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TP-Link TL-WR1502X Review (vs. Asus RT-AX57 Go): A Decent Pocket-Size Wi-Fi 6 Travel Router

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Summer is here, and if you’re looking for a compact travel router to bring on the go, the TP-Link TL-WR1502X, first available on May 29, can be a handy option. It’s a little AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 machine to keep your devices securely connected while you’re out and about, domestically or internationally.

Here’s the bottom line: while the new travel router might be far from perfect, it definitely has more than enough to justify its street price of $60, which is less than half the Asus RT-AX57 Go‘s cost. But depending on the situation, that could mean you get what you pay for.

Dong’s note: I first published this piece on May 29, 2024, as a preview and updated it to an in-depth review on June 17, 2024, after thorough hands-on testing.

The TP Link TL WR1502X comes with a USB C charger
The TP-Link TL-WR1502X travel router includes a USB C charger.

TP-Link TL-WR1502X: A modest level of on-the-go connection options

Like the Asus RT-AX57 Go, the TP-Link-WR1502X is a Wi-Fi 6 router. However, it’s a really modest one with support for the standard only on the 5GHz band and only the lowest tier.

On the 2.4GHz band, it uses Wi-Fi 4. To be fair, there are minor differences (if at all) for this band, in terms of throughput speeds and whatnot, between the two Wi-Fi standards.

Additionally, and more significantly, the TP-Link uses a USB 2.0 port for its cellular option. That means it will have the cellular throughput capping at the theoretical 480Mbps (per the USB standard), with the real-world performance being markedly lower than that. In contrast, the Asus uses a USB 3.2 Gen 1 (formerly USB 3.0), which has a ceiling speed of 5Gbps.

The table below shows the hardware specs of the two.

Travel routers TP Link TL WR1502X vs. Asus RT AX57 GoThe TP Link TL WR1502X has two Gigabit network ports and a USB 2.0 port
Here’s the TL-WR1502X while sitting on top of its rival, the slightly larger Asus RT-AX57 Go. Note the differences between their ports.

TP-Link TL-WR1502X vs. Asus RT-AX57 Go

TP Link TL WR1502X FrontAsus RT-AX57 Go Travel Router
Full NameTP-Link TL-WR1502X AX1500 Wi-Fi 6 Travel RouterAsus RT-AX57 Go AX3000 Dual Band WiFi 6 (802.11ax) Travel Router
ModelTL-WR1502XRT-AX57 Go
Dimensions4.09 × 3.54 × 1.10 in
(104 × 90 × 28 mm)
4.72 x 4.72 x .85 in  
(120 x 120x 21.5 mm)
Weight5.4 oz (153 g)7.1 oz (200 g)
Processing PowerUndisclosedDual-core 1.3GHz SoC, 
256 MB Flash, 512 MB RAM
Wi-Fi TechnologyDual-Band AX1500Dual-band AX3000
1st Band2.4GHz 2×2 Wi-Fi 4
Up to 300Mbps
2.4GHz 2×2 Wi-Fi 5
Up to 600Mbps
(20/40 MHz)
2nd Band5GHz 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 Up to 1.2 Gbps
(20/40/80MHz)
5GHz 2×2 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 2.4 Gbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac 
Wireless Security WPA, WPA2, WPA3
Built-in Cellular ModemNone
Mobile AppTP-Link TetherAsus Router
Web User InterfaceYesYes
(open-source AsusWRT)
Networking FeaturesAdvanced VPN (OpenVPN, PPTP, L2TP, WireGuard) Server and Client,
Device-based QoS,
Dynamic DNS
All Asus Routers’ Core Features, for example:
Advanced VPN
(WireGuard and OpenVPN server or client supported)
AiProtection
Parental Control
QoS
AiMesh
Operating RolesRouter Mode
Access Point Mode
Range Extender Mode
USB Tethering Mode
3G/4G USB Modem Mode
Client Mode
Hotspot Mode (WISP Mode)
Mobile hotspot (via a tether cellular mode/phone)
Wi-Fi (AiMesh) router/(AiMesh node)
Wi-Fi repeater (WISP mode),
Wi-Fi bridge,
Wi-Fi access point
Firmware Version
(at review)
1.0.0 Build 20240109 rel.69467(5553)3.0.0.6.102_22188
USB Port1x USB-C (power)
1x USB 2.0 port (cellular tethering and storage)
1x USB-C (power)
1x USB 3.0 (all USB-related features)
Gigabit Port1x LAN, 1x WAN
Multi-Gig PortNone
Dual-WANNoYes (WAN+LAN/USB)
Link AggregationNo
Power IntakeUSB-PD via USB-C
(9V minimum)
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
105 Wh 130 Wh
US Price
(at launch)
$59.99$129.99
Hardware specifications: TP-Link TL-WR1502X vs. Asus RT-AX57 Go
The TP Link TL WR1502X has a fast switching button one left sideThe underside of the TP Link TL WR1502X
The left side and underside of the TP-Link TL-WR1502X. Note the fast role-switching button.

A familiar TP-Link router

As shown on the charts, the TL-WR1502X is also similar to the Asus RT-AX57 Go in the sense that it’s a mini version of a TP-Link Archer router.

Specifically, it comes with a web user interface, accessible via the default 192.168.0.1 IP address, and an optional Tether mobile app. I prefer the former, but you can use it either for the initial setup or ongoing management. In other words, you can handle it the way you do any standard router.

TP Link TL WR1502x Operation Role Selection During Initial Setup
You can pick the TP-Link TL-WR1502x operation mode during the initial setup process or use the web user interface for that at any time.

Designed for mobile use, the router can work as a standard router, a Wi-Fi repeater, a WISP router, or host a cellular modem (or a smartphone) via its USB 2.0 ports. You have the option to pick between these roles during the initial setup process, or you can switch between them at any time using the web user interface. Additionally, the router comes with a hardware switch on the side for fast switching between the router and AP/RE mode (the interface handles the detailed option of each).

The gist is that you can use the TL-WR1502X with any existing Internet source, including a Wi-Fi network with a captive portable authentication, and then share that with multiple devices securely via its own local Wi-Fi network. The fact that it uses USB-C for powering means you can also use it with a standard 9V power adapter of any other USB-C gadget, making it a versatile device to use on the go. (The router requires USB Power Delivery standard and needs 9V or higher–it will not work with most power banks).

When traveling, using a VPN is generally recommended. On this front, the TL-WR1502X, like the Asus, gives you lots of options. You can use it as a server or a client to connect to an existing server and automatically make all of your devices part of the VPN network.

In short, if you have used a TP-Link Archer router before, you’ll find yourself right at home with the TL-WR1502X. It’s, in fact, a mini Archer router with built-in support for WISP mode and cellular tethering.

TP Link TL WR1502x Wi Fi SettingsTP Link TL WR1502x VPN Server
The TP-Link TL-WR1502X shares a similar web user interface with other TP-Link Archer routers. It comes with multiple VPN options and the same Wi-Fi settings.

Performance

I tested the TL-WR1502X for a couple of days, and it generally worked as intended. Considering the Gigabit ports and the entry-level Wi-Fi bands, the router has a modest bandwidth that caps at sub-Gigabit. But generally, that’s fast enough for a mobile solution since the on-the-go Internet is generally much slower than that.

Speaking of slow Internet, it’s important to note right away, as mentioned before, that the router has limited Internet speed when hosting a cellular modem or tethered smartphone. Specifically, I’ve never gotten Intenet faster than 70Mbps out of my Pixel 8 Pro with a 5G plan, which could get over a few hundred Mbps when tested on its own. That was likely because the USB 2.0 port was slow after overhead, which is not surprising for this dated USB standard.

TP Link TL WR1502X Wi Fi Long Range PerformanceTP Link TL WR1502X Wi Fi Close Range Performance

The point is, if you intend to share a cellular connection on the go, the TP-Link TL-WR1502X, though functional, is not the ideal option. I’d go with the Asus RT-AX57 Go, which could deliver cellular speed in full via tethering, in my experience.

Other than that, as a mobile router, the TL-WR1502X delivered the performance one might expect from its modest Wi-Fi specs, as shown in the charts.

The router had a decent range, which was clearly shorter than the Asus RT-AX57 Go. It’s always tricky to put Wi-Fi coverage in number, but if you have an empty room of around 1000 ft2, the TL-WR1502X’s signal can reach every corner if placed in the middle. It also passed my 1-day stress test without any Wi-Fi disconnection.

TP Link TL WR1502x NAS Write PerformanceTP Link TL WR1502x NAS Read Performance

Like other TP-Link Archer standalone routers, the TL-WR1502X’s USB 2.0 port is capable of hosting an external USB drive to work as a network-attached storage mini server. However, in this case, its performance was just too slow to be meaningful. Generally, this port should only be used for cellular tethering.

Like the case of the Asus RT-AX57 Go, the TP-Link TL-WR1502X remained cool during my testing. It became just slightly warm to the touch.

TP-Link TL-WR1502X's Rating

7.5 out of 10
The TP-Link TL-WR1502X and its retail box
Performance
7 out of 10
Features
7 out of 10
Design
8 out of 10
Value
8 out of 10

Pros

Compact design with good performance.

Useful features tailored to travelers, including multiple operation modes and VPN support

Full web interface with a useful optional mobile app; standard USB-C charging

Cons

Modest Wi-Fi specs, no Multi-Gig ports

No built-in cellular modem or SIM slot; slow USB 2.0-based tethering

No battery option

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a handy device to keep your device securely connected when using a local Internet connection while on the go, the new TP-Link TL-WR1502X is an excellent option. It’s well worth the $60 price tag for a travel router.

However, if you (also) want to share a fast cellular connection between multiple devices or use it as the home router, such as in the case of an RV or a studio, its slow USB 2.0 port can be a deal breaker. In this case, the Asus RT-AX57 Go, with its USB 3.0 port and overall faster performance, is a much better option.

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4 thoughts on “TP-Link TL-WR1502X Review (vs. Asus RT-AX57 Go): A Decent Pocket-Size Wi-Fi 6 Travel Router”

    • I haven’t tested it, Daniel, but yes, generally, that’s the idea of the WISP mode in travel routers, as mentioned in the post.

      Reply

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