Home » ASUS ZenWiFi XD4 Mesh WiFi Review – third time the charm?

ASUS ZenWiFi XD4 Mesh WiFi Review – third time the charm?

For a really long time, getting a good WiFi coverage means buying a high power wireless router. But, there’s only so much a single router can do due to regulations on transmit power. However, a mesh WiFi system combine the power of multiple WiFi access points to blanket your entire home with a strong WiFi signal.

ASUS is known for their top-of-the-line wireless routers with ridiculous specifications for the ultimate performance. ASUS also popularized their ROG Rapture Gaming Router with the signature 8 antenna design that inspired many brands to copy it.

The latest ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) is much faster than ASUS previous entry-level mesh WiFi . It features Wi-Fi 6 support with a dual-band configuration up to AX1800. ASUS also improved the software which resulted in better stability. We think the name is a little longer so, we will just refer it as ZenWiFi XD4 in this article. 

This isn’t ASUS first mid-range mesh WiFi system. In fact, ASUS was the first brand to sell Mesh WiFi system in Malaysia. However, the previous ASUS Lyra series really doesn’t perform all that well in reality. The ZenWiFi series is a total revamp and frankly speaking, it’s a different product lineup that uses AiMesh technology instead.

The ZenWiFi XD4 on top of ASUS RT-AX56U

Right out of the box, the ZenWiFi XD4 feels refined and well designed. I’m surprised by how small the ZenWiFi XD4 is compared to other similar mesh Wi-Fi systems and ASUS’ own router products. Since it is now powered by ASUS propreitary AiMesh technology, it should work better as ASUS can control the whole softward and hardware optimization of the product.

Aesthetics wise, the ZenWiFi XD4 comes in either grey or white and they will fit into most modern interior design. It comes with 2 antennas and they are hidden inside the plastic chassis of the product. Despite the smaller size, the WiFi coverage of each ZenWiFi XD4 is actually similar to ASUS RT-AX56U with 2 external antennas.

ASUS Malaysia sells the twin pack and the 3-pack here in Malaysia for RM888 and RM1288 respectively. They come with a 3 years one to one exchange warranty. ASUS claims the twin pack variant is good for up to 3300 sq ft and the 3-pack is good for up to 4800 sq ft coverage. It comes in either grey or white color.

Hardware and Specs

2.4Ghz WiFiWiFi 6 up to 574Mbps (2×2 40Mhz)
5Ghz WiFiWiFi 6 up to 1201Mbps (2×2 80Mhz)
CPUBroadcom 1.5Ghz Quad-Core CPU
RAM256MB
Ports2x Gigabit Ethernet WAN/LAN on each unit

ASUS ZenWiFi XD4 is a WiFi 6 system with all new WiFi 6 technologies like OFDMA for improved efficiency and faster WiFi link speed. It will also benefit older Wireless AC devices since the mesh WiFi will provide a stronger WiFi coverage, it will result in a  faster WiFi speed.

Being a mid-range mesh Wi-Fi, all the cost savings will need to go somewhere. Thus, ASUS does not include a dedicated mesh backhaul on the ZenWiFi XD4 unlike the more expensive Tri-Band ZenWiFi XT8. The Dual-Band ZenWiFi XD4 is powered by a similar Broadcom 1.5Ghz Quad-Core CPU with a smaller 256MB RAM.

There’re only 2 Gigabit LAN/WAN ports on each unit of the ZenWiFi XD4 which means you’ll need to purchase a Gigabit switch if you need more ports. It’s also possible to configure the ZenWiFi XD4 into Ethernet backhaul mode or use the LAN ports on each unit to connect more devices.

Setup Process

The setup process for the ZenWiFi XD4 can be done with the ASUS Router app. Although setup using the web interface is still possible, I suggest using the app as the onboarding process works better. All units that come in the box are identical in specs and you can use any one of them to be configured as the mesh router.

The system is designed to replace your existing router and to be connected directly to the modem from your Internet service provider. For Malaysians, you’ll probably need to obtain the PPPOE username and password from the service provider. The VLAN configuration is also required for Unifi and Maxis Fiber.

All units that come in the box are already linked from the factory. Once you setup any one of the units as the main mesh router, just simply switch on the remaining units and they will link with the main mesh router automatically within 10 minutes. I recommend only addind the mesh nodes once the main unit is fully configured as I find this to work the best in my test.

Mesh WiFi Performance

I installed the ZenWiFi XD4 in my apartment with a long rectangle layout. I’ve decided to compare this against the more expensive ZenWiFi XT8 from ASUS to see how big of a difference having a dedicated backhaul makes. My test device is going to be a Samsung Galaxy S10 with WiFi 6 capability.

Remember to enable Wi-Fi 6 during the setup process

The first test we’ll do is to see what is the maximum speed possible on the ZenWiFi XD4 on our test device on a best case scenario at a really short distance. It managed to get close to 800Mbps on my Samsung phone when I am near to the router. Notice the tiny WiFi 6 logo displayed when connected to a WiFi 6 network.

The Wi-Fi 6 feature is enabled by default although ASUS offered an option to disable it during the setup wizard. I recommend keeping it enabled unless there’re some devices at your home that refuse to connect to the WiFi network when the WiFi 6 feature is enabled.

As good as WiFi 6 sounds is, the speed still depends on the signal stength of the router. After a 3m distance to the ZenWiFi XD4, the WiFi performance dropped to slightly less than 750Mbps. However, it’s worth mentioning that this is expected and on par with similar WiFi product in its class. I also included the comparison with a high-performance router from ASUS.

The most crucial feature of a mesh WiFi system is how good is the 5Ghz coverage and speed. And, the ZenWiFi XD4 doesn’t disappoint. With just the RT-AX86U alone, I am left with only the slower 2.4Ghz WiFi coverage in my bedroom. However, once I replaced it with the ZenWiFi XD4, I have 3 out of 5 bars of 5Ghz WiFi coverage and that’s so much faster than the 2.4Ghz WiFi.

This is also a good opportunity to demostrate the benefit of having dedicated backhaul in mesh WiFi. The ZenWiFi XT8 performance is more than double the ZenWiFi XD4 thanks to the Tri-Band specs which allow it to have dedicated wireless backhaul.

Mesh WiFi Roaming

Now, let’s talk about roaming and this is probably the most important aspect for a mesh WiFi system after speed and coverage. ASUS added 802.11k/v roaming support to their ZenWiFi series which make the whole user-experience much better than the previous ASUS Lyra series of mesh WiFi system.

My devices that support the 802.11k/v roaming feature will automatically switch to the strongest WiFi signal emitted by each mesh node as I am moving around in my house. ASUS also suggested users to use the smart connect function which will combine both the 5Ghz and 2.4Ghz WiFi network with a same name. By doing this, the ZenWiFi XD4 will decide which band is the best based on a preset parameter.

Sadly, the 802.11r fast roaming standard is still not supported on AiMesh. This means there will be a short 1-2 seconds loss of Internet connection when devices are roaming to the WiFi network from a different mesh node instead of a gapless connection. This will be annoying if you are moving a lot but it doesn’t impact the WiFi speed or coverage.

Firmware and Features

Finally let’s talk about the firmware on the ZenWiFi XD4. You can control the mesh WiFi system by just using the ASUS Router app. Although the web interface is still available, I prefer the app as the interface is more user-friendly and easier to use.

The homepage of the app shows the topology of the mesh WiFi network which is really helpful to visualize the health of the system. You should try to ensure the WiFi links between each unit are green to achive the best WiFi performance. Ideally, each unit should be 1-2 walls apart from another unit.

ASUS added an optimization feature that can be used if you have more than 2 nodes in your mesh WiFi system. This feature will scan the entire network and optimize the mesh backahul pathway that will provide the best WiFi performance. I suggest using this when you added a new mesh node in your system.

ASUS router app also shows the list of devices connected to each mesh unit and it even shows whether it is connected to the 2.4Ghz or 5Ghz network. You can click on each device to block their Internet acces or even configure a speed limit for that particular device.

Security wise, the ZenWiFi XD4 comes with AiProtection Classic which is an antivirus firewall that will prevent connected devices from accessing a website containing a virus or malware. Based on ASUS track record, we are confident that they will keep the firmware up to date with the latest security many years to come.

The ZenWiFi XD4 also able to support the latest WPA3 security protocol. WPA3 is more secure than WPA2 due to a stronger encryption. However, if you have older devices in your network, it may not be compatible with the WiFi network once WPA3 is enabled.

However, unlike other high-end ASUS models, the ZenWiFi XD4 only comes with the basic parental control feature. ASUS removed the content filtering feature, leaving the ZenWiFi XD4 with just a usage time limit and scheduling function. Besides, the ZenWiFi XD4 also do not comes with the AdaptiveQoS feature which allow applications priority function.

Using the ZenWiFi XD4 as mesh node for the RT-AX86U

Lastly, the ZenWiFi XD4 is an AiMesh product which means it can work with other ASUS AiMesh router to form a mesh WiFi network. The beauty of this is it allows matching the ZenWiFi XD4 with other high-performance ASUS router to form a mesh WiFi system. It’s possible to use the ZenWiFi XD4 as mesh node with another router like the ASUS RT-AX86U.

In this situation, although the ZenWiFi XD4 is used as mesh node, my network retain all the features on the RT-AX86U such as the AdaptiveQoS feature and gaming booster. The network will also benefit from the faster Quad-Core CPU and able to support more devices thanks to the 1GB RAM on RT-AX86U. On an AiMesh system, the features that’s available will depends on the main router.

Closing Thoughts

ASUS ZenWiFi XD4 is a great entry-level WiFi 6 mesh WiFi system. It’s significantly better than the previous ASUS Lyra with a more stable firmware and improved reliability. The speed is sufficient for most day-to-day usage such as 4K streaming and video conferencing.

Overall, the ZenWiFi XD4 is a great product for those looking for an ASUS mesh WiFi system. It has decent WiFi coverage despite the smaller size and good performance from the WiFi 6 AX1800 radio. Although it doesn’t come with all the features like the more expensive ZenWiFi XT8, that should be sufficient for most users.

ASUS ZenWiFi XD4

8.6

Tubi Rating

PROS

  • Faster and more reliable than previous ASUS Lyra Mesh WiFi
  • Plenty of possible customization on ASUSWRT firmware
  • Able to work with other ASUS AiMesh routers
  • 802.11k/v roaming support

CONS

  • Only 2 Ethernet ports on each unit
  • No 802.11r fast roaming support
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Matang52

Is the 3 years 1 to 1 replacement warranty apply for this XD4 only or it applies to all ASUS networking product?

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