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Wi-Fi Router Charts

Click for Wi-Fi Router Charts

Mesh System Charts

Click for Wi-Fi Mesh System Charts

Wireless AX6100 Tri band Gigabit Router
At a glance
ProductASUS Wireless AX6100 Tri band Gigabit Router (RT-AX92U)   [Website]
SummaryBroadcom-based tri-radio mesh system with two stream 2.4 (Wi-Fi 4) and 5 GHz (Wi-Fi 5) client-connect radios and four stream Wi-Fi 6 5 GHz backhaul radio.
Pros• DFS and 160 MHz channel bandwidth supported
• Full ASUSWRT feature set supported
• Supports mesh expansion using any AiMesh router
Cons• No > 1 GbE port
• Legacy (11n/11ac) client-facing radios limit throughput, especially on 2.4 GHz.
• DFS and 160 MHz channel bandwidth supported on 5 GHz hi-band (backhaul) radio only

Typical Price: $342  Buy From Amazon

ZenWiFi AX
At a glance
ProductASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8)   [Website]
SummaryBroadcom-based Wi-Fi 6 tri-radio mesh system with two stream 2.4 and 5 GHz client-connect radios and four stream 5 GHz backhaul radio.
Pros• 2.5 GbE port
• DFS and 160 MHz channel bandwidth supported
• Full ASUSWRT feature set supported
• Supports mesh expansion using any AiMesh router
Cons• DFS and 160 MHz channel bandwidth supported only on 5 GHz hi-band (backhaul) radio

Typical Price: $377  Buy From Amazon

ZenWiFi
At a glance
ProductASUS ZenWiFi (ET8)   [Website]
SummaryBroadcom-based Wi-Fi 6E tri-radio mesh system with two stream 2.4 and 5 GHz client-connect radios and four stream 6 GHz backhaul radio.
Pros• 2.5 GbE WAN port
• 6 E backhaul works very well
• Full ASUSWRT feature set supported
• Supports mesh expansion using any AiMesh router
Cons• DFS not supported
• 5 GHz 160 MHz bandwidth not supported

Typical Price: $529  Buy From Amazon

Introduction

ASUS was the first to endow most of its Wi-Fi routers with the ability to become mesh nodes via its proprietary AiMesh system. Although Linksys and TP-Link have followed suit with their own proprietary DIY mesh systems, ASUS is clearly in the lead, at least in number of products supporting AiMesh.

For those who prefer to not roll their own Wi-Fi mesh system, ASUS has also introduced bundled systems. It started with the not-so-great Lyra, which started as a tri-radio system with a largish hockey-puck format, then morphed into a dual-band pyramid. Neither of these, however, were AiMesh compatible, so were doomed to commercial failure.

Having learned a lesson, ASUS took another whack at packaged mesh Wi-Fi with the AiMesh compatible RT-AX92U. But its major packaged Wi-Fi mesh efforts have been in the ZenWiFi family, also based on AiMesh. This review will compare the Wi-Fi 6 XT8 and its recently-released sibling, the Wi-Fi 6E ET8. The non-Zen RT-AX92U is also in the mix, representing a more affordable alternative to the Zens.

The Products

Except for the rounded cube-ish XD4, the other ZenWiFi's come in the same rounded retangle-ish package shown in the product photos above. You can't tell the XT8 and ET8 apart at first glance; you need to check the serial number label on the bottom. Both share a single multi-color LED on the front and the port complement shown below. The diagram below is misleading; none of the Ethernet ports have link/activity LEDs. Not shown is the bottom panel, which has the serial number label and WPS and recessed reset buttons.

ASUS ZenWiFi ET8 / XT8 callout

ASUS ZenWiFi ET8 / XT8 callouts

Although the ET8's FCC photos are still under wraps, I think I won't be far off to guess that the ET8's design is pretty much the same as the XT8's. The main differences will be in the radio front-end components for the 6E radio and the antennas. The XT8's board photo below isn't super clear. But other close-ups in the FCC document enable clear identification of all components, except the specific Skyworks front end modules (FEMs).

ASUS ZenWiFi XT8 board

ASUS ZenWiFi XT8 board
  ASUS ZenWiFi ET8
(not verified)
ASUS ZenWiFi XT8 ASUS RT-AX92U
CPU Broadcom BCM6755 quad-core @ 1.5 GHz Broadcom BCM6755 quad-core @ 1.5 GHz Broadcom BCM4906 dual-core @ 1.8 GHz
Switch - Broadcom BCM53134
- BCM 54991E 2.5 GbE Phy
- Broadcom BCM53134
- BCM 54991E 2.5 GbE Phy
In BCM4906
RAM 512 MB 512 MB 512 MB
Flash 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - In BCM6755 - In BCM6755 - Broadcom BCM4352
- Skyworks SKY853331-11 2.4 GHz FEM (x2)
5 GHz radio - In BCM6755 - In BCM6755 - Broadcom BCM4352
- Skyworks SKY85743 5 GHz FEM (x2)
5 GHz #2 or 6 GHz 6 GHz: Broadcom BCM43684
5 GHz #2: Broadcom BCM43684
- Unidentified Skyworks 5 GHz FEM
- 5 GHz #2: Broadcom BCM43684 4 stream ax radio SoC
- Skyworks SKY85743 5 GHz FEM
Bluetooth - Atheros AR3012 - Atheros AR3012 N/A
Price $530 $450 $350
Table 1: Component summary

The ET8's components in Table 1 are basically a cut-and-paste of the XT8's. Both have two-stream client-facing Wi-Fi 6 radios, which are embedded in the BCM6755 SoC. The RT-AX92U has a very different design. Its client-facing radios (photo, right) are two-stream BCM4352 Wi-Fi 5. Only its high-band 5 GHz backhaul radio (photo, left) is four-stream Wi-Fi 6, provided by the BCM43684, which also provides backhaul from the ET8 and XT8. The other key AX92U difference is its lack of 2.5 GbE port, which put it at a disadvantage in some of our tests.

ASUS RT-AX92U board

ASUS RT-AX92U board

Features

All three products can be set up and managed via the ASUS app or web browser. I chose the latter method. The Network Map view shown below has a few things to note. Try as I might, I could not get the ET8 to use WPA3 security on the two client-facing radios. Nor could I set OWE (Opportunistic Wireless encryption aka Enhanced Open) on the 6 GHz radio. At least when meshed with another ET8, it insisted on WPA2 for 2.4 and 5 GHz and WPA3 for 6 GHz. I didn't have similar problems with the XT8 or AX92U; both let me set WPA3 for all three radios.

ASUS ZenWiFi ET8 Network Map

ASUS ZenWiFi ET8 Network Map

Even though the ET8 can use either the 5 or 6 GHz radios for backhaul, it preferred to use 6 GHz, as shown above and I didn't attempt to override this choice. The XT8 and AX92U each used its second, high-band 5 GHz radio for backhaul. Unlike the Linksys Atlas Max 6E, backhaul radios are dedicated, i.e. they won't also support client connection. However, if you opt to use Ethernet backhaul, then the third radio is available for client connection.

The screenshot below shows the ET8's basic wireless settings, which put settings for all three radios on one page. All three of the ET8's radios support Open (no security), Enhanced Open (OWE), WPA2-Personal, WPA3-Personal, WPA/WPA2-Personal, WPA2/WPA3-Personal, WPA2-Enterprise (RADIUS) and WPA/WPA2-Enterprise wireless authentication methods. Enhanced Open is not supported on the AX92U or XT8.

ASUS ZenWiFi ET8 Wireless General Settings

ASUS ZenWiFi ET8 Wireless General Settings

Note the ET8 supports neither DFS channels nor 160 MHz channel bandwidth on 5 GHz. Unchecking the 6 GHz radio's enable PSC box shows channel 33 as the lowest channel supported and 221 as the highest. Both are supported on the XT8 and AX92U's high-band 5 GHz radio only.

The Wireless "Professional" tab is essentially the same for all three products. The screenshot below shows the AX92U's screen, with settings used for testing.

ASUS ZenWiFi ET8 Wireless General Settings

ASUS ZenWiFi ET8 Wireless General Settings

The usual ASUSWRT feature set is supported on all three systems, including Trend Micro's AiProtection, Adaptive QoS and AiCloud.

WAN
Static
Y
Dynamic
Y
PPPoE
Y
PPTP
Y
L2TP
Y
IPv6
Y
QoS
TypePriority
DirectionDown
Auto
Y
Firewall
Port Forward
Y
DMZ
Y
Content Filtering
Y
Threat Protection
Y
UPnP
Y
UPnP disable
Y

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