ASUS needs no special introduction. Almost everyone knows the equipment of this Taiwanese manufacturer of computer components or accessories. The most famous series of ASUS is the ROG series, i.e. Republic Of Gamers, which is represented by products intended for computer enthusiasts and gamers. This does not mean that ordinary “mortals” have nothing to look for from ASUS. On the contrary, the company also addresses its offer to customers who appreciate reliability and decent performance. This also applies to the network segment, where ASUS has been fighting giants of the industry for a long time, and with positive results. cally won our recognition every time. Will it be this time?
This role is played by the ASUS ZenWiFi AX model, which is quite different from the ZenWiFi AX Mini. However, it must be honestly admitted that such an investment can pay off if we take into account the basic advantage of the described solution – the simplicity of installation and operation. Replacing the router is also simple, but it will not always be the perfect remedy for network coverage problems. It can help if you want to increase the bandwidth, quite the opposite, as, for example, in the case of a repeater or powerline adapters (we assume that we do not want to pull additional cables, so the dedicated AP is out of order). Mesh technologies address both of these issues, and ASUS is no different.
ASUS ZenWiFi AX Mini consists of three stations, one of which is the main one, and the other two are auxiliary. The set supports the AX1800 standard, which translates into a maximum bandwidth of 574 Mbps for the 2.4 GHz band and 1201 Mbps for 5 GHz, when it comes to 802.11ax. For comparison, in the case of the slightly more expensive ZenWiFi AX set for 5 GHz, it is as much as 4808 Mbps. For 802.11ac we have 867 Mbps, and for 802.11n – 300 Mbps. It can therefore be said that it is the equivalent of mid-priced routers. The SoC used in the ASUS ZenWiFi AX Mini stations looks impressive. It is a quad-core Broadcom BCM6755, clocked at 1.5 GHz. It is exactly the same IC as in the case of the more expensive model, and the difference can be seen in the radio circuits used. AX Mini uses only the Wi-Fi capabilities offered by SoC. The more expensive model is supported by an additional radio system – hence the disproportion between the maximum theoretical capacity. I am very curious how the ASUS ZenWiFi AX Mini fares in this situation when it comes to performance. I do not expect records here, but the transfer speed after being away from the main station should not drop as drastically here as it is in the case of traditional routers.
As for the contents of the box, apart from the three mesh stations, you will find there power supplies for each of them, adapters for various power socket standards, an Ethernet cable and a short documentation in the form of installation instructions and a description of the warranty conditions. So you can say – standard in the case of consumer network devices.
The individual stations included in the set have a form similar to a cuboid with slightly curved walls. They were painted white (a black color variant is also available), and made of plastic.
The walls are smooth, matte with a visible golden manufacturer’s logo on the front. The rough texture of the material on the upper surface of the station’s housing looks quite interesting, giving the impression of being three-dimensional.
the devices look elegant and it is hardly possible to say that they will disturb the interior of the room in which they will be placed.
The quality and fit of the housing is at a very high level and there is practically nothing to fault here. The plastic used is stiff and solid, and the stations themselves weigh so much that they are unlikely to be knocked down by accidentally pulling the cable. The whole thing is additionally stabilized by rubber feet. The main station is a bit (5 grams) heavier than the rest.
At the bottom of each ASUS ZenWiFi AX Mini station there is a “shelf” with access to power and gigabit Ethernet sockets (of which the main station is equipped with two such sockets). There are also vents, two buttons responsible for WPS and device reset, as well as a nameplate, on which we can find, among others data on access to the administration panel and Wi-Fi network.
Before the first use, the ASUS ZenWiFi AX Mini mesh kit requires an appropriate configuration, which is slightly different from what is known from traditional routers. It is done with the ASUS Router dedicated application for mobile devices (Android and iOS). After connecting the entire set to the Internet connection and power supply, Bluetooth must be turned on in the smartphone – through this interface, the entire process of initial configuration is carried out. So it looks similar to other mesh sets available on the market.
After starting the application, the start menu will appear, in which we select the “Configuration” option. Then we point to item # 2, “ASUS ZenWiFi Router”. As you can see in the picture above, the ASUS Router app can be used to manage not only mesh devices but many other ASUS routers as well. The upside is definitely the application’s graphical interface entirely in Polish, as you have already noticed;) It will certainly facilitate configuration for people less familiar with network terminology.
A wizard will start to guide you through the entire configuration process. In fact, all we have to do is point to the recognized mesh set and … wait.
We go through the wizard’s screens. With standard internet connection settings, we don’t really need to do anything else.
Finally, we’ll get to where the Wi-Fi network sets up. Here we can decide whether we want to separate the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands from each other, or we can rely on the Smart Connect function, which will automatically select the “best” band for connecting clients. We also set the network SSID and password. We also personalize access to the administrator account itself.
That’s it. After passing the last step of the wizard, you can connect to the newly created network. We will also see the main application window showing the network map. As you can see, the whole thing looks elegant, and the graphic interface is kept in space atmosphere and colors;) To facilitate the location of individual mesh nodes, we can assign them to specific places in the house.
The mobile application gives you a quick overview of parental control options, where we can set a schedule for Internet access by individual devices connecting to the mesh network.
The scope of the general configuration of the ZenWiFi AX Mini largely coincides with what can be set from the level of the full web administration panel (more on that in a moment). Not all options are available – especially the more advanced ones. However, in order to quickly preview the configuration and change the most important settings (such as the network password, basic diagnostics or even firmware update), such a set of application possibilities should be enough.
ASUS routers, in addition to the ability to manage their functions via a mobile application, also allow you to use a more conventional interface – the administration panel accessible via a web browser. Of course, this also applies to devices such as the ASUS ZenWiFi AX Mini mesh set. The software based on the ASUSWRT system will be well known to people already familiar with the products of this Taiwanese company, and newcomers will certainly find the desired options quite easy due to the simple and clear interface. Added to this is the wealth of functionality that makes ASUS networking hardware software different from the competition. In the case of ZenWiFi AX Mini, these options will be slightly less, but it should not come as a surprise due to the fact that this set is directed to a completely different target audience.
the familiar admin panel is available at router.asus.com or after entering the default gateway IP address in the browser’s address bar. On the main screen you can see the network map, preview of the device and network status (connected clients and load). Almost identical to any other ASUS router.
Due to the fact that we are dealing with a mesh set, the menu has several options related to this topic in the form of a tab called AiMesh. From this level, we will be able to e.g. view the state of mesh nodes, add a new node or check who is currently connected.
Wi-Fi settings tab unchanged. We have the same options here as in classic ASUS routers. ZenWiFi AX supports the 802.11ax standard, so the appropriate options related to it are also here. The support for the WPA3 PSK standard is also worth mentioning when it comes to encryption of the transmission.
Similarly, in the case of the router operating mode selection screen, but there is no WISP client or repeater option.
QoS is here in a simplified form, without the possibility of monitoring traffic and showing statistics for each client or type of traffic separately.
There is of course a firewall feature in addition to an additional protection mechanism called AiProtection. The firewall has been adapted to the ZenWiFi AX Mini unchanged from other ASUS routers.
And here comes something that routers generally lack – IFTTT support and Amazon Alexa services. The latter can be used to control the mesh set settings using voice commands.
Wi-Fi 802.11n 2.4 GHz, 802.11ac 5 GHz
In almost every article related in any way to computer hardware, there must be tests of its performance. Therefore, the aspects that are of most interest to readers interested in hardware that enable computers to “communicate” with each other were examined. The mesh set Review today has been tested for transfer speed via Wi-Fi and the WAN interface. Now it is worth saying a few words about the test procedure. Well, as we know, testing an Ethernet connection is not particularly difficult. We connect two computers with a cable with a switch built into the router and test the data transfer. Of course, it is slightly more complicated to compare wireless network technologies. The test platform was therefore a computer (laptop) connected to the router via a gigabit connection, acting as a server, running under the control of Windows 10 Pro. The Wi-Fi client was a PC (also Windows 10 Pro) equipped with ASUS PCE-AC88U and ASUS PCE-AX3000 cards. Measurements were made by copying a large 8 GB .mkv file via the CIFS protocol.
While Reviewing another set of Wi-Fi mesh devices, I became convinced that this is a really good solution for people looking for this true “plug & play” in the context of network equipment. It is enough to take it out of the box, connect the minimum number of cables to well-marked sockets, configure it in a simple way using the mobile application and that’s it. It works. Without further ado requiring technical knowledge of computer networks. This approach is desired by a fairly large group of users who want to expand or create their own smaller or larger home network.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, on the contrary – computer hardware is for people, not the other way around. Yes, theoretically, one should distinguish between such issues as the bandwidth on which our network operates or methods of ensuring its security. These are the basics of the basics, but the fact is, not everyone wants to worry about it. Therefore, device manufacturers are rightly hoping that this default configuration will be OK, both in terms of network speed and ensuring that no stranger will get to it without our knowledge. A slightly more serious problem appears when you need to somehow deal with covering a larger area with the signal. Here, even the greatest concern of network equipment suppliers, unfortunately, will not help, because the laws of physics regarding the propagation of radio waves are unlikely to be overcome. In this case, you already need to have some knowledge related to network planning, devices that improve the broadly understood Wi-Fi range or configuration.
It’s hard for me to see any major flaws or shortcomings here. ASUS ZenWiFi AX Mini is a device aimed at recipients looking for a solution to the problem of a poor Wi-Fi network signal on a fairly large surface – according to the manufacturer’s assurances, this mesh set should be able to cover over 440 square meters with a stable signal, which is quite an impressive value. Of course, this applies to the situation when we use all three devices included in this set. For two and one, the values will be correspondingly smaller. I did not have a very physical opportunity to verify these claims, but I must say that in the room from our standard test procedure with a total area of about 65 square meters, the stable signal was actually everywhere. Nay, the speed of data transfer also looks very good compared to classic routers. When the two test devices are side by side, the results also held high when it comes to testing in 802.11ac and 802.11ax.
There are of course faster devices, but on the other hand, it is not surprising that the ASUS ZenWiFi AX Mini does not break records in this respect, because it was not created for that either. Interesting is the point in switching to 802.11ax – in my opinion, no. If we have devices compatible with 802.11ac, we will also be able to enjoy the high performance of the tested mesh set. In addition, we have a simple configuration using a mobile application, a standard web interface to set slightly more detailed options and a very good quality of the devices themselves, combined with an elegant, minimalist design. Unfortunately, we will have to pay a lot for these comforts and nice performance. Is it worth considering the tested set then? If we are looking for ready-made solutions that work well right out of the box, requiring little from us in terms of configuration and we are not discouraged by the high price, I think that ASUS ZenWiFi AX Mini will be very good as a remedy for Wi-Fi coverage problems .