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Archer GX90 Review: Cool but Thin on Games

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The TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router sure is an interesting broadcaster…

On the one hand, it’s the alter ego of the Archer AX90 — the two share the same hardware specs. On the other, as a gaming router, it resembles the Archer AX11000, both in the look, the features, and the marketing strategy.

To put it bluntly, history kind of repeats itself in the GX90 — it, too, is not much of a gaming router despite looking the part. That does not mean it’s a bad router, far from it.

Indeed, compared to the predecessors, this new tri-band Wi-Fi machine is a more refined experience. The GX90 performed well in my testing as a general straightforward home router. But, as a gaming router, it has little to brag about, if at all.

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re looking for a well-balanced Wi-Fi 6 router for a medium home at the friendly cost of $250, the Archer GX90 won’t disappoint. It’s one of the best TP-Link routers out there, if not the best. And you sure can play a ton of games with it.

But if you want to up your game to the max, keep looking. (Hint: pick one of these instead.)

Dong’s note: I first published this post as a new piece on September 15, 2021, and updated it to a full review on October 8 after extensive hands-on testing.

I caught a spider that is the TP-Link GX90 AX6600 Gaming router with my (large) bare hand — the router is actually smaller than it seems.
TP Link GX90 AX6600 Gaming Router 2

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance

Excellent feature set and network settings

Robust full web user interface

Nice design and comparatively affordable

Cons

Single Multi-Gig port; no Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation

USB-based storage performance could be better

TP-Link Archer GX90 vs Archer AX11000: Lesser hardware, better experience

Out of the box, the Archer GX90 is like a mini version of the Archer AX11000. It’s a black square box that measures 8.3 inches (212mm) on each side.

On one side, the router comes with one 2.5Gbps WAN (default)/LAN port and four Gigabit LAN ports. The LAN1 port can also work as the WAN port if you want to use the Multi-Gig port as a LAN. On another side, you’ll find two USB ports.

Excellent antenna design

Similar to previous gaming routers, including the Archer C5400X and the Archer AX11000, the GX90 comes with eight equally positioned places all around its body to host eight well-designed antennas.

TP Link GX90 AX6600 Gaming Router
You can nap the TP-Link Archer GX90’s antenna in its place or jank it out in a quick action.

Each antenna, painted black and red, comes with a hole to fit into the connector that sticks out from the router. Now it’ll stay firm in its place. To detach, just jank the antennas out horizontally.

I love this time-saving design — the opposite of many other routers where you have to screw each antenna in slowly. It took me just a few seconds to attach the Archer GX90’s all eight.

There’s a catch, though. You can’t swivel the GX90’s antennas around. They all stand straight up vertically and rigidly. But that’s not a huge deal considering there’s not much to think about regarding the positions of a home router’s antennas.

Hardware spcfications: TP-Link Archer GX90 vs Archer AX11000 vs Archer AX90

As you’ll see in the table below, the Archer GX90 shares the same hardware as the AX90. It’s a Tri-band router with two different 5GHz bands. So, in all, its hardware is lesser than the Archer AX11000, which has top-tier specs.

And like the rest of TP-Link’s gaming routers, the GS90 dedicates its 2nd 5GHz band — the one with the upper channels — to gaming.

(You can read more on the router’s gaming features below, but TP-Link does this by adding the “Gaming” suffix to the name of this band’s SSID, which you can always change to whatever you want.)

By the way, this gaming band has the top 4×4 specs and supports the venerable (yet finicky) 160MHz channel width to deliver up to 4800Mbps of bandwidth.

(Note that the 160 MHz bandwidth might not be available in certain parts of the world due to regulatory restrictions.)

  TP-Link Archer AX90
AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 
Tri-Band Router
TP-Link Archer AX6600
Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6
Gaming Router
TP-Link Archer AX1100 
Tri-band Wi-Fi 6
Gaming Router
Model Archer AX90 Archer GX90 Archer AX1100 
Wi-Fi Technology Tri-band AX6600 Tri-band AX6600 Tri-band AX1100 
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs
(Channel Width)
2×2 AX: Up to 574 Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2×2 AX: Up to 574 Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4×4 X: Up to 1148 Mbps
(20/40MHz)
5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs
(Channel Width)
2×2 AX: Up to 1201 MBps
(20/40/80MHz)
2×2 AX: Up to 1201 MBps
(20/40/80MHz)
4×4 AX: Up to 4804 Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
5GHz-2 Wi-Fi Specs
(Channel Width)
4×4 AX: Up to 4804 Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4×4 AX: Up to 4804 Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4×4 AX: Up to 4804
(20/40/80/160MHz)
Backward Compatibility 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Mesh-Ready OneMesh OneMesh No
Gigabit Port 1x LAN/WAN
3x LAN 
1× WAN/LAN
3× LAN
8× LAN 
Multi-Gig Port 1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN 1× 2.5 Gbps WAN/LAN 1× 2.5Gbps WAN
LAN Link Aggregation No No Yes (LAN 2 + LAN 3)
WAN Link Aggregation No No No
Dual-WAN No No No
USB 1x USB 3.0 
1x USB 2.0
1× USB 3.0 Port
1× USB 2.0 Port
1× USB-C 3.0
1× USB-A 3.0
Processing Power 1.5 GHz Quad-Core CPU 1.5 GHz Quad-Core CPU 1.8 GHz 64 bit Quad-Core CPU,
512 MB Flash, 1 GB RAM
Dimensions 12.2 × 8.1 × 6.8 in
(311 × 207 × 174 mm)
8.3 × 8.3 × 2.0 in
(212 × 212 × 51.8 mm)
9.5 x 9.5 x 2.2 in
(240.6 x 240.6 x 55.4 mm)
Weight 2 lbs (920 g) 2.4 lbs (1.1 kg) 3.5 lbs (1.6 kg)
MSRP (at launch) $329.99 $249.99 $279.99
TP-Link Archer GX90 vs Archer AX11000s: Hardware specifications

 

TP-Link Archer GX90: Detail photos

TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router
The TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router’s retail box

TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router
The TP-Link Archer GX90 comes with eight detachable antennas.

TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router
The router looks like a “dead” spider with all of its antennas attached. Note the status light on top at the middle.

TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router
On one side, the TP-Link Archer GX90 comes with a 2.5Gbps port that can work as the WAN (default) or LAN port.

TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router
On the opposite side, TP-Link Archer GX90 has two USB ports.

TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router
On another side, the TP-Link Archer GX90 has a few quick control on/off buttons for its Wi-Fi, WPS, and LED status light.

TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router
The TP-Link Archer GX90 feels solid and is relatively light.

TP-Link Archer GX90 AX6600 Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router
The backside of the TP-Link Archer GX90’s retail box shows a ton of its “gaming” features.

The Archer GX90 shares the familiar web interface, feature set, and “gaming” feature as the Archer AX11000.

Indeed, just like its intriguing physical look, the Archer GX90 has an ostentatious red-themed web interface to suggest that it means business when it comes to gaming.

But this is first and foremost a general home router.

Useful network settings and features

TP Link Archer GX90 Web Interface
The TP-Link Archer GX90 has an excellent web interface for a home router.

At the core, though, this is a robust router that gives you a lot of customization and valuable features via a responsive and well-organized web interface. These include a VPN server, Dynamic DNS (with an included free server by TP-Link), QoS, port forwarding, and so on.

(You can find out more about the router’s interface via this online emulator.)

Generally, what you want to do with your network, you’ll likely be able to find that in this router.

What’s more, the Archer GX90 has a standard setup process. Specifically, plug it in, then from a connected device, go to HTTP://192.168.0.1 or tplinkwifi.net, and you’ll reach the initial setup wizard. The rest is self-explanatory.

TP Link Archer GX90 Port Default
One of the initial setup steps is to pick which port, the 2.5Gbps or LAN1, to work as the router’s WAN port.

One thing to note: By default, you need to use the router’s 25Gbps Multi-Gig port as its WAN port or leave it alone. You’ll have the chance to change that, if need be, during the setup wizard. In other words, if you choose to use this port as a LAN port out of the box, you’ll not be able to set up the router.

In short, as a home router, the GX90 is excellent. That brings us to its gaming feature.

“Game” prefix overloaded

Again, the gaming part of the GX90 is somewhat of a veneer without much substance. Right from the start, you’ll note that the router’s interface has the word “game” or “gaming” deliberately added to multiple sections, including those that have nothing to do with games.

TP Link Archer GX90 Game Feature
Many of the TP-Link Archer GX90’s gaming features have little or nothing to do with games.

For example, the router’s Game Center section has a few sub-items, including Game Accelerator, Game Protector, and Game Diagnostics.

Game Accelerator is a QoS-based feature that supposedly turned on the support for gaming — you can only turn this on or off. Once turned on, the router apparently will detect a game being launched and automatically prioritize the Internet for it.

TP-Link provided a list of supported games and tried a few out but honestly found no differences between having Game Accelerator turned on and off. That doesn’t mean the feature didn’t work. The way QoS functions, the prioritization might just have been not necessary in my case.

Archer AX6600 Supported Games
The list of games the Archer GX90 supports at launch. The number of games will evolve via firmware updates.

But Game Accelerator is the only game-related feature of the router.

That’s because Game Protector and Game Diagnostics have nothing to do with gaming. They are just regular online protection/parental controls features and tools with the word “Game” as a prefix. And while these are valuable tools, they have little to do with gaming, if at all.

That said, at best, the Archer GX90 is very thin on gaming. Other than the red theme and bald physical design, it doesn’t have a lot of game-related extras to offer, if at all.

The point is, TP-Link has put too much emphasis on the look in its gaming routers, including the Archer GX90’s case. So much so that it’s kind of comical.

(Asus and Netgear are much better on this front. The former has a large selection of real gaming routers, and the latter has the XR1000, which was built from gaming from the ground up.)

TP Link GX90 Wi Fi Settings
The TP-Link Archer GX90’s Wi-Fi settings

TP-Link Archer GX90: Excellent performance

The TP-Link Archer GX90 did well where it matters the most: performance. Indeed, I tested it with the Multi-Gig working as a LAN, and the router delivered! At least on its top-tier 5GHz band.

TP Link Archer GX90 5GHz AX Performance

Indeed, the router’s upper 4×4 5GHz band supported the 160MHz channel width well, allowing 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients to connect at the negotiated speed of 2.4Gbps.

And in real-world copy speed, I got the sustained througputs of between 1100Mbps and over 1300Mbps within 40 feet (12 m), ranking among Multi-Gig routers I’ve tested. The router was slower as expected on the lower 2×2 (80MHz) 5GHz band but still registered around 600Mbps within the 40-food range.

TP Link Archer GX90 5GHz AC Perf

And the GX90 did well with Wi-Fi 5 clients, too, averaging around 600Mbps at a 40-foot distance. In this case, its upper band was so much faster at the closer test distance.

TP Link Archer GX90 .4GHz AX Performance

And on the 2.4GHz, the Archer did about the same as most Wi-Fi 6 routers. This band’s performance has remained unpredictable and slow where I live. But the sustained number was still fast enough to deliver any streaming with ease.

I tested the Archer AX90 for almost a week and during this time had no issue with it — the router proved to be reliable. It also had an excellent range, comparable to that of the more expensive Archer AX11000.

It’s tough to gauge a router’s coverage precisely since that carries by the environment. But if you live in a house of some 2000 ft² (186 m²) with not too many (thick) walls, place the Archer GX90 in the center, and chances are it’ll be able to blanket the whole place.

So so network storage performance

When hosting a portable drive, the Archer GX90’s network-attached storage (NAS) performance didn’t impress me.

I tested it with a WD My Passport SSD and got the sustained copy speed of just around 50MB/s and 60MB/s for writing and reading, respectively. That was the case when I used a 1Gbps or 2.5Gbps wired connection.

TP Link Archer GX90 NAS Performance

You can use the Archer GX90 as a mini NAS server at these speeds for casual network data sharing and to backup a single Mac using its Time Machine feature. If you want any more than that, get a real NAS server instead.

Conclusion

Take the gaming notion away, and you’ll find the TP-Link Archer GX90 an excellent Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band router. I did.

It has a good balance of performance, features, and cost. The cool look doesn’t hurt, either. Overall, it’s a better choice than the Archer AX11000, which is another phony gaming router.

If you want an actual gaming router, check out this list of the best gaming routers on the market and pick one of the non-TP-Link options.

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