Hot topics | Coronavirus pandemic

The AX Mini mesh router from Asus ZenWiFi is too inconvenient to recommend

The AX Mini mesh router from Asus ZenWiFi is too inconvenient to recommend

With multiple devices giving a stronger, more reliable signal from room to room, mesh routers offer a better Wi-Fi experience at home, and you've got available that support 802.11ax, or, the newest and fastest generation of Wi-Fi. One of those the Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini, which sells in a three-pack for $280.

The ZenWiFi AX Mini is designed to bring your home network up to speed without having to wait too long for it to arrive on the shelves. Available in, or, the cube-shaped, minimalist design looks great, and with a cost that's less than you'd pay for a three-pack of, which doesn't support Wi-Fi 6 at all, the price seems right.

It's worth it if you shop around for your next home networking upgrade. In my at-home testing, the ZenWiFi AX Mini was all over the map. Several devices were affected by strange performance declines, and a mesh that routed my connection through the extender when it shouldn't have, causing speeds to come crashing down even at close range.

One notable first impression

There are lots of routers that adopt a minimalist approach to design, but that approach often leaves you with a boring, cheap-looking gadget.

The ZenWiFi AX Mini node is a dual-band AX1800 device that can be connected to 802.11ax or W-Fi 6, and that the top wireless speeds of the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands can be reached at a time, with 1,200Mbps the true maximum speed of the 5GHz band.

The pint-size device comprises a pair of internal antennas, including 256MB of Flash memory and 256MB of RAM. This is pretty much the same as other entry-level mesh routers, but less horsepower than you'll find in fancier gaming routers or tri-band systems.

The Asus Router app will guide you through the setup process.

The complexity of the project is a good idea.

The ZenWiFi AX Mini, based on a mesh router, has a designated router connected to your modem and network, but does not have a WAN port. Asus is helping to avoid confusion by wrapping the main router device in a plastic band that says "Start to setup," complete with a QR code that links to the router's network.

You'll need to choose your network's name and password, you'll establish your admin credentials with Asus, and you'll wait a few minutes for the system to reboot. It's all very simple, but I'd caution that the Asus app isn't quite as streamlined as similar apps from names like, or, all of which do a somewhat better job of idiot-proofing the setup process.

The ZenWiFi AX Mini (purple) was not a standout performance, but it was not that low on average.

Performances that are overly difficult

I spent a few days taking the ZenWiFi AX Mini for a test drive at my home in Louisville, Kentucky, a 1,300-square-foot shotgun-style house with a 300Mbps fiber connection. The router was running short for regular use, but a close look at the speed tests shows.

While the mesh did a good job of routing my signal, it would recognize the change and begin transferring my connection through the extender, which is fine. Unless I connected to the network in the back of the house and then moved to the front, the system would often fail to stop connecting my laptop to the extender.

Each dot in this chart is a individual speed test for the ZenWiFi AX Mini. You'd expect to see lots of overlapping dots as high on the chart as possible, but persistent slowdowns and mesh issues made for a more chaotic result.

The proximity to the router in the living room was down from a near-perfect average of 297Mbps when I connected in the back of the house and then moved to the living room.

The average speeds of the ZenWiFi AX Mini have been fixed due to unusual slowdowns in my routers throughout my home in the morning, afternoon, and evening hours.

The slowdown remained throughout the whole house, and on multiple devices, and it did not seem to be a larger issue with the network. So I rebooted the router again, and it was very slow; however, I tried a few further speed tests during subsequent days of testing and noticed other slowdowns.

I was always able to surf on the network without interruption because none of those slowdowns made my connection sober, although I can't be certain at this point, but it seems like a kind of slowdown that you'd see with a sticky client issue, albeit a more terrifying and annoying one than I've seen with other mesh routers.

The verdict is being presented to the jury.

At $280, the Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini did an acceptable job of promoting a usable signal throughout my home, but issues with the mesh compromised my speeds, and that makes it difficult to recommend. That one adds in a tri-band design, which is crucial for optimizing mesh router performance, but it boasts faster top speeds than the Asus, and it basically aced my performance tests, all while costing $50 less than the ZenWiFi AX Mini.

If you're unsure on going with a ZenWiFi router, Asus has a tri-band version of its own called the that also performed significantly better in our tests, as well as a more powerful dual-band model called the. Both of those would be a worthy step up from the mini-size XD4 system reviewed here.

Bring your home up to speed with the latest in automation, security, utilities, networking, and more.

You may also like: