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ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12: Two Identical yet Completely Different Mesh Options

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If you’re confused between ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ZenWiFi Pro ET12, you’re not alone. Differentiated by a single letter, their model names seem to be a mean trick Asus plays on us all.

While there are a lot more similarities between these two than their monikers, they are also very different mesh systems.

This ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12 matchup — intended to be the supplement to their in-depth reviews — will help you walk away knowing exactly which to buy.

And that’s important because while each can be excellent in its own way, getting the wrong one for your situation will prove problematic, to say the least, considering they are expensive hardware to boot.

ZenWifi Pro XT12 vs ZenWiFi Pro ET2
ZenWifi Pro XT12 vs ZenWiFi Pro ET2: Spot the x number of differences between these two retail boxes.

ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12: More than just a letter apart

These two mesh sets have just one letter in their name that sets them apart: XT12 vs ET12.

Per Asus’ naming convention, X is short for Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), and E is for Wi-Fi 6E (802.11axe). The letter T signifies that these are Tri-band broadcasters — they both have three Wi-Fi bands.

Physically, the two look identical. You can only tell them apart when you turn them on. Now the light on their “fronts” — it’s hard to know which side is the front — will show their full name. You can also check their undersides where their models are printed.

And there are even more similarities, as you’ll note in the hardware specifications below.

Hardware specifications: ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ZenWiFi Pro ET12

ZenWiFi Pro XT12
Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router
ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Router
ModelXT12ET12
Mesh SupportAiMeshAiMesh
Pre-Synced HardwareYesYes
Dimensions 
(WxDxH)
4.53 x 4.53 x 9.45 in
(11.5 x 24.1 x 11.5 cm)
4.53 x 4.53 x 9.45 in
(11.5 x 24.1 x 11.5 cm)
Weight3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)3.3 lbs (1.5 kg)
Wi-Fi DesignationTri-band AX11000Tri-band AXE11000
1st Band
(2.4GHz)
4×4 AX 
Up to 1,148Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4×4 AX 
Up to 1,148Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2nd Band
(5GHz)
4×4 AX 
Up to 4800Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4×4 AX 
Up to 4800Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
3rd Band5GHz-2
4×4 AX 

Up to 4800Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
6GHz
4Γ—4 AXE 
Up to 4800Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
UNII-4 SupportYesNo
Dedicated Backhaul5GHz-2No
Wired BackhaulGigabit or Multi-Gig
(No switch needed)
Gigabit or Multi-Gig
(No switch needed)
Backward Compatibility802.11ac/n/g/a/b802.11ac/n/g/a/b
Firmware Asuswrt:
– Comprehensive web interface
– Optional Asus Router mobile app
– Lots of features
– No login required
Asuswrt:
– Comprehensive web interface
– Optional Asus Router mobile app
– Lots of features
– No login required
AP ModeYes
(as a router or a mesh)
Yes
(as a router or a mesh)
Gigabit Port2x LAN2x LAN
Multi-Gig Port1x 2.5Gbps WAN
1x 2.5Gbps LAN
1x 2.5Gbps WAN
1x 2.5Gbps LAN
Link AggregationYes
(WAN and LAN)
Yes
(WAN and LAN)
Dual-WANYesYes
USB PortNoneNone
Processing Power2.0GHz quad-core CPU, 
256 MB Flash, 1GB RAM
2.0GHz quad-core CPU, 
256 MB Flash, 1GB RAM
Firmware Version
(at review)
3.0.0.4.386_497233.0.0.4.386_47636
Power Consumption
(over 24 hours)
β‰ˆ 335 Whβ‰ˆ 310 Wh
Power AdapterDC 100-240VDC 100-240V
Release Date
(in the US)
August 2022February 2022
US Retail Price
(at launch)
$799.99
(2-pack)
$899.99
(2-pack)
Hardware specifications: ZenWiFi Pro ET12 vs ZenWi-Fi ET8

ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12: The third Wi-Fi band changes everything

While both are Tri-band hardware, they are of two different types.

The ZenWiFi Pro XT12 is a traditional Tri-band with an additional 5GHz band (the 5GHz-2). So it has 2.4GHz and two 5GHz bands (5GHz-1 and 5GHz-2).

Dual-band vs Tri-band vs Quad-band — what’s really going on?

ZenWifi Pro XT12 vs ET2ZenWifi Pro XT12 vs ET2 LIghts On
ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ZenWiFi Pro ET12: You must turn them on and look at the front lights to know which is which.

On the other hand, as a Wi-Fi 6E device, the Zen Wi-Fi Pro ET12 has a 2.4GHz band, a 5GHz band, and a 6GHz band.

Additionally, on the 5GHz-2, the XT12 supports the latest UNII-4 portion to have a third 160MHz band which is free for DFS channels. By default, the ET12’s 6GHz band doesn’t have to deal with DFS.

The way they are, the ET12 must use all of its three bands for clients; it can’t dedicate any of them solely for the backhauling job. Consequently, in a wireless backhaul setup, whichever band works a the backhaul will lose 50% of its bandwidth — it’s the inherent signal loss.

In the case of the XT12, the 5GHz-2 band can work solely as the backhaul, allowing all bands to work at their full capacity. And the support for UNII-4 means the backhaul can consistently deliver the best possible performance.

UNII-4: What 5.9GHz is and how it matters in a mesh

While you can use both mesh systems with wired- or wireless backhauling, the XT12 is designed for a wireless setup, and the ET12 works best in a wired environment.

And that’s the most significant difference between the two. One more thing: the ET12 is $100 more expensive.

ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12: Can I use both together?

Technically, we’re supposed to be able to use the XT12 and ET12 hardware together in a single mesh system, per the way AiMesh works. And eventually, that likely will be the case.

ZenWiFi Pro XT12 No Playing Well
The message I got when adding the ZenWiFi Pro XT12 to my GT-AXE16000 Wi-Fi 6E (or the ZenWiFi Pro ET12). While this might change, it’s not a good idea to mix Wi-Fi standards in a mesh system, anyway.

For now, in my trial, that was not possible yet. No matter how much I tried, I couldn’t link them together. The AiMesh setup process would just fail every single time. And I tried many times.

And I couldn’t add the XT12 to my GT-AXE16000, either, which has worked very well with my ET12 set — as mentioned in this post on AiMesh combo with Multi-Gig backhauling.

While all this will likely change via firmware upgrades, mixing Wi-Fi standards is never a good idea in a mesh setup, and you should only do so, which you shouldn’t, with wired backhauling. Else the management of different Wi-Fi “banding” can get too complicated.

ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12: Performance and ratings

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 pots with Multi-Gig wired backhaul, 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

Cros

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

ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12 Router Performance Long RangeZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12 Router Performance Short Range
ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ZenWiFi Pro ET12: The two share similar performances as single routers.

In my trial, the XT12 and the ET12 delivered similar real-world performances. However, in a mesh setup, the XT12 is better because its backhaul band — the 5GHz-2 — is dedicated and has a much better range than the ET12’s default 6GHz band.

With wired backhauling — not shown here — they were very similar. And the support for the 6GHz band is the ET12’s advantage.

ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12 Satellite Performance Long RangeZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12 Satellite Performance in Short Range
ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ZenWiFi Pro ET12: In a fully wireless mesh setup, the former has the edge over the latter, thanks to the dedicated backhaul band.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro XT12's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus ZenWiFi Pro XT12 out of Box
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
10 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
9 out of 10

Pros

Excellent Wi-Fi performance and coverage, UNII-4 support

Dual Multi-Gig pots with Multi-Gig wired backhaul, flexible port configurations

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

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

Cool design with pretty lighting

Cros

No 5Gbps or 10Gbps Multi-Gig, bulky, no USB, only four network ports

Buggy Dual-WAN, not wall-mountable

ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12: Which you should buy

You can buy either or none no matter your situation and the world will keep spinning for the foreseeable future.

But in case you’re contemplating between the two, here’s the recap for a smart purchase:

The ZenWiFi Pro XT12 is traditional Tri-band hardware. As such, it works great in a fully wireless mesh setup. You should get it if you live in a large home and are too lazy to run network cables.

The Zen Wi-Fi Pro ET12 is a new Tri-band hardware — it works best with wired backhauling. Get it if you intend to use a network cable to link the hardware.

If you use them in reversed situations, they will still work. It’s just a matter of degrees, of which the satisfaction level depends on how carefully you’ve read this post and the hardware’s in-depth reviews.

If you only need a single unit, my take is the ET12’s support for the 6GHz band is more valuable than the XT12’s support for UNII-4 (or the fact it has a second 5GHz band). But either will do just fine and you’ll save some dough going with the XT12.

And, like always, the call is yours.

Need to save even more, consider the choice between the ZenWiFi XT8 vs ET8.


Want to see more Wi-Fi solutions compared against each other? Check them all out here.

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12 thoughts on “ZenWiFi Pro XT12 vs ET12: Two Identical yet Completely Different Mesh Options”

  1. Many thanks for this comparison, I found it very helpful. Since I intend to configure using a wired backhaul, I am leaning toward the ET12 (per your recommendation). However, several of the computers I will be connecting wirelessly are likely too far away to benefit from the 6GHz band due to its limited range. Additionally, I live in the heart of the city (with neighbors in close proximity with their own wireless setups). In such a case, am I better off with the XT12 (in a wired backhaul configuration) because of Unii-4? Either way, I think it’ll be a huge improvement over my current setup. Many thanks again.

    Reply
  2. I’ve been using 4 x XT12 for the last 4 months via wireless backhaul and very happy so far – they have native Merlin firmware support and have been much more stable in my environment than a combo of 2 x AX11000 and 2 x XT8 I used before.

    Reply
  3. Thank you for correcting me! Up until reading your article I thought they were the same, except one was a 1 pack and the other was a 2 pack!

    Reply
  4. Very useful comparison, thanks. Even with a wired backhaul setup however, given there really aren’t very many 6GHz clients out there and that 6GHz has substantially worse performance at distance that 5GHz, don’t you think there is an argument for an XT12 based mesh in that you are gaining a lot more 5GHz capacity in an environment where one has a lot of wireless clients all operating at the same time so you spread them across both 5GHz bands?

    Reply
      • So I read just re-read what you wrote on using two 5GHz bands and my situation may be somewhat not unique but not common, but I live in an area where there is very little contention for 5GHz wavelength (I live in the outskirts of a not very big city which also means that while I can still get Xfinity Gbps service the number of homes serviced by a neighborhood node is pretty small so even busy times don’t have much Internet contention) so pretty much all of the 5Ghz channels are free and clear. In this case, where I assign different SSIDs to the two 5GHz bands and I’m prepared to manually load balance the clients by only giving them access to one or the other 5GHz band, doesn’t my argument hold water?

        Reply
        • It does, Randall. But like I said, your mileage will vary since Wi-Fi is invisible. Chances are you’ll experience no difference one way or the other. But generally, it doesn’t hurt to have that “extra” band. Having an entire 6GHz band is better, though. So get the GT-AXE16000 if you want to have both. πŸ™‚

          Reply

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