ARRIS announced the SURFboard mAX AX6600 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System, a Broadcom BCM6755-based design, at CES 2020. In 2019, ARRIS had announced the SURFboard mAX PRO AX11000 for $650 (kit of two) and the SURFboard mAX PLUS AX7800 for $550 (kit of two). The new AX6600-class SURFboard mAX will enter at a lower price point (exact pricing was not announced) to complement the higher-end kits.

Similar to other AX6600-class Wi-Fi 6 mesh designs, the SURFboard mAX also comes with a tri-band configuration (2x2 2.4 GHz for 600 Mbps, 2x2 5 GHz for 1200 Mbps, and a 4x4 160 MHz-wide 5 GHz radio for 4800 Mbps). The 4x4 is used as a dedicated backhaul in the mesh kit. ARRIS claims that a kit of two can blanket a 5500 sq. ft. area.

In terms of the internal components, the unit seems similar to the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8), but the industrial design and antennae placement (which affects performance) are different. Additionally, the SURFboard mAX AX6600 comes with only two gigabit Ethernet ports per unit (unlike the Asus ZenWiFi which comes with a 2.5 Gbps port). ARRIS also indicated Alexa compatibility for the unit.

Availability is slated for Q2 2020, and the pricing ought to be under the $550 mark (given that the mAX PLUS AX7800 kit sells for that). Similar to the other members of the mAX family, the AX6600 version will also be available as a standalone router.

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  • timecop1818 - Friday, January 10, 2020 - link

    Why would anyone buy this shit when MikroTik Audience is basically same spec, 169$ MSRP and 132$ at most resellers.
  • deil - Friday, January 10, 2020 - link

    Unless antennas are not powered by 0.0000001A or software wise issues happen with MT A.

    Last time I've seen this, $$$$$ went for software that changed 24/7 seemless operation into choppy massacre.
  • Korguz - Friday, January 10, 2020 - link

    some also dont have a choice as that is what their isp supplies
  • ZeDestructor - Friday, January 10, 2020 - link

    1. This is a kit containing 2 nodes (so it's 550 vs 338/264, not 169/132)
    2. This is 802.11ax, which basically everyone is milking for all their worth
    3. MikroTik firmware doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation, nor is it particularly user friendly. If nothing else, the Arris firmware will have a pretty, locked-down, user-friendly UI.
  • zoneda - Friday, January 10, 2020 - link

    For its intended use as a mesh wireless router the Audience is fairly user-friendly. You can set it up with the MikroTik smartphone app or using Quick Set from the Web UI. Quick Set now has a mesh setup, and part of that is setting up CAPSMAN to control the interfaces on the first unit and any additional ones.

    The Audience is also well-built, and has very good performance for the price.

    I like MikroTik devices because they do offer really good performance for the price and they're very flexible. I've had good luck with them, and the firmware has been solid.

    MikroTik has 4 series of firmware, long term, stable, testing, and development. I've been sticking with long term, but one of my friends runs stable and hasn't had any issues. I sometimes wonder if some of the reports of firmware problems with MikroTik are from people who are using the testing or development releases.

    In the past I had used some Netgear and TP-Link routers and wasn't that impressed with them. I had stability problems, some devices had constant trouble connecting and staying connected, features didn't work as they were supposed to, etc.

    I needed something that would perform well and be cost-effective. I also preferred a router/AP rather than separate router and APs. I looked at Ubiquiti and they have some nice products, but I felt that MikroTik offered some products that were closer to what I wanted.

    I have friends that use Ubiquiti, and also know people who use other brands. At work we use Aruba, and I've worked at other places where they used Meraki or Ruckus. Everybody has things they like about the gear they're using and things they don't like.

    When people ask me, I recommend different brands of products and try to base my recommendation on their needs. I might recommend the MikroTik Audience to a non-technical person, but there are other things I might recommend as well. For a small house or apartment I might recommend a TP-Link router like the Archer A7. I've heard good things about them and I know a couple of people who have them and they are happy with them.

    For someone with a larger house, I'd probably recommend some sort of mesh setup. If they're ok with the price I might recommend Plume. They seem to perform quite well and they're small and don't look like a big black spider with lots of winking lights. I'd mention a mesh setup from Netgear or TP-Link too, since a lot of people seem to like them.

    A mesh setup with wired backhaul would be even better IMO, but not everyone wants to do that or have it done.

    Finally, if I'm talking to someone who is technically-oriented and does have some familiarity with wireless and networking, I just say that I've had good luck with a MikroTik router/AP, it cost this much, it covers my house quite well, and it has these features... Then they can make up their own mind. :-)

    ZeDestructor also mentions 802.11ax. That's still kind of new and in the past when I've bought routers that had early support for new standards they didn't work that well. I don't know if 802.11ax is "ready for primetime" yet. I have a few years before I'll be refreshing any of my various devices that use wifi, so I'm not sure if I'd gain anything right now by having an 802.11ax router.
  • kevin.mcc - Monday, January 13, 2020 - link

    Everyone should checkout the CaliX GigaSpire BLAST. Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) support, with 8x8 @ 5 GHz and 4x4 @ 2.4 GHz and the list cost is around $190. I am sure they are not selling these at a loss, so other vendors should be able to sell similar products at a similar price.
  • curiosity4242 - Wednesday, July 8, 2020 - link

    Can the general public even buy one of those? They seem to be direct-to-ISP or B2B.

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