Page 3 - Configuration and User Interface
While most users nowadays use routers from their internet service provider, there still is reason to purchase a router separately. Often, those who buy routers separately often look for ones with open-source firmware support, especially for those supporting the Linux-based DD-WRT firmware. There are some who even avoid a router altogether if DD-WRT cannot be installed on it. The Archer AX6000 does not offer functionality with DD-WRT, so what does TP-Link have to offer in its place? To find out, you can start by connecting your device to the TP-Link Archer AX6000. While it is not necessary to have internet access, you will need it to ensure you have the latest firmware updated. You can then navigate to the device's web configuration interface on your computer through your browser of choice. Upon first login, you will go through a quick setup, which allows you to set initial settings. Alternatively, you could download the TP-Link Tether app from Apple App Store or Google Play. The Tether app generally provides the same basic configuration settings, but we will be stepping through the web browser option in this review.
After the initial setup, you will be greeted first with the basic setup page, which gives you access to essential settings. This area is simpler and makes getting to the necessary settings easier. The first page is called Network Map, which shows all the connected devices, wired or wireless, and USB drives, as well as the Internet status. The rest of the pages can be entered by the left side tabs. Under Internet tab, this page shows the connection type and whether you want to clone your current computer's MAC address. The third tab is labeled Wireless, which gives users the ability to change the SSID and password for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks in addition to enabling or disabling them altogether. The USB Sharing page allows for basic configuration of the USB devices attached. The HomeCare tab allows for configuration of Parental Controls, such as whitelisting or blacklisting content restrictions and changing devices that these lists will be affected by. Quality of service and antivirus options can also be set here. The section marked Guest Network is exactly as you would expect, letting you setup additional guest networks with simple modifications. TP-Link Cloud is where you can access your home network resources with TP-Link's cloud services. All in all, these basic settings should be sufficient for most daily users, and I do like the fact they have separated this out for quick accessibility.
However, not all readers here are sipping their pumpkin spiced lattes, as many are more than basic users. Instead, the next tab over on the top is labeled Advanced, giving users more customized changes. This may not necessarily be as in-depth or detailed as what you may find in DD-WRT, but they do offer a good amount of functionality changes. On this first tab, you can immediately see more information that covers the router and devices connected.
Under Network, you can see more information with the ability to change Internet, LAN, IPTV, DHCP server, dynamic DNS, and static routing settings. Operation Mode can be found underneath where you can toggle the AX6000 to operate either as a router or as an access point. Enabling the router to act as an access point will restart the router and change the interface of the web utility.
In Wireless, you can make similar changes to the one in the basic section, but you can also change the security settings, wireless modes, channel and its width, as well as the transmit power. These options are available for both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. You can also make WPS settings changes and setup a schedule for enabling or disabling the wireless networks. At the very top, you can also enable or disable OFDMA as well as Smart Connect, which combines the two networks into a single one for better compatibility on more devices.
The Guest Network page is similar to the basic one, but there are a few more specific settings like changing the security type for the guest network. You can also change whether or not you want guests to see each other and/or access the local network. I would have liked to see some more settings here, such as an automatic timeout or limits to bandwidth here.
The USB Sharing settings here is once again a bit more advanced than the basic version, as it lets you setup a media server for file and folder sharing. It does lack things like an iTunes Media Server, but it has support for Time Machine for Apple devices. The Parental Controls page is exactly the same as the basic one, so there are no other extra methods of protection in the Advanced tabs for parental changes. Of course, there are other hardware- and software-based options available elsewhere to protect your children from the shadier areas of the Internet.
The QoS settings allow you to limit priority, upload, and download speeds for each device or applications. It is nice to see some of these configuration options, but it is still relatively basic and advanced users may still want a bit more customization.
Under the Security tab, you can change the antivirus and firewall settings. The Antivirus section is based off Trend Micro's service for malicious content filter, intrusion prevention system, and infected device quarantine. Other things you can do include changing access control for devices and modifying IP and MAC bindings.
The next tab is labeled NAT Forwarding. NAT is short for network address translation, which is mostly port forwarding in this context. In this area, users can change the Application Layer Gateway configuration, which allows for enabling and disabling of different pass-through settings, as you can see above. In this section, you can also setup virtual servers, port triggering, DMZ, and UPnP. DMZ refers to a demilitarized zone on the router, though this setting is not a true DMZ. This DMZ host is one on the internal network with all the UDP and TCP ports open and exposed besides the forwarded ports. This allows users to forward all ports to another firewall or NAT device.
The IPv6 tab area is pretty self-explanatory, as it provides users with the ability to enable IPv6 Internet and LAN settings. The VPN Server tab is also pretty straightforward, allowing users to setup OpenVPN and PPTP VPN servers. Smart Life Assistant allows your network devices to be controlled by Alexa or implementing IFTTT on your router.
Finally, the last page is the System Tools page. This area allows you to setup system settings like time settings and administrator passwords. It also provides diagnostic tools through ping, trace routes, system logs, and traffic statistics. The LEDs on this router can be turned on or off by a schedule. You can also backup, restore, and reset all of your settings in this area. One of the most important settings will be the Firmware Upgrade page, which is important to keep your router's security and features up to date. Thankfully, our unit arrived with the latest available firmware.
Overall, the web-based firmware is good in its available options, though I will say it is still lacking when put up against DD-WRT. Those who are looking for more customization and features may be left waiting for DD-WRT support for the TP-Link Archer AX6000. This being said, it offers a lot more configuration choices than the router from your ISP and it is available immediately out of the box. The user interface is easy to navigate with the sections being logically laid out for quick access for both beginners and enthusiasts.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Configuration and User Interface
4. Performance Tests