As mesh routers go, the Asus ZenWiFi XD5 is one of the more affordable offerings. It sits above the ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) that was released a couple of years ago. Both models consist of small nondescript units that take up as little space as a coffee mug. However, the XD5 includes several features not found in the XD4. For example, there's support for 160MHz channel width, which — on paper — doubles the wireless speed with compatible client devices.
- Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (AX3000)
- 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports (WAN/LAN and LAN)
- Parental controls and adaptive QoS
- Coverage of up to 5,000 sq feet (464 sq m) with 3 units
Thanks to its support for 160MHz bandwidth, the XD5 has a theoretical download speed of up to 2,402Mbps for the 5GHz channel, and up to 574Mbps for the 2.4GHz channel. Hence the AX3000 branding (AX stands for Wi-Fi 6) that's common for an entry-level to mid-tier mesh router. Also standard for models in this price range are the two Gigabit Ethernet ports (not three or four) found at the back. You can use one of these ports to communicate with other XD5 units in the home network (via wired backhaul). But the XD5 is a dual-band model, so it lacks a dedicated wireless backhaul. Unsurprisingly, there's also no USB port.
Asus sells the XD5 as a one-, two- or three-pack. I suggest getting three units for larger apartments and homes. Because each XD5 unit is so compact, you can easily find a nook or cranny in the home to place them. You can also mount the units on the wall. To set up the XD5, you'll need the Asus Router app (for iOS and Android) installed on a mobile device. Note that the XD5 units are not pre-paired out of the box, so you'll need to add the other units to the network after the initial setup. In terms of software features, the XD5 shares some of the same limitations as mentioned in my XD4 review. There's no adaptive QoS (Quality of Service), or two-way intrusion prevention in the AiProtection security suite. At least the security suite is free, which isn't the case for other manufacturers.
In my usual wireless speed test (with two XD5 units), the XD5 managed an average download speed of 794Mbps between two devices placed in the same living room. That's a good number for an inexpensive mesh router. This speed dropped to 259Mbps when one of the laptops was moved to a bedroom. Again, that was very decent, and slightly better than the older XD4. However, I did find the wireless connection to be less consistent in one of my bedrooms, resulting in occasional dropouts. But adding a third XD5 unit fixed this issue. Three units is probably necessary for larger homes, such as a five-room apartment.
At S$359 for a 2-pack and S$499 for a 3-pack, the Asus ZenWiFi XD5 is relatively affordable for mesh routers. It's similar in price and performance to the Linksys Atlas 6, though the Linksys has four Gigabit Ethernet ports instead of two. On the other hand, the Asus app is more responsive, and offers more features and settings over the Linksys app. Both mesh routers, though, will work fine for the average user. Get the Asus ZenWiFi XD5 at Lazada, Shopee, and Amazon SG.
Note: Review unit provided by Asus.
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