Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 review: The high-performance mesh

There are computers smaller than a single system node Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12, but already when you take the two components of the brand's mesh network kit out of the box, the design (strongly conditioned by the integrated dissipation system) and the rear doors bring to mind what they "promise" to do and who they are aimed at.

With a 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz and 6 GHz band, which should guarantee a maximum theoretical throughput of 11.000 Mbps, and a dedicated backhaul channel between the nodes of the mesh network, Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 it focuses entirely on performance and is aimed essentially at the most demanding prosumers.

But it does so at a price, which is certainly not suitable for all budgets. For this reason, when the brand offered us to try them, we immediately accepted the brand's invitation: in this review, we will not only understand what the real performance of the system designed by Asus is, but we will try to understand its advantages compared to a more "humane" solution. ”, such as that of the Google WiFi Pro (here the review).

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 review: The ultimate mesh solution?

Design and materials

In essence, Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 it is an update of the ZenWiFi XT8 of a few years ago (actually there is also the XT 12 version which is not WiFi 6e) and it can still be purchased both in single version and in bundle with 2 devices. However, the design changes a lot compared to the previous generation: the ET12 is a very large rectangular cylinder, which in the upper part has a transparent layer inside which a colored LED has been positioned that illuminates the Asus logo.

In terms of design, it is nothing too extreme, however it must be said that unlike other solutions, the appearance of theAsus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 makes it less easy to place in your home décor.

Such important dimensions are mostly due to the presence of a system that integrates various heat sinks, thanks to which the brand wanted to totally eliminate the drops in performance due to high temperatures, succeeding perfectly: even after days of ignition in rather hot environments, Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 it is almost always cold.

Review Asus ZenWiFi ET12 mesh 6e fast performance features best comparison discount coupons italy

Which justifies the 115 x 115 x 241 mm overall dimensions and the weight of 1.5 kg of each of the individual nodes. On the back there are 4 ethernet ports, of which 2.5 Gbps and it is not a feature to be underestimated: especially considering mesh configurations like mine, which is wired, having a second 2.5 Gbps port with which to connect the different nodes of the network significantly increases the performance.

Next to the ethernet ports then, there is the device reset button, the WPS button, an on/off switch and the power input which takes place via an external power supply.

Installation and configuration

Let's start immediately from an assumption: as well as for example the Google WiFi Pro, too Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 does not integrate a modem. Which means that it must be connected to the modem of your telephone provider, or directly to the ONT if you are using an FTTH network. Personally, I connected the router directly to the antenna of my connection: I've been using a Fastweb 5G mmWave FWA for more than two years, with which I can navigate at 1 gigabit per second and which I really can't complain about. Now, I have always had a big problem with the distribution of the network in my house, not only due to the strange planimetric conformation, but above all due to the extremely thick walls: for this reason, for some time now, I have configured a mesh network with as many as 4 nodes distributed throughout the environment, one of which in the garden.

Review Asus ZenWiFi ET12 mesh 6e fast performance features best comparison discount coupons italy

For the first configuration it will be necessary to download the official Asus app, turn on the router and follow the wizard that will help the user with the first connection and the creation of the mesh network: in about 10 minutes plus Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 it will be ready to use.

However, I would like the brand to improve the way it provides feedback on the positioning of each Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 because the guidelines provided by the app are limited to emphasizing that they should not be placed too far from each other.

Review Asus ZenWiFi ET12 mesh 6e fast performance features best comparison discount coupons italy

I know for a fact that my house needs 4 mesh nodes, and one of the biggest obstacles of this review is the fact that, to fully test the Asus solution, I decided to switch to a 2 node configuration, and it was quite difficult to find the right location for each of them.

Through the web interface, then, it is possible to access the configuration of functions suitable for the most expert and demanding users: for example, AiProtection Pro by Asus (which works on the Trend Micro standard) which guarantees IPS (Intrusion Prevention System) security, it can manage malware blocking in real time, parental controls and create as many as 12 separate SSIDs with which to create networks dedicated to users or IoT devices.

Review Asus ZenWiFi ET12 mesh 6e fast performance features best comparison discount coupons italy

There's also a built-in VPN server and the ability to block protocols like BitTorrent and Target Wake Time. In short, although the smartphone application makes the configuration and management of the "primary" functions of the Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 rather user-friendly, by accessing the web interface it is possible to manage practically every aspect of the router, but it is important to do it with full knowledge of the facts: the functions integrated in these Asus routers almost make them look like a product suitable for SMEs, disguised as a consumer product.

WiFi 6e and performance

Unlike the XT12 model, Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 it is compatible with the latest WiFi 6e technology, and manages mesh networks with the same protocol. But what are the advantages (and disadvantages) of this new protocol? Let's do a little recap.

Until the arrival of WiFi 6, wireless devices could only use the 2,4 and 5 GHz frequency bands, which even came in 2009 when the IEEE 802.11n standard was approved.

WiFi 6e (where the letter "e" means Extended) is the first time in 13 years that a new band has been introduced by providing for the use of 6 GHz frequencies. Now, compared to the 6 GHz frequency spectrum that can be used in United States and other countries (1200 MHz), in Europe it has been approved to use a smaller, wider 480 MHz range which is in the 5.945-6.425MHz range with us.

Basically, although this standard actually allows the use of 59 channels distributed over 1.2 GHz of spectrum, in Europe a maximum of one channel at 320 MHz can be activated, while in other countries outside the EU even three can be used.

Review Asus ZenWiFi ET12 mesh 6e fast performance features best comparison discount coupons italy

It is a neutered WiFi 6e, ours, but with the Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 goes a splinter. Using two devices compatible with the new standard, including a Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra (here the review) and a MacBook Pro M1 Pro to which I connected an adapter (no, basically it is not compatible with WiFi 6e), the benefits in terms of bare and raw performance and latency times were obvious.

Although the brand guarantees that only one Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 is able to cover the space of a 4-room house (and 3000 square meters in an open field), in reality I am convinced that for a house of that size two or three would be needed to always obtain the same performance. And that's because the other side of the 6GHz coin is that they're actually much more sensitive to physical obstacles.

Of course, the 2.0 Ghz quad-core CPU pushes the RangeBoost Plus technology a lot which actually manages to guarantee a much wider coverage even in WiFi 6e, but in order not to have any problems with performance drops in large houses, my advice is that to think of a mesh configuration with at least one satellite node.

With my connection, doing a normal speedtest near the mesh node the result was 793 Mbps in download and 293 Mbps in upload: it is the highest result I have ever obtained connected to a mesh node. Moving away from the routers and positioning myself in the center of the living room instead, performance has changed but really by poco: the lowest peak was 781 Mbps in download and 266 Mbps in upload. Which isn't bad.

Outside in the garden, however, the speed dropped by about 35%, but the network coverage was still good enough to allow me to connect and control the various IoT devices that I installed.

In short, to be honest (and given the shape of my house), I would not replace my current 4-knot configuration with a 2-knot one, but I must say I was quite surprised by the performance I got using the Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12: moving around the house, despite the very thick walls, the thousand connected devices and the speed with which I went around the whole room, the Asus system has always managed to make it clear to which node of the mesh network to connect my WiFi 6e smartphone and has always guaranteed me the best possible performance.

Review Asus ZenWiFi ET12 mesh 6e fast performance features best comparison discount coupons italy

Of course, in an ideal world I would replace my 4 Google WiFi Pros with 4 Asus Zen WiFi Pro ET12, but at that point things would start to get too expensive and, let's face it, for my needs the price to spend would not be justified by the increase in performance, albeit significant.

Selling price and considerations

The selling price ofAsus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 varies according to the bundle chosen. If you wanted to buy just one router, you would have to shell out 442,93 euros at a discount on Amazon, a significant amount that rises to 827,00 euros (always at a discount) for the 2-node bundle and 1352 euros for the three-node bundle. Which puts the product in direct competition with Orbi systems. Sure, the Google WiFi Pro itself and the Eero 6E are much more competitively priced, but there are much more expensive alternatives as well.

Review Asus ZenWiFi ET12 mesh 6e fast performance features best comparison discount coupons italy

However, it is true that the prices are so high because systems such asAsus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 they offer the maximum that technology is currently able to offer and the simplicity of use combined with decidedly high performance, perhaps make them a good compromise for those who already have in mind to buy, for example, a Netgear WiFi 6e mesh system.

In short, the only real limitation of theAsus Zen WiFi Pro ET12 and the price. But this type of product is aimed at a very specific user who is not scared too much by the figures in the purchase of network products.

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Design and materials
Management app
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In the world of technology since 2007, a computer engineer by training, he shares his passion for tech with that for animals and good food. He believes that technology must always be within everyone's reach, and for this reason he loves to explain it in the simplest and clearest way possible. Reviews are his daily bread.
review-asus-zenwifi-pro-et12-mesh-wifi6e There are computers smaller than a single node of the Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 system, but already when you take the two components of the brand's mesh network kit out of the box, the design (strongly conditioned by the integrated dissipation system) and the.. .