I’ve frequently been receiving requests regarding similar Wi-Fi 6 solutions compared against each other — those along the lines of “This one vs. that one, which should I get?”. It’s a kind of decision so subjective there’s no straightforward answer. So, I’ll try my best to be helpful. But, instead of answering them individually and risking repeating myself to death, I’ll put that all in this post.
Generally, when evaluating a product, I give the price quite a bit of weight on the rating. In this article, though, I’ll take the cost out and tell you which you should consider an why. It’s a good idea to follow the links within this post for the full reviews — I always appreciate more views –but if you’re in a hurry, you can make up your mind right here.
I’ll update this post as I review more Wi-Fi 6 solutions, but one thing remains: None will give you everything!
Dong’s note: This is a frequently updated post.
Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien Kit vs. Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852: The similarities
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.
Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien Kit vs. Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852: The specifications
Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien Kit vs. Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 RBK852: The differences
There are so many differences between these two.
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 router.
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 of a hit or miss. Some adds 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.
Which to consider
It’s hard to say which is better between these two. But if you want something fresh, fun, easy-to-use, the Alien is a better choice. It’s worth the risk.
On the other hand, if you want familiar network customization, a brand name you can trust, the Orbi Wi-Fi 6 is a more of a piece-of-mind decision.
Asus GT-AX1100 vs. Netgear RAX200: The similarities
These two are the currently the top-notch 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.
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.
Asus GT-AX1100 vs. Netgear RAX200: The specifications
Asus GT-AX1100 vs. Netgear RAX200: The differences
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, however, 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.
Which to consider
Get the Asus GT-AX1000 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: The similarities
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.
Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: The specifications
Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: The differences
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.
Which to consider
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 RAX120 is a better fit for those wanting reliable performance out of the box, or the fastest NAS performance when hosting an external storage device.
Netgear RAX40 vs. TP-Link AX3000: The similarities
The Netgear RAX40 and the TP-Link AX3000 are two very similar routers in terms of specs. Both 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.
Both routers 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 and one Gigabit WAN port.
Neither router has a multi-gig network port, nor do they feature Dual-WAN or link aggregation.
The two have the same Wi-Fi coverage, which is only suitable for a small home. So if you live in one, both routers will give you the best Wi-Fi 6 bang for your buck, costing less than $150 each.
Netgear RAX40 vs. TP-Link AX3000: The specifications
Netgear RAX40 vs. TP-Link AX3000: The differences
There are some differences between these two.
Design-wise, the Netgear RAX40 is better looking, but it’s also bulkier. The TP-Link AX3000 is a lot more compact, but it has a traditional Wi-Fi router design. It’s a bit boring.
The Netgear RAX40 has a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, while the TP-Link AX3000 — at least it’s the version T-Link provided me for the review — uses a USB 2.0 port. The Netgear RAX40 had better performance in my testing, but it’s also slightly more expensive.
Which to consider
As to which you should get, it’s a matter of whether you like Netgear or TP-Link. Even though the Netgear RAX40 scored a bit higher than the TP-Link AX3000 in my testing, in real-world usage, you might not notice the difference between the two at all. And the TP-Link’s lower price carries the extra appeal.
Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs. Arris SURFboard mAX Pro: The similarities
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.
Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs. Arris SURFboard mAX Pro: The specifications
Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien vs. Arris SURFboard mAX Pro: The differences
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.
Which to consider
As a single router, you should 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.
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: The performance
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.
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 no difference which client, Wi-Fi 5, or Wi-Fi 6, you use. 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.