TP-Link has announced pre-orders for their first 802.11ax router - the 8-stream Archer AX6000, along with technical details, pricing, and other information. In addition, a higher-end model, the Archer AX11000 is slated to become available in January 2019.

Most of the leading consumer networking vendors have already announced their first-generation 802.11ax routers lineup. In fact, Netgear and Asus already have their units available for purchase or pre-orders. Today, TP-Link is announcing their corresponding lineup for the North American market.

Traditionally, the flagship routers from TP-Link have been based on Qualcomm silicon, but, the company has opted to go in with Broadcom-based platforms for their first two 802.11ax products. The entry-level product from all the vendors is based on the Broadcom 8-stream platform (one 4x4 5 GHz radio, and one 4x4 2.4 GHz radio). For the high-end, Netgear opted for the Qualcomm-based 12-stream platform (one 8x8 5 GHz radio, and one 4x4 2.4 GHz radio). However, TP-Link, like Asus, has gone in with Broadcom for their high-end AX11000 router too. This product adopts a tri-band design, with two 4x4 5 GHz radios and one 4x4 2.4 GHz radio.

The benefits of Wi-Fi 6 have been brought out in multiple articles before, but, it is important to have a recap for context:

  • Availability of both uplink and downlink OFDMA (orthogonal frequency-division multiple access) to improve spectral efficiency
  • Usage of both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands (unlike the 5 GHz-only 802.11ac standard)
  • Standardization of 1024-QAM and and making MU-MIMO a mandatory feature (dissimilar to its optional downlink-only nature in 802.11ac Wave-2)

Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11ax doesn't target peak data-rates, but, improves the aggregate performance over several simultaneously active clients. The OFDMA-enabled simultaneous transmission to several users results in increased efficiency. Thanks to the lowered waiting time, the battery life of client devices also increases.

The first 802.11ax product to ship from TP-Link will be the Archer AX6000 router based on the Broadcom BCM49408 SoC with two 802.11ax radios - the BCM43684. The BCM49408 has a 1.8 GHz quad-core ARMv8 processor (Cortex A53) supplemented by a 800 MHz network packet co-processor that keeps the main CPU free for other tasks. The radios are in a 4x4:4 configuration, with one dedicated to 2.4 GHz duties (bgn+ax, with 40 MHz channels for 1148 Mbps of theoretical throughput), and another dedicated to the 5 GHz channel (an+ac+ax, with 160 MHz channel support for 4804 Mbps of theoretical throughput).

The high-end product, the AX11000 is a tri-band platform, with the same BCM49408 SoC. Attached to this SoC, we have three BCM43684 radios in 4x4:4 configuration - two dedicated to 5 GHz, and one to 2.4 GHz duties. TP-Link is aiming to target the gaming market with this product. The integrated 'Game Accelerator' QoS and the tagging of one of the 5 GHz radios as '5G_Gaming' along with a gamers-focused UI are some of the marketable features to please the gamers.

Both routers come with 1GB of RAM, a 2.5 Gbps WAN port, 8x gigabit LAN ports, and two USB 3.0 ports (1x Type-A, and 1x Type-C). They also support link aggregation, band steering, and DFS. The setup and usage process is being made user-friendly thanks to the Tether app that allows for initial configuration using Bluetooth. The routers also come with a 3-year subscription to the TP-Link HomeCare security feature (operated in partnership with TrendMicro).

The Archer AX6000 is available for pre-order on Amazon for $350. The Archer AX11000 will be available towards the end of January 2019 at a price point of $450.

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  • wr3zzz - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    I agree with the numerical advantage of antennas necessitating the resulting spider form factor. I however do not trust TP-Link in their antenna claims. The firm has long marketed more-is-better when it comes to antenna which is not true, and in its early days was known to attach useless antennas in some of their China only models.
  • pixelstuff - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    I'd like to know how these absurd looking units compare to something like the Ubiquti UAP-HD units?
  • GTRagnarok - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    I actually like the "dead spider" look.
  • Makaveli - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    You've had to be a sucker to buy these Draft AX routers with no AX clients out.

    Looking at you GAMERS!
  • Gunbuster - Wednesday, December 12, 2018 - link

    Meh, real gamers know you cant beat copper.
  • Xajel - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    I'm just waiting for Ubiquiti to release their ax UniFi AP.
  • bcronce - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    I got my first product of their, an AC Pro. Best wifi AP I've ever owned. Ubiquiti is currently the only brand I will purchase wifi from.
  • Sahrin - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    If you're designing an entirely new MAC for a router in 2018, why in god's name would you put 1999's GbE MAC in it.
  • peevee - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    Given that most users have Internnet connection in 25-100Mbps range and over-300Mbps is not even available in majority of US markets, why the hell the speeds are needed at home? Even n can serve that. Even if you have a private NAS and a collection of 4k movies on it (~0% of the market), n still can serve that. Let alone ac.
    And then they have 4Gbps on WiFi and 1GbE. 8x of that old... stuff. Nonsense.
  • Cogman - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    Primary reason to want this is if you are a multi-device home or hosting WiFi lan parties.

    These high speed protocols also include better handling of interference from other devices. So, you might think that "Hey, I have 11Gbps to share, so with 2 devices that means I have 5.5gbps per device!" But that isn't how it works. While the two devices are shouting at the router, they are canceling out each others messages. Overcoming this requires extra overhead with the router, which means with 2 devices it is more realistic to get around 4gbps per device when both are actively using the network.

    This only gets worse as you add more devices.

    So yes, for a single person/single device home. It is overkill. But if you have a home where 1 person is using the nas, another is gaming, and another is watching netflix. You are going to end up with a lot less bandwidth than you counted on.

    That being said, probably still overkill to some extent. But not the level you might think.

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