Home networking has strengthened by leaps in recent years as routers move toward multi-band AC solutions that can reach a great distance compared to the routers of the past. This of course is to be expected as everything improves as each year moves forward. However, these latest routers have displayed above and beyond performance, and they only get better as commercial technology makes its way home through mesh networking solutions, that can provide signal throughout some of the most complicated of homes.
Today, we are reviewing a mesh solution by the company Zyxel, the Multy X AC3000 Tri-Band WiFi Mesh system. This WiFi solution involves two router units that mesh together to create a more sustainable network that can cover a large area, like you would find with using extenders/repeaters throughout your house. Only these work together seamlessly as one, without the cons you experience with using extenders. Meaning, you won’t be bouncing between multiple SSIDs throughout your house as you walk around between them. Instead, you get one, large network coverage.
The units consist of an all plastic body with a rubberized center on the bottom to keep it from sliding around. The design of the units are similar to other routing solutions from companies like Cisco. They have some weight to them and feel as though they are quite durably built. The X design across the top of the units is neat and doubles as the units ventilation so that heat can escape during operation.
Each unit comes with an ethernet cable and a power adapter to get you going. This will allow you to attach it to your router, and then you are on your own (cable wise) for any connected devices–which is common with any router. Outside of a few documents, that’s all you will find in the box.
Setup is easy and they do a good job of walking you through it all. Instructions are printed on the bottom side of one of the cardboard inserts, and feature two simple steps. You plug the router into the wall and your modem, and then download the Multi X app to your smartphone (they recommend that you don’t use a tablet during setup). The app is available for both iOS and Android devices.
The app will guide you through the rest of the setup process, screen by screen, as you begin by connecting your first unit (it can be either of the two included units). Once the first unit is connected, it will ask you a few questions about the network’s setup (SSID name and password) and to define where it is located in the house (ie, living room, kitchen, bedroom, study, etc). Once that is complete, it will guide you through adding the second unit. The second unit doesn’t need any wired connection other than power to the wall. It will connect to the second unit once you have plugged it in (and it has booted up), and it will then check to make sure it is far enough from the first unit (you don’t want it to be too close to the unit).
As soon as both units have been synced together, it will perform any firmware updates that may be available and then restart the system. At this point, once it comes back online, you are ready to begin entering any custom preferences into the app, or simply continue on your way if you’re not into customizing the advanced stuff.
Controlling it seems to be pretty simple and down to the basics. You don’t seem to get a lot of features when it comes to administering the back-end like you would something like a Netgear router. Control is limited to the app as it doesn’t have a web-based interface (ie, on a Netgear you would be able to visit 192.168.1.1 within the network to access theirs). There is no saying if they will add features in the future through firmware updates or not, but this at least makes it easy enough that nearly anyone could set it up. Although, we would prefer to see IP/Port configuration/control for more complicated networks where you might have certain services running that you’d like to have dedicated variables for.
You do have the ability to enable a guest network so that friends and family can have access to the internet without being able to see any other devices on the network (isolated access). It is disabled by default, but enabling it within the app only takes a few steps.
You also get the option to setup parental controls that allow you to control access to various devices on the network. So if your son or daughter is playing on their iPad in the middle of the night when they are supposed to be sleeping, you can simply disable access to their device with a click of a button (via the app). You can also create device groups where you can assign a schedule for when they do or do not have access to the internet.
There is also the ability to add additional units if you so choose, in case the building or house you are installing it into is much larger than the 5000 sq ft that these two units can supposedly handle already. Adding additional units should be just as easy as it was to pair the two together initially (we didn’t have any additional units to test this with).
Each unit provides three wired ethernet ports for connecting devices that either don’t support WiFi or you simply want a more solid connection. You also have the option for USB connectivity on both units so that you can attach an external hard drive for network-driven storage.
We found the network to be nothing less than amazing. It is fast (really fast). The test environment we set it up in is just over 3000 sq ft between three stories. The units were placed on opposite ends of each other, one on the first floor, the second on the second. All three floors of the house were hit fluidly with full signal. Our smartphones saw around 250-300Mbps (WiFi) and around 500Mbps+ (WiFi) on other devices (ie, laptops). There were no dead zones or drops anywhere and the app will show you which unit you are connected to as you walk around.
This proved to be an excellent WiFi solution for large homes/buildings, providing excellent speed and control over your network. It covers a very large area and we were picking it up in portions of the parking lot outside. Setup is quite user-friendly and walks you through everything you need to know. It is meant for novices who don’t want a lot of back-end control. You get things like naming and combing all your networks, guest network, parental controls, grouping of devices and access schedules. However, you don’t get things like customizing IPs (although you can assign a device’s “current” IP as static), forwarding ports and so forth. This solution is meant for novice to intermediate users looking for an easy to follow setup and a network that simply works when you plug it in (and works well!).
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*Average price is based on the time this article was published
Speed Rating (per unit): AC3000
Number of Bands: Tri-band
Coverage: 5000 sq. ft./464 m2
IEEE 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 GHz – 256QAM support
IEEE 802.11 b/n/ac 5 GHz (Wave 2)
Wireless Transfer Rate (Transmit & Receive):
1733Mbps* for 5 GHz (dedicated backhaul)
866Mbps* for 5 GHz
400Mbps* for 2.4 GHz
Auto path selection
Single WiFi Name
Optional to separate 2.4G and 5G WiFi network
Ease of Use:
Mobile App Support iOS 9 or later and Android 4.4 or later
Registration setup via social media or myZyxelCloud login
Quick Bluetooth setup
Find the best installation locations with graphical indication
Remote control Multy WiFi system
Multy WiFi system on-line/off-line status check
Real-time Internet traffic
Automatic firmware check for new features
Diagnose network health via speed test
Internet access control
- Device grouping: Organize multiple devices into group
- Block or allow specific group based on time schedule
- Flexible override internet access for specific device group
Guest WiFi setting
- Enable /disable
- Monitor active concurrent guest devices
- Easy to share guest network password
Multiple WiFi systems management
Software, Security, Support
Software & Security:
Firewall security (NAT)
Network monitoring & diagnosis
Auto firmware update
Works with Amazon Alexa
CPU: Qualcomm IPQ4019 Quad-core
Memory: 512MB RAM
Flash: 4GB eMMC
WAN: One 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet RJ-45 port with auto MDI/MDIX support
LAN: Three 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet RJ-45 ports with auto MDI/MDIX support
Antenna: 9 Internal Antennas
USB port: 1 USB 2.0 port
Bluetooth: BLE 4.1
LED indicator: Status indication/ Auto dimming
Power: 12VDC, 3A
Power consumption: 25 watt
Physical Specifications (per unit)
Item dimensions (WxDxH): 236 x 178 x 51.5 mm (9.29”x 7.01”x 2.03”)
Item weight: 890 g (1.96 lb.)
Packing dimensions (WxDxH): 339 x 71 x 215 mm (13.35”x 2.8”x 8.46”)
Packing weight: 1790 g (3.95 lb.)
0°C to 40°C/32°F to 104°F
10% to 90% (Non-condensing)
-30°C to 70°C/-22°F to 158°F
10% to 95% (Non-condensing)
Are you a manufacturer or distributor that would like us to test something out for review? Contact us and we can let you know where to send the product and we will try it out.