Eero should probably look over its shoulder because a new piece of software from Asus could make it and other boutique mesh routers seem super outdated. Asus, which makes some of the best standard routers available, today announced AiMesh, a new bit of software that turns old Asus routers into points in a mesh network. That means it just got easier to blanket your home in sweet, sweet wi-fi.
Mesh networks have been all the rage on crowd funding sites over the last few years. After a brief period, we suddenly had an assortment of products available from startups like Eero and Luma and established router makers like Netgear. Even Amplifi, a big enterprise-level provider, got in on the act.
Mesh networks work like a better version of the old router and range extender setups. One router is positioned near the modem and the others are placed in optimal points in the house, providing superior speeds.
Asus has, noticeably, not hopped on the mesh network train until now, but the promises outlined, and the sheer number of routers available, make it instantly look more appealing than just about any other mesh network currently available.
That's because Asus doesn't require you to buy a whole new setup. Instead you can take your old Asus router (provided it's compatible) and install the AiMesh software. Then all you need is a second compatible router and you've got a mesh network that Asus claims is four to five-and-a-half times faster than comparable setups from its competitors (notably, Asus does not mention specific competitors).
Compatible Asus routers can be found for as low as $US70 ($89), which means a three-router setup would cost you $US210 ($268). By comparison, an Eero multi-router mesh system starts at $US300 ($384). That's a lot of cash to save, and it's a boon for people like myself, who have put off upgrading their three-year-old Asus RT-AC68U. Now I can buy a newer and fancier Asus router and know I won't have to retire my old one; I can just repurpose it.
A list of compatible routers can be found here, and you can bet we'll be doing our own testing to see how this compares to traditional mesh setups, particularly because many of those setups, like the Eero, are known for being super easy to use.