TP-Link RE500X review: Extending Wi-Fi 6 networks

Rating

Many people are upgrading their routers to Wi-Fi 6. They benefit from improved speeds, stronger routers that handle more simultaneous connections, as well as improved wireless coverage. However, depending on the router you buy and the layout of your home, you may still encounter some dead spots where the Wi-Fi is underperforming. They are fewer than in the world of Wi-Fi 5 routers, but such situations still exist. One solution is buying another router and setting up a mesh Wi-Fi system, or purchasing a range extender. If you’re looking for a Wi-Fi 6 range extender, chances are you’ve seen the TP-Link AX1500 RE500X in shops, both online and offline. To find out if the RE500X range extender is a good choice for you, read this review:

TP-Link AX1500 RE500X: Who is it good for?

This range extender is a good choice for:

  • People who already own a Wi-Fi 6 router, but it doesn’t fully cover their home or apartment
  • Users with many devices in their network that need a range extender with powerful hardware
  • People who need a range extender with an Ethernet port for connecting one non-wireless device
  • Users who already own a TP-Link router with OneMesh support

Pros and cons

Here are the things we like about TP-Link AX1500 RE500X:

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  • Robust hardware with a tri-core processor that can handle many clients
  • OneMesh support makes it easy to link with other TP-Link equipment
  • It can extend Wi-Fi 6 networks
  • Good performance on the 2.4 GHz band
  • Useful Ethernet port
  • Great multilingual support
  • It can also be set up and controlled from a mobile app

There are some downsides to consider as well:

  • The price is on the higher side
  • Wi-Fi 6 performance can use some improvement
  • No support for WPA3 encryption
  • Firmware updates should be easier to perform when using OneMesh
Product rating 4/5

Verdict

The TP-Link RE500X range extender is a useful choice for people who want to extend Wi-Fi 6 networks. It has powerful hardware that can handle many network clients, and it is compatible with TP-Link’s OneMesh ecosystem. This means that adding it to a network managed by a TP-Link router with OneMesh literally takes seconds. While it does have a couple of weaknesses, the TP-Link RE500X is a relatively well-balanced range extender that meets the expectations of most users.

Unboxing the TP-Link AX1500 RE500X

The TP-Link RE500X range extender comes in a simple cyan cardboard box, with the company logo and a picture of the device on top. TP-Link does an excellent job at communicating the main features and specifications of this range extender. If you see the RE500X in shops,

reading all the information printed on the sides of the box should give a pretty good idea about the device.

The packaging used for TP-Link RE500X

Taking the range extender out is quick and painless. Inside the box, you find the range extender itself, the quick installation guide, warranty information, and some troubleshooting tips.

Unboxing the TP-Link RE500X range extender

After you unpack the range extender, plug it into a power outlet close to your Wi-Fi router, and read the user manual for setting it up.

Hardware specifications and design

As you can see for yourself, the TP-Link RE500X Wi-Fi 6 range extender is quite large, with a spartan look. It has a size of approximately 3.1×1.4×5.9 inches or 78×36×149 mm in width x depth x height, and it weighs 7.93 ounces or 225 grams. That’s quite heavy for a range extender.

TP-Link RE500X is quite large and heavy

However, it is not a bad-looking device. The TP-Link logo is discreet, and so are the LEDs on the left edge of the range extender. On its right, you find the Reset and WPS buttons, as well as an Ethernet port working at 1 Gbps.

The LEDs and buttons found on the range extender

On the bottom, you find a sticker with details about the range extender you just bought and the plug. We tested the EU variant, which has a different plug than the one used in the USA, as you can see below.

The bottom of the TP-Link RE500X

Large ventilation grids on the sides help cool the hardware found inside the RE500X: the company brags about using a triple-core SoC running at 1.5 GHz. We suspect it is using a Broadcom BCM6750 chip, but we didn’t receive official confirmation from the company. The range extender is dual-band, has Wi-Fi 6 support, two internal antennas, and uses 2x2 MU-MIMO for wireless transfers. It is a good choice for extending the network coverage offered by modern Wi-Fi 6 routers, especially TP-Link ones, due to its OneMesh support.

The Ethernet port on the TP-Link RE500X

The total maximum theoretical bandwidth is split as follows: 300 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and 1201 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. While the RE500X works with the Wi-Fi 6 standard, it doesn’t offer support for WPA3 encryption. Instead, it only works with WPA2, which may be a downside to users who have migrated to the new password encryption standard.

One interesting fact about the TP-Link AX1500 RE500X is that it has a maximum power consumption of 10.8W, which is quite a lot, more than that of some routers like the TP-Link Archer AX10. If you would like to learn more about this range extender, visit: TP-Link AX1500 RE500X Specifications.

Setting up and using the TP-Link RE500X Wi-Fi 6 range extender

If you have a TP-Link wireless router with OneMesh support, adding and setting up the TP-Link AX1500 RE500X is really easy, especially if done through WPS. However, the setup can be performed also using a laptop and a web browser, or the Tether app for Android and iOS.

Setting up the range extender is easy due to OneMesh

For details about how it works, read this guide: How to set up TP-Link OneMesh Wi-Fi 6 routers and range extenders.

The OneMesh feature makes it easy for the range extender to integrate with your TP-Link router. The settings available are few and easy to understand. Also, the RE500X automatically clones all the settings from your router without the need for extra effort.

The OneMesh settings are few and easy to understand

What I didn’t like is that OneMesh doesn’t also handle firmware updates. The devices that are part of the OneMesh network need to be updated individually. Therefore, you can’t update your RE500X from your router’s firmware when going to the OneMesh section. Instead, you must log in to the firmware of the RE500X and update it from there. By the way, I recommend that you do that immediately after installing this range extender to benefit from the latest security fixes and performance improvements.

It is a good idea to update the firmware on the TP-Link RE500X

The TP-Link AX1500 RE500X works with routers from other manufacturers and older TP-Link routers without OneMesh support. The user interface is simple and similar to that of many TP-Link routers. In addition, it is available in 22 languages, making it easy to navigate even if you don’t speak English.

The admin user interface for TP-Link RE500X

If you want to remotely control the RE500X from anywhere on the internet, you must add a TP-Link ID and use it for managing the range extender in a web browser or the Tether app.

For remote control, you need a TP-Link ID

The user documentation is readily available. On the top-right corner of each settings page, there’s a question mark. Click or tap on it, and you see definitions and explanations for everything on that page. Beginners will enjoy this approach a lot.

Help documentation is easily available

We set the TP-Link RE500X range extender to use Wi-Fi 6 on the 5 GHz band and Wi-Fi 4 on the 2.4 GHz frequency. We connected several devices to its Wi-Fi, and we did not encounter any problems. Also, the Ethernet port on the RE500X can be helpful when you need to connect a Smart TV, a desktop, or a console that’s located in a room where your router doesn’t offer good Wi-Fi.

As you will see later in this review, we were pleased with how the RE500X performed on the 2.4 GHz band. It managed to significantly improve the speed of the Wi-Fi in the rooms where it needed improvement. However, when using the Wi-Fi 6 standard, its performance was underwhelming and did not provide significant benefits other than a larger coverage area.

If you want to know more about the real-world performance offered by TP-Link AX1500 RE500X, go to the next page of this review.

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