The TP-Link Archer AX90 ($ 299.99) is a wireless router with many of the features you would expect at this steep price, including tri-band Wi-Fi 6 and a nice selection of I / O ports. S – there is even a 2.5 Gbps WAN / LAN Connector. It also comes with parental controls and network security tools. Combine all of that with easy installation and solid 5GHz performance in our testing, and you’ve got a great, cutting-edge router. However, if you can climb a little higher on the price scale, you’ll get better overall performance and more connectivity options with our Editors’ Choice, the TP-Link Archer AX11000 gaming router.
It’s a lot of antennas
At 6.8 x 12.2 x 8.1 inches (HWD), the Archer AX90 is a full size router, but it is not as big as the Archer AX11000 (7.2 x 11.3 x 11.3 inch). The black case sports sleek grilles on top and is equipped with eight non-removable antennas. On the front of the router, along the bottom edge are the WPS, LED (on / off), and Wi-Fi (on / off) buttons. Above them is an LED indicator that turns solid blue when the router is connected and functioning properly, and solid red when the connection is lost.
On the back, you’ll find a nice selection of I / O ports, including the aforementioned 2.5 Gbps port, one gigabit WAN / LAN port, three additional gigabit-only LAN ports, and one USB 2.0 port. There is also a reset button, a power outlet and a power switch. Meanwhile, you will find a second USB port on the right side of the router; it supports 3.0 speeds.
Powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, the AX90 is an eight-stream AX6600 tri-band router that can achieve maximum data rates of 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band, 1,201 Mbps on either 5 GHz and 4,804 Mbps bands on the band. 5 GHz secondary band. This is a Wi-Fi 6 device which supports the latest 802.11ax technologies, including 160MHz channel bandwidth, WPA3 encryption, Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM), Target Wake-Up Time, 4×4 MU-MIMO data streaming, beamforming and dynamic frequency selection (DFS).
As with other TP-Link routers such as the Archer AX11000 and Archer AX73, the Archer AX90 comes with a free HomeShield Basic package for enhanced parental controls and basic network security scans. You can use HomeShield to set filters for websites based on age; monitor how long a user has been online and which sites they have visited; and block access to specific sites.
For more robust parental controls, you’ll need to upgrade to the HomeShield Pro plan at $ 5.99 per month / $ 54.99 per year. Upgrading allows you to set time limits and give your kids extra time online as a reward for doing things like doing homework or completing housework. The Pro plan also gives you additional network security features, including malicious content filters, denial of service protection, and network security reporting.
TP-Link Tether app, showing (left to right) router status, network scan function and connected device information
You can install and manage the AX90 using a web console, or you can use the TP-Link Tether app for iOS and Android mobile devices. You will need the web console to access advanced IPv6, NAT, and DHCP settings, but the mobile app is more user-friendly and is required to configure and activate HomeShield features.
Once installed, the router will appear in its own panel on the My Devices screen in the app. The panel displays the router name and its MAC address. When you press the router panel, you will be taken to a home screen containing a network map and a list of connected devices that are on the main and guest networks. At the bottom of the screen are the Home, Customers, HomeShield, and Tools buttons. Use the Home button to return to the Home screen from anywhere in the app and the Customers button to view a list of connected wired and wireless devices. Tap a client entry to open a screen where you can view the client’s IP and MAC addresses, block Internet access for the client, and enable Quality of Service (QoS) and Parental Controls.
Press the HomeShield button to open a screen where you can change parental control settings, check for network security issues, and assign bandwidth priority to specific devices. The Tools button is used to configure wireless and Internet connection settings. Here you can create OneMesh network using other compatible TP-Link routers, enable device notifications, configure device as router or access point, and update router firmware . This is also where you can enable or disable the guest network.
Powerful 5 GHz test results
Setting up the AX90 is straightforward whether you’re using the web console (like I did) or the mobile app. First, I turned off my modem, connected the router to it using the supplied LAN cable, and powered on both devices. I then connected a desktop computer to the router, opened a browser, and typed http://tplinkwifi.net into the URL bar. I created a password in the login window and followed the instructions to select a time zone and choose a WAN port (2.5 Gbps or 1 Gbps). I selected Dynamic IP as the connection type, chose to separate the bands and created a new Wi-Fi password. After a quick internet connection test I updated the firmware, I waited a minute or two for the router to reboot and the installation was complete.
Find out how we test routers
The AX90 provided high throughput in our 5 GHz tests, but its performance at 2.4 GHz was not as impressive. Its score of 841 Mbps on the 5 GHz proximity test (same coin) was second in this test group only behind the Netgear XR1000 (865 Mbps). The TP-Link Archer AX11000 and the Linksys MR9600 achieved 831 Mbps and 840 Mbps respectively. The AX90’s 277 Mbps score on the 30-foot test was faster than the Netgear XR1000 (230 Mbps) and the Linksys MR9600 (228 Mbps) but it could not match the speed of the Archer AX11000 (328 Mbps). ).
The AX90’s 2.4 GHz throughput performance was good but not great. Its 109Mbps proximity test score was a bit slower than the Linksys MR9600 (111Mbps) while the Archer AX11000 led with a score of 133Mbps. The Netgear XR1000 came in second with a score of 122 Mbps. On the 30-foot test, the AX90’s 39 Mbps score was a hair faster than the Linksys MR9600 and the Netgear XR1000 (both marked 38 Mbps), but it couldn’t hit the Archer AX11000 (67 Mbps ).
To measure the wireless signal strength, we use an Ekahau Sidekick diagnostic device combined with Ekahau’s Survey software. (Note: Ekahau is owned by Ziff Davis, the publisher of PCMag.com.) This generates a heat map that shows the strength of the Wi-Fi signal throughout our test house.
WiFi signal strength card for 2.4 GHz (left) and 5 GHz (right)
The circle on the heat map represents the location of the router and the colors represent the signal strength. Dark green indicates the strongest signal, lighter yellow indicates a weaker signal, and gray indicates no measurable Wi-Fi signal. As the 2.4 GHz map shows, the AX90 struggled to deliver a strong signal in the far corners of the house, especially in the garage area. However, the 5 GHz signal strength was relatively strong throughout the house.
We test file transfer performance by moving a 1.5 GB folder containing a mixture of music, video, photos, and document files between a USB drive and a wired desktop PC (both directly connected to the router ) and by timing its read and write speeds. The AX90 obtained average scores on both tests. Its 54 Mbps write speed is slower than the Linksys MR9600 (73 Mbps), Archer AX11000 (68 Mbps) and Netgear XR1000 (73 Mbps).
Likewise, its read score of 58MB / s lagged behind the pack: the Linksys MR9600 scored 70MB / s, the Netgear XR1000 scored 76MB / s and the Archer AX11000 led with a score of 85. MB / s.
Well equipped for the price
With the TP-Link Archer AX90, you get a well-equipped tri-band router that uses Wi-Fi 6 technology to deliver a strong 5 GHz signal with a solid throughput. It comes with user-friendly parental controls and offers basic network scans, but you’ll have to pay extra to access the advanced network security features that come with the HomeShield Pro package.
You get a nice selection of I / O ports with this router, but if you need more LAN connectivity, the $ 399.99 TP-Link Archer AX11000 is your best bet and our editor’s choice winner. It has eight LAN ports, offers better overall performance, and comes with lifetime network security tools and plenty of gamer-friendly features.
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