Why I sold my Xiegu G90

Many thanks to Brain who asks:

“Thomas, I read your review of the Xiegu G90 transceiver on the SWLing Post and it seemed your overall impression was positive. I bought a G90 some time ago and love it. So far, I’ve only been listening with it, but hope to pass both my Technician and General class license exams this month. Curious why you stated that you sold it after your review. Could you shed a little light on that decision? Inquiring mind here. Thanks so much for your articles and videos.”

Good question, Brian! And bravo on tackling both your Tech and General class license exams in one go! We’re rooting for you!

The short answer is it had more to do with my own personal preferences than the radio’s performance and specifications.

As I stated in my review, I think the G90 is a great value and certainly a capable field radio. It must be one of the most popular portable transceivers in the Parks On The Air (POTA) program (along with the Yaesu FT-891) which is certainly worth noting.

You would be hard-pressed to find a transceiver with the features of the G90–including an excellent internal ATU and 20 watts output–for less than $600 and the G90 is currently only $425 US.

If you have a limited budget, and like the overall specs and features of the G90, you really can’t go wrong.

Personal preferences

When I review a product, I do my best not to allow my own personal preferences to cloud my judgement. I try to imagine how I’d review a piece of gear based on being in a number of other operators’ shoes.

One of my pet peeves, in fact, is to read a product review and find that the reviewer is indulging in nit-picking and hyper-focusing on particular characteristics, features, and design shortcomings. I want to hear the negatives for sure, but I also want to feel comfortable that the reviewer’s personal preferences didn’t cloud their overall objectivity.

I also value real-word, hands-on experience in a product review.

After purchasing the Xiegu G90, I took it to the field and made a number of POTA activations with it. It never disappointed. I also used it in the shack for a couple of months. I found that the display was quite useful, easy to read, and it had most of the functions and features I tend to use in the field. Never once did I feel it was under-performing or not meeting my expectations. If anything, the G90 exceeded my expectations.

In fact, I remember telling some of my friends that the G90 was a “keeper” after taking it on a few field outings. But after my review, I found that I rarely reached for it when heading to the field. Why? Turns out some of my own personal preferences surfaced:

Memory Keying

Most of my other QRP transceivers have CW memory keying and/or voice memory keying. The Xiegu G90 does not.

For POTA and SOTA activators, voice and CW memory keying is a useful feature, as it frees you to do other things like log, eat a sandwich, or talk to others while calling CQ. In other words, it can help with your “work flow.” If you’ve watched my activation videos, you might have noticed that I tend to use memory keying for calling CQ and, sometimes, for sending 73s.

When walking out the door to hit the field, I tend to grab my transceivers that have memory keying functions.

Audio

The G90 has an excellent internal speaker for use in the field. With that said–and this is hard to describe–I find its overall audio characteristics a little “harsh” and unrefined. I found that, over time, the G90 gave me a bit of listener fatigue during long sessions in the field or shack. That’s not to say it has bad audio–it’s just not as good as some of my other transceivers.

Key clicks

ARRL lab testing shows that the G90 has key clicks in transmit. In fact, the key clicks were bad enough in their testing that they suggested never using the G90 with an external amplifier.  For those of us who don’t use amplifiers, this may never be a factor at all. Also, Xiegu retailers sell affordable external amplifiers to pair with the G90, so I must assume it doesn’t affect all amplifiers negatively. If I’m being honest with myself, I think this was another nail in the coffin.

In summary…

I knew the G90 would collect dust, so I sold it.

However, I know operators who love the G90 so much, they sold their pricier rigs after buying a G90. I even know operators who own two G90s: one for the shack, one for the field. With a total investment of only $850, I see why they made that choice.

The G90 just wasn’t for me though.

A final note about the new Xiegu GSOC

Ironically, I was asked by Radioddity to evaluate the new Xiegu GSOC controller only a couple weeks after I sold my original G90. Since the GSOC is designed to pair with the G90 , they had to send me another G90 on loan for the evaluation.

If you have a G90 and have considered purchasing the GSOC, I would strongly urge you to read my latest review of the GSOC.

In short: I can’t recommend it. The G90 is a much better radio without the GSOC controller, in my opinion.

Do you own the G90?

Have you even owned or operated the Xiegu G90? What do you consider to be its pros and cons? Please comment!

17 thoughts on “Why I sold my Xiegu G90”

  1. I’ve owned and sold 2 (1 at a time)G90s in the course of 8 months. The pro s have been covered and I agree with the majority of them. I chose to get rid of them because:

    Like you I found the audio wore me down after any prolonged listening. Be it internal speaker, external sound powered speaker, or headphones – the audio quality is not up to other rigs.

    The antenna tuner, and swr measurement performance bounce around from fw version to version. I found swr measurement extremely ‘optimistic’ with swr often worse after tuning even though the antenna tuner had satisfied itself that the swr was minimum. Raves about the tuner ‘effectively tuning a wet noodle’ were not borne out in practice, at least with me.

    Lack of effective noise reduction.

    No service plan in US. Part and parcel to lack of documentation. User group left to figure it out. I don’t know if the company fears someone will reverse engineer the product or not, but the lack of documentation, or at least a US service offering, is a turn off to me. Things break and shipping a product back to China for service isn’t cheap. Dealer provided warranty can offset this for a year but that doesn’t solve the overall problem

    Detent tuning and lack of variable progressive tuning (automatically varies tuning step in relation to knob rotation speed) makes for awkward frequency excursions and fine tuning.

    FW updates, more often than not, seem to break something that wasn’t broken in the previous version. New functions are rare because they seem to be peddling as fast as they can to fix problems. To be fair though, I must give them credit for being responsive, far more so than some of the larger manufactures.

    RIT selection and operation not well thought out at all.

    In my opinion, the G90 offers good value for the price – no doubt – and Xiegu is a good company trying to do the right thing. They’re just not where they need to be in terms of a polished product.

    Strictly my opinion.

  2. I liked the G90 quite a bit, but like Tom I ended up selling it. The receive quality was good to me. My biggest issue was a personal preference – I didn’t care for the vfo tuning. It could use a cw memory keyer, too. I made a little video to show the difference between the tuning of the 703 (which I like) and the G90 (which I don’t), but it’s probably not an issue for most people and it is a neat little feature-packed radio.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMov-qvhgiY

    Hope this helps someone. 73 Ron

  3. I had a G90 and work good for a while, and then some of button stop workink and the display turn white try to install different FW and reset the unit no luck, The worse I try to contact several time Xiegu Corp. customer services and no answer Well is it expensive door holder, I will recomend no buy the unit, unless you got and insurance to repair it, but good luck to find a place to do the Job. and by the way where in China you can send It…..

    1. Carlos, if you bought your G90 from an authorized distributor, you might touch base with them. Some offer 24 month warranties (like MFJ).

      Sorry to hear about those problems, though.

      Best,
      Thomas

  4. I agree with Dave and Thomas. The worst thing for me was hiss and harsh audio output. I cannot listen to Xiegu G90 with high impedance headphones more that 10 minutes. I did RX3ALL modification for reducing this harsh audio output but still was not satisfied with sound quality.
    https://youtu.be/nDiDgeyg3oQ

    Finally sold it with no regret.

  5. Owned and let it go too.
    Hiss noise, never solved deaf receiver after ATU cycle, bugs in filter BW settings where center frequency moved while BW changed, f/w update when new bugs appears etc. was too annoying for me.
    I revert it to last working f/w and let it go…
    Cheers.

  6. Love the G-90 but really wanting memory keying. Looking at the KX-2 or the Lab999 Discovery. The Lab 999 is nice but no ATU. The ATU in the G-90 has spoiled me. When they say it will tune a wet noodle, they are not kidding. I compared it to my IC-7300 and there was no comparison. The G-90 out performed it every time

  7. I still have my G90, but you mention one of the missing features I really wish it had – a memory keyer. I tried to get around this by trying to use a program such as CW Type, FLRig, etc as keyers but alas, they won’t work with the G90 to generate CW! They will key the rig but no power goes out. This also eliminates using a keyboard for CW. I have developed a small tremor in my hands and I really like using a keyboard now but can’t with the G90. If someone has a solution for this I’d love to hear it. Otherwise, I’m quite happy with the G90.

    1. Hi, Buddy,

      I agree completely. This is one of the “cons” I mentioned in my Xiegu G90 review (which is actually on the SWLing Post).

      I hope someone might have insight about setting up keyboard control.

      Cheers,
      Thomas

    2. I cannot imagine there being a problem keying almost any radio with a computer. That being said, as someone who is well versed in electronics and programming, some computers don’t have serial ports any more and use the usb port as a replacement which requires drivers and the program to get it going. I would think most modern programs like FLRig would have the proper drivers but I see that they don’t. In this case a USB to Serial adaptor is needed and they are cheap on amazon. Don’t give up if you really want to do it. I would be glad to help you personally if you want to contact me. Look me up KE4LH, tom… if you want. Hope that helps..

  8. I’ve got a g90 also, though strongly considering selling/ trading it off. It’s great out in the parks and summits around here( the great northwe(s)t), but I live in the city and it doesn’t handle base duty very well with all the city interference. I’m actually looking at getting a used icom 718 one I get the g90 sold. Not enough budget to buy one before selling the other unfortunately.

    73
    KJ7SHW

    1. Hi, Anthony,

      The IC-718 isn’t a bad radio per se, but I would encourage you go go with something like the Yaesu FT-891 instead if possible. You can buy them new for about $630-640 and I’ve recently seen them used for around $500. I believe it’s a better radio and even a bit more portable with featured like CW and Voice message memory keying which is incredibly useful with POTA.

      My experience with the IC-718 is that it doesn’t handle RF dense environments very well. I’ve used them during Field Day and found them to be mediocre. For day-to-day stuff, they’re fine, but if this is going to be your main/primary rig for the field and at the QTH, I’d splurge for the FT-891.

      Cheers,
      Thomas
      K4SWL

      1. Thanks for the recommendation Thomas. I wasn’t aware the 718 isn’t great in rf dense situations, the main problem in having with the g90, so I know I would be unhappy. I’ve never had a radio with cw or voice keying memory, my first transceiver was a Kenwood Ts 820s, great radio but not exactly portable or feature packed.

        I’ll check out the Yaesu FT 891, sounds like a better direction for my purposes. Thanks again

        Cheers to you as well,
        Tony
        KJ7SHW

      2. I agree 100%. My 891 runs circles around the 718 in every aspect. Xmit audio is superb on the 891 with the eq set up just right and an MD-100a desk mic it sounds like a big rig. Receives very quiet with excellent fidelity. I now use the 718 as a sw listener.

    1. Honestly? I don’t have a favorite. I suppose, “I love all of my children.” 🙂

      I can say that I really enjoy the KX3, KX2, KX1, IC-705, TX-500, FT-817ND, T-T Argonaut V, Mission RGO One and quite a few ultra-portable CW-only rigs.

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