Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

ARRIS’s First Wi-Fi 6 Broadcaster is a Mesh System

The SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi system.
The SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi system.

ARRIS informed me today of its very first Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) broadcaster, and it’s not a standalone router. Instead, it’s a Mesh Wi-Fi system, called SURFboard mAX Pro, or mAX for short. The news is quite exciting because ARRIS is a known maker of cable modems and residential gateways.

By the way, this is ARRIS’s very first Wi-Fi system. Before this, the company released a power-line system, the SurfBoard SBR-AC3200P, a few years ago.

Update: The full review of the SURFboard mAX Pro is now available here.

Tri-band 4×4 Wi-Fi 6

The new system includes two hardware units and, according to ARRIS, uses Tri-band 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 in both. In other words, each unit has two 5GHz bands and one 2.4GHz band.

Tri-band is significant in a Wi-Fi system since one of the 5GHz bands can work solely for the job of connecting the hardware units. This band is called the dedicated back-haul or dedicated link and helps reduce or even eliminate the deficiency when signals have to jump from one node to another.

As for how all Wi-Fi systems work, you connect one of the units to an Internet source and then place the other a distance away to extend the Wi-Fi network further. What’s also interesting is mAX doesn’t have a built-in cable modem, which would make it a contender of the Netgear Orbi CBK40.

Large Wi-Fi coverage

ARRIS claims a single unit of the mAX can cover some 3000 ft² (280 m²), and with two units, you’ll get double that. The system is slated to be some four times faster than the speed of existing Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) counterparts.

In reality, you’ll need Wi-Fi 6 clients to enjoy the new speed. With existing clients, you’ll get about the same as that of a Wi-Fi 5 system. Nonetheless, the fast Wi-Fi 6 speed will allow for a larger distance between the two hardware units, hence increase the Wi-Fi coverage, without affecting the broadband connection they carry.

Availability

The SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System is available in the first half of this year. Currently, its price is not yet available. By the time it ships, however, there will be many more Wi-Fi 6 mesh options, including those from Asus, Netgear, TP-Link, to name a few.

6 thoughts on “ARRIS’s First Wi-Fi 6 Broadcaster is a Mesh System”

  1. Thanks Dong,
    with you having kindly gone to the trouble of writing an article on this new Arris system, just thought I would indicate my interest, but it appears to have been removed from Amazon for the time being, so will have to be patient.
    I mainly have 802.11n devices, one ac device and no ax devices and doubt I will have for some time yet. Given all the performance hype with wifi, just can’t help being curious as to what a purpose designed ax mesh system might be capable of.
    Your excellent, very clear performance bar charts like this one,

    https://dongknows.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Aimesh-Score.png

    are very useful.

    Thanks again, Neil

    Reply
  2. I see the SURFboard mAX Pro is allegedly to be released on Amazon.com https://amzn.to/2Vdo2wl from the May 15th. Am curious to find out if a couple of these would provide a 1Gb wifi link for our B4RN 1Gb/1Gb via a Genexis DRG7820 in the UK.

    Reply
    • Hi Neil,

      I can’t give you a definitive answer since I haven’t tested the system. However, considering its Wi-Fi 6 specs, chances are it’ll be able to deliver more than 1Gbps Wi-Fi speeds (hence able to provide your Internet in full). Whether or not your device can receive that speed depends on its Wi-Fi, too. Generally, you need a device that also has Wi-Fi 6 to connect at the high speed.

      Hope this helps!

      -Dong

      Reply

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