GIVEAWAY: Gaming peripherals upgrade thanks to Corsair worth $280

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review

Arris intros its Wi-Fi 6 lineup and we look at the flagship mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System to see what it's all about.

@TylerBernath
Published Fri, Dec 6 2019 10:50 PM CST   |   Updated Thu, Jul 30 2020 4:20 PM CDT
Rating: 90%Manufacturer: Arris (Surfboard W133)

Introduction

Arris meddled a bit with Wi-Fi with 802.11ac, introducing several products to their portfolio, a few of which we had a chance to review. With Wi-Fi 6 in the early stages of deployment, Arris is getting a strong start with its latest offerings, giving them a nearly full product portfolio. The SURFboard mAX lineup has been divided into several platforms, including Plus and Pro models, with and without accompanying satellite units.

The model sent to us for review is the flagship Pro Mesh model that includes both a base and a satellite unit. The design of these units takes advantage of the cylindrical shape for both aesthetics and placement of its antenna array, which in this case, offers 24 streams, 12 per node.

The Arris SURFboard mAX Pro is an AX11000 class platform offering full 4x4 support in a triband configuration. Hardware for this solution includes a Broadcom BCM4908 1.8GHz across four cores with 1GB of DRAM and 512M of NAND Flash. Radios include three BCM43684, one for each band.

This means we have full 1200Mbps on the 2.4GHz and 4.8Gbps on two separate 5GHz bands, one used for connecting modern Wi-Fi devices and one for a rapid 4.8Gbps backhaul link between nodes. Also, each unit offers four gigabit ethernet ports with support for link aggregation.

MSRP of the Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh comes in at $649.99 with a two-year warranty.

Buy at Amazon

Arris Surfboard mAX Pro

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$631.00$549.99$649.90
* Prices last scanned on 10/23/2020 at 6:22 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro

Packaging and a Closer Look

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 02 | TweakTown.com
VIEW GALLERY - 20 IMAGES

The packaging is quite extravagant for the mAX Pro. We have an image of the nodes on the box with marketing specifications and a note of its support of Alexa assistant.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 03 | TweakTown.com

On the side, you will find a specifications list that includes box contents and compatibility.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 04 | TweakTown.com

Unboxing, we have both nodes with their respective power adapters and ethernet cable.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 05 | TweakTown.com

The mAX Pro is a rather large node that offers a unique cylindrical design, LED ring along the bottom just below the Arris branding.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 06 | TweakTown.com

Much of the unit is devoted to allowing air pass through freely, as seen above with the back and top of the unit.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 07 | TweakTown.com

The bottom offers a rather constricted place for the four gigabit ports and power input.

Test System Setup and Web Management

Tyler's Test System Specifications

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 10 | TweakTown.com

Setup for the Arris is all done within the app. This is available on both iOS and Android. We are testing using the app on iOS 13.1.3 on an iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 11 | TweakTown.com

Setup continues into the app with a basic guided experience, something most of us have likely used in the past.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 15 | TweakTown.com

After a few questions, naming the router etc., you will land here at the dashboard, and if you chose to set up both nodes, you should see both listed as seen above. The dashboard will check the throughput between nodes and display that above, along with your ISP speed at the top. Along the bottom, we have several options for configuring the nodes these include; parental controls, network settings, and guest network.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 16 | TweakTown.com

The device list, which you will find on the dashboard, shows network activity for each device.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 17 | TweakTown.com

Parental controls allow you to set up and enable profiles for devices.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 18 | TweakTown.com

Networking settings include the ability to change the SSID and password.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 19 | TweakTown.com

Advanced Network offers LAN and WAN IP configuration along with port forwarding and UPnP.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 20 | TweakTown.com

Each device that is running the Arris app has the ability to run a speed test from the node to your device. The above result is the mAX Pro to our iPhone 11 Pro Max.

Benchmarks

LAN and WLAN Throughput

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 30 | TweakTown.com

LAN throughput for the Pro was on par with expectations at 947.4Mbps. Our new wireless to wireless test showed 372Mbps for the mAX Pro.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 31 | TweakTown.com

2.4GHz throughput reached a peak of 71.3Mbps on the 20MHz band. Arris does not afford the ability to force bands, so we could not connect at 40MHz for testing.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 32 | TweakTown.com

For 5GHz, we received a healthy 782Mbps but once again was unable to tell if we were on the 80MHz or 160MHz band.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 33 | TweakTown.com

Backhaul performance was at the top of our rather admittedly barren charts. That said, 840Mbps between units is a rather solid number.

Benchmarks - Mobile Throughput

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 34 | TweakTown.com

Testing for mobile is a bit constrained by the "SmartConnect" feature of the Arris mAX Pro. Without the ability to control which band we are connecting to, we are simply stuck to testing what it allows. That said, we were able to connect with 5GHz Wi-Fi 6 with our iPhone 11 and tested the SURFBoard at several distances.

Results are shown above and offer 727-733Mbps through 10ft, dropping to 620Mbps at 15ft and 332Mbps at 20ft. This makes the Arris the highest performing solution we have seen in Mobile throughput.

Arris SURFboard mAX Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System Review 35 | TweakTown.com

Adding to this, we set up the second node to check backhaul performance in different locations, 10 and 15 ft from the base node. At 10ft, we saw 840Mbps. And moving to 15ft, it only dropped to 812Mbps.

Final Thoughts

I've had a few weeks to run and test the Arris mAX Pro platform, and I can certainly say they did get a good bit right with this solution. For starters, the build quality is top-notch in both materials and finish. Setup is very quick and well guided, and additional features like the LED ring, while bright, can be completely shut off if necessary, via the app.

Performance, as noted several times previously, is flagship worthy. We saw fantastic performance out of this solution while running around our test zone with the iPhone 11 checking mobile throughput, and backhaul is simply stunning and the best we have seen so far out of a Wi-Fi 6 platform. LAN and WLAN testing with our desktop platform, while restricted, did produce decent results in 5GHz at 782.93Mbps.

The app, while fantastic at controlling the mAX Pro, is quite limited. It doesn't offer higher-end features you would expect from a Mesh platform being offered with the "Pro" branding. Features like the ability to choose your band or split the Wi-Fi bands are not available, and I failed to find any QoS, DDNS, or VPN setup, which we normally find on these higher-end platforms. There is also no ability to connect to a web-based GUI for controlling or installation of the SURFboard mAX Pro; it's limited to the app only.

Pricing for the two-node mAX Pro unit does come in at the higher-end of the market with an MSRP of $649.99. There are several other units from well-known vendors that share this pricing, so I wouldn't say it's far off, and given the overall performance and stability of this unit, it may be worth it for someone that wants the best in a set it and forget it package!

Buy at Amazon

Performance

95%

Quality

95%

Features

85%

Value

85%

Overall

90%

The Bottom Line

If you're one that wants the highest performance possible without all the fuss of complicated setup routines, the mAX Pro is the system for you!

TweakTown award
90%

Arris Surfboard mAX Pro

TodayYesterday7 days ago30 days ago
$631.00$549.99$649.90
* Prices last scanned on 10/23/2020 at 6:22 pm CDT - prices may not be accurate, click links above for the latest price. We may earn an affiliate commission.

Growing up in a small farm town, tech wasn't around, unless it was in a tractor. At an early age, Tyler's parents brought home their first PC. Tyler was hooked and learned what it meant to format a HDD, spending many nights reinstalling Windows 95. Tyler's love and enthusiast nature always kept his PC nearby. Eager to get deeper into tech, he started reviewing.

We openly invite the companies who provide us with review samples / who are mentioned or discussed to express their opinion. If any company representative wishes to respond, we will publish the response here. Please contact us if you wish to respond.

Related Tags

Newsletter Subscription
Latest News
View More News
Latest Reviews
View More Reviews
Latest Articles
View More Articles