Today, eero, a networking vendor owned by Amazon, released its first Wi-Fi 6E solution, the eero Pro 6E, available as a single router for some $300 or a 3-pack for $700.
Those are crazy prices, but not for reasons you might think! And many of you have asked me when I’d publish my review on it. Well, the quick answer is probably never.
Despite having reviewed the eero Pro 6 and eero 6, I’ll likely take a pass on this one. This post will explain briefly why and offer my quick, no-nonsense take on the new device.
eero Pro 6E: Another data mining Wi-Fi machine of low-end hardware
To tell the truth, I had a lot of hesitation testing the previous eero variants.
Generally, it’s never fun to work with devices designed to collect user data. And among those, the eero is by far the worst in my opinion.
My testing always includes real-world experience where I use the product extensively in my own home with my family. Consequently, I don’t feel comfortable plugging something in that doesn’t give me control — at least to some extent — over what it does.
And the eero gives users no control at all — you can’t even set it up or make any changes without first going through the vendor. The device won’t even initiate without having a live connection to eero.
Privacy is a matter of degree. While many networking vendors use a similar approach to router management, Amazon is a huge company that already has a lot of data on the users. And that makes the eero scary — if you don’t feel that way, that’s because ignorance is bliss.
That expected hype
You’ll soon run into a lot of “reviews” on the eero Pro 6E, if not already. Many will sing its praises. Amazon has lots of influence and there are more incentives for folks to hype it up than otherwise.
(In any case, I’m nobody to judge. I’m myself an Amazon associate, meaning if you buy the eero Pro 6E over the link above, I might get a small commission.)
To be fair, there are things to love about the eero Pro 6E. The combination of the cute, compact design, the integration of home automation wireless standards, and especially the ease of use alone has its allure.
So, if you’ve been waiting for an upgrade, you understandably get excited. And the new router is definitely not completely useless.
But if you think the new eero Pro 6E is decidedly better than the previous Pro 6, you’re fooling yourself. After reviewing virtually all other Wi-Fi 6E broadcasters available on the US market, I can say that for sure just by looking at the new router’s specs.
So let’s check them out.
eero Pro 6E vs eero Pro 6: Hardware specifications
eero doesn’t reveal the details from the eero Pro 6E’s specs on its website. But from what I could glean, it’s clear that the Pro 6E is a “weaker” Wi-Fi machine than the previous model, which is already entry-level hardware.
By the way, the two share almost identical designs.
|Full Name||eero Pro 6
Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router
|eero Pro 6E
Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Router
|Model||eero Pro 6||eero 6 Pro 6E|
|Wi-Fi Designation||Dual-band AX4200||Tri-band AXE5400 (?)|
|Dimensions||5.3 x 5.3 x 2.1 in
(13.5 x 13.5 x 5.3 cm)
|5.5 x 5.5 x 2.2 in
(13.9 x 13.9 x 5.5 cm)
|Weight||1.49 lbs (676 g)||1.55 lbs (703 g)|
|1st Band||2.4GHz AX: Up to 600Mbps
|2.4GHz AX: Up to 600Mbps
|2st Band||5GHz 4×4 AX: Up to 2400Mbps
|5GHz 2×2 AX: Up to 2400Mbps
|3rd Band||5GHz 2×2 AX: Up to 1201 Mbps
|6GHz 2×2 AXE: Up to 2400Mbps
|Mesh Backhaul Band||2nd band (5GHz)||Dynamic|
|Wired Backhaul Support||Yes||Yes|
|Wi-Fi Security||WPA2, WPA2/WPA3||WPA2, WPA2/WPA3|
|Web User Interface||None||None|
|AP (Bridge) Mode||Yes||Yes|
|USB Port||USB-C (power)||USB-C (power)|
|Gigabit Port||2x Auto-Sensing (LAN/WAN)||1x Auto-Sensing|
|Multi-Gig Port||None||1x 2.5Gbps Auto-Sensing|
|Processing Power||1.4 GHz quad-core CPU,
1GB RAM, 4GB flash
|1 GHz dual-core CPU,
1 GB RAM, 4 GB flash storage
eero Pro 6E vs eero Pro 6: Another misleading case of the old tri-band vs new tri-band
The new eero Pro 6E has consistent mid-tier 2×2 Wi-Fi specs. As such, its ceiling Wi-Fi speed will likely cap at 1.2Gbps on the 5GHz band — you can’t expect this band to use the 160MHz bandwidth at all times.
So, the eero Pro 6E is only better than the eero Pro 6 when working as a single router, and in only one small area: its support for Wi-Fi 6E devices via the new 6GHz band.
In a mesh setup, things will get complicated.
The old eero Pro 6 is a traditional Tri-band device — it can dedicate its 2nd band (the top-tier 5GHz) as the dedicated backhaul in a fully wireless setup. On the other hand, the eero Pro 6E is a new Tri-band router — it has no dedicated backhaul band.
As a result, whichever band the new Pro 6E uses for backhauling will suffer from signal loss, and its reduced speed will be that of the entire mesh system.
Backhaul vs fronthaul
Generally, when you use multiple Wi-Fi hardware units in a mesh network, there are two types of connections: the fronthaul and the backhaul.
Fronthaul is the Wi-Fi signal a mesh hub broadcasts outward for clients or, its network ports for wired devices. It’s what we generally expect from a Wi-Fi broadcaster.
On the other hand, backhaul, a.k.a backbone, is the link between one broadcasting hub and another, be it the main router or another satellite hub. This link keeps them together to form a system.
When a Wi-Fi band handles backhaul and fronthaul simultaneously, only half of its bandwidth is available to each. When it handles just the former, it’s called the dedicated backhaul band.
Generally, it’s best to use a network cable for backhauling or wired backhaul. In this case, a hub can use all of its Wi-Fi bandwidth for front-hauling.
In networking, using network cables is always much better than wireless in speed and reliability.
It’s important to note that the 6GHz band has a shorter range than the 5GHz (or the 2.4GHz). Depending on the environment, the eero Pro 6E will automatically pick the band with the strongest signal as the backhaul in real-time. And when it uses the 2.4GHz band for this job, the mesh will be super slow.
In short, in a fully wireless setup, the eero Pro 6E will likely be slower than the eero Pro 6. And generally, there’s no scenario where it will be fast considering its hardware specs.
While both the Pro 6 and Pro 6E can work via a wired backhaul, the latter needs that to work well — like the case with all Tri-band Wi-Fi 6E mesh systems, including the higher-end ZenWiFi ET8 or Linksys AXE8400.
By the way, since there’s just one 2.5Gbps port per router, you can’t have Multi-Gig wired backhaul out of the eero Pro 6E, like the case of the ZenWiFi Pro ET12.
Like the eero Pro 6, the new eero Pro 6E is not what it’s cracked up to be.
That said, to those who just opened that fancy box, I don’t mean to rain on your parade. If you love the eero Pro 6E, go ahead and love it. I’m happy for you.
However, if you expect me to agree with the superlatives you’ve been fed about it, I can’t.
At the core, the new eero Pro 6E is a low-end, entry-level Wi-Fi 6E device. It will likely be the slowest among its peers. So it’s outrageously over-priced, and the “Pro” notion is laughable.
Like all eero variants, it’s designed to collect information from your network to further enrich Amazon. As such, eero should give it to you for free. In any case, you don’t own it — you can’t use it on your own.
The bottom line is I wouldn’t bother with the eero Pro 6E even you paid me to use it. And the growing number of better Wi-Fi 6E options makes that decision a no-brainer.
Below is my review of the eero Pro 6 for reference.
Easy to set up and use, especially for iPhone users
Wi-Fi range could be better
Internet and login account required for setup and ongoing management
Minimum ports, no Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation, or Multi-Gig
Online Protection and Parental Control require a monthly subscription
Home automation feature requires Amazon integration
No web interface, spartan Wi-Fi, and network settings
The eero app for Android is a bit buggy