Asus ZenWiFi ET8 – Review 2021

The latest addition to the Asus ZenWiFi family of mesh systems, the ZenWiFi ET8 ($ 529.99), is the company’s most advanced mesh system to date. Designed to deliver seamless wireless connectivity throughout the house, this system offers the latest Wi-Fi 6E technology, which enables compatible clients to connect to it via the 6GHz radio band. ET8 delivered very good throughout and signaled performance in our tests, was a breeze to install and comes with free lifetime anti-malware and parental control tools. It’s our new Editors’ Choice choice for Wi-Fi mesh systems.

Carpet 5,500 square feet with Wi-Fi 6E signal

ET8 is a Wi-Fi 6E system, which means that not only does it support 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) technologies, but it can also use the 6GHz radio band to deliver faster throughput speeds, lower latency and more bandwidth than you want come with the more crowded 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. However, only client devices that support Wi-Fi 6E can connect to the 6GHz band. With Wi-Fi 6 you get 160MHz channel bandwidth, 1024 QAM, Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) data transmissions, MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming, WPA3 encryption and direct-to-client signal beamforming.

ET8 is a two-part mesh system that provides coverage for homes of up to 5,500 square feet. It consists of two nodes that look identical to the nodes used in the previous generation of the ZenWiFi AX XT8 system. They measure 6.3 x 6.2 x 2.9 inches (HWD) and have a white finish with grilles on each side for airflow.

A small LED indicator on the front of the node glows blue during the setup process and is white when the satellite node has a strong wireless signal. A yellow light indicates a weak signal, and a red light indicates that the signal to the router node is lost. The rear panel hosts a 2.5 Gbps WAN port, three 1 Gbps LAN ports, a USB 3.1 port, a power port, and a power switch. You can use a LAN port for the wired backhaul or let the wide 6GHz band handle it wirelessly.

Asus ZenWiFi AXE6600 ET8 Mesh rear doors

Each node contains six internal antennas and is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core CPU, 512 MB of RAM and 256 MB of flash memory. The ET8 is an AXE6600 system, which means it is capable of reaching top data rates of 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band, 1,201 Mbps on the 5 GHz band and 4,804 Mbps on the 6 GHz band.

As with the ZenWiFi AX XT8 and ZenWiFi AC CT8 mesh systems, the ET8 system comes with AIProtection Pro software. Powered by Trend Micro, AI Protection gives you free lifetime protection against malicious attacks and uses a proprietary Intrusion Prevention System to scan incoming and outgoing data, block Denial of Service (DDos) attacks, prevent access to malicious websites and block network access to any. client devices infected with malware.

ET8’s parental controls offer customizable age-based web filtering, access scheduling, and usage monitoring. You can automatically deny access to adult content sites such as gambling, pornography and violence, as well as restrict access to shopping, games, instant messaging and media streaming. In addition, you can instantly block Internet access at the touch of a button.

Do it (almost) everything in the app

The Asus Router mobile app for iOS and Android devices gives you plenty of management tools and offers a user-friendly interface. The app’s home screen displays a network card with each connected node, LAN IP, and network name. There is also a button that lets you select a QoS preset and a button that optimizes the network based on the location of each node.

At the bottom of the home screen are the Home, Devices, Insights, Family, and Settings buttons. The Home button returns you to the home screen wherever you are in the app, and the Devices button opens a screen with all connected client devices and mesh components (nodes). Here you can see which node each client is connected to. Tap any client to block access for that client or to optimize its connection. You can also give the client bandwidth priority for gaming or streaming applications or restrict bandwidth usage.

Asus Router mobile app shows settings for Asus ZenWiFi ET8

Asus Router mobile app, left to right: main screen, QoS panel and family controls

The Insights screen lets you do things like share Wi-Fi access using a QR code, check your password strength, and search for available mesh nodes, and the Family screen is where you can create family member profiles and assign parental controls. Using the Settings screen, you can perform network scans and enable AIProtection features such as the aforementioned intrusion prevention and blocking system.

The app is quite capable, but it can not adjust all ET8 settings. You will need to use the web console to create VPN profiles and access more advanced settings such as port release and firewall settings.

ET8 supports Amazon Alexa commands that allow you to use your voice to do things like activate the guest network, pause Internet access, restart the router, and update the firmware.

Testing the ZenWiFi ET8: Easy setup, fast throughput

Configuring the ET8 for first-time use was easy. I connected one of the nodes and connected it to my modem, downloaded the Asus Router mobile app and tapped Setup on the opening screen. I selected “Asus ZenWiFi Series” from the list and chose ET8 and it was immediately recognized via Bluetooth. Next, I pressed the ET8 tab and followed the instructions to place both nodes close to each other for setup. I turned on the other node and was asked to create a new network name and password. (You can choose to separate the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands if you prefer, or let the smart-connect feature select the best band for optimal performance.)

I created an account and tapped Next to get the app to set up the network. A few minutes later, the network optimization process was complete. The final step is to place the satellite node in a room that is about 30 feet away from the router.

The ET8 system delivered very good results on our throughput performance test. We use a Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra phone equipped with a Wi-Fi 6E radio to test speeds on the 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz radio bands. On the 2.4 GHz Proximity Test (same space), the router node delivered 121 Mbps that matched the Linksys Atlas Max 6E router, and at a distance of 30 feet, it beat the Atlas at 11 Mbps. The ET8 satellite node score of 119 Mbps in the proximity test and 60 Mbps in the 30-foot test were almost identical to the results of the Atlas node (120 Mbps and 61 Mbps, respectively). These 2.4 GHz results are not shown below, but the more critical 5GHz and 6GHz are …

The ET8’s 5GHz performance was also strong: it passed 869 Mbps on the proximity test versus Atlas Max’s score of 806Mbps. On the 30-foot test, the ET8 achieved 350 Mbps, while the Atlas scored 300 Mbps. The ET8 satellite node (787 Mbps) was slightly slower than the Atlas node (792 Mbps) in the proximity test, but its 531 Mbps score on the 30-foot test beat the Atlas node by 16 Mbps. (See details on how we test routers.)

The performance of the 6GHz band was solid. The ET8 router’s score of 918 Mbps was slightly slower than the Atlas (929 Mbps), but it showed much better range with a score of 371 Mbps on the 30-foot test compared to 258 Mbps for the Atlas. The results were similar for the satellite nodes: the ET8 node score of 580 Mbps in the proximity test could not quite match the Atlas Max node score of 598 Mbps, but it came out ahead on the 30-foot test with a score of 333 Mbps. (Atlas Max scored 218 Mbps in this test.)

To test wireless signal strength, we use an Ekahau Sidekick Wi-Fi diagnostic device and Ekahaus Survey mobile app to generate a heat map showing the signal strength of the router and satellite node throughout our test home. (Editor’s note: Ekahau is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag’s parent company.)

Ekahau signal strength card for Asus ZenWiFi ET8

Ekahau signal strength card for Asus ZenWiFi ET8

The circles on the cards represent the location of the router and the node, and the colors represent the signal strength. Dark green represents the strongest signal, yellow is weaker, and gray indicates no measurable signal reception. As shown on the map, the two nodes have no problem delivering strong 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless signals to all corners of the house. (Ekahau does not support 6GHz measurements.)

Verdict: The best mesh system to date with Wi-Fi 6E

If you want to secure the future of your home network with the latest Wi-Fi 6E technology, look no further than the Asus ZenWi-Fi ET8. This two-piece mesh system lets you connect via the 6GHz radio band, is easy to install and manage, and delivers fast throughput and strong signal performance.

Asus ZenWi-Fi ET8 AXE6600 on the table

In addition, it features a multi-gig WAN port and a USB port, and it comes with AIProtection, which gives you free lifelong network security and parental control tools. All of this makes it a choice, like our Editors’ Choice choice for Wi-Fi mesh systems.


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