TP-Link Deco X90 – review of Mesh Wi-Fi 6 routers

Input conditions

In order not to be groundless, I will explain what problem the tested equipment had to face. My Mac Pro 5.1 with a fixed 600/60 Mbps connection got along very well with both devices in the same room. But when I moved the office to another place, only a few meters away, but separated by several reinforced concrete walls. The speeds that I started to note were, in gusts, up to … 40/40 Mbps, and most often even less. Drama, in a word.

However, not only did the download speed drop very drastically, at the same time various shorter and longer cuts started to appear, perhaps even more annoying in all of this. There are at least two reasons for this behavior in my network. First of all, the Mac Pro 5.1, thanks to its aluminum housing, has never belonged to the top of WiFi. Secondly, the block in which I live is built of an extremely densely reinforced large slab, which adversely affects the signal quality, even with a single wall. For this reason, the quality of the Mesh connection was more interesting to me than even the Wi-Fi 6 itself, the parameters of which could not be fully used by my connection.

TP-Link Deco X90 – it is expensive …

The first set that I received for testing was a two-pack with top TP-Link routers from the Deco line, i.e. the X90. Deco is a group of products dedicated to the easy construction of a Mesh network, characterized by a modern, one might say lifestyle, appearance. The set I received consists of two identical X90 devices and costs, a trifle, 2.7 – 3 thousand. zlotys.

What will we get for this?

What do we get for so much money? Deco X90 are three-band, eight-channel Wi-Fi 6 routers, equipped with an additional 5 GHz band for internal communication between them. The devices are equipped with high-speed Qualcomm processors, 4 × 4 MU-MIMO antennas and support OFDMA technology that supports up to 200 WiFi points.

As befits next-generation equipment, routers enable beamforming. It is a technology that allows the beam shape to be optimized in such a way as to eliminate any dead zones. The manufacturer boasts that their devices are supported by built-in artificial intelligence in this respect.

The declared total bandwidth of the network created by X90 is 6600 Mbps, and with a breakdown into bands:
– 5 GHz: 4804 Mbps;
– 5 GHz: 1201 Mbps;
– 2,4 GHz: 574 Mbps.
In addition, routers are equipped with two LAN ports, the first has a speed of 1 Gbps, the second 2.5 Gbps.

Deco minimalism

The devices, like all of this line, are nicely designed, have white casing, minimalist design, you can easily put them in visible places in our apartment. On the bottom of the devices you will find a hidden input for a power supply and a reset button. There is a single notification LED in the notch on the side of the router … and that’s about it.

If I had to stick to something, it would be to the supplied power supplies. The manufacturer used accessories with a socket input built into their bodies. It is a completely non-ergonomic and problematic solution. I happened to slightly knock the protruding power supply and this one fell out of the socket, in the case of the second Deco, putting the power supply in the place where the strip is hidden required a lot of exercise.

mobile application

The service of the set is provided by the nicely designed and quite intuitive Tp-Link Deco application, in which we can not only add additional TP-Link devices, but also manage advanced parameters of our network. In the application, we can also see reports on its use. Throughout the test period, I did not feel the need to use its browser counterpart.

Among the useful functions, we can find options for prioritizing devices and assigning a specific bandwidth, blacklisting, etc. The application also allows us to manage security as part of the extensive HomeShield service. My particular attention was drawn to offering a lot of tools, and at the same time easy to configure, parental control. However, it is worth remembering that the more advanced HomeShield functions are available only in the Pro version, which, as you probably guessed, is paid, and in the form of a subscription.

Simple setup

The installation of the entire set went without any problems. First, you had to download the application and select the device you want to install. Then, guided by the handle through the successive information boards, I connected one of the routers with an Ethernet cable to the internet device (UPC router in my case).

This router will act as the primary router throughout our mesh network. Then I added a second router, set up location descriptions for each of them, and voila, done. The devices added and paired without any hiccups, the application downloaded the update and after installing it (5 minutes) everything was ready to go.

Mesh, it works

Internet speed results in my “black hole” immediately improved and drastically. In the case of the Mac Pro equipped with the already old WiFi 4 card (802.11n), the speeds given by the Speedometer started to reach 220/60 Mbps, the Huawei laptop equipped with the WiFi 6 card almost closed the link counter, reaching 470/60 Mbps. The iPad Air 4 (also WiFi 6) used the network most effectively, as the only one that fully “saturated” my Internet connection, reaching a result of 600/60 Mbps.

Transferring files between computers was also very fast, although unfortunately for reasons unknown to me, I was not in my eclectic system environment to force iPerf to cooperate. Importantly, the network connections throughout the testing period were, apart from the mentioned accidental power supply disconnection, perfectly stable. In the living room, where no Deco was set up, and a thick and reinforced wall separates it from the main router, I did not notice such large drops in speed as, for example, in the case of the UPC router. In short, for an apartment like mine, two X90 routers are more than enough.

Is it worth it?

As you can see, the Deco tests went smoothly and throughout the test period I did not find any reasons to stick to these routers (apart from power supplies). Evaluating the Deco X90, however, it is impossible to escape from the important, though non-technical aspect of these devices, which is their price. Almost 3,000 zlotys for two home routers? In my opinion, the price is far too high.

Perhaps for people with a two-story house and a lot of X90 smart devices, thanks to its capacity and bandwidth, it would make a difference (I am not able to verify this), but for the casual user on the block … it’s like shooting a mosquito from a cannon. Anyway, I have doubts whether, in the case of advanced smart home projects, people investing big money would not go for more professional solutions.

For an apartment like mine, if we want to go to WiFi 6 in the future, much cheaper Deco X20 or X60 sets should be enough. Even if we go to a smart home all the way, it is difficult to put so many devices in a block flat that the capabilities of the X90 make a difference.

– strong signal
– stable work
– speed of action
– intuitive mobile application
– trivial configuration
– parental control
– nice desing

– very high price
– poorly designed power supplies

Source: AntyWeb by

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