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Wi-Fi System

These benchmarks measure up and downlink 2.4 and 5 GHz throughput at each system node, by "walking" the octoScope Pal dual-band test client from node to node. Since tests are made with 0 dB attenuation between the Pal test client and each system node, all measurements are best case. The only exception is that all 2.4 GHz tests were made with 9 dB of attenuation between node and Pal client, to avoid overload.

These tests are highly influenced by what's happening in the backhaul in each node. Focus on the 5 GHz results in particular, since from the RvR results, we know Multy X can deliver at least 500 Mbps on the root node with no backhaul involved.

The 2.4 GHz downlink chart shows throughput measured at each node, with the A bars being the root node, B bars the Hop 1 node and C bars the Hop 1 node with 21 dB of attenuation set between client and Satellite, which is our standard practice when testing two-node systems.

Wi-Fi System Performance - 2.4 GHz downlink

Wi-Fi System Performance - 2.4 GHz downlink

Multy X beats Orbi only on the Hop 1 tests, in both directions.

Wi-Fi System Performance - 2.4 GHz uplink

Wi-Fi System Performance - 2.4 GHz uplink

But what's up with the Multy X Root node downlink test? The plot below shows what happened during the 70 second test that produced the Location A downlink results. It shows the throughput variation I referred to earlier. I ran this 12 test benchmark sequence multiple times and saw enough variation that I let the results stand so that this behavior would be reflected in the results and rankings.

Wi-Fi System Performance - 2.4 GHz uplink

Wi-Fi System Performance - 2.4 GHz uplink

5 GHz downlink results show Orbi besting Multy X in all cases...

Wi-Fi System Performance - 5 GHz downlink

Wi-Fi System Performance - 5 GHz downlink

...sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot.

Wi-Fi System Performance - 5 GHz uplink

Wi-Fi System Performance - 5 GHz uplink

Capacity

Our Wi-Fi System capacity test uses three 2x2 AC clients, a 2.4 GHz client is connected to the root node and 5 GHz to the others. Since both Orbi and Multy X are two-node systems, both 5 GHz clients were connected to the second node. To avoid overload, 9 dB of attenuation was applied between the Pal and mode fot the 2.4 GHz Pal; 0 dB was used for both 5 GHz Pals.

The Capacity bar chart shows total throughput for the three test clients in each direction. As I'd expect from a system with four-stream backhaul, Multy X does pretty well, placing up near the top of both charts. But it's interesting it places behind Linksys Velop, which has only two-stream backhaul, on uplink.

Wi-Fi System Capacity

Wi-Fi System Capacity

Digging into the node level details shows Orbi with significantly higher throughput than Multy X.

Wi-Fi System Capacity by Test Case - downlink

Wi-Fi System Capacity by Test Case - downlink

Uplink shows Multy X with closest results to Orbi for Case C.

Wi-Fi System Capacity by Test Case - uplink

Wi-Fi System Capacity by Test Case - uplink

We can also see throughput changes over the course of the tests. The downlink plot once again shows variation in the 2.4 GHz test. It's also clear that throughput for both 5 GHz clients trends slowly down during the first 10 minutes of the test.

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - Downlink

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - Downlink

Uplink is more interesting in that Root node throughput is significantly lower than downlink. Both 5 GHz clients have a lot of throughput variation throughout the 30 minute test run and also show slow falling and rising average trend lines.

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - Uplink

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - Uplink

For comparison, here are the Orbi plots. Downlink...

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - NETGEAR Orbi - Downlink

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - NETGEAR Orbi - Downlink

...and uplink. The plots speak for themselves.

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - NETGEAR Orbi - Uplink

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - NETGEAR Orbi - Uplink

Closing Thoughts

When coming into the game this late, even top-tier companies need to present a compelling case to draw buyers from established leaders. This means better features, lower price, better performance or combinations of the three.

Unfortunately, Zyxel, which is not a big name in retail consumer networking products, hasn't made the case on any of the three criteria. For features, it lacks support for Ethernet backhaul and, more importantly, multi-hop configurations, which Orbi now supports, albeit with some stability problems. Orbi now has significantly better parental controls with the recent addition of Circle with Disney; Multy X has only internet access scheduling.

For performance, Multy X comes within striking distance of Orbi due to decent performance in its four-stream 5 GHz dedicated backhaul. But the stability problems I saw in the 2.4 GHz radio are troubling. And Orbi was much more stable than Multy X in the three-client capacity test.

Finally, you're not going to save a lot by buying Multy X. At $300, Multy X doesn't present a strong case on price, given that you can usually pick an RBK50 Orbi up for about the same, if not slightly lower than that, as long as you're willing to wait out Amazon's dynamic pricing game.

In the end, although Zyxel's Multy X outranked eight of the 11 Wi-Fi Systems we've tested, it has nothing that would make me recommend it over NETGEAR's RBK50 Orbi.

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