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Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 Review (vs ZenWiFi ET8): A Solid Multi-Gig Wired Mesh

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The ZenWiFi Pro ET12 — not to be confused with the XT12 — is the fourth Wi-Fi 6E mesh system I’ve tested, after the Linksys AXE8400, the ZenWiFi ET8, and the Netgear Orbi RBKE960 series.

And again, I wanted to love it as a fully wireless system but couldn’t due to the innate short range of the 6GHz band. By now, it’s clear that you generally can not count on this band as the wireless backhaul.

That said, if you intend to use the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 in a fully wireless configuration, this expensive system — $900 per its suggested retail price — is similar to the much cheaper ZenWiFi ET8.

You’ll find this review somewhat of a ZenWiFi Pro ET12 vs ZenWiFi ET8 matchup, but to cut to the chase: Don’t get either if you intend to expand your Wi-Fi coverage wirelessly. You’d likely waste your hard-earned cash.

“Likely” because I wanted to tread lightly here. The new mesh might work out well without wires if you can place the hardware units close to each other or have a line of sight between them. However, even then, it’s not faster than many cheaper traditional Tri-band systems.

On the other hand, this 2-pack might be the best investment if you have wired your home. You’d get yourself a powerful Multi-Gigabit-Internet-ready system with a Multi-Gig wired backhaul.

And you can even combine it with the GT-AXE11000 to turn your mesh into a gaming Wi-Fi system. In this case, the ZenWiFi Pro ET12’s cool-looking hardware will also fit nicely.

Dong’s note: I first published this post on January 23, 2022, as a new piece and updated it to a full review on February 28, 2022, after thorough hands-on testing.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 includes two identical Wi-Fi 6E routers.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12: First purposed built AiMesh system with true Multi-Gig wired backhaul

Like previous ZenWiFi sets, the Pro E12 is a 2-pack that includes two identical mesh routers.

You can use each as a standalone router for a relatively large home or add the second one to form a system to extend the Wi-Fi coverage for a sprawling one, either wirelessly or via a network cable.

That’s generally how an AiMesh system works anyway.

Per Asus’s router naming convention, the number in the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 indicates the number of streams the router has.

It’s worth noting that having the same number of streams doesn’t mean the routers are of the same hardware specs. That depends on their bands and Wi-Fi standards.

But, specifically, here are the readouts of Asus’s Tri-band ZenWiFi routers:

  • This ZenWiFi Pro ET12 is a 12 stream Wi-Fi 6E router: 4×4 (2.4GHz) + 4×4 (5GHz) + 4×4 (6GHz).
  • The ZenWiFi ET8 is an 8-stream Wi-Fi 6E router: 2×2 (2.4GHz) + (2×2 5GHz) + 4×4 (6GHz).
  • The ZenWiFi Pro XT12 is a 12 stream Wi-Fi 6 router: 4×4 (2.4GHz) + 4×4 (5GHz-1) + 4×4 (5GHz-2).
  • The ZenWiFi XT8 is an 8-stream Wi-Fi 6 router: 2×2 (2.4GHz) + (2×2 5GHz-1) + 4×4 (5GHz-2).

The new Pro ET12 has four streams on each band – currently the highest among Wi-Fi 6E. Consequently, it’s top-tier among this new type of Tri-band router.

Dual-band vs Tri-band vs Quad-band Wi-Fi: What’s the deal?

Nice design, two Multi-Gig ports, no USB

The ET12 comes with an all-new look. And for an Asus, it’s a beaut.

Each router looks like a large square tower topped with a transparent section. Through the clear plastic, you’ll note the eight internal antennas at the corners and sides in positions supposedly optimized for the coverage.

From top to almost bottom, one corner of the router is beveled to carry a little LED that bears the vendor’s name and the model of the router.

If that’s not obvious enough as an ID, the top of the router houses a big corona vision LED light with the word “Asus” in the middle — there’s no way you’d have to guess who made this router.

But I love the design. The lights are subtle and have a pleasant hue — the top one changes colors or flashes to indicate the status of the hardware. You can quickly turn them off via the Asus Router mobile app or the web interface — you can’t dim them.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 31
The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 Mesh router share the same new design as the ZenWiFi Pro XT12 with some cool lighting. The current color indicates things are fine and dandy.

On one side, the ET12 has four network ports. There are two Gigabit LAN ports, one 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig WAN port and another 2.5Gbps LAN port.

It’s the second Asus home router I’ve tested with two Multi-Gig ports. (The RT-AX89X has one SFP+ port.) And that’s great!

On the downside, considering the router’s large physical size, I wish it had more network ports — most routers have five ports. There’s no USB port, either, which will make fans of router-based mini NAS servers disappointed.

Everything you can expect from an Asus AiMesh router, with pre-synced hardware

The new design aside, on the inside, the ZenWiFI Pro ET12, as a single router, is similar to all other Wi-Fi 6 routers from the company.

If you have used an Asus router before, you’d know what I mean. If not, check out this post, where I lay out their common settings and features. Among those, the ET12 has all the core features — it’s not a gaming machine.

That said, the extra content below will give you some quick highlights. If you’re familiar with the Asus routers, you can skip it.

ZenWiFi Pro ET12: Sharing all Asus router core features

While most of this extra content was available in the general post on Asus Wi-Fi broadcasters, it contains specific information about the ZenWiFi Pro ET12.

Universal setting restoration

You can interchangeably restore most Asus Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 routers’ backup settings, except for the RT-AX89X and Blue Cave. That’s the case with the ZenWiFi Pro ET12, too.

As a result, you won’t need to program the new router from scratch in an upgrade or replacement. Instead, most of your network’s configurations — including those of an AiMesh system — will migrate from the old router to the new one.

This feature is a huge optional time saver if you have many settings, such as IP reservation and port-forwarding entries.

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

In the case of the ET12, it’s not a good idea if you load the backup files of very different routers, like a traditional Tri-band one, such as the GT-AX11000 or RT-AX92U. I’ve tried that, and it worked, but only after I did some tweaks.

Tip: After the migration, adjust applicable specific settings, such as the router model name, bands, etc., to make sure they match the new router and perform a deliberate backup and restore. This step will make the old setting “native” to the new router.

A robust web user interface

Asus is one of a few networking vendors that stays true to the web interface and doesn’t coerce users into a cloud-based web portal, which is excellent for those caring about privacy.

(All Asus routers allow remote management, which is turned off by default, via Dynamic DNS mentioned below.)

The interface allows access to a router’s tons of settings and features — some are listed below. Savvy networking enthusiasts will love that though it can be overwhelming for novice users.

Dynamic DNS

Dynamic DNS (DDNS) is a relatively common feature of all home routers. It’s excellent for those wanting to dial home remotely via other advanced features, including remote access or VPNs.

What sets Asus’s Dynamic DNS apart is that the networking vendor also includes an entirely free DDNS domain — you won’t need to get a third-party one. On top of that, this domain also comes included with an SSL certificate.

That said, if you need DDNS, Asus is by far the best option. (Read more about DDNS in this post.)

Standard setup process

Thanks to the web interface, all the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 share the same standard setup process as I detailed in this post on building a home network from scratch.

However, here are the general steps:

  1. Connect your router’s WAN port to the Internet source, be it a modem, an existing gateway, or the Fiberoptic ONT. Turn it on.
  2. Connect a computer to the router, either via a network cable to one of its LAN ports, or the default open Wi-Fi network, generally named “Asus xx”.
  3. Open a browser and navigate to the router’s default IP address which is 192.168.50.1 (or router.asus.com).

The rest is self-explanatory. The first time you get to the web interface, you’ll run into a wizard that walks you through a few steps.

(Alternatively, you can also use the Asus mobile app in step #3 if you use a phone or tablet instead of a computer. However, I recommend the web user interface even when you use a mobile device for the setup process.)

Helpful mobile app, no login account required

Again, the Asus mobile app works for both the setup process and ongoing management.

This app is common for all Asus routers and is quite comprehensive. It’s one of the best mobile apps for routers you can find on the market. But, still, it’s not as in-depth as the web interface.

ZenWiFi Pro ET12 Mobile App
The ZenWiFi Pro ET12 shares the same useful Asus Router mobile app as the other Asus routers.

The best thing about it is that you can use it to manage the router remotely without a login account. Instead, just like the web interface, it operates the remote management via the router’s built-in support for Dynamic DNS feature that includes a free SSL certificate.

However, one thing to note is that using the app can inadvertently turn on or off specific settings that could cause the router to behave unexpectedly. In this case, you’ll have to reset the router and set it up from the beginning.

So, while this app is convenient and fun to use, it can cause issues if you mess around too much.

AiProtection

The AiProtection is a feature that adds so much value to an Asus router.

It includes a free-for-life real-time Network Protection powered by Trend Micro and a Parental Control engine.

ZenWiFi Pro ET12 AiProtection
The ZenWiFi Pro ET12 has the complete set of Asus AiProtection

Network Protection is designed to keep the entire local network safe. In many ways, it’s somewhat like a strip-down version of an add-on firewall, like the Firewalla or the subscription-based Armor from Netgear.

Still, for a free product, it’s excellent. I’ve used it for years in multiple networks, and it has proven effective against many malicious websites and malware. Don’t expect it as total protection (there’s no such thing!), but just a helping hand, and you’ll love it.

On the other hand, the Parental Control portion has been a bit too rigid, in my opinion, and the way Asus defines categories for web filtering is a bit vague. On top of that, you can’t use it to block a particular website. This simplistic approach is not a big deal for me since I don’t believe in Parental Controls anyway.

(While AiProtection is available in all Asus routers, some get a stripped-down version due to their limited processing power. The XDR, which is the router unit of the XD4 mesh set, is an example. Its Network Protection and Parental Controls are neutered.)

Adaptive QoS

The Adaptive QoS is a common feature available in all Asus routers and is one of the most easy-to-use QoS features among all home routers.

QoS: How Quality of Service betters your online experience

ZenWiFi Pro ET12 QoS
The ZenWiFi Pro ET12’s QoS feature is similar to most other Asus routers.

“QoS” stands for the quality of service, and it enables users to prioritize Internet traffic to support different applications or services.

Asus’s Adaptive QoS requires minimum work from the user and is quite effective. It also includes Bandwidth Monitor, Web History, and an Internet Speed test if you want to know more about your resources and keep tabs on your network’s online activities.

Flexible port configuration: WAN vs LAN, Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation, and wired backhaul

Asus routers generally have a lot of flexibility in their port configurations.

On this front, the following is what you can do with a ZenWiFi Pro ET12 working in router mode. (In other modes — AiMesh satellite node, access point, repeater, etc. — all ports work as LANs.)

  • As a standalone router, its default 2.5Gbps WAN always works as the WAN port, there’s no way to change this.
  • In a Dual-WAN setup, you can use any other LAN port including its 2.5Gbps LAN as the secondary WAN.
  • In a WAN Link Aggregation, you must use both of its 2.5Gbps ports, to deliver a combined connection of up to 5Gbps.
  • The router supports LAN Link Aggregation. In this case, you can combine the two Gigabit LAN ports (LAN1 and LAN2) to deliver a 2Gbps connection. In a mesh setup, you can also do that on the satellite unit.
  • In a wired backhaul mesh setup, you can daisy-chain the hardware units (if you use more than one satellite node), but always use the 2.5Gbps WAN port to connect a satellite to the main router, the (Multi-Gig) switch, or another satellite (at the lower level.)

Other useful features

Other than the above, you can also expect the following from all Asus routers:

  • Networking tools: Wake on LAN, Ping, Netstat, and Smart Connect Rule can come in handy for advanced users.
  • Auto-reboot: You can set your router to restart by itself on a schedule.
  • Traffic Analyzer: A set of tools and statistics for those wanting to find out what’s happening in the network.
  • The standard set of network settings and features: These include IP reservation, Port-forwarding, VPN server, and some Alexa Skills.
  • Frequent firmware update: Asus pushes out firmware updates regularly to fix issues and improve its routers’ performance and function. You can choose to update manually or turn on auto-update.

By the way, like previous ZenWiFi sets, the 2-pack Pro ET12 is pre-synced. As a result, all you have to do is set up one as a standalone router. After that, plug the other into power at a reasonable distance, or connect the satellite’s WAN port to the router using a network cable, and your mesh is ready.

AiMesh Backhaul Connection Priority via the ZenWiFi Pro ET12
The ZenWiFi Pro ET12 allows picking which band or port to work as its backhaul.

AiMesh 2.0 fully supported

And as a mesh router, the Pro ET12 has all features and settings of a device that support AiMesh 2.0. I detailed that in this post on AiMesh.

If you’re new or have questions, again, hit the button below for the highlights.

AiMesh: Asus’s long journey to bettering Wi-Fi coverage

ZenWiFi Pro ET12: All you can expect from an Asus AiMesh system
  • Flexible backhaul: Starting with AiMesh 2.0 — available starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.000 — an AiMesh system has flexible backhaul support. Specifically:
    • Dedicated wireless backhaul: When you use traditional tri-band routers, like RT-AX92U, or GT-AX11000, one of its 5Ghz bands, the 5GHz-2, will work as the dedicated backhaul band by default — this band works solely as the wireless link between the router and satellite — not applicable when you mix Tri-band and Dual-band hardware or use wired backhaul.
    • User-selectable backhaul: You can manually set any band (6GHz, 5GHz, or 2.4GHz) or network ports as backhaul priority. When left at Auto (default), the system will use the fastest band, for the distance between the main router and a particular satellite, as the backhaul. Auto also prioritizes wired backhaul (when available).
    • Wired backhaul: Generally, the WAN port of the satellite unit must be used for the backhaul. Even when that’s not the case, Link Aggregation, which is available in most Asus routers, never works for AiMesh wired backhauling. However, with a router that has a Multi-Gig LAN port (such as RT-AX86U or RT-AX89X), the high-speed port of the satellite node can be used for a Multi-Gig wired backhaul.
    • Mixed backhaul: Generally, it’s best to use wired backhaul consistently throughout the system — you can daisy-chain the units. However, AiMesh does allow for mixing wired and wireless backhaul.
  • Daisychain, third-party switch supported: For wired backhaul, you can daisy-chain the main router and nodes or use switches between the hardware units. For best performance, make sure you use Gigabit (or faster) unmanaged switches.
  • Auto-sensing network ports: On the router unit, the WAN port functions in its designated role — it needs to connect to an Internet source. After that, the rest of the network ports in the mesh system, including the WAN ports on the satellite units (nodes), work as LANs. That’s generally true in either a wired- or a wireless-backhaul setup.
  • Up to 10 hardware units: Asus says realistically, a system shouldn’t have more than seven units, though you can use up to 10, including the router. And I’ve indeed tried that many units in a wired backhaul setup with success. In a wireless configuration, though, I’d recommend no more than three hardware units, especially with dual-band hardware.
  • No vendor account required: Just like any Asus router, no login account with Asus is necessary to use AiMesh, even when using the Asus Router mobile app. For remote access, Asus uses Dynamic DNS. So, AiMesh is less of a privacy risk (if at all) compared with other systems.
  • Access point (AP) mode: As a system, an AiMesh setup can work in the access point mode — not to be confused with an individual router’s AP mode. In other words, you can use an entire AiMesh system (consisting of multiple nodes) that works solely as a network/Wi-Fi extension on top of an existing (third-party) router. Among other things, it helps avoid the use of double NAT.

Other than the lack of a USB port, the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 has all AiMesh 2.0 has to offer — including the support for a systemwide Guest Wi-Fi network. On top of that, thanks to the two Multi-Gig ports, it’s the latest option in the list of Multi-Gig wired backhaul combos.

Asus routers and privacy

Before turning on some features, an Asus router shows a warning, as shown in the screenshot below.

Asus Privacy Message
Asus routers’ ominous privacy warning you need to consent to before using some features.

The said features only work because a third-party scans the router’s traffic. That’s the nature of any protection — a security detail will include somebody who watches over you — there’s no way around that.

So, these features inherently cause privacy risks, which is why they are turned off by default, and you can leave them that way. If you choose to use them, you must sacrifice some privacy aspects.

Privacy and security are a matter of degree. Here’s Asus’s privacy policy.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 vs ZenWiFi ET8: A new breed of “Dual-band” mesh routers

Similar to the case of the ET8, the new ZenWiFi Pro ET12 is a Tri-band router. However, it doesn’t have an additional 5GHz band as found in a traditional Tri-band router.

As a result, there’s no band to use as a dedicated backhaul in a wireless configuration — the hardware needs all the bands to support all clients of different Wi-Fi standards.

Both systems, by default, use the 6GHz band as the (dedicated) backhaul. When that works, this band suffers from signal loss and delivers just half the speed on the front end, at best. That’s the case with all Wi-Fi bands working as a non-dedicated backhaul.

And that doesn’t work most of the time since the 6GHz band’s range is short with little wall penetration. When you place the hardware units far from each other or with a wall in between, the systems likely automatically switch to the 5GHz or 2.4GHz band for backhauling resulting in even slower performance.

I explained this wireless backhaul dilemma in detail via the review of the ET8 and the Wi-Fi 6E explainer piece. But the gist is: get your home wired! For best performance, don’t use either of the two, or any Tri-band Wi-Fi 6E hardware for that matter, in a fully wireless environment.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 Wired Backhaul
The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 makes an excellent mesh system with a Multi-Gig backhaul in a wired home. You can’t do that with a 2-pack ET8 out of the box.

ZenWiFi Pro ET12 vs ZenWi-Fi ET8: Hardware specifications

ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Mesh Router
ZenWiFi ET8
Mesh Router
ModelET12ET8
Mesh-ReadyYes (2-pack)Yes (2-pack)
Pre-Synced HardwareYesYes
Dedicated Backhaul
(default)
No
(6GHz as default)
No
(6GHz as default)
Wired BackhaulYesYes
Multi-Gig Wired BackhaulYesOnly as satellites
Dimensions 
(WxDxH)
4.53 x 4.53 x 9.45 in
(11.5 x 24.1 x 11.5 cm)
6.29 x 2.95 x 6.35 in  
(16 x 7.5 x 16.15 cm)
Weight3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)1.56 lb (716 g)
Wi-Fi DesignationTri-band AXE11000Tri-band AXE6600
1st Band
(2.4GHz)
4 x 4 AX 
Up to 1,148Mbps

(20/40MHz)
2Γ—2 AX
up to 574 Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2nd Band
(5GHz)
4 x 4 AX 
Up to 4800Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
2Γ—2 AX
Up to 1200 Mbps
(20/40/80MHz)
3rd Band6GHz
4Γ—4 AXE 
Up to 4800Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
6GHz
4Γ—4 AXE 
Up to 4800Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
Backward Compatibility802.11ac/n/g/a/b802.11ac/n/g/a/b
Mobile AppAsus Router Asus Router
Web User InterfaceYesYes
AP ModeYes
(as a router or a mesh)
Yes
(as a router or a mesh)
USB PortNone1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1
Gigabit Port2x LAN3 x LAN
Multi-Gig Port1x 2.5Gbps WAN
1x 2.5Gbps LAN
1x 2.5 Gbps WAN
Link AggregationYes
(WAN and LAN)
No
Dual-WANYesYes
Processing Power2.0GHz quad-core CPU
256 MB Flash, 1GB RAM
1.5GHz quad-core CPU, 
256 MB Flash, 512 MB RAM
Firmware Version
(at review)
3.0.0.4.386_476363.0.0.4.386_43981
Power Consumption
(router unit, over 24 hours)
β‰ˆ 310 WhNot tested
Release DateFebruary 2022July 2021
US Retail Price
(at launch)
899.99 (2-pack)$530 (2-pack)
Hardware specifications: ZenWiFi Pro ET12 vs ZenWi-Fi ET8

As you can see on the table, the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 is in many ways an upgrade to the ET8, but only with a wired backhaul.

When set up as fully wireless using the 6GHz band as backhaul, the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 will be similar to the much cheaper ET8 due to the backhaul band’s signal loss — more in the performance section below.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12: Detail photos

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12’s retail box

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Out of the box, the Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 includes two identical routers.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Each router is a relatively huge square tower.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
On top, the routers have a clear section revealing the antennas on the inside.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 29
Thanks to its lighting, the Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 looks quite cool at night.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Each Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 comes with four network ports on one of its sides, including two 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig ports.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Other sides of the router have ventilation openings.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 from the top — note the antennas.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Here’s the underside of an Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 router. The hardware is not wall-mountable.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Asus’s Wi-Fi 6E mesh hardware: The ZenWiFi Pro ET12 next to the ZenWiFi ET8
Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 21
Here’s another picture of the pair. Note how the ET12, though much larger, has no USB port.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 25

The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 is currently the most powerful Wi-Fi 6E hardware.


Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12: Exciting performance with caveats

I’ve been testing (and using) the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 for almost a month and, for the most part, am happy with it. I’ll continue to use it and will update this review if I run into anything worth mentioning.

For the testing, I used the hardware both as a standalone router and a mesh system, and, in the latter case, both with wireless and wired configurations.

For a wireless mesh, it’s important to note that the scores in the charts here are those of the best-case scenario, per the way I do my standard testing. Specifically:

  • I used the 6GHz band or 5GHz band as the backhaul.
  • The satellite node was 40 feet (13 m) away from the main router, within a line of sight.

With that, let’s check out some specifics.

ZenWiFi Pro ET12 as a standalone router: All-around excellent

As a standalone router, the ZenWiFI Pro ET12 did exceptionally well. The router delivered excellent coverage, rivaling that of the GT-AX6000.

It’s hard to put the coverage in a concrete number — it varies depending on the environment — but if you have a house of fewer than 3000 ft2 (279 m2), place it in the middle, and chances are one of its bands will reach every corner.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 Router Performance
The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12’s performance as a single router
I used a 4×4 AC (Wi-Fi 5) client for the close-range tests and a 3×3 AC client for the long-range tests.

And the performance was excellent, too, as you can see on the charts. Thanks to the 2.5Gbps LAN port, the Asus ET12 proved to be one of the fastest Wi-Fi routers to date.

ZenWiFi Pro ET12 as a mesh satellite: Excellent with wired backhaul

I tested the Asus ET12 as a mesh in all possible ways using the 6GHz (default), and 5GHz bands, and its 2.5Gbps connection as the backhaul. And as expected, the mesh performed at its best when I used a Multi-Gig wired connection to link the two units.

I manually pick either the 6GHz or 5GHz for the testing in a wireless setup. In either case, the backhaul band is not dedicated, meaning it also worked as the fronthaul to host clients.

That said, whichever band works as backhaul would have significantly lower performance compared to when it’s not — for the official scores, I used a single client at a time.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 Satellite Performance
The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12’s performance when working as a satellite node
5GHz is the backhaul band by default.
<6BH>: 6GHz band as backhaul (when applicable.)
<WBH>: Multi-Gig (2.5Gbps) wired backhaul (when available.)

I also tested the mesh in the Auto setting for its backhaul and the standard setup — again, the satellite is 40 feet away from the main router within a line of sight. In this case, the 6GHz band always worked as the backhaul. And it worked well.

However, in real-world anecdotal tests, as I moved the satellite father or behind a wall, the mesh now mostly used the 5GHz or 2.4GHz band as the backhaul. And it switched between these two somewhat randomly, causing the performance to fluctuate a great deal.

In any case, when there was a wall in between the two, I never could use the 6GHz as backhaul. This band’s range was just too short, and most importantly, it just didn’t penetrate walls well, if at all.

The good news is, no matter what setup, be it a standalone router, wireless, or wired mesh, the ZenWiFi Pro E12 proved reliable. During my week-long testing, I had no issue with disconnections, both locally and with Internet access.

A bit of advice: Don’t force the mesh to use the 6GHz band as a backhaul in a wireless scenario. That might not work. Generally, it’s best to leave the backhaul settings at Auto.

The recap

The ZenWiFi Pro ET12 is a new Tri-band router — all of its bands are needed to host 2.4GHz, 5Ghz, and 6GHz clients.

As a result, it’ll work very well if you use just one unit as a standalone router. When using two or more units in a mesh system, though, you can’t expect any of the bands to work as a dedicated backhaul.

That said, keep these three mesh scenarios in mind:

  1. It’s ideal to use a wired backhaul. In this case, the 2.5Gbps ports will give you the best performance consistently on all bands.
  2. Use the 6GHz band as backhaul. In this case, the mesh will cap at 2400Mbps or 50% of the speed of the backhaul band due to signal loss. This case is good when:
    • You can place the routers no farther than 60 feet away within a line of sight.
    • You have mostly 5GHz clients.
  3. Use the 5GHz band as backhaul. In this case, the mesh will cap likely at 1200Mbps, or 50% of the speed of the backhaul band at 80MHz — due to the use of DSF, you can’t always count on the 160MHz channel width. This case applies when:
    • You have a wall or two between the hardware units.
    • You have mostly 6GHz clients.

The takeaway is this: If you use the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 in a wireless setup, there’s no way to get the best performance out of it. Whichever band that works as the backhaul will lose at least 50% of its efficiency, and that’s the speed cap of all clients connected to the satellite.

Wi-Fi 6E explained: Its pros and cons

Like all Wi-Fi 6E mesh systems, you might hear the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 advertised with the 6GHz performance and 5GHz (or even 2.4GHz) range. That combo doesn’t exist.

Asus AiMesh GT AXE11000 and ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Here’s a Multi-Gig wired backhaul Wi-Fi 6E AiMesh system with a GT-AXE11000 and two ZenWiFi Pro ET12.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12's Rating

8.4 out of 10
Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
10 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
7 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 6E-ready, extensive Wi-Fi coverage with top performance in specific setups with possible fas Wi-Fi performance in certain setups

Dual Multi-Gig ports with multi-Gigabit wired backhauling, flexible port configurations

Excellent performance and coverage as a standalone router

Tons of useful features and settings, flexible Wi-Fi customization

AiMesh 2.0 full support, helpful mobile app, no login account required

Cool design

Cons

Bulky, no USB, only four network ports

Fluctuating performance as a fully wireless mesh due to the lack of a dedicated backhaul band

Short 6GHz range

Expensive, not wall-mountable

Conclusion

At the current hefty price tag of $899.99, the new ZenWiFi Pro ET12, as a 2-pack mesh, can be a bit of a disappointment in cost over performance ratio or an excellent buy, depending on if you have gotten your house wired.

In the latter case, which is recommended, you’ll get yourself one of the best Wi-Fi systems that will last you years.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a fully wireless setup, it’s a good idea also to check out the ZenWiFi XT8 or the ZenWiFi Pro XT12.

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158 thoughts on “Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 Review (vs ZenWiFi ET8): A Solid Multi-Gig Wired Mesh”

  1. Hello Sir – love your content. It’s insanely helpful.

    Random issue though I can’t find any data on – I have three xt12 pros.

    Main node behind a switch. Backhaul to one node. The other in my living room is wireless (albeit I can wire it for backhaul directly. I’m suspicious the ethernet needs to be redone though).

    The living room node consistently disconnects (even when it was wired).

    It keeps blinking blue to connect and I can’t figure out why.

    I read your post on disconnecting wifi but didn’t find anything that could help. Maybe I missed it though.

    Any suggestions?

    Reply
  2. Hello Dong,
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge in networking. May I ask you a question, as the Asus documentation is unclear?
    My modem is plugged into a 10G SFP+ Switch (QSW-2104-2S), then my rooms are plugged directly to the switch using the 2.5Gps ethernet plugs.
    I want to plug my ET12 pro using ethernet backhaul to have one in the living room downstairs and one in one room upstairs. I am not sure what kind of schema of connections I should use.
    What’s your view?

    Reply
    • Check out the second post in the Related Post box up the top of this post, Mahdi. Make sure you take your time when reading it. Also, you might want to check out this post to get the lingo correctly. Calling stuff arbitrarily makes it hard for you to know how to plug things, etc.

      Reply
  3. Question Dong. I never been big on switches because all the Routers I’ve purchased in the past has sufficient ports. But with the Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 I need more. I plan on hardwiring both to each other but really unsure for best performance would the switch come after the first one or the last one or does it even make a difference. I’m thinking about adding it after the last one.

    Reply
    • It doesn’t matter, David, as long as you have the switch behind the primary router unit. It’s best to use a Multi-Gig switch, though.

      Reply
  4. Hi Dong, Would I be able to use a Zyxel MG-108 off the primary unit’s 2.5 Gbps LAN port and connect the other ET12 unit and 5 other network outlets to the other ports on the switch? I wasn’t sure if I needed to leave the 2.5 Gbps LAN for wired backhaul exclusively. Thanks for your help.

    Reply
  5. Dong, always great information. Thank you.

    I’m looking for your best recommendation for an outdoor mesh repeater, hub, etc. that will help me get my network outdoors. I have a 1 acre property and my ET12 is limited to about 50 feet from the house and cuts off quickly.

    Thanks

    Reply
  6. With the ET12 Pro, if the hub and 4 primary nodes that get used the most are all wired, but there’s one outpost node that’s little used and wirelessly connected to the rest, will that cause the rest of the nodes to connect via wireless backhaul. In other words, can you mix backhaul modes (all nodes and hub would be ET12s)?

    Reply
  7. Is the ET12 silent / fanless? Thinking of using this as a single router or the Asus RT-AXE7800, but the only room with ethernet in the middle of my home is my bedroom!

    Reply
  8. Hi Dong!

    As I have started learning more about networking and looking to move away from Eero, this site has been a treasure trove of knowledge thank you!

    Just following up from Reddit, if I change the security settings from WPA2/WPA3 to WPA/WPA1, is that an issue for general security? I only ask as with the Eero 6 Pro, it automatically puts each device into the security level that it can support.

    Reply
  9. Hi Dong,

    Really appreciate all the info and work you put into this site. It has helped me tremendously.

    I have a few questions if you don’t mind, the first I don’t believe was touched on as much. I read through this post and your post on wired AI mesh setup.

    Do you recommend keeping smart connect on, or keeping the signals separate in a wired setup? My floor plan is pretty open with clear view to both routers. I guess my question is, did smartconnect cause you any issues switching between 2.4 to 5g even when you were in close range?

    Lastly, I upgraded from a single AMPLIFI alien, to the ET12 pro. I have a 1.2gb plan and was really hoping to see speeds stretch above 600-800mbps on Wi-Fi with these units, but performance has been about the same around 450-600, upload speed actually a little lower than the alien. I have a 2.5gb modem, 2.5/10gb switch. Figured going above on all my equipment would let me get the most out of my plan. Am I being unrealistic with expectations or was the alien just that solid?

    Reply
      • Hi Dong,

        Really appreciate it. Just read through. I believe more informed and I’m probably not truly testing my speeds in the best way either through my hard wired Xbox series x, though the speeds have always been consistent when testing. Alien achieving in the 900s download, deco axe5300 900s, and tp link archer axe7800 and was getting around 1.1gb download (2.5gb lan to my Xbox).

        Had the arris s33 throughout all this where my networking box is along With said routers as I didn’t have a switch and had to use the extra lans to supply wired internet throughout home.

        Along with the et12’s I also got a TEG-S762 switch, moved the modem and router to a more centralized room. Modem to 2.5gb wan, 2.5gb lan back to networking box where the switch is, 10gb port on switch to 2.5gb wan on 2nd et12, 2.5gb lan directly to Xbox. And speeds are 600-800 download, lowest tested. Going to do more searching, maybe I set something up incorrectly with the switch. Will be using the search function to find some info. I’m probably missing something obvious with the switch.

        Reply
          • Stumped. For some reason I’m just not getting the best wired speeds from the 2.5gb port on either unit when hardwired to Xbox or pc. Tested my other routers again and all are seeing higher speeds with the same setup. Going to restart on these and try again. Will call tech support as well.

  10. Hi Dong,

    hope i didnt oversee it, but i think i didnt see anything regarding link aggregating both 2.5 ports for LAN use, be it in router mode say 1g internet + 5g lan, or AP mode 5g lan/internet
    is that possible (i’ve seen its possible for WAN but what about LAN)? really wish those units had at least 2x5g ports, if not 2x10g like the rt-ax89x…

    thanks

    Reply
      • Hi Dong,
        it generaly does work that way on other devices πŸ™‚
        or are you saying it doesnt work that way on ASUS routers ?

        it does indeed work with 10G switches and 10G NIcs, also with say 10G switch and QNAP NAS with a 10G NIC
        for that matter it also works with 25G/40G/100G ports in enterprise switches that is

        Reply
        • That’s enterprise, Svetoslav. We’re talking about a home device here that is the ET12. Please read the post I linked earlier.

          If it worked with this router, I would have mentioned it.

          Don’t go around making assumptions, looking for validations, and all the while thinking you’re the one in the know. πŸ™‚

          Reply
          • Hi Dong,
            generally link aggregation is link aggregation πŸ™‚
            it would never switch to lower speed in order to form LAG πŸ˜‰
            may i ask you to read my question again πŸ™‚
            is it a ET12 limitation , or is LAG possible for 2x 2.5G ports be it in router mode or ap mode?
            it is definetly supported by most “managed” multi gig switches i think, not talking about unmanaged switches ….

            thanks πŸ™‚

          • Never say never… You call it a limitation, I’d call it a misguided expectation. The answer is no, you can’t combine those two ports into a LAG. Firmware can change that but I don’t see why Asus would do that. Even if you get a 5Gbps connection, and then what? You only have 2 Gigabit ports left, one if which must connect to something else, like the Internet or the network. There’s no way you can take advantage of the increased bandwidth. It’s pointless.

          • never say never, indeed but in most cases … πŸ™‚

            anyway … if i had a 5G lag on the ET12 connected to capable switch or NAS, couldnt i use for example 1x 2.4 client with 1.2g speed, 1 x 5GHz client with 2.4G speed + 1 x 6GHz client with 2.4G speed at the same time for accessing the NAS or generaly the LAN? (or if in AP mode same for internet)
            actually that sums up to a bit more than 5G LOL

          • You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. What 2.4GHz band gives you 1.2Gbps? In any case, I already answered you question. Please move on and waste someone else’s time, somewhere else! πŸ™‚

            Bye!

  11. Thank you for the great review.

    With AIMesh, would it be possible to have a single ET12 as main router and then ET8’s as points (all with wired backhaul)? The cost of a single ET12 + ET8 2-pack isn’t much different from the ET12 2-pack, and the ET8’s have a better SAF (Spouse Approval Factor lol) when placed around the house. Plus I would think you could still have the multigig backhaul as you would only need the single 2.5g WAN port on the ET8 points for the backhaul.

    Reply
  12. Hi Dong Ngo,
    Asus says on it’s website that the ET12 has dedicated backhaul. How come this is not true? They even mention that this new 6GHz band is better for backhaul.

    Reply
    • That’s all “true.” The 6GHz is the backhaul by default, just not permanent — you can make it available to clients. “Better” is not permanent, either. It’s a matter of degree and a vendor always picks and chooses when marketing its products. Read the review CAREFULLY and follow the links!

      Reply
      • I did read your review and that made me consider my purchase which will be deliverd today. Since I have no other option than using Wireless backhaul, the ET12 was my last choice.

        The XT8 and XT12 were crashing after a few days of usage. So I thought that the new band of the ET12 would save me…

        Asus released a new FW yesterday for the ET12. How to use the 6GHz band as a permanent backhaul?

        Reply
        • It’ll be the backhaul by default. You’ll know. If you don’t care about using it, then just a accept the default setting for backhaul. Read the review of the ET8 for more of need be.

          Anyway, read the related and linked posts if you have more questions. Don’t make assumptions or drink the vendor’s kool-aid and you will have a good experience. Good luck!

          Reply
          • You made me doubt. The XT12 uses the 2nd 5GHz as dedicated backhaul. So no other devices can connect, unless you change some settings.

            If I set-up the ET12, will the 6GHz also be dedicated? So this means that only 5GHz and 2.4Ghz are available for use?

            Or is it that the backhaul band will also be transmitted and the half of the band is backhaul and other half for 6GHz devices?

          • Read the posts! Please no more questions until you’ve done so. Make sure you REALLY read.

            Also, I didn’t make you anything. You made yourself. πŸ™‚

          • You were wrong sir. It’s possible to run the ET12 in dedicated backhaul mode. There’s an option to select wifi backhaul and fronthaul or dedicated backhaul.

            Running smooth at 6GHz dedicated backhaul atm.

          • That’s what I said in multiple places — you just didn’t pay attention. But if you use the 6GHz band as a dedicated backhaul, then you can’t use the band for clients, that’s the point. Dedicated only means that you don’t use it for anything but just the backhaul, but you can open this band for clients, too.

            I also said that if you have an airy home or place the units at a short distance from each other, the system will work. It’s a matter of degree.

            And I’m glad it worked out for you.

  13. Dong,
    I have stumbled on your website looking for Wifi routers and your work is impeccable. Seriously, great work! Now, I unfortunately read way too much in the last 2 weeks and I am getting a bit confused, and your knowledge would be invaluable.

    In a nutshell: 2 Story home with a basement (1,800 Sq.ft per floor), all CAT 6 wired. I have been using a 4x AC-1304 system (all leveraging wired backhaul); I have wifi coverage everywhere and it has been working fine until 2y ago. Now while it does still work, it often suffer from stability issues, most likely cause by me adding many devices over the years (54 devices overall, 27 on Wifis). Adding a few Sonos speakers and Wyze camera in the last 7-8 months obviously did not help … ;). Also, only 2 of my wifi devices are Wifi6 compatible (Laptop).

    My question. The AC-1304 works over 2.4 Ghz and 5Ghz (802.11ac), and considering that upgrading to a Wifi6/6E system would still heavily serve devices running on 802.11ac, would the newer hardware could (potentially) help with such problem? I wonder if a more recent system has better software/firmware functionality to better handle 802.11ac (Especially considering that the Asus ET12, TP-L XT75, or even Ubiquiti/Amplifi have more processing power).

    From all of my reading, it seems that not considering the price, all of these systems would perform better than my current setup…and be somewhat future proof for few years. But I can’t figure out if these new systems can handle Wifi5 better. I think I am suffering from a severe case of too much information! πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I would love to know your thoughts.
    Cheers

    Eric

    Reply
    • I’d look at those IP cameras (and “smart” IoT in general), Eric. They tend to use the 2.4GHz band which has little bandwidth and also the cams might upload too much which kills your upload pipe. So in your case:

      1. Check out this post on IoT and stuff.
      2. This post on QoS.

      Make sure you follow related links to find out more about stuff you’re unfamiliar with. The idea here is that simply getting new hardware might not fix your issues. And yes, your current hardware is old — and even the latest of the same type, the Nest Wifi Pro, is pretty terrible.

      After that pick one among these or these, accordingly. Since you have wired backhauling, you want a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Tri-band Wi-Fi 6E system. Good luck!

      Reply
  14. I have serious buyer’s remorse. I wrote you a few months ago and ended up buying the ET8 in December – then in February, the ET12 Pro was released, sigh. If I’d just waited a few months! I had no way to know Asus was going to release a “Pro” version, based on the previous models. Anyway, I followed your advice and wired the ET8, great, but I find the 2.4 to be so lacking and I’m wondering what’s causing it. I’m 5 feet away and both my iPhone and OnePlus are getting 40-60Mbps, granted, I use 5Ghz on the everything I can, generally, but I just test the 2.4 band now and again because I have cameras that rely on this band. I’m not rich and I don’t have money to burn, I am a geekazoid and I want everything tech in my home to be smooth running. I own Eufycam 3s (4 of them) and 1 of them has a penchant for cutting off while I’m viewing it (an example of something that doesn’t run smoothly and is thus annoying me). In your opinion, should I grab the ET12 Pro to replace my ET8? I’m not that disappointed with the ET8, I can say that I thought it’d perform a bit better for the price but I’m not sure what the baseline should be. It is THE best router system I’ve ever owned and I’ve gone through a few. Apart from issues I had with it when it was using the wireless backhaul (which you warned about), I love it. But I don’t know where their (Asus) 5500 sq ft. coverage numbers come from. My home is 4500 sq ft. and I get OK, not great coverage up and down stairs and I have both routers in such a way that one is on the NW side and the other on the SE, I figured that would get total coverage. I have 0 dead spots but as I said, that 4K camera can get flakey and it’s on the NW side of the home. I guess I’m asking if the ET12 Pro will prove itself to be a better router and worth the money I wasn’t planning to spend on it…or should I get another ET8 and put that somewhere in the “middle”, it’d have to be wireless because I don’t want to run another wire through my home.

    Thanks for your advice.

    Reply
    • The 2.4GHz is always bad, Andrew, that’s been my general experience with Wi-Fi 6 and 6E hardware. If you want to use this band, I’d recommend getting an old Wi-Fi 4 (or 5) access point (or router in access point mode) and using it on top of the new hardware, I mean it — more in this post.

      As for the best hardware, there’s none and there’s no need to wait. Get whatever works for you today. There will always be newer and better hardware down the line and Wi-Fi 7 is around the corner. You’ve done fine! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  15. Shoot, sorry. Have it all setup and I guess the house is bigger than I thought. Want to add a third that I could have wired up. Would you add a single additional ET12 or go for the ROG AXE11000 as the third part of the MESH? If the later, would it matter which was main and what were the nodes? Thanks again Dong!

    Reply
  16. HI there. Love the content Dong. Read through the reviews for the XT12, ET12 and AXE16000. I just picked up the XT12 and it’s a heck of an upgrade. Even though my house is cat6 wired,I have found it works better with with the 5ghz-2 backhaul over the wired connection (not sure why?).

    With 1GB download speed, 40 connected devices (30 wireless), a cat6 wired mid-size house and quite a few wifi 6 devices do you think it would be a better investment for the ET12 or AXE16000.

    Thanks!
    Adam

    Reply
  17. Hi, Dong. I have spent at least 8 hour reading your articles this month alone! I also clicked on some ads, just to support you. I want the absolute best WiFi 6E or WiFi 6 mesh router for a fully wireless backhaul setup (I unfortunately can’t do a wired backhaul). I have a 1,550 square foot home with a total of 9 rooms (that includes the bathrooms, living room, and kitchen). What would be your recommendation? Thank you and take care.

    Reply
    • I should have mentioned a few other things. I have a gigabit fiber optic Internet connection. I have a smart home with 50+ connected devices. I have been using the eero Pro 6 for a couple years, and it has stability issues and disconnections. (Yeah, I am aware you’re not a fan of eero, but I got them at a steep discount and before I learned of your website, unfortunately.) I want to be able to stream content on my smart TV without buffering, be always connected on my smartphones without issues, and game on my PCs. Thank you.

      Reply
        • Thanks again! I’ll definitely be purchasing the XT12 shortly. Do you have affiliate links to retailers other than Amazon? (I don’t yet know which retailer I’ll be using; I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, if that matters.) I usually use cashback portals to save a bit of money, but I’d rather use one of your links to financially support you a bit. Take care.

          Reply
          • I only have the Amazon affiliate, Victor, and purposely have no other affiliation — more here.

            Just buy it where it suits you. The commission is really low, and not worth your headache. Thanks for the thought, though. πŸ™‚

  18. Hello, I have three ASUS RT-AC5300 routers I’m looking to replace with this system. What are your thoughts on using one of the RT-AC5300’s in Bridge Mode and using the Bridge as a “wired” backhaul for the satellite 6e router? Hard wiring is not an option currently.

    Reply
    • That’d make no difference and a terrible idea, Rafael. The backhaul is still wireless. That’s like putting a cabin on top of a bicycle and call it a “car”.

      Reply
      • Appreciate the direct reply. The thinking was having all the wireless channels dedicated to wireless backhaul would be superior to the single channel the mesh router dedicates. Can you help me understand the fallacy with that line of thought? Thanks again.

        Reply
        • You’re in the no-nonsense zone, Rafael. There’s no BS here. Some folks can’t take it.

          Wireless generally can never compete with wired in performance and reliability. Consider these:

          1. Wi-Fi is susceptible to degradation due to distance and interference.
          2. You can’t use “all wireless channels” — a Wi-Fi connection takes place only on a fixed channel at any given time — the widest for now is 160MHz but in your case it will be narrower than that since the RT-AC5300 is a Wi-Fi 5 router. More in this post about Wi-Fi (you should read it.)
          3. Wi-Fi is always Half-Duplex.

          Anyhow, give the links above a good read and you’ll understand. And then, get your place wired. πŸ™‚

          Reply
  19. I’ve had the ET12 for a few months now and the WiFi 6 capabilities are excellent. That said I have three WiFi 6E devices (S22+ phone, S8 Ultra tablet & laptop w/AX210) that all have trouble consistently seeing / connecting to the 6E network.

    Are there troubleshooting steps one can try on the router config end to improve compatibility with current gen 6E capable devices?

    Reply
      • Yes, I’ve read this article.

        I have three WiFi 6E devices (S22+ phone, S8 Ultra tablet & laptop w/AX210) that all have trouble consistently seeing / connecting to the 6E network in the same room as the router within line of site so it’s not a distance issue.

        Do you have recommendations for 6E band router settings to improve visibility of 6E networks / reliability of 6E connections on 6E capable devices?

        Reply
        • I see. Generally, you should use the “Auto” setting for the channel and turn on “Preferred Scanning Channel” (PSC), if available. That’d be all. I have a few Pixel 6s and many Intel AX210 devices, with no issue at all.

          Reply
      • Hey Dong;

        I’m curious about the ET12 (and possibly ET8 as well with a FW upgrade) on a potential issue here … Do know if the ET12 can receive the new 5.9 GHz band channels like the XT12 can?

        Because if it can, as one review article I read online affirmed. Is there some kind of safety setting for the 5GHz band to prevent the ET12’s auto ch. scan circuitry from ever selecting one of the 5.9 GHz channels (i.e., chs. 169, 173, and 177) as the control channel?

        As almost all the wireless clients here, save for two late model Smartphones, cannot see any of the 5.9 GHz channels. And will therefore lose access to the entire 5 GHz band! …

        I can’t believe Asus wouldn’t have thought of this potential problem. …

        Reply
        • As far as I know, the ET12 (or any dual-band routers), doesn’t support 5.9GHz. But that might change via firmware — similar to the case of the XT8. In that case, the selection of this portion is turned off by default, you have to manually turn it on — assuming you know what you’re doing then. Believe it when I say I think you jumped the gun on this one. More on UNII-4 in this post where I explained that with more details.

          Reply
          • No I have a three node XT8 system, but what I noticed was that when I first enabled the 5.9 GHz band option on the 5 GHz-1 band and with the channel scan option left on “auto.” It selected ch. 173 as the control channel for the 160 MHz channel bandwidth option.

            This caused almost all the clients on the 5 GHz-2 band to immediately lose their connections and switch to the 5 GHz-1 band, which is no problem here.

            But this made me wonder what would happen if the ET12 (and possibly ET8) did this. Wouldn’t that cause access to the entire 5 GHz band to dissappear for most clients?

          • Read the post on UNII-4 I linked in the previous reply! And please no more questions until you have read. Thanks.

  20. Hi Dong, great review and I’m very happy with the ET12. I had a question I’m hoping someone can answer. I have three ET12 units setup with wired backhaul. The main ET12 has my primary WAN (cable modem) connection. I’d like to setup dual WAN failover using a 5G home internet gateway connected to one of the satellite nodes. I’d prefer this configuration since the satellite unit is upstairs where 5G reception is going to be better. If both WAN ports need to be connected to the main E12, I’ll need another ethernet run for WAN and I’d like to avoid that.

    Reply
  21. Hi Dong,
    I’m trying to improve my network. To be honest I’ve had the Google TPLink (Goog Device) 1 GB Ram and (2) 1.4 GHZ Proc’s for 6 years running the house for quite some time (Almost never Rebooted).

    I just want a single device to handle the home and allow me to play a single game with the least latency but my new router isn’t handling because of the count of devices. Do you think this is the one to add for device count, QOS and Gaming? I do not have a wired house & the house is AVG Sized?

    The Goog Onhub was awesome with all the kids devices and stability & the Asus RT-X86U Fast for a while but but got overwhelmed with all the devices our college kids have added… I was thinking 1 GB RAM min & Quad Core Min?

    Reply
    • I remember the OnHub, Don. It’s ancient, though, so basically, anything you get today will be better. However, no router can handle everything you want to throw at it. It’s a matter of degree. I’d recommend the highest-end hardware (single router) for your case, but no wireless mesh will help.

      Reply
  22. Does the Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 have an internal cooling fan?

    I’m debating between this and the GT-AX6000. Seems like they both have very similar internal specs. I wonder which one will have better range. From your charts, the performance seems very similar for 5GHz WiFi 6 clients.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  23. Hi Dong. Love all your reviews. You do solid work Sir. Current setup is an Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000 with two ASUS ZenWiFi AX6600 acting as nodes to fill in “slow spots” at the corners of the house. Wired backhaul running at 2.5 Gbps between the units. Looking to add at least one more to take care of one neglected corner of the house. Seriously looking at Asus ET12 to kind of future proof this setup. This upgrade would get me to 6E for everything. So that would be one new AX6600 or up to maybe 4 of the ET12’s. Would I see much difference between the two different AI Mesh nodes in this setup?

    Thanks in advance.

    Mike

    Reply
      • Thank you for the response and the correction as well. Looks like I get to go buy some fancy new hardware. One more thing if would not mind….running ATT Fiber at 2.0 gigabits. Have a Firewalla Gold as well on the network in simple mode. Ports are aggregated so I can get multiple devices able to push gigabit through the Firewalla Gold, but I cannot leverage the full fiber speed on any single device due to the speed of the devices ports. With the GT-AXE16000 in place and the ASUS suite of software it comes with, is the Firewalla overkill? And if not is it worth the hit to the speed of my internet?

        Thanks again.

        Reply
  24. Was very interested in getting this router but I would need to confirm one thing before. Does it allow settings to change the VLAN for the internet connection?

    I am currently using CenturyLink Fiber and have my own router connected directly to the ONT but in order to get that to work I needed to set up the PPPoE login and also change the internet VLAN to the one CenturyLink uses.

    Reply
    • Supposedly all Asus routers support CenturyLink’s VLAN tagging, Dan. It’s in the router’s LAN section -> IPTV. But I can’t say for sure since I don’t use the service.

      Reply
  25. Dong, thanks for the detailed reports. always learn something. I’m looking to upgrade from an old ORBI network to either NETGEAR ORBI RBKE960 or the Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12. I have a 9,000 sq ft 2 level wired home with an outside area that also needs wifi coverage. Which of the 2 ,brands s your favorite?

    Probably need a router plus 3 satellites to cover inside and out?

    But my is wired house with Cat5 not 6, does this matter?
    Thanks for your help.

    Stanley

    Reply
    • For most homes, Stanley, unless you care about true 10Gbps, there’s no difference between CAT5e and higher grades — more here. But if you talk about the actual CAT5 then it can be tricky. Some CAT5 can handle 100Mbps max, others might be able to do 1Gbps — you have to test via a real connection to find out. If yours is the former, you need to run new wires. Other than that, definitely go with the Asus ET12.

      Reply
  26. I was about ready to kick myself for jumping the gun on purchasing the ET8 so soon before the ET12 pack was released, but with the bulky footprint and no USB I don’t feel too bad.

    If Asus released a 1-pack of the ET12, I’m wondering if this scenario is possible (in a wired environment): Setup a single ET12 unit as the primary router, use the 2.5G LAN for the rest of the house (via 2.5G switch). Because the WAN ports on the ET8s are 2.5G, I could plug both of those in different rooms and employ wired AiMesh that maintains the 2.5G speed as wireless APs.

    Getting tired of waiting for Asus to upgrade their RT-AX88U to a 6E model so this alternative would be a decent solution if that worked.

    Reply
  27. I have my ET12 in ethernet backhaul mode and Tri-Band smart connect enabled. The primary node is broadcasting the SSID as expected over 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz. The secondary node (AP) shows dedicated 2.5gbps backhaul (wired) but it appears to only be broadcasting my SSID over 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Anyone have thoughts on why that may be?

    I can see the difference when I select AiMesh > Topology > Network. The difference is listed when I select the primary vs secondary node on the list. The secondary node shows a completely different SSID for 6GHz (ASUS_00_6G_Guest5) but Guest Wi-Fi is not enabled for 6GHz nor is it actually broadcasting that (confirmed with a 6E device).

    Reply
        • Hi Dong,

          I looked at your articles they are very thorough but for me 6GHz is completely missing from the AiMesh Node, the enable radio 6GHz option is not there but it works on the primary router. Wish I could provide you a screen shot, I opened up a support ticket with Asus just in case I am missing something. It’s the two pack of ET12s.

          Reply
        • Update, if I disable Tri-Band smart connect both nodes broadcast 6GHz if I enable Tri-Band only the primary does. Both ways are configured to broadcast the same SSID…

          Reply
          • Just an update. ASUS confirmed the problem and it is fixed in the most recent firmware they emailed me yesterday. Essentially the secondary ET12 was not broadcasting 6GHz only the primary one was. After the update my 6GHz devices near the second ET12 (wired backhaul) are now connecting to the 6GHz band.

          • Thanks for the update, Hector. I think it was just the issue with the interface. Glad they got that resolved.

  28. Thanks for the great info. I have setup the ET12 and it is working great! I do not have any 6ghz clients, so I have turned off the 6ghz radio in professional settings for the time being. I am curious about the β€œ802.11ax / WiFi 6 Mode” in the 5ghz and 2.4ghz settings in the professional tab. If I am not using the 6 ghz radio, is this a setting that I should disable?Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  29. Thanks for your great reviews and excellent informative posts, Dong! I’ve been reading your posts with great interest for some time now and have picked up lots of useful information.

    I’m currently running a set of AX88Us on Merlin firmware in router + AP modes for SOHO. My wired backhaul is already multi-gig capable, using a Netgear switch that supports speeds up to 10 Gbe. ISP connection is currently 1Gb.
    Haven’t used AIMesh so far, because I prefer to have control of each node’s channels to reduce interference between themselves and neighbours’ equipment.

    If I were to upgrade my routers to a multi-gig wired setup, could I run both units from a pair of ET12s in AP mode and combine them with, say, a GT-AX6000 in router mode? I realise the combo wouldn’t play nice in AIMesh, but I don’t need 6GHz support at the router location (nice-to-have at AP locations though!) and prefer manual control over channel numbers.

    Am I overcomplicating my setup? I know there’s no real future proofing a network.

    Reply
    • The answer is yes you can and yes, you’re also overcomplicating your setup. I’d just go with the ET12 in the AP mode as a mesh on top of another router — more here. I’ve been doing that using a RT-AX89X with my own 10Gbps broadband.

      Reply
  30. I have a 2500 sq ft- 2 story house. Current setup is 1 Gigabit broadband that comes into far side of house on 2nd floor. I currently have an rt-ac88u as the main router in that location. I also have another rt-ac88u in a wired mesh setup that is located in a central open area of first floor. I am looking to upgrade and am considering 1 gt-ax6000 and 1 rt-ax86u, 2 gt-ax6000 or or an ET12 (2). I have no wifi 6 devices at this time but would like to have multi gig wired mesh. I would also like to have multi gig wan in the event I were to get multi gig broadband in the future. Cost would be approx $650, $800, and $900 respecively. Cost is not my primary concern, I want get a nice upgrade to my setup and get some decent future proofing. What would be your recommendation? Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    • Any of the combos will work, Jasson. But it makes little sense to get the 2nd option. With the first two, make sure you don’t upgrade the GT-AX6000 to the recently release firmware (wait for the next one.) I’ve been using the ZenWiFi Pro ET12 and it’s been great.

      Reply
  31. Hi there
    Slightly confused re non-wired dedicated backhaul in your review?
    Looking at other reviews and the Asus website it clearly states the XT12 has a dedicated 5ghz dedicated wireless channel but in your review you state the opposite? I currently have an XT8 system and it works well using the dedicated channel? Please can you confirm why your review differs from other reviews and the Asus website please so I can understand?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Make sure you read and pay attention, Stephen — follow the related links, too, if you’re confused. And I have no comment about what you’ve seen elsewhere. That’s between you and them. πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • Thank you for your quick reply to my question on the dedicated 5ghz dedicated channel BUT I am still confused as to what you are saying – your article stated it does not have one but the Asus website states it does WHO is correct please? Appreciate you taking the time on this to provide a clear an open reply. Thanks

        Reply
        • I think you’re mistaking the model number, Stephen. This one is the ET12. In any case, pay some attention as you read, you’ll find out why this one doesn’t have a dedicated backhaul band.

          Reply
  32. Just picked up one of these based on this review…and am going to have to return it same-day. As of 3/7/2022 with latest firmware, the ET12 doesn’t fully work in AP mode.

    My situation is that I’ve got a set of static public IPs and a home that is wired with CAT6A. I’ve got ATT’s new 5GBit Internet, business class, and wanted a 2.5GBE wires backhaul. I intended to use the ET12 in an AiMesh Bridge config with its included second node and a RT-AX86u as a third.

    The issue is that as soon as I set the main router up in AiMesh/AP mode, it loses its web interface and is unreachable by either wireless (wireless Internet connectivity works) or wired clients, or the Asus Device Discovery Tool when connected to the main ET12 Pro. Internet access from wireless and wired works fine, so it’s working as a single bridge, but it’s completely unmanageable at that point.

    This same configuration works without a hitch on my RT-AX86u, which I was, again, planning on using as a node on AiMesh.

    So, long story short, while this router may be great running NAT, there’s no ability to add any nodes via AiMesh (or even log into it) after configuring it with a static IP on the WAN side. Asus Tech Support was of no help, telling me to repeatedly go to “192.168…” when I clearly articulated that I’m using routable, non-NATted IPs with a static on the WAN side of the router, as I’m using the ET12 Pro as a wireless bridge.

    Just wanted to share this with folks. If Asus can’t get this resolved, Dong – Do you suggest I just try one of Asus’s 6E Gaming Routers? I was hoping to have better-than 1GBE speeds over wireless, and this looked like the ticket….very disappointed.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing the experience, Bear. But it works in the AP mode. From what you said, it seemed you didn’t configure it properly or lost patience a bit too pronto :). But the big question is, I don’t see why you’d need to use it in the AP mode. You should use it in the default router mode and use the AT&T box in the bridge mode — the ET12 can handle static IP just fine. More in this post.

      Reply
  33. Hi Dong, if starting from scratch to build a multi-gig wired backhaul solution for three stories, what hardware would you recommend for a second satellite to complement the Pro ET12?

    Reply
    • The ET12 comes in a 2-pack, Rob. If that’s not enough, you can get another unit or another 2-pack. For the former, if you have sub-Gigabit broadband, you can use the GT-AXE11000 as the main router, as I mentioned in this review.

      Reply
  34. Hi,
    2 simple questions and I hope not to offend anyone with them and yes, I read through the review, which is the most comprehensive and useful one I ever read πŸ™‚
    – is the power input multi-voltage?
    – having 2 1Gb incoming lines and by having them seperately linked to 2 routers (Asus RT-AC88U) with cat6 cables., would I be ok to go for the ET12 model and use link aggregation and ethernet backhaul?

    Many Thanks…

    Reply
    • Valid questions, G.

      1. The power input is 110V to 240V. So far, of all the devices I’ve tested, there was just one that doesn’t support this range which is the Netgear GS110EMX Switch and I called that out. So if it’s not mentioned, then it’s 110V-240V.
      2. That’s not Link Aggregation. That’s Dual-WAN. And yes, you can use Dual-WAN with this router, as mentioned here.

      Reply
      • Many thanks for that quick response, it helped me to know that I can buy from US.
        Regarding ET12 use, I apologize to not have stated my question clearly enough:
        My current config is with 2 lines linked to 2 routers.

        My question is if it is a feasible solution to use 2 ET12 as mesh, 1 with with use of dual Dual-Wan with WAN aggregation for 2 incoming lines and LAN Link Aggregation (load balance) and using Ethernet backhaul to the 2nd ET12.

        Many thanks for your help and patience πŸ™‚

        G H W

        Reply
        • I haven’t tried that but it’s very awkward as you can imagine. Instead, on the router unit, you can use the 2.5Gbps WAN and another 1Gbps LAN port for the Dual-WAN and use the 2.5Gbps LAN as backhaul. After that connect the 2nd unit’s WAN port to the 2.5Gbps LAN port of the router unit. I mentioned that in this part of the review.

          Reply
          • Many thanks for your kind help. I am pleasantly surprised how fast and detailed your assistance is.
            Your proposed solution is absolutely correct and logical.. and I didn’t think of it… glad that you did..

  35. Hi Dong, I recently found your reviews and really appreciate the information and suggestions. I have the ET12 have been using for for about a week or so. All is working good for the most part except the 6ghz band. I’ve played around with the smart connect rule( wifi steering options) and the roaming assistant setting in the professional tab and it is still very rare that my google 6 pro ever connects to the 6ghz band. Sometimes if I turn off my wifi and then turn it back on, it will connect, however on some occasions, even if I’m right next to the router I get a max of about 60mbps when it should be blazing fast. Thats my only issue, not sure if its the router or my phone. Any advice you have on that would be much appreciated.

    Reply
    • Also wanted to add, I am using wired backhaul with the 2.5g WAN and LAN, and backhaul priority is set to Auto.

      Thanks!

      Reply
    • That’s because the band has a very short range, Shawn. As you walk around, the phone would use the 5GHz, and it finds no reason to switch to the 6GHz when you get close to the broadcaster. It happens to me, too. The best way to deal with this is to use that band as a separate SSID. In other words, don’t use Smart Connect. Most importantly, don’t worry too much about it. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  36. Excellent review, thanks Dong! I’m sticking with my XD6 for now since my house is pre-wired with cat-5e cables and I don’t plan on using multi-gig Internet. I may completely skip the WiFi 6E generation based on your reviews.

    Reply
      • First, thank you Peter for asking the question on the XD6. I too have used it for a while happily based on Dong’s recommendations.

        My curiosity, is similar. With the ET12 and someday the XT12 coming out would it be best to upgrade to one of those or also hold till WiFi 7?

        For me:

        – Wired house via CAT6 and 2.5GB switches used for backbone, etc.
        – A glorious Synology DS920+ used heavily for media streaming πŸ˜‰
        – Gig Internet
        – Yet no 6e technology

        Curious to your thoughts, and thanks for all of your great articles and insight.

        Reply
  37. Great review, as always! Dong, does the 5Ghz band support the new 5.9Ghz spectrum released by the FCC to allow for a non-DFS 160Ghz channel?

    Reply
    • No, Mario. You’ll need to wait for the GT-AX11000 Pro for that. And you might need new clients, too. I’m still waiting on the info and will write a post on this topic at a later time.

      Reply
  38. For wired backhaul, does it need to be through a switch, or can you do a straight point-to-point? My house is currently wired with a 1Gb switch. Should I upgrade the switch and backhaul through it, or can I patch from the satellite direct to the router?

    Love the write-ups, thanks!

    Reply
      • Thanks for the reply. Let me clarify my question a bit.

        I 100% plan to use a multi-gig wired backhaul. My question is whether or not that must go through a Multi-Gig switch, or could I patch the 2.5G LAN port on the base unit (in my basement) directly to the 2.5G LAN port on the satellite unit (in my office) and achieve the same results?

        Thanks again!

        Reply
          • Respectfully, if this is in the review that I read 2+ times, then I don’t see it.

            Even so, it appears you either don’t understand the question or don’t know the answer. Responding β€œread the review” is a terrible way to handle that.

    • You’re right. I felt I needed to make that clear since folks tend to think otherwise after having been fed with commercials and hype. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  39. I’m upgrading my system from wifi 5 and really like the asus features. I am trying to decide between wifi 6 vs 6e router. Mainly looking at going cheaper with a xt8 mesh system vs going all out and moving to the pro et12. I don’t currently have ethernet run but could probably do this myself if needed. What are your thoughts?

    Reply
      • Thanks but I want the XT12, just wanted to let people know they are starting to be available. I see Amazon has a place holder now too!

        Reply
        • I received my last week and started to configure as the primary router with the ISP using IPoE… only achieved 100Mb up/down vs. the 950/950 up/down on a 1Gb service. Now I have to determine of the investment is worth the hassles. Also, the software still appears to be buggy… not always able to reset the devices to factory on a first attempt.

          Reply
          • Bugs are common in Asus routers, especially those cutting-edge ones, Jeff. I generally wait for a least one firmware update before testing them… But, in your case, you might have had a Fast Ethernet device somewhere. Make sure you check on that.

  40. The dimensions seems a bit off- possibly switched around? Based on the specs in your table, the height on the ET12 is shorter than the ET8.

    Reply
  41. Hi Dong! Long time fan. I’ve been closely following ET12 info for many months and it’s no surprise that you’d be first to really talk about it now that it’s near release. I sell AT&T Fiber so it’s really exciting to see 2Gb/s and 5Gb/s speeds available in my neighborhood as the ET12 rolls out. I personally plan to take a 1 meter, 22AWG, Cat8.1, 50-micron gold plated S/FTP patch cable out of our BGW-320 Gateway’s 10Gb/s port and use a 15m variant for the wired backhaul, then speed test with an S21 Ultra and iPhone 13 Pro Max. Then possibly run some fun link aggregation hardwire desktop experiments. Too bad the ET12 doesn’t have 10Gb/s support like the new Netgear Orbi but, for the price, that system is a joke compared to the ET12 especially since you can only hardwire backhaul 2 of 3 satellites at multi-gig out of the box (unless you can link aggregate 2 10/100/1000 ports for the 3rd?). If the ET12 had 10Gb/s on each satellite instead of 2.5Gb/s then Asus would have had its silver bullet against any competitor.

    As for the lacking USB port, I only use my current Asus router’s USB port for USB fans under my router since i naturally use a real NAS. However, the beast cooling system on this ET12 leads me to believe that cooling fans won’t be necessary anymore.

    WiFi 7 will be overrated anyway since mainstream SFP28 or better is yearsss away anyway so this is the beast to buy! Signed, sealed, delivered.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the support, Jim. I think your setup will work out great, assuming the ET12 pans out well. Love your overkill wiring plan. Thanks for sharing! πŸ™‚

      Reply
    • Do you plan to set up the BGW320 in IP Passthrough mode or will you turn both Asus ET12 nodes as AP? I’d be curious about your particular setup. ATT’s just finished digging in my area but service is not yet available for the 1G service.

      Reply
      • I don’t speak for Jim, Tristan, but you should use the gateway in the bridge mode (IP Passthrough that is). Otherwise, there’s no point in getting such expensive mesh hardware — go with a few APs instead. More in this post.

        Reply
  42. I currently have a mesh system set up with wired back haul in a 1 story 3500sq ft home using 2 of the ASUS AX6100s. I need to get a router for my son’s home single story 2000sq ft and was going to take 1 of my AX6100s to use there. What would you recommend as a replacement for the 1 AX6100 in my primary home that I could add to my home mesh now that there are more 6Es coming out? Figuring I can future proof my home. I plan on doing this in late spring. Thanks

    Reply
      • Thank you for the quick reply. You are correct in that it can be futile to try and future proof with technology advancing so quickly. Figure if I need to upgrade then get whatever is available to tide me over until the next new thing. My kids do love my hand me downs!

        Reply
        • Sure, Stephan. I hear you. For your case, though, just stay with Wi-Fi 6 and move to Wi-Fi 7. The timing is good.

          Reply
    • If you want a future-proof device, wait for WiFi 7 (if you can), as it isn’t very far away (a year and a half from now) and will in theory be much faster than Wifi 5&6.
      Wifi 5&6 are already taking ethernet connections to the limit, so I can’t really think what WiFi 8 could bring to the table other than better coverage.

      Reply
  43. Which one would you recommend: Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 or Netgear Orbi RBKE963. I am actually planning to buy ET12 (when available) but after reading this post, I’m not sure if ET12 is better than RBKE963. Could you please do a review of ET12 vs RBKE963?
    Thanks πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • ET12 is only great if you have a wired backhaul, Andy, in performance. But the Netgear is terrible in features and is a money trap. Read its review for more.

      Reply
      • Thoughts on using ET12 1-pack as a standalone 6E router?

        Seems better hardware for less vs GT-AXE11000 with +1x 2.5gbps and new cpu? Also, better value vs GT-AXE16000 unless you need 10gbps or dedicated wireless backhaul?

        Reply
  44. Personally… I’m not sure what’s to be unhappy about losing the USB port.
    If you want a mini-NAS, just buy a cheap NAS.

    It’s not as if someone with $900 cash laying around for routers has problems spending $120 for a cheap Synology DS120j (which will be tons better than the router’s mini-NAS).

    Reply
    • I’d agree on the NAS front, Heffeque. But the USB port on an Asus router can do a lot more than host hosting a storage device.

      Reply
      • Other than printing, which is also not used anymore (can’t think of any modern printer that doesn’t have ethernet and/or Wi-Fi). What else does ASUS’s USB do that a NAS can’t do better? I’m genuinely interested.

        Reply

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