WiFi Mesh systems are in trend these days, with some of the best systems coming from the house of TP-Link. For those who are new to WiFi Mesh systems, they essentially tower-like structures that pair together across your home and provide uninterrupted internet supply everywhere you go in your home.
WiFi Mesh systems are a better solution to the homemade Wifi extenders which do a decent job of giving you extended Wifi coverage but are not exactly the best solution.
In this article, we will be doing a complete review of TP-Link’s new offering, the TP-Link Deco AX3000 Wifi Mesh system.
What is the TP-Link Deco AX3000?
Like most entries in the Deco lineup, the Deco AX3000 is a three-tower Wifi Mesh bundle, where one acts as the primary node while the others serve as bridges.
TP-Link has ensured that customers avoid confusion by changing the design of the Deco AX3000 into cylindrical boxes (measuring 110mm in width and 114 mm in height).
How Do I set it up?
TP-Link is known to make Wifi accessories and routers which are super simple to set up, and the AX3000 is no different.
- Download the Deco app on your smartphone
- Sign in or sign up with a TP-Link account
- The app will then detect the primary Wifi unit
In a few moments, you will be all set up. The average set up time, in this case, is just around 10 minutes.
The good news here is that you do not have to individually pair the remaining Wifi nodes. Just set up the primary and connect the remaining to a power outlet. In a few seconds, they will become part of the mesh.
Now, before we move on to the next section of the review, it is good to know, that logging into the app with a TP-Link account means that the nodes are connected to TP-Link at all times. This further means that you are effectively controlling your internet home network through TP-Link.
Keeping it simple on the web –
TP-Link delivers a very easy to use web interface. If the Deco app is not operating the way it is supposed to, you can access all those features right from your desktop browser by heading to tplinkdeco.net and logging in with your TP-Link Credentials.
Here again, the information is only read-only. This means that you cannot make any changes to your Wifi mesh setup using the web app.
Hopefully, a firmware update will fix this problem and we will be able to control the mesh completely from the web app as well.
Dual-Band System with wired backhaul support –
The TP-Link AX3000 is not available for purchase in single towers, so you will have to purchase the whole set irrespective of how many towers you want to use at your home.
You can even use just one primary node in case you have a small residence, but you will still have to purchase the whole set.
Each AX3000 tower features two auto-sensing Gigabit networking ports. The port which connects to the internet source is automatically set to a WAN port while the remaining ports become LAN ports.
The AX3000 is a dual-band system, in the sense that the satellite system will have to deal with issues such as signal loss. However, if you use a network cable to link the units together, then you can expect the same top-notch performance across the mesh.
Great Network customization setup –
The Deco app offers great, yet to the point network customization settings. This includes Dynamic DNS, Port forwarding, IP reservations, and much much more.
You also have the SIP ALG setting that is bundled in, and this is really useful if you are planning to use voice over IP. However, please note that there is no support for VPN servers.
The simple UI of the Deco app makes these settings easy to access and you should have no problems breezing through the various options and setting up your network, exactly the way you want it.
One thing that is sorely lacking in this package is the Wifi settings. Other than changing the username and password, turning on/off the nodes, and managing guest accounts, there is nothing more you can do as far is customizing the Wifi settings are concerned.
The Homecare Suite now on subscription –
The Homecare suite that is on offer with the Ax3000 is great, especially when you consider all the parental controls that it offers. The catch, however, is that now, the Homecare Suite is now a subscription. While most competitors offer equivalent packages free of cost, TP-Link has decided that the customers must now pay for the Homecare Suite, after a 3 month trial period. The cheery on top for TP-Link is that the subscription cycle begins immediately after the 3-month free period ends.
Coming to the performance of the TP-Link AX3000, we have seen claims from the company that the Ax3000 mesh system supports 160 MHz channel width to deliver close to 2.4 Gbps of 2×2 Wifi connections. These numbers proved to be just half when we put them to the test, notching only 1.2 Gbps. Now, while there may be many arguments regarding this outcome, the one we want to believe is that the AX3000 has been designed to favor compatibility over speed, and since there are no Wifi settings that we can utilize to change this behavior, we have to be ready for such unexpected eventualities.
As a stand-alone router, the AX3000 does churn out some decent numbers. On the close range, we experienced sustained speeds of up to 710Mbps, but when we moved a little farther off, the speed trailed off to around 450 Mbps.
The performance on a 2.4 GHz band is not very different but when you compare it to the competition, the AX3000 has a lot of catching up to do.
As a Wifi Mesh system, the AX3000 is the slowest in the bracket when it comes to Wifi 6 Wifi mesh systems. The signal loss experienced is significant and can be frustrating at times.
Coming to the spread of network signal, the AX3000 gives you a consistent and uninterrupted signal over 5000 square feet, which is quite less than the on-paper figure of 7000 square feet. It’s decent but again, not the best.
All in all, the TP-Link Deco AX3000 Wifi Mesh system is a great buy if you are looking for a mesh system on a below $350 budget. However, keep in mind that in this price range, you will find many capable competitors, who offer more than the AX3000 for a comparable or lesser price. The only thing going for it here is the TP-Link brand reliability, which in itself is a guarantee of durability and consistent performance.