Asus ZenWiFi: The best Wi-Fi wireless mesh-networking kit
Traditional wireless routers are an excellent option for setting up a home network if you reside in an average-sized flat. Larger multi-story homes may need extra planning to guarantee that every room is covered. The best Asus mesh Wi-Fi systems eliminate internet dead zones in your house without the inconveniences and frustrations associated with extenders and repeaters. The ZenWiFi wireless router series offers a variety of mesh Wi-Fi alternatives, allowing you to select the one that best suits your bandwidth requirements, home décor, and building architecture.
Mesh Wi-Fi provides high-speed Wi-Fi in every room
Many factors influence the speed of your home wireless network. One of the most important considerations is the distance between your device and the wireless router that runs your home network. All routers have an effective range—when you’re close to them, you’ll get the quickest and most consistent connections. As a result, a router that worked fine in an apartment or a smaller home may struggle to reach all of the rooms in a new, larger area.
Repeaters or range extenders can assist to remove internet dead zones in your house, but they frequently come at the expense of performance and convenience. A mesh Wi-Fi network is a far more cleaner solution. Simply put, the finest Asus mesh Wi-Fi systems employ numerous devices distributed across the home to operate a single network. Behind the scenes, routers assess which node provides the greatest signal to your device in real-time. They interact with each other wirelessly or via a physical Ethernet connection (referred to as a “backhaul”) to guarantee that every room has dependable internet access.
All-around speed and ease in one package
Your house is your haven, the place you design with elements that reflect your particular style and personality. A wireless router works best when positioned in the rooms where you spend the most time on your devices, so it is important to choose a router that matches the style of your house. If you conceal it in a closet or a basement corner to keep it out of sight, you might not receive the wireless performance you’re looking for.
ZenWiFi mesh systems have modest designs that blend seamlessly with a variety of home décor styles, including contemporary, minimalist, and modern. The antennae are tucked into clever, discreet forms that never seem out of place. Depending on the model, black and white color variants are also available for simple synchronization.
The ZenWiFi series feature an elegant design with metal-like coating and a brushed finish which provides a nice feel that blends in with your other gadgets and surroundings. And the concentric-circle pattern on the unit’s top depicts the quiet and peace of mind that you get from a well-designed room.
These design aspects also have practical benefits. Because an overheated router may give a reduced performance or require more frequent reboots, a specifically designed vents are placed below the tall vertical lines on the side of ZenWiFi mesh routers. These vents allow for enough airflow to the electronics and heatsinks within, resulting in quiet yet effective thermal performance for dependable operation—all in a design that looks good on the table.
Suitable for any house design
A single classic router must be placed towards the middle of your home, and hope that it has enough range to reach every room. The best Asus mesh Wi-Fi systems provide you the freedom to design the ideal mesh Wi-Fi network for your home’s layout and shape. Here are some pointers to help you get the most out of your system.
As with any other router, it’s advisable to keep the units away from concrete walls, heavy metal objects, and other potential signal degraders. If you have numerous levels in your house, position the nodes high and near the stairs for greater cross-floor signal coverage.
Arrange the ZenWiFi system strategically to provide Wi-Fi coverage across the home. The ideal spacing between mesh nodes for greatest performance is no more than 30-45 feet. As much as feasible, ensure that there is a clear, unobstructed line of sight between the nodes. Remember that a mesh Wi-Fi system can be easily expanded with more units, so if you rebuild your basement or build an extension, you can ensure that you have high-speed wireless access there as well.
The ZenWiFi AX (XT8) delivers exceptional performance
Ample bandwidth is essential for today’s Smart homes. Your Smart speakers, security system, smartphones, computers, and other gadgets all require consistent connectivity to function properly. Perhaps your family members all like to watch TikTok or YouTube videos on their own devices, not to mention high-resolution 4K entertainment from Netflix, Disney, or other streaming services. Furthermore, there may be someone in your family who need a high-speed connection for work conferencing or to compete in online gaming. If this describes your house, the ZenWiFi AX (XT8) will provide enough bandwidth in an easy-to-deploy mesh Wi-Fi system.
This award-winning tri-Band system is ideal for a power user’s household. The ZenWiFi AX (XT8) provides 6600Mbps of aggregate bandwidth thanks to its two distinct 5GHz bands, and it can utilize one 5GHz Band for dedicated backhaul and the other to interact with your devices. You may also add a wired Ethernet backhaul for even more dependable performance. The ZenWiFi AX (XT8) is also among the finest mesh Wi-Fi routers for bigger households. With just two of these units, you can cover your entire home for 6 rooms.
The ZenWiFi XD6 expands the reach of mesh networking
Perhaps your bandwidth requirements are relatively modest—you and your family use the internet largely for basic web surfing and social networking, and when you do stream a movie or show, you tend to watch it together. Perhaps your home’s existing built-in Ethernet lines make it simple to set up a wired backhaul, making a third wireless Band more of a luxury than a need. In either case, the ZenWiFi XD6 provides the performance you want at an affordable price.
This dual-Band mesh Wi-Fi system has an aggregate throughput of up to 5400Mbps. It provides both high performance and wide range via its 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. Its two nodes are ideal for households with four or more rooms. Depending on where you live, you might also be able to get a ZenWiFi XD6 with wall mounts to let you position the nodes exactly where they’re needed.
Simple installation, simple security
The setup process is simple regardless of the ZenWiFi system you use. All technical aspects are handled by the free Asus Router app—just connect one node to your modem, plug both units in, and follow the app’s instructions. You may name your Wi-Fi networks anyway you choose, with a single name for everything or different names for each frequency Band.
These ZenWiFi systems also provide strong network security capabilities such as AiProtection. Your router will help prevent dangerous websites from compromising your devices and data right out of the box. Trend Micro’s lifetime subscription to automated updates ensures that your router always has an up-to-date list of prohibited URLs and servers. And with Instant Guard virtual private network (VPN) technology, you can enjoy the same degree of security when you’re not at home. When you’re out in public and connected to free Wi-Fi networks, a couple tap is all it takes to create a secure connection.
The most effective Asus mesh Wi-Fi setups
A standard wireless router may not be able to offer a stable, high-speed signal to every room in bigger residences, multi-story homes, or buildings with thick and dense walls. Wireless repeaters and extenders are a possibility, but they might be difficult to utilize on a regular basis. A mesh Wi-Fi setup just makes more sense for most people.
ZenWiFi mesh wireless systems make it simple to set up a home network that offers adequate bandwidth to every level and room. They have an exquisite appearance that can effortlessly match your home décor. Furthermore, the free and simple-to-use Asus Router app provides a hassle-free setup as well as powerful security features. If you’re experiencing internet dead zones in your home, consider upgrading your network with a ZenWiFi mesh Wi-Fi system to experience high-bandwidth, dependable wireless access in any area.
Asus mesh Wi-Fi system vs. Eero mesh Wi-Fi system
Recently, more customers have been upgrading from traditional Wi-Fi routers to more modern mesh Wi-Fi systems. Mesh systems come with multiple nodes that form a single Wi-Fi network, and they offer larger coverage with high-quality connection. Asus and Eero are two of the leading names in mesh Wi-Fi, competing with brands such as Google and Gryphon. There are advantages to both, but Asus is better for those desiring speed and customization, whereas Eero excels at stability and accessibility.
Asus mesh Wi-Fi system
Asus has been carving out a niche in the mesh network market with their impressive AiMesh technology, which has been well-received by customers. Asus sells a variety of mesh Wi-Fi systems at different speeds, meaning there are options across the price spectrum.
Asus mesh Wi-Fi Pros
Asus systems offer high speeds at an affordable cost, making them a great bang for your buck. Asus also produces more fully featured and customizable systems than many of its competitors, and these systems have dedicated backhaul, which refers to the transferring of data between the internet and other networks. This can lead to better data transfer between multiple devices, and it’s helpful if you have a large living space with multiple floors.
Asus mesh systems support the creation of multiple SSIDs, meaning that you can create separate Wi-Fi networks using the same system. This is particularly attractive if you want certain people in your area of coverage to have more security permissions than others. For example, guests in your living space can log into a guest Wi-Fi network for internet browsing alone, whereas those living with you can access a network that connects them to devices such as printers. This is also a useful feature if you have a business and want customers to have access to a dedicated guest network.
Asus systems offer a multitude of configuration options, and there are fantastic parental controls and internet security settings. AiMesh also lets you combine multiple routers into one network. This means that Asus routers can essentially serve as individual nodes in a single mesh system, which is especially advantageous for those who already have an Asus router.
Asus mesh Wi-Fi Cons
The high level of customization offered by Asus also means that setup is more complicated, and the Asus router app isn’t as streamlined as Eero’s app. This makes Asus less accessible to those unfamiliar with mesh Wi-Fi.
Despite Asus’s higher max speeds, Asus systems are more prone to interference than their Eero counterparts. Because of this, interruptions are more likely with Asus than Eero. Asus’ support of multiple SSIDs also means that performance and reliability could suffer if you choose to create additional wireless interfaces.
Best Asus mesh Wi-Fi systems
One of Asus’s best models is the Asus Zen Wi-Fi AX6600 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System, which is a two-pack Wi-Fi 6 option that can cover up to 5,500 square feet. These nodes have three standard LAN ports as well as a more deluxe WAN port. This is an incredibly useful feature if you plan on connecting multiple wired devices to your network.
The Asus Zen Wi-Fi AX Mini is a great three-pack alternative that covers up to 4,800 square feet and has two LAN ports on the main router and one port on each of the nodes.
Eero mesh Wi-Fi system
Eero mesh Wi-Fi systems use Eero’s patented TrueMesh technology, which is known for superior reliability. Like Asus, Eero sells several unique systems designed to accommodate different needs and living situations.
Eero mesh Wi-Fi Pros
Above all, Eero excels at producing a stable connection free of interference or interruptions. This means that you’re less likely to lose connection during movie night or run into slow downloads when you need to access important files. While Eero doesn’t let you create multiple SSIDs, the dedication to a single network ensures a smoother connection. Customers who prefer consistency over max speeds will love Eero systems.
Eero’s full-duplex mesh is also good at adapting to issues that your network may face; if one channel has an issue, the network will seamlessly access one of the other networks, adding to Eero’s reliability.
Eero also covers more square feet than Asus. The Eero Pro 6 covers up to 6,000 feet, beating out Asus’s AX6600 system, which covers 5,500 feet. Customers have also reported getting good connection even outside their home, meaning it’s possible to access your network while on your porch or patio. The Eero Pro 6 comes with three nodes so that you can easily customize your network distribution.
Furthermore, Eero’s app and setup process is considered to be superior to Asus’. The app is straightforward with a great user interface, and it’s simple to get your Eero network up and running.
Eero mesh Wi-Fi Cons
Eero’s max speeds are lower than Asus’, and the Eero Pro 6 is an AX4200 system, meaning it isn’t as high-performing as Asus’s AX6600 option. In addition, Eero’s nodes come with two ethernet ports as opposed to the four on Asus’s AX6600. This will be a disadvantage if you frequently use wired connections.
A lack of customization options is the major downside to Eero’s streamlined setup. TrueMesh only lets you create one network, which may be a dealbreaker to those looking to create multiple SSIDs.
Best Eero mesh Wi-Fi systems
At a competitive price, the Eero Pro 6 is Eero’s best Wi-Fi 6 system thanks to its powerful coverage, and it can also serve as a Zigbee Smart home hub.
The Eero 6 Dual-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 Router is a more affordable option for those who need to cover a smaller area.
Should you get an Asus mesh Wi-Fi system or an Eero mesh Wi-Fi system?
Asus and Eero each make top-shelf mesh systems that will likely improve your internet experience, but the differences between the two brands is clear. Asus is best for those who need high speeds and the ability to create multiple networks, while Eero is the right choice if you need a reliable and streamlined network.
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Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) review
With its tri-Band design and Wi-Fi 6 performance, the Asus ZenWiFi AX comes through with the ability to fill a moderate-sized home with wireless data. It may not be the fastest mesh kit, but the ZenWiFi AX’s two-year warranty and built-in security can give a family network “administrator” the peace of mind that the data will get through.
- Good Wi-Fi 6 performance
- Protects against malware
- Tri-Band design
- Two-year warranty
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It might not set any speed records but the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) lives up to its name with an elegant looking mesh kit that uses a tri-Band design to help fill a home with Wi-Fi-6 data. It not only includes extra security to keep your family safe online but comes with a two-year warranty.
Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) review: Design
Wi-Fi Spec: AX6600 Number of Antennas/Removable: 6/No Ports: 1 WAN (2.5Gbps)/3 LAN (Gbps), USB 3.0 Processor/Memory/Storage: Quad-core 1.5GHz/512MB/256MB Wi-Fi chip: Broadcom 43684 Peak 802.11ax performance: 701.0Mbps (at 15 feet) Range: 80 feet Size: 6.6 x 6.3 x 2.9 inches Estimated Annual Electricity Cost: 35.10
Asus’s ZenWiFi AX (XT8) mesh devices squeeze the best attributes of a tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 network into a small rounded case that’s so nice looking you might not want to hide it.
At 6.3 x 6.6 x 2.9 inches the ZenWiFi AX units are tiny compared to the towers of the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 (RBK852) and the white plastic housings look like models of 1960’s concrete buildings (they’re also available in black).
The ZenWiFi AX’s rounded sides have large cooling slots and the top has an oval opening to let heat escape.
While they can be used as bookends on a shelf, the ZenWiFi AX has no provision for wall mounting and there’s no third-party hardware available. If you have access to a 3-D printer and feel adventurous, there’s a printing file available for free to make your own plastic bracket.
The ZenWiFi AX creates a tri-Band mesh network that moves data on 2.4- and 5GHz channels and reserves the second 5GHz Band for the backhaul duties of moving data from the satellites to the host. This can potentially reduce congestion and data packet collisions. The devices can be set up to use a wired backhaul connection.
At 448, the ZenWiFi AX package includes two devices that Asus rates as able to cover 5,500-square feet of floor space. That’s a bargain compared to the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 (RBK852)’s 699 for a pair of devices that covers 10 percent more space but much more than the TP-Link Deco X20’s 270 for three. Unlike its competitors, Asus doesn’t sell three-packs or single add-on devices to fill in gaps. On the other hand, you can use any of the company’s recent routers to build a hybrid mesh network with ZenWiFi AX devices.
Instead of Netgear’s practice of having preset routers and satellites, both ZenWiFi AX devices are exactly the same. Pick one to be the router and the other to be the satellite and the changes are made during installation. There’s a single LED that shows the system’s status. When it glows white, everything is connected, but if it turns yellow, the two devices are too far apart. Red indicates it’s offline. Using the Asus Router app, the light can be turned off for the equivalent of stealth mode.
Within each ZenWiFi AX device there are six internal antennas, including one for Bluetooth transfers during its initial set up. They are set at a 45-degree upward angle for extra range, but you can neither replace nor aim them.
The devices are powered by Broadcom’s BCM 43684 networking chip with a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, 512MB of RAM and 256MB for storing its firmware and settings. In addition to advanced beamforming technology to customize each stream to the requirements of the receiver, the ZenWiFi AX uses MU-MIMO techniques and wide 160MHz data channels. It carries an overall rating of AX6600, theoretically capable of moving upwards of 6.6Gbps of data.
In the back, the ZenWiFi AX has an input networking port that’s capable of handling 2.5Gbps data flow from newer modems. There’re three outgoing LAN ports that are rated at 1Gbps, one fewer than the Orbi RBK852 delivers, but much better than other mesh devices with two LAN ports. In addition to a power plug and switch, the ZenWiFi AX units have a USB 3.0 port for adding a hard drive or printer. On the underside of the unit there are buttons for resetting the device and starting the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) process for quickly adding a client.
Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) review: Performance
Throughout most of our testing, the ZenWiFI AX trailed the larger Orbi RBK852 or the smaller TP-Link Deco X20 in our series of tests using Ixia’s IxChariot benchmark software that simulated a busy network in my 100-year old 3,500 square foot home. It hit a peak throughput of 701Mbps at 15-feet, easily besting Wi-Fi 5 gear but well behind the Orbi RBK852 (883.6Mbps) at the same distance. It, however, bested the TP-Link Deco X20’s 622.1Mbps.
At 50-feet, the ZenWiFi AX (136Mbps) took the lead over the Netgear Orbi RBK852 kit (124.5Mbps), although the TP-Link Deco X20 (255.4Mbps) was the midrange champ. At 75-feet, the ZenWiFi AX (6.3Mbps) was close to disconnected and lost contact with our host router at 80-feet, 15-feet short of the Deco X20’s range. By contrast, the Orbi RBK852 and Deco X20 pushed upwards of 85.9Mbps and 112.7Mbps, respectively.
Along the way, the ZenWiFi AX lacked the ability to send a strong signal through an obstruction, with the mesh kit delivering 421.1Mbps through a wall 20 feet from the host router. Under the same conditions, the Netgear Orbi RBK852 moved 782.9Mbps and the Arris SURFboard mAX Pro managed 692.2Mbps. When it came to sending a signal upstairs, the ZenWiFi AX (389.3MBps) was again second to the Netgear Orbi RBK852 (670.1Mbps).
It all came together for the ZenWiFi AX kit when we set it up as a mesh network on the same floor. It delivered 125.8Mbps to our test device that was 50 feet from the satellite, which was 40-feet from the host router. That’s the best so far with the Netgear Orbi only mustering 39.1Mbps. In the final analysis the ZenWiFi AX wasn’t strong enough to fill my 3,500 home, but adding a second satellite might have helped.
When the data packets were bouncing back and forth, the ZenWiFi AX used 15.4 watts of power and never got more than warm to the touch. It lacks the Netgear’s power-saving idle mode for when no data is flowing. It all adds up to an estimated 35.10 of extra electricity bills, versus 24.40 for the Netgear Orbi RBK852 set. The analysis is based on the devices remaining on 24/7 and the national average of electricity at 13 cents per kilowatt-hour.
It ran without a problem for a week, distributing emails, music, videos and the occasional gaming session. There was no problem with our informal saturation test where I watched high-quality video on an iPad Pro tablet as a MacBook Air played an Internet radio station, a Lenovo ThinkPad T470 displayed videos and an HP Elite Dragonfly notebook moved data onto and off of a network-attached RAID storage system.
Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) review: Setup
Like so many mesh kits, setting up the ZenWiFi AX starts with getting the Android or iOS Asus Router app. Asus makes it easy by printing a QR code for getting them on the Quick Start Guide. The app provides lots of illustrations to help newbie networkers.
At that point, it automatically configured itself and connected to my tablet automatically. I could have used the Advanced settings and configured the LAN manually but I let the app do it automatically.
Next, I added my own network name and password and set it up to have a single name. The hardware took about 2 minutes to set itself up and connect the router to the satellite. It finished up by performing an optimization routine and displaying a summary page of the network’s settings.
Start to finish, it took 10 minutes to set up the network that delivered 190Mbps out of my 200Mbps connection on the first try. At one point, the satellite lost contact with the host router and it took about 10 minutes for it to reconnect with its host router, an eternity if you need something online.
Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) review: Configuration
Most of the configuration for the ZenWiFi AX will be done through the app in an environment with lots of illustrations and large type. By contrast, you can get a deeper view of the hardware by using a connected browser. Unlike some of its competitors, you can be logged into both portals at once.
The app’s Home screen not only shows the router and satellites but that the Internet is active and how many devices are connected. By contrast the Devices screen is all about what’s connected and indicates if a firmware upgrade is available and there’s links for adding a new node and checking on the speed of the connection.
If you jump to the app’s Settings page, there’s a cornucopia of changes that can be made, from checking on the satellite’s status to turning on the network’s Wi-Fi 6 mode; you can’t change the Wi-Fi name and passwords. It’s easy to turn on the system’s QOS software to set priorities for gaming, file transfer and other activities.
The real action takes place in the browser-based interface but do yourself a favor and zoom out the view of your browser or most items won’t fit on an HD screen. You can connect using “Asus.router.com.” The dashboard view shows a network map. It’s chock full of useful information, from the encryption level and IP address to how many clients are connected and if the USB port is being used.
On the left is the ability to redo the setup routine and a list of functional tasks that will make even experienced networkers head spin. They include everything from adjusting the Wi-Fi and WAN settings to using the QOS to set a priority of Highest, High, Medium or Low. You can even use the Administration settings to turn the wireless satellite into a wired access point.
My favorite is the Ai Protection that uses software from Trend Micro. It not only shows an assessment of the dangers faced by the network but the number of attempts to undermine it that were blocked. Its actions are entirely contained in the router and doesn’t require loading any software on your computers. It’s also free for life. By contrast, Netgear charges 70 a year to protect networked clients after the initial period ends.
The two years of warranty coverage that Asus provides is among the best in the business and blows away Netgear’s 90-day support policy. The company delivers a lot of DIY resources online. In addition to software updates and manuals there’s an extensive FAQ section that should answer most common, and a few uncommon, questions. Unfortunately, there aren’t any videos that might have helped newcomers to mesh correctly set the devices up on the first try.
Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) review: Verdict
Forget about bragging rights for the fastest LAN on the block because the Asus ZenWiFI AX was well behind the best in most performance measures but it can fill a moderate-sized home with data. It not only protects a digital family against hackers but the ZenWiFi AX’s two-year warranty can let you sleep better at night. At 448 for a pair of mesh devices, the ZenWiFi AX is a bargain compared to the better performing Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 (RBK852) but it falls short on range.
Asus ZenWiFi XT8 AX6600 Review: Is it still a Reliable Option in 2023?
ZenWiFi XT8 is one of the best-rated Asus mesh routers that boasts a tri-Band AX (Wi-Fi 6) into the picture to get its maximum throughput cap at 6600 Mbps and a whole home Wi-Fi coverage. Besides being powerful specs-wise, it’s quite easy to set up and comes with advanced security features.
The company has carried over the same design from ZenWiFi AX mini, but the former is big on the performance side.
Boasting an additional multi-gig 2.5G WAN port, it’s ready to rock with multi-gig plans. That’s not it. I also loved the enterprise-grade lifetime free security, making it an all-around device. So, it’s a very intriguing purchase spec-wise, but how does it fare in real life? Is its performance standard high enough to justify its 350 price tag? Let’s find out in this Asus ZenWiFi XT8 Review.
Product Name: Asus ZenWiFi XT8
Product Description: Asus ZenWiFi XT8, a tri-Band mesh, brings along an additional 5GHz Band to get a maximum speed of 6600 Mbps. Its antennas are powerful to cover around 5,500 Sq Ft of space. Besides, it instills a multi-gig port for a powerful gaming experience.
Offer price: 349.99
In my tests, the network remained stable, and my devices got to experience a faster throughput. An Asus app makes the setup process much simpler. And there’s a lifetime-free AiProtection pro that entails advanced security features and parental controls.
- Excellent performance
- Easy to setup
- Multi-gig LAN port
- Lifetime free network security tools and parental controls
- USB connectivity
Asus ZenWiFi XT8 AX6600 Specs [Speeds, Coverage, Wi-Fi Standards, Features]
In-Depth Asus ZenWiFi XT8 Review
Many sources might give you blatant and far-fetched reviews of their products, but I always make sure to test the products before presenting my thoughts and experience with it. The same is done with Asus ZenWiFi XT8, which took me around two weeks, where I paired it with a 1 Gbps Xfinity plan and tested it across various scenarios. So here are my honest opinions regarding the product.
A. Wireless Speeds Suitability
ZenWiFi XT8 is a Wi-Fi 6 system with 802.11ax support and an additional 5GHz Band meant to deliver faster and stable throughput speeds, more bandwidth, and lower latency.
The maximum throughput speeds of this device are 4804 Mbps and 1201 Mbps for the two 5GHz bands and 574 Mbps for the 2.4GHz Band. But how is one 5GHz Band much faster than the other? The reason is quite obvious: The availability of more channels increases the data handling capacity of the additional 5GHz Band.
So to test out the validity of their claims, I paired the router with my Xfinity 1 Gbps internet plan, and unsurprisingly, it superseded my expectations. Over the additional Band, with 937 Mbps download and 520 Mbps upload speeds, theoretically, you could stream any 4K movies on Netflix over 40 devices at once.
At the same time, respective speeds on the other 5GHz Band panned out at 925 Mbps and 516 Mbps, which is also great for running bandwidth-intensive tasks. Lastly, the download and upload speeds for the farther Band averaged 515 Mbps and 125 Mbps, respectively.
Barring these, my tests also included testing the throughput capacity and signal strength across the house. As 5GHz bands don’t have much range, there was a 30% speed drop when client devices moved 30 feet away, while the number was 15% for the 2.4GHz Band. Despite that, I could stream Dota 2 on Twitch, sitting two walls away from the mesh system.
B. Wi-Fi Coverage Devices Capacity
With a six high-performance internal antenna setup, Asus ZenWiFi XT8 Wi-Fi range maximizes at 5,500 Sq Ft. So, your large home is filled with powerful signals, and you don’t have to worry about network dead zones. Even in the extremities, the device was online, where I could play high-bandwidth games.
Besides antennas, the mesh system ingrains technologies like OFDMA, QAM, MU-MIMO, and others. The sole purpose of these technologies is to ensure your devices are connected to the strongest bandwidth possible. There won’t be any hiccups or network drops even after streaming 4K devices in 35 devices at once.
C. Design Wired Connectivity
The two-unit Asus ZenWiFi XT8 includes two identical nodes with dimensions of 6.33 x 6.29 x 2.95 inches. Available in black and white, each node has a flattened cylindrical shape and a vertical build to fit anywhere on your table space.
On the front, there’s a small LED indicator glows blue during setup, blue when the signal is weak, and red when there’s none. Each side has a grillwork that fosters airflow for internal components. It also serves as a medium for transferring heat and keeping the device cool in case of heavy usage.
Around the back, you’ll find a 2.5G LAN port, three Gigabit Ethernet ports, a USB 3.1 port, a power jack, and a power switch. So, you have an additional option to establish an Ethernet backhaul with the additional 5GHz Band and keep the other free for client use.
You can pair the multi-gig port with the 2 Gbps plan and get a maximum throughput of 1.97 Gbps for downloads and 457 Mbps for uploads. That’s great for bandwidth-hungry devices like gaming consoles, Smart TVs, laptops, and computers.
D. Security Features
Security is the area where this mesh system shines. There’s a Trend Micro-powered antivirus AiProtection Pro which leverages powerful Cloud data centers and cybersecurity solutions to shield your connected devices and Smart home from cyber threats.
There’s also a one-touch security scanning feature that shows your network security flaws, evaluates your router’s security level and fixes the vulnerabilities right away. And the best part about it is you don’t have to pay a single penny for it.
A few Smart parental controls let you monitor your kids’ online activity and customise each device’s settings. As a parent, you can regulate what your kids see online and how much time they spend hovering over the online world.
E. Setup and Management
Like most mesh systems, Configuring and setting up this mesh system is easy. Asus provides a compatible mobile companion app for free to give you control over the system in the palm of your hand. Launch the app, and it automatically pairs with the mesh system. Then, create an account using the user credentials imprinted on the rear side of the system, and that’s it! You’re done.
Aside from setting the system up, you can use the app to manage your connected devices, toggle through security features, block any websites, and many others.
F. Hardware Other Features
Asus Wi-Fi 6 mesh system boasts a decent hardware setup with 1.5GHz Quad-core Broadcomm BCM6755 as processor and 512MB RAM. Such a setup should be enough to transfer high bandwidth speeds to the devices without throttling. Alongside this, its 256MB NAND memory makes enough space for storing your firmware updates and other necessary datasets.
Testing Asus’ AiMesh mesh networking feature
We are testing AiMesh using the same setup that we used to test other mesh networking systems. We have two notebooks, one acting as a host machine and the other as a client device. The router, or in this case, node, acts as a gateway. Since mesh networking systems typically manage their own wireless and channel settings on their own, we will enable Smart Connect and let the Asus routers manage these settings.
The client device is a 2015 13-inch MacBook Pro, which is one of the few client devices in the market to come with a 3×3 Wi-Fi receiver, allowing it to achieve wireless speeds of up to 1,300Mbps.
To evaluate, we will be measuring the time and calculating the speed achieved when transferring a 1GB zip file. We will do multiple tests with different setups and different distances to simulate use around a typical single story flat and in a multi-story home.
Since we are measuring the mesh performance, we will only be testing the extreme ranges:
15m. To simulate extreme distances on the same floor (e.g. router in the hall, but test point is at master bedroom toilet) Second story. One floor above Third story. Two floors above
To evaluate the performance of Asus AiMesh, we will be comparing it to the Google Wi-Fi and Netgear Orbi. The former is one of the most popular mesh networking systems, while the latter offers superlative mesh performance and was the winner of the Best Mesh Networking System award at our Tech Awards 2018.
Mesh performance at 15 meters
In this test, we placed the AiMesh node (RT-AC86U) in between the AiMesh router (RT-AC88U) and the 15-meter mark to create a mesh network to get signal to the 15-meter mark. We did the same for other mesh networks to see how their performance would compare.
At 15 meters, we could still maintain a connection to the single Asus RT-AC88U router. We were using Smart Connect and could see that the client device was connecting to the RT-AC88U via 2.4GHz. Download speeds were quite decent at 79.77 Mbps but upload speeds were dismal at just 20.36 Mbps. Still, it’s interesting to note that the single node performance of the Google Wi-Fi and Netgear Orbi was non-existent at this range and a traditional router like the RT-AC88U had better range to service the intended test spot.
With the RT-AC86U acting as an AiMesh node, download speeds improved by about 20% to 96.11 Mbps. It was encouraging but it was no match for dedicated mesh networking systems like the Google Wi-Fi and Netgear Orbi. Upload speeds, however, were much more impressive. In AiMesh mode, we managed 174.41 Mbps. That’s an improvement of a staggering 850%! Upload speeds far surpassed the Google Wi-Fi system and weren’t that far off from the Netgear Orbi.
Mesh performance on 2nd floor
In this test, we placed the AiMesh node (RT-AC86U) on the second floor and created a mesh network to expand Wi-Fi coverage on the second floor. We did the same for the other mesh networks to see how their performance would compare.
From the second floor, we could still maintain a good connection to the RT-AC88U through its 2.4GHz network. Download speeds were 193.28 Mbps while upload speeds were once again lower at 37.56 Mbps.
In AiMesh mode, download speeds took a dip to 103.77 Mbps. We suspect that there are handing off issues where the AiMesh router, in this case, the single RT-AC88U, still has a strong presence. From the second floor, it seems that the client device is unable to properly determine if it should connect to the AiMesh router (RT-AC88U) or AiMesh node (RT-AC86U). In our tests, it seems to have connected to the AiMesh node, which resulted in data having to travel a longer distance which resulted in lower speeds.
On the other hand, upload speeds improved significantly from 37.56 Mbps to 93.40 Mbps. an improvement of over 250%. In this case, with upload speeds already so poor when connected to the AiMesh router, it makes sense to rely on the AiMesh node for better upload performance.
Mesh performance on 3rd floor
Since we only have two Asus routers, we will be measuring performance by connecting to the AiMesh node on the second floor.
From the third floor, we could no longer establish a connection with the AiMesh router (RT-AC88U). We could, however, still connect to the AiMesh node (RT-AC86U) on the second floor and the results were very promising. We achieved download speeds of 275.77 Mbps, which outstripped even the Netgear Orbi by 39%. Upload speeds were equally good at 213.16 Mbps, which just marginally faster than the Orbi.
Our benchmark results show that while AiMesh works, it isn’t perfect. It seems that AiMesh has some problems determining which is the best router to connect to at ranges where the client device is within working range of both the AiMesh router and AiMesh node.
However, AiMesh shines when you are out of range from the AiMesh router. In our tests, we found that at the third floor, where a signal from the AiMesh router cannot be received, the performance of the AiMesh network is more than a match for a high-performance mesh networking system like the Netgear Orbi.
In short, AiMesh is a good way of putting your old Asus routers to use. as long as your routers both support AiMesh. It still needs to iron out some of its kinks. But if Asus manages to refine it, it could easily give Asus an edge in the router market as it would encourage existing Asus owners to upgrade to another Asus router. Even in its current form, we think it is one of the best new features that we ever seen introduced in a router.