With TPLinks renewed interest in offering the best bang for your buck with its new Archer lineup, the A6 takes center stage as a compromise between the entry-level A5 coming in at $39.99 and mid-range A7 at $64.99.
On the hardware side, the A6 takes advantage of the Qualcomm QCA9563 the same SoC used in the more expensive A7. That trend continues through with both the A6 and 7 sharing the same amount of memory at 128M and NAND at 16M. Radios for the A6 include the BGN solution integrated into the SoC which also handles ethernet switching while a secondary QCA9886 handles 2x2 802.11ac duties.
MSRP of the TP-Link Archer A6 comes in at $49.99 with a two-year warranty.
Packaging follows the enhanced colorway of the new Archer lineup. Image of the router offset to the right with marketing to the left.
The spine offers specifications and features.
Included in the box we have the router, power adapter, and ethernet cable.
The exterior of the A6 is a piano black finish, very high gloss. Centered is a panel with power, Wi-Fi, and internet connectivity LEDs.
The backside offers power, reset and WPS to the left side while the single WAN and four LAN are to the right.
Setup starts with setting up SSID and passwords.
We then move into the dashboard, which for the most part, is identical to the Archer A20.
Wireless settings include the ability to disable each band separately and the ability to change SSID or password.
The A6 has a separate parental control interface as well as QoS, whereas HomeCare supported unit have both integrated into one menu.
The QoS menu is much different, allowing only basic setup that includes up and downstream bandwidth.
As for testing, we used our standard process with the test system below. Starting with LAN throughput, we see the A6 coming in at 946Mbps.
The Archer A6 comes in the middle of the pack with wireless throughput with 89Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 534Mbps on 5GHz. That said it does beat out early 802.11ac solutions including the Nighthawk X4 and Linksys 9500.
Mobile throughput had the Archer A6 reaching 464Mbps.
Comparing a range of the Archer A6 to A20 and the AX88U from ASUS, we see solid starting performance at 81Mbps moving to 67Mbp sat 10ft and ending at 63Mbps at 30ft.
5GHz showed solid performance from the A6, starting at 464Mbps at5Ft and 173Mbps at 20ft. At 30Ft we see performance end at 82Mbps just a touch better than the Deco M4 single node setup.
With the Archer A6, TPLink strikes first offering a great performer at an amazingly low price. Build quality isn't the greatest but does its job in protecting the internal components while offering a bit of aesthetic appeal. As mentioned the plastics are glossy black so expect dust to be abundant along with fingerprints if you have a lot of those running around.
As for performance, the Archer A6 does its best and really does quite well for such a low-cost solution. In 2.4GHz we saw decent throughput out to 20ft and 5GHz between 15 and 20Ft. Peak numbers were 465mbps in mobile testing with our iPhone and 534Mbps with our desktop test system.
In closing, the Archer A6 is a solid solution for a dorm, loft, or small apartment less than 1000 sq ft. If you need something with more power you may want to consider the Archer A20, recently reviewed.
Tyler's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Prime Z370 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i3 8350K (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 32GB 4x8GB DDR4 3200 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro H115i (buy from Amazon)
- Case: Corsair Air 540 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Samsung 960 EVO 250GB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM850x (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
- Wi-Fi NIC: ASUS PCE-AC88 (buy from Amazon)
- 10Gbe NIC: ASUS XG-C100C (buy from Amazon)
- Thunderbolt 3: ASUS Thunderbolt EX3 (buy from Amazon)
The Bottom Line
The Archer A6 is a admirable solution and aperfect entry-level upgrade for those moving from legacy 802.11bgn solutions.