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ASUS ZenWiFi ET8 Review

The ZenWiFi ET8 from Asus is a Wi-Fi 6E mesh system with two compact nodes and fast AXE6600 speeds. It is available in black and white. Rather than using a single router to cover a large area, mesh systems connect multiple nodes (the backhaul) in order to cover a larger area.

A faster and more consistent backhaul can be used to keep speeds high even on older devices that only support 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, thanks to the 6GHz spectrum made available by Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 6 certification.

Changing the backhaul frequency from 5GHz to 6GHz makes a lot of sense on paper because a mesh network can take advantage of the new spectrum right away and pass those benefits along to the 5GHz devices that are connected to the mesh. This is without a doubt one of the best Wi-Fi 6E routers available on the market.

The hardware is in place to provide a fantastic home networking experience, and as long as Asus’ software can keep up, the performance meets or exceeds expectations in almost every area of performance.

This mesh system is available for purchase in the United States for a suggested retail price of $529.99. This is the cheapest Wi-Fi 6E mesh kit available, and it is also one of the cheapest Wi-Fi 6E routers in general. It is available on Amazon and Asus’ own web store. The stock of this router fluctuates frequently, so you may have to wait several weeks for delivery, at least until the supply catches up later in the year before you can get your hands on one.

If you live outside of the United States, it is possible that Wi-Fi 6E routers are not yet available. While a handful of countries have approved some spectrum at 6GHz, there haven’t been any other widespread Wi-Fi 6E launches as of yet, according to Wi-Fi Alliance.

Keep in mind that countries must approve wireless devices of this nature before they can be sold, which means that these products will eventually be sold in more countries. Due to software configurations specific to your region, you should exercise caution when importing these devices before they are officially available.

Performance

When I first learned about Wi-Fi 6E, the first thing that came to mind was mesh networks. It is necessary to establish a connection between the nodes in a mesh system; the faster and more consistent than connection, the better. Even if you don’t own a single Wi-Fi 6E device, using the 6GHz spectrum for your mesh connection can improve the performance of your network. The ZenWiFi delivers on that promise, and it can be configured to prefer 6GHz as a mesh link, resulting in stunning results.

First and foremost, there are some compromises that must be understood when using this AXE6600 connection. This router only supports 2×2 connections at the 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies, respectively. That means your maximum wireless throughput at 2.4GHz is 574Mbps and at 5GHz it is 1201Mbps, respectively.

The remaining 4804Mbps is reserved exclusively for the 6GHz frequency band. This makes a lot of sense given that the mesh link is operating in the 6GHz band, but it results in lower than expected 5GHz speeds in a congested area such as my own.

The results at 6GHz were generally good, with full speeds achieved in the same room as the primary node in most cases. My internet connection only has a speed of 940Mbps, but the 6GHz connection was more than capable of delivering that amount of bandwidth. It was important to me to see how well the speeds held up on the mesh network, so I connected the tests in the front room and bathroom to the node.

6GHz (160MHz) results (two tests):

LocationLiving room (router)Front room (node)Bathroom (node)
Zenfone 8 (Wi-Fi 6E)934 Mbps
939 Mbps
666 Mbps
681 Mbps
539 Mbps
643 Mbps
Galaxy S21 Ultra (Wi-Fi 6E)940 Mbps
938 Mbps
635 Mbps
673 Mbps
715 Mbps
671 Mbps

5GHz (up to 80MHz) results (two tests):

LocationLiving room (router)Front room (auto)Bathroom (auto)
OnePlus Nord N200 (Wi-Fi 5)254 Mbps
255 Mbps
284 Mbps
317 Mbps
239 Mbps
244 Mbps
Galaxy S20+ (Wi-Fi 6)518 Mbps
495 Mbps
721 Mbps
657 Mbps
338 Mbps
321 Mbps
Zenfone 8 (Wi-Fi 6E)409 Mbps
420 Mbps
466 Mbps
551 Mbps
406 Mbps
395 Mbps
Galaxy S21 Ultra (Wi-Fi 6E)506 Mbps
553 Mbps
733 Mbps
744 Mbps
501 Mbps
486 Mbps

2.4GHz (20MHz) results (two tests):

LocationLiving room (router)Front room (auto)Bathroom (auto)
OnePlus Nord N200 (Wi-Fi 5)43.9 Mbps
46.1 Mbps
50.1 Mbps
49 Mbps
42.1 Mbps
40.7 Mbps
Galaxy S20+ (Wi-Fi 6)88.8 Mbps
80.4 Mbps
90.7 Mbps
96.3 Mbps
113 Mbps
97.2 Mbps
Zenfone 8 (Wi-Fi 6E)103 Mbps
101 Mbps
87.6 Mbps
116 Mbps
108 Mbps
136 Mbps
Galaxy S21 Ultra (Wi-Fi 6E)121 Mbps
109 Mbps
99.1 Mbps
89.5 Mbps
116 Mbps
121 Mbps

Each node in this pack is equipped with three gigabit LAN ports as well as a 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN interface. When connecting to the primary node, the 2.5Gbps port is used for your incoming connection; however, it can also be used for fast wired devices when connecting to the remote node. You can connect a fantastic home network appliance (NAS) to a multi-gigabit Ethernet port, or you can ensure that your gaming PC has the best possible connection.

As a result, many of Asus’ top motherboards include a multi-gigabit Ethernet port in addition to Wi-Fi 6E support. The only difference is that you’ll need to be running Windows 11 in order to use Wi-Fi 6E, but 2.5Gbps Ethernet is now available. You can also purchase a low-cost USB 3 adapter for 2.5Gbps Ethernet to upgrade your current connected device, such as a Mac or PC, to a faster speed. Android only recognized my Realtek-based adapter at a speed of 1Gbps during my testing.

The ZenWiFi ET8 nodes are surprisingly small and have a sleek appearance. The ZenWiFi nodes had a more premium feel to them when compared to every other mesh system I’d tested. The plastics do not have a cheap feel to them, and the matte white housing does not show much dust. The off-white insert on the top of the node provides a little contrast, preventing the node from appearing too utilitarian. The status of your network is indicated by a single LED on the front that changes color and pulse rate. This feature can be turned off in the Asus Router application.

Speaking of the app, Asus has one of the most feature-rich mesh-system apps I’ve seen, with a lot of different options. You have the ability to change nearly every Wi-Fi setting; in fact, I did not find it necessary to access the web browser in order to make a change, which is a first in all of my router reviews to date.

With tri-band smart connect, the ZenWiFi ET8 distinguishes itself from some of its peers in the Wi-Fi 6E market, as it allows users to connect to the 2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz bands all under one name. Alternatively, this feature can be turned off completely, allowing you to select which band you want your device to connect to.

It’s nice to have the option to choose the proper connection, even if the smart connect feature does a good job of assigning the correct connection in most cases. This can also be useful for people who have older smart home devices that operate on the 2.4GHz frequency band and do not communicate well with smart connect.

Specifications

Model Name

ET8 (W-2-PK)
ET8 (W-1-PK)

Network Standard

IEEE 802.11a
IEEE 802.11b
IEEE 802.11g
WiFi 4 (802.11n)
WiFi 5 (802.11ac)
WiFi 6 (802.11ax)
WiFi 6E (802.11ax)
IPv4
IPv6

Product Segment

AXE6600 ultimate AXE performance : 574+1201+4804Mbps

AX technology

Yes

Data Rate

802.11a : up to 54 Mbps
802.11b : up to 11 Mbps
802.11g : up to 54 Mbps
WiFi 4 (802.11n) : up to 300 Mbps
WiFi 5 (802.11ac) : up to 867 Mbps
WiFi 6 (802.11ax) (2.4GHz) : up to 574 Mbps
WiFi 6 (802.11ax) (5GHz) : up to 1201 Mbps
WiFi 6E (802.11ax) (6GHz) : up to 4804 Mbps

Antenna

Internal antenna x 6

Transmit/Receive

2.4 GHz 2 x 2
5 GHz 2 x 2
6GHz 4×4

Processor

1.5 GHz quad-core processor

Memory

256 MB Flash
512 MB RAM

Boosts speed

OFDMA (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access)
Beamforming: standard-based and universal
1024-QAM high data rate
20/40/80/160 MHz bandwidth

Operating Frequency

2.4G Hz, 5 GHz, 6 GHz

Ports

RJ45 for 2.5G BaseT for WAN x 1, RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for LAN x 3
USB 3.1 Gen 1 x 1

Button

WPS Button, Reset Button, Power Switch

LED Indicator

Power x 1

Power Supply

AC Input : 110V~240V(50~60Hz)
DC Output : 19 V with max. 1.75 A current

Package content

ZenWiFi ET8
RJ45 Ethernet Cable
Power Adapter
Quick Start Guide
Warranty Card

Product Weight (g)

716 g

AiMesh

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

Router APP

ASUS Router APP : Yes

Alexa

Support Alexa skill : Yes

AiProtection

AiProtection : AiProtection Pro
Malicious site blocking : Yes
Two-Way IPS : Yes
Infected Device Prevention and Blocking : Yes

Parental Control

Parental Control : Yes

Traffic Control

Adaptive QoS : Yes
Traffic Monitor : Yes
Traffic Analyzer : 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 : Max 9 rules
WPS : Yes
Wi-Fi MAC address filter : Yes
Maximum MAC filters : Max 64 rules
Wireless scheduler : Yes
Airtime fairness : Yes
RADIUS Server : Yes
Universal beamforming : Yes
Explicit beamforming : Yes

WAN

Dual WAN : Yes
WAN Aggregation : Yes
3G/4G LTE dongle : Yes
DMZ : Yes
DDNS : Yes
Let’s Encrypt : Yes

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 : No

USB application

File System : FS_Tuxera_HFS+, FS_Tuxera_NTFS, FS_Tuxera_vFAT, FS_ext2, FS_ext3, FS_ext4
AiCloud : Yes
Download master : Yes
AiDisk : Yes
Media Server : Yes
Time Machine : Yes
Samba Server : Yes
FTP Server : No

Verdict

There are a few areas where the ZenWiFi ET8 falls short of the biggest and best mesh systems on the market, but it is still a very strong performer in the overall scheme of things. When it comes to price, it’s difficult to find a standalone Wi-Fi 6E router, let alone a mesh network with two nodes and all of the features you’d expect from a mesh router, and then some. The ability to access more advanced settings as well as the ability to turn off Smart Connect are both noteworthy features.

Although purchasing this router is still considered overkill by most people, the ZenWiFi ET8 is a great option for those who want to take advantage of gigabit connections, especially if they live in a congested area. This mesh system is designed specifically for enthusiasts, with its simple advanced settings, as well as for beginners looking for fast Wi-Fi, with an easy setup process and straightforward options to get them up and running right away. All of this, combined with the ZenWiFi ET8’s extremely competitive pricing, makes it an easy recommendation.

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