A complementary simulation and experimental study of an atmospheric pressure microwave torch operating in pure argon or argon/hydrogen mixtures is presented. The modelling part describes a numerical model coupling the gas dynamics and mixing to the electromagnetic field simulations. Since the numerical model is not fully self-consistent and requires the electron density as an input, quite extensive spatially resolved Stark broadening measurements were performed for various gas compositions and input powers. In addition, the experimental part includes Rayleigh scattering measurements, which are used for the validation of the model. The paper comments on the changes in the gas temperature and hydrogen dissociation with the gas composition and input power, showing in particular that the dependence on the gas composition is relatively strong and non-monotonic. In addition, the work provides interesting insight into the plasma sustainment mechanism by showing that the power absorption profile in the plasma has two distinct maxima: one at the nozzle tip and one further upstream.