The TP-Link Archer AX90 AX6600 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 router is, for the most part, the souped-up version of the tri-band Archer AX3200. That said, this review is also an Archer AX90 vs. Archer AX3200 matchup.
Indeed, the two have so much in common, despite their somewhat distinctive Wi-Fi specs. So, I’d recommend that you check out my take on the latter first.
The clear advantage of the AX90 is that it can measure up to even top-tier tri-band routers, like the Netgear RAX200 or the Asus GT-AX11000, when hosting just a few clients. And currently, at some $330, it’s indeed more reasonably priced.
To cut to the chase: If you’re looking for a well-performing Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router that won’t break your bank or give you all the bells and whistles, the TP-Link Archer AX90 is an excellent buy. Go for it!
Extra note: You’ll likely get the same experience if you go with the Archer AX3200, minus the top 5GHz performance. So the AX90 is only a better choice — worthy of its extra cost — if you need to get more out of Wi-Fi 6.
TP-Link Archer AX90's Rating
Reliable and fast Wi-Fi performance, excellent range.
Tri-band, 160MHz, and a 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig port.
Standard web interface with optional mobile app.
Slow 5GHz-1 band.
Mobile app, login account, and a monthly subscription required for advanced features.
Relatively slow NAS performance when hosting a portable drive.
TP-Link Archer AX90: A high-end tri-band router for the budget minded
Like the Archer AX3200, the new Archer AX90 is a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router. It also has two different 5GHz bands.
However, the router’s 5GHz-2 is a 4×4 band that caps at 4804Mbps — currently the highest of Wi-Fi 6. That, plus the 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig port, means it’ll be able to deliver the same performance as an AX11000 router in many cases.
And this 5GHz-2 band is almost the only thing that sets the AX90 and the AX3200 apart.
TP-Link Archer AX90 vs. Archer AX3200: Same same but different
The hardware specifications tables below will show their similarities and differences in detail.
Archer AX90 vs. Archer AX3200: Hardware specifications
|Full Name||TP-Link Archer AX90|
AX6600 Wi-Fi 6
|TP-Link Archer AX3200|
Wi-Fi 6 Tri-Band Router
|Model||Archer AX90||Archer AX3200|
|Dimensions||12.2 × 8.1 × 6.8 in|
(311 × 207 × 174 mm)
|10.91 x 7.32 x 1.26 in |
(277.11.2 x 185.92 x 32 mm)
|Weight||2 lbs (920 g)||1.9 lbs (860 g)|
|Processor||1.5 GHz Quad-Core CPU||1.5GHz Quad-Core CPU|
|Wi-Fi Technology||Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AX6600||Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AX3200|
|5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs||2×2 AX: Up to 1201Mbps|
Channel Width: 20/40/80MHz
|2×2 AX: Up to 1201Mbps|
Channel Width: 20/40/80MHz
|5GHz-2 Wi-Fi Specs||4×4 AX: Up to 4804 Mbps|
Channel Width: 20/40/80/160MHz
|2×2 AX: Up 1440 Mbps|
Channel Width: 20/40/80MHz
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2×2 2.4 GHz: 574Mbps|
Channel Width: 20/40MHz
|2×2 AX: Up to 574 Mbps|
Channel Width: 20/40MHz
|Backward Compatibility||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi|
|Wireless Security||WPA / WPA2 / WPA3||WPA / WPA2 / WPA3|
|Mobile App||TP-Link Tether||TP-Link Tether|
|Web User Interface||Yes||Yes|
|Mesh-Ready||Yes (OneMesh)||Yes (OneMesh)|
|USB Port||1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0||1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0|
|Gigabit Port||3x LAN, 1x LAN/WAN||3x LAN, 1x LAN/WAN|
|Multi-Gig Port||1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN||1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN|
Archer AX90: Detail photos
The AX90 looks very similar to its older cousins.
Archer AX90 vs. Archer AX3200: The same feature set, web interface, and setup process
Like its older cousin, the Archer AX90 comes with a 2.5Gbps port. By default, this port is the router’s WAN port. During the setup process, though, you’ll get a chance to keep it that way or use the Gigabit WAN port as such.
You should only pick the Multi-Gig port as a WAN if you have a Gig+ or faster Internet connection. When not working as a WAN, either of the two ports will function as another LAN.
No matter what port you use as the WAN, the Archer AX90 shares the same setup process as all other Wi-Fi 6 TP-Link standalone routers, the same for any standard router with a web interface. The label on its underside contains all the necessary information.
Specially, you first connect its WAN port to the Internet source and hook a computer to it, either via a LAN port or the default Wi-Fi. Then point a browser to its default IP address, 192.168.0.1 or tplinkwifi.net, and the rest is self-explanatory.
The AX90 has almost the same features and network settings as the AX3200 (as well as many other TP-Link routers.) To avoid repeating myself, here’s the recap:
Responsive interface with commons settings
The router comes with a standard set of network settings found in all routers. These include the support for Dynamic DNS (with the option to use TP-Link’s free server), port forwarding, IP reservation, and so on.
The AX90 can also work as a VPN server, supporting either OpenVPN or PPTP protocols.
The AX90 is another Wi-Fi 6 router that supports OneMesh. You can use a supported TP-Link extender with it to create somewhat of a patch-up mesh system.
TP-Link Tether mobile app
You can also use the Tether mobile app to manage the router, apart from the local web interface. In this case, though, you’ll need to log in with an account with TP-Link and “bind” the router with it. Consequently, this can lead to privacy risks.
HomeShield requires mobile app
The AX90 will not give you extra features, including QoS, Parental Control, Online Protection, via the local web interface. They are part of a suite called HomeShield, formerly known as HomeCare — TP-Link has been quite indecisive on the naming in the past couple of years.
In any case, to use HomeShield, you need to opt for the mobile app — it’s a privacy trade-off. What’s more, you can only enjoy these features fully if you upgrade to the HomeShield Pro version, which requires a $6 monthly fee.
This subscription approach is by far the most uncool thing about using TP-Link’s latest routers. Those from Asus, Netgear, or Linksys tend to give you some or all of these features without an account requirement, much less additional costs.
TP-Link Archer AX90’s Performance: A formidable contender
So it would be best if you didn’t count on the Archer AX90 to deliver outstanding features. That’s the bad news. The good news is you sure can count on its performance.
Indeed, the tri-band router did well in my testing. It supported well the 160MHz channel width and delivered excellent throughput speeds. It’s better than the Archer AX3200 in terms of performance.
Fast Wi-Fi speeds
In the way I do my testing, the router had the sustained speed to a 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client of faster than 1300Mbps at a close range. At 40 feet (12 meters) away, it still averaged close to 1300Mbps, which is the fastest I’ve seen.
(I used the AX90’s 2.5Gbps port as a LAN for the testing.)
It’s important to note that the numbers were those of the 4×4 5GHz-2 band. The AX90’s 2×2 5GHz-1 band registered just 713Mbps and 493Mbps in close and long ranges.
(The point is other tri-band routers, like the Netgear RAX200 or Asus GT-AX11000, deliver the same performance on both of their 5Ghz bands. So while the AX90’s numbers seem impressive on the chart, in real-world usage, it sure is behind the top-tier Wi-Fi 6 machines when hosting multiple clients.)
The Archer AX90 did well with Wi-Fi 5 clients, too. At a close range, my 4×4 Wi-Fi test machine had a sustained speed of faster than 900Mbps, and at 40 feet away, my 3×3 client registered almost 770Mbps.
On the 2.4GHz band, the Archer A90 performed about the same as most Wi-Fi 6 routers, topping at some 195Mbps at a close range. Farther out, it was about 110Mbps.
The Archer AX90 did better than the Archer AX3200 in terms of coverage in my trial. When placed in the middle, it could handle some 2000 ft² (186 m²) of residential space.
Note that the Wi-Fi range changes greatly depending on the environment, so your mileage sure will vary, even by a great deal. The Archer AX90 also passed my 3-day stress test with no issues. It proved to be reasonably reliable.
OK NAS performance
The Archer AX90 didn’t fare much better than its older cousin when hosting an external drive.
I used the My Passport SSD with it, and even via a 2.5Gbps wired connection, the speed wasn’t earth-shattering at all, topping at just around 90MB/s at best.
That wasn’t exactly terrible. But compared to other routers with a Multi-Gig port, the AX90 was clearly below the average.
The TP-Link Archer AX90 AX6600 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 router is far from a perfect Wi-Fi 6 machine. But it does give you the taste of a much more expensive counterpart without digging a hole in your wallet. And that’s enough for me to recommend it.
If you’re looking for a reliable and fast router for a medium or even a large home, this one is a safe buy as long as you don’t expect a lot more than Wi-Fi coverage out of it without paying more. Here’s a quick hint: Don’t use the mobile app!