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 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.
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 4x4 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
|TP-Link Archer AX6600|
Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6
|TP-Link Archer AX1100 |
Tri-band Wi-Fi 6
|Model||Archer AX90||Archer GX90||Archer AX1100|
|Wi-Fi Technology||Tri-band AX6600||Tri-band AX6600||Tri-band AX1100|
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs|
|2x2 AX: Up to 574 Mbps |
|2x2 AX: Up to 574 Mbps |
|4x4 X: Up to 1148 Mbps|
|5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs|
|2x2 AX: Up to 1201 MBps|
|2x2 AX: Up to 1201 MBps|
|4x4 AX: Up to 4804 Mbps|
|5GHz-2 Wi-Fi Specs |
|4x4 AX: Up to 4804 Mbps|
|4x4 AX: Up to 4804 Mbps|
|4x4 AX: Up to 4804 |
|Gigabit Port||1x LAN/WAN|
|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|
|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: Detail photos
TP-Link Archer GX90: That same “gaming” veneer on top of an excellent and familiar feature set
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
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.
One thing to note: By default, you need to use the router's 2.5Gbps 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.
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.
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 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.
Indeed, the router's upper 4x4 5GHz band supported the 160MHz channel width well, allowing 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 clients to connect at the negotiated speed of 2.4Gbps.
And in real-world copy speed, I got the sustained throughputs 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 2x2 (80MHz) 5GHz band but still registered around 600Mbps within the 40-food range.
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.
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.
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.
TP-Link Archer GX90's Rating
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
Thin on gaming
Single Multi-Gig port; no Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
USB-based storage performance could be better
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, thanks to the more refined firmware, 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.