The ZenWiFi XD5 does not complete what the ZenWifi XD4 set out to start — it’s similarly stripped-down hardware in terms of features. But it does have everything the older cousin had and then some noteworthy improvement.
Here’s the bottom line: If you’re living in a wired home, the ZenWifi XD5 is still an excellent buy, considering its friendly current price tag of $300 for a 3-pack. Better yet, you can use it as the wired satellite for an AX3000 AiMesh router, such as the RT-AX58U or GS-AX3000, to form a relatively inexpensive yet robust Wi-Fi system.
Asus ZenWiFi XD5: Everything the ZenWifi XD4 is and a bit more
Out of the box, the new ZenWiFi XD5 looks practically identical to the older cousin. It’s a 3-pack mesh that includes three identical compact routers.
You pick one to work as the primary router of the network, and the other two will function as mesh satellite nodes to extend the coverage for a large area.
For now, it’s available as a 3-pack, but chances are you’ll find it as a single router or a 2-pack in the future.
If you get a pack, the hardware is pre-synced — all you have to do is set one up as the router and plug the other two into power, and they will form a mesh network.
However, the hardware will work as a member of an AiMesh system when coupled with other support routers. In that case, you can set them up the way you do any AiMesh router, as I detailed in this post.
Asus ZenWiFi XD5 vs ZenWifi XD4: Hardware specifications
The most significant difference between the ZenWifi XD5 vs ZenWiFi XD4 is that the former is a dual-band system that supports the 160 MHz channel width, while the latter doesn’t.
Consequently, the XD5 has double the Wi-Fi bandwidth on the 5GHz band. Specifically, the current 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client can connect to it at 2.4Gbps instead of 1.2Gbps.
However, considering both are Gigabit hardware, they will deliver the same sustained speed in any particular connection since their network ports are the bottleneck.
|Full Name||Asus ZenWiFi XD5||Asus ZenWiFi
AX Mini (XD4)
|Hardware Models||ZenWiFi XD5||Mesh: ZenWifi XD4
(identical routers, or
router + satellites)
|Dedicated Backhaul Band||None||None|
|Dimensions (WxDxH)||3.54 x 3.54 x 3.14 in
(9.0 x 9.0 x 8.0 cm )
|3.54 x 3.54 x 3.14 in
(9.0 x 9.0 x 8.0 cm )
|Weight||0.67 lb (304 g)||XD4R: 0.65 lb (295 g)
XD4N: 0.64 lb (290 g)
|Color||Black or white||Black, white, wood pattern|
|5GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2×2 AX: Up to 2400 Mbps
|2×2 AX: Up to 1200 Mbps
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs||2×2 AX: Up to 574Mbps||2×2 AX: Up to 574Mbps|
|Wi-Fi Security||WPA3 / WPA2 / WPA||WPA3 / WPA2 / WPA|
|Mobile App||Asus Router||Asus Router|
|Web User Interface||Yes||Yes|
(single unit or a system)
(single unit or a system)
|Gigabit Port||1x WAN
|XD4R: 1x WAN, 1x LAN
XD4N: 1x LAN
(per 24 hours)
(measured at the router unit)
|Processing Power||Undisclosed||Quad-core SoC Processor,
256MB Flash, 256MB RAM
Other than that, the XD5’s hardware is wall-mount-ready and includes mounting accessories, while the XD4 is not.
Asus ZenWiFi XD5: Detail photos
The same (stripped-down) set of features and settings
At the time of this review, the ZenWifi XD5 shares the same major firmware version (386) as the ZenWifi XD4 and an identical feature set.
Tips on Asus’s firmware
Asus is notorious for breaking its own hardware’s function via firmware releases, likely because it tries to do so much. In an AiMesh system, especially one of mixed hardware units — there are so many possible hardware combinations — keep the following three items in mind on the firmware front:
- Generally, you should use AiMesh hardware with the firmware of the same major release. (*)
- Avoid the initial major release: This is the first firmware version of a model where the 3xx number change, such as from 384 to 386 or from 386 to 388, etc.
- Avoid turning on Auto-Update for firmware.
On the one hand, moving between major releases might break your AiMesh. On the other, new hardware comes with a specific initial version out of the box — you have no option to downgrade it. So depending on the combo, your luck will vary.
And that’s significant in the sense that the two share the same shortcomings, which are not present in other ZenWifi mesh sets (such as XD6, XT8, or ET8). That’s likely because they have a similar mini-physical size and relatively low processing power.
Specifically, the ZenWifi XD5’s QoS feature is also somewhat simplistic. All you can do is turn it on and hope for the best. Additionally, the AiProtection feature’s network protection part doesn’t have the Two-Way Intrusion Prevention System (IPS) portion
Two-way IPSP is significant since it protects the network from spam, DDoS, and other attacks, even when a computer within a network is compromised.
Upon turning on some features on an Asus router, such as Network Protection or QoS, users will run into this scary warning:
“By using AiProtection, Traffic analyzer, Apps analyzer, Adaptive QoS/Game boost, Web history, you agree to the Trend Micro End User License Agreement. Please note that your information will be collected by Trend Micro through AiProtection, Traffic analyzer, Apps analyzer, Adaptive QoS, and web history.”
Keep in mind that these features only work because a third-party scans the router’s traffic. That’s like if you want to be protected in real life, you will need to have somebody, like a bodyguard, to watch over you. In networking, protection requires extra connections — there’s no way around that.
In any case, these features inherently cause privacy risks. The good news is, on any Asus router, they are turned off by default, and users can leave them that way.
But despite that, the ZenWifi XD5 still has vast home networking customization. It has more settings and features than virtually all non-Asus canned mesh systems.
Most importantly, you won’t need to pay for any add-on or log in with a vendor account to use and manage it, locally or remotely, via the web user interface or the Asus mobile app.
And I you have used an Asus router before, you’ll feel at home with the new mesh.
ZenWiFi XD5: Excellent performance
I put a 3-pack ZenWiFi XD5 through its paces for over a week and was happy with it. The system proved reliable with zero disconnection.
For Internet speed, in a wireless star topology, we generally got between 200Mbps to 600Mbps — out of a 10Gbps Fiber-optic connection that was throttled down to Gigabit by the router’s WAN port — around the house. That was fast enough for virtually all applications.
In terms of Wi-Fi sustained speeds, in my testing, the ZenWifi XD5 landed right between the XD4 and the XD6, which was expected. Considering the Gigabit ports, there’s no way the system could deliver anything faster than a Gig, despite its support for up to 2.4Gbps on the Wi-Fi front.
In terms of coverage, the ZenWifi XD5 was slightly better than the XD4. But that’s more likely because its 5GHz band has a high ceiling speed.
It’s hard to put this in a number, but generally, you can expect a single unit to cover some 1600 ft² (149 m²) though your mileage will vary. For best performance and coverage, wired backhauling is recommended.
Supporting 160MHz channel width; reliable performance with fast performance (for the specs)
Excellent set of network and Wi-Fi settings and features
No vendor account or add-on subscription is required; Guest networking works throughout the system
Compact design; wall-mount-ready
No Wi-Fi 6E, multi-gig port, Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation
Stripped-down QoS and AiProtection features
Only two network ports per unit
The ZenWiFi XD5 is a clear improvement over the ZenWifi XD4 that came out some two years ago. It has enough to justify its current $300 cost for a 3-pack.
If you’re looking for a reliable mesh system for a sub-Gigabit home network, this new set of mini hardware is an excellent buy.
And if you have a wired home, it’ll consistently deliver Gigabit-class bandwidth throughout by itself or when working as AiMesh satellites hosted by a similar-specced router.
But if you can live with a slightly slower connection speed, the ZenWifi XD4 is now also an excellent deal thanks to its reduced price tag.
So if you have relatively modest Wi-Fi needs, check either of them out today!