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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  • The Chill Blueberry - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    In 2030, the top "gaming" router will be just a ball with 62 antennas. Reply
  • Hxx - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    yeah I do think the red one needs more antennas. they could probably squeeze a couple more on each side. Reply
  • milkywayer - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    I've one of their $200+ models which is now discontinued. The software is barely OK for something so expensive.

    Its missing basic UX measures like in some lists where I've assigned static IPs to over 30 devices, it just shows the IP address and mac address.. good luck figuring out which is which.

    Or an option to view bandwidth usage over a time period...which ddwrt has had for several years.

    meh.
    Reply
  • Death666Angel - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    Turns out, the Goa'uld are already among us, they are just really tiny. :D Reply
  • Gunbuster - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    Wrong, the 2030 model will be shaped like Dr. Elizabeth Weir. Reply
  • cosmotic - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    Would it kill these companies to make their hardware look like something other than a space ship? Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    The spider design comes from the need to have lots of antennas for the feature sets they support, and the need for the antennas to be vertically oriented. (They're dipole antennas, which means they radiate to the sides not the tip or base.) If it was smooth box a lot of people would stick it on its side and have terrible coverage as a result. The same problem exists with foldable antennas that get dropped to make it fit on a small shelf, or because they're ugly, or just get knocked down and never stood back up. Keeping costs from being even more astronomical is also why they use standard length antennas not the more expensive sort you see in enterprisy mount to the ceiling models. Reply
  • Wardrop - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    Would a cylinder or tall rectangle not be a more logical and aesthetically pleasing design? Reply
  • wr3zzz - Monday, December 10, 2018 - link

    D-Link (cylinder) Asus (rectangle). I'll take either before TP-Link. Reply
  • 0ldman79 - Tuesday, December 11, 2018 - link

    More aesthetically pleasing yet less technically capable.

    You need as much of a gap and different orientation of the antenna as possible for the multiple streams to work effectively.

    In outdoor equipment one antenna is horizontally polarized and the other is vertically polarized. That seems to be a bit of a limit to date, two chains and two streams for long range stuff.

    For indoor links the physical separation of the antennas seems to be enough until you get to the extremes of the range, but by then you usually don't have the signal quality to really get the higher speeds any more anyway. The second/third/fourth antenna and radio chains are then used primarily for error correction and improving single chain data rates when signal is weak.
    Reply

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