Asus ZenWiFi AC (CT8): Reliable Home Network Protection
PC Magazine|April 2021
These days, Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) mesh systems have taken a backseat to those that use the latest Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) technology.
JOHN R. DELANEY

But the fact is that there are more Wi-Fi 5 clients than Wi-Fi 6 clients, and unless you plan to upgrade your phones, tablets, and computers in the near future, a solid Wi-Fi 5 mesh system such as the Asus ZenWiFi AC CT8 can handle your home networking needs. This two-piece mesh system is easy to install and manage, covers up to 5,400 square feet, and offers lifetime parental controls and antimalware tools. Most important, it delivered high speeds on our throughput performance tests and maintained a strong signal throughout the house. That earns it our Editors’ Choice award for affordable mesh systems.

SIMPLE TO USE

The ZenWiFi AC CT8 system comes with two identical routers that provide coverage for homes up to 5,400 square feet, similar to the ZenWiFi AX XT8 Wi-Fi 6 system ($449.99). The flat yet cylindrical routers look exactly like those used by the XT8. They’re available in black or white, measure 6.2 by 6.3 by 2.9 inches (HWD) each, and have a small LED indicator on the front that glows blue during setup, white when the satellite node has a strong wireless signal with the router, yellow when the signal’s weak, and red when the signal’s lost.

On the back are three gigabit LAN ports, a gigabit WAN port, a USB 3.1 port, a power port, and a power switch. Reset and WPS buttons are located on the base. Missing is the 2.5GHz LAN port that you get with the ZenWiFi XT8. You can use a LAN port for Ethernet backhaul, or dedicate the second 5GHz band for backhaul.

Inside each router are six antennas, a quad-core CPU, 256MB of RAM, and 128MB of flash memory. The CT8 is a tri-band AC3000 system that can reach maximum (theoretical) data rates of up to 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, up to 867Mbps on the first 5GHz band, and up to 1,733Mbps on the second 5GHz band. It supports the latest 802.11ac technologies, including MU-MIMO data streaming, beamforming, and intelligent band steering; it also supports WPA2 and WPA encryption.

As with other Asus routers such as the ZenWiFi XT8, the RT-AX86U, and the RT-AC86U, the ZenWiFi CT8 comes with a free lifetime subscription to AiProtection Pro, a suite of security, anti-malware, and parental control tools powered by Trend Micro.

Asus ZenWiFi AC (CT8)

PROS Speedy performance. Great signal range. Robust parental controls. Lifetime malware protection. Easy to install.

CONS Lacks multi-gig LAN.

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