Reviews

TP-LINK Archer AX20 AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 Router Review – Low cost of ownership

TP-LINK Archer AX20

RM279.00
8.2

Build Quality

8.5/10

Hardware Specification

8.0/10

Features

7.5/10

User Experience

8.0/10

Value

9.0/10

Advantages

  • Affordable
  • Utilizes latest 802.11ax protocol
  • Refreshed design
  • Centralized management
  • Decent wireless experience
  • Customizable feature
  • Non-overheating operation

Disadvantages

  • No OpenVPN client
  • Inferior features

TP-LINK Archer AX20 is an entry-level Wi-Fi 6 router from consumer networking gear provider, TP-LINK. The Archer AX20 costs RM 20 more than the Archer AX10 with extra processing core than its youngest sibling with a powerful processor.

Figure 1: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Introduction.
Figure 1: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Introduction.

Archer AX20 features a quad-core Broadcom BCM6755 clocked at 1.5GHz. Unlike other AX routers in the market with higher cost of ownership, the Archer AX20 targeted towards B40 group.

Figure 2: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Standard accessories.
Figure 2: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Standard accessories.

Standard supplied accessories are a unit of Archer AX20, a power adapter, a user-manual, a CAT 5E cable and a warranty card.

Figure 3: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Front view.
Figure 3: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Front view.

The Archer AX20 comes with four non-removable antennas. Well, from my perspective, I personally like the non-removable antenna since it will somehow reduce the wear-and-tear process, say if you are or you may have to remove the antenna from time-to-time, it can somehow damage the RF terminal copper which may lead to unstable wireless signal quality. Also, a few LED indicators present at the front of the router. These LED indicator can be further controlled either through Tether application or web administrative panel.

Figure 3A: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - I/O ports
Figure 3A: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – I/O ports.

Looking at the rear of the unit, it comes with five gigabit capable port with the blue-labelled WAN port. A single USB 2.0 port is available for hosting a print-server or using external storage’s such as a thumb-drive or HDDs. Honestly speaking, I don’t use any of these since this is a big threat for privacy. So a big NO from me.

Figure 5: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Bottom view.
Figure 5: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Bottom view.

The uniquely modded ventilation holes were made for a better heat dissipation from the operating internal components. You don’t really need to invest on an aftermarket USB router cooler to cool down the burning components within.

Specification

The Archer AX20 has the following hardware specification:

Router ModelArcher 20 ver. 1.20
Wireless ClassAX1800
ProcessorBroadcom BCM6755 (1.5 GHz, 4 cores)
Flash Memory16 MiB
RAM256 MiB
Data Rate (802.11ax)5 GHz: 1201 Mbps
2.4 GHz: 574 Mbps
Table 1: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Source 1, Source 2.

The processor powering the Archer AX20 is the same processor that powers RT-AX56U. However, the features offered are pretty basic and suitable for regular home usage. The Archer AX20 is backward compatible, say if you have an older device with older wireless protocol support, you can still access to the internet wirelessly, via the router. The is router suitable for 100 to 500 Mbps users.

User Experience

Figure 6: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Setting up for first use.
Figure 6: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Setting up for first use.

The setting up process is pretty simple. However, since the profile selection, say Malaysia-Unifi, the LAN 1 will be reserved for IPTV by default. So, it is advisable to plug in the cable to any of LAN 2 to 4. If you choose custom profile, indeed you can use the LAN 1 to operate as the internet gateway for PCs or expandable switches.

  • Figure 7: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Network Map
  • Figure 8: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Network Map (CPU & Memory)

The user interface of TP-LINK routers was redesigned with correctly mapped accessible menus. I am not a huge fan of TP-LINK routers since I am more used to ASUS routers, but I must say, TP-LINK did a good job here. Although their UI slightly similar to D-LINK‘s router user interface (only with wording), TP-LINK uses creativity such as proper usage of icons, to guide the non-professional network user to customize the unit as per their requirement.

Figure 9: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Clients List.
Figure 9: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Clients List.

The client list shows the overall connected device. Also, TP-LINK engineers did a great job by providing a detailed information of the current connected client information. Through the interface, you can block unwanted devices from hogging your network bandwidth.

Figure 10: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Wireless Settings.
Figure 10: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Wireless Settings.

Whenever I set up a router for first use, the first feature I will go through is the wireless settings and turning off unwanted features as WPS and UPNP. Unfortunately, these features were enabled by default, hence you may have to manually disable this feature later on. Although I highlighted the disadvantages of this router just now, on the other hand, the Archer AX20 supports WPA3 encryption protocol by default. A secure wireless encryption protocol succeeding WPA2. Smart connect is a feature will combine both bands to a single SSID and steers the best band for your device and proven to be effective for best wireless performance. I personally don’t like to use the feature since the only wireless client using the 2.4 GHz band is my wireless printer, which I only enable through mobile application when needed.

  • Figure 11: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Wireless throughput test (802.11ac mode)
  • Figure 12: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Wireless throughput test (802.11ax mode)

Archer AX20 utilizes the latest 802.11ax (WiFi 6) wireless specification standards. I don’t have any mobile WiFi 6 clients on my side apart from my very own TP-LINK’s Archer TX3000E WiFi 6 client. I performed the wireless throughput test over a peak hour (as per seen in the Figure 11 and Figure 12 on above), I am still able to get over 500Mbps through 802.11ac mode and 700Mbps through 802.11ax mode. The test bench computer is located 10 meters away from the router and separated by two rooms. I must say, that is a good wireless speed with a proper client.

Figure 13: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Network Status (Advanced)
Figure 13: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Network Status (Advanced).

In order to see the network status in detail such as the current leased public IP or preferred DNS server, the settings can be accessed via Advanced > Network > Status.

Figure 14: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - DHCP Server.
Figure 14: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – DHCP Server.

I am basically a privacy driven guy. Being a guy who knows the danger of the online world, I’ve personally set my very own black-hole for the internet advertisement, back in my home. However, the setting up process for TP-LINK routers is quite tricky and requires advance technical knowledge. Since I couldn’t bind my pi-hole IP address to the DNS section under Advance > Network > Internet, I have to disable the DHCP server and bind my pihole IP as default gateway. As per current time, I don’t experience any issues with pihole or with the Archer AX20.

Figure 15: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Parental Controls.
Figure 15: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Parental Controls.

The parental control features allow you to take control all over your home network (as mentioned in the Figure 20 and Figure 21). You can create a list of profiles and filter the specific keywords and URLs before setting up the access time to the internet. This feature is quite properly designed by TP-LINK, and it is easy to setup and understandable for novice users.

Figure 16: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - QoS Settings.
Figure 16: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – QoS Settings.

I am not a huge fan of QoS settings and often leave the feature, disabled. The QoS settings provided in the Archer AX20 are pretty basic and almost…useless.

Figure 17: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Security Features.
Figure 17: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Security Features.

Unlike Archer AX50, the Archer AX20 doesn’t feature HomeCare Security Solutions powered by Trend Micro. But it does have a decent firewall protection and a few security features such as IP and MAC binding. Although MAC binding not really recommended by cyber-security experts, it can somehow reduce the chances of MAC spoofing (or sometime commonly referred as IP spoofing) done by the cybercriminals if properly taken care off via a few steps of security measures.

Figure 18: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - VPN Server.
Figure 18: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – VPN Server.

VPNs are the most crucial requirement for a safer internet experience. TP-LINK does embed this feature in the firmware. However, only VPN servers covering OpenVPN and PPTP features were present. There are no VPN clients embedded in the firmware which is a huge letdown. On a brighter side, embedding a VPN client in the router is quite dangerous if improperly tuned. I still prefer to use individual VPN clients for each device unless the VPN provider allows infinite number of connections at one time.

Figure 19: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - IPv6 Settings.
Figure 19: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – IPv6 Settings.

Another feature I would like to share in the review is the IPv6 feature. The setting up process is quite tricky and you can use the image on above as a guide on how to tweak the IPv6 to utilize the protocol for a smoother internet experience. The IPv6 feature, works. Being a protective privacy driven guy, I opt for Cloudflare‘s Family DNS service to censor malware sites and adult contents.

Figure 20: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Administration settings.
Figure 20: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Administration settings.

I must share this feature through my review today. The remote management feature was disabled by default. Now this is a plus point for a standard home router. Another interesting feature is the local management through a specified device to only manage the router through web-interface. This is a good point to highlight the advantages of the Archer AX20. If you’re strict towards your family member’s online activity, you can fully take advantage of this feature.

Figure 21: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - TP-LINK Tether Application.
Figure 21: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – TP-LINK Tether Application.

The beauty of Tether application is, it allows a more controlled management through a central method. The application is available for the public download through Google Play and Apple’s Apps Store. It is not fancy as ASUS Router App mobile application, but it gets the job, done. For a novice user, the features provided is quite straightforward and correctly mapped. You can easily access to each feature individually to be customized. In order to access to the Tether app, you should have a TP-LINK’s Cloud ID account.

Figure 22: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - TP-LINK Cloud ID.
Figure 22: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – TP-LINK Cloud ID.

The Tether application will require an active Cloud ID account to bind the router and your smartphone through a cloud-based service. This feature is useful if you don’t like to use the standard web interface and proceed to customize the settings as per the requirement. If you don’t like the feature, you can just sign off from the Cloud ID and manage everything through a manual method (refer Figure 20).

Conclusion

Now, allow me to summarize the review of Archer AX20. The Archer AX20 can be considered the best WiFi 6 router available under RM300. Although its bigger brother selling like hot cake, the Archer AX20 is on the other hand, offers a few basic features that can be used for a normal home usage.

Figure 23: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review - Conclusion.
Figure 23: TP-LINK Archer AX20 Review – Conclusion.

The stability of the router is the most convincing aspect for me to value a router before published for the public view. The firmware running is the stock firmware dated 2020-04-09. The Archer AX20 is stable and able to withstand extensive internet sessions such as torrenting, streaming and even participating in a virtual engagement, wirelessly. I also running a pair of NAS with active torrenting session 24/7 and, never faced any issues or random reboots yet. Certainly, I can recommend the Archer AX20 over Huawei’s WiFi AX3. I couldn’t cramp each feature in the review, I would strongly suggest to go through the provided emulator by TP-LINK to play through the model. I bought a unit of Archer AX20 for myself and will use the unit for a quite sometime and let my gaming router to hibernate before put it to a proper use, soon.

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