TP-Link Unveils A Bleeding-Edge Wi-Fi 7 Wireless Router At A Surprising Price
TP-Link is pushing out a new Wi-Fi 7 router, the Archer BE550 (model BE9300) that it hopes will put upgrading to the latest wireless protocol "within affordability range of the typical tech consumer." That doesn't mean it's cheap—you're looking at dropping $299.99 for this thing. But it's at least on par with high-end routers, and substantially less than some Wi-Fi 7 alternatives.
It's a bit of an unfortunate time for anyone who needs a new router right this moment. That's because we're on the cusp of an industry push into Wi-Fi 7 territory. You could go with Wi-Fi 6E or Wi-Fi 6, but those will both be previous generation standards once Wi-Fi 7 hardware rolls out in earnest in next year. Until then, there's the early adopter tax on the small number of Wi-Fi 7 models available.
That's what TP-Link is hoping to address with the Archer BE550. It's about half the price as TP-Link's Archer BE800 (BE1900), which sells of $599.99 on Amazon, and $400 less than Netgear's Nighthawk RS700S ($699.99 on Amazon) and ASUS's RT-BE96U (also $699.99 on Amazon).
Those are all faster models with combined throughput of around 19Gbps. In contrast, TP-Link's Archer BE550 offers combined throughput of around 9.2Gbps (9,214Mbps), so it trades some raw speed for a cheaper price.
In this case, the Archer BE550 dishes up speeds of up to 5,760Mbps on the 6GHz band, 2,880Mbps on the 5GHz band, and 574Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. Meanwhile, the Archer BE800 amps those numbers to 11,520Mbps on the 6GHz band, 5,760 on the 5GHz band, and 1,376Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. So the BE800 is faster from top to bottom, but also twice the price.
One of the standout features of Wi-Fi 7 is something called multi-link operation (MLO). This enables devices to connect with multiple bands, which is a key capability that separates Wi-Fi 7 from Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 6. The caveat is that client devices need to support Wi-Fi 7 to take advantage of the feature, and it's going to take some time before Wi-Fi 7-enabled hardware becomes commonplace.
As for wired connectivity, the Archer BE550 is equipped with four 2.5Gbps LAN ports (support 5Gbps aggregation) and a 2.5Gbps WAN port, plus a USB 3.0 port for sharing a printer or storage over your network.