The Archer AX21 is a dual-band AX1800 router that hits maximum (theoretical) data rates of 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 1,201 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. It supports most of the latest Wi-Fi 6 technologies, including OFDMA transmission, WPA3 encryption, MU-MIMO data streaming, and direct signal beamforming to the client. Unlike the ZTE AX3000 Pro, however, the AX21 does not support 160 MHz channel transmission. It does, however, support OneMesh technology, which allows the AX21 to be used with other compatible routers and extenders to create a mesh network.
It is one of the few TP-Link routers that does not offer HomeShield parental control and anti-malware protection. Instead, it offers basic parental controls that allow you to set daily and weekly time limits and create blocked and allowed lists of websites. You apply these and other settings using TP-Link’s Tether mobile app or web console; you will need the latter to access advanced settings such as NAT forwarding, IPv6, and DHCP server settings.
802.11ax is the latest version of the wireless transmission protocol commonly referred to as Wi-Fi; industry experts who maintain the Wi-Fi protocol decided that the 802.11 code, which specifies different generations of the standard, was too confusing for consumers to keep track of, and designated the latest version as Wi-Fi 6 (the sixth major generation of Wi-Fi). This means that older 802.11ac generation devices can now also be referred to as Wi-Fi 5 hardware.
Like all TP-Link routers, the AX21 will be operated by Android and iOS devices using TP-Link’s Tether app. Doing so makes setup a bit simpler (and less intimidating for networking novices) than logging in via the router’s IP address in a web browser. Specifically, after connecting and turning on the router, open the app, connect to the router’s network, and select a network name and password. That’s basically all there is to it.