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TP-Link Archer GX90 Review (vs Archer AX11000): A More Refined Lesser Clone

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.

TP Link GX90 AX6600 Gaming Router
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 Archer GX90: Rating

8.6 out of 10
TP Link GX90 AX6600 Gaming Router 2
Performance
9/10
Features
8.5/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance

2.5 Gbps WAN/LAN

Excellent feature set and network settings

Robust full web user interface

Nice design and comparatively affordable

Cons

Thin on gaming

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.

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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
ModelArcher AX90Archer GX90Archer AX1100 
Wi-Fi TechnologyTri-band AX6600Tri-band AX6600Tri-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 Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Mesh-ReadyOneMeshOneMeshNo
Gigabit Port1x LAN/WAN
3x LAN 
1× WAN/LAN
3× LAN
8× LAN 
Multi-Gig Port1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN1× 2.5 Gbps WAN/LAN1× 2.5Gbps WAN
LAN Link AggregationNoNoYes (LAN 2 + LAN 3)
WAN Link AggregationNoNoNo
Dual-WANNoNoNo
USB1x 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 Power1.5 GHz Quad-Core CPU1.5 GHz Quad-Core CPU1.8 GHz 64 bit Quad-Core CPU,
512 MB Flash, 1 GB RAM
Dimensions12.2 × 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)
Weight2 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.

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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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20 thoughts on “TP-Link Archer GX90 Review (vs Archer AX11000): A More Refined Lesser Clone”

  1. Dong,

    What is the difference between the security offerings/advanced features on the AX90 and the GX90. Is Homeshield essentially the same as the “game protector” tab?

    Reply
      • Thank you.

        I did actually read most of that review, but it wasn’t on my mind at the time so I skipped skipped that part I guess. I’ve got a headache from having literally 24 tabs about routers open right now, so I appreciate your answer.

        Reply
  2. Hey Dong, if you had the option between AX88u($400) GX90($400), and ax86u for $50 extra which would you go for mainly wifi and gaming over wifi multiple streams

    Reply
  3. I spent a bit of time testing three TP-Link Archer models this weekend. The AX6000, AX90, and GX90. I have all three configured similar to one another, with Smart Connect enabled. It might be worth noting that I installed the Canadian firmware for the GX90, since it’s posted on the TP-Link website. I think the AX6000 and AX90 are using the US firmware. I didn’t check before, but I noticed the GX90 had a channel 165 under the 5GHz-2 band, but the other two don’t.

    During that testing, I have the routers setup beside a bunch of electronics and they need to get through several walls to reach my phone.

    I setup all three routers in the same corner of my home on the second floor. When I tested in the corner across from where I have them setup, the GX90 (61Mbps/21Mbps) performed the best and the AX6000 (32Mbps/18Mbps) was easily the worst. The AX90 ( 45Mbps/21Mbps) was right in the middle.

    I need to test again from my basement, but during initial tests the AX90 performed the best from my basement in the opposite corner from where the routers are setup. I think the fixed antennas on the GX90 really hurt it’s performance.

    So far in my testing, the AX6000 has been the worst in all tests. It was a beast in its day, but those days are over when comparing to the GX90 and AX90.

    I will continue testing throughout the week with Smart Connect enabled, but so far I’m happy that I can get away with using only one SSID.

    Reply
    • BTW… my internet connection isn’t great. I have a 75Mbps internet connection.

      The comment where I say “I think the fixed antennas on the GX90 really hurt it’s performance”, is directed to multi-floor coverage. If you only have one floor, then the GX90 is the clear winner. Again, I’m still testing.

      I will add that I was pleasantly surprised with how well Smart Connect works on the AX90/GX90 routers. I typically don’t use one SSID for all bands, but with tri-band routers you’re going to have three SSIDs to choose from if you split up the bands.

      Reply
      • Just did a bit more testing. The AX90/GX90 work well with Smart Connect enabled. If you manually configure your wireless bands, that should give you the best wireless performance, but then you also have multiple SSIDs.

        Just testing both routers with Smart Connect enabled, the GX90 performed better when I was one floor down (main floor) from where the router was located (2nd floor). I also tested in the opposite corner of the house, so both routers had to go through some electronics and several walls to reach my phone.

        When I went down to my basement, the AX90 actually performed better than the GX90.

        The AX90 was pretty consistent in all of my testing, averaging about 40-45Mbps download and 20-21Mbps upload speeds from my main floor and basement. The GX90 had some consistently issues, averaging around 50Mbps download and 20-21Mbps upload speeds from my main floor and between 30-40Mbps download and 15Mbps upload speeds from my basement.

        I think if the GX90 is placed near the middle of a main floor of the home, it should be able to blanket one floor above and below very well (depending on size). I live in a 1750sqft home with a basement.

        I’m installing the GX90 in a 2500sqft home for my brother, and I’ll be putting it near the middle of the home on the main floor. I’m pretty confident it’ll be able to blanket his basement and second floor without issue based on my testing, because I had the test routers setup in the least optimal location of my home (second floor corner, next to home theater speakers, AVR, blu-ray player, TV, etc).

        The AX90 is a great alternative, my only knock is that it doesn’t come with the HomeCare Security service. The AX90 comes with a newer security service called HomeShield. The free version of HomeShield is pretty basic, so if you want some of the enhanced security features and parental controls, you will need to pay for a HomeShield Pro subscription (major bummer).

        Reply
  4. I received my new GX90 and so far I’m getting mixed results compared to my previous router, Netgear Nighthawk X6S AC3600 (R7960P). I’ll share my experiment and results here in case it helps anyone else. I connected my iPhone 11 to either the 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band and ran the SpeedTest app to take some measurements around the house and outside to compare router speed. QOS/Game Accelerator were turned off.

    I found the 5 GHz band of the GX90 to be significantly slower.

    R7960P Avg 2.4 GHz DL = 40.9 Mbps
    GX90 Avg 2.4 GHz DL = 37.8 Mbps

    R7960P Avg 2.4 GHz UL = 24 Mbps
    GX90 Avg 2.4 GHz UL = 12.2 Mbps

    R7960P Avg 5 GHz DL = 158.2 Mbps
    GX90 Avg 5 GHz DL = 44.5 Mbps

    R7960P Avg 5 GHz UL = 77.7 Mbps
    GX90 Avg 5 GHz UL = 21.4 Mbps

    Reply
  5. Hi Dong,

    Great review. Is some of the functionality in the GX90 crippled for users that don’t subscribe to HomeCare Pro?

    I bought the AX90 recently and while it’s a good router, I don’t love the fact that I need to pay for some basic functionality by subscribing to HomeCare Pro. I’m just wondering if that’s also the case with GX90?

    Reply
    • TP-Link hasn’t been able to make up its mind on this HomeCare/HomeShield nonsense, Kam. But you can see what the GX90 can do without the app via its emulator. Link in the review.

      Reply
      • Thanks Dong. I ended up ordering the AX90 and AX6000 just to test them out. I also ordered a GX90 today, so I’m hoping that’s the best of both worlds.

        In my testing, the AX90 gave better coverage and slightly better performance than the AX6000, but HomeShield was a downer. HomeCare (AX6000) appears to be vastly superior because it gives the advanced security and parental controls for free.

        I’m hoping the GX90 combines the performance of the AX90 with the security of the AX6000. Having good coverage and performance is high on my list of must haves, combined with a reasonable price. $250CAD is my threshold and the Asus offerings are all much higher priced than the TP-Link routers, otherwise I’d look at those.

        Fingers crossed that the GX90 hits that sweet spot. Thanks again for the reviews. I’ve been spending a lot of time doing research on your site.

        Reply
        • Sure, Kam. I’d take the performance over HomeShield/Care in a heartbeat. :). Thanks for sharing your experience.

          Reply
  6. I don’t put a lot of emphasis on the gaming aspects of the router, so if you had to choose between GX90 vs AX90, does one have a leg up for any particular reason?

    Reply

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