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Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Review (vs. ZenWiFi): A Refined Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Alternative

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In a way, each router of the 2-pack Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68 AX7800 Tri-Band Business Wi-Fi 6 System is a combination of the EBA63 access point and the EBG15 non-Wi-Fi router. And in that sense, it's simply a more powerful variant of the EBR63 router.

That's to say, the new mesh system is very similar to other ExpertWiFi hardware with all the standard settings and features. However, compared with Asus's previous purpose-built systems for the home, such as the ZenWiFi XT8 and its later XT9 variant, the new business-oriented ExpertWiFi EBM68 is clearly superior while remaining user-friendly.

Here's the bottom line: If you're still in the market for Wi-Fi 6 and contented with Gigabit bandwidth, which is more than fast enough for most cases, the new ExpertWiFi EBM68 is a feature-riched system that has lots to offer. While made for businesses, it'll work well for all homes.

On the other hand, if you want a simple mesh that gets you connected, you'll find it pricey even at the current discounted $500 street price for a 2-pack, which is noticeably higher than the cost of similarly specced, albeit less robust in features, Wi-Fi 6E mesh systems, such as the TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro.

ASUS ExpertWiFi EBM68 Business Mesh System out of the retail box
ASUS ExpertWiFi EBM68 Business Mesh System is available in a 2-pack of identical mesh routers.

Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68: A better version of Wi-Fi 6 ZenWiFi

Out of the box, each ExperWiFi EBM68 mesh router shares a similar "single-slot toaster" design as the XT8. However, it now comes with a cleverly designed port cover that works as a wall-mounting piece, making it much more versatile in terms of placement.

Its hardware specs remain similar to those of previous upper mid-tier ZenWiFi hardware. Specifically, it features Tri-band AX7800 Wi-Fi and comes with a 2.5Gbps Mulit-Gig WAN port and three Gigabit LAN ports. There's also a USB 3.1 Gen 1 (5Gbps) port for all things USB-related.

On the inside, the EBM68 is powered by the new ExpertWiFi firmware that's built on AsusWRT 5.0. As a result, it has a much more robust set of features while remaining backward compatible with existing AiMesh hardware.

The table below shows the similarities and differences between the ExertWiFi EBM68, the ZenWiFi XT8, and the XT9 variant.

The ASUS ExpertWiFi EBM68 mesh router comes with a port cover that is clearly designed to be the wall mount pieceASUS ExpertWiFi EBM68 Business Mesh System with the port cover attached
The ExpertWiFi EBM68 mesh router has a port cover that's cleverly designed to work for wall-mounting.

Asus ExpertWiFi EBR63: Hardware specifications

ASUS ExpertWiFi EBM68 4ZenWiFi XT9ZenWiFi XT8
ModelExpertWiFi EBM68ZenWiFi XT9ZenWiFi XT8
Full NameAsus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Mesh RouterAsus ZenWiFi XT9 Mesh RouterAsus ZenWiFi XT8 Mesh Router
Mesh TechnologyYes (AiMesh)
Dimensions (WxDxH)6.57 x 3.03 x 7.32 in
(167 x 77 x 186 mm)
6.29 x 2.95 x 6.35 in  
(16 x 7.5 x 16.15 cm)
Weight1.78 lbs (808g)1.63 lbs (740 g)1.56 lbs (710 g)
Wi-Fi BandwidthTri-band AX7800Tri-band AX6600
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs2x2 AX
Up to 574 Mbps
(20/40MHz)
5GHz-1 Wi-Fi Specs
(channel width)
2x2 AX
Up to 2402Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
2x2 AX
Up to 1201Mbps
(20/40/80MHz)
5GHz-2 Wi-Fi Specs4x4 AX
Up to 4804Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
UNII-4 SupportYes
(at launch)
Yes
(starting with firmware ver. 3.0.0.4.386_49873)
Dedicated Backhaul BandYes (5GHz-2)
(optional)
Wired BackhaulYes
Guest Network7x Self-Defined Network3x per band at the router,
1x per band system-wide
VLANYesNo
Backward Compatibility802.11ac/n/g/a/b
Mobile AppAsus Router
Web User InterfaceYes (Full)
Operation ModeWireless Router Mode
AiMesh Node Mode
Access Point Mode
USB Port1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1
Gigabit Port3 x LAN
Multi-Gig Port1x 2.5 Gpbs/1Gbps WAN
Link AggregationYes
LAN-only
No
Dual-WANYes
Processing Power1.7GHz quad-core CPU,
256MB Flash, 1GBDDR4 RAM
1.7GHz quad-core CPU,
256MB Flash, 512MB DDR4 RAM
1.5GHz quad-core CPU, 
256MB Flash, 512MB DDR3 RAM
Release DateSeptember 2023August 2022February 2020
FirmwareAsusWRT 5.0
(3.0.0.6)
AsusWRT 4.0
(3.0.0.4)
Firmware Version
(at review)
3.0.0.6.102_44384not tested3.0.0.4.386_24926
Power AdapterAC Input: 110V~240V (50~60Hz)
DC Output: 12V 3A
AC Input: 110V~240V (50~60Hz)
DC Output: 19V 1.75A
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
≈ 200 Wh
(measured at the router)
not tested
US Price
(at launch)
$599.99 (2-pack)
$299.99 (single router)
$499.99 (2-pack)$449.99 (2-pack)
Hardware specifications: ExpertWiFi EBM68 vs. ZenWiFi XT9 vs. ZenWiFi XT8.
The Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Business Mesh router has a 2.5Gbps WAN port and 3 Gigabit LAN portsThe Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Business Mesh router's underside
The ports (left) and the underside of an ExpertWiFi EBM68 mesh router.

Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68: Hardware analysis

As shown in the table, the first noteworthy item on the hardware is that each EBM68 unit has only a single 2.5Gbps port, which only works as the WAN port on the router unit—this port can work as a LAN when the hardware is used as a satellite.

The lack of a second Multi-Gig port generally limits the hardware a great deal. That's because there's no way to have a real 2.5Gbps wired connection out of it. Additionally, if you intend to use a network cable to link the two units, the wired backhaul will be limited to Gigabit.

Generally, as a Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 system, the EBM68 is meant for environments where wiring is not possible. That brings us to the second noteworthy item: like the case of the ZenWiFi XT8 and XT9, the EBM68 supports UNII-4.

Featuring the 5.9GHz portion of the frequency band means the hardware can reliably use Wi-Fi 6's venerable 160MHz channel on its 5GHz-2 band regardless of the environment. That's a boon for a wireless mesh setup where a solid and reliable backhaul link is almost a guarantee.

Other than that, here are a couple of things to note about the EBM68 when working as a mesh system:

  • The system automatically uses the best band for its wireless backhaul link, which is 5GHz-2 by default. However, if you place the units too far apart, it might use 2.4GHz for this job.
  • If you use the 5GHz-2 band as the dedicated backhaul, which it practically is with UNII-4 since there's currently no supported client, on the fronthaul side, the system only has the 5GHz-1 band to serve the clients. This band has the mid-tier 2x2 specs and caps at 2.4Gbps of theoretical ceiling speed.
  • You can use the 5GHz-2 band for both backhaul and fronthaul. In this case, it has only half of its 4x4 bandwidth from either end.
  • If you use wired backhauling, as mentioned, the bandwidth of the satellite will be capped at Gigabit.

Current Wi-Fi broadcasters with UNII-4:

Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Web InterfaceAsus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Wi-Fi setting with UNII-4
The Assu EBM68 has the standard web user interface of the ExpertWiFi family and features UNII-4 on its 5GHz-2 band.

A familiar (ExpertWiFi) AiMesh system

As the first ExpertWiFi canned mesh system, the EBM68 has everything available in any of the series' routers—as detailed in the primer post of the series— plus some family mesh notions available in Asus's ZenWiFi lineup. Specifically, you can expect the following:

  • Pre-synced hardware: If you get a 2- or 3-pack, all you need to do is pick one to work as the primary router. The rest of the hardware units will automatically become part of the system when plugged in.
  • AiMesh compatibility: The EBM68 router will work with any existing AiMesh router to form a mesh system. In this case, note, however, that mixing hardware of different Wi-Fi standards and firmware releases can be problematic.
  • Standard web user interface: You can access the router via its default IP, 192.168.50.1, and set it up like any standard router.
  • All the standard Wi-Fi and network settings: The router supports all possible WAN configurations, including VLAN tagging (a.k.a IPTV or 802.1Q), and comes with a standard set of network settings and features, including Dynamic DNS, port forwarding, IP reservation, and so on.
  • Built-in self-defined networks (SDNs) for easy Wi-Fi configuration for different needs.
  • There are many free and useful features, including Parental Control, QoS, AiProtection, advanced VPN, VLAN, and AiMesh.
  • Optional ExpertWiFi mobile app: In addition to the web user interface, you can use the mobile app for setup and management.

The gist is that the ExpertWiFi EBM68 has everything you'd look for in a mesh system and possibly more. It is for advanced home and business users. As business-oriented hardware, it doesn't have built-in gaming features, but you can use its QoS engine to curtail the bandwidth for any application.

Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68: Excellent performance for the specs

I tested a 2-pack ExpertWiFi EBM68 for over a month and was happy with it. The hardware was a bit buggy with the initial firmware, but with the latest version, it proved to be a solid performer.

Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Router Wi-Fi Long Range PerformanceAsus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Router Wi-Fi Close Range Performance
The Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68's Wi-Fi performance, as a single router, when hosting devices of different Wi-Fi standards.

It passed a few three-day stress tests without disconnection and delivered excellent range, especially when I used a UNII-4 connection as backhaul. Generally, it's hard to put the coverage in numbers, but the EBM68 had about the same range as the GT6, with each unit handling some 2000 ft2 (186 m2) when placed at the center. Still, note that your mileage will vary.

Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Mesh Satellite Wi-Fi Long Range PerformanceAsus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Mesh Satellite Wi-Fi Short Range Performance
The Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68's Wi-Fi performance, as a wireless satellite, when hosting devices of different Wi-Fi standards.

In terms of throughput, the mesh system did quite well for one that has only a single 2.5Gbps port. I tested it using a double NAT setup so I could use its WAN port to host the test data, and it did better than most of its peers, both as a router and a wireless mesh satellite. In fact, it was behind only the higher-end ZenWiFi XT12.

Still, compared to newer Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 hardware, the EBM68's performance, expectedly, remained below multi-Gigabit. At best, it can deliver Gig+ sustained speed. But that's plenty fast.

What is Gig+

Gig+, or Gig Plus, conveys a speed grade faster than 1Gbps but slower than 2Gbps. So, it's 1.5Gbps, give or take, and it's not speedy enough to qualify as Multi-Gig Ethernet or multi-Gigabit. Intel coined the term to call its Wi-Fi 6E client chips—the AX210 and AX211—to describe their real-world speeds.

Gig+ generally applies to the sustained speeds of Wi-Fi 6 or 6E—via a 2x2 at 160MHz connection, which has the 2402Mbps theoretical ceiling speed—or Internet speed. It's generally not used to describe wired network connections.

Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68 NAS Write PerformanceAsus ExpertWiFi EBM68 NAS Read Performance
The Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68's wired network-attached storage performance when hosting a 4TB portable SSD.

I also tested the router unit's USB port's network storage feature, and the performance proved to be that of a Gigabit wired connection. As mentioned, since the 2.5Gbps port only works as a WAN, there's no way to test this feature via a Multi-Gig connection.

Other than that, the EBM68 was completely silent—it has no internal fan—and remained relatively cool to the touch even during extended operation. There was no heat or noise-related issue.

The Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68 Business Mesh has a little status light on the frontASUS ExpertWiFi EBM68 Business Mesh System plugged in
Here's the ExpertWiFi EBM68 router being tested.

Asus ExpertWiFi EBM68's Rating

8 out of 10
ASUS ExpertWiFi EBM68 Business Mesh System
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
8 out of 10
Ease of Use
8.5 out of 10
Value
7 out of 10

Pros

Excellent and reliable Wi-Fi 6 performance; 2.5Gbps WAN port and UNII-4 support

All Wi-Fi and network settings for any advanced network; tons of advanced features, including VLAN, AiMesh, VPN, and more

Robust web user interface, well-designed ExpertWiFi mobile app

Practical wall-mount-ready design

Cons

Only one Multi-Gig port: no 6GHz band

Comparatively expensive

Conclusion

Like the rest of the initial hardware in Asus's new ExpertWiFi family, the EBM68 is not a must-have mesh system. However, among all Wi-Fi 6 counterparts, it's easily one of the best. If you're looking for a robust system that can do everything, including advanced VLANs and serious VPN, give it a try, and you'll likely find it well worth the seemingly high $500-ish street price for a 2-pack.

Or just keep it in mind and wait for similar hardware from the same ExpertWiFi lineup to be released in the future.

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