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Asus ZenWiFi AC UK Review: Exceptional Mesh Wi-Fi

Written by  Jun 11, 2020

The Asus ZenWiFi AC is an exceptional mesh Wi-Fi system in several ways, especially for its overall performance and VPN support.

You may notice that it’s one of the most expensive products of it kind and it doesn’t have a snazzy touchscreen or next-generation 802.11ax support.

Any doubts over what you’re paying for, though, are instantly dispelled by a glance at its performance figures. The ZenWiFi AC has proved the fastest over 802.11ac in all four of our test locations, topping a massive 30MB/sec every time. It’s a hugely impressive clean sweep, representing enough bandwidth to saturate a 240Mbits/sec internet connection.

sonic wall tz300Also see: SonicWall TZ300P Review: Ideal For Multi-site Usage

Looking at the specs, the ZenWiFi’s stunning performance is perhaps not too surprising. It claims a regular 867Mbits/sec speed rating over the standard 5GHz channel but partners it with a dedicated backhaul channel that’s supercharged with double the bandwidth and 4x4 MIMO support.

The ZenWiFi AC also distinguishes itself by its breadth of features. Most domestic mesh Wi-Fi systems aim to keep things relatively simple but the ZenWiFi gives you the same extensive range of functions as Asus’ regular routers. That means you get not one but three independent guest networks (one on 2.4GHz and two on the 5GHz band), a visual traffic analyser that shows which devices and apps are eating up bandwidth, and a network-level firewall that lets you block individual ports, URLs and web pages containing keywords.

Another standout feature is VPN support. The ZenWiFi router is one of the few mesh systems that allows you to securely connect to your home network over the internet, courtesy of a built-in PPTP, OpenVPN or IPSec server. And it also allows you route all outgoing connections via an external VPN service, guaranteeing privacy (and location spoofing) for all the devices in your home.

Aonther added bonus is that the ZenWiFi also has a USB socket, to which you can attach an external hard disk, printer or 3G/4G modem – handy if your internet service isn’t reliable.

Despite its plus points, we’d say that all of this may make the ZenWiFi quite daunting for casual users. The standard Asus web portal is densely packed with tabs and settings, while the smartphone app looks like it was designed to look futuristic and complex, rather than user-friendly.

asus zenwifi ac 2


The ZenWiFi’s parental control options also don’t quite as good as Netgear’s. That’s not to say they’re bad: you can optionally block adult sites as well as IM, peer-to-peer and streaming services for any client, and allow or disallow internet access for each day of the week on an hour-by-hour basis. Netgear’s Disney-branded controls, however, give you the additional option of paying a monthly fee to add detailed usage monitoring and track devices even when they’re connected to other networks.

The ZenWiFi station is not the most attractive design we've seen. We suspect the casing was designed around the desired antenna configuration, and fair play to that, but there was surely no need to make the exterior look so bland. On the upside, Asus has found space for four Gigabit Ethernet ports at the rear of each node: on the router unit, one will be taken up by your internet connection, but you can use all four for wired clients on the remote node if you wish.

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Although Asus advertises a relatively modest coverage of 400m² for a two-node ZenWiFi kit, our experience suggests that it will give you a decent connection from further away than many more optimistic rivals. If you do find you need a little extra reach, however, you might be pleased to know that the ZenWiFi platform is built on Asus’ home-grown AiMesh system, meaning you can add a regular Asus router or Wi-Fi extender into the mix, rather than having to cough up for a third node. And if speed is what you crave, there’s also an 802.11ax version available, with a list price of £420 to consider.

Image of ASUS ZenWiFi AC Tri-Band Whole-Home Mesh WiFi System(CT8), Coverage Up to 400 sq m or 4320 sq ft/4+ Rooms, 3 Gbps WiFi, Life-Time Free Network Security and Parental Controls, 4X Gigabit Ports, 3 SSIDs

ASUS ZenWiFi AC Tri-Band Whole-Home Mesh WiFi System(CT8), Coverage Up to 400 sq m or 4320 sq ft/4+ Rooms, 3 Gbps WiFi, Life-Time Free Network Security and Parental Controls, 4X Gigabit Ports, 3 SSIDs
£284.99 Buy nowamazon uk

It’s hard to think of many scenarios where you’ll need anything more powerful than the ZenWiFi AC. Indeed, for most households this system is likely to be overkill: if you just want to watch Netflix in HD in the bedroom, the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi system will do the job more cheaply.

Yet, if you’re looking for the fastest, most capable Wi-Fi extender system around, this is it. The Asus ZenWiFi AC is a superlative mesh platform that costs a bit more than the average but delivers an unbeatable set of features and top quality performance.

This article contain Amazon UK affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. Prices may vary after publication, please follow links for current prices.

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