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Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro Preview: The Highly Anticipated Wi-Fi 7 Mesh System is Almost Here

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Since it was first unveiled on January 10 this year, the ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro has been an intriguing mesh system. For one, it’s a two-in-one, available also in the non-Pro variant. More importantly, it’s slated to be arguably the most powerful Wi-Fi 7 ZenWiFi mesh system to hit the market.

In the past months, if I had received a couple of dollars for each inquiry on the hardware, I’d have gathered enough to pay for a two-pack by now. And it’s not cheap, as you’ll note in the pricing below.

In fact, with the new Wi-Fi standard being finalized—not completed—at the beginning of the year, it’s my educated guess that Asus has taken its time to ensure that the ZenWiFi BQ16/Pro would be the very first hardware to support all flavors of the standard, wherever they are available. (This is in contrast to the similarly-specced TP-Link Deco BE95, which has turned out to be a bit anti-climactic.)

All that remains to be seen, but this much is for sure: The hardware is real, and it’s going to be available very soon, at least in the U.S. I have pictures as proof, among other things.

Let’s take a closer look!

Dong’s note: I first published this post as a new piece on January 10, 2024, and updated it on May 10, 2024, as a first take with additional information on the actual hardware and its pricing and availability.

A 2 pack Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro systems
The Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro system, like a 2-pack shown here, includes identical routers. However, one comes with a sticker labeling it as the main unit for easy setup and management—you don’t need to wonder which is which. You can pick any to use as the primary router, and the rest in the pack will work as satellite(s).

Asus Wi-Fi 7 BQ16/Pro: The most powerful ZenWiFi mesh set to date

Like the case of the GT-BE98 Pro gaming standalone AiMesh routers, the ZenWiFi BQ16—part of the new ZenWiFi BQ series that will include more hardware options—also comes in two variants: the BQ16 Pro and BQ16. The two are identical Quad-band hardware with one exception:

The BQ16 Pro comes with two 6GHz bands, and the non-Pro BQ16 has two 5GHz bands—they use band-splitting in different frequencies.

Similar to the gaming routers mentioned, Asus plans to release only the ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro to the North American market. The non-Pro BQ16 variant will be available in other regions. The reason? My take is that the 6GHz frequency is more complicated in terms of regulations (and approvals) in different parts of the world than the 5GHz band, which has been available for Wi-Fi for years.

The 6GHz journey: Curious about how the 6GHz is available around the world? Open the drawer below.

The adoption of the 6GHz Wi-Fi

The 6GHz band has a total width of 1200MHz, ranging from 5.925GHz to 7.125GHz, and is divided into 59 channels of 20MHz each. These channels are grouped to create “sub-bands,” which also vary from one region to another.

In the U.S., the FCC has designated four sub-bands across the entire spectrum, including U-NII-5, U-UNII-6, UNII-7, and UNII-8, for Wi-Fi use, though portions of the band may be reserved for other applications. The E.U. Commission, on the other hand, allows only the U-NII-5 equivalent part of the frequency, or 480MHz in width, for Wi-Fi.

countries enabling wifi in 6ghz
The status of the 6GHz for Wi-Fi around the world

The use of the 6GHz frequency is complicated. Generally, Wi-Fi 6E needs a 160MHz channel to deliver the best performance, and Wi-Fi 7 requires double that, 320MHz. Due to spectrum availability and other reasons, real-world hardware tends to use narrower channels in most cases.

The table below shows its current adoption worldwide. The “Considering” potion is generally slated to be finalized by the end of January 2025.

CountryStatusSpectrum
United StatesAdopted5925-7125 MHz
AndorraAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
ArgentinaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
AustraliaAdopted
Considering
5925-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
AustriaAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
BahrainAdopted5925-6425 MHz
BelgiumAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
BrazilAdopted5925-7125 MHz
CEPTAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
CanadaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
ChileAdopted5925-6425 MHz
ColombiaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
Costa RicaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
Dominican RepublicAdopted5925-7125 MHz
EgyptConsidering5925-6425 MHz
El SalvadorAdopted5925-7125 MHz
European UnionAdopted5945-6425 MHz
Faroe IslandsAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
FranceAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
GermanyAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
GibraltarAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
GuatemalaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
HondurasAdopted5925-7125 MHz
Hong KongAdopted
Considering
5925-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
IcelandAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
IrelandAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
Isle of ManAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
JapanAdopted
Considering
5925-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
JordanAdopted5925-6425 MHz
KenyaAdopted5925-6425 MHz
LiechtensteinAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
LuxembourgAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
MalaysiaAdopted5925-6425 MHz
MauritiusAdopted5925-6425 MHz
MexicoAdopted5925-6425 MHz
MonacoAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
MoroccoAdopted5925-6425 MHz
NamibiaAdopted5925-6425 MHz
NetherlandsAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
New ZealandAdopted5925-6425 MHz
NorwayAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
OmanConsidering5925-6425 MHz
PeruAdopted5925-7125 MHz
PortugalAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
QatarAdopted
Considering
5925-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
Russian FederationAdopted5925-6425 MHz
Saudi ArabiaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
SingaporeAdopted5925-6425 MHz
South AfricaAdopted5925-6425 MHz
South KoreaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
SpainAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
SwitzerlandAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
ThailandAdopted5925-6425 MHz
TogoAdopted5925-6425 MHz
TunisiaConsidering5925-6425 MHz
TurkeyAdopted5925-6425 MHz
United Arab EmiratesAdopted5925-6425 MHz
United KingdomAdopted
Considering 
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
Countries with 6GHz band for Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 as of late 2023.

The status of the 6GHz band might change as Wi-Fi 7 matures. But for now, it’s generally so complicated that Asus has introduced the RT-BE88U, which forgoes the band altogether. In that sense, the ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro is more “special” than the non-Pro version. It has double the 6GHz privilege.

With that out of the way, the new mesh hardware is the most powerful in the ZenWiFi family to date. It features top-tier Wi-Fi 7—up to 30000 Mbps of total bandwidth, 320MHz channel width, 4K-QAM, Multi-Link Operation, and other standard goodies—and is the first to come with two 10Gbps Multi-Gig ports. It’s also rumored to be the first hardware that features Wi-Fi 7’s working AFC, which makes the 6GHz range comparable to that of the 5GHz. And that’s huge, if true.

A quick refresher: If you’re new to Wi-Fi 7, the cabinet below will give you a crash course on the new standard that was just ratified on the first business day of 2024.

Wi-Fi 7’s highlights

Wi-Fi 7 offers five significant improvements over the previous standards. The first two are available immediately, while the rest are optional and might need time—at least till late 2024—to gradually materialize in both broadcasters and clients.

1. The all-new 320MHz channel width

The first thing to note about Wi-Fi 7 is the new and much wider channel width, up to 320MHz, or double that of Wi-Fi 6/6E.

This new channel width is generally available on the 6GHz band, with up to three 320MHz channels. However, Wi-Fi 7 can also combine portions of the 6GHz and 5GHz bands to create this new bandwidth—more in the Multi-Link Operation section below.

Details of Wi-Fi channels can be found here, but the new channel width generally means Wi-Fi 7 can double the base speed, from 1.2Gbps per stream (160MHz) to 2.4Gbps per stream (320MHz).

So, in theory, just from the width alone, a 4×4 broadcaster 6GHz Wi-Fi 7 can have up to 9.6 Gbps of bandwidth—or 10Gbps when rounded up. But there’s more to Wi-Fi 7’s bandwidth below.

Wi-Fi 7 also supports double the partial streams, up to 16. As a result, technically, a 16-stream (16×16) Wi-Fi 7 6GHz band can deliver up to over 40Gbps of bandwidth, especially when considering the new QAM support below.

Like Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, initially, Wi-Fi 7 will be available as dual-stream (2×2) and quad-stream (4×4) broadcasters and dual-stream clients. In the future, the standard might have 8×8 broadcasters and single-stream or quad-stream clients.

Again, you need a compatible client to use the new 320MHz channel width. Existing clients will connect using 160MHz at best. In reality, the 160MHz will likely be the realistic sweet-spot bandwidth of Wi-Fi 7, just like the 80MHz in the case of Wi-Fi 6.

2. The 4K-QAM

QAM, short for quadrature amplitude modulation, manipulates the radio wave to pack more information in the Hertz.

Wi-Fi 6 supports 1024-QAM, which itself is already impressive. However, Wi-Fi 7 will have four times that, or 4096-QAM. Greater QAM means better performance for the same channel width.

As a result, Wi-Fi 7 will be much faster and more efficient than previous standards when working with supported clients.

Wi-F 7 vs. Wi-Fi 6/6E: The realistic real-world speeds

With the support for the wider channel width and higher QAM, Wi-Fi 7 is set to be much faster than previous standards on paper.

You might have read somewhere that Wi-Fi 7 is “up to 4.8 times faster than Wi-Fi 6,” and hardware vendors will continue to combine the theoretical bandwidth of a broadcaster’s all bands into a single colossal number—such as BE19000, BE22000, or BE33000—which is excellent for advertising.

Like always, these numbers don’t mean much, and things are not that simple. In reality, a Wi-Fi connection generally happens on a single band at a time—that’s always true for Wi-Fi 6E and older clients—and is also limited by the client’s specs.

The table below summarizes what you can expect from Wi-Fi 7’s real-world organic performance compared to Wi-Fi 6E when working on the 6GHz.

Wi-Fi 6EWi-Fi 7
Max Channel Bandwidth
(theoretical/top-tier equipment)
160MHz320MHz
Channel Bandwidth
(widely implemented)
80MHz160MHz
Number of Available Channels7x 160MHz, or 14x 80MHz channels3x 320MHz, or
7x 160MHz channels, or
14x 80MHz channels
Highest Modulation 1024-QAM4096-QAM
Max Number
of Spatial Streams
(theoretical on paper / commercially implemented)
8 / 416 / 8 (estimate)
Max Bandwidth
Per Stream
(theoretical)
1.2Gbps (at 160MHz)
600Mbps (at 80MHz)
2.9Gbps (at 320MHz)
1.45Gbps (at 160MHz)
Max Band Bandwidth
(theoretical on paper)
9.6Gbps
(8×8)
46.1Gbps
(16×16)
Commercial Max Band Bandwidth Per Band
(commercially implemented)
4.8Gbps
(4×4)
23Gbps (8×8), or
11.5Gbps (4×4)
Available Max Real-word Negotiated Speeds(*)2.4Gbps (via a 2×2 160MHz client)
1.2Gbps (via a 2×2 80MHz client)
11.5Gbps (via a 4×4 320MHz client)
5.8Gbps (via a 2×2 320MHz client or a 4×4 160MHz client)
2.9Gbps (via a single stream 320MHz client or a 2×2 160MHz client)
1.45Gbps (via a single stream 160MHz client or a 2×2 80MHz client)
Available Clients
(example)
2×2
(Intel AX210)
2×2
(Intel BE200 / Qualcomm NCM865)
Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 7: Theoretical data rates on the 6GHz band
(*) The actual negotiated speed depends on the client, Wi-Fi 7 specs, and environment. Real-world sustained rates are generally much lower than negotiated speeds—capping at about two-thirds at best. Wi-Fi 6/6E has had only 2×2 clients. Wi-Fi 7 will also use 2×2 clients primarily, but it might have 4×4 and even single-stream (1×1) clients.

Like Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, Wi-Fi 7 has been available only in 2×2 specs on the client side. That, plus the sweet-spot 160MHz channel width, means, generally, it’s safe to conservatively expect real-world rates of the mainstream Wi-Fi 7 (160MHz) to be about 20% faster than top-tier Wi-Fi 6E (160MHz) counterparts.

However, the new standard does have more bandwidth on the broadcasting side. So, it can handle more 2×2 clients simultaneously with high-speed real-world rates. And that’s always a good thing.

Multi-Link Operation, or MLO, is the most exciting and promising feature of Wi-Fi 7 that changes the norm of Wi-Fi: Up to Wi-Fi 6E, a Wi-Fi connection between two direct devices occurs in a single band, using a fixed channel at a time—they use a single link to transmit data.

It’s worth noting that MLO is a feature and not the base of the standard, meaning it can be supported by a particular device or not. It’s not expected to be universally available until late 2024.

In a nutshell, MLO is Wi-Fi band aggregation. Like Link Aggregation (or bonding) in wired networking, it allows combining two or more Wi-Fi bands into a single Wi-Fi link—one SSID and connection.

There are two MLO operation modes:

  • STR-MLMR MLO (Simultaneous Transmit and Receive Multi-Link Multi-Radio): It’s multi-link aggregation using all three bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz) to deliver higher throughput, lower latency, and better reliability.
  • E-MLSR MLO (Enhanced Multi-Link Single Radio): It’s multi-link using dynamic band switching between 5GHz and 6GHz to deliver load balancing and lower latency.

No matter which mode is used, the gist is that the bonded link delivers “better” connection quality and “more” bandwidth.

It’s important to note, though, that at the end of the day, MLO increases the bandwidth, allowing different applications on a client to use the two bands simultaneously. The point here is that no application on the client can have a connection speed faster than the fastest band involved. A speedtest application, for example, still uses one of the bands at a time. This connection speed is still limited by the hardware specs on both ends of the link, whichever is lower.

So, the MLO feature affords a supported client the best probability of connecting successfully at the highest possible speed using the fastest band at any given time, which changes depending on the distance between the client and the broadcaster.

MLO can be a game-changer in a wireless mesh network by fortifying the Wi-Fi link between broadcasters—the backhaul—both in terms of speed and reliability. Most systems I’ve tested had the sustained wireless backhauling link over 5Gbps at 40 feet away. In systems with wired backhauling, MLO can make seamless handoff (or roaming) genuinely seamless.

For clients, in more ways than one, MLO is the best alternative to the existing so-called “Smart Connect“—using one SSID (network name) and password for all the bands of a broadcaster—which doesn’t always work as smartly as expected.

In fact, you can think of MLO as the enhanced version of Smart Connect. Specifically, MLO requires Smart Connect for the broadcaster’s primary SSID. As a result, if the hardware doesn’t allow for additional virtual SSIDs, segmenting a network via different SSIDs (such as one for each band) is no longer an option. In other words, with MLO, you have to choose between the following in terms of SSIDs:

  • Having a primary SSID (via Smart Connect), which is MLO-enabled, and an optional 2nd virtual MLO-enabled SSID. Or
  • Turning off Smart Connect to manage the band individually and losing the MLO option.

Additionally, keep the following in mind about this feature:

  • By nature, link bonding will be more complicated than single-band connectivity—there are just too many variables.
  • MLO only works with supported Wi-Fi 7 clients. Some Wi-Fi 7 clients might not support it. Considering the different performance grades and hardware variants, the result of MLO will vary case by case.
  • Wi-Fi 6E and older clients will still use a single band at a time when connecting to a MLO SSID.
  • An MLO SSID requires the WPA2 or higher encryption method and generally won’t work with first-gen Wi-Fi 5 or older clients.
  • The reach of the bonded wireless link is as far as the range of the shorter band.

By default, the 6GHz band has just about 75% of the range of the 5GHz when the same broadcasting power is applied. That said, MLO can only be truly meaningful with the help of Wi-Fi 7’s fifth and optional feature, Automated Frequency Coordination, mentioned below.

4. Flexible Channel Utilization (FCU) and Multi-RU

Flexible Channel Utilization (FCU) (a.k.a. Preamble Puncturing) and Multi-RU are two other items that help increase Wi-Fi 7’s efficiency.

With FCU, Wi-Fi 7 handles interference more gracefully by slicing off the portion of a channel with interference, 20MHz at a time, and keeping the clean part usable.

In contrast, in Wi-Fi 6/6E, when there’s interference, an entire channel can be taken out of commission. FCU is the behind-the-scenes technology that increases Wi-Fi’s efficiency, similar to the case of MU-MIMO and OFDMA.

Similarly, with Wi-Fi 6/6E, each device can only send or receive frames on an assigned resource unit (RU), which significantly limits the flexibility of the spectrum resource scheduling. Wi-Fi 7 allows multiple RUs to be given to a single device and can combine RUs for increased transmission efficiency.

5. Automated Frequency Coordination

Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) is an optional feature and deals with the 6GHz band, so it’s not Wi-Fi 7-exclusive—the band was first used with Wi-Fi 6E. It’s not required for a Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster’s general function. In fact, it wasn’t even mentioned in the initial certification by the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Due to local regulations, the 6GHz band’s availability differs around the world. For this reason, some Wi-Fi 7 broadcasters will not adopt it and will remain Dual-band.

Still, Wi-Fi 7 makes AFC more relevant than ever. That’s because the 6GHz band has the highest bandwidth (fastest) yet the shortest range compared to the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands when using the maximum allowed broadcasting power. Originally, AFC was intended only for outdoor applications, but when implemented, it’s significant for all applications.

Here’s how AFC would work when/if available:

The feature enables a 6GHz broadcaster to check with a registered database in real-time to confirm that its operation will not negatively impact other existing registered members. Once that’s established, the broadcaster creates a dynamically exclusive environment in which its 6GHz band can operate without the constraint of regulations.

Specifically, the support for AFC means each Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster can use more broadcasting power and better flexible antenna designs. How much more? That depends.

However, it’s estimated that AFC can increase the broadcasting power to 36 dBm (from the current 30 dBm limit) or 4 watts (from 1 wat). The goal of AFC is to make the range of the 6GHz band comparable to that of the 5GHz band—about 25% more.

When that happens, the MLO feature above will be truly powerful. But even then, Wi-Fi 7’s range will remain the same as that of Wi-Fi 6, which is available only on the 5GHz band. Its improvement is that its 6GHz band now has a more extended reach than in Wi-Fi 6E. In other words, AFC allows the 6GHz band to have at least the same range as the 5GHz. And that’s significant.

This feature requires certification, and its availability is expected to vary from one region to another. Hardware released before that is said to be capable of handling AFC, which, when applicable, can be turned on via firmware updates.

A crude AFC analogy

Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) is like checking with the local authorities for permission to close off sections of city streets for a drag race block party.

When approved, the usual traffic and parking laws no longer apply to the area, and the organizers can determine how fast traffic can flow, etc.

An Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro mesh router is quite large
Each Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro mesh router is quite huge and has a good heft. (For scale, that’s a large hand.)

While it’s a bit disappointing that there are still Gigabit LAN ports (and not all Multi-Gig ports), the new ZenWiFi hardware enables users to immediately build a robust multi-Gigabit network without needing a switch in a wired backhauling setup. Specifically, you can:

  • Have a 10Gbps wired connection out of a single ZenWiFi BQ16 unit.
  • Daisy-chain multiple units with 10Gbps wired backhauling
  • Add a 10Gbps switch to the router (or a wired satellite) and increase the number of supported multi-Gigabit wired devices within the network.
  • Run a Dual-WAN setup with one of the WANs being up to 10Gbps.

Additionally, in a wireless backhauling configuration, the MLO feature can help improve the link between hardware units. Overall, the ZenWiFi has the most bandwidth to offer to date, and with some effort, such as a switch, it can help up a home’s network to the fastest possible, which is 10Gbps.

The table below shows the final hardware specs of the new ZenWiFi BQ16 and BQ16 Pro.

Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro vs. BQ16: Hardware specifications

Asus ZenWiFi BQ 16 Pro Wi-Fi 7 Mesh SystemAsus ZenWiFi BQ 16 Wi-Fi 7 Mesh System
Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro and BQ16 LeftAsus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro and BQ16 Front
ModelZenWiFi BQ16 ProZenWiFi BQ16
Antennas13 internal
Wi-Fi BandwidthQuad-band BE30000Quad-band BE25000
Modulation Scheme
(QAM)
4096-QAM (all bands)
1st Band
(channel width)
2.4GHz: up to 1376Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2nd Band
(channel width)
5GHz: up to 5762Mbps
(entire band)
(20/40/80/160MHz)
5GHz-1: up to 5762Mbps
(lower channels)
(20/40/80/160MHz)
3rd Band
(channel width)
6GHz-1: up to 11,525Mbps
(lower channels)
(20/40/80/160/320MHz)
5GHz-2: up to 5762Mbps
(upper channels)
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4th Band
(channel width)
6GHz-2: up to 11,525Mbps
(upper channels)
(20/40/80/160/320MHz)
6GHz: up to 11,525Mbps
(entire band)
(20/40/80/160/320MHz)
Network StandardsIEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b,
IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n,
IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11ax,
IEEE 802.11be, IPv4, IPv6
Network FeaturesWeb User Interface
Asus Mobile App with Smart Home Master
Mesh TechnologyAiMesh with AsusWRT 5.0
Hardware Availability
(at launch)
2-pack and 3-pack
Processing Power2GB DDR4 RAM, 256MB Flash
Multi-Gig Port1x 10GBASE-T WAN/LAN,
1x 10GBASE-T LAN
Gigabit Port1x Gigabit WAN/LAN,
2x Gigabit LAN
USB Port1 x USB 3.0
Hardware ButtonsPower Switch, Reset Button
Dimensions
(each unit)
8.43 x 14.12 x 2.83 in
(214 x 174.2 x 72 mm​)
Weight
(each unit)
2.79 lbs (1.27 kg)
DC Power AdapterAC Input: 100~240 V (50~60 Hz) 
DC Output: 12 V with max. 5 A current
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
TBDTBD
U.S. Release DateMay 26, 2024N/A
AvailabilityNorth AmericaOther regions
U.S. Price
(at launch)
$1299.99 (2-pack)
$699.99 (single router)
N/A
Hardware specifications: Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro vs. BQ16

New Asus SmartHaul and Smart Home Master

Asus says its new Wi-Fi 7 ZenWiFi hardware uses the popular AiMesh feature to be compatible with all of its existing mesh-ready hardware, but it has now come with some new improvements.

Specifically, the two have Asus SmartHaul, which “takes into account both fronthaul and backhaul and makes adjustments to ensure optimal performance.” Additionally, their Asus Router mobile app now comes with a Smart Home Master section that automatically sets the best default settings for Guest/IoT networks, Parental Controls, and VPN. It’s more foolproof, so to speak.

Other than that, they share the common core features available in all hardware that uses the same firmware, though it will run the latest AsusWRT 5.0 version. Consequently, you can expect a robust web user interface with lots of advanced settings, including (and not limited to):

  • Safe Browsing with DNS filters via specific servers
  • Comprehensive Parental Control and VPN feature sets
  • Advanced VLAN, similar to the case of “Pro” routers
  • Advanced Guest Network Pro, which consists of multiple self-defined networks (SDNs) for different scenarios.
  • AiProtection Pro with Security Scan

That said, if you’ve used an Asus router before, you’ll feel at home with the new Wi-Fi 7 ZenWiFi options, whichever are available where you are. In terms of features, the ZenWiFi BQ16 is generally the same as the RT-BE96U or the GT-BE98 Pro (minus the gaming features), with minor improvements, considering it runs the latest firmware. Still, if you’re curious today, give those two reviews a look.

The front of the Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro Wi-Fi 7 mesh routerThe back of the Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro Wi-Fi 7 mesh router
The front and back sides of a ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro (or the BQ16) mesh router. If you pay attention, you’ll see the number 7 somewhere.

Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro's UNTESTED Assessment

8.3 out of 10
Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro Wi-Fi 7 Mesh System
Hardware Specs
9 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
7 out of 10

Pros

Top Quad-band Wi-Fi 7 specs with potentially all features of the standard; two 10Gbps Multi-Gig ports

Latest AsusWRT 5.0 firmware with lots of customzation and free-for-life high-end features (VPN, Parental Controls, Online Protection, Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation, etc.)

Robust web user interface and helpful optional mobile app; easy-to-blend-in design

Cons

Only two Multi-Gig ports

Not wall-mount-ready

A bit pricey

Availability, pricing, and the upcoming in-depth review

Asus told me that the 2-pack ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro will be available in the North American market as early as May 26 or as late as mid-June with a suggested price of $1299.99. There’ll also be a 3-pack for $1699.99 exclusively at Best Buy.

However, if you want a single unit, you’ll have to wait until the third quarter of the year, and it will cost $699.99.

The BQ16 might also be available elsewhere during this time frame.

It’s time to save up. If you’re curious about how the hardware’s performance pans out, that’d make two of us. Check back before the month is out for an in-depth review.

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71 thoughts on “Asus ZenWiFi BQ16 Pro Preview: The Highly Anticipated Wi-Fi 7 Mesh System is Almost Here”

  1. I have previously bought a ET12 for my son’s home as per your recommendation, and it has performed incredibly in terms of range and speed. I am planning to buy a new Wifi 7 mesh system for my new home this year. Do you think that this BQ16 Pro will be ASUS’s successor to the ET12? Or will there be a further update to ASUS’s mesh lineup that performs even better than the BQ16 Pro, based on your expert opinion?

    I am currently considering waiting for ASUS to further update their lineup.

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    • Yes, Nguyen. And eventually there will be something that’s even better than this one. It’s just a matter of time.

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  2. So, the 3-pack is showing available now @ BestBuy, and the 2 pack & single router is showing pre-order available on NewEgg, and Amazon is showing not yet available. Nowhere else seems to even be showing it…

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  3. Thank you for the new introduction of this router and really look forward to reading your indepth review. I am really interested to learn how is the wireless backhaul performance with 2 6G radios behind few walls . I am living in SF as well, and only wireless backhual is my option is expand the coverage.

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    • It would but likely not with all of its bands the way they are intended for the US, etc. I wouldn’t do that on purpose, you might get in trouble

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      • Thank you for your answer. No I don’t want any problems, but is it possible to use only the UNII-5 band? So temporarily disable UNII-6,7 and 8 until Europe gives permission to use the bands up to 7125 Mhz. This decision will probably be made in 2025 and it would be a waste of money to purchase the BQ16 now instead of the BQ16 Pro And as I read your previews, it is a beast of a (mesh) system.

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        • I don’t know, but I think the best case scenario is the firmware would automatically make only the allowed portions of the frequencies work. Or it’d just work like it would in the US and cause you trouble for violating local laws. Or it doesn’t work as intended. Only one way to find out. 🙂

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  4. Thanks Dong for the update. Much appreciated.

    Will all of the BQ16 Pro new features you mentioned be available via a firmware update on the GT-BE98 Pro? I am considering using three BE98 Pros together via AiMesh (wired backhaul). I will use the gaming features. I would like the new features you mentioned as well. I want it all of course!

    Thanks so much,
    Steve

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    • I would say that’s likely the case by the end of the year, Steve, but I’m not Asus. If you intend to use wired backhauling (as you should!) it would make very little difference if at all between the 98 Pro’s current firmware and the future ones.

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      • Thanks Dong. Appreciate it!

        One other question: Setting size, aesthetics (wife test), cost, gaming features and Multi-Gig LAN ports aside, are there any real advantages the BQ16 Pro has over the GT-BE98 Pro’s at this point?

        Thanks again,
        Steve

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          • Thanks Dong,
            I so much appreciate your help!

            I will wait for your review of the BQ16 Pro in case there are any must haves that pop up. However I am leaning toward the BE98 Pro’s because of their added features, especially if I don’t lose anything compared to the BQ16 Pro.

            Also, I can place the BE98 Pro’s discretely so they pass the wife test!

            Thanks again. You do such a great job!

            Steve

  5. Excellent news! I can’t wait to upgrade my home network. We have the Orbi 852 which has been rather awful for our 2Gbps fiber. Looking forward to your in-depth review, Dong!

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      • Wow! $1,299 for two. That’s pricey and a lot more than their current ZenWifi options. I guess they’re targeting Orbi customers.

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        • I’d say the ZenWiFi lineup is much richer than the Orbi in features alone. But pricey, indeed. Hope it’s worth it.

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          • Well, if I drop $1,299 on a pair of BQ16 Pros, I’m definitely going to be in the dog house for a while. The only way I can see this working for me “budget-wise” is if I can get away with one. 😦

          • I think there’ll be cheaper variants down the line. Vendors often release the top-tier options first.

  6. I think we’re getting close. I just checked the ASUS website, and the BQ16 Pro is now listed as Out of Stock and has a price of $699.99 for a set of two, which sounds like a good deal. I also noticed that some ASUS retailers are closing out the ET12, which is typically what’s done before a new model is released.

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  7. I keep googling to see if there’s anything new on the Asus BQ16 Pro in terms of actually going on sale, but just keep finding this same article (besides Asus’ own content). Hopefully the complete lack of ongoing press about this doesn’t mean it’s canceled or delayed. I figured a Q2 launch would mean we’d be seeing some reviewers getting pre-release versions to test by now, so hopefully at least that much is happening!

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  8. Dong, I’ve been following your reviews for a while, and I appreciate how you explain the networking topics in a clear and accessible way for different levels of expertise. I’ve made a small donation and wanted to express my gratitude.
    I haven’t been a fan of Asus devices in the past, I usually preferred to build my own router + FW and use other brands. My first Asus device that I tried out was the Flashnas, which was a very affordable option for nvme (and I was impressed). Then I gave the GT-BE98 a chance and I started to like Asus more (even though there are some features that merlin offers) but it seems that Asus adopts most of those eventually (which makes things easier for me since I don’t have the time to maintain all my custom end points). I like their features, even their privacy to some extent, and I like that they are not going for a subscription model. I’ve been keeping an eye on the BQ16 since last year and reading your reviews… your write-ups are what convinced me to get them and they will be part of my new 10GB wired backbone. I should note that I have a complex 3 storey concrete home and most signals don’t penetrate well (so I’m wired plus have a lot of APs). I’ll be replacing some “not so old devices” that didn’t meet my expectations… I have very high hopes for the BQ16 and I can’t wait to test them soon.

    One thing that I’ve been unhappy about Asus is their lack of or almost non-existent “Outdoor AP”. Do you know if they have any plans in this area? Otherwise I’ll have to mix with an Omada EAP670 or go for Ubiquity and then I ponder if Asus is the right choice for me. In an ideal world they would have an Outdoor AP 10GB POE (WIFI6/7) and it doesn’t make sense to me that they don’t have a solution in this area.

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  9. Thanks Dong for the excellent info and reviews! I’m eagerly awaiting the BQ16 Pro release, but there seems to be complete radio silence on it since January. We’re limping along with our 7 year old Orbi RBR50 hoping to stretch it to make the release date of the Asus BQ16 Pro. I’ve looked at the TP-link Deco but am concerned about privacy(and features requiring a subscription) and trust Asus more. Have you heard any updates on the BQ16 release date? Am i being too paranoid about TP-link? Thank you for all your insights!

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      • Thanks Dong! I really appreciate your answers, and the included references and links to them. It really increase the value of your site!

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        • On Amazon they have a release date for the EU version of April 30th…. Its not the Pro version, which looks to be US only but suspect a similar date.

          I’ve been tracking this device since last year….. its is what will form part of my new 10GB wired backbone, replacing some not so old devices that have not been up to the task… my exceptions are super high…

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  10. Hi Dong,

    I hope you are well. Do you have any updates on the Asus BQ16 Pro and its availability? Do you know if Best Buy will be carrying this item? Thanks!

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      • Yeah, that makes sense. Will you be reviewing the Deco BE63? In addition to the soon-to-be-released BQ16 Pro, that’s another W-Fi-7 router I’m considering—especially since I’m limited to a 1GB FIOS connection and the BE63 is available now.

        I’m anxious to replace my Synology RT2600AC/MR2200 mesh system, as it really doesn’t meet my needs.

        Thanks, Dong.

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      • Hi Dong,
        Thanks for the great insight as always. I live in Asia and wish to know if there is any technical issues (power and electricity issues excluded) if I buy the pro version router with two splitted 6G bands and use it in this region?

        Thanks
        Bill

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        • That depends on where you are, Bill. I’d recommend getting the hardware intended for your region—often that’s enforced via firmware anyway. More here.

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          • Thanks Dong for your prompt response even at your midnight. I live in Hong Kong and was wondering if I can use the pro version router here technically. If full 6G band is allowed, why a splitted band is not OK? I read your link but it’s about signal strength but not region restriction. Sorry if I understand differently

  11. I am looking to upgrade my 2016 orbi system to something new and up to date. I loved Asus but they did not feature a mesh router at the time and extenders were awful to do a house. Glad to see I am just in time for this new system to drop soon since there latest lineup is like 3 years old now? I would have gone with Orbi again but they are wayyyy to expensive for newer models. I am hoping these are not 1k for 2 like you stated which is my only concern.

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  12. Dong,

    Any idea when these are being released? I need a new router mesh setup now. Considering the Deco BE85 or maybe the XT12 Pro’s? Never had a TP-Link and always been Asus but I do need 3 units.

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    • Only Asus knows but my guess is sometimes in this quarter, David, possibly later this month, David. Stay tuned!

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      • Hi Dong,

        Enjoyed all your insightful post! I’m shopping and building my first mesh system for a 4000 sqft house. I have 2.5GB fiber service and want to maximize value and internet coverage around the house as a fully wireless setup. I don’t know if I should invest in cabling to do wiredback haul path. So I just purchased RT-BE6U $650 as primary router and 2x ZenWifi PRO ET12 satellite bought used from Amazon $500. And seems to work ok. My furthest satellite is about 50ft away and upstairs from the router which is down stairs, and I’m getting about 1.1Gb upload and 1.3Gb upload 6ping 1 Jitter. Curious what you think!? Should I keep this setup or consider these cool new wifi7 mesh/routers ? 🤔

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  13. Hi Dong, great review. Thanks for the update. I purchased, but I haven’t opened, an Asus ET12 based on your excellent review and recommendation. I intended to use two ET12s in a wired-backhaul configuration over Cat5e wiring.

    One thing I really wanted was a TimeMachine backup solution. Unfortunately, and as you know, the ET12 doesn’t have a USB port, but the BQ16 Pro does. Given the fact that the BQ16 Pro pricing may be similar to what I paid, do you think I should hold off a few months and get the BQ16 Pro instead? My existing Synology RT2600 with (2) MR2200 is performing well, aside from the 8 Nest Battery Cams I have, but that may be a Google Nest firmware problem.

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  14. The 1 gig ports are a shame at this price point. The lack of SFP+ too. I currently use 2 XT8 at home. I work from home and need some devices to run through VPN at times and others not. My ISP has SFP+. Right now I use a media converter. With this setup which WiFi 7 system would you recommend? Our work laptops are MacBook Pros so Ethernet is out :(. The fiber port is completely on the other side of the apartment, so a mesh might be better, or a very strong WiFi router.

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  15. Hopefully we get more specs.

    Curious though how many devices would be supported. Would it be 200+ like TP Link?

    I’ve always been a huge ASUS fan and had to move on from the AC3100 to the XE75 Pro because I have over 100 connections. The TP Link sucks.

    I’ve been waiting for this announcement. I can’t hardwire my home so I’m at the mercy of a wireless dedicated backhaul.

    The single point routers always have a better processor and more Ram so curious to see what this one will have as I’m waiting for the BQ16 Pro.

    The only thing I question is…

    Better to get this BQ16 Pro or buy two BE98 Pro’s and link through AI Mesh.

    My home is really large (6000sqft including basement) and then I want outdoor coverage and well. While I need the coverage, I need very good speed (I know hard to do without the wired backhaul).

    Any recommendations?

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  16. There is a third model BT10 which is better as it will not only be cheaper, but also have no band-splitting complicated nonsense.

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  17. I may not be the intended market for this (regular home setup with 50 or so always connected devices and 4 gamers in home; wired back haul) but I feel like the 2 5ghz bands is “currently” the better choice and I wish that version was also coming to the US.

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  18. Thanks Dong for keeping us informed. Much appreciated. I might have gone for this set, but probably not since it doesn’t have all Multi-Gig ports. Like you I am disappointed.

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