Asus ZenWiFi AX review: This Wi-Fi 6 mesh router hits the sweet spot

Matthew N. Henry

Rapid speeds through your complete household. Significantly powerful general performance at vary. Easy set up. A constant, responsible mesh that mechanically steers you from band to band and routes your relationship without the need of dropping it. A tri-band style featuring a dedicated backhaul for transmissions involving the router and the satellites. A long term-proofed, multigig WAN port. Whole help for Wi-Fi six, the latest, speediest model of Wi-Fi.


  • Whole help for Wi-Fi six
  • Tri-band style with dedicated wi-fi backhaul
  • Steady mesh general performance
  • Multigig WAN port on every single product

Never Like

  • Minimal speeds on the two.4GHz band
  • Does not at this time help WPA3 security
  • High-quality of Support engine requires 3rd-occasion information-sharing

These were being all factors that the two-piece, $seven-hundred Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi six mesh router gained a powerful review listed here on CNET. But I could say all of the identical matters about the Asus ZenWiFi AX, too — and that two-piece system only fees $450. On top rated of that, the ZenWiFi AX features improved vary for every product and a improved array of app-primarily based controls and customizations for your network, and it allows you use both product as router or extender (the Orbi won’t). It even arrives in your preference of white or black.

Go ahead and read that 1st paragraph again. If it really is describing the $seven-hundred Netgear Orbi six mesh router, then it really is detailing a extremely powerful system, albeit an expensive one. But if we implement individuals identical details to the $450 Asus ZenWiFi AX, then we’ve located the sweet place for a mesh router enhance, with that identical significant-stop general performance at a price that’s a ton simpler to swallow. That will make the new ZenWiFi system my top rated-rated mesh router to date, an effortless Editors’ Alternative Award winner, and the 1st system I’d propose for any person looking for a router truly worth splurging on.

I had the ZenWiFi system up and running in significantly less than 15 minutes.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

Setup and style

The 1st point you can see as you unbox the two-piece ZenWiFi AX system is that the two pieces are equivalent. Both product can provide as the router or as the vary-extending satellite product, which will make for set up that’s primarily foolproof.

To get started off, you can just plug one of the units in and connect it to your router with an Ethernet cable. Then, open the Asus app and stick to the guidance to get your network up and running. You can will need to plug in the satellite product within 3 meters of the router in purchase to pair the two jointly (before presumably unplugging and relocating it to where you actually want it), but apart from that, the approach is about as uncomplicated as it gets, and only took me about ten minutes from start off to end.

You can obtain a multigig WAN port, 3 spare Ethernet ports and a USB port on the again of every single ZenWiFi product.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The moment your network is are living, you can be capable to use the app to monitor speeds and tweak settings. The system defaults to placing out a one Wi-Fi network that mechanically steers your relationship involving the two.4GHz and 5GHz bands, with the second, far more able 5GHz band serving as a dedicated wi-fi backhaul involving the router and its satellites. If you want to, you can break up individuals bands into independent networks, which is a pleasant touch.

Even nicer: You can customize that backhaul relationship as you see in shape. If you would somewhat share its bandwidth with units on your network, you can change to a nondedicated technique — or you can change the two 5GHz bands altogether, employing the 1st as the backhaul and the second, speedier band for your regular network website traffic. And, if you’ve got bought Ethernet cables running as a result of your partitions, you can wire the satellites again to the router and use all 3 wi-fi bands for your network website traffic.

As for the hardware itself, it really is the identical style as the Wi-Fi 5 model of ZenWiFi, but the aesthetic is correctly significant-stop without the need of drawing too considerably consideration to itself. With the tall-but-not-too-tall style and antennas concealed within, some may blunder the matters for wise speakers, alarm clocks or other these kinds of tech that typically sits out in the open in people’s residences. That’s fantastic for a router — they’ll perform improved if you really don’t experience compelled to stash them out of sight in a closet or a drawer someplace.

You can obtain a multigig WAN port on the again of every single product that supports incoming wired speeds as significant as two.5Gbps, which is a pleasant, essential piece of long term-proofing for a router at this price. You can also obtain four spare Gigabit Ethernet jacks, and a one color-switching LED standing light on the entrance. I like the way that light turns amber in color when a firmware update is all set for obtain, but it took me a moment to realize that’s what it intended, as the app will make no point out of amber in its LED color guide.

Regardless, the system will make an superb 1st effect — but how properly does it perform? Properly…

The Asus ZenWiFi AX was a center-of-the-pack performer in our lab.

Ry Crist/CNET

Community nirvana?

The Asus ZenWiFi AX was not automatically a runaway standout in our lab-primarily based velocity assessments. With a top rated velocity of 825Mbps at a close-vary distance of 5 toes, it really is easily speedier than Wi-Fi 5 routers like the Eero, the Nest Wifi and the dual-band, spending budget-priced model of the Netgear Orbi, all of which top rated out at about 600Mbps. But it is not able of top rated speeds that are very as quickly as individuals of the fancier Wi-Fi six mesh routers like the AmpliFi Alien, the Arris Surfboard Max Pro or the tri-band model of the Netgear Orbi, all of which cost a couple of hundred dollars far more than the ZenWiFi AX.

Even far more of an eyebrow-raiser: the ZenWiFi AX bought defeat at all distances by the Netgear Nighthawk mesh router. That’s a spending budget-priced Wi-Fi six system that fees about $two hundred significantly less than the ZenWiFi AX.

Even now, our top rated velocity assessments leave the vary-extending satellite units out of the equation, and they also really don’t include any partitions or obstructions in involving the router and our check laptop computer. Each of individuals variables will make a large influence on the way these systems perform in a true-earth natural environment. So, I took the ZenWiFi AX household, established it up on my 300Mbps fiber world-wide-web network and then clocked the speeds through my smallish, shotgun-design household in Louisville, Kentucky.

The ZenWiFi AX completed with an ordinary obtain velocity through my household that was second highest among all of the Wi-Fi six mesh routers I have analyzed. Only the Wi-Fi six model of the Netgear Orbi was speedier.

Ry Crist/CNET

The Asus system shone in these true-earth assessments. Over several days and across dozens of velocity assessments, the ZenWiFi AX under no circumstances after dropped my relationship or stalled out as I moved from area to area. In the stop, it completed with an over-all, whole-household ordinary obtain velocity of 271Mbps, or about 90% of what my world-wide-web relationship is able of. That’s second only to the $seven-hundred Netgear Orbi six mesh system, which completed with an over-all ordinary of 288Mbps in the identical spate of assessments.

What is far more, when I removed the vary extender and reran my assessments with just the router, the ZenWiFi AX jumped up to 1st spot. In my again rest room, the farthest area from the router and a typical lifeless zone for one-stage routers in my velocity assessments, I was even now averaging speeds just around 250Mbps, which is superb. Up coming best was the AmpliFi Alien, which averaged again-rest room speeds of 132Mbps with the vary extender unplugged. On its own, the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi six router averaged a again rest room velocity of just 82Mbps. Each of individuals rivals returned speedier top rated speeds in an open-floorplan lab, but the ZenWiFi AX router seems to be the far more able piece of hardware after you consider obstructions into consideration.

Think about your information, too

1 of the pleasant options in the Asus app is a High-quality of Support engine that allows you prioritize website traffic to distinct units on your network. It is really a handy software that you really don’t normally get with mesh routers like these.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

But when you go to convert the feature on, the app alerts you to the fact that employing the High-quality of Support engine requires you to concur to the terms and situations for a 3rd-occasion organization termed Development Micro. That organization operates the software that powers the Asus QoS engine, and “your data will be collected,” Asus suggests.

“Asus is not dependable for neither the agreement involving you and Development Micro nor any articles of the company presented by Development Micro,” the statement reads (presumably the double damaging is accidental). “You should refer to the privateness-relevant statement issued by Development Micro or get in touch with Development Micro for far more facts.”

Great print directing you to read far more high-quality print, and from a organization you’ve got likely under no circumstances heard of. Amazing.

At any fee, I made sure to give that Development Micro privateness policy a read. It is really 21 web pages extensive, but the element that seems to implement most to ZenWiFi end users starts off on Page nine. 

When you use Development Micro products and solutions like the Asus QoS engine, the policy reads, Development Micro collects individual information that might include your name, telephone number, e-mail tackle and product ID.

“We use this individual data to make certain that the appropriate customer’s license to our options is valid, and to get in touch with our consumers with regards to renewals, technical problems and new products data.”

The policy goes on to get far more granular about the types of information Development Micro collects, and it backlinks out to a independent information disclosure document (again, high-quality print directing you to read other high-quality print). That information disclosure lists 5 distinct purposes for which Development Micro collects person data, and the distinct types of person data that every single function collects. I questioned Asus which of the 5 functions on the record applied to the QoS engine. For every Asus, it was actually four of them — and involving them, the information collected incorporates resource and spot IP addresses, URLs, file names and file paths.

This is where I jumped again around to the Development Micro privateness policy:

Development Micro does neither desire to obtain nor will need any delicate individual data, i.e. individual data revealing racial or ethnic origin, political views, spiritual or philosophical beliefs, or trade union membership, genetic information, biometric information, information concerning health or information concerning a normal person’s sexual intercourse lifetime or sexual orientation.

To me, that’s all but an admission that delicate information is, in fact, acquiring scooped up by Development Micro’s processors. And even if the organization suggests it won’t want or will need that style of data in individual, it even now desires your data as a whole. Significantly of that might be for legitimate purposes, like monitoring network website traffic for likely threats — but the policy also admits to employing individual data for promoting: “We might also use individual data for other company purposes, including retaining present and past Customers knowledgeable about our Items, Services and promotions.”

I will also stage out that Development Micro’s legalese retains matters quite vague when describing how it retains person information protected, mentioning only “ideal security actions” that restrict access to “licensed staff only.”

I give Asus some credit history for alerting you to the privateness implications in a pretty uncomplicated method as soon as you attempt to convert the QoS engine on. Even now, I wouldn’t propose carrying out so except you happen to be specified that you will need it (and most almost definitely would not).


Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

Privateness gripes apart, the Asus ZenWiFi AX is an superb mesh router. It feels each bit the element of a significant-stop enhance, and practically managed to match the best-in-course general performance of the Wi-Fi six model of the Netgear Orbi even with costing hundreds significantly less than that system. The ZenWiFi AX system was a cinch to established up and use, it provides a considerably much better diploma of customization than you commonly get with a mesh system and it performed like a champ, retaining speeds significant through all corners of my household and under no circumstances dropping my signal as I moved from area to area.

At $450, this is even now a splurge, no doubt about it. But the Asus ZenWiFi AX is properly truly worth the money if you happen to be looking for the best benefit probable from a significant-stop, Wi-Fi six mesh router system with a dedicated backhaul band. If you happen to be looking for an enhance, place it proper at the top rated of your record.

Next Post

Fits and Starts for Autonomous Vehicles, and More Car News This Week

At some factors three or so yrs back, it looked like self-driving cars may well surface at your or my door any minute. But now it is apparent the journey to robot cars will be much more of a slog. This week, we obtained perception into some important actions required […]