Not every router can cope with a modern user’s fleet of devices. In order not to run around the apartment in search of a signal, you should take a closer look at the models that support the Wi-Fi 6 standard. And if there are a lot of rooms, for example, in a country house or townhouse? Then it is better to assemble the best WiFi 6 mesh system with uninterrupted roaming and forget about disconnection. The TP-Link Deco X90 (AX6600) flagship WiFi 6 mesh router cum internet extender is a ready choice for building a reliable network. We get to know what he is capable of in the review below.
TP-Link Deco X90 comes with two identical modules. The hard white cones, moving upwards, are strikingly different from the stereotypical image of a black box with antennae. They are not very distinctive, so they will fit into almost any interior. In addition, accessories take up a minimum of space: the height of each is 21 cm, and the diameter of the base is about 13 cm.
At the bottom of the case, there are barely noticeable ventilation holes, with the Ethernet port on the back. The manufacturer carefully hid the power socket in a small recess at the bottom end. If you lead the wire from behind, it will be practically invisible. By the way, all the necessary cables are already included. A small, but good: from such details, one gets the impression of premium technology. For better grip, the modules were equipped with rubberized feet.
What is Mesh Networking?
A mesh network is a seamless Wi-Fi network consisting of multiple repeaters with a single SSID. They are placed in separate rooms, creating a uniform coverage area. Wherever the gadget is connected to the network, it is automatically transferred to the module with the strongest signal. You can move freely in your apartment or cottage without worrying about disconnecting the connection.
Each TP-Link Deco X90 Wi-Fi 6 wireless extender module is equipped with four built-in antennas for stable coverage. Using the beamforming method, they can focus the channel on a specific device. A directional signal is less susceptible to interference and transfers data faster. At the same time, thanks to OFDMA technology, any channel is divided into separate bands, providing simultaneous communication with a large number of gadgets and reducing signal delay.
Each module consists of a pair of smart antennas responsible for the backhaul function. The latter needs to synchronize the access points with each other. With it, devices scan their surroundings to select the best signal source. You can also use a wire connection between the elements of the WiFi 6 mesh system, improving the stability of the coating. AI Mesh technology automatically optimizes WiFi 6 mesh router settings by analyzing environmental factors. It allows the kit to adjust wireless parameters on the fly, improving coverage and switching speed between modules. It’s also worth noting that the Deco X90 is a tri-band best WiFi 6 mesh system that uses one of 5 GHz exclusively for wireless backhaul.
An equally useful component of Wi-Fi 6-enabled systems is the technology for simultaneous data exchange with multiple clients (4×4 MU-MIMO). When using it, the devices connected to the network do not need to stand in a queue waiting for a free channel. BSS color, an analog of the “friend or foe” system, will help get rid of neighboring traffic blocking the wind. This technology marks packets of data from home gadgets, ignoring all others on the same frequency. This eliminates the packet delay typical of older router models. Finally, the Wi-Fi 6 standard includes a new 1024-QAM modulation scheme. Its work can be compared to an archiver, only it does not compress files, but data packets, increasing network bandwidth.
As a mesh system, the TP-Link Deco X90 supports 802.11k, 802.11r, and 802.11v standards. The first is responsible for Wi-Fi roaming when several access points indicate the optimal module for client devices to go online in advance. Deco wireless extender modules track client status and provide convenient switching options.
802.11r, in turn, provides a seamless transition between mesh coverage modules, flipping a gadget between them in a matter of milliseconds. For the user, this happens imperceptibly: the picture is not stable on Zoom or YouTube, and the download is not interrupted. 802.11v consists of several technologies at once, their function is to optimize the transmission of traffic over the network.
For these standards to work correctly, client devices must also support them. Due to this set of capabilities, TP-Link Deco X90, according to the specification, can serve a room with an area of up to 500 square meters and allows connecting up to 200 devices to the network.
The maximum bandwidth of the TP-Link Deco X90 mesh network is an impressive 6600 Mbps. This figure is composed of the capacities of two bands: 5 GHz (4804 + 1201 Mbps) and 2.4 GHz (with a bandwidth of 574 Mbps). This division is not accidental. By connecting individual gadgets to certain categories, you can optimize the operation of the entire network. For example, smart home accessories such as smart bulbs do not require top speed, and it is more reasonable to allocate a faster channel for a game console or laptop. 8 streams with a channel width of up to 160 MHz are responsible for fast and uninterrupted data transmission.
Both modules are equipped with a pair of Ethernet ports. Each of them can act as a LAN or WAN. The first is a standard gigabit connector for 2021. But the second is not often found in home routers, its bandwidth is 2.5 Gbps. It is interesting as part of a local network (for example, for connecting a NAS). In total, three free ports for wired connections are available to the user (the fourth will be occupied by the WAN cable anyway).
We’ve figured out the hardware and software, it’s time to check out the Deco X90. The test site is a wide four-room apartment with an internet rate of 300 Mbps. Signal barriers are reinforced concrete walls, partitions, and furniture. We took the Honor Hunter V700 laptop with Wi-Fi 6 support as the client device. For the accuracy of the experiment, we paired a Huawei MateBook D14 laptop with an 802.11ac module.
The initial setup of the system is arranged as simply as possible. There’s no need to study multi-page manuals: we take either of the two devices, plug the power supply into the socket, plug it into the connectors. When the case signal light turns blue, launch the TP-Link Deco mobile app.
The initial setup takes a few minutes: We connect the cable, select the device name and connection type, optionally configure IPTV and create a wireless network. At this point, the application suggests adding other mesh elements. You do not need to provide any details. After turning on the power on the second module in the backroom, its pairing happened automatically.
The network settings interface is no more complicated than a traditional router. The menu displays a list of network clients and connection status. Here you can add a new module to the system or view the status of each client: change the name, check MAC and IP addresses, set a higher priority for network access, or disable roaming functions. There is also the possibility of creating guest networks with limited access speeds.
The HomeShield section is dedicated to fixing your home network and protecting it from various threats. The built-in antivirus with an extended paid subscription on Avira Engine can filter content, prevent network attacks, and send infected devices into quarantine. Here you can enable logging, view network usage statistics, and activate parental controls.
First, we will measure the signal level and speed with an active module located in the upper right corner of the plan using the WirelessNetview utility and the Speedtest website. Next, we connect the second deco module and install it so that the coverage is evenly distributed over the entire area of the room. By default, all measurements were performed on a 5 GHz network with automatic channel width selection. By the way, the use of gadgets of different generations made it possible to compare the capabilities of the Wi-Fi 6 with the previous standard.
At close range, the difference in performance between the techniques was within statistical error. There were no “dead zones” in the apartment with an active router, however, as we moved away from the main module, the picture began to change a bit.
Once, as planned, in the lower-left room, gadgets with Wi-Fi 5 showed a slowdown of about 15% versus 9% for models that supported Wi-Fi 6. After connecting the second router, the speed in the whole room became close to the figures promised by the provider. When moving over the entire area of the apartment, the playback of YouTube videos in 4K resolution was never interrupted.
TP-Link Deco X90 Specifications
- Data transfer rate: up to 574 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz range / up to 1201 Mbps in the 5 GHz range / up to 4804 Mbps in the 5 GHz range (HE160)
- Antennas: four built-in antennas / two built-in smart antennas
- Transmission / Reception: 2.4 GHz, 20/40/80 MHz; 5 GHz, MU-MIMO 4×4 20/40/80/160 MHz
- Ports: 1 x WAN / LAN 1000, 1 x WAN / LAN 2500
- Encryptiom: WPA, WPA2, WPA3
- Features: Wi-Fi 6, Tri-Band, Seamless Roaming, HomeShield, IPv6, 2.4GHz & 5GHz Guest Network
TP-Link Deco X90 is a turnkey solution for organizing home networks on the principle of “set and forget”. The best WiFi 6 mesh system covers any home use scenario: from organizing high-speed access to a NAS to serving dozens of gadgets without connection delays. The multi-gigabit port allows you to connect to high-speed tariffs of providers, and a wired connection will provide a stable online connection even in rooms with a complex layout.
Thanks to roaming, the kit eliminates the problem with the quality of communication when moving gadgets around an apartment or cottage. The best wifi range extender is easy to configure, easily expandable with new modules, and protects the network from external threats. A nice bonus is a four-year manufacturer’s warranty for branded equipment.