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Asus ZenWiFi AX Review: The Best AiMesh System to Date

The Asus ZenWiFi AX XT8 includes two identical routers. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

 

The ZenWiFi AX AX6600 Whole-Home Tri-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System (model XT8) is a souped-up version of the CT8. Both are part of the new ZenWiFi family Asus announced earlier this year.

The only differences between the two, albeit big ones, are the fact the XT8 features Wi-Fi 6 and a multi-gig WAN port. Other than that, they share everything else, the appearance, setup process, features, how they work as mesh systems, and even some shortcomings.

READ MORE:  Asus ZenWiFi AC Review: A True, and Improved, AiMesh System

This review focuses on these differences. It’s intended for those who have already read my take on the CT8.

In all, compared to the CT8, the ZenWiFi AX XT8 has more than enough to justify the extra $100 you’d need to spend. Though not a must-have, it’s a reasonably-priced, flexible Wi-Fi 6 AiMesh system with a ton more to offer than its more expensive rivals.

ASUS ZenWiFi AX Whole-Home Tri-Band Mesh WiFi 6 System (XT8)

8.9

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Fast Wi-Fi performance and large coverage at a comparatively affordable cost
  • Improved and flexible AiMesh
  • Lots network settings and useful features, including free real-time online protection for life
  • Full 4x4 dedicated backhaul band with optional wired backhaul support
  • Multi-gig WAN port with Dual-WAN and WAN link aggregation

Cons

  • No 160MHz 4x4 support for Wi-Fi 6 clients, for now, in a wireless setup
  • Guest networking not available at the node
  • No multi-gig LAN port or LAN link aggregation
  • Only four network ports on each hardware units
  • Not enough instructions on network settings

Asus ZenWiFi AX XT8: Everything the CT8 has and a lot more

As a mesh system, the ZenWiFi AX, like the CT8, includes two identical routers. From the front, you can’t tell hardware the XT8 and the CT8 routers apart. The two look the same, sharing the single-slot-toaster design, and available in white or charcoal colors.

Here are ZenWiFi AX XT8 and the ZenWiFi AC CT8, from the back. Look closely, and maybe you can tell them apart. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Family design, now with multi-gig WAN support

On the back, though, you’ll note that the XT8’s WAN port is now a multi-gig port that works either at either 1Gbps or 2.5Gbps. Also, the USB 3.2 Gen 1 port is on the right side instead of left.  

Like the CT8, the XT8 features Dual-WAN, you can turn its USB port or another LAN port into a second WAN port, in case you want it to host two broadband connections at a time or load balancing or high availability.

What’s more, the XT8 now also features WAN link aggregation — you can combine the WAN port and another LAN port into a 2Gbps WAN connection. This feature is for modems that don’t have a 2.5Gbps port but still deliver multi-gi WAN speed via two 1Gbps ports.

By default, there’s no multi-gig LAN port. And that’s disappointing since that means locally, the best wired-to-wireless connection you’d get out of the XT8 is 1Gbps.

It’s important to note that when working as a node, the XT8’s 2.5Gbps WAN port now works as a LAN port. However, generally, in real-world usage,  it’s not a good idea to count on the wireless backhaul to reliably deliver the same speed as a wired multi-gig LAN connection.

High-speed backhaul band, presently no 160MHz channel support for clients

Each XT8 hardware unit is an AX6600 tri-band router with one 2.4GHz and two 5GHz broadcasters. The router dedicates one of the 5GHz band, the 5GHz-2, as the dedicate backhaul, which works solely to link the two hardware units to form a mesh system.

The 5GHz-2 is the most powerful band, featuring 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 to deliver up to 4800Mbps. It also supports the venerable 160MHz channel width. Thanks to this strong backhaul connection,  you can place the XT8’s hardware further from each other and still have a fast mesh system.

READ MORE:  Wi-Fi 6 in Layman's Terms: Speed, Range, and More

The other 5GHz band (5GHz-1) uses 2×2 Wi-Fi specification, which generally caps 2400 Mbps for Wi-Fi 6. Unfortunately, however, the XT8’s front-haul doesn’t support 160MHz channels. As a result, in a wireless setup, Wi-Fi 6 clients can connect at 1200 Mbps at most while Wi-Fi 5 devices will get 867 Mbps.

Update: Asus told me on February 11, 2020, that it would release new firmware “in weeks” that opens up the front-haul to support 4×4 160MHz specs, effectively doubling the XT8’s Wi-Fi speed for clients. 

Many mesh routers don’t support 160MHz channel width for end-users. Examples of these include big-name products like the Ubiquiti Alien and the Netgear Orbi RBK 852.

The ZenWiFi AX XT8 shares the same web interface as that of previous Asus routers. Note its 5GHz-2 band’s default setting for the dedicated backhaul role. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Wired backhaul support

Like all AiMesh routers, the ZenWiFi AX support wired backhaul — you can use a network cable to hook one router to another.

In this case, by default, the 5GHz-2 band is still not available to clients — it remains a hidden dedicated backup backhaul in case the wired connection is lost. So, when you use SmartConnect, this 5GHz-2 band is not part of the main Wi-Fi network. In short, it will not be used at all.

There’s a way to make use of this band, however. You can manually create a new unhidden SSID with it, different from that of the primary Wi-Fi network. This SSID will then be available, throughout the AiMesh system, as separate 5GHz-only full 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi network for clients.

In other words, like all tri-band AiMesh systems, with a wired backhaul, you’ll need to do a bit of tweaking before you can make use of the 5GHz-2 band, which has an SSID of its own. 

ZenWiFi AXC XT8’s specifications

Familiar settings, features, and shortcomings

Again, other than the more powerful hardware, the XT8 shares the same set of settings and features as the CT8. It also uses the same web interface and the Asus mobile app. That said, you can find out more in the review of the CT8, including how to set the system up. 

The multi-gig WAN port is one of a few things that set the XT8 apart from the CT8. It also means the ZenWiFi AX XT8 can deliver a faster-than-gigabit internet connection. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

To avoid repeating myself, I’ll recap here some significant points.

  • Out of the box, the two XT8 hardware units are pre synced. No matter how you change them individually — like using each for a different network — once restored to default settings, they are ready to work together as a mesh. 
  • The XT8 router can work with all other AiMesh-enabled routers, as the router unit or a satellite node.
  • You can restore the XT8 router with the settings of any previous Asus router, making upgrade an easy job. It can also work as a node for a system hosted by any other AiMesh-ready router.
  • There are lots of network settings, enough to make almost any advanced user happy and features anyone would appreciate. These include AiProtection (online protection and parental control), Traffic Analyser, Adaptive QoS, VPN (client or server), and an excellent Dynamic DNS.
  • AiMesh now has a new section of its own, within the web interface, which makes managing and adding additional nodes easier. You can also make use of the XT8’s USB port even when it’s working as a node. 
  • The USB port can do all that you can think of for a router peripheral port. You can use it to host a printer, a cellular modem, or a storage device to deliver all storage-related features you can imagine — data sharing/syncing/streaming, Time Machine backup, PC-less downloading, and more.

And like other Asus routers, the XT8 shares the same shortcomings, too. Most notably is the lack of support for Guest networking at the nodes. Also, the accessive amount of settings can be overwhelming for some users.

ZenWiFi AX CXT8: Excellent performance

For the official scores, I tested the ZenWiFi AX in a wireless setup. The system doesn’t have the Wi-Fi specs to be the fastest on the market. Instead, it’s one that delivers extensive Wi-Fi coverage and still with excellent real-world throughputs.

READ MORE:  The Right Way To Do an Internet or Wi-Fi Speed Test

I used both 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 and top Wi-Fi 5 clients for the testing. Keep in mind that from the clients’ perspective, the XT8 is a 2×2 system of both standards.

Fast Wi-Fi speeds

As a single router, the XT8 delivered precisely the kind of performance I had expected from it. My Wi-Fi 6 client connected at 1.2Gbps and had a sustained speed of almost 840 Mbps at the close range of fewer than 10 feet (3 m). 

When I increased the distance to 40 feet (12 m), it now registered higher than 770 Mbps. Wi-Fi 5 clients fared the worst on the chart. However, that’s because the XT8 is the only one, among the existing handful of Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems on the market, that doesn’t feature 3×3 or faster Wi-Fi 5. That said, its scores of some 660 Mbps and 450 Mbps for close and long-range, respectively, weren’t bad at all.

The XT8 did it best when working as a mesh. The node (satellite) unit delivered the best performance to Wi-Fi 6 clients, averaging 850 Mbps and 792 Mbps for close and long-range, respectively. These were faster than higher-specced systems.

Excellent range, reliable signals

With two units, the XT8 could cover anywhere between 4000 ft² (372 m²) to 5000 ft² of residential space in my testing with fast Wi-Fi speeds.

I tested the system with the node placed some 40 feet away. But in anecdotal tests, I could put it some 70 feet away and still get speed fast enough to deliver my 300 Mbps internet in full. 

Your mileage will vary, but it’s safe to say, thanks to the full 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 backhaul, in a wireless setup, the XT8’s range delivers. The system proved to be reliable, too. It passed my 3-day stress test without any disconnection.

Real Wi-Fi 6 speed with wired backhaul

The XT8’s wired backhaul also worked well in my trial — in this case, the distance between the two units doesn’t matter much. I created a separate network with the 5GHz-2 band and was able to get full 2400 Mbps connection speed from it using my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients.

Note, though, that this connection speed was between the clients and the XT8. So, the only time you truly benefit from the multi-gig Wi-Fi speeds is when you have a multi-gig WAN connection, and the clients connect directly to the router. Since the XT8 has no multi-gig LAN port, clients connected to the node won’t get real-world speeds faster than 1Gbps.

Still, it’s nice to have the option to have a 5GHz band working for high-speed clients. That said, even though not necessary, it’s a good idea to use a network cable to connect the two hardware units. 

Decent NAS performance

Without a multi-gig LAN port, the ZenWiFi AC XT8 can’t compare to those with one in terms of network-attached storage performance when hosting an external drive. But it was much faster than the CT8 in my testing.

When coupled with the SanDisk Extreme portable SSD, via a Gigabit connection, the router scored some 46 MB/s and almost 65 MB/s for writing and reading, respectively. These were decent enough for a casual NAS solution.

Conclusion

The ZenWiFi AX XT8 AX6600 Whole-Home Tri-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System is one out of more than a dozen Asus AiMesh systems I’ve tested, and it’s one of the best, if not the best.

The system is far from perfect, though. It’s not the fastest, nor does it deliver all features you can get from an Asus router — it has no game-specific features or multi-gig LAN port. However, it has an excellent combination of everything you’d look for in a mesh Wi-Fi system, which is the ease of use, reliably fast performance, and broad coverage.

Most importantly, at less than $450, it’s a steal. Many other 2-pack mesh systems on the market, like the Netgear Orbi RBK852 or the Arris SURFboard mAX Pro, cost hundreds of dollars more, yet have less in features and network customization.

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About the Author: Dong Ngo

Before Dong Knows Tech, I spent some 18 years testing and reviewing gadgets at CNET.com. Technology is my passion and I do know it. | Follow me on Twitter, or Facebook!

98 Comments

  1. Dong: I see you consistently recommend to get a pair of RT-AC86U instead of the XT8s if you are going to have a wired connection/backbone. Given the prices I am seeing, that is not cheaper than just getting the XT8s. Does the RT-AC86U actually perform better?

    1. Yes, T, in most cases, but only when you use wired backhaul. The reason is both are top 4×4 Wi-Fi 5 routers, while the ZenWiFis are 2×2 routers on the front-haul. So if you don’t have Wi-Fi 6 clients, the formers are much better.

  2. Dong,
    Thanks for the super quick reply! We just upgraded our Comcast cable ISP from 200/5 to 600/15. Would you still recommend upgrading to a pair of the RT-AC68U or go with something Wifi 6 compatible like the ZenWifi AX XT8 or a pair of RT-AX88U’s? Or even getting the AX88U/AX89U as the router and the ZenWifi AX XT8 as mesh nodes (placing one in garage without wired backhaul)

    Cheers,
    Terra

  3. Dong, first I KNEW you would go solo eventually! Way to go! I’ve not been looking for tech for a bit but pumped for you! Question, the bulk of my tech is Wifi5 for now, I have a tall OLD (130yr old house) with THICK, THICK walls. I’m looking for max coverage and max throughput for my tight FIOS Gig connection. I do have direct network connectivity to the Xbox/PS4 & a Linksys WRT3200 AC Router-Wifi with upgraded antennae upstairs to cover the Attic Guest Room, bedrooms & smart TV’s there. Ground floor is weak no matter the Linksys is upstairs. I’m looking for Mesh so I can get basement, ground floor and patio coverage.

    Thoughts? I like all that I read about this but there are other high throughput performers I’m stumped.

    1. You’re a psychic, Joe! If you have wired backhaul, I think it’s better to go with a mesh that supports that. I’d say a couple of units of the Asus RT-AC86U and/or Blue Cave will work out nicely!

      By the way, I love that WRT300AC. It was an excellent Wi-Fi 5 router when it came out, and still is today. So another option is to keep that router and get an access point (not extender) to use with it. You won’t have an exact mesh system but it’ll be a lot less expensive and still deliver great coverage.

  4. Hi Dong,
    This is a great review of the Asus ZenWifi XT8. I currently am in a 1300 sqft long rectangular apartment with two Asus RT-N66U routers with wired backhaul. I have around 25 total clients with three wired at the main router and two at the access point. I have been running this design since September 2012 with pretty good results. I have the roaming assistance set to -65 dbm for both the 2.4 and 5.0 Ghz wifi. I have been waiting for a good replacement since my Comcast ISP speed has increased from 100mbit to 200mbit and I am getting around 120mbit wired or wireless. When I connect directly to my cable modem I get around 240mbit.

    If my plan is to continue to use wired backhaul would you still recommend the ZenWifi XT8 or another two devices?

    If I decide to remove the wired backhaul I think ZenWifi XT8 is the best choice.

    I am leaning towards doing the ZenWifi XT8 and then purchasing an Asus AX88U or AX89X in the future for my main router and moving one of the ZenWifi’s down to the garage for better coverage.

  5. Dong, I am coming from an Orbi RBR50. Most of my clients are wifi5, if not all. However, NG has pretty much discontinued support on the original Orbi model, so I am looking to improve the performance of the network at home. Will I be happier with the newer Orbi or with this Asus setup? My house isn’t that big (1800sq ft), but it is wifi challenged due to shape and walls stopping easy connections.

  6. it looks like there are some additions to the modulation scheme and the OFDMA and MU-MIMO. is there any benefits or performance improvement from these changes?

  7. Also can the XT8’s be used as bridges to take advantage of a full 1GB fiber connection. For example since my 2019 Imac doesn’t have a wifi6 client adapter built in and there are no usb adapters yet I was thinking of using an XT8 as hopefully a 4×4 client to connect my imac via gigabit hardwired to the XT8 which would wirelessly bridge to an GT-AX1100 or the new RT-AX89X I have gig fiber coming into my house and hoping not to try to retrofit hardwired.

    1. In a wireless setup, you can use all AiMesh nodes’ network port as LAN port so, technically, that’s the same as (if not better) than using them as a bridge. More on that here. So, the short answer is yes.

  8. Hi All Dong mentioned “Asus told me on February 11, 2020, that it would release new firmware “in weeks” that opens up the front-haul to support 4×4 160MHz specs, effectively doubling the XT8’s Wi-Fi speed for clients. ” has this been released by chance yet?

    1. Not yet. Asus has some beta firmware that is not available to the public and that’s a good thing since it’s buggy as hell. So, it seems they are working on it but the process might have been affected by the virus… I’ll update the review when/if that’s available.

  9. Hi Dong.

    I’m a little disappointed (not with you) as I expected this recent update, 3.0.0.4.386.25217, to extend the fronthaul to 160Mhz but it didn’t. We will have to keep waiting since the 6 wifi cards that I have are 160Mhz and the truth, for the fronthaul, I have not noticed any difference

    A problem that if I see with this new firmware, is that using a free spectrum analyzer called “WinFi”. I have been able to verify that by activating 160MHz for the backhaul (as it did with the previous firmware), both the router and the node use 160Mhz without problem, but after a while, the node drops to 80Mhz, while the router remains at 160Mhz. If I reboot, everything goes back to normal, but after a while the node always goes back to 80Mhz. This never happened to me with the previous firmware, 3.0.0.4.386.24926, so I have gone back to it waiting for something to come out to fix it. I also don’t care too much until the fronthaul reaches 160Mhz.

    On the other hand, and if it is for a previous comment, I have a Synology NAS, and although the router does not have support for “Link Aggregation”, my Synology can use another protocol called “Adaptive Balance Loading” and that works just as well than the “Link Aggregation” and with this router or any other. I tried both on an RT-AX92U that I had before this one.

    Greetings and thanks for your dedication

  10. I returned the AX11000 and ZenWifi XT8 package and got the Netgear Orbi RBK853. I find it (in my environment) much better. The software may have fewer setting options (completely sufficient for the normal user) and 160MHz support is missing, the backhaul works with “only” 2400 instead of 4800 Mbit. Overall, the Orbi system works simply and does what it should. The coverage and transfer rates are excellent and for me better than the Asus system. The slightly higher price is okay due to the functionality and ease of use. The Asus system is great on paper, but not in practice for me.

  11. Hi Dong.

    Asus just released new firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.25217 on March 12th for the AX XT8. Their release notes indicate that it includes enhanced connection stability and it fixes CVE-2019-15126 (Kr00k) vulnerability. Is this the new firmware that you have been waiting to retest which includes support for front-haul 4×4 160 MHz with improved wireless performance? It has now been just over one month since you posted on 2/11 about upcoming Asus firmware so I’m guessing that this is that new firmware with 4×4 client support. I’m very much looking forward to your performance retest and updated review. Thanks again for your great insight and web site!

    1. I am looking forward to this retest as well. I’m about 95% sure I’m going to go with the ZenWifi package for my home in the coming weeks dependant on availablility (in canada). Also in the documentation i’ve noticed there is some indication that the WAN/LAN port may be available for 2.5Gbe for LAN purposes….. wondering if this is the case or not.

      Dong, are you aware (or able to find out) if link aggregation will be available for the ZenWifi XT8, or if that is possible to make it available with a firmware update. My setup will include be connected to a switch which will have a NAS and i would be very interested to know if this would be a possibility in the future.

      This has been my go to page for this setup and i love your review. Keep up the good work and i look forward to the update with the new firmware!

    2. No, Terrence, Link Aggregation is not available with this firmware version, and will likely never be with this model. Also, the latest firmware is not the one that opens up the higher speeds for clients.

  12. Hi , I have been researching routers for a while and things are getting a bit confusing. Currently I have R8000 X6 nighthawk running three SSID the first SSIDTEST 2.4 MHZ, second SSIDTEST2 5 MHZ and the third SSIDTEST3 MHZ and looking for another router. I have 3200 SQFT house two story in Dallas TX , its 10 year old house. I have been hearing a lot about overkill and many people are buying routers more than what they really need. I understand if you are buying a new router you are better off getting WIFI6 and the new mesh has excellent coverage. My ISP download speed is 400 MBPS. I am looking at two ASUS products the ZENWIFI AX and “Asus AiMesh AX6100 RT-AX92U RT-AX92U 2 PACK” . I think both are WIFI 6 but one is triband and the other is dual band. The question is what s recommended ?? I would like to have at least two bands SSIDTEST1 2.4 and SSIDTEST2 5MHZ. If I use the ZENWIFI AX I have to loose the third band for WIFI6 and cannot have a third SSID. and if I use the AX6100 not sure how many SSID I will have… I appreciate it giving some insights about main differences between the AX6100 and ZENWIFI AX from number of SSID and WIFI6 .

    1. Read the reviews and my related posts (linked from the reviews,) Moe. You’ll be less confused. Really read them, though. You won’t find more concise info anywhere else. If you need a quick answer, get the ZenWiFi XT8!

  13. Thanks so much for your review, Dong! Based on it, I bought the ZenWifi AX to replace my Synology AC2600 + 3x MR2200AC mesh system. The Synology system was disappointingly slow in my home (3800 SF, 2 levels, > 55 devices, radiant in-floor heating systems and concrete floors likely make WiFi challenging) and I spent so much money on it, I held off until WiFi6 systems were available to ensure a strong backhaul.

    I really like the geeky customizations of the ZenWifi system. 2 units seem to handle my place well so far – I decided to run separate 5GHz and 2.4 GHz systems to force iPhones, iPads, AppleTVs to hit the faster band and it’s been great.

    One issue I’m having is that it seems randomly the satellite AiMesh unit drops down to 2.4 GHz backbone for no reason: no change in environment or devices that I can tell. Rebooting the main unit reconnects to the dedicated 5 GHz backhaul and it reports a “Great” signal strength, so no idea why it drops down.

    Thanks again for your reviews! Yours was the first and still is one of the only comprehensive reviews of this system out there.

    1. Thanks, Steve. That’s quite a big house you have there. I think the issue might have been because the two units were a bit too far from each other, but it could be just a bug. I know that Asus is about to release a major firmware for the XT8, so stay tuned. (It’s a secret, don’t tell anymore!) 🙂

  14. Hi, I am strongly considering buying an Asus AX XT8 router. But what I want to know before I buy it, is if it is suitable to have in a living room. I do not want it to make any noise etc. Is it fan cooled?

    Thanks in advance for your answer.
    Lars HAnsson

    1. Its not suitable in the sense that it’s just a box, Lars. There’s nothing to show off. But you don’t need to worry about noise, there’s none, or even the lights which can be turned off.

  15. I set the 5GHz-2 band to “only” 160 MHz and restarted the AX11000. In the wireless protocol he still shows me 80MHz for the 5GHz-2 band. Interestingly, the 5GHz-1 band for the clients runs on 160MHz according to the protocol.

    1. I’m not sure what to tell you, Timo, and can’t keep answering one question after another, especially when I don’t know your setup in detail. There must be a setting somewhere, or you need to update firmware, restarting the system etc. And you should contact Asus’s tech support. 🙂 By the way, as long as the speeds are OK, the channel bandwidth setting doesn’t matter much.

  16. Hello Dong,I am writing from Germany, so please excuse my English. I bought an Asus AX11000 and two ZenWifi AX XT8. I noticed that the two satellites in the backhaul are “only” connected to the AX11000 with 80MHz and not with 160MHz. When I set up the XT8 as the sole mesh system, the backhaul works at 160MHz. Can I influence this in the settings of the AX11000? Thanks for the help and best regards from Germany!

  17. Hi Dong. Thanks for your very detailed and thorough reviews – very helpful and much appreciated. I saw that another major web site just reviewed the XT8 and stated that it now supports WPA3. However, WPA3 is not listed in the Asus product specifications and there is no recently released firmware update on the Asus support site. Can you please clarify if WPA3 will be supported in a new firmware update and is this the same firmware update that will support front-haul 4×4 160 MHz? Any update on when this new firmware will be released by Asus? Thanks again for your great reviews!

  18. Very thankful for your reviews!!! They are very helpful along with reading the comments. I have a ax11000 and will use that as main router with xt8 as nodes. Looking from all the comments. Seems like xt8 as lead and ax11000 as node would only benefit if you wanted To use the new interface. Other than that. Speed wise. Either way should be anout the same?

    1. You’re welcome, Erick. You should use the GT-AX11000 as the main router. It has more features (gaming etc.) But yes, using the XT8 will give you the extra AiMesh section in the web UI and the ability to use the USB port of the XT8 node.

  19. Hi Dong, Steve C here. Sorry to bother you again. I am the one with about 100 devices running the eero set. Thanks for your advice on the the IP addresses and running network cables. I have quite a few drops and need to take better advantage of them. As you can imagine with a lot of WiFi home automation devices I have a combination of 2.5 GHz and 5 GHz (WiFi 5) devices along with WiFi 6 devices. Will my network performance be appreciably better with the Orbi AX6000 over the Asus XT8 because of the XT8’s lower WiFi 5 performance numbers? Or will it not make much of a difference? Thanks again for your help and great reviews!

  20. Hi Dong,
    Quick question about setup when using xt8s as aimesh nodes: I simply added them to my existing AX11000 and now they seem to be working, usually picking up 3 or 4 clients each. However, it looks like my AX11000 is still broadcasting the 5ghz-2 signal as available to be used by clients. I thought it was supposed to become a dedicated backhaul and automatically hide itself? Do I need to reset everything from the beginning to get a “clean” (more efficient?) setup that will better dedicate or setup the backhaul?

  21. Well I got the Zenwifi ax and setup was has easy has everyone has said. I have Xfinity 500 down and 15 up, going to my Netgear 1150V modem, I did use the 5GHZ-2 band with its own ssid and password (I have the node connected with a cat 6 cable) thanks for the tip by the way. My speeds are top notch, my computer is getting 600 down and 18 up (I did get that with my firsrt gen eero’s) but on wireless with my Note 9 and Ipad Pro 11 inch 590 and 595 down and 18 up in the same room as the router on the 5ghz-2 band, the best I ever got on the eero’s was around 490 down 18 up. I have a small house 1200 sq ft, having the mesh is overkill but I like it….LOL….I have 35 devices hooked up including 4 cameras, 4 echo’s, 2 cell phone and ipads, 2 computers, highly recommend the Zenwifi AX! Thanks again for the great review.

  22. hello dong
    I am renting and for me wiring is impossible
    so I’m looking for a wifi mesh
    I tried the deco m9 more in 3 point mesh but I had a flow of 180 mega to my shield tv I pulled a cable rj45 to see and I was at 550 mega I hesitate so between the asus zen wifi xt8 and the ct8 or the RT-AX92U I have nothing in wifi 6 and even if my apartment is not very large 100m2 all the walls are in brick covered with plaster
    could you help me ? I saw that you were going to test the RT-AX92U soon?
    knowing that the prices in France are xt8 557 € ct8 411 € and 92u 421 € for 2 pieces
    sorry my my english but i’m using google translation i’m french

  23. Hi again, I have a stupid questions;), this weekend im getting my 4 new zenwifi xt8, which I will put together as aimesh with my ax-11000, then I wonder should I turn off Smart Connect? Do you have any tips on what i to switch off or settings?now im using ax-11000 and 2(two)ac68u and have smart connegt disable and people says to disable Airtime Fairness?and i have Wi-Fi Agile Multiband disable.iit,I will also share wifi with my good neighbor friends,its
    becomes big system so I try to learn , then my system gonna be ax-11000 and 4pcs xt8 and 2pcs ac68u,i have fiber 500 mbps down and up.thanks all help regards Lars

  24. Thank you for your very detailed reviews. I need some advice. I currently run a 9 node eero pro system and it is having trouble keeping up. I am wanting to move up to WiFi 6. I have a fairly large two story home (6800 sq ft) and have about 60 WiFi devices and 40 wired devices in my setup. They consist of home automation devices, mobile devices, computers and streaming devices. I am concerned about, speed, device capacity, as well as coverage for my home including reaching a detached garage that is about 50 ft from the main home. I have read all of your reviews on WiFi 6 mesh systems, but am still not sure what would be best. I have kind of settled on Asus XT 8, Orbi WiFi 6 or Arris Max Pro. Of course I would need additional nodes/satellites beyond the standard packages and I know there are limitations. Would appreciate your help. Thanks

    1. Sure, Steven. For a kind of an extreme case like yours, I’d recommend running network cables, at least for certain parts of the property. The second thing is you need to manage your IP(v4) addresses. You have about 100 devices but they might use up double the amount of addresses at a given time for different reasons. Each router can give out up to 253 address and that runs out very fast if you don’t keep them in check. The easiest way is to keep the lease time short, less than 24 hours, or reserve an IP for each.

      That said, the XT8 will work for you, so will the Orbi but it’ll be so much more expensive. Considering you’re using an Eero set, you probably only need about haft of the new hardware units if you place them well. But this depends. Good luck! 🙂

  25. HI Dong, Just got my new XT8 set in. Install and set up was a breeze. I have CAT6 throughout my house so I renamed the 5G-2, set it to ethernet for the back haul and changed the password and set it to AX only. I have a iphone 11 and will only connect that device to the 5G-2. Upon testing the 5G-1 and the 5G-2 with the same iphone, my speeds are not any faster on one over the other. I have 1 GIG internet service and my speeds on my desktop over LAN are usually 600-800 mbps. Wifi speeds usually max out around 400-500 mbps on wifi. Does that seem normal or should I be seeing faster speeds over wifi? wondering if I need to tweek some settings? Coming from the RT AC5300 to the XT8, web pages are loading a lot faster with the XT8 on my desktop over LAN, Netflix buffering is shorted to about 2 seconds where it was about 4 seconds over LAN connection. In the summer I plan on adding the Blue Cave to my outdoor tv cabinet to have increased wifi around the pool. WIth the two XT8’s I have full signal everywhere in my 4200 sq ft house so I’m very pleased with the coverage. Thanks again for all your testing, help and knowledge with this set up.

    1. That seems typical, Shawn. 500Mbps of internet speed over Wi-Fi is really fast because that’s about how fast your mobile device’s Wi-Fi generally is, after overheads etc. Cheers! 🙂

  26. Thanks for the quick replay, I should get mine tomorrow and I can’t wait! Love your reviews by the way….one more thing I was looking at the Alien for awhile now also, but now where to be found, have any idea why?

  27. Is there a way to make sure the XT8 node (connected with a cat 6 cable) use that connection instead of the wireless backhaul? I read a couple of reviews that the node will use the wireless connection instead of the wired one. Here’s a review from a guy on newegg about this problem…thanks

    “Overall Review: I wanted to replace my RT-AC88U as I had a few dead spots in my house. My ISP plan is fiber / 1Gbt.
    Unfortunately, the speed is fluctuating really bad and also the system is slower than my current router. I really do not like that the backhaul seems to be always on the 2nd 5G. Even if it shows that it is cable connected, on another part of the software it shows that it will be done via WIFI. This is bad as the 2nd is the only one capable to run 160mhz.
    Overall it feels that the router is rushed and pr mature. Returned it..”

  28. Hi Dong … Great insightful reviews!

    Do the Zen AX units incorporate the radio hardware needed to support WiFi 6E once the spec is finalized or will that require a new Zen model for 6E?

    1. That’s a good question! I checked with Asus and you’ll hear more bout this in a couple of months. Not exactly helpful, I know, but that’s the best I could do. 🙂

  29. I switch from 2 packs of AX92U to ZenWifi XT8. What I easily observe is that my phone (Samsung Note 10 Plus) can connect with Wifi 6 band even Smart Connect is enabled. For AX92U, I can only connect Wifi 6 once I enabled 2nd 5Ghz band and connect directly with this SSID.

    I don’t feel any other different yet.

  30. This looks like a good kit, especially the price compared to others, and that it doesn’t look like an upside down crab. But the Wi-Fi 5 client speed seems a little disappointing. I guess that would come down to if your wi-fi clients even support above 2×2.

    If you have a dedicated line for back-haul, would you still recommend XT8 over other Wi-Fi 6 capable systems? I have a mix of Wi-Fi 5 and 6 clients. Speed between clients is more important to me than speed of Internet access.

    Thanks for your great reviews!

  31. I currently have ASUS ac5300 and blue cave routers in my home. Looking at the new XT8 set up. Compared to the Arris Pro Max and the Orbi RBK852, which set you is faster is faster and provides the most coverage. Thanks!

    1. The XT8 will work best for your case, Shawn, not to mention it’s the least expensive. You can also re-use the AC5300 (and even the Blue Cave if you want). The second choice is the Orbi, the Arris is just a bit too thin on features, you’ll hate it coming from the RT-AC5300.

  32. Not disabled entirely, Dong, but the FAQ article states: “Smart Connect is the feature which could automatically steer clients to the most appropriate band (2.4GHz, 5GHz-1 and 5GHz-2). Select Tri-band smart connect option and automatically connect your devices in your network to the best band for optimal speed.” Are you saying that Tri-band smart connect is not available but instead reverts to Dual-band smart connect if AIMesh is enabled? Thanks.

    1. That’s correct, Greg. If you use a tri-band AiMesh router as a SINGLE router, the SmartConnect will include all three bands into a single Wi-Fi network. When using a tri-band router as an AiMesh system (meaning there are AiMesh nodes), then the 5GHz-2 band is NOT part of the SmartConnect. This band works either as the dedicated backhaul band, or, in case you use wired backhaul, as a separate network of itself if you configure it manually.

  33. Dong, I also appreciate your excellent and helpful reviews. I have a question about tri-band Smart Connect, which ASUS discusses in this FAQ (for RT-AC3200, RT-AC88U routers): https://www.asus.com/us/support/FAQ/1012132/
    I do plan on running a wired backhaul for the XT8 pair when mine arrives, because the distance is about 60′ and from basement to second floor. So I’m less than happy to read in your review that the tri-band Smart Connect implemented for those products is not available for the XT8. Do you know why this feature would be disabled for this product, and do you think it might be implemented in the future?

    1. SmartConnect is NOT disabled, Greg, as you can see in the screenshot of the web interface in the review. It just doesn’t include the 2nd 5GHz band (5Ghz-2), which you’ll need to create a separate network with it (or not use it). So using SmartConnect, you have two networks, one consisting of the 1st 5GHz band and the 2.4GHz band and the other of just the 5GHz-2 band. You can read more about AiMesh here.

  34. Hi Dong! Great site! I am really enjoying your reviews. I have a few questions for you. I am considering buying the zenwifi ax to use in conjunction with an AX88u.

    1. Would it be appropriate to use the AX88u as the main router for an AImesh setup?
    If so, would I still have access to the 5 ghz band form the ax88u once setup in aimesh?

    2. Would the zenwifi ax (as nodes) connect to main router through their dedicated backhaul?

    Thanks!

    1. Glad, you are, Brett.

      1. Yes, that works. And no, the way AiMesh works now, the dedicated band is initiated and controlled by the router unit which is the RT-AX88U doesn’t have.
      2. No. You need to use the GT-AX11000 in this case.

  35. I’ll give ASUS a call tomorrow and see how this supports media bridging. I’m fairly certain I saw in another review the option was there in the firmware. I’m just curious if it uses the AX band to do it. If not I suppose I could set it up as a mesh network but my apartment is really a bit too small for that.

  36. I assume you can set these up in a Media Bridge config? Does it use a dedicated backhaul for it?

    I ask because I live in a relatively small apartment which can’t be wired, and I’m using a mish-mash of routers set up in a wireless-media bridge config. It used to be an old school so unfortunately I need to set it up this way.

    1. I haven’t done that, Eric, but Asus routers in generally support WDS, where you use one of the Wi-Fi band as the source of the internet by connecting to another Wi-Fi network. It’s a pretty rare setup so I don’t make it part of my generally testing.

  37. Piggybacking on Lars comment: I assume you use the GT-AX11000 as the “main” or “head” unit (the one you see/log into and see the GUI and administration, etc) and the XT8s as the nodes? Would the usage proposition be the same if the XT8 were the main/head unit? Does it display a different screen and options for the Aimesh setup from that which is displayed when using the AX11000 as the main unit? Also, is there a problem updating the firmware in such a setup? Do you have to somehow manually update all the nodes, etc because you are mixing different Asus models, or is it just a pushbutton update for all the units/models?

    1. Yes, the XT8 (as well as CT8) has a new AiMesh section in its web interface which makes things a bit more intuitive. Function-wise (including firmware updates), though, there’s no difference no matter which you use as the main router unit. However, if you intend to use the USB port on an XT8 working as a node, you must use another XT8 (or CT8) as the main router.

      There’s no push-button update for any node unit, using the web interface, no matter which one you use as the main router. You always have to manually update the node(s). Using the Asus mobile app, however, you can update both routers and nodes via a few taps.

  38. Oh, now I noticed I was using another screen name, sorry.
    Of course I read the reviews 😉 You didn’t publish a review for the RT-AX92u, that’s why I was asking. From the specifications, I didn’t see a difference except the higher speed of the 2,4G band; so may be you have used the AX92U and can share your practical observations.
    Thanks

  39. Thanks for the answer,im getting the zenwifi ax xt8 about two weeks,Then the setup gonna be one GT-AX11000 and four(4)xt8,i hope its not to many xt8(4)dont know how many we can use?one router and four mesh nodes:)now i just have GT-AX11000 AND TWO AC68U ;)Thanks for info and help 🙂

    1. Sure, Lars. I don’t think you’ll have any problems with four. I don’t think there’s a hard limit in terms of how many you can use. I’ve tried like a similar setup myself, just for fun. You must have a VERY large home! 🙂

  40. Hello nice Reviews,do you know if ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is working great together with ZenWiFi AX XT8?i have big place i Norway and i have ordered 2pack(xt8) 4 pcs white.

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