Xiaomi Mesh System AX3000 is the first mesh system from a Chinese manufacturer. The latter, however, has some experience, since it has been offering Wi-Fi routers and repeaters for several years now. The data sheet of the Mesh System AX3000 is particularly interesting with its Wi-Fi 6 with a combined speed of 2976 Mbps and the connection is provided, just under 150 euros.
The Xiaomi mesh system modules are identical. So they can either be routers connected to the box via the blue ethernet port, or satellites like a Wi-Fi repeater.
In terms of Wi-Fi, Mesh System AX3000 is a dual-band model with 802.11ax standard, so Wi-Fi 6. The 2.4GHz band can reach the theoretical speed of 574Mbps, and the 5GHz band can reach 2402Mbps.
Communication between modules is carried out in the 5 GHz band, and not in a dedicated band. So the speed is theoretically halved when you are connected to a module that acts as a repeater.
The connection consists of 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports; the blue port is used exclusively for communication with the internet box (WAN port), while the other three can accommodate all of your Ethernet devices (LAN port). A rather rare abundance of ports that deserves to be highlighted – mesh Wi-Fi kits, and even more so the most affordable models, are usually limited to one LAN port.
Mesh sync button, reset button and proprietary power outlet accompany 4 RJ45 ports. Two front-panel LEDs provide network and service status (blue for startup, white for running, and orange for problems).
In terms of design, Xiaomi opted for a matte black plastic block that is 22 cm high and 9.7 cm square. Instead of placing connectors and indicator lights on the front of the block, Xiaomi has integrated them into the edges, which also act as ventilation. The status LEDs are on the front panel and the connectors are on the opposite side. The weight of each module is indicated (510 g). Compared to their volume, the modules do give the impression of a somewhat light construction.
For installation, Xiaomi offers a basic configuration via a web interface that allows you to set up a Mesh system. The configuration is then carried out using the Xiaomi Home app, available on Android and iOS.
Thus, the physical installation of the first module is carried out without outside help. Therefore, it is necessary to connect the operator unit to the blue RJ45 port of one of the two Mesh System AX3000 modules, and then connect its power supply.
When starting the module, an open Wi-Fi network “Xiaomi_XXXX” should be detected. Just connect to it and your smartphone or computer will prompt you to set up your system. The rest of the setup lets you name the SSID (Wi-Fi network name) and add a password. The interface also prompts you to set up an administrator password for later access to the configuration. Once configured, your mesh system will restart and the rest of the setup will now be done through the Xiaomi home automation app (Xiaomi Home).
The Xiaomi Home app requires an account to be created. It should automatically offer to add your mesh system to your devices; otherwise, it will have to be added manually.
The suggested settings are relatively comprehensive for a consumer product. Among other things, they allow you to select the transmit power for each band, the channel used, or the creation of a “guest” wireless network. However, to access more advanced network settings such as port forwarding, DHCP, or adding possible VPN IDs, you need to access the web interface at 192.168.31.1 or router.mihome.com. We regret the lack of real parental controls and fine-grained device management associated with user profiles.
Once everything is set up, System Mesh offers one default SSID for the 2.4GHz or 5GHz band. However, it’s possible in the settings to separate the two bands into two separate SSIDs, especially if you’re having trouble connecting to connected entities – often incompatible with 5GHz.
To evaluate the performance of the Xiaomi System Mesh AX3000, we connected the router to our operator box, to which we connected a laptop via a 2.5 Gbps adapter. We transfer a file (disk image) of 4.73 GB from the first laptop to the second, equipped with an Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 chip, as well as to a stationary desktop PC located at the top and connected to a Gigabyte GC-WBAX200 PCIe card. with outdoor antenna and upgraded with Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 chip supporting Wi-Fi 6E.
In the 5GHz band, Xiaomi System Mesh AX3000 achieves an average speed of 808Mbps, that is, a transfer rate of 101MB/s, both when receiving and when sending. At a distance of one meter from the satellite, we got speeds almost half as much (427 Mbps for transmission and 361 Mbps for reception). Note that our desktop PC’s Wi-Fi card prefers to connect to the module that offers the best speeds. Thus, we get 620 Mbps for transmission and 555 Mbps for reception. At point 5, the farthest, System Mesh AX3000 allows you to get speeds of 154 Mbps for reception and 160 Mbps for transmission, without instability; perfect for watching content from your favorite 1080p video-on-demand platform.
Despite these good results, we expected more from this mesh system. With a claimed theoretical speed of 2402Mbps on the 5GHz band, it offers almost the same speeds as Netgear’s Orbi RBK352 kit, which offers 1500Mbps on its 5GHz band.
As close as possible to the modules, we get values that fluctuate around 130 Mbps, whether at the level of the router or satellite module. The two modules communicate on the 5GHz band, which explains why the router and the module have more or less the same speeds on the 2.4GHz band. At our point 5, the speed drops to 66 Mbps, but the connection remains perfectly stable for the 10 minutes it takes to transfer our disk image.
The speeds obtained by the Xiaomi System Mesh AX3000 put it between the Netgear NightHawk MK62 kit and the Netgear Orbi RBK352 kit.