Home Wi-Fi 6 Solutions Compared: A Quick Take on Which to Get

A bunch of cool TP Link and Asus routers
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The only way to avoid the pain of having to pick is to get them all!

I frequently receive requests regarding which Wi-Fi 6 router or mesh system to get among similar solutions. Those along the lines of “This one vs. that one, which would you pick for yourself?”

It’s a kind of decision so subjective there’s no straightforward answer. (Plus, I have them all — I don’t need to choose!) That said, instead of answering these questions individually and risking repeating myself to death, I’ll put that all in this post.

It’s a good idea to follow the links here for the full reviews, but if you’re in a hurry, this post will nudge you toward one of those few you’ve had in mind.

I’ll update this post as I review more similar Wi-Fi 6 solutions, but one thing remains: No one router will give you everything! 

Dong’s note: This is a frequently updated post.

Asus RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX82U

Hardware specifications

Asus RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX82U: The quick take on which to get

Asus calls both the RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U “gaming routers,” and indeed, both include a lot of features for gamers. However, neither is a true router for online gaming the way the GT-AX11000 is. Among other things none support the special VPN for gamers, called WTFast.

Both routers share the same 4×4 5 GHz Wi-Fi specs and can deliver top speeds thanks to the support for the venerable 160 MHz channel width.

Finally, the two share the same robust web interface with a ton of features and settings, including the support for AiMesh. Either will be a reliable standalone router that can host a Wi-Fi system when more routers jump in the mix.

Specs-wise, the RT-AX86U is a more powerful router. It has more processing power, higher Wi-Fi specs on the 2.4 GHz band, and a 2.5 Gbps LAN/WAN port. As a result, it’s generally faster, has slightly better range, and can work as a much better mini NAS server.

In short, I call the RT-AX86U the best dual-band router to date for a reason.

Design-wise, though, the RT-AX82U is a much cooler-looking router. It comes with a futuristic look and a front mood lighting that you can program to the max. For what it’s worth, it’s a much better conversation starter.

AsusRT AX86Uvs82u 1
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The RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U are both excellent routers. The choice between them depends mostly on your style.

If you want the best dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router to date, pick the RT-AX86U. But if you can live with sub-Gigabit connection speed and like to impress others, the RT-AX82U is right up your alley. And in this case, its slightly lower cost doesn’t hurt.

Hardware specifications

These three are mid-tier mesh systems for the budget-minded.

They are not exactly affordable, but sure cost significantly less than the higher-end alternatives. All come with a 3-pack — you have more options in terms of hardware placement and possibly better coverage.

The three support wired backhaul, meaning you can use network cables to link the hardware units, which is a recommended setup, anyway.

There are a lot of differences between these three. First, the Asus and Netgear share almost the same specs and are more affordable than the TP-Link. But their hardware is a bit inferior.

While all three are dual-band 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 systems, the TP-Link has the support for the venerable 160 MHz channel width and, therefore, can theoretically deliver double the bandwidth compared to the two. (That proved to be not the case in my testing, though.) It also comes with three identical routers, each having enough network ports for a daisy-chain wired backhaul setup.

The ZenWiFi AX Mini and Netgear Nighthawk MK63 each include a router and two satellites that have two and one Gigabit network ports, respectively. As a result, it’s a bit harder to wired them all together.

In return, the ZenWiFi AX Mini comes with a lot more features and settings than the TP-Link. It also doesn’t require a login account with its vendor, while the Deco X60 does. The Netgear is somewhere in middle on this front.

Three Mesh systems
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You should only consider either of if you have a modest broadband connection or if you have gotten your home wired. A dual-band mesh will generally work, but the speed will be much lower than you’d expect from a Wi-Fi 6 system.

After that, it’s the question of privacy, features, performance, and ease of use.

The Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini is a better answer on the first three. The Netgear Nighthawk MK63 is the middle of the road. And if you’re looking to daisy-chance hardware unit via network cables, the TP-Link Deco X60 is the only choice.

Hardware specifications

From the look and the name, you can guess that these two routers share a lot in common. And they indeed do.

Both are massive tri-band routers with top-notch hardware specs. The two share almost the same squarish physical size with eight removable antennas. Both have a robust web interface with a ton of useful features, including free-for-life online protection.

As for performance, both routers support the 160MHz channel bandwidth and delivered speedy Wi-Fi rates when working with both Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5 clients. They also feature LAN Link Aggregation, where you can combine two ports into a 2Gbps connection.

And finally, both routers are marketed as high-end routers for gamers.

There are quite a few major differences between the two.

First and foremost, the Asus GT-AX11000 is a real gaming router with game-specific features. It also comes with a 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN port, in addition to its 1Gbps WAN port and four Gigabit LAN port.

What’s more, it has more features, including the support for support Dual-WAN, WAN Link Aggregation, and the ability to function as part of an AiMesh system.

The Archer AX11000, on the other hand, is not a gaming router. In fact, its gaming veneer might cause issues for gamers. It also doesn’t have a multi-gig LAN port, but only a 2.5Gbps WAN port. In return it has eight (instead of four) Gigabit LAN ports.

The lack of a multi-gig LAN port means in real-world performance, the TP-Link generally caps at 1Gbps. On the other hand, you can easily get faster-than-Gigabit Wi-Fi rates with the Asus.

Design-wise, the Archer AX11000 is nicer-looking with much better antenna design — you can quickly attach/detach its eight antennas with ease. On the other hand, it’s a pain to deal with the GT-AX11000’s.

AX1000Routers 1
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As a single router, both the Asus GT-AX11000 and TP-Link Archer AX1000 will be able to take care of a large home when place in the middle. Either will give you an excellent Wi-Fi experience.

But you can do a lot more with the Asus, including the ability to expand your network by adding more AiMesh routers. Most importantly, if you’re a gamer, definitely pick it over the TP-Link counterpart.

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien Mesh Kit vs. Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 AX6000

Hardware specifications

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien Kit vs. Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 AX6000: The quick take on which to get

Both the Alien Kit and Netgear Orbi RBK852 are Wi-Fi 6 mesh solutions that include a router and a mesh satellite. As a result, if you need no more than two hardware pieces to blanket your home, they are mostly the same.

Both are tri-band solutions, and neither supports 160MHz channels. For this reason, they cap at 1200 Mbps (and not 2400 Mbps) when working with currently available 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients.

The two systems share similar hardware costs, with the suggested retail price of around $700. In real-world usage, both deliver the same performance, at least for now, considering we only have 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients.

There are so many differences between these two.

Hardware options:

The Orbi includes a router and a mesh satellite. After that, you can extend the system by adding more satellite units as you want. The router unit, however, can not work as a satellite unit.

The Alien’s satellite unit, called MeshPoint, is not available by itself and permanently synced to the router of the same kit. As a result, you can’t extend an Alien mesh system by adding more MeshPoint units. Instead, you’ll need more Alien routers, which can also work as mesh points.

The Orbi Wi-Fi 6 router includes a 2.5Gbps WAN port and the ability to combine it with another LAN port to deliver a 2Gbps WAN connection when working with a supported modem. The Alien is a pure Gigabit wired solution.

Software options:

The Orbi features a full web interface and includes all basic and advanced network settings for those who want to customize their system. There’s also an optional Orbi mobile app for mobile users.

The Alien uses the mobile app primarily, therefore, has a limited amount of network settings and features. It has a simple one-page web interface where you can turn a few settings on or off.


Ultimately, the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 has all the elements present in previous Orbi systems, including a paid online protection feature called Armor and a robust parental control feature via Circle by Disney. Both are currently not yet available, though, and you’ll have to wait till future firmware available later this year.

The Alien has just two notable features, including ad-blocking and Teleport VPN. It does have an internet restriction feature — or “Parental Controls,” as Ubiquiti calls it — which is a bit too simplistic.

Teleport is quite excellent, both in ease of use and effectiveness, despite the fact it’s only available to mobile devices, and not a regular computer. The ad-blocking feature is somewhat hit or miss. Some ads can still get through, and you can’t customize it to allow ads on specific sites.

The Orbi has VPN, too, but it’s standard and therefore requires a bit of work to set that up.

The Orbi has a dedicated backhaul band — one of its two 5GHz bands — and therefore has almost no signal loss. It’s fast.

The Alien, on the other hand, doesn’t have a dedicated backhaul band. But it’s the only mesh I’ve known that allows users to pick which band to work as backhaul.

AlienvsOrbi 1
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It’s hard to say which is better between these two. But if you want something fresh, fun, easy-to-use, the Alien kit is a better choice. It’s worth the risk.

On the other hand, if you want simple network customization, a brand name you can trust, the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 is a more of a peace-of-mind decision.

Asus GT-AX1100 vs. Netgear RAX200

Hardware specifications

Asus GT-AX1100 vs. Netgear RAX200: The quick take on which to get

These two are the currently the top-notch tri-band Wi-Fi 6 routers on the market. They are massive network devices of different designs.

Both are tri-band routers capable of delivering 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 speeds on 160MHz channels (up to 4.8Gbps) in a single Wi-Fi connection. Since there are only 2×2 clients on the market, for now, they have the speeds up to 2.4Gbps, which is still crazy fast.

READ NOW:  Dual-band vs. Tri-band Wi-Fi and that Burning Bandwidth Question

Both also have a 2.5Gbps network port and support Link Aggregation to deliver faster-than-Gigabit wired speeds. They also share the same number of Gigabit network ports, including one WAN and four LANs. The two delivered similar Wi-Fi coverage in my testing.

Finally, both routers have a full web user interface and a useful mobile app.

The RAX200 is one of the coolest routers you can get. It looks like hardware coming out from the StarWars universe. The Asus GT-AX1100, on the other hand, is quite ugly, being a square box, with loose detachable antennas.

But the GT-AX11000 has a ton of extras, including AiMesh, AiProtection, and game-specific features. It also includes in-depth Wi-Fi settings and useful networking tools, like Wake-on-LAN. The RAX200, on the other hand, has a standard feature set with modest Wi-Fi settings.

The RAX200 works well right out of the box. Wi-Fi 6 clients consistently connect to it at full speeds. The GT-AX11000 requires a bit of tweaking before it works well, likely due to buggy firmware. But Asus pushes out new firmware updates quite regularly.

GT AX11000vsRAX200 1
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Get the Asus GT-AX11000 if you’re a gamer or an advanced user who enjoys tinkering with the settings. If you want something fast and reliable with minimum effort, and don’t care about gaming or online protection features, the Netgear RAX200 is a better fit.

Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120

Hardware specifications

Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: The quick take on which to get

These two are dual-band 4×4 routers, capable of delivering up to 4.8Gbps in a single Wi-Fi 6 connection, or 2.4Gbps to existing 2×2 clients. They somewhat like the GT-AX11000 and RAX200 above, respectively, minus a 5GHz band.

The RT-AX88U has a standard design of a Wi-Fi router while the RAX120 is an awesome looking piece of hardware (it shares the same design as the RAX200).

Port-wise, the RAX120 has the usual one Gigabit WAN port, four Gigabit LANs plus one 5Gbps LAN port — currently the fastest multi-gig port for a home router. The RT-AX88U has no multi-gig port at all, but it has eight LAN ports and one WAN port, all are Gigabit.

Similar to the pair above, the RT-AX88U has a lot of features but is a bit buggy. The RAX120 has a standard feature set, minimum Wi-Fi settings, but it works well right out of the box.

RAX120vs RT AX88U
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Get the Asus RT-AX88U if you want extra LAN ports and don’t mind tweaking the settings, and you don’t care about multi-gig wired speeds.

The Netgear RAX120 is a better fit for those wanting reliable performance out of the box, the support for multi-gig, or the fastest NAS performance when hosting an external storage device.

Hardware specifications

These three routers are very similar in terms of specs. All are dual-band 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 router with the support for the venerable 160MHz channel width. They are the sweet-spot routers considering there are only 2×2 Wi-Fi clients on the market.

All of them also have a full web interface with a similar set of features and settings. Each also has a free app for mobile users. Hardware-wise, they have the usual 4 Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN port, and one USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB 3.0) port.

None has a multi-gig network port. But the RT-AX3000 has Dual-WAN while the Archer AX50 has LAN Link Aggregation. The Netgear RAX40 has neither.

In my testing, they all had similar Wi-Fi coverage, which is only suitable for a small home. So if you live in one, these routers will give you the best Wi-Fi 6 bang for your buck, costing less than $180 each.

There are some differences between these routers.

Design-wise, the Netgear RAX40 is better looking, but it’s also the bulkiest. The TP-Link AX50 and the Asus RT-AX3000 are a lot more compact, with the latter being the smallest and lightest, but also a bit boring coming in the traditional router design.

The Asus delivered the best performance among the three in my testing and is the one with the most feature. It’s also the most expensive.

The Asus as an excellent QoS engine — especially for those working from home — but its Parental Control feature could use some improvement. The other two’s QoS features are a bit hard to configure. The Netgear has no Parent Control while that of the TP-Link is the most effective.

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These are very similar routers. But if you want the most features, especially if you want an effective QoS and the best performance, the Asus RT-AX3000 is the best choice.

Between the other two, it’s a matter of whether you like Netgear or TP-Link.

Even though there are little differences between the Netgear Nighthawk RAX40 and the TP-Link Archer AX50 in my testing, in real-world usage, you might not notice the difference between the two at all.

Finally, the TP-Link’s lower price, as well as its excellent Parental Control feature, can be a bonus.

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs. Arris SURFboard mAX Pro

Hardware specifications

Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs. Arris SURFboard mAX Pro: The quick take on which to get

Both the AmpliFi Alien and the SURFboard mAX Pro are tri-band 4×4 mesh-ready routers. They share similar cylindrical designs 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.

The Alien is a much cooler looking router with a high-end touchscreen and a bright ring of a status light at its bottom. 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. For more on the Alien Kit, check out its full review here.

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, either.

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.

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As a single router, you should pick the Ubiquiti Amplifi Alien over the Arris SURboard 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.

For the same token, the mAX Pro has nothing on Alien. That’s especially true since, in my testing, it didn’t work in the 160MHz when serving clients, either.

As a mesh system, the Alien offers more hardware choices. Its mesh point is slightly slower due to the lack of a dedicated backhaul band, but overall, it’s a better choice than the mAX Pro.

Wi-Fi 6 Routers Compared: A note on performance testing

I tested all Wi-Fi 6 routers using a few 2×2 clients since there are no faster clients on the market. As a result, you’ll find the performance of all Wi-Fi 6 routers to be quite similar since the speed of their network port (predominantly Gigabit) is the bottleneck.

What makes the most significant difference between them is the support for the 160MHz channels. With the support for these channels, a Wi-Fi 6 router can deliver up to 2.4Gbps of negotiated speed; without, you’ll get 1.2Gbps at most.

Note that for Wi-Fi 5 tests, I use a 4×4 client (1733Mbps) for the close-range tests and a 3×3 client (1300Mbps) for the long-range. The reason is there is no 4×4 Wi-Fi 5 adapter for laptops, and I can’t move my desktop around.

On the 2.4GHz, I only use Wi-Fi 6 client for the tests. Generally, on this band, there’s little or no difference between Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 clients.

The result always fluctuates a great deal and is much lower than the ceiling speeds. That’s just how it is on this band. The numbers on the charts did come from my rigorous testing, but, still, you should use them only for reference.

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82 thoughts on “Home Wi-Fi 6 Solutions Compared: A Quick Take on Which to Get”

  1. Okay, so it’s mid-September 2020, and I should upgrade my wifi setup. I have a two story house with a finished basement so I think 3 unit solution will work best? I’ve got a gamer upstairs, laptops all over the place, a desktop on the main floor and in the basement, in-house wiring to *most* rooms, and about 100 wifi devices including 25-30 smart home devices (switches, light bulbs, doorbells, cameras) that are always on. And 4 Roku streaming heads.

    I’d like to be able to enforce some parental controls, some students need to sleep at 3am and he wakes the dogs, who then start barking. Currently Mac Address randomization is defeating my parental controls implemented at the network.

    Best advice you can suggest?

  2. Hi Dong,

    Thank you for all your thoughtful advice.

    I am replacing two routers, one upstairs and one downstairs, connected with Ethernet which I can use for the mesh backhaul.

    ASUS XT8 or AX86U – Is one or the other a better choice?

    Two AX86Us are just a little more than an XT8 set, so price isn’t a big factor.

    XT8 has the third channel, but it’s not clear to me how AiMesh uses both 5GHz channels for clients.

    AX86U has more processing power, more ports, which I could use, and better 2.4MHz specs, though I don’t think I really need it.

    Do you know which has better potential range? This is probably my biggest decision factor.


      • Hi Dong,

        Do you know how many total units you can chain together with this system? I believe you recommended the same units to me as well. I sthis the same unit as Asus XT8 ZenWi-Fi AX6600 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System? I cannot seem to find anywhere that tells me the maximum amount of units I can chain together to increase coverage area. I need as many as possible

  3. Hello,
    I wanted your thoughts/suggestions on the ASUS ZenWiFi AX XT8 vs. the Amplifi Alien. Im looking for one that has good speed up and down with range about 65 feet through walls for security cameras and lots of streaming that has good consistency? Any thoughts appreciated.

    • A single Alien router won’t have a better range than the XT8 which is a 2-pack, Manny. So if you need larger coverage, go with the former. But if you choose the Alien Mesh Kit (it’s also a 2-pack) then it’ll be slightly better than the XT8, mostly thanks to its ease of use.

      • thanks for the reply. I get what your saying about the single compared to the 2-pack. Single wise units would you say they are equal in the amount of speed for upload and download plus the range would be the same for each if it was a single? thanks for your input.

  4. Hi Dong,

    I really respect your reviews and thanks for doing a great Job !!

    I have a 3000 square ft single floor house with 4 rooms.

    My router is placed in the center of the house. As it is an old house there is no provision of wiring.

    Kindly suggest which Wi-Fi router will be best to cover my house.

  5. When you test 5Ghz speeds, what channels do you use? I find that DFS channels at times perform at a higher bit rate than non-dfs channels. Of course the problem with DFS, is auto frequency hopping if radar is detected. But I would like if you could indicate to your readership what frequency channels you use…

  6. So my ar700 “died”and have put in orbi 4200 system from costco as a band aid. Im debating between getting 5 asus ax11000 with aimesh or the new orbi-pro 6 system. I have a 9000 sq ft home and no ability to do a wired backhaul. Heavy use for home office video games and zoom schooled Teenage kids.

      • I have been comparing the orbi pro 6 and i cant see any real advantage over the as ax11000 except that it is newer. Not having 160 hz channel on the orbi 6 pro goes against it.

        I was also thinking about the new wifi-e version of the 11000 that asus announced. Theoretically, wouldnt the 6 ghz channel mean that the routers would have to be placed closer together in order for aimesh to work? I was kind of disappointed, was hoping for a quad band router so that the second 5 ghz could remain the backhaul. Waiting a few months for something that might not be as good as the current ax11000 is in an aimesh setup is not what i want to do.

  7. Hi!! article. I currently have an orbi system not sure what model but pretty sure it the first one made as it is 2.5 years old and am running 3 satelites. With the addition of lots of devices it has gotten really slow and I have Fios at the speed they have. My home is about 4k sqaure feet all one story and my house is on a flat acre 37k square feet. I am looking for the fastest router that can cover the most amount of square footage inside and out and not get clogged by devices. I would really like to be able to use my wifi signal in as large of an area outside as possible and inside obviously. your help is mush appreciated. I was looking at the Asus RT however I am not sure if that is an expandable unit to cover more ground at the highest speeds. Cost really isn’t an issue within reason. I have friends that have the google system that say good things about it however his yard area is much smaller than mide and I really would like to use my network at the fastest speed possible as far as I can possible while outside

      • thank you so much. I didn’t notice how expensive those things are and bulky. do you have a second choice? also the AiMesh setup, is this a separate piece of hardware required to run the Asus? With the Asus configuration you recommended, Do I only have to have one router connected to the Line coming in for internet service? I have been looking at the wifi 6 Orbi systems. Not really wanting to drop the money on the top of the line model with the faster processors and more antennas, but looking at the second one down. I have sourced one locally reasonably priced. Box says wifi 6 and it has a total of 3 untis in the box. Is it even worth it? someone is selling one for 300.00

  8. Hi Dong, wonder if you tested/compared Netgear RAX50 AX5400 and Asus RT-AX92U AX6100. If so, I like to know your conclusion. Thank you!

      • Can you compare the ZenWifi AX versus the Amplifi Alien as a Mesh for Gigabit internet?

        Secondly, your site is awesome.

        Any chance you can do an article on how to set up external ethernet cables if you want to install wired backhaul? Cat 8 cables, or how does it work? Do you need cables from the router room to go to different parts of a house? And the necessity of this versus using the Wifi 6 backhaul band on the Mesh routers. Thanks.

  9. As for performance, both routers support the 160MHz channel bandwidth and delivered very fast Wi-Fi rates when working with both Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi clients. They also feature LAN Link Aggregation where you can combine two ports into a 2Gbps connection.

    question for above quote…
    what is meant by both , was something omitted? Just curious.
    “with both Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi clients.”

    with both WI-Fi 6 [and] Wi-FI [ac] clients?
    Or did I misinterpret something from something stated before that sentence
    regarding perhaps Wi-Fi 6 clients being some composite entity?

    Thank you.

  10. Hey Dong, im still hesitant and unclear on what to buy. I really need a wifi 6 router to future proof my budget is around 380 usd but my house is about 240mt2. Im on the verge of buying an amplifi alien. What router would you recommend? Our bandwidth is nowhere close to gigabit.

    Thank you!

  11. No problem. Ended up trying a bunch of routers both WIFI 6 and WIFI 5 over the last couple months.

    I’m convinced the R7800 (+ XR450/500 rebrands) and the AC86U (+ GT-AC2900 rebrand) are the best routers for price to performance via my AX200 client.

    Though I will say the NETGEAR (XR450 in my case) while a good performer.. seems very dated and the DUMA OS is very buggy/sluggish. (WIFI Calling doesn’t work unless you disable QoS completely and reboot). The 1 year warranty support is also kind of a let down. Ended up keeping GT-AC2900 given the 2 year warranty and consistent updates it recieves.

    I’m hoping you can move testing of wifi 5 clients to 2×2 adapters exclusively in future reviews! It’s more indicative of real word performance, though I understand why stuff is tested via 4×4 adapters.

  12. Hi Dong, Thanks so much for the time and effort you put into this resource for all of us. Unbiased, knowledgeable recommendations are so valuable. I’ve read most of your reviews over the last several days. Sorry to take more of your time with a couple questions.

    – just upgraded to 1 gig service
    – service enters home in far corner of 4000 sf home .. modem is there along with primary router
    – 2 network cables were run when house built – 1 to other side of house, the other to a detached casita 130′ away
    – currently: Nighthawk R6700 (AC1750) as “primary” router and two Netgear EX6200 (AC1200) at wired access points. Very stable but I have 6 different networks (three 5GHz, three 2.4GHz) and I must manually change networks as I move about.

    Figured now is good time to upgrade to WiFi-6 and like the idea of AiMesh. With wired backhaul for both AP locations, I’m looking at dual-band solutions. Primary need is excellent range (in all 3 locations) to extend into backyard and garage, rather than massive bandwidth.

    Looked at:

    1. ZenWiFi XT8 x 3: feel like tri-band is wasted. don’t like the idea of creating a separate SSID for the best (4×4) band (5GHz-2) when not using it for backhaul. Middle-of-the-road performance on your testing.

    2. ASUS RT-AX3000 x 3: “relatively short range” from your review. (is this significantly less range than AX88U?)

    3. Netgear RAX120 x 3: expensive and no AiMesh option

    4. ASUS RT-AX88U x 3: your reviews use the word “buggy” which worries me. Also, seems like overkill, but if I get lower cost units for the AP nodes the range will suffer in those locations (right?)

    So, I’m going with option 4. Anything else I should be considering for less overkill or cost?


  13. We have a 5th gen Airport Time Capsule that is slowly dying. It has been a pretty good router for our home and I love the NAS aspect and may carry something forward in our new setup. Currently the TC covers most of our home which is 2 floor x1800 sqft each (3,600 sqft total). It is basically a long rectangle 27×68 ft with the router about 1/3 of the way in from one end of the rectangle. We had to set up a wired separate Base station to give better coverage to our bedroom on the end of the house furthest from the router and up one floor, providing only 2.4Ghz signal. As I look at new routers I am struggling to determine if a new router will cover our house solo.
    1. Would a AX/WiFi 6 unit provide better range than an AC/Wifi 5 unit?
    2. Is the “tier” of the unit a market of expected signal range? For example would a ax6000 category unit give better coverage than ax3000?
    3. How about the number of antennas or separately supported user streams?
    It does not seem like a triband vs dual band will be better for the signal strength and coverage alone.

    Really appreciate your site. I have spent hours this week reading some of the articles. Thank you so much.

  14. Warning to anyone considering the ARRIS. The firmware/software is unfinished and very buggy. Basic things like changing the DNS setting has a chance to NOT WORK.

    The backhaul also has an issue that makes gaming impossible going through the mesh point. (+10 ping and constant disconnects.)

    Gaming on the main point is fine, but the signal drops off significantly. You can only really use WIFI 6 clients in this situation as AC range gets destroyed on stuff like my IPhone.

    The biggest kicker is that the AX7800 and AX11000 share firmware so you’re basically paying more for something thats supposedly more premium. The AX7800 currently operates as a 4×4 + 4×4 80mhz client..(likely backhaul too). This also means the specs are completely misleading. Especially on the AX11000 which requires 160mhz configuration for its rating.

    Arris claimed the units will be updated to support 160mhz but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I returned the system after I realized the (high end) hardware and price I paid ($199) doesn’t make up for the software/firmware optimization.

  15. Glad I found this blog/site. Really into tech and routers especially. People take them for granted all the time but they’re just like cars. There’s one for everyone (mostly lol). Also some are great and some suck. I’ve had FIOS with a Gigabit plan for about a year now and just recently replaced their Quantum Gateway Router for a Netgear AX120. Only took about 10 mins to setup and besides me tinkering on the online interface for more settings, this baby works like a charm. I’m on the second floor in an old brick building with poor service and I get a connection all the way outside my building. Seems like I got one at a good time. When I set it up, it had a firmware update and that seems to be pretty stable so far. Have had it for about a month now with no issues. On the 5 GHz I have 3 4k Samsung TVs, A Galaxy phone, 2 Asus ROG gaming laptops,and a PS4 slim. On the 2.4 GHz are 2 IPhones, 2 Nintendo Switches, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Google Home Hub, PS VITA, and a Sengled Smart WiFi bulb. And last but not least, on my LAN ports is my Xbox 1X, One S and Samsung Smart things Hub. my 1X is Wired with Cat6 through the multi-gig port just for laughs at the moment 😂. Also worth mentioning, although obvious, is that the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz are distributed automatically by the router as an option. Thank god for this implementation whenever it was conceived. didn’t work great on the Verizon Gateway Router but the Netgear seems to do all the same things so much better, especially allowing me to use all my bandwidth. Also pretty sick having a router resembling Kylo Rens Command Shuttle.

  16. Hi Dong. Asus it is! Thanks a lot. Question, Given my situation below, and your very favorable review of the Asus RT-AX89X, do you think that the Asus G-AX11000 is the preferred? As I mentioned, wireless gaming is not a priority (my gamer is wired), and when considering dual versus tri-band, if I added a mesh component, I would most likely hardwire if possible versus using one of the 5ghz as a dedicated “backhaul”.

    Currently, in my tri-band router, I distribute my devices across the 3 bands to “spread out the wireless demand”, so all “smart home”, Echo Dots type devices on 2.4ghz, and my family devices on the two 5ghz bands. So, I think my only concern moving to dual would be more competition for the one 5ghz band available and therefore a possible performance hit. But, then again, this could be just in my head and no basis in technical reality (-:

    Any additional guidance would be most appreciated. I know I would be giddy with either, but just wanted your thoughts. Then the quest moves to actually finding stock on either and pouncing!



  17. Thanks a lot Dong. I greatly appreciate your response and advice. FYI, I also love all of your real world reviews and considerations on your site! You provide a great service and sanity for all of out here trying to keep it together IT-wise for some pretty tough end users… our families. Awesome. Please keep it all coming! Take care. Bryan

  18. Hi Dong. Happy Memorial Day! Apologies for the lengthy ramble here. I really need your thoughts between the Asus GT-AX1100 and the TP-Link Archer Ax11000. Also open to other router solutions. I have read through your awesome write-ups, but can you please give me a “push” one way or the other based on my situation? I may be way overthinking this, but your guidance will help me be done with all this!

    My TP-Link C5400 is failing according to TP-Link tech support. Not sure if the following is sound logic, but my thought was that a new wifi 6 “gaming” router versus regular router would give me the most “horsepower” and future proofing, though gaming is not my Wifi priority. I do have a serious PC gamer teen, but he is hardwired.

    I need fast and reliable wifi with whole house range, and throughput for the wired as well. For Pandemic, my family of 4 doing 2-3 school Zooms, and sometimes all simultaneously with my work Skyping, streaming music and tv on 4 plus devices, PS4 etc throughout the day. This is via WiFi, and worst case is all happening at the same time…. Also simultaneous wired PC gaming, MacBook pro cellular to internet converter box, etc. My TP-Link C5400 is doing a pretty good job with all this, but is increasingly unreliable, and as I mentioned, their tech support believes it to be a hardware/cpu issue… So time for a new one.

    FYI, I try to hardwire ethernet the stationary devices whenever possible. I have 2 ethernet switches on separate floors to my hardwired devices, as the router only has 4 ports, and on one floor aggregation through the switch allows me one cable run upstairs to the router & only occupy 1 router port.

    So, I am struggling with the idea of 4 versus 8 ethernet ports with these two new routers. Currently I have 4 and use the switches, but concerned about performance hit of consolidating hardwired traffic into 4 ports via switches versus the 8 on the Archer AX 111000 for example…

    Eventually, I would also like to streamline the network by eliminating the Verizon gateway/router, and have my new router handle everything and eliminate at least one ethernet switch… Which leads back to my available ethernet port and potential throughput challenge…

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated!

    My stuff:
    Verizon 1gbit internet with Verizon Quantum Gateway. Parental controls, firewall, Wifi turned off.
    TP-Link C5400 v2 router wired connect to Quantum Gateway. NOT in bridge mode (as I lose ability to tweak the router e.g. parental control, QoS, etc) C5400 is providing DHCP, antivirus, parental controls, firewall.

    Security cameras, Amazon Echo Dots, Wemo plugs etc on my 2.4ghz band approx 15 devices and growing

    4 iPhones, 1 iPad, 4 MBPros, 1 Apple TV, PS4, printer, etc 5ghz bands

    PC for gaming
    Smart TV
    Music amp/receiver
    MBPro, PC laptop via switch for my work
    2 8 port ethernet switches as router only has 4 ports

    • Get the Asus, Bryan. It has five, not four, LAN ports, and many more features, including the options to host a multi-gig server, and a mesh when you add more routers later.

  19. In many ways I am both glad to have found this site with all the info contained, but also cursing it because I talk myself in and out of configs all the time. Long story short, a while back I went with a Gryphon Connect because of all the parental features. But it comes at a heavy speed price. My old eero was easily pulling 800 mb/sec out of my 1GB connection. Gryphon is consistently well under that. As a house that streams everything, it’s an issue.

    I keep going back between the Alien (which of course is never in stock), the Orbi (though I keep seeing a lot of concerns on firmware stuff), and AiMesh. And I can’t choose. In all your comps it seems the Alien would be the highest on your list? And if I did AiMesh, would I be better off with the XT8 or 2 of the GT-AX11000? For reference today I have a wired connection between first floor and basement that covers all 3 floors, all IOT and streaming EVERYTHING. Plus obviously working from home. I love the AX spider system, but it is actually more expensive!

    • Hi Matt. You can go with AiMesh. It doesn’t hurt to go with tri-band routers (GT-AX11000) — you’ll need to spend more but get an extra band — but since you have wired your home, a tri-band set will do (like a couple of units of the RT-AX3000.)

  20. Hey, assuming I have a wired backhaul, would it make sense to get a pair of Asus AX3000 (possibly a.k.a. Ax58U) or to get the ZenWiFi XT8 (AX6600) ? The third band does not matter much if I use a wired-backhaul?

  21. I just bought a set of ARRIS Surfboard Max Pro Mesh 11000 routers/satellites to replace my Netgear Orbi’s (set of three) and I am ready to return the ARRIS system tomorrow. Speeds are great when you are 20 feet from the router/satellite and drops significantly in speed compared to my Orbi’s. I have a three level (upstairs, main and basement) 3300 square foot house with regular drywall interior construction and stucco outside and I am on a 1/2″ acre lot with multiple WiFi cam’s outside. The Orbi’s did a great job of covering the whole property and the house with minimal signal drop but they did suffer from handing off devices to other the satellites and assigning things to the wrong satellite/router.

    The new ARRIS system doesn’t effectively cover 50% of the house without serious speed drops. I am getting 890mbps at the router but if I move two rooms I am at 150mbps and 10 feet further i am at 50mbps. The ARRIS 2.4 does seem to have decent range but it moves my wifi 6 devices (Samsung note 10) to 2.4 if more than 20 feet away so it makes the tech of WiFi 6 kind of insignificant.

    I didn’t like the interface for the Orbi it was very basic and you really could not customize much. The ARRIS is WAY WAY WAY worse and no web interface. I tried to find the positives but it lasted less than a day and it is gone tomorrow.

    I am considering either a mesh setup of two asus gt-ax11000 routers or two RT-AX89X routers. I would love to hear which would be a better fit.

    • Well, David, I talked about the issue with the ARRIS in my review. Your assessment of the Orbi is spot-on by the way. Get the GT-AX11000 if you intend to go wireless, the RT-AX89X if you can link them using a network cable.

  22. Hi – sorry for the followup, but I am still confused as to the radio capability of Orbi “6” vs AmpliFi Alien. In your review and comment you indicate that both hardware’s specs are the same but in the chart, and from their respective websites, it would indicate that Orbi is 4×4 max on the client-side radio (1200+2400+2400), while Alien is 8×8 (both on the 80 Mhz spectrum) – 4804+1148+1733 (the latter being the 5 GHz 8×8 Wi-Fi 6 radio (Max speed 4804 Mbps)
    Are both companies just visualizing their radios differently in advertising? 🙂

  23. Great review as always.
    Quick questions:
    1) It looks like future-looking, the Alien may be a better bet than the Orbi since it seems the max speed of the alien is 4800Mbps (vs 2400), and a 8×8 setup (based on your comparison chart?) vs Orbi’s 4×4 per radio? Or am I misreading this (understanding there are no 8×8 Wifi6 clients today)
    2) It looks like Alien performance is fairly mediocre, compared to other single-router solutions (based on your measurements), yet you seem to recommend it as a powerful (simple) solution. Is that ‘correct’ or am I misreading this?
    Thanks again!

  24. Cant possibe to run a cable. Can u recommended any mesh with cheaper price… and also whats d prob for higher range ne than c7 like ax3000 or netgear axx40

  25. Hello Mr Dong Ngo,
    I am using tp link c7 router. But It did not cover my whole house because of thick brick wall. Also I need to put the router at the corner room because of the internet cable and ips so I cant put it on d middle of the house. so at the other end of room I get weak signal. Im planning to buy a new router between 150 to 200 range can u pls suggest me some good one with better range. I prefer wifi 6 but also suggest me some wifi 5 as well..

  26. Thanks! Was wondering that. Equal features for $150 less is hard to pass up so picked up the Asus AX11000, also the mesh option especially with the third band seems really compelling if I move to a bigger space and want to expand my coverage.

    • This depends on what you want. The Alien lacks common settings and has no web user interface. Alien is much easier to use and less buggy. Both will deliver similar Wi-Fi speed and coverage.

  27. A great review. My old Asus RT-AC66U is finally dying so looking at a new router. I like to future proof so think I’ll grab a wifi 6 one, so your article is a perfect reference. My wife and I do a lot of streaming and gaming for context.

    What’s interesting is how much cheaper the Asus routers are… For example the 12 stream tri-band Asus option GT-AX11000 is $342 on Amazon while the Netgear comparable the RAX200 is $500. Right now I don’t want to spend more than about $350 (though wouldn’t mind spending less, but again I prefer to future proof) so I’m compared the Asus AX11000 to the Netgear Nighthawk RAX80 which both sit at around $340, though the Asus is 12 stream and tri band (and supports mesh) while the Nighthawk is only 8 stream and dual band (and no mesh it seems). Is there a reason the Nighthawks are so much more expensive? Are they none to be more reliable than the Asus or something? Just curious why such a big price difference.

    • Get the Asus, Matt. It’s a much better deal. Netgear is slightly more stable but for the most part, it’s just expensive for the hell of it. 🙂

  28. Thank you for your detailed comparison and valuable information. I have an year old Netgear X4S router which is serving us great and i really haven’t had any issues in my 1400 sqft apartment. Now we will be moving to 3200 sqft single story house and I started to look out for options. I started my search with thought of getting a Ex7300 with existing router but landed on your site and now I am thinking whether it will make more sense to go for wifi6 based mesh system. I am considering Orbi mesh system (wifi 6) but not sure if its worth the price difference over ASUS mesh system. I am planning to connect all smart home devices (planning to get lots of wifi bulbs instead of adding more hue bulbs) and video doorbell and looking for uninterrupted and reliable connectivity. I am no longer into online gaming 🙁 but we do stream netflix on multiple devices.
    If i get Netgear AX200, can i use my x4s in bridge mode for the dead zones. Or is it possible to make use of x4s with Asus AX11000 router. Or mesh is the way to go.
    Do you think i should stick to my original plan of using ex7300 till the time wifi6 becomes more common (and cheaper).
    Thank you

    • Congrats on the upgrade, D. How did you afford it? 3200sf is HUGE!

      For that, you’ll need a mesh system. Don’t even think about using extenders. They suck.

      As for which system, it depends. I’d recommend running network cable (wired backhaul). In this case, you can get any systems (Wi-Fi 5 will suffice) that support wired backhaul. If running network cables is not possible (why?) then I’d recommend a Wi-Fi 6 system or the Synology Mesh.

  29. Thanks for the advice. I’ve never really understood this aspect, to be honest.
    I always see 4K movie streaming estimated at ~25Mbps but I’m guessing that’s for online streaming, not what I’m doing.
    I have a 4K movie remux on my NAS right now that has a bitrate of 97.5Mbps (according to Plex) with the lowest end files being ~40Mbps… I want to stream one of those movies from the NAS to an Apple TV while surfing the net on my MacBook and while it also completes a Time Machine backup at the same time as my phone syncs photos and music to the NAS. That’s not uncommon at all for me and it all has to happen on 5Ghz.
    Does that justify having a second 5Ghz band to split the activities (i.e. movie streaming on one band and the rest on the other)? I always thought it would…

  30. I want to go with Asus and I’m tossing up between the GT-AX11000 and RT-AX88U… It’ll come down to whether I really need tri-band or not…hoping for your help!
    Right now, I have a dual band router. My NAS is on ethernet using two LAN ports. On 5ghz wifi, I have 2 x ATV 4K, MacBook Pro, Android phone, LG TV, Google mini, 12 x smart home plugs/lights. Will be adding an xbox or PS soon too. On 2.4ghz, I have 12 x Sonos speakers. The highest traffic activity is streaming 4K movie remuxes between my NAS and the ATVs but there’s always backups and syncing between my MacBook and the NAS too.
    In terms of Wifi 6, I’m guessing that new model of the ATV will come out at some point and that I’d upgrade if that were the case. And, if they bring out a new Macbook, that too.
    Do you reckon I need a wifi 6 tri-band or will dual-band be enough?
    Alternatively, if wifi 6 capability is overkill for my needs, then I’m thinking the tri-band Asus RT-AC5300 as a third option…

  31. The RAX200 is riddled with issues. I am not sure if you purchased the router retail, but it has a major issue where it artificially caps the wired connection speed at 500Mbps. They have yet to solve it.

    • I tested the retail version, Dr. And it didn’t occur to me as the case since I used the Gigabit ports (as well as the multi-gig port) for the testing.

  32. I’ve given up on Netgear – Have the Orbi in a 3 AP setup and have had nothing but issues – Their firmware is just horrible and their frequent updates tend to break the router – What would you recommend for a stable large environment 5000 sq ft – Was thinking the Amplifi, but with no dedicated backhhaul band I’m concerned – I have Cat 5 throughout the home so I can hardwire a second Amplifi, but wouldn’t that limit the throughput? I have 1 gig internet speed, my Orbi tests at 900 or so but hardwired I’m only getting 200.. frustrated..

  33. I have a problem. I can’t decide on the router I want. I purchased and returned the Netgear Nighthawk XR700 gaming router because I was having connection problems. I rebooted the router a number of times and would still have hiccups here and there. I also thought some of the features offered in the device like the 60Ghz band was going to go unused because the lack of devices on the market that supported than bandwidth. I also didn’t think I was going to use the 10Gbps SFP port. I’m still learning about networking in general so everything seemed a bit overwhelming. DumaOS was okay, but I wish there was an app that was simpler to use on a mobile platform. I highly doubt I will be using the Geoservice feature because alot of my friends are on the Westcoast and I’m in the Midwest. I know I’m going to have a less than optimal ping, but that’s okay as long as I can have fun with friends and family.

    I’m considering a purchasing a wifi 6 router. I’m currently looking at the Nighthawk RAX 200 and RAX 120. Money really isn’t a really big option for me. I just want a router that will offer the most seamless hassle-free experience possible. I just upgraded my internet speed to 1Gig and my Time Capsule Second Gen. just can’t keep up anymore. I spent about $300 on it Jan 2012. I don’t mind spending $500-700 on a wifi router or system as long as it’s worth it. I also don’t mind saving some money if I could as well.

    So, if you could, I would like you to offer a low end recommendation and a high end recommendation. I really enjoy your work here and look forward to following you in the future. I’ve been a fan of yours since Cnet so many years ago.

  34. Which firmware did you use on the Netgear routers? I tried the latest firmware (avail in nov 2019) on rax120, and it wouldn’t remain reliable when axmode+160 MHz channels were simultaneously enabled. Usually once I enabled 160 MHz channels, performance throttled to ~10 mbps within about 5 min or so. I tried two of these routers and same bad performance. So I gave up. I’m sticking with wired 10 gbps for now….until they make better hardware. I didn’t try Asus; but Netgear’s rax120 forums are crowded With complaints… So it’s not just me. It’s surprising you didn’t encounter any issues with the rax120.

    • I always review router at the latest firmware available at the time of testing. For your situation, I think you should back up the settings, reset the router, then set it up again. Then restore the setting.


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