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 the existing Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) counterparts.
|Full Name||ARRIS SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh AX11000 Wi-Fi 6 AX Router|
|Total Hadware Unit in a Mesh||Up to three routers|
|Dedicated Backhaul Band||Yes|
|Wired Backhaul||Future firmware|
|Dimensions||9.64-inch (245mm) tall, 5-inch (127mm) wide|
|Weight||2.21 lbs (1kg)|
|Wi-Fi Technology||Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) AX11000|
|5GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2 x 5GHz AX: 4×4 (Tx/Rx) 1024 QAM 20/40/80/160MHz, up to 4.8Gbps|
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2.4GHz AX: 4×4 (Tx/Rx) 1024 QAM 20/40MHz, up to 1.2Gbps|
|Backward Compatibility||802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi|
|Mobile App||ARRIS SURFboard mAX Manager|
|Web User Interface||No|
|Regular Network Ports||Three Gigabit LAN port ports, one Gigabit WAN port|
|Link Aggregation||Yes (WAN + LAC Port)|
|CPU||64-bit quad-core 1.8GHz CPU, 512 MB of RAM, 1 GB of flash|
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.
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.