TP-Link Archer AX53 review: An affordable router with some high-end tricks
The Archer AX53 from TP-Link is a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router with a low profile and low price. Still, skim the spec sheet and the impression is anything but cheap: in terms of wireless hardware and software features, the AX53 matches rival routers costing twice as much and more.
Has TP-Link found the perfect boon for home networking? We put the AX53 through its paces to find out.
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TP-Link Archer AX53 review: what you need to know
The AX53 clearly comes from the same stable as the old Archer AX50. The physical design is pretty much the same, and the core specs are also the same: four antennas support 4×4 MU-MIMO with a maximum speed of 2.4Gbps on the 5GHz band and a respectable 574Mbps on the 2.4 GHz radio. Like its predecessor, the AX53 also supports the wide channel width of 160 MHz to maximize bandwidth.
There’s no USB support but that’s forgivable on such a cheap router. And you get a full set of four Gigabit Ethernet outlets, plus access to TP-Link’s HomeShield service, which handles network security and advanced parental controls. For £75 it’s very hard to complain.
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TP-Link Archer AX53 review: price and competition
The Archer AX53 is one of the cheapest Wi-Fi 6 routers we’ve seen, but it doesn’t quite take the crown. The basic Honor Router 3 has dropped as low as £40 since it was introduced in 2020 – although it’s no longer officially sold in the UK, the only way to get one now is via market import gray.
In the consumer market, the cheapest option is TP-Link’s Archer AX10 – a slightly smaller sibling to the AX53 that lacks MU-MIMO but drops the price by a dozen. The compact D-Link R15 Eagle Pro AI also undercuts the AX53 to £68 (ASIN: B09FH7BLF5), while the Linksys MR7350 matches the Archer’s £75 price tag and adds a USB 3 port for sharing files on your home network.
If you’re willing to pay a bit more for a router, your best bet is the Asus TUF Gaming AX5400. Don’t be put off by the gamer brand: this router has all the features a household needs, plus solid wireless performance for a reasonable £133.
The best speeds come with a hefty premium though. The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX6000 won us over with download speeds of up to 125MB/s, but will set you back £340 and, if you want to upgrade to the new Wi-Fi 6E standard, the best option we have have tested so far. is the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500; yours for just £550.
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TP-Link Archer AX53 review: Design and features
The Archer AX53 is hardly an intrusive presence; its long, low body has a fairly compact footprint of 260 x 135mm. However, it’s covered in high-gloss black plastic, which makes it more eye-catching than you might think. On the front, six LEDs indicate power, internet status, and more. (although the explanatory icons are difficult to read as they are very small and angled downwards) while on the back these four Gigabit LAN ports are joined by a WAN socket, a WPS button and a power button . It is a basic and functional design.
The software side is more ambitious. The AX53 runs TP-Link’s standard router firmware, with much of the same feature set as the company’s flagship models. This means you not only get port forwarding and QoS controls, but also surprisingly advanced options, such as IPv6 and ALG configuration. Those who really want to take control of their network can configure up to four VLANs and implement static routing.
An inbound VPN server is also provided to allow external access to your home network, and you can give your router a consistent web address using No-IP, DynDNS, or TP-Link’s own DDNS service.
The icing on the cake is TP-Link’s HomeShield service, which provides basic network security scans and lets you configure bedtimes and website filtering for kids’ devices. Upgrade to HomeShield Pro and you get additional protections, such as malicious content filtering and DDoS protection, plus more flexible parental controls and detailed reporting. It’s quite expensive, though, at £54 per year, and it can’t be managed via the web interface – you need to download the TP-Link Tether mobile app and register for an online ID. Along with managing security and parental controls, this app offers a convenient way to check network activity, run a security scan, and more, and it works remotely as well as over a local wireless connection.
One last feature worth mentioning is OneMesh, which allows you to pair the AX53 with other TP-Link routers to create an extended network. It’s a tempting option for a router like this because it means you can grow your network organically by adding low-cost extensions as needed, while still maintaining the convenience of managing everything from one single dashboard.
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TP-Link Archer AX53 review: Performance
To test the Archer AX53’s wireless performance, I set up the router in my home office and connected via Wi-Fi 6 using a laptop with a wireless card installed. Intel AX210 2×2. I then carried the laptop to various locations around the property and measured how quickly I was able to read and write a series of 100MB files to an Asus Drivestor 4 Pro NAS device. , connected to the router via Gigabit Ethernet.
Here are the speeds I’ve seen, along with results from various other routers mentioned above:
Obviously the Archer AX53 is a step up from the AX10 when it comes to download speeds, but it’s about on par with D-Link’s low-cost rivals – a bit faster in the living room, a little slower in the kitchen and bedroom. In the bathroom at the back of the house, the AX53 achieved very respectable download speeds of 15MB/sec.
However, it couldn’t keep up with the Linksys MR7350. This model beat every other router under £100 in every place in my house, its lead only growing the further I got from the base. Considering it’s exactly the same price as the Archer AX53, these are striking results.
It’s true that the Asus TUF Gaming router delivered even better speeds overall, but the extra £58 is a hefty price hike, relatively speaking, and it’s doubtful you’ll really notice the benefit in the daily use. Also note that this router exhibited a severe drop in performance at my home end.
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TP-Link Archer AX53 review: Verdict
It’s hard to call the Archer AX53 a must-have. I found the Linksys MR7350 to offer better download speeds for the exact same price, and while Linksys’ Smart Wi-Fi firmware isn’t as smooth or versatile as TP-Link’s web interface, you do get this handy USB port in addition premium. Meanwhile, for those not so concerned about download speeds, the Archer AX10 or D-Link R15 will get the job done for a few pounds less.
On its own terms, however, the Archer AX53 is a perfectly respectable proposition. If you love the TP-Link brand and have room in your home for a sleek, black Wi-Fi 6 router, there’s no particular reason why it shouldn’t be the one.