Up to this point in my life, my Wi-Fi network at home was a sort of circus freak show of different modems and routers. I had an ASUS RT-AX82U powering my gaming office workroom area and the rest of the property was a smarties box of brands. I had two D-Link routers and a Xiaomi one. They were all pretty old but they did the job. ASUS offered to send me an additional TUF-AX3000 router and an ASUS TUF-AX4200 router in an attempt to create a Wi-Fi mesh system at home which would cover the majority of the property and offer great Wi-Fi performance for general use and gaming.
The ASUS TUF-AX3000 costs around R2,300 and the AX4200 around R2500 and if you had to compare it with mesh-designed Wi-Fi nodes, it is pretty much on line with what you can get on the market. But the TUF-AX3000 does come with its own awesome focus on gaming which many brands don’t offer in the package. The big focus here is that the TUF-AX3000/AX420 is ASUS AiMesh compatible which means you can take the router and easily pair it with other AiMesh routers to create a clean, hassle-free mesh system.
Before I get into how easy this all was, let’s go through what the TUF-AX3000/AX4200 offers. Of course, it is a Wi-Fi 6 router featuring 160 MHz bandwidth with the latest OFDMA and MU-MIMO technology to deliver great WiFi capacity and efficiency. The 2.4GHz band can deliver speeds of up to 574 Mbps and the 5GHz band can reach up to 2404 Mbps.
The router comes with a dedicated gaming LAN port which lets you prioritise the connection to certain devices such as PCs and consoles. It also lets you easily set up port forwarding using its Open NAT system. Another win for gaming.
In terms of design, the TUF-AX3000/AX4200 is a pretty cool-looking router. It boasts the TUF logo on the top with a sharp-edge finish across the device. There are four antennas on the back with subtle yellow finishes. The various lights on the top show you what you’re accessing on the router and what mode it is currently set up into.
On the back, you’ll find the ports. This includes the dedicated gaming LAN port and three additional ethernet ports. All four are Gigabit ports. There’s also the Gigabit WAN port which is vital to using the internet on this router. You’ll also find the USB 3.1 port, an and-off switch, an AC port for the power and a reset switch.
Now if you’re still haunted by those horrible days of complicated Wi-Fi network setups then take a deep breath and know that those days are over. The ASUS TUF-AX3000 is one of the easiest things to set up and work with. This is mainly thanks to its app which includes everything you need without complicating your life with tabs of settings.
My current set-up had my other ASUS RT-AX82U connected directly to my fibre connection and that modem then sent the internet to the other routers on the property. The RT-AX82U also boasts ASUS AiMesh so this whole experience was like a match made in heaven.
No joke here, I literally just unplugged my older routers, plugged in the TUF-AX3000, made sure the WAN port was connected to the source modem, launched the app and followed a few steps to build this mesh. It was that simple. The AiMesh system automatically assigned the same SSID to the new TUF-AX3000 routers, configured the settings and the app walked me through the whole experience.
Of course, if you’re setting this up for the first time and don’t already have an ASUS modem for the TUF-AX3000 to speak to, you’ll need to follow a few pre-mesh steps. This includes connecting to the base node first, assigning Wi-Fi settings, and inputting your ISP details and other information.
For the most part, this process is a lot simpler than it used to be thanks to the app. Instead of having to figure out what IP address the modem uses, type that into your web browser and log into the backend, the app lays down the foundation itself and the nodes can be added in the middle of the whole process too. I also need to mention that the app makes setting up the router easier without the need for a LAN cable. I use a MacBook so that is a challenge on its own.
I ended up adding both ASUS TUF routers to my base unit and in turn, created two nodes on the network. The setup was remarkably simple. After it was done, both modems (and the base unit) needed firmware upgrades and the app easily mass-updated them all at once. It took about ten minutes and everything was back up.
The general use of the AiMesh system with the TUF-AX3000/ was pleasant throughout the property. I did notice the Wi-Fi signal strength drop as I walked about from one node to the other and my iPhone would automatically connect to the nearest node without me having to go manually connect to it myself.
Speed also varied across the system. Closer to the nodes, I tested Wi-Fi and the speeds reached over 600 Mbps download and over 200 Mbps upload. Further away, this dropped to 300 and 200 Mbps but it was still stable and fast. These speed tests were done on the SpeedTest app. I do have a 1 Gigabit line so these tests were showing the expected results.
When it comes to the signal performance on the routers, they performed quite well. Even when standing outside in the garden, which is 30 meters away from the closest node and through a concrete wall, I was able to connect to the internet, get a good 200 Mbps speed test and get a stable connection. In a room two walls away from another node, the connection was good too. I had similar experiences whereas I didn’t ever struggle with the internet.
Of course, you could go ahead and disable the 160Mhz connection on the network to improve the signal performance. But I didn’t see this as an option given how many devices I have that rely on Wi-Fi 6.
Using the ASUS AiMesh system also means that everything is now part of this so-called “ecosystem” and it is great. All the routers can take advantage of parental controls I implemented into the system and I could control the Mac Addresses of certain devices so they were restricted from certain apps. I could even monitor the search history on certain devices. This is great when you have kids on the internet.
This would also not be possible if you didn’t have all the routers talking to one another as this system does. It needs to feed the same data from across the board in order to benefit from the features ASUS has on offer.
In the perfect world, I would need four of these ASUS TUF routers to cover the entire property. I stay on a large piece of land with various family members living in different cottages. Each cottage has its own router wired to the source. To create a mesh strong enough to have my Coco Wi-Fi across the property, I would need at least two more of these. That would be magical. One connection, one Wi-Fi name, being able to monitor everything from one app – that is the dream.
But my time with the ASUS TUF-AX3000/AX4200 was fun. For the first time, I had a modern-day Wi-Fi mesh set up and I went from having 5 different access points with different Wi-Fi names to having three. The performance also speaks for itself. The connections were stable, fast and reliable. We are all gamers on the property too so the perks of the router came in handy.
The ability to prioritise gaming traffic across mobile, PC and console was an underrated feature of the mesh system. But this just adds to the incredible set of features available here.
You can find out more about the ASUS TUF-AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 router here. You can find out more about the ASUS TUF-AX4200 here.