TP-Link Deco X73 DSL AX5400 Modem / Router – every NBN FTTN user should have it (review)

The TP-Link Deco X73 DSL AX5400 Router is what every NBN FTTN (Fibre-to-the-node) customer needs. It’s the fastest NBN VDSL2/VOIP modem you can get. Plus, it works great with any TP-Link Deco mesh router/satellite – highly and easily expandable.

To position this, it costs $399; it is the Wi-Fi 6 AX5400; it has two VOIP FXS RJ-11 ports (for telephone via NBN); four WAN/LAN Gigabit Ethernet ports; USB3.0; and the standard telephone socket for NBN VDSL2. You can also use it as a gateway for NBN FTTP, FTTC, FTTB and HFC.

Wi-Fi 6 Disclaimer

Full-duplex Wi-Fi 6 speeds are only possible with Wi-Fi 6 clients. of 866 and 433 Mbps, respectively.

TP-Link Deco X73 DSL AX5400 Modem/Router

Website Product page and manual
Price $399
Of CE retailers like Harvey Norman, Bing Lee, Officeworks and computer stores
guarantee 36 months
Company TP-Link (Est 1996) is a private Chinese company. Products include broadband cable modems, wireless and mobile routers, range extenders, switches, IP cameras, powerline adapters, switches, print servers, media converters, wireless adapters , power banks, USB hubs and SMART home technology devices.
After TP-Link CyberShack News & Reviews

We use Fail (below expectations), Pass (meets expectations), and Exceed (exceeds expectations or is class leader) against many of the items below. We sometimes give a Pass ‘+’ rating to show it’s good but doesn’t quite reach Exceed.

First impression – stylish – Exceed

My first experience with TP-Link was the TP-Link Deco X90 AX6600 mesh router which is fast, very fast (test). I was so impressed that it formed the basis of our Seamless Whole Home Wi-Fi Now Easy with Wi-Fi 6 (guide).

I was particularly keen to test out the TP-Link Deco X73 DSL AX5400 Modem/Router because it seems to offer everything a home needs at a reasonable price. It’s mentioned in our Crappy NBN FTTN Modem – here are some best ones (guide), and after testing it for a few weeks, it’s definitely better than any other VDSL2 option.

It looks more like an elegant vase (210 H x 130 W x 123 D mm) than a router or satellite. There is a discrete colored LED that indicates the status of the connection.

It would be remiss not to mention that D-Link, NETGEAR, and Orbi (a NETGEAR brand) all make great Wi-Fi 6 and Mesh routers, and we’ll be reviewing new models as they’re released.

The secret sauce TP-Link Deco X73 DSL – SRA, SOS, ROC and Profile 35b – Exceed

The secret sauce is its Super VDSL2 modem which supports the Vplus 35b profile. This means it supports downstream/upstream up to 350/100 Mbps over copper paths of

But there is more. It supports SRA (Seamless Rate Adaptation) to change data transfer rates according to line conditions and avoid losing connection. It will support SOS (Save Our Showtime) and ROC (Robust Overhead Channel), where NBN has enabled it.

It will extract maximum performance from that old copper telephone wiring. In tests over the past few weeks, through all that rain, it’s held the connection better than any other VDSL modem we’ve tested. It even topped a few more Mbps.

Ideal Use Case – NBN FTTN Users Who Need More – Exceed

It is a VDSL2 FTTN modem/router that integrates with other TP-Link Deco products.

If you are having trouble with FTTN dropouts, this may be the remedy. Make sure your provider has at least SRA and hopefully Profile 35b implemented.

It has two VOIP phone ports. Your ISP can provide you with a SIP number (or you can transfer your POTs number). If you have an Ethernet connection with NBN FTTP, HFC or FTTC, you can still use it for its two phone ports.

As a Wi-Fi 6 router, it has 574Mbps 2.4GHz band and 4804Mbps 5GHz band, which is more than enough for 50 or more devices.

The 5Ghz Wi-Fi coverage is a circle about 20m in diameter – 270m2.

Setup – easy with the Deco – Pass app

The most important thing you need to do is find the best location for the router and the satellite. Please read Fix Wi-Fi Blackspots Quickly and Often at No Cost to find the best place to fix blackspots that require a satellite.

I’ve learned over the years that the easier it is to configure, the fewer features you can access in the router’s operating system.

  • Download the TP-Link Deco app and create an account (username and password only required)
  • Plug in the router
  • Connect your smartphone to the SSID of the Deco Router (no password required initially)
  • Enter the name of your new home network. Tip: If you’re replacing an old router, use the same name and password, and all of your Wi-Fi clients will connect to the Deco when powered on.
  • It will find all satellites, update firmware and configure Wi-Fi network
  • You can configure Google Assistant or Alexa for a relatively limited set of voice commands.

The app has basic settings but you can’t do much to adjust the router or set up VPNs etc. And maybe that’s good.

You can also use the web server at 192.168.68.1 if you wish, but there are few user-editable settings.

Mesh – Exceed

In Wi-Fi mesh mode, it will dynamically use part of the 5Ghz band. Wi-Fi 6 AX is full duplex (same speed in both directions) with other Wi-Fi 6 AX Deco mesh satellites like the X90/AX6600, AX68/AX3600, X60/AX3000, etc. Do not use or mix Deco AC mesh as you only get half duplex speeds.

But the great thing about the TP-Link Deco mesh is that you can mix and match Wi-Fi and Ethernet mesh backhaul. Frankly, Gigabit (1000Mbps, full-duplex) is the best way to connect a mesh because it keeps Wi-Fi bandwidth free for general use.

We configured the TP-Link Deco X73 DSL as the master router and using the app added two Deco X90 AX6600 satellites. We first tested with a Wi-Fi connection placing the satellites at approx. 10 meters from the X73 router. Both satellites offered a full duplex connection of 1200 Mbps and NBN internet speeds of 100/20 Mbps. We repeated this with Ethernet connections – ditto.

Security

Supports WPA, WPA-2 and WPA-3 – important for older devices.

Device Support

TP-Link claims that up to 200 devices can connect. In practice, it depends on the bandwidth requirements of the devices. For example, 4 x 4K streaming will take most of the bandwidth. Our best guess is a mix of around 40-50 devices including low-bandwidth IoT and high-bandwidth streaming/gaming spread across router and satellite.

HomeShield – Basic free pass plus optional extras

Like many brands, TP-Link offers a 30-day trial of an optional HomeShield subscription protection package. The price is AU$8.99 per month or $89.99 per year. Subscription includes (included in free and paid versions*)

Network Security Scan * Public Wi-Fi scan* Real-time IoT protection Filtering malicious content DDoS Protection
Prevention of port intrusions Block Websites * Content Filter Pro* Interrupt Internet * Flexible bedtime
(Free at one bedtime)
Time limit Time Rewards Traffic statistics Usage Reports* New Access Devices*
Insight * Device type Security statistics Family ranking by time online Visited URLs

You may already have some of them in your antivirus/malware protection. I’m afraid that at least a basic level of parental controls is not included.

The intelligence of the mesh

As I used the system, I saw how TP-Link did a lot of things automatically – hence its simple interface. For instance:

  • It can exchange and modify traffic on both bands (Adaptive Path Selection)
  • Self-healing if other nearby routers are using the same bands
  • Supports other IEEE 802.11.11k/v/r mesh devices
  • 4 streams – 2×2 2.4Ghz, 2×2 5Gz
  • It has a guest network (disabled by default)
  • Its AI-driven mesh is among the fastest I’ve seen for roaming transfer to satellites – about 2 seconds is enough.
  • Has a Stateful Packet Inspection firewall (no need to disable gateway firewall, DHCP or NAT).
  • And can add additional “handlers” such as support people

If you are enthusiastic, read the manual for more information.

CyberShack’s review – TP-Link Deco X73 DSL AX5400 Modem/Router

Every NBN FTTN user should have this

Seriously, it’s about twice as fast as the Telstra Smart Modem 3 – not quite smart or fast (opinion), but it’s a good stretchable mesh (not the Telstra Mesh). It has two phone ports and the secret sauce, which means fewer FTTN dropouts.

Evaluation

It ranks well because it works exceptionally well and the results meet or exceed marketing claims. It has our unqualified buy recommendation, just like the TP-Link Deco AX Mesh Satellites.

TP-Link Deco mesh setup video below (the models are not the same, but the setup is)

TP-Link Deco X73 DSL AX5400 Modem/Router

$399 plus optional mesh satellites

TP-Link Deco X73 DSL

Advantages

  • It beats the hell out of any ISP provided modem or extender
  • VDSL2 SRA, SOS and ROC modem, 35b profile for more speed and reliability
  • Wi-Fi or Ethernet connection
  • Highly expandable via TP-Link Deco Mesh satellites
  • Wi-Fi 6 AX5400 dual-band

The inconvenients

  • You may need to ask your ISP to enable SRA, SOS, ROC or Profile 35b
  • Wi-Fi 6 speeds require Wi-Fi 6 clients
  • The Deco app is simple but limited – use the web interface