CES 2022 featured several of the world's most prominent networking-gear makers exhibiting new wares, including Linksys, Netgear and TP-Link. The trend is clearly toward more Wi-Fi 6e routers that can take advantage of the newly opened 6-GHz band, which offers a huge spectrum range that, for the moment, is largely unused.
Most recent consumer devices, however, support only regular Wi-Fi 6, so we're still seeing new routers come out that don't do 6e. (Both are part of the 802.11ax protocol, the current standard.)
We saw mesh routers, gaming routers and some that bridge the gap between the two styles. Our favorite, however, was a unique gaming router whose antennas twist and pivot on mechanical arms to better focus signals on devices as they move about the house. Whether it lands on our best Wi-Fi 6 routers page remains to be seen.
TP-Link Archer AXE200 Omni
The TP-Link Archer AXE200 Omni has to be seen to be believed. Its four stubby, rounded antennas seem to come alive, folding out and twisting in place as they try to optimize wireless connections with specific devices around the house. It's also pretty impressive on the wired side, offering one Ethernet port (out of six in total) capable of 10 Gbps throughput to deliver massive data streams to virtual-reality and 8K video devices.
Like TP-Link's other top-end routers, the Archer AXE200 Omni ships with the free tier of the company's HomeShield software, which offers security protections and parental controls. (The paid tier is $6 per month or $55 per year.) And you can also add it to an existing TP-Link mesh network. The TP-Link Archer AXE200 Omni will be available later this year at a price to be determined.
Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300
Continuing the tradition of gaming routers that look like Darth Vader's spaceships, the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE300 has swooping black wings that appear ready to strafe a rebel base with laser fire. In reality, it's blanketing your house with Wi-Fi 6e signals, which Netgear says will move up to 7.8 Gbps of data at once. That house can be up to 2,500 square feet, under optimal conditions of course.
The RAXE300 is a cheaper ($399 instead of $599) version of the Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500, which was released in mid-2021 and is still one of the fastest routers on Earth. The RAXE300 has six antennas (hidden in the bat wings) to the RAXE500's eight, while the pricier model delivers theoretical throughput of up to 10.8 Gbps. But in reality, most people who happen to have Wi-Fi 6e-capable devices in the home will be more than satisfied with the RAXE300, which Netgear said will be available by the end of March.
Linksys Hydra Pro 6
A lot of Wi-Fi 6 routers retail for well north of $300, but Linksys is trying to undercut that with an affordable (MSRP $299) model that still delivers a solid set of specs. The Linksys Hydra Pro 6 pumps a maximum throughput of 5.4 Gbps on three bands from its two adjustable antennas, connecting to as many as 30 devices at once over an area of up to 2,700 square feet. It can be added to a Linksys mesh network.
On the back are four gigabit Ethernet ports for wired devices and a fifth for the modem, plus a USB 3.0 port. Like other new Linksys models, the Hydra Pro 6 comes with parental controls, supports the WPA3 encryption standard and can be managed via a smartphone app. It's available now on the Linksys website and will soon be at major retailers.
TP-Link Archer AXE300
TP-Link's other new gaming router was a little more traditional, if you can regard something that looks like a mechanical evil spider on its back as ordinary. The Archer AXE300 is a high-end Wi-Fi 6e gaming router with eight antennas that deliver more than 15 Gbps (in theory) over four bands.
On the wired end, there are a whopping seven Ethernet ports, two of which provide 10 Gbps throughput while a third delivers 2.5 Gbps. There's also an SFP+ port to work in conjunction with one of the 10 Gbps Ethernet ports. Like the Archer AXE200 Omni, the Archer AXE300 can be integrated into a mesh network, comes with HomeShield and will be available later this year at a price yet to be announced.
TP-Link Deco XE200
Finally, TP-Link introduced the Deco XE200, a Wi-Fi 6e mesh system that promises to deliver up to 11 Gbps of throughput over 6,500 square feet with a base station and single satellite. The units are white tapered standing cylinders with translucent tops, and resemble small air purifiers rather than alien spacecraft.
Each has a 10-Gbps Ethernet port complemented by two gigabit ports, although there don't appear to be any USB ports. As with the other TP-Link models already mentioned, the system comes with HomeShield and will be available later this year for an as-yet-undisclosed price.