Asus is a name that matters in the PC world, whether it’s motherboards or even laptops. The Taiwanese giant is less known for its network products, yet in recent years it has been building an interesting offer.
Its ZenWiFi AX (XT8) is part of this continuous effort, which aims at both quality and an attractive price positioning. In this case, Asus intends to offer a mesh router compatible with the latest wireless standard, Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax). This model is tri-band, that is to say it puts three frequency fields at the service of a single network which should be able to cover all or part of your home.
For this, it therefore uses the usual 2.4 GHz, for theoretical speeds of up to 574 Mbit / s, and two at 5 GHz, for an upward speed of up to 1201 Mbit / s for the first field, and 4804 Mbits / s for the second. Here, which, by rounding off, promises a total theoretical cumulative flow of 6,600 Mbits / s.
What to stream, play, everywhere, without worrying about changing router or being confronted with the pangs of the PLC, which does not always want to keep its promise. The ZenWiFi AX (XT8) imposes it. But is he staying the course?

A design in black or white, a colorful connection

Available in black or white, and about six inches tall and wide, Asus routers are three inches deep. Their unobtrusive and minimalist appearance – they barely display a small LED on the front that will tell you the status of the router – makes them more like an airtight box in which you could store flour or pasta than just past routers. shout. And yet …

Wi-Fi 6 is forcing manufacturers of networking products to carry more antennas. In this case, the ZenWiFi AX (XT8) has six (2×2 in 2.4 GHz, 2×2 for the first 5 GHz band and 4×4 for the second 5 GHz). The routers have therefore gained height so that the arrangement of the antennas allows good transmission and reception. Beyond the design, these routers are strictly identical. Whatever module you connect to your Internet box, making it the main router, all offer the same connections.

In addition to the power supply, there is a switch, four Ethernet ports, including three Gigabit and a final 2.5 Gigabit for connection to your box. This will be perfect if you are the happy user of a box that exceeds Gigabit. If not, you will at least know that your Asus router is not the weak link in your network. Finally, still at the back, there’s a USB 3.1 Gen 1 port. Let’s not forget a tiny WPS button under the base of each router, which will allow you to connect a compatible device with a single touch.

An ergonomic application, rather clear and very rich

The installation of the ZenWiFi AX, from Asus, is exemplary and fits perfectly into the commands of mesh routers which must be simple to set up. In this case, we plug them into the mains, place them within three meters of each other and connect an Ethernet cable to the future main router. We wait a few tens of seconds, then look for an unencrypted Asus Wi-Fi network on our smartphone. We connect to this network, launch the Asus Router application, which we will have downloaded beforehand, and we just have to follow a few quick steps.

The app’s interface is nice and a bit playful. It is organized into five “tabs”: Home, Devices, Announcements, Family and Settings. Difficult to make more explicit. Most of the daily information can be found in the Home tab, whether it’s real-time traffic, the status of different network nodes, or the number of connected devices. When you tap on the icon of one of the routers, its ID card is displayed, from where you can activate / deactivate the LED, define in which room it is located and see its IP and MAC addresses.

It is also possible to access a concentrate of Wi-Fi settings. This is where, for example, you can change the SSID and encryption of your network. By default, WPA2 is used, but of course, the ZenWiFi AX XT8 is compatible with WPA3, which you will be well inspired to choose, if all your devices are compatible.

It is from this interface that you can also – we do not recommend it – decide to turn off dual-band Smart Connect, which causes your computers to automatically connect at the frequency that suits them best. This is also where it is possible to deactivate an essential option: the backhaul dedicated wireless. Don’t do it!
By default, like the excellent Orbi RBK852, from Netgear, Asus routers use the high 5 GHz frequency band to establish a connection between routers. It only serves that purpose and thus guarantees that the other two frequency fields will only be used for the communication of your devices with the Internet. This is one of the best ways to have both a robust network and high speeds. Better not to deactivate this option.

In short, it is from this Wi-Fi part that you can quickly adjust the guest Wi-Fi network, and also define its lifespan, in days (maximum 30), hours and minutes, except to leave it active indefinitely, of course. . From the Wi-Fi network sharing options it is also possible to share access to its main network without time limit, for 30 minutes, one, two or three hours. A QR code is then generated to authorize the connection. It’s hard to get simpler and faster.

In the Devices tab, you can find all the elements of the network, including routers. You can see if they are operational or still need to be updated. A convenient way to keep tabs on everything – and possibly set up a blacklist, which will block certain devices from accessing your network.

Before banning a device, it is possible, by tapping its name, to view its IP and MAC addresses. You will also be able to track the upstream and downstream bandwidth consumption of all devices. Finally, if you judge that some smartphones or connected computers are too greedy, you can limit their bandwidths by setting values ​​in Mbits / s.

The Family tab provides access, as its name suggests, to parental control functions. You add a member, define if they are over or under 18, then quickly designate the device (s) they use. You can then block Internet access or schedule this blocking by day of the week and time slot. We’ll just regret that we cannot duplicate one day on another. Then, we choose to block content grouped into a thematic family: Adult, Illegal and violent, Paris, are checked by default. You can activate blocking of Internet telephony, instant messages, blogs, file downloads, P2P, games, etc. We also see the most used applications, if we want to keep an eye on the child’s activity

Finally, in the tab Settings, there are various interesting configuration elements. In addition to AiProtection, which is the security solution offered for free (and for life) by Trend Micro, there are useful options such as the possibility of activating an FTP which will allow access to the USB key that you will have plugged into the router. .

Finally, it is also possible very quickly and easily to adjust the quality of service of the Wi-Fi network. We move the elements that we want to see privileged, such as work at home (for emails and videoconferencing), multimedia streaming , gambling, surfing, etc. In short, you will understand, the application is rich and provides access to many functions. Just explore a little and you should be fine, although keep in mind that mesh Wi-Fi routers aren’t meant for audiences. geek or hackers, but rather for those who want to be connected everywhere in their home without breaking the bank.

Impeccable coverage

Exactly, let’s now look at the question of the coverage offered by this pack of two Asus ZenWiFi routers.

The first infographic shows quite easily that the two modules cover almost the entire surface of our test apartment. Only the upper left part is a little less covered. We will come back to that.

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To measure the performance of Asus’ ZenWiFi AX (XT8), we compared its total coverage to that of the current king of Wi-Fi routers, the Netgear Orbi RBK852, which also offers only two routers in the range. version tested. For the record, the TP-Link Deco X60 provides slightly better coverage, but with three router modules. We immediately notice that the two routers, the Asus one and the Netgear one, offer very comparable coverage.

If the infographic above is not displayed, click here.

From this point of view, the Asus ZenWiFi AX is therefore flawless and achieves remarkable flawlessness, despite the very many neighboring networks, the thick load-bearing walls, or even the row layout, all the length of the rooms.

Debits: the top of the basket

Does this coverage translate into blazing speeds? In short: yes. The two Asus mesh Wi-Fi 6 routers impress with the connection speeds they provide, whether near them, in their common overlap area, or at the end of coverage. Our lowest measurements, in peak flow, not falling below 280 Mbits / s at the most distant measurement point in our measurement apartment.

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In other words, with such connection speeds, you can do everything online, whether it be following a videoconference, playing games or streaming content in 4K … Or all at the same time. What is particularly remarkable is the very high flow rate both in the downward and upward direction.

However, we will note just one thing. In the room, which is at the top left of the coverage area, we took our measurements in the same location as usual. However, by moving our smartphones and PCs as little as a meter, in other words out of the green coverage area, we observed a significant drop in speeds. We went from around 280 Mbps to “only” around 40 Mbits / s. Always enough to enjoy the Net without asking any questions.
Nevertheless, we would like to clarify this point to show how a Wi-Fi network, however powerful it may be, can be subjected to variations in flow rates under almost identical conditions. In this case, however, these variations are not problematic since the recorded flow rates remain very good.

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