Less renowned for its network products than for its laptops and 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 thus a system mesh wifi 6E carrying the 6 GHz frequency band in addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. It also has RJ45 Multi-Gigabit ports perfect 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 dwelling with optimal coverage, in particular thanks to the use of several terminals which 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 on the 2.4 GHz band, and 4804 Mb/s on the 5 and 6 GHz bands ; i.e. a cumulative speed of 10,756 Mb/s.
For communication between the modules, Asus does not dedicate a band and leaves the choice to the user: either each of the bands makes its own backhaulor the 6 GHz band is dedicated to this backhaul. In the absence of wifi 6E compatible products, dedicating the 6 GHz band to this use can be a wise choice to improve the throughput of the repeater module on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.
For the wired part, the modules being identical, they have four RJ45 ports with two LAN ports at the Gigabit standard and a third Multi-Gig with 2.5 Gb/s. The fourth port is an exclusive WAN port (connection with the box or the modem) at the 2.5 Gb/s standard. The Ethernet Backhaul function is obviously supported by the modules, which frees up bandwidth on the wifi, especially since it can be done in 2.5 Gb/s.
To control the modules, Asus has provided a WPS button for pairing, an operation switch and a reset button. These take place on the back of the module, right next to the RJ45 ports. A luminous logo is present in the translucent block that houses 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 has not done in half measures and this one has been particularly worked. Each module is made up of a black vertical rectangle – ventilated in places – surmounted by a transparent cage housing the antennas and the luminous logo which is reflected in the transparent edges.
Despite their assertive design, the modules of the ZenWifi Pro ET12 are particularly imposing, with no less than 1.47 kg on the scale and a height of 24.3 cm for 11.5 cm on the side.
With the ZenWiFi Pro ET12, Asus is aimed at an informed public who knows the basics of a network installation. Thus the installation procedure goes to the essentials. Just follow the steps in the Asus Router app (iOS/Android) to create credentials for both wifi and admin interface access. It is up to you to correctly connect your modules.
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 define whether the wifi bands are visible under the same SSID and how the link between the modules is made. There are also settings on the network itself, with DHCP pages, port forwarding, etc.
Parental controls have apparently evolved since our last test of the Asus ZenWiFi Mini XD4. Each profile can be assigned 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”. The available settings are worthy of those of the most advanced routers. It is thus possible to manage everything, from the VPN to the behavior of wifi roaming. You could spend days fine-tuning your router.
To evaluate the performance of the Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 mesh system, we connected the router to our operator box to which 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 equipped with an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E chip, but also to a fixed desktop PC located upstairs and connected to a Gigabyte GC-WBAX200 PCIe card with outdoor antenna, and updated with Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 chip supporting wifi 6E.
On 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 just under 700 Mb/s. Note that our 5th measurement point — the furthest away — shows that the coverage begins to run out of steam at 6 GHz and that you have to switch to the 5 GHz band to get more throughput.
The 5 GHz band of the ET12 is slower than the 6 GHz, but more constant. We thus obtain a little more than 740 Mb / s, whether in reading or writing, while on our most distant points (4 and 5) the speeds are maintained much better (450 Mb / s).
The 2.4 GHz band delivers speeds of around 250 Mb/s. This is a little below what a system could offer us. mesh of this stature, but it remains satisfactory. Now only old devices and connected objects use this frequency band and these do not need a very high bandwidth.