The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 review: a super-fast 6E mesh wifi system
Less known for its network products than laptops and their components, Asus has nevertheless been offering convincing network products equipped with the latest innovations in the field for several years. The set mesh ZenWiFi Pro ET12 is a system mesh wifi 6E that carries the 6 GHz frequency band in addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. It also has an RJ45 Multi-Gigabit port ideal for using fiber and creating a high-performance local network.
As a reminder, a system mesh WiFi makes it possible to deploy a wireless network in a residence with optimal coverage, especially thanks to the use of several terminals that allow the signal to be repeated.
The wireless part of the ZenWifi Pro ET12 is wifi 6E standard (802.11ax) with a theoretical speed of 1148 Mb/s in the 2.4 GHz band, and 4804 Mb/s in the 5 and 6 GHz bands; that is, an aggregate speed of 10,756 Mb/s.
For communication between modules, Asus does not allocate a band and leaves the choice to the user: either each of the bands does its own backhaulor the 6 GHz band is dedicated to it backhaul. In the absence of wifi 6E compatible products, allocating the 6 GHz band to this use can be a smart choice to improve the throughput of the repeater module in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.
For the wired part, the modules are identical, they have four RJ45 ports with two LAN ports in Gigabit standard and a third Multi-Gig with 2.5 Gb/s. The fourth port is an exclusive WAN port (connection to the box or to the modem) at 2.5 Gb/s standard. The Ethernet Backhaul function is clearly supported by the modules, which frees up wifi bandwidth, especially since it can be done at 2.5 Gb/s.
To control the modules, Asus has provided a WPS button for pairing, an operation switch and a reset button. They occur on the back of the module, right next to the RJ45 ports. A glowing logo is present on the translucent block containing the antennas at the top of each module. The latter changes color depending on the network status and can be disabled in the app.
On the design side, we can say that Asus is not done with half measures and this one worked particularly well. Each module consists of a black vertical rectangle – ventilated in places – surrounded by a transparent cage containing the antennas and the glowing logo visible on the transparent sides.
Despite their assertive design, the ZenWifi Pro ET12 modules are particularly impressive, with at least 1.47 kg in size and a height of 24.3 cm by 11.5 cm on the side.
With the ZenWiFi Pro ET12, Asus is aiming at a smart public who knows the basics of network installation. So the installation process boils down to the essentials. Just follow the steps in the Asus Router app (iOS/Android) to create credentials for both wifi access and the admin interface. It is up to you to connect your modules correctly.
Once the installation is complete, the Asus Router application allows you to monitor your network, configure parental controls and adjust the behavior of each of the modules as you see fit. The settings are particularly complete for an application. Among other things, it allows you to specify if the wifi bands are visible under the same SSID and how the link is made between the modules. There are also settings on the network itself, with DHCP pages, port forwarding, etc.
Parental controls appear to have changed since we last tested the Asus ZenWiFi Mini XD4. Each profile can assign devices with time slots, user profiles (child, pre-teen, teen, adult), specific DNS to limit access to certain sites and even manage access by site category. A welcome development.
Access to the web interface is at “router.asus.com” or “192.168.50.1”. Available settings are worthy of the most advanced routers. So it is possible to manage everything, from VPN to wifi roaming behavior. You can spend days fine-tuning your router.
To check the performance of the Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 mesh system, we connected the router to our operator box where we connected a laptop PC via an adapter to the 2.5 Gb/s socket. We transfer a file (a disk image) of 4.73 GB from the first laptop PC to a second one equipped with an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E chip, but also to a fixed desktop PC located above and connected to a Gigabyte GC-WBAX200 PCIe card with external antenna, and updated with Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 chip that supports wifi 6E.
In the 6 GHz frequency band, the maximum download speed is close to 1.5 Gb/s – transferring our 4.73 GB disk image takes just over 24 seconds. Once connected to the module that acts as a repeater, the bandwidth is logically reduced by two and reaches less than 700 Mb/s. Note that our 5th point measurement — the furthest — shows that coverage starts to run out of steam at 6 GHz and you need to move to the 5 GHz band to get more throughput.
ET12’s 5 GHz band is slower than 6 GHz, but more consistent. So we get a little more than 740 Mb / s, whether reading or writing, while at our farthest points (4 and 5) the speeds are maintained better (450 Mb / s).
The 2.4 GHz band delivers speeds of around 250 Mb/s. This is a little less than what a system can offer us. mesh of this stature, but it remains enjoyable. Today only old devices and connected things use this frequency band and they don’t need very high bandwidth.