A lot of awesome Mesh systems have been released recently as the concept becomes more and more popular. However, we don’t think there are any out there that are better overall than the ASUS ZenWiFi AX XT8.
When we tested its download speed from 5ft away, it clocked a huge 836.45 Mbps. And thanks to its individual satellite range of 100ft and second 5 GHz band, it maintains a great connection across a large distance. That makes it the perfect Mesh system!
You can buy one, two, or three packs of satellites of the AX6600 and continue to add to it with up to 10, so it really will support buildings of any size. But is it worth it for you or could there be a better option out there? These are the key questions, and we’ll be helping you answer them shortly.
|Model||ZenWiFi AX AX6600|
|Max Tested Wi-Fi Speed||836.45 Mbps|
|Wireless Standard||Wi-Fi 6|
|Bands||2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, 5 GHz|
|WAN Port||1x Gigabit|
|LAN Port||1x 2.5 Gigabit|
|USB Port||2x USB 3.0|
|Dimensions||6.29 x 2.95 x 6.35 in|
The ZenWiFi AX XT8 is a high-performance Mesh system that comes in at a lower price than equally powerful options such as the Netgear Orbi RBK852.
It’s by no means the cheapest Mesh system in the world, so it might make sense for those with slower internet plans to opt for a budget option. Nonetheless, we feel that the AX6600 is going to be the best option for a lot of people.
Each satellite’s range of 100ft means that even just the starter kit of two satellites will give you a combined range of 200ft. That’s enough for a pretty large home, and you can always add more satellites if you need to.
And here’s the thing. Because of this Mesh system’s high power and second 5 GHz band (assisting its communication with other satellites), its signal is great at passing through objects. So if you have thick walls in your home, ZenWiFi should make light work of them.
Features-wise, there’s a lot to enjoy as well. It comes with AiProtection Pro free for life, which means you’ll get some of the best antivirus and parental controls going. Plus, it comes with a two-year warranty for that extra peace of mind.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that Mesh isn’t going to be worth it for everyone. We found that those with homes over 3000 sq. ft. in size could really benefit from Mesh.
There’s no denying that the power of ZenWiFi is impressive, both in terms of range and speed. Here’s how we came to that opinion.
Firstly, we tested the speed of it with a device 5ft away. It clocked in at 836.45 Mbps, which makes it one of the fastest Mesh systems around. A little slower than the (more expensive) Netgear Orbi RBK852 which came in at 851.86 Mbps.
What could you do with speeds over 800 Mbps? Well, you’d be able to stream 32 Ultra HD Netflix movies at the same time for a start. Plus, you’d be able to download a 100 GB file in just over 15 minutes! That’s rapid.
Another cool stat about this system is how well it holds onto its speed further away. We ran the same test with the same device from 50ft away and got a speed of 575.15 Mbps. At that point, it is substantially faster than the Netgear Orbi RBK852, which scored 172.68 Mbps.
One area of performance in which the AX6600 is a tiny bit disappointing is its 2.4 GHz band speeds. Here, we could only get 341.07 Mbps from it compared to the 587.61 Mbps of the RBK852. This is something to consider if you have older devices that do not support the 5 GHz band.
It’s not even just the raw download speeds that impress us with this thing. Its satellite range and the way the satellites communicate with one another is top tier.
Each satellite will hold a signal 100ft away. So technically, you could position your satellites 100ft away from one another to extend your overall network range in big jumps at a time.
On top of this, the AX6600 is a tri-band router, which means it has a second 5 GHz band on top of the standard 2.4 GHz band. The 5 GHz bands have a slightly narrower range than the 2.4 GHz one but are substantially faster.
The addition of a second 5 GHz band is good for connecting between satellites and for connecting many 5 GHz ready devices. It frees up bandwidth on the individual bands which allow for better performance.
When you buy an ASUS ZenWiFi AX XT8, you get some neat features included in the price. Here’s an overview of them.
The main selling point of this kit is, of course, Mesh. If you weren’t familiar with the concept before, allow us to explain.
Mesh allows you to connect multiple satellites to the same network without the need for additional network names which force you to reconnect every time you go out of range of the original signal.
The result is ‘seamless roaming’. So with Mesh, you could technically stream a movie on your smartphone and never lose connection to it as you move around your home.
The other option to extend your Wi-Fi signal with a standard router is to use a (more affordable) standard Wi-Fi extender. For more help on choosing between the two, check out our comparison guide.
ASUS’s Mesh branding is called AiMesh and it is, in our opinion, some of the best Mesh technology right now.
ASUS Router app
Your Mesh network will be super configurable with ZenWiFi and a big part of that is down to the awesome app you can download to control everything.
The ASUS Router app is perfect for setting up your initial network, adding extra satellites, and controlling settings such as QoS and parental controls. Plus, it looks great and feels good to use thanks to a clever, attractive user interface which is always a nice thing to have!
Quality of Service, often shortened to QoS, is a really useful tool that allows you to select a handful of devices to be prioritized by the network. When you do this, you’ll be getting better network performance for those devices and as a result, slowing down other devices.
This better performance comes in the form of faster speeds and lower latency (quicker ping and better response). For faster downloads and high-performance internet usage and/or for networks with many devices connected, this can be a really important thing.
ASUS’ ‘Adaptive QoS’ goes one step further as it allows you to choose particular modes for the devices, tailoring their performance even further. For example, there’s a gaming mode that appears to focus on latency in a bid to make sure you get the ultimate gaming performance. Really neat for gamers!
Smart Home compatibility
IFTTT (if that then this) appears to be the future for a lot of us as smart devices become increasingly compatible with one another. Now, you can throw your home network into the mix by hooking up the AX6600 to your smart home.
One of the coolest functions of this is Alexa compatibility. Use your voice to control the router settings with a variety of commands including ‘Alexa, pause the internet for iPhone’ or ‘Alexa, turn on the guest network’.
It might sound like a bit of a gimmick at first but believe us when we say that once you get used to it, it can make your life a lot easier!
One of our favorite things about this Mesh system (and most ASUS routers in general) is a little bundle called AiProtection Pro. It’s a combination of ASUS’s antivirus technology and their parental controls, and you’ll get it free for life when you buy the AX6600.
Antivirus is particularly important with routers as if your home network picks up a virus, it can compromise the security of every device that’s attached to it. This can be pretty catastrophic in a worst-case scenario.
Parental controls are really important too. You can set them up to restrict access to certain types of content for certain devices. This has the potential to keep the young folks’ eyes away from inappropriate or malicious content. We absolutely recommend it for anyone sharing their network with kids!
The security side of things is also great. When we first tested the AX6600, it didn’t have WPA3, which we complained about. But ASUS har recently added it, which is great. WPA3 is the latest Wi-Fi security protocol.
The minimum legal requirement for a warranty in the US is one year. But ASUS, out of the kindness of their hearts, automatically double that with the XT8. This means you’ll get two years of cover.
Your cover protects you in case there are any issues with the router, and it’s always nice to have that extra peace of mind.
We’re big fans of the XT8 design. Aesthetically, the hardware is very attractive in its sleek, modern and minimal design but there are a lot of elements to the practicality of the design that we really like as well.
A lot of punters will be happy to see the inclusion of a multi-gig LAN port to each of the ZenWiFi satellites, for example. This is actually somewhat of a rarity in Mesh satellites, which confuses us as we like to see them.
Multi-gig ports are effectively fast LAN ports (2.5G instead of 1G in this case) for plugging devices in for a wired internet connection. This means those with superfast internet plans up to 2500 Mbps will be able to realize their full potential.
Each of the satellites also has a couple of USB ports which again, is somewhat rare for Mesh systems. Because of these USB ports, you can plug in external hardware (e.g. printers) or use the satellites as chargers for other electronic devices if you so wish.
The devices themselves are of a reasonable size and weight at 6.29 x 2.95 x 6.35 in and 710g. This means they’ll fit pretty neatly on any shelf and won’t look out of place. Plus, you’re not going to have any issues when it comes to moving them around.
Thanks to the handy ASUS Router app, setting up the AX6600 is a walk in the park. All you need to do is plug in the individual satellites (make sure you put them at the optimum distance apart from each other based on the range we discussed earlier) and open the app.
There are just a few instructions to follow on the screen after this but the bottom line is that the whole setup process should only take a couple of minutes.
Adding extra satellites to your network is really easy too. You can do it as and when you please. Just plug in your satellite and the app will detect its presence. Follow the instructions on the screen and it will be part of the network in a matter of seconds.
If you do not have a smartphone, you can still get around this. Simply go to the network configuration page by entering “192.168.1.1” into your URL bar and follow the instructions there instead. This process is not quite as smooth, however.
For what you get with this ZenWifi system, the price is very good. There are a lot more affordable Mesh systems out there of course, but none of them really come close to being as good as this one.
By comparison, there are a couple of more expensive Mesh systems, but we don’t feel like these pricier models justify the difference. Take the Netgear Orbi RBK852 again for example. This is quite a bit more expensive but we don’t feel like it has much more than the ASUS option in terms of quality.
In that respect, we feel that the ASUS ZenWiFi AX XT8 offers some of the best value for money for any Mesh system on the market. It’s one of the first high-performance Wi-Fi 6 Mesh systems to come in at a reasonable price, so it’s no wonder it’s such a popular piece of kit right now!
Views from the critics
From time to time, reviewers of routers and Mesh systems that we’ve reviewed have differing opinions to us. But not this time. Pretty much everyone is in agreement about the AX6600 across the board. And that agreement is basically that this is the best Wi-Fi Mesh system!
ASUS ZenWiFi AX XT8 is literally getting 5/5s and 10/10s from most reviewers. However, there are one or two reviewers that point out a couple of what they consider to be faulted, so we felt that it would only be fair to acknowledge them and provide a balanced opinion.
The two commonest occurrences of issues here are that satellites take a long time to connect and that the 2.4 GHz band isn’t particularly quick. Honestly, we didn’t experience the former at all. Connection times for us were very fast every time we tested it.
We can understand the criticism of the 2.4 GHz speeds though. We tested it from 5ft away and got 341.07 Mbps. That’s quite a lot less than the Netgear Orbi RBK852 which managed 587.61 Mbps.
So, this might be something to consider for those who don’t have many 5 GHz ready devices. But then again, at 50ft, the speeds even out. Here, the AX6600 got 101.16 Mbps and the RBK852 got 102.08 Mbps. Swings and roundabouts.
Overall, things are looking good for the AX6600. It’s a rare thing to be able to impress that many critics!
Which other Mesh systems are available instead?
While ASUS ZenWiFi AX XT8 will please the masses, there’s a chance you’ll be better suited to another Mesh system. Here are a few others to consider.