The TP-Link Archer AX90 is the latest premium tri-band Wi-Fi 6 router from TP-Link. This has many of the high-end features seen on the TP-Link Archer AX11000, but has one new feature not seen before.

This is one of the first routers from TP-Link that supports Whole Home OneMesh WiFi, so you can then pair it up with the RE505X Wi-Fi 6 Range Extender to create a whole-home mesh network.

TP-Link kindly included the aforementioned RE505X so it can be tested for you in the latter part of this review.

TP-Link Archer AX90: Specifications

Standards Wi-Fi 6
IEEE 802.11ax/ac/n/a 5 GHz
IEEE 802.11ax/n/b/g 2.4 GHz
WiFi Speeds AX6600
5 GHz: 4804 Mbps (802.11ax, HE160)
5 GHz: 1201 Mbps (802.11ax)
2.4 GHz: 574 Mbps (802.11ax)
WiFi Range 8x Fixed High-Performance Antennas
Multiple antennas form a signal-boosting array to cover more directions and large areas
Beamforming
Concentrates wireless signal strength towards clients to expand WiFi range
High-Power FEM
Improves transmission power to strengthen signal coverage
4T4R
Multiple streams in the same band strengthen the fault tolerance in transmission
WiFi Capacity Tri-Band
Allocate devices to different bands for optimal performance4×4 MU-MIMOSimultaneously communicates with multiple MU-MIMO clientsOFDMASimultaneously communicates with multiple Wi-Fi 6 clientsAirtime FairnessImproves network efficiency by limiting excessive occupationDFSAccess an extra band to reduce congestion8 StreamsConnect your devices to more bandwidth
WiFi Encryption WPA
WPA2
WPA3
WPA/WPA2-Enterprise (802.1x)
Network Security SPI Firewall
Access Control
IP & MAC Binding
Application Layer Gateway
WAN Types Dynamic IP
Static IP
PPPoE
PPTP
L2TP
Processor 1.5 GHz Quad-Core CPU
Ethernet Ports 1× 2.5 Gbps WAN/LAN Port
1× 1 Gbps WAN/LAN Port
3× 1 Gbps LAN Ports
USB Ports 1× USB 3.0 Port
1× USB 2.0 PortSupported Partition Formats:
NTFS, exFAT, HFS+, FAT32Supported Functions:
Apple Time Machine
FTP Server
Media Server
Samba Server
Buttons Wi-Fi On/Off Button
Power On/Off Button
LED On/Off Button
WPS Button
Reset Button
Power 12 V ⎓ 3.3 A = 39.6w
Dimensions 311 × 207 × 174 mm (12.2 × 8.1 × 6.8 in)

 

TP-Link Archer AX90: Video Overview

TP-Link Archer AX90: Closer Look

 

 

 

 

 

The TP-Link Archer AX90 arrives in a large TP-Link branded box with details and specifications on the sides. The router is well protected by foam inserts, accessories are organized into cardboard compartments to prevent damage.

 

 

 

 

 

An assortment of paperwork including a Quick Installation Guide & WiFi info card can be found. Along with a 1m white Cat 5e Ethernet cable and, finally, a 39.6w power supply is included.

 

While the design is similar to AX60, the Archer AX90 is much larger with 8 antennas. The antennas are built-in and cannot be replaced.
It is made of a combination of matt and glossy plastics. The build quality is excellent but, unsurprisingly, the glossy plastic parts tend to scratch easily and quickly collect fingerprints and dust.

 

That being said, they are rotatable and can fold flat through 90 degrees, should you wish to wall mount the Archer AX90 instead.

 

The rear side offers plenty of ventilation and shows us the 2 wall-mounting holes if, again, that’s your preferred option.

 

There is a lot of connectivity options on the AX90. On the left is a USB 3.0 port. All the other ports are located behind the router, this includes one USB 2.0, power adaptor and power switch, a reset button, a 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN port and a 1Gbps WAN / LAN one channel, and three more 1Gbps LAN ports.

 

 

 

 

 

The USB ports allow connecting to external storage devices to share files over the network providing SMB or FTP access and supports Apple Time Machine backup. Unfortunately, it cannot be used to share a USB printer.

 

 

 

 

 

At the front are three discreet buttons for Wi-Fi on/off, LED on/off and WPS connect. The LED is positioned at the top front of the AX90 housing and shows this TP-Link blue LED when it’s in good working order.

TP-Link Archer AX90: Setup & GUI

Once connected by cables or Wi-Fi, the router will prompt you for the initial setup when you start your Internet browser. Alternatively, just enter the internet address tplinkwifi.net or 192.168.0.1 in the address bar.

You can also use the Tether app, which works on the local network, for configuration and management. It is available for both smartphones and tablets on iOS and Android. You also have the option to register a TP-Link account ID during installation, which will enable access to cloud services. From there, you can control your entire network remotely.

The settings are divided into basic and advanced, with the most essential options at the top. The GUI is much the same as the AX50 review we covered and is simple and easy to use and make configuration changes.

The basic settings cover Network map, Internet, Wireless, Homeshield and Advanced.

The advanced options cover Quick Setup, Network, TP-Link ID, Wireless, USB, NAT Forwarding, Homeshield, Security, VPN client, VPN server, IPv6, Smart Life Assistant, OneMesh and System.

However, the Homeshield section irks us here as it’s still only configurable using the Tether app. Forcing users to use the smartphone app to make these changes. A complaint we had in the AX50 review also.

It’s obvious that changes to these settings, which include parental controls, can be made with anyone that knows the login information for the router and moving them to the app limits access from individuals that might want to change them, but a password is still needed to login to the router in the first place. Making the argument for the app only integration a little moot, in our opinion.
The other side of the coin is that using the TP-Link ID and Tether app, these changes can be made remotely by the “admin” using the app regardless of how far or near they are. There’s a privacy trade-off here for sure.

In the past, Netgear has had criticism for their paid only security and TP-Link praised for their free HomeCare.
However, they’ve u-turned here as they have now rebranded as Homeshield so they can then introduce a Pro tier.
Basic is free to use but is much more limited than Pro or even HomeCare. The paid features include real-time protection, which is one of the main selling points of these added services.
The HomeShield Pro subscription service is £5.99 PCM or £53.99 per year. Netgear Armor works out at £50 per year (they quote $69.99).

OFDMA and MU-MIMO technologies are also worth mentioning. MU-MIMO technology allows the creation of several simultaneous connections to serve multiple users at the same time, even when gaming online, watching 4K videos or sending large files.

The router allows us to configure the different networks, which can work separately or as a combined network with Smart Connect. The router automatically assigns the network depending on what the connecting device supports including what WiFi channel or band it connects to. It also offers an option to set up a Guest Wi-Fi network, with or without a password.

With TP-Link OneMesh Extender, users can build a Wi-Fi mesh network and use a single SSID to form a huge Wi-Fi network without blind spots. More on that and the RE505X shortly.

Archer AX90 also supports Amazon Alexa voice control function. Users can control different functions on the Archer AX90 by voice.

TP-Link Archer AX90: Performance Testing

The TP-Link Archer AX90 offers tri-band Wi-Fi 6, featuring a 160 MHz bandwidth and 1024-QAM, for a total bandwidth of up to 6.6 Gbps hence the AX6600 branding/naming. The router uses 8 external high-performance antennas in order to match the 802.11ax extremely fast transmission with range boost, beamforming technology, and airtime fairness technology.

Talking hardware, the TPLink AX50 has a 1.5GHz Quad-Core processor and 1GB of RAM.

The Archer AX90 also supports Target Wake Time (TWT) technology. The router can determine when and how often devices wake up to effectively send or receive data.

For the 5GHz-2 channel (4804Mbps) running at 160Mhz, you are limited to use channels above 100, which are all DFS. This can cause some issues with radar, and (be warned) you may struggle to achieve 160Mhz.

Close Range Performance (measured in MegaBits)

  • 5Ghz 160Mhz: 1222 Mbps
  • 5Ghz 80Mhz: 901 Mbps
  • 2.4Ghz: 198 Mbps

Mid-Range (Downstairs)

  • 5Ghz 160Mhz: 918 Mbps
  • 5Ghz 80Mhz: 667 Mbps
  • 2.4Ghz: 161 Mbps

Long Range (Downstairs, 2 rooms away)

  • 5Ghz 160Mhz: 538 Mbps
  • 5Ghz 80Mhz: 428 Mbps
  • 2.4Ghz: 110 Mbps

NAS Performance

The router has 2 USB ports, but you will want to make sure you only use the blue USB 3.0 port as the yellow USB 2.0 port will severely limit your performance.

The USB functionality allows you to create a network share, and there is Time Machine functionality too.

Transfers were made from a 1TB M.2 to a 1TB SATA SSD in a caddy attached to the USB3 port on the AX90.

It achieved an acceptable 82 MB/s write and 42 MB/s read (MegaBytes) transfer rate using SAMBA share between Windows 10 computers over Gigabit Ethernet.

Excellent coverage

The Archer AX90 did well in terms of coverage. It could handle a home of about 2000 ft² (186 m²) with a typical amount of walls when placed in the middle.

TP-Link RE505X Range Extender: Closer Look

 

 

 

 

 

 

The TP-Link RX505X range extender is one of the first devices that support the TP-Link OneMesh technology and is a 2×2 dual-band device capable of 300 Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1200 Mbps at 5GHz. This technology allows you to take a router, we’re using the AX90 as our example, and expand it into a mesh network, offering “smart roaming” between devices on the network. Making it a much better option than (older) Wi-Fi extenders which typically have different SSIDs.

Aesthetically, the RE505X looks fantastic in glossy white plastic with the TP-Link logo in black in the centre of the unit. The 2 antennas can be rotated through 180° from top to bottom and are complemented with 4 light blue LED’s on the right side indicating power, WiFi on/off, 2.4GHz and 5GHz connectivity.

With the RE505X, like all dual-band Wi-Fi systems, you’ll see a significant drop in performance for the mesh connected node due to signal loss over the shared band.

So, the whole home performance of this running as a mesh system will be lower than that of a dedicated tri-band mesh system such as the TP-Link Deco X90. But, the router itself has the capacity to offer greater performance than the wired router of any tri-band mesh system on the market and the added benefit of being much cheaper.

So, you will have to evaluate your needs before committing to this system. Depending on your home arrangement, if the router is located centrally or in the most used part of the home with the satellite nodes covering the black spots, this system will likely be a better buy than a tri-band mesh system.

TP-Link RE505X Range Extender: Specifications

HARDWARE FEATURES
Ports 1 Gigabit Ethernet Port
Button WPS Button, Reset Button
Power Consumption 10W
Dimensions ( W x D x H ) 2.9×1.8×4.9 in. (74.0×46×124.8 mm)
Antenna 2 External Antennas
WIRELESS FEATURES
Wireless Standards IEEE 802.11a/n/ac/ax 5GHz, IEEE 802.11b/g/n 2.4GHz
Frequency 2.4GHz and 5GHz
Signal Rate 300 Mbps at 2.4GHz, 1200 Mbps at 5GHz
Reception Sensitivity 5GHz:

11a 6Mbps: -93dBm,
11a 54Mbps: -75dBm
11ac HT20 MCS0: -92dBm,
11ac HT20 MCS8: -70dBm
11ac HT40 MCS0: -90dBm,
11ac HT40 MCS9: -66dBm
11ac HT80 MCS0: -87dBm,
11ac HT80 MCS9: -62dBm

2.4GHz:

11g 54Mbps: -77dBm,
11n HT20 MCS7: -75dBm
11n HT40 MCS7: -72dBm

Transmit Power CE: 2.4GHz ≤20dBm, 5GHz ≤30dBm
Wireless Functions Enable/Disable Wireless Radio, Wireless Statistics
Wireless Security 64/128-bit WEP, WPA/WPA-PSK2 encryptions
OTHERS
Package Contents Wi-Fi Range Extender RE505X
Quick Installation Guide
System Requirements Microsoft Windows 98SE, NT, 2000, XP, Vista™ or Windows 7, 8, 8.1, 10, MAC OS, NetWare, UNIX or Linux
Internet Explorer 11, Firefox 12.0, Chrome 20.0, Safari 4.0, or other Java-enabled browser
Certifications FCC, RoHS

TP-Link RE505X Range Extender: Setup

Connecting the RE505X to the AX90 was a breeze. I used the WPS connect option, holding the connect button on the RE505X until it was in WPS connect mode and doing the same on the front of the AX90 router. In less than a minute, the 2 devices were connected using the OneMesh technology.

As before, the Tether app is available to set up the RE505X giving you another option should you wish.

Once connected, the RE505X instantly appeared in the OneMesh devices menu.

One caveat found when setting up was that OneMesh doesn’t connect to the router when it is in access point mode, and instead tries to use the traditional method of setting up a new SSID for the extended network.

Moving over the Advanced settings, the OneMesh tab offers more options. The choice to rename it and state its location. Useful if you have more than one in operation.

Clicking the “Manage Device” option loads up a new tab on the web browser and once you’ve entered your TP-Link ID and password loads up the GUI for the RE505X itself with the “settings” tab being the default page.
Here information about the internet connection, 2.4 and 5Ghz connectivity and the number of clients connected are displayed.

Submenus including Status, Wireless, Network, Advanced settings, System tools, OneMesh and TP-Link Cloud are available.

Offering options to connect to and extend the network, network settings and DHCP setup.
WiFi Coverage offers Maximum, Intermediate and Minimum coverage options.
System Tools can make changes to Time settings, LED control, Firmware upgrades and backup & restore options.
OneMesh allows the choice to join or disable the OneMesh network and finally, TP-Link Cloud allows the user to bind or remove the RE505X from their TP-Link account.

TP-Link RE505X Range Extender: Performance Testing

While the TP-Link Archer RE505X can trade blows with flagship routers with its multi-gig Wi-Fi performance. The Archer RE505X isn’t quite as advanced which is understandable for a £60 device, after all, this is a dual-band device with a maximum theoretical speed of 1201Mbps using Wi-Fi 6.

With the TP-Link Archer AX90 offering superb long-range performance, testing of the extender was a little limited. At close range, the same room, then outside in the front garden as the range extender was in the closest room.

Close Range Performance (Same room)

  • 5Ghz 80Mhz: 464 Mbps
  • 2.4Ghz: 91 Mbps

Mid-Range (Outside, front garden closest to the room where RE505X is located)

  • 5Ghz 80Mhz: 326 Mbps
  • 2.4Ghz: 34 Mbps

The results are much less impressive than the router, but it still provides more than enough speed to handle anything I would ever do over Wi-Fi, even gaming. So overall, are very good once you take into account the Wi-Fi throughput/bandwidth on offer.

Importantly, the wireless range on offer with the extender did outperform the AX90 on its own making the RE505X a genuinely useful addition to the Wi-Fi network in my house.

TP-Link Archer AX90 & RE505X Range Extender (MESH): Conclusion

The TP-Link Archer AX90 router by itself is fantastic and has all the important bits from a flagship Wi-Fi 6 router; OFDMA, MU-MIMO, HT160, 2.5GB WAN/LAN to name a few.
It also looks fantastic with the aesthetically pleasing all-over black matt and glossy plastic on offer and has a striking resemblance to the front of a boat when viewed from below head-on.
The 8 antennas are chunky and can be repositioned should you decide to wall mount, if you’d prefer that option, over the “dead spider” look it has when sat on a table/desk.

It then has the added benefit of the OpenMesh system on offer, allowing you to run a high-end router while still covering large homes with Wi-Fi.

There are a few caveats to extending your Wi-Fi network with the RE505X as the extender is a dual-band device with 300 Mbps at 2.4GHz and 1200 Mbps at 5GHz, which is what helps it be more affordable than competing solutions.
We have no doubts that a more expensive and high-performance tri-band solution will come to market in the not too distant future.
However, this should still work very well for most people if you’re likely to use the router as your main Wi-Fi device and the RE505X to cover the black spots in your home like the garden or garage.

Negatively, we’re not a fan of the rebranding of HomeCare to HomeShield so a “pro” service can be offered, whilst not actually being needed. Though the “basic” service offers enough options to satisfy a typical end-user.

Connectivity-wise, actually getting 160Mhz to work may require some experimentation, and there’s no chance it’ll be used when using smart connect, but those issues are forgivable considering that this is one of, if not the cheapest router with 2.5Gb Ethernet and 4×4 160Mhz 5GHz Wi-Fi 6, plus OneMesh technology, coming in at £238.99 for the AX90 and just £49.99 for the RE505X range extender.

TP-Link Archer AX90 Router


What’s Hot:

  • Tri-band
  • 160MHz HT on 5Ghz-2 band
  • 2.5GB Ethernet
  • Fantastic range covering 2000 ft² (186 m²) homes
  • Aesthetically pleasing unit
  • Marginally cheaper than competitors AX6600 units

What’s Not:

  • HomeShield has features not available in the “pro” version
  • Limited settings in the Tether app
  • HomeShield is ONLY available in the Tether app
  • 160Mhz limited to DFS channels (not exclusive to TP-Link however)

TP-Link RE505X Range Extender

What’s Hot:

  • OneMesh is a neat alternative to a standard mesh system
  • RE505X (and RE605X too) offer AX WiFi much cheaper than competing brands
  • Affordable

What’s Not: 

  • Dual-band connectivity offers reduced performance (compared to tri-band mesh system)

Big thanks to TP-Link for sending the Archer AX90 router and RE505X Range Extender in for today’s review. We look forward to seeing more from them soon.

REVIEW OVERVIEW
Performance
Build Quality
Design
Features
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