Page 2 - Physical Look - Hardware
The TP-Link Archer GX90 is a downright massive full featured and full power Wi-Fi 6 gaming router. If it reminds you of the Archer C5400X I reviewed a couple of years ago, then you will be right. The gaming theme can be seen throughout, where it is loaded with sharply angled lines and red accents for more visual complexity stereotypical of the PC and console gaming world. The entire enclosure is made out of plastic with ventilation holes on top, while a triangle multi-color status LED next to the TP-Link logo is located in the middle for additional visual flare. Its dimensions are 212mm in width, 212mm in depth, and 51.8mm in height with no antenna installed -- this router is simply large. Add on the eight antennas to the GX90 and we push these measurements up to approximately 250mm by 250mm by 180mm. Surprisingly, despite a practically identical look, it is measurably smaller than the C5400X of 240.6mm in width, 240.6mm in depth, and 55.4mm in height with no antenna installed.
The TP-Link Archer GX90 lays flat on your desk rather than aligned vertically to save space like many modern routers. In fact, it makes no attempt to save space at all. It is equipped with eight dual band detachable antennas for some epic multi-user multiple-input and multiple-output wireless communication. As you can see in our photo above, one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0 port are located on the right, while three buttons for toggling WPS, Wi-Fi, and the LED on or off are located in front. Inside, the router is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU.
Turning the TP-Link Archer GX90 around, we can take a closer look at the dual band antennas attached to the router along with a standard array of ports and switches. These include four Gigabit Ethernet ports, one 2.5Gbps uplink port, reset button, power on/off button, and a 12V DC power input. The 2.5Gbps uplink port is there to support internet connections faster than 1Gbps, but all wired connections are still limited to 1Gbps, which is unfortunate. This design limits >1Gbps internet speeds to wireless connections only, which, in many cases, is impossible to achieve in real-world conditions. A full 2.5Gbps port array is preferred to support not only fast internet connections, but also 2.5Gbps connections between systems on your network like a NAS and PC.
Eight antennas can be snapped into place all around the router, but their positions are fixed, meaning their aim cannot be adjusted. Why eight antennas, you may ask? The use of multiple antennas for communications has been the foundation of many modern wireless technologies; ranging from short range unlicensed bands such as Wi-Fi to long range licensed bands like 5G cell phone networks. The fundamental principle lies in the fact that multiple antennas allow the designer to enhance performance using beamforming and diversity techniques. Beamforming, in the simplest explanation, allows the wireless signal to be directed towards a certain direction. Diversity exploits multipath -- where a wireless signal can arrive via different paths due to reflection and refraction in the propagation channel -- to enhance the received signal quality. In Wi-Fi 6, spatial multiplexing takes advantage of these different paths between the transmitter and receiver, as limited by the number of antennas and advanced signal processing techniques, so that multiple streams of data can be transmitted within the same frequency band. Multi-user MIMO, otherwise called MU-MIMO, lets multiple antennas from multiple users to communicate with multiple antennas on the router. Obviously, the more antennas on the access point the better, but we are bound by the laws of diminishing returns.
The TP-Link Archer GX90 is advertised as an AX6600 router. This means it operates at 574Mbps on the 2.4GHz band via one 40MHz channel with two spatial streams and one 80MHz channel with two streams on the 5GHz band provides 1201Mbps. An additional 4804Mbps of bandwidth on a 160MHz channel with four streams also on the 5GHz band gives it 6579Mbps total theoretical throughput for its AX6600 designation. It is important to point out the two 5GHz bands are separately operated connections. We will evaluate the performance of this router in just a moment.
The power supply is an adapter manufactured by Mass Power. The S042-1A120330VU is a 12V power supply specified for up to 3.3A of current. This means it can deliver a maximum of 39.6W. As far as efficiency is concerned, it is "VI" rated. To skip over all the nitty gritty compliance details of this technical specification, the basic gist of it is it has to be at least 87.5% efficient in given conditions and consumes less than 0.50W in no-load mode.
Ventilation openings can be seen at the bottom of the TP-Link Archer GX90. Four integrated plastic feet with rubber bottoms provide about half a centimeter of additional clearance between the router and your table. Two mounting holes inside the feet lets you wall-mount or ceiling-mount your router should you prefer that; this is a great option in my opinion. Meanwhile, a label at the bottom shows information like the serial number, default SSIDs, and Wi-Fi password. Of course, you are free to change your wireless network name and encryption key in the web configuration interface, but this will get you going right off the bat if you are the type to stick with default settings.
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Configuration and User Interface
4. Performance Tests