Review Three Wi-Fi 6 Routers Under $100 Reviewed

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Product Review

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Wi-Fi 6 Performance Roundup: Five Routers Tested
Is a sub-$100 Wi-Fi 6 router worth buying? We look at three examples to find out.

Read on SmallNetBuilder
 
Last edited:

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
I might test and add it to the Charts and Ranker. But I would not do a full review on it.
 

TheLostSwede

Senior Member
What would be nice to see a mention of in the reviews is something about firmware updates/support from the manufacturer.
Looking at these three units, Netgear has released 13 updates since admittedly October 2019, but TP-Link has only managed three since October 2020 for the AX20 and December 2020 for the AX10.
It gives something of an indication how well the manufacturer supports said product and what can be expected in terms of future support from the manufacturer.

The point is that with more and more attempts at creating botnets and what not, buying a product that gets regular security updates is getting more and more important, although I understand it's impossible to protect against every possible attack vector, even as consumers, we have to do our part to keep our tech up to date and it's impossible when a manufacturer doesn't care enough about their own products or customers to provide security updates for their products as a bare minimum. As for how long this period should be can be discussed, but I think five years is a reasonable time span for a router.

My person experience with TP-Link is that you get three firmware updates per hardware revision and then they move on with a new firmware revision and drop the olds one like a hot potato.
I have a range extender from them that is quite buggy, but the revision I own was dropped from their support and there's nothing I can do about it. It was close to $100 when I got it and it's just really frustrating.
I had a previous acceptable experience with TP-Link and it's why I bought it, but it's most likely the last TP-Link product I'll ever buy.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
What would be nice to see a mention of in the reviews is something about firmware updates/support from the manufacturer.
I agree that would be nice, as would a measure of reliability. However, it's not practical for me to track and compile such information.

I do agree, in general, TP-Link and D-Link update their firmware much less often. ASUS is probably the most frequent updater, with NETGEAR next most frequent.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I would suggest a 'far distant' second.

Asus is ahead of the entire pack here, by far.
 

TheLostSwede

Senior Member
I agree that would be nice, as would a measure of reliability. However, it's not practical for me to track and compile such information.

I do agree, in general, TP-Link and D-Link update their firmware much less often. ASUS is probably the most frequent updater, with NETGEAR next most frequent.
Oh, I didn't mean for you to track it, only at the time of the review.
I understand that keeping track of it would be way too much work.

Asus really depends on the model. The ones that they're under FCC obligation to update, they seem to be quite good at getting sorted, but there are "lesser" models that aren't sold in the US market that seem to get zero updates.
Here's a good example of one of those models.
Two firmwares last year, one of which was the launch firmware, zero this year.
It might not be a product anyone reading your site would invest in anyhow, but I just wanted to point out that Asus is far from perfect.
That is still a $115 router, so not nearly as cheap as any of the ones in this review.

I would suggest a 'far distant' second.

Asus is ahead of the entire pack here, by far.
Netgear seems to have stepped up their game to be honest, even though they might not be as proactive as I would like at times.
However, we shouldn't have to choose between two companies when it comes to buying a router, instead I would like the rest of the competition to step up and act responsibly. You can't charge people big bucks and then just drop support because you made a minor hardware revision where you changed the RAM or flash, like what TP-Link does so often. Even TP-Link has routers that cost upwards of $300 and even those products don't appear to get any better support. If you're lucky, you might be able to run an alternative firmware on them, but it really shouldn't be like this in 2021.
 

Tech9

Very Senior Member
Here's a good example of one of those models. (RT-AC59U V2)
That is still a $115 router, so not nearly as cheap as any of the ones in this review.

This is one of multiple Asus models with FCC ID MSQ-RTACRH01, can be found under $50 on sale. Good for cheap AC1200 class AP.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Netgear has not 'stepped' up their game enough for me. Now, @Voxel has stepped up the NG routers he supports. :)
 

TheLostSwede

Senior Member
This is one of multiple Asus models with FCC ID MSQ-RTACRH01, can be found under $50 on sale. Good for cheap AC1200 class AP.
I guess that depends on which country you live in.
Not a product I would buy considering the lack of support by Asus.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
It's not the hardware that I feel let down by NG. It's their woeful firmware/software/package decisions.
 

Dragnet.nu

New Around Here
How usable are these units for use as a 5 GHz WiFi bridge? I have my NAS for backup in another building connected via 2.4 GHz. Thinking of upgrading this trunk to 5GHz.
In order for this to work for me the antennas must be removable as I would connect it to an external antenna.
(When looking at the pictures, it does not seem like the Netgear has any removable antenna.)
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
None of the products in the review have removable antennas. Only the RAX20 supports Wireless Bridge mode. So, none are usable given your need to connect to another antenna.
 

anotherengineer

Regular Contributor
At $54 that RAX20 would be nice for a backup or AP or budget network, however most places are listing them from 80-140$ now.

And most places in Canada it’s more expensive than the Asus AC86u so more than $200. lol

bummer
 

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