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Wi-Fi 6 Tube Rivals: Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs Arris SURFboard mAX Pro

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If you’re wondering which is going to win in the Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs. Arris SURFboard mAX ProThis matchup, you’re at the right place.

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs Arris SURFboard mAX Pro: Similarities

Both the AmpliFi Alien and the SURFboard mAX Pro are tri-band 4×4 mesh-ready routers. They share a similar cylindrical, internal antenna design and are super easy to use via mobile apps. Both deliver near-identical performances in my testing.

Both are available as single routers, or you can get multiple routers to form a mesh system. Neither has a full web user interface — the mobile app is the only way to use them.

AmpliFi Alien Front
The AmpliFi Alien is one cool Wi-Fi 6 router.

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs Arris SURFboard mAX Pro: Hardware specifications

Ubiquiti AmpliFi AlienARRIS SURFboard mAX Pro 
Wi-Fi TechnologyTri-Band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) AX7685Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) AX11000
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs802.11ax (2.4GHz) : up to 1148Mbps802.11ax (2.4GHz) : up to 1148Mbps
5GHz Wi-Fi SpecsHigh-band: 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 up to 4804Mbps 
Low-band: 4×4 Wi-Fi 5 up to 1733Mbps
2 x 5GHz AX: 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 up to 4804Mbps
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax
AP ModeYesYes
Mesh-readyYesYes
Mesh OptionsMultiple Routers or Alien Kit 
(Router + MeshPoint)
Multiple Routers
160MHz Channel SupportNoYes
Gigabit Port (as Single Router)4x LAN, 1x WAN3x LAN, 1x WAN
Link AggregationNoNo
Dual-WANNoNo
USBNoneNone
Mobile AppAmpliFiARRIS SURFboard mAX Manager
Processing Power2.2 GHz 64-Bit Quad-Core CPU1.8GHz quad-core CPU, 
512 MB of RAM, 1 GB of flash
Dimensions9.84-inch (250 mm) tall, 
4.33-inch (110 mm) wide
9.64-inch (245mm) tall, 
5-inch (127mm) wide
Weight2.65 lb (1.2 kg)2.21 lbs (1kg)
Hardware specifications: Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs Arris SURFboard mAX Pro

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs. Arris SURFboard mAX Pro: Differences

There are some clear differences between these two, from their looks to what they have on the inside.

The Alien is a much cooler-looking router with a high-end touchscreen and a bright ring of a status light at its bottom. Also on the bottom is the router’s WAN port. The rest of its LAN ports are on its back.

AmpliFi Alien Box WAN
The AmpliFi Alien has a Gigabit WAN port on its underside and four Gigabit LAN ports on the back.

It has some unique features, including the TelePort VPN for mobile devices and the ability to block online ads. There’s also a simple one-page web user interface where you can turn on a few settings.

Apart from using multiple routers, there’s also an Alien Kit that includes a router and an Alien MeshPoint. In a mesh setup, you also have the option of using a network cable to link the hardware unit to deliver the best possible performance.

On the downside, the Alien is an unconventional tri-band router with one Wi-Fi 6 2.4GHz band, one Wi-Fi 5 5GHz band, and one Wi-Fi 6 5GHz band. As a result, in a mesh setup, it doesn’t have a dedicated backhaul band. What’s more, it doesn’t support 160MHz channels.

The SURFboard mAX Pro is a traditional tri-band router with a dedicated 5GHz band when working in a mesh. It also supports 160MHz channels. The downside is it has no features and almost no network settings to customize.

What’s more, you can’t use wired backhaul with the mAX Pro, making it unsuitable for a wired home.

ARRIS mAX Pro Ports
The SURFboard mAX Pro’s has all of its ports on the underside.

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs Arris SURFboard mAX Pro: Performance and ratings

These two deliver similar performance in my testing, except for Wi-Fi 5 clients where the Arris was clearly better. By the way, in my testing, the Arris didn’t work in the 160MHz, which was quite disappointing.

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien's Rating

8.5 out of 10
AmpliFi Alien
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8/10
Design and Setup
9/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Reliable and fast Wi-Fi with excellent coverage

Sleek design, sufficient web interface, and well-designed mobile app

Convenient and free Teleport VPN

Built-in ad-blocking feature

Mesh-ready

Cons

Limited in conventional settings and features

Unconventional tri-band setup with no dedicated backhaul when used in a mesh setup

VPN requires an app or an Android emulator to work on regular computers

No Multi-Gig port, not wall-mountable

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs. Arris SURFboard mAX Pro

ARRIS Surfboard mAX Pro's Rating

7.1 out of 10
Arris mAX Pro Mesh System
Performance
8/10
Features
5/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
7/10

Pros

Gigabit-class Wi-Fi speeds

Dedicated backhaul; exceptional Wi-Fi coverage

Easy to use mobile app

Well-thought-out, compact, fan-less design

Cons

Expensive

No web interface, the mobile app feels unfinished and severely lacks features and Wi-Fi settings

Each router has only four network ports and no multi-gig port

Not wall-mountable

Which is the better choice?

This is an easy one.

You should definitely pick the Alien over the mAX Pro. It’s more fun to use, more reliable and has some unique and valuable features for home users. You’ll even probably love it.

In fact, the mAX Pro is so poor in features and settings that it has nothing on the Alien, despite the higher Wi-Fi scores.

Looking to compare other Wi-Fi solutions? Check them all out here.

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