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Over the past couple of months, we’ve had the pleasure of running MSI’s newly released RadiX AXE6600 Wi-Fi 6E Tri-band gaming router. Although Wi-Fi routers and MSI is not something we think of together, they are trying to make headway into the market with this (their first) router and a new Wi-Fi 7-capable RadiX BE22000 they showed off at CES 2023 that we expect to see later this year.
Meet the RadiX AXE6600
The RadiX AXE-6600 hits store shelves with an MSRP of $349.99. It competes with some existing heavy hitters from Netgear (Nighthawk RAXE300, $399.99), Asus (ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000, $339.99), and even the TP-Link Archer AXE95 ($269.99), which all sport 6E, tri-band capabilities. The good news is MSI and Newegg are running a promotion where for the first 30 days (today, February 16th to March 15th), using the code LUCKYHUNDRED takes $100 off, so the price drops to $249. While the full price is fair (not great), picking this up at $249 makes it a great deal.
The RadiX AXE6600 looks the part of a gaming router with six antennas, each sporting RGB lighting, sticking out of the smooth-looking chassis. On the back are five ethernet ports, including a 2.5 GbE WAN port and four GbE ports to hardwire your systems. The new device looks the part of a fancy gaming router with six antennas sticking out of three sides, all of which sport parts that light up by RGBs. You can control the RGBs through the MSI Center software and Mystic Light application.
On top is a large button sporting MSI’s dragon illuminated from below. Pressing this button allows you to cycle through the pre-defined AI QoS modes without accessing the dashboard. Other controls on top include an LED OFF function, Wi-Fi enable/disable, and WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup). All these are backlit with a white LED and the Wi-Fi button doubles as an activity light. The rest of the black area on top are activity lights for the WAN and ethernet ports.
On the rear of the device is where you’ll find all the ports and a couple of buttons. Starting on the left, there’s an inset reset button, four GbE ports, the single 2.5 GbE WAN port, a USB 3.0 (5 Gbps?) port, the power button, and the plug to connect the power adapter. One curiosity with this device is the power button on the rear that needs fixing on my unit. No matter if the button was pressed or sticking out, the router would only shut down by removing the power cord. MSI is aware of our findings but didn’t mention it was a systemic issue.
My only gripe with the appearance is you can barely read the labels on the buttons on top for each of the ports. To see them quickly, you need to look down almost directly on top of it. Clearly, this isn’t a big deal, but worth mentioning as something that can be improved.
As listed in the title and name of the device, it supports up to Wi-Fi 6E (2.4GHz/5GHz/6GHz bands) and up to 160 Hz. Data rates range from 573 Mbps on 2.4 GHz to 4,804 Mbps on the 6 GHz band.
Here’s a list of the relevant specifications:
|MSI RadiX AXE6600 Specifications|
|Wi-Fi Operating Band||2.4 GHz, 5 GHz, and 6 GHz|
|Data Rate||2.4 GHz: Up to 573.5 Mbps|
5 GHz: Up to 1,201 Mbps
6 GHz: Up to 4,804 Mbps
|Interface||(1) 2.5 GbE (WAN)|
(4) GbE ports
(1) USB 3.0 port
|Antenna||(6) Fixed antennas|
|Processor||Qualcomm 1.8 GHz Quad-core|
|Memory||Flash (256 MB)|
RAM (512 MB)
|Power||AC Input: 100-240V (50-60Hz)|
DC Output: 12.0V 3.5A
|Physical Dimensions||338 x 224 x 198 (mm)|
13.3 x 8.8 x 7.8 (inches)
|Weight||1.13 kg / 2.5 lb|
Regarding software, the RadiX’s dashboard is informative and easy to read. Along the left side is a menu system that starts with the Dashboard, while the different Ai QoS modes (AI Auto, Gaming, Streaming, WFH, and Traditional QoS) are listed across the top. Additionally, the Dashboard displays other high-level information, including CPU, NPU, and Memory use, a traffic analyzer, device connection status, and a list of wired clients.
One improvement I’d like to see is the ability to edit the name of your devices. While most items tend to have a label that distinguishes them from others, sometimes more is needed. For example, my network has multiple Alexa devices and LG TVs. We discern between them by adding Bedroom/Living Room prefixes, making them easier to identify at a glance.
The Game Center has several options listed across the top. This includes Game Turbo Boost, that’s said to optimize the interface performance of your favorite game, Mystic Light RGB application, Port Forwarding, and an integrated VPN (yay! I don’t have to pay for a VPN service!).
The Wi-Fi settings page covers just about everything you’d need. Here you configure your settings and channels and configure multiple SSIDs. Below that is a Guest Network option to create and configure a separate network for guests.
In the advanced section, there’s a slew of options that cover WAN, Firewall, Parental Controls, QoS, USB, LAN, IPv6 settings, the VPN, and an Administration section with even more advanced options. If you need it, chances are this router can do it.
MSI also has a phone app to connect to the router. It’s not quite as full-featured as the web-based interface, however there is a lot of functionality. Below are several screen shots from my phone.
On the performance front, we didn’t dig down with deep testing through lxchariot or similar applications, but we were still getting all the bandwidth we had before we were still receiving. Our wired connections all worked fine, and we didn’t have issues with our Wi-Fi devices after the latest firmware (663054 – which you, as a consumer, will have this or newer by the time you read this article).
Wi-Fi performance was outstanding using the 6 GHz band on my Samsung S22+ (6E-capable) and other Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6E lights up on the phone, and we got what amounts to the same bandwidth in Wi-Fi as wired when you’re at full bars (on the top floor where the router is). Testing 6E in the basement yields about half the bandwidth. Moving down to the 5 GHz band, with better reception, helped that out considerably.
All of the high-bandwidth devices in the 5 GHz network (TVs, five of them, and kid’s two Apple phones, five scattered around the house in various locations) worked without issue when trying to stream video concurrently. I’ve relegated all IoT devices in my home and other devices (amazon alexa units, garage door, sound bar, lights, etc.) to the 2.4 GHz network.
I’ve shared a screenshot showing the results of a Speedtest.net bandwidth benchmark. My internet at the time we tested was 500/20 and we got more than that using the 6E band.
Anecdotally, but absolutely repeatable, I noticed a few ms less latency across multiple games and servers. For example, in PUBG, where I usually get around 43-47ms on specific servers with the ROG Rapture (GT AXE-11000), it shows 37-40ms using the MSI. The ping is noticeably higher when I switch back to the other router. There may be less overhead in the MSI than mine, but it holds with the few games I play and can check ping to the servers.
The Ai modes all work well in our test environment. If you select the WFH, the router prioritizes traffic from Zoom, Teams, Google Meet or WebEx, and other collaborative software suites versus other traffic like gaming or streaming. Even when the device was set to Gaming QoS mode, my wife (the WFH user of the house) didn’t have any issues with her applications, with my two kids gaming simultaneously through the same wireless band. MSI suggested we download a large file to see the QoS in action, which also worked. I could download a 32GB Steam game through Wi-Fi while she worked without her applications cutting out/complaining. For the most part, we left it on Ai Auto and let the router manage the packets successfully.
Just to let you know, for the Ai QoS to work, it needs to be enabled before the start of your session. For example, if you want to play an online game like Fortnite, CSGO, Valorant, Apex, or PUBG (among all others), enable the Gaming QoS mode on the RadiX and re-launch the game to make it work.
Our experience with the MSI RadiX AXE6600 was a positive one. Initially, the router worked well but occasionally dropped the Wi-Fi requiring a reboot. After some time, MSI resolved the issue with new firmware, and off we went. Compared to the router this replaced, performance-wise, you couldn’t tell the difference outside of the anecdotal evidence of lower ping in my gaming sessions. Bandwidth is where it should be, and there haven’t been any concerns with stability across the four users in our house with the latest firmware. Between this RadiX and the upcoming Wi-Fi 7 version, MSI should make some headway into the crowded router market with these routers.