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ASUS ZenWiFi AC Mini(CD6) Review

In a number of ways, the Asus ZenWiFi AC mesh Wi-Fi system stands out from the crowd. It’s one of the most expensive products of its kind, and it doesn’t come with a snazzy touchscreen or support for next-generation 802.11ax, which might explain why it’s so expensive in the first place.

Any lingering doubts about what you’re getting for your money are quickly dispelled by a quick glance at the company’s performance statistics. We recently tested a number of mesh systems, and the ZenWiFi AC proved to be the fastest over 802.11ac in all four of our test locations, with speeds exceeding a staggering 30MB/sec on each occasion. 240Mbits/sec internet connection is sufficiently saturated by this clean sweep, which is tremendously impressive in terms of bandwidth.

Design

When you look at the specifications, the ZenWiFi’s outstanding performance should come as no surprise. This device boasts a regular 867Mbits/sec speed rating over the standard 5GHz channel, but it does so in conjunction with a dedicated backhaul channel that is supercharged with twice the bandwidth and 4×4 MIMO capability.

Not only that, but the ZenWiFi AC also distinguishes itself from the competition by offering a wide range of features. When it comes to home wireless networks, the majority of them are designed to be as simple as possible, but ZenWiFi offers the same extensive range of features as Asus’ regular routers. The result is not one but three independent guest networks (one on the 2.4GHz band and two on the 5GHz band), a visual traffic analyzer that shows you which devices and apps are hogging the network’s bandwidth, and a network-level firewall that lets you block specific ports, web pages with keywords, and URLs that contain keywords.

Another noteworthy feature is the ability to connect via a virtual private network (VPN). A built-in PPTP, OpenVPN, or IPSec server on the ZenWiFi router makes it one of the few mesh systems that allow you to securely connect to your home network over the internet, making it one of the most advanced mesh systems available. And it gives you the option of redirecting all outgoing connections through an external VPN service, which ensures privacy (as well as location spoofing) for all of the devices in your home.

Performance

In addition to all of this, the ZenWiFi includes a USB port, which can be used to connect an external hard disc, printer, or 3G/4G modem – useful if your internet connection isn’t entirely reliant on your device. Again, these are features that are available on the majority of other mesh systems.

If we had to find something to complain about, we’d say that all of this could make the ZenWiFi a bit intimidating for casual users. When it comes to the standard Asus web portal, there are a lot of tabs and settings, and the smartphone app appears to have been designed to be futuristic and complex rather than user-friendly.

In addition, ZenWiFi’s parental control options fall short of those offered by Netgear. However, this does not imply that they are inherently harmful: you can optionally block adult websites, along with instant messaging, peer-to-peer, and streaming services for any client, and you can allow or disallow internet access for each day of the week on an hour-by-hour basis for each client. Network-branded controls from Netgear, on the other hand, offer the additional option of paying a monthly fee to include detailed usage monitoring and the ability to track devices even when they are connected to other networks.

Last but not least, it’s difficult to describe the ZenWiFi stations as visually appealing. We suspect the casing was created to accommodate the desired antenna configuration, which is commendable, but there was clearly no need to make the exterior look so plain and boxy in the first place. On the plus side, Asus has found a room at the rear of each node for four Gigabit Ethernet ports: one will be used by your internet connection on the router unit, but you can use all four for wired clients on the remote node if you so desire.

In spite of the relatively modest coverage area of 400m2 advertised by Asus for a two-node ZenWiFi kit, our testing has revealed that it will provide a reliable connection from significantly further away than many more optimistic competitors. You might be pleased to know that the ZenWiFi platform is built on Asus’ in-house AiMesh system, which means you can simply add a regular Asus router or Wi-Fi extender to the mix rather than having to shell out for a third node if you find yourself in need of a little extra reach. And if it’s the speed you’re after, there’s also an 802.11ax version available at a list price of £420, which is a significant discount from Netgear’s next-generation offering, the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6, which has a list price of £450.

Specifications

Model Name

  • CD6(2-PK)
  • CD6(1-PK)
  • CD6(3-PK)

Network Standard

  • IEEE 802.11a
  • IEEE 802.11b
  • IEEE 802.11g
  • WiFi 4 (802.11n)
  • WiFi 5 (802.11ac)
  • IPv4
  • IPv6

Product Segment

  • AC1500 enhanced AC performance : 600+867 Mbps

AX technology

  • No

Data Rate

  • 802.11a : up to 54 Mbps
  • 802.11b : up to 11 Mbps
  • 802.11g : up to 54 Mbps
  • 802.11n : up to 600 Mbps
  • WiFi 5 (802.11ac) : up to 433 Mbps

Antenna

  • Internal antenna x 4

Transmit/Receive

  • 2.4 GHz 4 x 4
  • 5 GHz 2 x 2

Processor

  • QCN5502

Memory

  • 32 MB Flash
  • 128 MB RAM

Operating Frequency

  • 2.4GHz, 5 GHz

Ports

  • RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for WAN x 1, RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for LAN x 3 (ROUTER)
  • RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for LAN x 2 (NODE)
  • RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for WAN x 1, RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for LAN x 3 (ROUTER)
  • RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for WAN x 1, RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for LAN x 3 (ROUTER)
  • RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for LAN x 2 (NODE)
  • RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for WAN x 1, RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for LAN x 3

Button

  • WPS Button, Reset Button

LED Indicator

  • Power x 1

Power Supply

  • AC Input : 110V~240V(50~60Hz)
  • DC Output : 12 V with max. 1 A current

Package content

  • ZenWiFi AC Mini
  • RJ45 Ethernet Cable
  • Power Adapter
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Warranty Card

Product Weight (g)

  • 257g(Router)/255g(Node)

Remark

  • 1pk (router)
  • 2pk(Router+Node)
  • 3pk(Router+2Node)

AiMesh

  • AiMesh : Yes
  • Primary AiMesh router : Yes
  • AiMesh node : Yes

Router APP

  • ASUS Router APP : Yes

Game

  • Game Boost/acceleration : No
  • WTFast : No

Alexa

  • Support Alexa skill : Yes

IFTTT

  • Support IFTTT : No

AiProtection

  • AiProtection : AiProtection Classic
  • Router Security Assessment : Yes
  • Malicious site blocking : Yes
  • Two-Way IPS : No
  • Infected Device Prevention and Blocking : Yes

Parental Control

  • Parental Control : Yes
  • Parental Control Customized Internet schedule : Yes
  • Maximum Parental Control profile : 16
  • Maximum Parental Control content filter rule : 16

Traffic Control

  • Adaptive QoS : No
  • Bandwidth Monitor : Yes
  • Bandwidth limiter : Yes
  • Maximum Bandwidth limiter rule : 32
  • Traditional QoS : Yes
  • Maximum Traditional QoS rule : 32
  • Traffic Monitor : Yes
  • Real-time traffic monitor : Yes
  • Wired Traffic Monitor : Yes
  • Wireless Traffic Monitor : Yes
  • Traffic Analyzer : Yes
  • Website history : Yes

Wireless

  • IPv6 : Yes
  • MU-MIMO : Yes
  • Wi-Fi Encryption : WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPA-Enterprise , WPA2-Enterprise , WPS support
  • UTF-8 SSID : Yes
  • Guest Network : Yes
  • Maximum Guest Network rule : 6
  • Guest Network Connection time limit : Yes
  • Guest Network Encryption : 6
  • WPS : Yes
  • Wi-Fi MAC address filter : Yes
  • Maximum MAC filters : 64
  • Wireless scheduler : Yes
  • Airtime fairness : Yes
  • RADIUS Server : Yes
  • Universal beamforming : Yes
  • Explicit beamforming : Yes

WAN

  • Internet connection Type : PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP, Automatic IP, Static IP
  • Dual WAN : No
  • WAN Aggregation : No
  • 3G/4G LTE dongle : No
  • Android tethering : Yes
  • Port forwarding : Yes
  • Port triggering : Yes
  • DMZ : Yes
  • DDNS : Yes
  • NAT Passthrough : PPTP, L2TP, IPSec
  • Let’s Encrypt : Yes

LAN

  • DHCP Server : Yes
  • IGMP snooping : Yes
  • IPTV : Yes
  • LAN Link Aggregation : No
  • LAN Link Aggregation : Yes
  • Manually assign IP address : Yes
  • Maximum manually assign IP address rule : 64

VPN

  • VPN Client L2PT : Yes
  • VPN Client OVPN : Yes
  • VPN Client PPTP : Yes
  • VPN Server IPSec : Yes
  • VPN Server OVPN : Yes
  • VPN Server PPTP : Yes
  • VPN Fusion : Yes

Verdict

To be honest, though, it’s difficult to imagine many situations in which you’ll require a router with greater power than the ZenWiFi AC. As a matter of fact, for most households, this system is likely to be overkill: if all you want to do is watch Netflix in HD in your bedroom, the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi system will accomplish the same task for less money.

However, if you’re looking for the fastest and most capable Wi-Fi extender system available, you’ve come to the right place. The Asus ZenWiFi AC is a world-class mesh networking platform that costs a little more than the average but provides an unbeatable set of features and first-rate performance at a reasonable price.

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