Asus ZenWifi XD5 Review: Solid & Improved

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 improvements.

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 3 pack
The Asus ZenWifi XD5 is available in a 3-pack of three identical routers.

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.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 AiMesh
Here’s the Asus ZenWifi XD5 working as a 3-pack mesh system. You can daisy-chain the satellite wirelessly (not recommended) or via wired backhauling.

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.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Router UndersideZenWiFi XD4 Router Underside
ZenWifi XD5 vs ZenWifi XD4 (right): Note how the former is wall-mount-ready, and the latter is not. Their undersides are the only place you can tell them apart, by the way.

However, considering both are Gigabit hardware, they will deliver the same sustained speed in any particular connection since their network ports are the bottleneck.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Top and Bottom Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 12
Full Name Asus ZenWiFi XD5 Asus ZenWiFi
AX Mini (XD4)
Hardware Models ZenWiFi XD5 Mesh: ZenWifi XD4
Router: XD4R
Satellite: XD4N
Mesh Availability 3-pack
(identical routers)
3-pack
(identical routers, or
router + satellites)
Wi-Fi Bandwidth Dual-band
AX3000
Dual-band
AX1800
Dedicated Backhaul Band None None
Wired Backhaul Yes
(recommended)
Yes
(recommended)
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 
(20/40/80MHz)
2×2 AX: Up to 1200 Mbps 
(20/40/80MHz)
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 
Backward Compatibility 802.11b/a/g/n/ac 802.11b/a/g/n/ac
Mobile App Asus Router Asus Router
Web User Interface Yes  Yes 
AP Mode Yes 
(single unit or a system)
Yes 
(single unit or a system)
USB Port None None
Gigabit Port 1x WAN
1x LAN
XD4R: 1x WAN, 1x LAN
XD4N: 1x LAN
Link Aggregation No No
Dual-WAN No No
Power Input 100-240V 100-240V
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
105 Wh
(measured at the router unit)
Not measured
Processing Power Undisclosed Quad-core SoC Processor,
256MB Flash, 256MB RAM 
US Price
(at launch)
$300 $280
Hardware specifications: Asus ZenWiFi XD5 vs ZenWifi XD4

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

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Retail BoxAsus ZenWifi XD5 Box Content
The Asus ZenWifi XD5’s retail box and the content. Note the mounting accessories.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Includes three idential routers
Asus ZenWifi XD5 Includes three identical routers. Or you can say this is a picture of a ZenWifi XD4 set. Nobody can tell.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Underside
The underside of an Asus ZenWifi XD5 router. Note how compact the hardware is.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Power Adapter
Each Asus ZenWifi XD5 router comes with a relatively compact 100-240V power adapter.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Underside Plugged InAsus ZenWifi XD5 Ports
A ZenWifi XD5’s underside with and without network cables is installed.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Front Light
An Asus ZenWifi XD5 in action
Note its front status light, which flashes or pulses to show the condition of the hardware.

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:

  1. Generally, it would be best if you used AiMesh hardware with the firmware of the same major release. (*)
  2. 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.
  3. Avoid turning on Auto-Update for firmware.
Asus firmwaremajor minor release
The major release (3 digits) and minor update (5 digits) in an Asus router firmware version.

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 — and some old models won’t get the latest release. So depending on the combo, your luck will vary.

As a rule, it’s best to wait for a few minor updates of a major release before upgrading. Depending on the combo, you might need to rebuild the system from scratch or reset and re-add a satellite node if you change the major firmware version (in one or all hardware units involved.)

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.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 AiProtectionAsus ZenWifi XD5 QoS
The ZenWifi XD5’s QoS and AiProtection are equally poor as the case of the XD4.

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.

Note on Asus’s privacy policy

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.”

Asus Privacy Message
Asus routers’ ominous privacy warning

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.

So, use or not use them, it’s a matter of personal choice — we can’t have them both ways. Generally, privacy and security are a matter of degree, and here’s Asus’s privacy policy.

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.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 VPNAsus ZenWifi XD5 Guest Network
Though modest compared to other Asus routers, the ZenWifi XD5 still has a far better feature set than any other non-Asus canned mesh system. Shown here are its VPN and Guest networking features.

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.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Router Long Range PerformanceAsus ZenWifi XD5 Router Close Range Performance
The ZenWifi XD5’s sustained Wi-Fi speed when working as a single router or a wired satellite node.

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.

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Satellite Close Range PerformanceAsus ZenWifi XD5 Satellite Long Range Performance
The ZenWifi XD5’s sustained Wi-Fi speed when working as a wireless satellite with a direct connection to the primary router.

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.

Pros

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

Cons

No Wi-Fi 6E, multi-gig port, Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation

Stripped-down QoS and AiProtection features

Only two network ports per unit

Conclusion

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.

As it seems, the ZenWifi XD5 is the base for Asus’s upcoming first MoCA-enabled mesh set, the ZenWiFi hybrid XC5.

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!