Tech

Review: TP-Link Archer GX90 Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router

GX90

By now, I think most of us have adjusted to life working from home. And by now, we’re all in agreement that having good internet is a basic human right. So, in today’s digital forward society, all of us need the tools to do our jobs to the best of our ability and making sure we have the right gear to power our homes is rightly part of that idea. And that is why for years now, I’ve been a supporter of TP-Link and its product lineup that assists me in my day-to-day tasks.

I’ve used powerline adapters throughout my home, installed mesh wi-fi systems in my friends’ home and added range extenders when other options weren’t available. To further that notion, TP-Link for me at least, gone above and beyond with support with the products I’ve used in my own home. When I had issues with firmware upgrades or questions about the settings of my router, the support team deliver cohesive answers and solutions that saved me hours of troubleshooting.

I’ve been using the Archer AC5400x, a powerful MU-MIMO Tri-Band Gaming Router for the last few years and it’s done some mighty heavy lifting from day one. While the AC5400x was the first gaming router in Canada at the time, the technology has only gotten better and in 2021, with TP-Link’s help, have moved over to the TP-Link Archer GX90, a powerful Wi-Fi 6 gaming router that if I’m being honest, looks like something my Warlock in Destiny 2 might wear.

Unpacking the unit is easy, and the setup for the unit is even easier. Within minutes you’ll be ready to surf the web or dive into a match or Rainbow Six Siege or Fortnite. In the box is the router, the antenna, and an ethernet cable to bridge the modem to the router. I decided to use TP-Link’s Tether app once again, which allows you to control your equipment from your phone and configure everything without being tethered to a PC.

I know some people might be turned off by the GX90’s design as it does come across as a bit outlandish, but with eight antennas powering the device, but this ensures a strong signal throughout the home and I’ll take that over the standard 3-4 antennas most routers still ship with. One of the reasons, I’d wager is because of Beamforming, a technique that focuses a wireless signal toward one receiving device, instead of having it spread out over an area, giving you a faster and more reliable connection.

And as with the way computer aesthetic has gone on to include RGB fans and light strips powering your PC, this unit fits right into any enthusiast setup. You’ll have access to four-gigabit ports, a 2.5Gbps uplink port, a reset and an On/Off button.

The GX90 also introduces Wi-Fi 6, the latest and fastest generation of Wi-Fi et. It’s more than a speed boost though, but theoretically, with the technology connections can hit a whopping 9.6 Gbps, which with Wi-Fi 5, only ever hit 3.5 Gbps. You’ll likely never hit these speeds in a real-world setting but it’s a great way to gauge how far we’ve come and can now support more devices without the risk of slowdown due to the amount of power we can gather.

Interface and Configuration

For the GX90, TP-Link has decidedly gone to greater lengths to advertise this as a gaming router. The previous model, the AC5400x, had a neutral interface with light colours. The GX90 is thoroughly designed for the game-savvy and through a browser interface, offers several options to customize your router. From the main menu, once you create a TP-Link account on your PC or through the Tether app, you’re presented with the main menu.

You have five main categories to choose from, each with its own submenu for in-depth customization. The main menu offers the Network Map, which is where you can look at your internet connection, any clients connected to the network. From here, you can

Game Center offers several options, including Game Accelerator, which detects and optimizes gaming streams, Game Protector, which helps keep your accounts and devices safe via Homecare, Game Statistics which gives you an overview of real-time latency, game duration and network resource allocation. A neat little function I appreciate is being able to prioritize what device gets full bandwidth when the network is under duress, you toggle it on with a radio button and set the Total Bandwidth, which kicks in before using the QoS.

The Internet tab allows you to select the port for internet access. This is dependent on your speed, of course, setting up a dynamic IP or static IP, and whether you want to clone the MAC address of your router. What I should say here is that TP-Link has found this middle-ground where navigating menus and understanding what each feature does is simple and straightforward, if a company can successfully get their product working in the care of my parents, well, I’m pretty ecstatic about that then since it’s less work for me to set things up.

Wireless is the fourth tab and offers the majority of your wireless settings. The GX90 offers the option to enable OFDMA, which allows multiple devices to share one channel at the same time, improving speed and efficiency, Smart Connect, which allows each of the router’s wireless bands to use the same wireless settings so the network can balance demand. Here you can also set up your 2.4GHz, 5GHz-1, and 5GHz-2 SSID, the security type and the password for each band. If you want to set up a guest network, it’s here you can do that.

The last tab, Advanced, lets you see the status of the network, as well as general settings for the network. You can bind your TP-Link account to the router for easy login access and manage the device through the Tether app. Through the Wireless tab, you can set up the mode, the channel width, transmit power, airtime fairness and so on. One of the more important settings that I recommend looking at is the QoS tab which lets you choose the online activities your network prioritizes for everyone on the network. Picking from Standard, Gaming, Streaming, Surfing, Chatting, or Custom, each one offers benefits to the network.

Verdict

While some of the advertised features on the Archer Gx90 are overkill, these same features are also futureproofed. By investing now, you’ll have a device that won’t be obsolete in a year or two, but likely 5-7 years down the line. For that alone, I’d recommend this but as someone who plays and reviews games as a career, the reward is having a router that can support my hobbies and allow me to do multiple things like download updates, streaming video, playing online games and even voice chat without the worry of bogging down my network. While the aesthetic may not be for everyone, TP-Link clearly had a demographic in mind here but even so, this device is tucked away in a room in your home, the concession is you get an extremely powerful device supporting your entire family’s internet habits without issue.

The TP-Link Archer GX90 is currently on sale for $299, down from the regular $399. At the price point, I can’t stress enough how great getting a device like this in your home is for the next few years as our connections grow in speed, the GX90 is easily the best solution to getting your entire house connected to the internet and the best device to do it without any slowdown on your network.

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Bobby has been gaming since he was old enough to walk. Since then, the interest has only grown stronger, and here we are today. Follow Bobby on Twitter, and just go with it. @bpashalidis

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