Saturday, February 27th, 2021

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) Review: The First Complete AiMesh Set

Asus XD4 Mesh
The ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) includes three identical-looking compact hardware units.

The ZenWiFi AX Mini (model XD4) is Asus’s third purpose-built AiMesh Wi-Fi system, after the XT8 and CT8, and it turned out to be the most complete one in my testing.

So, the third time seems to be the charm, and that’s the good news. The bad is, this mesh system is also the first dual-band out of the three, with subdued hardware specs. As a result, it’s underwhelming in both power and features, making its current $300 price (for a 3-pack) a tad less attractive.

Here’s the deal: If you don’t need super-fast Wi-Fi, or you have wired your home with network cables and has a small switch, the ZenWiFi AX Mini is an excellent choice, much better than the similarly specced and more expensive TP-Link Deco X60.

But if you’re looking for the same level of features and performance as that of the previous ZenWiFi solutions, the XD4 will probably disappoint you.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) AiMesh Wi-Fi 6 System

8.1

Performance

8.0/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

7.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Reliable performance
  • Improved AiMesh feature
  • Guest networking works throughout the system
  • Useful network settings and feature

Cons

  • No dedicated backhaul band or 160MHz channel width support
  • No multi-gig port, Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
  • Stripped-down, borderline useless QoS and Parental Control features
  • Limited number of network ports, switch needed for a complete wired backhaul setup
  • Non-pre-synced hardware, not wall-mountable

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini: First traditional AiMesh system

Out of the box, the ZenWiFi XD4 includes three identical-looking hardware units (you’ll likely be able to find a 2-pack at some point). However, they are not all the same.

Different router and satellite hardware

Indeed, the ZenWiFi AX Mini is the first AiMesh system that includes two types of hardware: router and satellite (or node). In other AiMesh systems, the hardware units are the same in the sense that they are all routers.

But the hardware units of the XD4 still look identical, and Asus calls them all “AX1800 Dual Band WiFi Router”. The only way you can tell the two apart is to flip them up.

On the underside, the router unit (model XD4R) has two Gigabit network ports. One is a WAN/LAN port, and the other is a LAN port. The node (model XD4N) has just one LAN port. You can use this port to host a wired device or the backhaul link to the router.

As all AiMesh routers, the XD4R can work either as the primary router or a node of another AiMesh system. The XD4N unit, however, can only work as a satellite. It can’t work as a router since it has no WAN port.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4: Hardware specifications

The ZenWiFi XD4 is a dual-band system that doesn’t support the 160 MHz channel width, which is required to deliver top Wi-Fi 6 performance.

As a result, the way Wi-Fi 6 works, its ceiling speeds on the 5 GHz band caps at 1200 Mbps when working with a 2×2 client.

READ NOW!  Wi-Fi 6 Explained in Layman's Terms: The Real Speed, Range, and More

Like most entry-level Wi-Fi 6 router, the XD4 has no multi-gig port. It’s also one of a few Asus routers that doesn’t have the support for Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation. There’s no USB port, either.

Full NameAsus ZenWiFi AX Mini Mesh System (XD4)
Hardware ModelsXD4R / XD4N
RoleAiMesh Router / AiMesh Satellite (Node)
Tri-bandNo
Dedicated Backhaul BandNone
Wired BackhaulYes
Dimensions (WxDxH)3.54 x 3.54 x 3.14 inc 
(9.0 x 9.0 x 8.0 cm )
WeightRouter: .65 lb (295 g) 
Satellite: .64 lb (290 g)
5GHz Wi-Fi Specs2×2 AX: Up to 1200 Mbps 
2×2 AC: Up to 867 Mbps
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs2 x 2 Wi-Fi 6: Up to 574 Mbps
Wi-Fi SecurityWPA3 / WPA2 / WPA 
Channel Width Support20Mhz, 40MHz, 80MHz
Backward Compatibility802.11b/a/g/n/ac
Mobile AppAsus Router
Web User InterfaceYes (Full)
AP ModeYes (as a single unit or a mesh)
USB PortNone
Gigabit PortRouter: 1x WAN, 1x LAN
Satellite: 1x LAN
Link AggregationNo
Dual-WANNo
Processing PowerQuad-core SoC processor, 
256MB Flash memory, 256MB RAM 
Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4’s hardware specifications

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4’s detail photos

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 14
The ZenWiFi AX Mini (model XD4)’s retail box.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 7
Out of the box, the three hardware units of the ZenWiFi AX Mini look identical. The router has a label on it for self-identification, though.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 8
That’s because from almost all angle all units of the ZenWiFi XD4 looks the same. Here’s the front side.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 9
Here from the top. By the way, note how tiny the hardware unit is.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 3
You have to look at the underside to see how the ZenWiFi XD4’s router unit, model XD4R, has two Gigabit network ports.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 4
Indeed one of the XD4R’s two ports works as a WAN/LAN port.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 10
The node unit, model XD4N, has just one Gigabit LAN port.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 5
You can use this port to host a wired client or link to the router unit via wired backhaul.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini with Adapters
Each hardware unit of the ZenWiFi AX Mini uses a quite large power adapter.

Non-pre-synced hardware, for now

Setting up the ZenWi-Fi AX Mini is like that of any AiMesh system. First, you set up the router unit just like you do any router with a web interface. (Alternatively, you can use the Asus Router mobile app for the job, but I always prefer the interface.)

This step is easy and took me less than ten minutes. The XD4R, like most Asus router, can even take the backup file from another Asus router, making it very convenient for an upgrade. Then came a bit of an unpleasant surprise.

Since both the ZenWiFi AX and ZenWiFi AC have their hardware — each includes two identical routers — pre-synced, I was expecting the same with the ZenWiFi XD4. It only makes sense considering its satellites are not routers.

Well, that wasn’t the case with my review set. (Per Asus, future sets will likely be pre-synced). I had to add the two nodes to the router manually to form a mesh. It wasn’t a huge deal — the AiMesh setup process is straightforward — but it did cost me another 10 minutes or so. And then, there was even more.

A firmware update hiccup

Out of the box, the XD4 uses firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.36914. The setup process didn’t prompt me of a new version, nor did the interface subsequently.

ZenWiFi AX Mini AiMesh Setup
Out of the box, the ZeWiFi XD4 comes with a pre-release firmware (note the version number). Also, the review set’s hardware units are not pre-synced and you’ll need to add the nodes to the router manually.

However, as a standard practice, I checked with Asus’s website anyway, found a more updated firmware, version 3.0.0.4.386.37429, and decided to do a manual update. It’s interesting, though, according to the Asus’s site, this version is actually the initial firmware release.

The update went through no problem, but afterward, I noted that the mesh nodes were no longer part of the system, even though the process didn’t cause the router unit to reset. Long story short, I ended up having to reset the nodes and add them back again.

In other words, the firmware update seemed to break the mesh. The fact Asus shipped the XD4 with a pre-release version might have been the culprit. But we need to wait till a new firmware is available to find out for sure.

So in all, it took me almost an hour to troubleshoot and get the ZenWiFi AX Mini up and running, much longer than the previous sets. The good news is that was the only hiccup I had during the testing.

First AiMesh system with real Guest networking

Yes! I’m happy to report that the ZenWiFi AX Mini is the first AiMesh I’ve tested that has a fully functional Guest network feature.

Specifically, it comes with two additional (optionally) isolated networks (one for each band), and you can make them propagate throughput the mesh system.

ZenWiFi AX Minis Guest Network Setting
The ZenWiFi AX Mini has a new Guest networking section where you can choose to make the Guest network available to all AiMesh nodes or just at the router.

In all previous AiMesh sets I’ve tested, including the ZenWiFi AX/AC, the Guest network is only available at the router unit. Hopefully, this means Asus will soon release firmware to make the Guest network available in all other systems, something the company has been promising its users for a long time.

Until then, the true support for Guest networking means the ZenWiFi AX Mini is the first complete AiMesh system to date.

Notes on Guest networking

ZenWiFi AX Mini can work with other AiMesh routers, but in this case, for now, its Guest networking is no longer works as intended. Specifically:

  • Adding another AiMesh router as an anode in an XD4 system, and this node will not broadcast the Guest networks.
  • Using the XD4 hardware as nodes hosted by another AiMesh router and the Guest networks will remain at the router unit.
ZenWiFi AX Mini Hosting other AiMesh Router
The XD4 can host any other AiMesh router as its node — the Lyra in this screenshot — but in this case, that node will not broadcast the Guest networks.

ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) vs. ZenWiFi AX (XT8): Similar yet very different feature set

For the most part, the ZenWiFi AX Mini shares the same web interface and feature set as that of other ZenWiFi systems, as well as most Asus routers.

Unfortunately, though, while the XD4 does have a couple of things unique for itself, most of the common features are now stripped-down compared with previous models.

ZenWiFi AX Mini AiMesh Interface
The ZenWiFi AX Mini’s web interface is similar to that of other Asus routers.

ZenWiFi AX Mini’s core features

Following is the list of what you can expect from the XD4. For comparison, when applicable, I also added the screenshots of the equivalents in the XT8.

Universal setting restoration

Again, like most Asus routers released in the past couple of years, the ZenWiFi AX XD4R router unit can take the backup setting files from other Asus routers.

As a result, if you want to upgrade an older router to this mesh system, just back up that router’s settings to a file, then restore it to the XD4R. Most of your network’s configurations — including those of an AiMesh system — will remain the same with the new router.

Note, though, that it’s always better to set up the router from scratch to avoid possible setting conflicts.

A robust full web interface with better AiMesh section

The ZenWiFi XD4R uses the same interface as that of other Asus router. It has lots of settings and is responsive.

ZenWiFi AX Mini AiMesh Optimization
Note the AiMesh Optimization feature.

What’s most interesting is the fact the ZenWiFi AX Mini’s AiMesh section now has a new “Optimization” function. Supposedly, it automatically optimizes the links between the router unit and the nodes. Going forward, Asus might add this to existing AiMesh routers.

Helpful mobile app

Since the interface can be overwhelming for novice users, there’s also an optional Asus Router mobile app for setup and on-going management.

The app is a well-designed with a good level of access to the router. You can also turn on the Dynamic DNS-based remote access without having to have an account with Asus.

Neutered AiProtection

AiProtection includes a free-for-life real-time Network Protection powered by Trend Micro and Parental Controls. Unfortunately, on the XD4, both are now seriously stripped-down compared to that of the XT8.

AiProtection ZenWiFi AX Mini
The ZenWiFi AX Mini’s Network Protection section. Compared with that of the ZenWiFi AX (below) to see the difference.
AiProtection ZenWiFi AX
The Network Protection section of the ZenWiFi AX.

For example, the Network Protection lacks the Two-Way Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) section which protects the network from spams, DDoS, and other types of attacks. And the Parent Control is really just a time-based Internet access blocks.

Parental Controls ZenWiFi AX Mini
The Parental Controls of the ZenWiFi AX Mini is just a time-based Internet blocking function.

Parental Controls ZenWiFi AX
Here’s the Parental Controls of the ZenWiFi AX, note the differences.

Useless QoS feature

The ZenWiFi AX Mini has a QoS section that’s both poor and non-functioning. In fact, other than turning it on or off, I had have no idea what it did. It’s a far cry from that of the ZenWiFi AX.

QoS ZenWiFi AX Mini
It’s unclear what the ZenWiFi AX Mini’s QoS does.

QoS ZenWiFi AX
The ZenWiFi AX has the traditional Adaptive QoS that has a lot more to offer.

So in all, the ZenWiFi AX Mini has the least in terms of features compared to other Asus Wi-Fi 6 solutions. But it sure has enough for you to customize a network to a certain extent. Standard stuff like Dynamic DNS, Port forwarding, VPN server/client, Network tools, etc. are all there.

(As usual, the XD4’s features and settings can change via firmware updates. So check the firmware release notes for details.)

ZenWiFi AX Mini: Reliable performance

I tested the ZenWiFi AX Mini for more than a week, and part from the hiccup with firmware update mentioned above, I had no other issues with it.

The system passed my 10-day real-world test with no disconnections and both of its main and Guest Wi-Fi networks proved to be reliable.

Comparatively excellent throughput speeds

As for the throughput numbers, I didn’t expect a lot considering the XD4’s modest Wi-Fi specs and lack of a dedicated backhaul, but they turned out out to be pretty impressive.

ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4R Performance

As a single router, the ZenWiFi XD4R did well with my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients, which could connect to it at 1.2 Gbps for the most part.

At a close range, I got the sustained copy speed of some 830 Mbps. And at 40 feet (12 m) away, the connection averaged more than 640 Mbps. These sure were better than the TP-Link Deco X60, as well as a few dual-band routers.

In Wi-Fi 5 tests, my 4×4 client scored some 676 Mbps at close range and almost 550 Mbps father out. Amazingly those were better than the ZenWiFi AX’s.

But the ZenWiFi AX Mini is a system, for this reason, the performance of the node (satellite) unit is very important. And as a system sans dedicated backhaul, it was clearly behind its older cousin.

ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4N Mesh Performance

Specifically, the XD4N indeed suffered from signal loss, registering the sustained speed of 390 Mbps and 309 Mbps at close and long ranges, respectively, when working with a 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client.

My 3×3 Wi-Fi 5 client did slightly worse at 324 Mbps and 286 Mbps for close and long distances, respectively. Overall, though, the XD4N was markedly faster than the TP-Link Deco X60, and slightly outdid other dual-band satellites, including the Asus RT-AX3000.

Decent range, switch needed for wired backhaul

As a single router, the XD4R had about the same range as the RT-AX3000 in my testing. And that was quite impressive considering it’s much smaller. So as a single unit it can handle a small home of around 1500 ft² (140 m²) to 1800 ft² (167 m²).

With all three units, all well-placed, you can expect to cover around 4000 ft² (372 m²). But of course, your mileage will vary depending on your home.

One thing is for sure, though, if you choose to use the ZenWiFi AX Mini via wired backhaul, this system will work out quite excellently. I tried that out briefly and was able to get the same data rates out of the satellite units as those of the router units.

By the way, it’s important to note that you will need a switch if you want to use both of the nodes in a wired backhaul. That’s because since each hardware unit has just one LAN port, you can’t daisy-chain them.

Conclusion

The Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) is the most subdued AiMesh system to date, yet it managed to be the most complete one by delivering all functions one might expect from a mesh of is type.

In a way, the system offers a taste of what you might be able to expect in existing AiMesh systems via future firmware updates.

In a spending mood? (•)

In all, if you have wired your home with network cables and don’t have a lot of wired devices, this is an excellent mesh system to get. Or you can also use it as the node(s) for another more powerful, feature-rich dual-band AiMesh router, such as the RT-AX8xU.

Again, the XD4, by itself, will work fine in a wireless setup, but in this case, don’t expect real Wi-Fi 6 speeds and top Asus features out of it.

106 thoughts on “Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) Review: The First Complete AiMesh Set”

  1. Hi Dong,
    I’ve been reading your reviews nonstop for days trying to figure what to do with my network. I have an asus rt87u for the past 7 years which, despite its black sheep reputation, has served us very well in our large home. It’s still working well, but showing some signs of its age with 5g disconnects as well as weak/dead spots on the edge of its range. I had been holding out for wifi 6e, but decided I needed to upgrade sooner rather than later. I was debating between various setups you had recommended, but settled on the xt8, xD4 (with or without an x86u as main router), or a pair of x92u. I finally pulled the trigger on the xd4 setup after I got a 15% discount at BB for turning in an ancient router I still had laying around for some reason. I was very tempted to get a pair of x92u for a better upgrade path as nodes in the future, but the price of the xD4 was too good to not at least try.

    I should have made the switch long ago! I had recently traced all the old wifi hard wired cat5 connections that the previous owners of our home had left behind with a tracer, and was able to easily setup the xd4 system with a wired backhaul. It’s still early but it has been very smooth with the fastest speeds and stability I’ve had with any of my devices. I had thought to add an x86u or ax11000 in the future with the xD4s as nodes for more features, but for now I don’t think it is necessary until our bandwidth requirements increase. Thank you so much for the recommendation!

    Reply
  2. Thanks for quick reply. This is so true. It just bugged me to see dips in numbers and I worried if I should have purchased a couple of standalone air mesh routers in the middle or higher tier, since the only difference was the new devices.

    I would be mostly trying to get the best performance of wifi -5. I may own 2 devices at best capable of 6.

    I’ll read up on your links and try to avoid a question you may have explained.

    Have a great day!

    Reply
  3. Hi Dong,

    Have you ever used the CD6 version? I only have 60 down service ( classed as super fast in UK) and current supplied router struggle to give give much more than 15 on 2.4ghz and 40 on 5ghz so have been considering Asus cd6, tp link deco M4/5 or amplifi instant to be able to get 5ghz over most of house, don’t think there is a need to spend much more on faster system. Simple requirement really, just want easy to use, stable and reliable but can’t find much info on cd6 system. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Reply
  4. Mr. Ngo,

    Thanks a ton for writing this review. Had my eyes set on a set of XT8s but really wanted a system that came in at least a 3-pack without murking the wallet. Then I remembered that I canceled my landline subscription a long time ago and had RJ11’s around the house.

    A few quick RJ45 conversions and a switch made this set look like an amazing value. Grabbed two more sets for the family too 🙂

    Cheers!

    Reply
      • Of course Mr. Ngo!

        I got around to installing an XD4 setup for a relative’s place and found out that it wasn’t wired for ethernet at all. So I resorted to using them with wireless backhaul and thought if Nest Wifi with its only two channels can wirelessly backhaul just fine, these XD4s should be able to as well.

        Turns out that wasn’t the case for some odd reason. Relatives reported multiple instances of dropped connections while video conferencing and casual YouTube streaming and I have a feeling this is due to the wireless backhaul.

        For now, I have restored back to the previous setup but I am thinking that a single router may be a better option for this 2-story house since there are not many walls in the way. I’m leaning toward the Asus RT-AX3000 just because I love the idea of wired backhaul even for the future. What are your thoughts?

        Reply
  5. Hi Dong,
    fantastic review! thanks!
    quick one: you mentioned backhaul and the need of a switch because it doesn’t “daisy chain”…
    My question is: the Router Node supports also a “V” backhaul right i.e.
    -Router Node connected to switch input/output port (Router WAN port goes to modem)
    -Switch port 1 connected to Node 1
    -Switch port 2 connected to Node 2

    I would then have a switch in each Node location where the Node LAN connects to one of the inputs ports (and the other ports to 2 local wired devices)

    This is supported right?

    Many thanks

    Reply
    • You just need one switch at the router’s location, Luis, but you can use as many switches between the router and the node(s) as you want. An unmanaged switch just adds more network ports to a network and nothing else. More here.

      Reply
    • @Dong Ngo,
      many thanks for the quick reply!

      yes… I understand about the several switches… the problem is that some devices eg the Hue Hub needs to be connected via Ethernet (as does the “Homematic hub” etc, and they are currently near the nodes… (not the router)… and because the Asus only has one Ethernet port I would have to use it for the backhaul (shame they didn’t do 2 like the Asus ZenWifi Mini AC CD6…. -> that’s what I have now… but it is wifi5)

      Cheers!
      Luis

      PS: I will eagerly read your new article!!!

      Reply
    • What a great review. My biggest question is the lack of two way IPS. as I look at my Asus router, the two way IPS reports lots of “inbound” traffic, but never any outbound traffic. Surely that just the job of the in-built firewall. So inbound IPS is an absolute must or the device is a no go. I get lots of inbound Exploit remote command execution reported. can you comment further please ? Also any ideas on the 2.4hgz performance ( aka distance) – as many devices like ring and outdoor pool/sprinkler controllers are 2.4ghz.

      Reply
  6. Hi Dong, thanks for the review. However, am in a desperate need of an expert intervention such as, from yourself.

    I own the AC-87U (a very old workhorse) which has been acting rather wonky of late. Been able to pull up/down about 300~400mbps previously on a 1Gbps line but of now it dropped to 100~150mbps even with direct LAN cable (wired) connection.

    Decided, that it was time for 87U to retire and upgraded to the AX XT8 pair. To my horror, wirelessly same results (100~150mbps) but wired able to draw 800-950mbps. Did numerous reboots/resets/change of settings of both router and modem but still same results. What gives?

    The story does not end here. Frustrated, decided to return the XT8 and reconnected the 87U and to my surprise, out of the blue 87U started deawing 400~500mbps now – wirelessly?? Never before had I witnessed such numbers on my 87U. What is happening?

    ISP Service Engineer was at my home to test the connections directly from modem/wall. Signal/bandwidth was perfect almost touching 1Gbps. As soon as he connected the XT8 same problem prevailed. Wirelessly 150mbps and ping latency ranged between 20~48ms. Just to be certain, he hooked up his own Nokia router. It gave 400++ up/down with stable ping latency of 4~6ms wirelessly. He mentioned this was his 4th such case with XT8 router. Any idea/info if XT8 run into such problems?

    Just to be sure, I borrowed my friend’s Deco M9 Plus up/down a steady 400-600mbps and ping 4~6ms.

    Now the dilemma. 87U can’t get a signal in the farthest room and it going bonkers again just scares me. XT8 just refused to go above 150mbps wirelessly no matter what I did. Nokia and Deco M9 Plus proved to be stable with acceptable speeds but of course, lays the privacy issue.

    I am leaning 50/50 towards the mini XD4. But before I plunge and buy one of these cool looking giant ice-cubes need your expert opinion with regards to the above likely cause/solution to the above problems. Tks in advance and apology, for such a long essay.

    Reply
    • If you have wired backhaul, the XD4 is a better fit. The reason you see the numbers like those is because Wi-Fi 6 is not necessarily better for Wi-Fi 5 devices. You will first need to update your Wi-Fi 5 client to the latest driver, and even then, they might still work better with a Wi-Fi 5 router. More here.

      Reply
      • Hi Dong,

        Thanks for the advice. Just an update, I got the XD4 (3-pack) unit. It has good coverage in my home and is able to sustain speeds of anywhere between 440mbps~630mbps on my 1Gbps line – wirelessly. However, I do have a gripe. Unlike the main SSID the Guest Network unfortunately, is still unable to broadcast signal over to rest of the 2 nodes despite, selecting “All” under “Sync to Aimesh node” setting. I have tried on several different devices both with and without WiFi 6. As I move closer to the nodes, moving farther away from the main router the WiFi signal just slowly disappears and latches itself to my mobile network instead. Do take note, no such issues with the main SSID which connects seamlessly, from router to node.

        I understand those on Lyra have the same option “Sync to Aimesh node” and are also unable to get it to work on Guest Network. To some, Asus has replied that Guest only broadcasts from the main router node.

        I called Asus myself to verify and the representative unfortunately, wasn’t aware of such an option. After checking with her colleague she finally confirmed that such an option existed in their Web UI however, she gave me the same advice. The Guest option was only dedicated to broadcast signal from the main router node only. I then questioned, why put such an option in the Web UI in the first place? To which, I was told to send a screenshot to them via email and that they will forward my question to the head office. I have been contacted twice via email to explain the sequence to this problem but to date, no real advice on how to solve this issue.

        Coming back to your article, did your Guest Network worked seamlessly like the main SSID handing over broadcast signal from router to node? Any specific settings? Am just baffled.

        Am using wireless backhaul for my nodes.

        Reply
        • The Guest network worked as intended in my tests, as I noted in the review. Things might have changed with new firmware and it’s odd if that’s the case though not unprecedented with Asus. The next firmqware release might fix it.

          Reply
        • @Dong Ngo,

          Hi Dong,

          Just an update. Asus got back to me and suggested that I upgrade the firmware to their latest Beta version. So I did. Guest and everything else is working perfectly fine now – seamless, is truly the word.

          Also, thought I share this with you and your readers. My Asus Zenwifi AX Mini (3-pack) actually comes with 3 routers instead, of 1 router and 2 nodes. All 3 have a single WAN and a single LAN port. All 3 units are labeled as XD4R.

          Reply
          • Thanks for the update! I know it was something to do with the firmware. And your hard hardware units are interesting. You got all three routers!!! I guess they have been struggling with the demand. Glad it worked out. 🙂

            Reply
  7. Would adding the 160 MHz channel width to this unit be a software update or hardware change? It already includes the 5GHz radio so hoping Asus could just release a software update.

    Reply
  8. Hey Dong,

    Big fan of your reviews. It has helped guide me to wire my new house and pick up a RT-AX86U and the AX mini set.

    Currently have gigabit internet with Comcast

    I currently have a gigabit modem > RT-AX86U > netgear gigabit switch > ax minis wired through the house.

    I have updated all firmware and system was stable for about a week with WiFi speeds around 600mbps (still not as high as expected)

    Now i am getting around 100mbps throughout the house. I have reset with no change.

    And ideas? Pretty new to this and your threads have helped a lot. And advice would be appreciated!

    Reply
  9. Thanks again for your advices and tests, i received and install Asus Zenwifi XD4, all 3 configured as satellite with my AX86U.
    I’m very happy with performance and size / look.
    I just have an issue with my wife’s smartphone that often switch from my main router (in 5Ghz) to a satellite (in 2.4Ghz) because she’s between both, and it cause micro interruptions, it’s fatal in VoWifi calls … i’m trying to resolve this

    Reply
  10. Hello again
    I’ve a connection question to be 100% sure with mu AX86U + 3 XD4
    Should i connect :
    – AX86U => Cable => DLINK Switch and then my 3 XD4, router and nodes ?
    – Or AX86U => Cable => XD4R => Cable => Switch => Others XD4N ?
    I have a cable going from 1st floor to 2nd floor, a switch being the concentrator for the 2nd floor … i’d avoid to setup the XD4R as the concentrator 😉
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Assuming you mean the network cable by “Cable”, either will do. Generally here’s the diagram with each -> represents a network cable:

      modem (or any Internet source) -> (WAN port) RT-AX86U (LAN port) -> (Switch)-> (more switches) -> Wired device.

      You can imagine the LAN ports on any router are part of its built-in switch and you can use many switches within an AiMesh system. I think you should check out this post first to have a good understanding of what you’re doing. Good luck!

      Reply
  11. Here’s something I tried which works really well: I have a triple NAT setup reduce risk against insecure IoT devices. I found AiMesh excellent to create multiple segmented mesh networks. I use a pair of ZenWifi AX XT8 both in router mode to create 2 separate LANs. I split up 3 ZenWifi AX Mini XD4 and use them as the satellite nodes for the XT8 routers. I have wired backhaul. It’s win-win. I get the benefit of the XT8’s better features like AiProtection and Adaptive QoS. The XD4 satellites are cheaper ($300/3) than buying XT8 satellites ($450/2). With wired backhaul, the XD4 performance as a wired satellite is similar or slightly better than XT8 most of the time. One downside, is with mixed hardware, wifi guest network will not broadcast from the satellite nodes, only from the router (ASUS is testing AiMesh 2.0 beta firmware that fixes this, so hopefully a stable release update is not too far away).

    Reply
  12. seriously excellent write ups. I was originally looking at tp-link openmesh and deco mesh units until I but found out they cannot be mixed and matched in the same mesh as I had wanted… Can anyone tell me if I can mix-and match these zenwifi minis and a zen wifi CT8 together? Or if I can add an Asus AImesh router to a zenwifi set and have it act like a real node as opposed to a seprate access point? Or am I just asking for trouble…

    Reply
  13. We bought the ZenWiFi AX Mini set largely based on your excellent reviews of the various ASUS AiMesh options and these AX Mini’s are now providing excellent coverage using wired backhaul – we have 200 Mbps internet service and we’re getting 180-200 Mbps WiFi throughout all three levels of our home and better-than-ever connections to all of our outdoor Ring cameras. Thank you for helping us find the right solution for our home!

    The only odd thing I’ve noticed is that when either (or both) of the satellite units are turned on, there a guest WiFi network appears called “ASUS_B0_2G_Guest” even though I do NOT have Guest WiFi enabled. It’s a locked SSID, but I can’t find the password in the web GUI, mobile app, or online ASUS help files – and I can’t figure out how to turn it OFF. I worry when an unknown WiFi network shows up in my house that I can’t control! Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • That’s odd, Jeff. You can try turning on the Guest Wi-Fi, picking a name for that, making it available throughout the system, then turning it off, and see what happens.

      Reply
      • I tried turning Guest Wi-Fi on/off several times using the Web GUI and also the iPhone app, but this mystery “ASUS_B0_2G_Guest” network is still visible. I suspect it might have something to do with originally setting up the three units using the iPhone app rather than the Web GUI. I’d prefer not to reset everything to factory defaults and start over using just the Web GUI, but maybe that’s my only option at this point.

        Reply
        • I don’t know if this was part of the solution, but I deleted the iPhone app and did a system reboot from the Web GUI: no more unwanted Guest Wi-Fi network!

          Reply
      • Final solution: everything working perfectly now after “system reset to factory defaults” and setting up the three units using the Web GUI this time instead of the iPhone Asus app. I definitely recommend NOT using the mobile app to setup these routers!

        Reply
    • The ZenWiFi AX Mini would make more sense and its node will have the speeds as fast as the router unit in my charts, JH. “Better” is a broad term.

      Reply
      • Sounds like this mini system is a fantastic choice. I am looking to jump on the mesh bandwagon (currently using frontier base rental router by itself). ~4000 sqft 3 story home. I have a wired house so plan on using a wired backhaul. Even with that, I feel like I’d be better off with the XT8 over the XT4 due to the extra QOL stuff, and the power. The only downside is only 2 nodes instead of three. Price aside, is the xt8>xt4?

        Reply
        • I think you’d be better off getting a nice dual-band router, like the RT-AX86U, and then a couple of XD4 satellite units (or the whole set) and use them as nodes, Ben. Don’t get any tri-band system.

          Reply
          • Thank you for the input, I think the rt-ax86U is perfect! 3 quick follow ups:

            1) can I just use a small gig-switch at the locations of the xt4 nodes to keep the hardwired option available for devices, since the nodes only have 1 Ethernet input?

            2) NAS is also new to me, do you know if my multiple Xbox’s can use one eHDD plugged into the router as a shared drive?

            Reply
  14. Dong, came across your site recently and I’m blown away with the reviews and details THANKS! Question for you regarding setting up a wired backhaul with this Asus AX Mini setup. Currently I have network cables running from my ASUS Blue Cave to 3 separate locations with an ASUS GX-D1051 switch that then splits for an OLD RT-N66U and a Work provided Cisco router. Probably should have thought ahead and run more cables. Plan would be I’d run an initial networking switch off the router since the XD4 is limited with one single port. LAN A (*Home Office) would feed to a separate switch(Old ASUS D1051 Switch or another Suggestion?), which will then feed to Satellite XD4N and the work router. LAN B would feed to the AC2600 and I ports would be for Gaming/Media. LAN C would just act as a satellite for the mesh network Coverage.

    With that, do you have any recommended switch brands or tips? Anything to avoid?

    Reply
  15. Hi Dong,
    Nice review. I had to replace my 7 year old ASUS RT-AC68U recently due to it seeming to becoming unstable after years of rock-solid performance. I’d also loaded the alternative firmware, Asuswrt-Merlin a couple years back and that worked out very well. So when this one started to die, and a wife and daughter home working and heavily dependent on internet access, I needed to find something ASAP and ended up at a Big Box store looking at the only Asus product on their shelf, this AX Mini system. That’s when I read your review and bought it. Thanks! No regrets (except for no Asuswrt-Merlin for it).

    Anyway my question is how can I set my own DNS preferences? It seems I can set a primary, but the secondary is always the router’s internal IP and I have no idea how that works. Am I stuck with that? Can’t find much else on the net about this system so I thought I’d ask you.

    Chuck

    Reply
      • Meh, not to beat a dead horse but I don’t think that’s it. Not looking here for a solution, Dong. I’m sure you’re busy. But just for the sake of completion.
        There’s another DNS setting under LAN > DHCP Server tab > DNS and WINS Server settings. This is the only one I can change and see it reflected on my Windows 7 PC (after rebooting the router, after ipconfig /release, ipconfig /renew).
        So that’s where I saw only one DNS field. What shows up on my PC is the one I choose and the router’s internal IP address. Doesn’t appear to be away around using the router as a DNS server too?
        (And fwiw, running nslookup under Network Tools shows it using my own DNS choice).
        Hmm…

        Reply
        • It depends on what you want, Chuck. The previous one is the DNS for your Internet connection. The other (LAN one) is for each device within the network to use. It’s great when you need to make ALL devices in your network to automatically use a specific local DNS server, such as the case when you have a domain controller More on that here.

          Reply
  16. Once again excellent review
    I’m interested in the Asus X4D but disappointed on the router side (parental control, IPS protection, Qos …) … so i’m wondering how a couple Asus AX-82U or 86U with these X4D could be a good solution. I imagin
    – I read that we loose the unique guest wifi 🙁 … but can we activate it on each node individually … a need a kind of guest wifi everywhere, not only on the router, even if it would be separated guest wifi
    – With a ‘real’ router, will i benefit of all parental control, IPS … on my WHOLE system ?
    – Can i use the 3 units from the X4D kit as satellite with the 82U / 86U or only 2 ? (2 would be RJ45 connected an one with wifi) … having a main ‘real’ router with 3 additional satellite could profite the best wifi coverage at home !

    Last question regarding only XD4 kit, on only see the 3 units kit, nowhere i can buy only a XDN unit … did i missed something ?

    Thanks for your help, since i discovered you site i’m fan of your articles 😉

    Reply
      • Thanks for your answer, while i’m not interested in the RT-AX92U router, i just read your article and didn’t found answers to my questions, can your help please ?
        Especially on the configuration AX86/82U with XD4 nodes …
        Thanks

        Reply
      • Hi Dong, i’m not sure what your last reply ‘Sure David’ means … can you confirm that with a AX86/82U as main router with an XD4 mesh system i’ll be able to have parental control, IPS and all features from the main router also applicable to XD4 nodes ?
        I understood there’s issue regarding guest wifi
        Thanks

        Reply
          • I read it thanks a lot for your help … i have now to decide between an AX86U + XD4 (still not available) or 3 XT8 but i’m very afraid of its stability

            Reply
        • Hi David,
          Just chiming in here. I have both the XT8 and XD4. I’m using the tow XT8’s as my router (more functionality), one as a mesh node and the XD4 as nodes. My house is only 2400sq ft but I have original plaster walls, which degrades a WiFi signal. I don’t have any stability issues at all and it took a days to really settle in but it works great. And the Of course the cost of having both is ridiculous but I didn’t have too many choices unless I used the AX86 but I didn’t want that.

          Reply
          • Hi thanks for your reply. So you choose 1 XT8 + 3 XD4 right ?
            I’m not able to find XD4 in Europe, and why did you choose 1 XT8 vs AX86 ? For a better looking ?

            Reply
          • I thought that mixing 2-bands and 3-bands system was not the best in an AIMesh installation and i don’t know what’s the max recommended number of satellites
            I wanted to buy XT8 but saw the bad experiences of many users i’m thinking about the X86 router + XD4 (but available nowhere in Europe)

            Reply
  17. Hi, can I connect a XD4R wired from AC88U Router and 2 wireless XD4N successfully using airmesh? I currently have poor coverage using the a RT-AC88U and an linksys used as a wired AP. The linksys is dying. And I I’m trying to figure out what to do next. My AC88U has to be in one corner of my house with the modem. I do have ethernet wiring to the center of the house and the linksys. I have no wifi 6 clients, probably 15 wifi 6 and several IOT. I don’t need parental controls, aggregate WAN. Reasonable solution or what would you suggest?

    Reply
  18. Hi,
    I was contemplating buying the XD4 along with an AX58U for my house. It would be using a wired backhaul. Which router do you think I should use as my main? The XD4 or the AX58U?

    Thank you!

    Reply
  19. I am currently using an XD4 Mini in a three-floor, 3000 square-ft home using wired Gigabit Ethernet and unmanaged Gigabit switches with approximately 25 Wi-Fi 5 and 10 wired ethernet clients. After setting up and tweaking several important XD4 settings, my system has been completely stable with no client or remote node disconnects. With Verizon FIOS 400/400 Mbps internet service, I am now consistently getting 300 – 380 Mbps download speeds throughout my entire home. Overall, I am extremely happy with the XD4 system and believe that it offers excellent value ($300), stability, speed, and range for persons who have wired ethernet in their homes. Highly recommended!

    After initially setting up the three nodes wirelessly (creating separate 2.4 and 5 GHz SSIDs) and upgrading to the latest firmware (using the Asus Router App), I factory restored all three nodes using the reset button and then setup again using the Asus web interface. I then moved the two remote XD4N nodes and connected up using Ethernet. Initially, I was seeing random disconnects of the remote nodes and some clients. In order to eliminate disconnects, I changed two important XD4 settings using the Asus web interface. First, in Wireless, Band = 5GHZ, I set Control Channel from Auto to 157. There appears to be a bug in the XD4 firmware or hardware which is causing the nodes to switch to an unstable/noisy channel which reduces over stability and may be causing disconnects. Second, in AIMesh, highlight an individual XD4N remote node and then select Management and change Connection Priority from Auto to Ethernet or Wired. Follow this same procedure for the second XD4N remote node. This ensures that the two remote nodes stay connected to the XD4R node using wired backhaul and not wireless backhaul. Before this change, the remote nodes were randomly switching from wired to wireless backhaul and causing disconnects. Again, this appears to be another bug in the Asus firmware. With these two important changes, my system has been stable and working superbly for 7+ days!

    Reply
  20. Try bypassing your switch by connecting an Ethernet cable from your XD4R LAN port directly to a computer. If that works, then you have a problem with your switch.

    Reply
  21. Hi Dong,
    We just purchased the mini. Wireless is great but we are unable to get the hardwire to work. We are using a Netgear modem with has one port, so we send that to the mini and are using the Netgear ProSAFE that has five ports off the mini for the hardwired lines. We have not been able to get the hardwired lines to work. We also tried the ProSAFE connected to the modem and that did not work either. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • A couple things, Jeff.

      1. Make sure you use an *unmanaged* switch. If you have a managed switch, you’ll need to configure that switch first.
      2. Here’s the simple diagram for wired backhaul: Modem -> (WAN port) XD4R (LAN Port) -> (switch, or not) -> XD4N.
      3. When a switch is used, connect other wired devices to the switch.

      That should work.

      Reply
  22. I posted but don’t see my comment, so sorry if this is a dual post. I initially purchased the XT8 but it didn’t give the coverage I needed. I have a decent size house but not overly large. The issue is I have old plaster walls. So I purchased the ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) in the hopes that with the extra node I could match or better my current Nest Wifi set up. So my quesiton Dong, what if I use the both XT8’s, one router, one node and then use two of the XD4’s as the nodes what would your thoughts on that be? I get good coverage now with three Nest routers (not nodes) but want more speed and better coverage.

    Reply
    • My answer is below. Your post might need to be approved before it appears. Else, as you can imagine, you’ll see tons of spams.

      Reply
  23. Hello Dong,

    thank you for your work, it’s great!

    I bought the ZenWiFi AX XT8 and although my house is by no means large, I have old plaster walls so I need more than just the two Router and node. So I purchased the ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) in hopes of having more coverage but sounds like that isn’t really the case. I still have the XT8, so should I use that as my Router, and node and then use the XD4 as my nodes? What are your thoughts on that? I would probably only need to use two of the XD4 as nodes. Currently I’m using NEST wifi however, I’m using all routers and no nodes. It’s doing a pretty decent job but need better coverage and speed.

    Regards,
    Jeff

    Reply
  24. Your reviews are INCREDIBLE, and I have learned so much through your site the last two months.

    I just bought the tri-band version a week ago and was about to install it when I saw this review. I mainly care about dropping connections/roaming and extensive wireless coverage through the house because my floor plan is weird (no need for high speed use, just tons of devices).

    $150 less for a 3rd unit seems wonderful. One question: will a the lack of a wireless backhaul affect older iot devices or things like Sonos in anyway? It sounds like it will just reduce speeds by half if connected to a satellite, and if that’s the only difference, I’m game. Thank you again!

    Reply
  25. I have this setup for almost a week now with the nodes wired backhaul to my switch. Getting router speeds as you mentioned at three locations. Briefly tried wireless and it was not good. It does what my single nighthawk r7000 didn’t do well for me. Better coverage and speed, but nothing beyond like a high end system. On the fence if I should keep them or risk it and try something else that could or couldn’t be better.

    Reply
  26. Guest mode working at the nodes is welcome news. I hope my Lyra Trio will get it soon. $300 for 1 router and 2 nodes doesnt sound like a good deal. $300 should get 3 routers, at least I feel Im getting my money’s worth even I cant use it. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Dong:

      I am using the ZenWiFi AX Mini as nodes with an ASUS RT-AX86U as my main router and AI Mesh hub. I noticed that when my iPhone and MacBook Pro connect through the Minis, speeds are much slower, especially for upload. I then connected the ZenWiFi AX Mini as a stand alone and got good download but my uploads are still very slow. I have a gigabit internet through FIOS and get download speeds near 1000 and upload speeds in the high 800s through the ASUS RT-AX86U wired. I keep the download speed with the Mini, but the upload caps at 50. I am not sure why. Any ideas? The upload issue appears to be both for wireless and when I hook my PC to the LAN port on the mini.

      Reply
      • You need to use wired backhaul, Perry. It seems you’re using wireless backhaul right now and in that case, you need tri-band broadcasters.

        Reply
        • I was going to update. I am using a 100% wired backhaul. However, I am going through multiple dlink switches. ASUS RT-AX86U connects to a dlink 24 port switch (DGS-1024A), which in turn branches to a dlink 8 port switch (DGS-2208). The 3 ZenWiFi Mini mesh nodes come off the 8 port switch. I found that the speeds improved when I had one of the nodes bypass the second switch. Unfortunately its not practical for the other two. Unfotunately I don’t have homerun wiring. Much of it is room to room within my brownstone.

          Reply
        • Hello Dong. I love reading your reviews and advice. I hate to be the guy with a long story and lots of models but I am working from home and having some struggles. My wife also has lots of work to do and we hate losing connections.

          I just purchased the XD-4.

          On my last Router (R7000) before it started going crazy when I ran netgear speed app through phone i saw speeds of about 350Mbps DL, 42Mbps UL- 8ms ping. This was on 2.4.

          Speedtest results on old setup were- 329Mbps DL, 41.4 UL at the exact same time. This was on 2.4.

          When i run Asus App and do QOS speedtest – it says 933Mbps – DL, 43Mbps upload. 8ms ping. Is this the speed of the connection at router or my phone?

          When i run speedtest in ASUS at 2.4 GHz – I see about 50Mbps on wifi regardless of where i am. On 5G it is better and around 280Mbps.

          Is this the speed of the connection at router or my phone?

          Why is speedtest so low? Anything I need to do to set up differently or to optimize. I did double check that it is set for wired backhaul.

          This is only a day old but i do not want to regret it if i can just upgrade today. I FEELS faster on wifi than last Router but the numbers seem lower. Hopefully my ignorance.

          I used an iphone XS in both cases. I have each of the XD-4’s wired to a switch downstairs. I get great signal strength but am wondering why the speeds seem so slow.

          The reason i purchased XD-4:

          It started with a Leviton switch controlling itself. I blocked wi-fi, it stopped. Restored- returned for a bit. I changed passwords to everything. Since then

          My system consisted of Netgear R7000 and two EX-7000’s all harwired in three areas of the house.

          Motorola Gig Modem to Router. Router to Linksis LGS116P- 16- port Gig switch. The switch distributes (CAT6) to a 2 – Story, 3100 sf home. Connected to it directly (*in a closet upstairs ) is a Phillips Hue Hub. All other devices are in other rooms.

          Media Room has an old S8000 switch that has Apple TV and Denon Receiver, and PS4 connected to it.

          Downstairs EX-7000 had a laptop connected most times and my Arlo security.

          Second EX-7000 had a TV, sound-bar connected via hardwire.

          Each EX-7000 is hardwired to the switch upstairs.

          Other devices include about 25 Phillips Hue bulbs and6 Leviton Devices, a garage door, oven, 4 phones – XS and newer, and other normal stuff.

          What gives? I barely game and everything that streams is hardwired.

          What would you do?

          Reply

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