TP-Link Deco X90 Review (Page 4 of 5)

Page 4 - Performance Tests

For the tests, the TP-Link Deco X90 wireless router was placed on the main floor of my house. My media PC with a Gigabyte UD Pro 256GB SSD was connected to the router via a CAT5e cable on a Gigabit Ethernet connection. On the client side, a 2018 13" HP Envy 13 with an Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX200 network adapter card installed running Totusoft's LAN Speed Test application was used to transfer 500MB test files to evaluate real-world throughput. In our results, "upload" is defined as data transfer from the client to the server via the wireless router; conversely, "download" is defined as data transfer from the server to the client via the wireless router.

Since wireless channels are generally characterized by path loss, large scale fading, and small-scale fading, the router was tested in six different locations described above to comprehensively measure its true throughput performance. This includes a combination of line of sight and non-light of sight spots, different distance and positions relative to the router, as well as shadowing caused by objects between the laptop and the router. In order to overcome inconsistencies due to small scale fading, a relatively large 500MB test file was used. Furthermore, movement of people and objects within the devices’ vicinity during testing was eliminated whenever possible. As this was a mesh unit, I decided to place the primary one in my living room, where the single-unit routers sat, while the second unit was placed in an adjacent room with direct line of sight between both nodes. This should allow for better coverage on the other end of my house.

A brief description of the test locations is as follows:

- Location 1: Line of sight to router, approximately 2m distance
- Location 2: Non-line of sight to router, bedroom, one floor up
- Location 3: Non-line of sight to router, bedroom, one floor up, end of house
- Location 4: Non-line of sight to router, bedroom, one floor down
- Location 5: Non-line of sight to router, patio balcony, same level
- Location 6: Non-line of sight to router, attached garage, one floor down

Compared Hardware:
- TP-Link Deco X90 (Single) (AX6600)
- TP-Link Deco X90 (Double) (AX6600)
- D-Link DIR-X5460 (AX5400)
- EnGenius ESR580 (Single) (AC2200)
- EnGenius ESR580 (Double) (AC2200)
- TP-Link Archer AX6000 (AX6000)
- TP-Link Archer GX90 (AX6600)

As you might already know, the direct line of sight location 1 was where all of the routers provided the best upload and download performance, and this is the same for the TP-Link Deco X90. In both single and double node configurations, the Deco X90 pulled up some really high speeds, with the two-node configuration topping above the enthusiast Archer GX90 in download and second in upload. Results from locations 2 and 4 are directly above or below the router, respectively, showing the antenna array strength from when where the client is in respective to the network, even if it does not have a direct line of sight. When I tested directly above the primary node, the performance was a bit reduced, but still quite competitive at over 650Mbps download and over 150Mbps upload. The slightly slower double node numbers are surprising, but we have to consider the unpredictability of wireless transmission by small- and/or large-scale fading. It could also be a sign of the limitations with the backhaul network between the two mesh routers. Directly underneath, the numbers are still quite strong for the two-node setup, but slightly lower for the single Deco X90.

In further locations from the main node, like location 3, we see once again the single node providing better results than the double node, which again could be attributed to a bottleneck in the transmission between the two mesh nodes or the effects of small- and large-scale fading. Even so, these numbers were generally good and still faster than the Wi-Fi 5 router on our list. Moving to location 5, which included a greater lateral distance from the mesh nodes, the performance of the TP-Link Deco X90 was strong with download numbers of 672Mbps and 211.09Mbps upload. Location 6 is probably the most difficult location due to its vertical and lateral distance from the main unit. As you can see, adding the second Deco X90 proved to be fruitful, as the download throughput almost quadrupled while the upload speeds doubled. The two Deco X90s resulted in the second highest results in this tricky location.

All in all, the TP-Link Deco X90's numbers are solid for a Wi-Fi 6 product. Its peak speeds were as competitive as any of our other 802.11ax routers. The Deco X90 was still often bested by other powerful single router units, such as the Archer GX90, but the Deco X90 still performed admirably. At further distances or different barriers from the client to the nodes, it was clear that the Deco X90 still was capable in providing good coverage all over the house. The addition of the second node definitely still provided more range and throughput in general, though we did still see, in some circumstances, the backhaul network limiting the overall throughput. Of course, adding more nodes may increase the signal strength and range, but you will see diminishing returns in terms of performance. This will vary based on the size and number of levels in your house as well as the location of these access points.

Page Index
1. Introduction, Packaging, Specifications
2. Physical Look - Hardware
3. Configuration and User Interface
4. Performance Tests
5. Conclusion