

As a mesh system, I placed the satellite unit 40 feet away from the router unit within a line of sight. The numbers below are generally the best-case scenario, presumably when the 6GHz band was working as the backhaul — chances are you’ll get a lesser experience.

(Again, there was no way to know which band the system was using for its backhaul at any given time.)

Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E Mesh Satellite Performance
The Deco XE75’s performance as a mesh satellite
5GHz is the backhaul band by default.
<6BH>: 6GHz band as backhaul (when applicable.)
<WBH>: Multi-Gig wired backhaul (when available.)

I did try the system via wired backhaul, and in that case, the satellite unit delivered similar sustained rates as the router units.

In real-world additional anecdotal testing, the Deco XE75’s performance generally topped at around 300Mbps at the satellite unit and close to 900Mbps at the router unit. Of course, the actual numbers fluctuated a great deal.

Typically, you’ll have placed the two quite far from each other, or have a wall or two in between them. In real-world usage, I placed the satellite 45 feet (14 meters) from the router, and there were a few thin walls and other household objects in between them — it was highly likely that the mesh didn’t use the 6GHz as backhaul anymore.

Via such a scenario, which might or might not be comparable to your situation, the screenshot below shows the best possible Internet speeds out of the two.

Tp Link Deco XE75 Real World Internet Speed Router vs Satellite
The TP-Link Deco XE75’s real-world best-case-scenario Internet speeds, via a 10Gbps Fiber-optic line, out of the router unit (left) and the satellite

I tested that using a Pixel 6 — which, in my experience, was capable of over 1200Mbps of sustained Wi-Fi speeds — via a 10Gbps Fiber-optic connection. In case you’re curious, here’s the speed test page I used for this testing.

I did this test randomly many times over a week, using all different bands, and picked the best result for each case to show here. Hint: Your experience will be different, likely slower, especially at the router’s end.

So, if you don’t care about getting the most out of a Gigabit-class broadband connection, as you probably shouldn’t since anything over 100Mbps is enough for any applications, the Deco XE75’s real-world speeds sure will suffice. If you want more, getting your home wired is a must and maybe consider the Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12.

As for coverage, TP-Link claims that 2-pack Deco XE75 can blanket 5,500 ft2 (511 m2) — or 7200 ft2 if you use a 3-pack — and that’s a bit of a stretch.

Clearly, in a wireless setup, we must balance range and performance. I’d say this 2-pack can handle around 4000 ft2 with decent speed. Larger than that, you will need to use a network cable to connect the two units or be content with using the 2.4GHz as backhaul, which is very slow. In any case, your mileage will vary depending on the layout of your home.

Before publishing this review, I used the Deco Xe75 for over two weeks, and it proved reliable. We had no issue with disconnections.

TP-Link Deco XE75's Rating

8 out of 10
TP Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri Band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 5
Performance
8/10
Features
6.5/10
Ease of Use
8.5/10
Value
9/10

Pros

Wi-Fi 6E-ready with reliable and extensive coverage

Affordable

Easy to use

Cons

No Multi-Gig port, Link Aggregation, or Dual-WAN

TP-Link login account and mobile app required

No real, local web-based management

Only three network ports on each unit

Conclusion

To put in a sentence, the Deco XE75 is an affordable Wi-Fi 6E system that gets the job done with minimum effort as long as you’re OK with managing your network TP-Link’s way.

Considering the friendly retail price of $300, the 2-pack TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System is excellent. It’s proof that the eero Pro 6E, which has much worse hardware yet costs double the price, is a total ripoff.

This new system will deliver for those wanting a reliable wireless mesh for their modest network. And if you have wired your home, you can expect consistent Gigabit-class sustained speeds.

On the downside, the lack of a real, local web interface can translate into privacy risks. Also, the lackluster feature set, even when you want to spend another $6/month for the subscription add-ons, can be a deal-breaker for advanced users.

All things considered, I’d recommend the Deco XE75 with a tad of reservation. In a way, it’s a testament to the fact we can’t have everything, and sometimes, not even close to that. But even then, we might still end up with a good deal.

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30 thoughts on “TP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Review: A Solid Budget Wi-Fi 6E Mesh with Caveats”

  1. I purchased the AXE5300 at my local Costco and love it. In my 5,500 square ft home I get great speeds everywhere except for one spot. The main and one satellite are ethernet wired and the other satellite is connected wirelessly. In the garage, I get a solid connection with high speeds but I have a security camera outside not too far from the garage and that camera gets connection drops. When I move the wired satellite into the garage, that camera suddenly gets a solid connection. If I purchased another unit and put it in the garage that would be great. I know the XE75 is a two pack but I don’t want to pay $300 for another satellite, I wish TP-link sold individual satellite units.

    Reply
  2. Dong,

    I have a larger (wired) home with xFinity 1gbps, a wired router/firewall, and a dedicated 2.4ghz network for my IOT stuff, cameras, switches etc. I want to upgrade my primary WiFi to better support working from home, my boys zoom classes with screen shares, their online Minecraft gaming and to simplify roaming though the house.

    I plan on setting up my mesh in AP mode and wired backhaul. From the specifications, test results and price point (Under $350), this Deco XE75 sounds perfect. But I am dis-enchanted with the management software and was considering 2 TPLink EAP660 APโ€™s. I do like the idea of full Wifi 6e support for future proofing new phones, and laptops, but not it is not a requirement.

    I was wondering if you have tested the TPLink EAP660 AP yet or was planning on testing in the near future? Do you have any other recommendations?

    Thanks, nu-latitude

    Reply
  3. so Dong, beside guest WIFI or disabling the 5ghz entirely, there is no way we can create a separate 2.4 SSID for smart devices? Secondly, is it possible to assign IP address to certain devices (printer for example)? I’m currently an Orbi RK50 owner but thinking about switching to this.

    Thanks

    Reply
      • TP-Link Deco AXE5300 is $345 at Costco which is a bargain comparing to other brand (especially against my favorite Netgear Orbi), do you think this would be an upgrade over my Orbi RBK50? Even though RBK50 is a good router, but my kids have been complaining about the drops since we have way too many devices (over 50), a lot of streaming and gaming, etc…

        and last but not least, thank you for your quick response

        Reply
          • Yes sir, we got ethernet cables wired the entire home. One issue I noticed is that wired internet often dropped but wifi is still up and running. Is there any suggestion on a decent tri band mesh with a decent price that can handle over 50 plus devices and also allowing me to create a seperate 2.4ghz ssid?

          • Wi-Fi is about bandwidth and that of the 2.4GHz band is very low. Yes, you can get many more than 50 devices connected, but only so many can be active at a time. So the number doesn’t mean much, the bandwidth does.

            If you have already gotten your home wired (good job by the way!), a Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Tri-band 6E mesh is the best. For your needs, I’d recommend the Asus ET8 or the Asus XD6 or a mix according to this post. All other canned systems don’t allow for flexible Wi-Fi customization.

  4. Hi Dong, very informative review! Iโ€˜m looking to buy a new mesh wifi system for my house, and currently this system is on my radar. 3-pack of this for $350, VS. Orbi rbk753 for $440, which one do you think offers more value? My internet is around 600 Mbps up & down so either one should be a good fit?

    Reply
      • It’s a 3-story house, and I’m planning on using a full wireless setup. From what I’ve read so far, the 6GHz band is a gimmick at the moment: when exposed to the client, there are not many clients out there that can take advantage of it; when used as a “dedicated” backhaul, its range is not long enough to maintain a steady connection between the nodes. So it does seem like the Orbi set is a more reasonable choice.

        Reply
  5. What are your thoughts on the Deco X55 AX3000 (3-pack)? I have several devices that need wireless connection (fridge, doorbell, two cams, multiple cellphones, 2 streaming tvs, etc).

    Also, is wifi 6e really needed or is wifi 6 sufficient?

    Thanks for all your reviews and looking forward to what your thoughts are on x55

    Reply
  6. Hi Dong, do you think that for a fully wireless set up the ax5700 by Tp-link is better and possibly outperforms the axe5400? Will there be a noticeable user experience? Thank you.

    Reply
    • No, I think the two will be similar, Ricardo. And if you can’t place the hardware units close or within the line of sight, the AX5700 will likely be better.

      Reply
  7. Do you think the combination of the XE75 (in access point mode) with something like the firewalla purple or gold would make up for the lack of features and web based management?

    Reply
      • Thanks for the reply! Trying to figure out what $600 or under mesh wifi pack (so was looking at the 3 pack of the tp link you mentioned) would cover roughly 7k sq ft area (that could be paired with firewalla to make up some of the shortcomings). Currently will be all wireless but with planned wired backhaul for the mesh access points in the near future.

        Reply
  8. Great site. I just upgraded to a gigabit Internet connection and my old and trusty Google Wi-Fi is struggling to keep up on LAN. I saw your Asus XT8 review and was watching for it to go on sale. This one is $100 cheaper and seems to provide better performance than XT8. For a complete wireless LAN, would you recommend this over the XT8?

    Reply
    • It won’t perform better than the XT8 in a wireless setup, T. My test is for the best-case scenario which you won’t have. Make sure you read the reviews in their entirety and not just look at the numbers etc. So no, go with the XT8, which has a lot more to offer than just Wi-Fi speeds.

      Reply
      • Thanks for this great review, Dong. For a wired backhaul home, is there any combination you’d recommend over the XE75/AXE5300 three pack in the ~$350 territory? I was considering the Asus XT8 or TP Link X90 until reading your article against a non-6e tri-band setup with a wired configuration. My internet is only 400/10 (cable internet). My home is around 4,900sqft (2,450 on two levels) with plaster walls. Thanks

        Reply
  9. Hi,

    Thank you for the great reviews! Just got these as well in a 3 pack and I am using the 6HZ band for the wireless backhaul with a fiber connection. I can get 700 plus download speeds but the upload speeds never seem to cross over the 250 plus mark. Any reasons for why this might be?

    Kris

    Reply
  10. You can remove the _6Ghz from the 6ghz SSID after saving. For me it added automatically, but then after removing and saving again, it works. That gives you all three bands on same SSID, which most people would likely want.

    Reply
    • Yeap, Ai, and I mentioned that in the review. But this band still exists as a separate network (and not part of the SmartConnect of the other two).

      Reply

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