The Bottom LineThe ET12 from ASUS is one of the better AXE platforms available, but its also one of the most expensive routers we have tested and will end up costing you a pretty penny.
ZenWiFi was a platform ASUS introduced a few years back and is now their purpose-built mesh solution that encompasses a few models, including the CT8 we reviewed at launch. With the emergence of WiFi6e, ZenWiFi has been updated with several models, and one of those is the ET12, the new flagship of the portfolio.
The ET12 is a tri-band platform like its cousin XT12, though unlike the XT12, which offers two 5GHz bands alongside its 2.4GHz band, the ET12 opts for a 6GHz band next to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands but is powered by the same 2GHz quad-core SoC that's paired with 1GB of RAM and 256MB of flash.
On the radio side, the 2.4GHz band on the ET12 offers peak throughput of 1148Mbps, while the 5GHz and 6GHz bands both offer 4800Mbps peak throughput. On the wired side, we have multiple gigabit LAN ports alongside a 2.5Gbe LAN and dedicated 2.5Gbe WAN.
The ET12 is available as a two-pack mesh platform with an MSRP of $899.99 and a single router solution that retails for $479.99.
Packaging and the Hardware
Packaging for the ET12 offers an image of the platform alongside coverage, listed at 6000 sq ft.
On the backside, we have features outlined along the bottom.
Unboxing, the ET12 takes a different shape when compared to the XT8 and CT8. We have the power adapter and ethernet cable in the box.
Rear I/O on the ET12 includes the two gigabit LAN ports and 2.5Gbe LAN split by the WAN port and a 2.5Gbe port. We find the WPS, reset, and on/off switch to the right.
Turning on the ET12, it offers an OLED screen inside the clear top that glows blue.
Linksys App and Setup
The ASUS Router app has been used on nearly every ASUS router platform for the last few years, and the ET12 is no different.
Diving into the app, we start the setup, as seen above.
The app supports all standalone router platforms, alongside the Lyra series and now ZenWiFi platforms.
Initializing setup, the app connects to the router.
Following the setup wizard, you can choose in this step to use a common SSID and password for the 2.4 and 5GHz bands, while the 6GHz band has its own. Optionally, you can choose at the bottom to separate all the bands with their own SSIDs.
The Home screen for the app shows real-time traffic information, while down below, we have the menu system and up top current network name and IP.
Scrolling through the tabs, you can change the network names.
In the family menu, you can manage device profiles with presets set by age.
The settings menu is quite involved on this platform and includes all the basics alongside advanced menus for VPN, diagnostics, and AI systems.
As seen above, the ET12 offers prioritization with several presets along with the advanced items.
The ET12, alongside its standard theme, offers more gaming-oriented themes too.
Test System and Results
- System: Lenovo Yoga 9
- OS: Microsoft Windows 11 Pro (buy from Amazon)
Testing used our Lenovo Yoga 9 notebook because of the need for its WiFi6e chipset. At 10-15ft, we get the best performance from the ET12 and the 2.4GHz band. In this scenario, we saw 382Mbps, and at 30Ft, that was diminished to 201Mbps.
5GHz did well at 10Ft, pulling in 1491Mbps, while at 30Ft, that number was pulled down to 1210Mbps.
The 6GHz band had a much cleaner signal and was devoid of all surrounding traffic. We saw a massive 1686Mbps at 10ft, down to 1523 at 30ft.
Like most everything in the current market, the ZenWiFi ET12 suffers from one of the highest price tags I've seen personally for a mesh platform. Even for the single standalone unit, the $499 price tag seems almost insane for something so trivial yet important to our home networks, and when you tag on that second unit, the price tag hits $899!
With this in mind, ASUS does offer one of the better platforms available with the app and WebGUI and, in my personal experience, one of the most stable and reliable.
On the hardware side, ASUS does try to butter you up with legit hardware, and they do this very well by offering one of the better underlying platforms - a platform that provides dual 2.5Gbe connections for WAN and LAN alongside its 1Gbe connections.
In fact, the only thing the ET12 lacks is USB, which will remove features we typically see on ASUS's platforms, like USB dongle support for 3G/4G and storage/media server.
The Bottom Line
The ET12 from ASUS is one of the better AXE platforms available, but its also one of the most expensive routers we have tested and will end up costing you a pretty penny.
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