Reviews

HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review Another Cheap and Cheerful Wi-Fi 6 Router

HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core)

RM 299.00
9.3

Build Quality

10.0/10

Hardware Specification

8.0/10

Features

9.0/10

User Experience

9.5/10

Value

10.0/10

Advantages

  • Affordable
  • Great wireless throughput
  • Excellent features
  • WPA3 support
  • 160MHz compatibility
  • Great security
  • Stable firmware
  • Centralized control via Huawei app
  • Sleek design (portable)

Disadvantages

  • No OpenVPN feature

Wi-Fi 6 technology is considered is in its baby stage where not many Wi-Fi 6-enabled clients are made widely available for most devices. However, most manufacturers such as D-Link and TP-LINK were competing against each other to provide an affordable Wi-Fi 6 router to the end users, this benefited the end users.

A few years back, HUAWEI made a highly affordable Wi-Fi 5 router that successfully penetrated the Malaysian market, competing against D-LINK and TP-LINK, also ASUS with exceptional best hardware configuration and excellent third-party firmware support since the model utilizes the same hardware configuration as its rival.

Figure 1: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Introduction
Figure 1: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Introduction

Recently, HUAWEI announced their all new Wi-Fi 6 router, HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core), that utilizes the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology for a faster data transmission with a seamless experience. The AX3 comes with two variants, AX3 (Dual-Core) and AX3 (Quad-Core). The dual-core variant were powered by Gigahome processor clocked at 1.2GHz while the quad-core variant powered by Gigahome clocked at 1.4GHz. The unit given to me is the quad-core variant, and I am thanking HUAWEI for providing me an opportunity to experience their router and share my thoughts on the router.

Figure 2: Figure 1: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Standard Accessories
Figure 2: Figure 1: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Standard Accessories

The packaging features a unit of HUAWEI AX3 (Quad-Core), a CAT5E Ethernet cable, a power cable and a user manual.

Figure 3: Figure 2: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Design Overview
Figure 3: Figure 2: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Design Overview

I am not a big fan of big, bulky or space consuming router rather, I would use a small, powerful and a router that can fit into my server rack and doesn’t require much space. This is where HUAWEI wins in terms of size and dimensions of the router. I personally liked the design of the router. It features four non-removable antennas and, the antennas are 90° foldable. The best part of the router is, it only has one small LED indicator on the front, giving out the current status of the router.

Figure 3A: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - I/O panel Offering
Figure 3A: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – I/O panel Offering

Next, moving into the rear of the router, it offers four-gigabit capable LAN port and sadly, there are no USB 2.0 or USB 3.0 ports present. However, the ports are well mapped and not too close with each other. The best real-live example I can give as if you’re replacing an ageing ethernet cable of yours while using the router, the process will be easy and don’t require heavy pressure to remove the cable. This, is the advantage when it comes to design and mapping the ports. HUAWEI wins here.

Specifications

The specification of Huawei AX3 (Quad-Core) are as follows:

BrandHuawei
ModelWiFi AX3 (Quad-Core)
Wireless ClassAX3000
Wireless TechnologyWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
Data Rate802.11ax/ac/n/a 2 x 2 & 802.11ax/n/b/g 2 x 2, MU-MIMO
Wireless speed is up to 2976 Mbps (2.4 GHz: 574 Mbps; 5 GHz: 2402 Mbps)
ProcessorsGigahome Quad-core 1.4 GHz CPU
InterfaceWAN: One 10 / 100 / 1000 Mbps Ethernet port
LAN: Three 10 / 100 / 1000 Mbps Ethernet ports
SecurityTrustZone Security, Anti-brute force algorithms, WPA3, Firewall, DMZ, PAP / CHAP, DMZ / DoS attack protection
Dimensions and Weight225 mm x 159.2 mm x 39.7 mm
~ 403g
Table 1: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Specifications

Currently, the only reference used to know the hardware specification in general is from its official site. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet informed about the memory capacity used by Huawei at this point of time this article being written.

Installation

The installation process is quite fast and easy for novice users. The standard language used during setup is English, this means, users outside of China don’t really require to change the language since English was made as default language for the AX3 (Quad-Core). I’ve prepared a guide on any Huawei wireless routers based on Huawei AX3 (Quad-Core).

User Experience

Figure 5: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Firmware Homepage
Figure 5: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Firmware Homepage

The best thing I personally love about this router is its firmware. The mapping of the menu is accessible and it gives an impression of accessing to a static website. This reminds me of D-LINK’s web administration panel, but with a more professional design. HUAWEI definitely scores well in the human computer interaction field since most of the features were well arranged in their respective sections.

Figure 6: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Internet Connection Configuration
Figure 6: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Internet Connection Configuration

The Internet menu panel allows you to pick internet access mode and internet profile mode for the given regions. Also, you can configure your own custom profiles to fully utilize the available LAN port for your physically connected device if you don’t wish to invest on a switch. You also can change to your preferred DNS provider in this page.

Figure 7: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Wireless Settings (Basic)
Figure 7: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Wireless Settings (Basic)

Each time I setup a router, the first section I would head to, is the wireless settings mainly to switch off WPS feature. However, I acknowledged that HUAWEI’s system engineer divides wireless option under basic and advanced (More Functions > Wi-Fi Settings > Advance Wi-Fi Settings). In the basic section, you can prioritize your device to only use 5GHZ band or both bands. In addition, the AX3 (Quad-Core) features WPA3 security certification as standard. The WPA3 were based on Simultaneous Authentication of Equals, a password based authentication introduced in IEEE 802.11s mainly for mesh networks. The WPA3 uses 128-bit in WPA3 personal and 192-bit in WPA3 enterprise mode. Unfortunately, there are no WPA3 Enterprise mode, so if you own a small-business the only strongest encryption option available is the WPA3. However, to use the WPA3 feature, you’re required to have a compatible WLAN adapter to use the encryption as well as the Wi-Fi 6 technology. The 5GHz band offers 160MHz channel width, thus a greater throughput can be achieved through a right adapter.

Figure 8: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Wireless Settings (Advance)
Figure 8: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Wireless Settings (Advance)

Under the advanced wireless settings, you can further customize your preferred wireless channel, mode and bandwidth that fit your requirement based on your independent wireless analysis test. The settings shown in the Figure 8 above shows the best wireless configuration to maximize the wireless throughput using a right Wi-Fi 6 adapter.

Figure 9: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Guest Wi-Fi Settings
Figure 9: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Guest Wi-Fi Settings

HUAWEI AX3 also features Guest Wi-Fi function. If you happen to receive frequent visitors to your home or in your small office, the guest wireless feature will be very useful. You can set the limit rate for the guest wireless network.

Figure 10: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - QoS Settings
Figure 10: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – QoS Settings

The next feature I am about to brag about is the QoS setting. It is simply known as Manage Device. The QoS setting in this router probably one of the best out there for its price. You can limit the bandwidth rate and set your own speed value under kbps, i.e. 1000Kbps = 1Mbps.

Figure 11: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Huawei Link+ Settings
Figure 11: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Huawei Link+ Settings

Every router manufacturers moving forward to implement their own mesh solution for their routers. Similarly, HUAWEI also features their own mesh solution called, Link+. This is basically similar to AiMesh feature by ASUS, however, it is easier to setup and don’t require logging in to your web-administration panel or mobile application. I will consider this as an advantage for minimizing the effort required to add more compatible nodes in the existing network.

Figure 12: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Virtual Private Network Supported Protocols
Figure 12: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Virtual Private Network Supported Protocols

Next, I want to share about the VPN feature in this router. By default, it supports L2TP and PPTP protocol. A VPN service is required these days, especially to reduce the chances of being tracked while doing our daily routine over the internet. Unfortunately, HUAWEI AX3 doesn’t offer OpenVPN feature. I firmly believe, most VPN service providers are moving towards WireGuard protocol and offering OpenVPN protocol as standard. Perhaps, this feature can be implemented in the future firmware patch.

  • Figure 13: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - IPv6 Analysis 1
  • Figure 14: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - IPv6 Analysis 2

The HUAWEI AX3 features IPv6 feature as standard. This means that, if your internet service provider provide IPv6 address, then you can certainly use this feature. I did test this feature, it turns out, the feature work like a charm. Very well done.

Figure 15: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Port Forwarding
Figure 15: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Port Forwarding

Most gamers out there, prefers a router with port-forwarding feature. Fortunately, the HUAWEI AX3 supports port-forwarding. In order to use this feature, you should make sure that you are not assigned with private IP. I did test the port-forwarding feature with a random port assigned by qBittorrent software, based on the test conducted, the feature works.

Figure 16: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) vs Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) Throughput
Figure 16: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) vs Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) Throughput (off-peak hour)

Figure 16 on the above shows the maximum wireless throughput test. The test was conducted off-peak hours and the location client device is inside a room, 10 meters away from the router located inside an enclosed server rack. The client device was equipped with a Wi-Fi 6 PCIe adapter from TP-LINK. Based on the graph above, I able to get over 600Mbps throughput over Wi-Fi 6 with 160MHz enabled. Based on my experience, the result obtained from wireless throughput from HUAWEI AX3 is slightly higher and better than the speed obtained from testing AX56U, previously. For a standard Wi-Fi 5 throughput test using the same adapter, I am able to get 500Mbps with a maximum channel bandwidth of 80MHz.

Figure 17: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Wi-Fi 6 Throughput Test (Peak Hour)
Figure 17: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Wi-Fi 6 Throughput Test (peak hour)

Figure 17 shows the standard result that you would obtain during peak hours starting from 8pm to 12am. Even with the best gear equipped, it is nearly impossible to reach a solid speed of 800Mbps. I will consider this as a limitation of wireless throughput that affected by a few factors such as signal congestion, distance and router’s processing ability.

  • Figure 18: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Debugging
  • Figure 19: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Reset

Adding further, another feature I liked about the HUAWEI AX3 is, it allows you to set to download the firmware automatically if you’re not able to do it on a monthly basis. If you’re a programmer, you can collect the logs and information and debug it to find if you encounter with any issues with the networking performance on the router. In addition, you can enable to download critical updates issued to your router.

Figure 20: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Huawei SmartHome (iOS Application)
Figure 20: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Huawei SmartHome (iOS Application)

Centralized management is a dream for many people, this includes parents and networking administrator. Fortunately, you can manage the home network via HUAWEI’s AI Life application for android and SmartHome application for iOS platform. Similar to the feature offered on the web-administrative panel, the application offers the similar feature. In terms of management, HUAWEI wins a full mark here.

Conclusion

Figure 21: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review - Conclusion
Figure 21: HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review – Conclusion

To conclude the review, the HUAWEI AX3 (Quad-Core) is one of the best entry level AX routers in the market. Although it is a Wi-Fi 6 router with AX3000 wireless class, I can’t compare the performance of the router with a few identified AX3000 routers such as AX58U from ASUS or AX50 from TP-LINK since I haven’t tested none of them, yet. If you are not more into a hardcore user that requires extensive features for a router, then the HUAWEI AX3 certainly the best choice.

HUAWEI WiFi AX3 (Quad-Core) Review Another Cheap and Cheerful Wi-Fi 6 Router - EDITORS CHOICE

Confidently, I can recommend this router for users who want to leap to Wi-Fi 6 from Wi-Fi 5 router, and of course, with a suitable PCIe-adapter such as AX58BT or Archer TX3000E, you can fully utilize the performance of the router either via wired or wirelessly.

Categories: Reviews

Tagged as: , , , ,

3 replies »

  1. Thank you very much for your comprehensive reviews.

    I need advice on IPv6 settings. There are 2 options ie. SLAAC or DHCPV6 to select in IPv6 settings. I tried both and the IPv6 connection seems OK.

    That begets the question: which is better in terms of reliability and connection speed?

    Also, will you be doing a review on setting up a mesh network using 2 AX3 routers? Thanks again.

    • Hi mate,

      Answering your question, most router should have the feature by default. But, I don’t own the unit, so I can’t confirm with you if, the feature is available. You may need to ask to HUAWEI Malaysia directly.

      Regards.

Leave a Reply