The newest 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 house-wide wireless connectivity, this system offers the latest Wi-Fi 6E technology, which allows compatible clients to connect to it via the 6GHz radio band. The ET8 delivered very good throughout and signal performance in our tests, was breeze to install, and comes with free lifetime anti-malware and parental control tools. It’s our new Editors’ Choice pick for Wi-Fi mesh systems.
Blanket 5,500 Square Feet With Wi-Fi 6E Signal
The ET8 is a Wi-Fi 6E system, which means it not only supports 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 what you’ll get 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.You Can Trust Our ReviewsSince 1982, PCMag has tested and rated thousands of products to help you make better buying decisions. (See how we test.)
The ET8 is a two-piece 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 ZenWiFi AX XT8 system. They measure 6.3 by 6.2 by 2.9 inches (HWD) and sport a white finish with grilles on either 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 means the signal to the router node is lost. The back panel is host to a 2.5Gbps WAN port, three 1Gbps LAN ports, a USB 3.1 port, a power port, and a power switch. You can use a LAN port for wired backhaul or let the wide 6GHz band handle it wirelessly.4.5Outstanding$1,499.99See Itat Best BuyRead Our Netgear Orbi RBKE963 WiFi 6E Mesh System Review 4.5Outstanding$267.00See Itat Walmart Read Our TP-Link Deco M9 Plus Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 4.0Excellent$229.00See Itat AmazonRead Our Google Nest Wifi Review 4.0Excellent$229.00See Itat WalmartRead Our TP-Link Deco W7200 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System Review 3.5Good$79.99See Itat AmazonRead Our Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System Review3.5Good$229.00See Itat AmazonRead Our Amazon Eero Pro 6 Review 3.5Good$299.00See Itat AmazonRead Our Arris Surfboard Max Tri-Band Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System AX6600 (W121) Review 3.5Good$449.00See Itat AmazonRead Our Linksys Atlas Max 6E Tri-Band Mesh WiFi System Review3.5Good$636.89See Itat AmazonRead Our Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6 System AX6000 (RBK852) Review
Each node contains six internal antennas and is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, and 256MB of flash memory. The ET8 is an AXE6600 system, which means it is capable of hitting top data rates of 574Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, 1,201Mbps on the 5GHz band, and 4,804Mbps on the 6GHz 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 that are infected with malware.
The ET8's parental controls offer customizable age-based web filtering, access scheduling, and usage monitoring. You can automatically deny access to sites that contain adult content such as gambling, pornography, and violence, as well as restrict access to shopping, gaming, instant messaging, and media streaming sites. Additionally, you can instantly block internet access with the touch of a button.
Do It (Almost) All 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 map with each connected node, the LAN IP, and the network name. There’s also a button that lets you select a QoS preset and a button that will optimize the network based on the location of each node.
At the bottom of the Home screen are Home, Devices, Insight, Family, and Settings buttons. The Home button returns you to the Home screen from 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 limit bandwidth usage.Asus Router mobile app, left to right: the main screen, the QoS panel, and Family controls
The Insight 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 go to create profiles for family members and assign parental controls. Using the Settings screen, you can perform network scans and enable AIProtection features such as the aforementioned Intrusion Prevention System and blocking of malicious sites.
The app is quite capable, but it can't adjust all of the ET8's settings. You’ll have to use the web console to create VPN profiles and to access more advanced settings such as port triggering and firewall settings.
The ET8 supports Amazon Alexa commands that allow you to use your voice to do things like enable the guest network, pause internet access, reboot the router, and update the firmware.
Testing the ZenWiFi ET8: Easy Setup, Speedy Throughput
Configuring the ET8 for first-time use was easy. I plugged in 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 selected the ET8, and it was immediately recognized via Bluetooth. Next, I tapped the ET8 tab and followed the instructions to place both nodes close to each other for setup. I powered up the second node and was prompted 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 choose the best band for optimal performance.)
I created an account and tapped Next to have the app set up the network. A few minutes later, the network optimization process was finished. The last step is to place the satellite node in a room that's about 30 feet away from the router.
The ET8 system turned in very good scores on our throughput performance tests. 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 2.4GHz close-proximity (same room) test, the router node delivered 121Mbps, matching the Linksys Atlas Max 6E router, and at a distance of 30 feet it beat the Atlas by 11Mbps. The ET8 satellite node’s scores of 119Mbps on the close-proximity test and 60Mbps on the 30-foot test were nearly identical to the Atlas node’s scores (120Mbps and 61Mbps, respectively). These 2.4GHz results are not charted below, but the more critical 5GHz and 6GHz ones are...
The ET8’s 5GHz performance was also strong: It managed 869Mbps on the close-proximity test versus the Atlas Max’s score of 806Mbps. On the 30-foot test, the ET8 garnered 350Mbps while the Atlas scored 300Mbps. The ET8 satellite node (787Mbps) was a bit slower than the Atlas node (792Mbps) on the close-proximity test, but its score of 531Mbps on the 30-foot test beat the Atlas node by 16Mbps. (See details on how we test routers.)
Performance on the 6GHz band was solid. The ET8 router’s score of 918Mbps was slightly slower than the Atlas (929Mbps), but it showed much better range, with a score of 371Mbps on the 30-foot test compared to 258Mbps for the Atlas. Results were similar for the satellite nodes: The ET8 node’s score of 580Mbps on the close-proximity test couldn’t quite match the Atlas Max node’s score of 598Mbps, but it came out ahead on the 30-foot test with a score of 333Mbps. (The Atlas Max scored 218Mbps on this test.)
To test wireless signal strength, we use an Ekahau Sidekick Wi-Fi diagnostic device and Ekahau’s Survey mobile app to generate a heat map that displays the router and satellite node’s signal strength throughout our test home. (Editors' Note: Ekahau is owned by Ziff Davis, PCMag's parent company.)Ekahau signal strength map for Asus ZenWiFi ET8
The circles on the maps represent the location of the router and the node, and the colors represent 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 trouble 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 So Far With Wi-Fi 6E
If you’re looking to future-proof 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.
Moreover, it is equipped with a multi-gig WAN port and a USB port, and it comes with AIProtection, which gives you free lifetime network security and parental control tools. All this makes it a shoo-in as our Editors’ Choice pick for Wi-Fi mesh systems.4.5Editors' ChoiceSee It$529.99 at AmazonMSRP $259.99View More
The Asus ZenWiFi ET8 is a powerful Wi-Fi 6E mesh system that delivers strong multi-band Wi-Fi throughout your home. It offers a good selection of I/O ports and comes with free network security and parental control software.
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