Published on February 13th, 2024 | by Dean Yamak
D-Link AQUILA PRO AI AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 Smart Mesh System Review (2-Pack)
Summary: The AQUILA PRO AI is a straight forward and quick solution that exceeds their expectations for usability – and probably meet their expectation for the price point.
Let’s be honest – Australia is not celebrated for its internet. Our complaints might be about speed, connectivity, ease of use and set-up, availability, value, or trying to make sense of the very different plans that mysteriously have similar speeds. I have spent more time than I would like to admit searching the internet for solutions to this – and I’m relieved to say the AQUILA PRO AI Wi-Fi Smart Mesh from D-Link has entirely solved my speed and connectivity issues.
If you are entirely unfamiliar with a ‘mesh’ Wi-Fi system – they differ from the extenders you may have read about in an effort to solve a connectivity problem. Instead of an additional Wi-Fi network, a mesh system essentially replaces the Wi-Fi network you used to have, and the additional devices that create the mesh are situated around your home and ensure you have more complete signal coverage. In my case, trying a mesh system made sense – I couldn’t move walls that were getting between my devices and my router, and I couldn’t relocate my router from the cable outlet.
The AQUILA PRO AI 2-pack easily covers our 1960’s single-storey 250m2 3-bedroom home. I have not noticed any areas of low signal or low speed with only 2 units – however it’s worth considering the price point of the AQUILA PRO AI if you were considering a mesh network for a double-storey house or an external area. Based on the set-up process in my own home and the advice on D-Link’s website regarding where to arrange the device, I expect a third device would be necessary for complete coverage for most double-storey homes (although units and townhouses can likely have full coverage with only 2 units). At the time of writing a quick search online indicates most retailers are pricing the 2-pack at $399 AUD, whist the 3-pack is priced at $549 AUD on D-Link’s own website.
My fears regarding the set-up of a Wi-Fi mesh network for the first time were mostly unfounded. I am likely more proficient than the average person at setting up new tech devices, but networking is well beyond my experience and expertise – luckily the AQUILA PRO AI app makes set-up easier than setting up a new mobile. I had the new Wi-Fi network set-up in about 20 minutes, including the time from unboxing. I was literally wrangling an active climbing toddler, protecting my console controllers, and stopping the dog’s from being bludgeoned with blocks at the same as setting this up. I can’t think of a stronger endorsement than a toddler-proof set up – so long as you have a smart phone. For those that want to avoid the app, the device’s quick-start instructions offer two alternatives – I tried the direct connection to the device too and found the process easy despite the lack of flashy app animations.
My only concern with the set-up was the lack of prompts regarding modem-routers (in Australia these are usually called ‘gateway’s by ISPs). The only issue we had following the mesh set-up was intermittent failure to download images on Wi-Fi, usually on social media apps, but also on RCS messaging. My relative inexperience with this process led to a delay in my realising I needed to reconfigure my ‘gateway’ to ‘bridging’ mode. However on the other hand, tech support were also unable to resolve my issue over the course of a day, and the settings of my ‘gateway’ did not seem to occur to them either. For some of you, I’m just trying to make myself feel less silly for missing this step – however I can’t help but wonder how many people might be mistakenly disappointed with their new (expensive) purchase when “it just doesn’t work right” because the app (and tech support) did not prompt them to consider their ‘gateway’s settings.
The units themselves are relatively small, about the size of a large novel, making it simple to find locations to place them. They require a power outlet which limits the locations you can use without an outlet extension – but the 4 Ethernet ports, the power socket and the internet port on the flat side mean this is impossible to use as the base. They have recesses on the back that suggest mounting on the wall as an option, however the devices do not come with any of the screws or mounts that you will need to complete this. The white LED when the unit is operational is strong enough to be noticed at night from rooms away, however there are options within the controlling app to change this, and an LED on-off switch too. I preferred the simple aesthetic of the units to my old ‘gateway’ with its constantly blinking indicators; however I still found the devices stand out, and my own preference was to locate them somewhere inobtrusive.
Crucially and most importantly – it “just works” … mostly. And it works brilliantly fast. After a simple app-guided set up I have been pleasantly surprised by how well the mesh Wi-Fi has worked, aside from the hiccup I described above related to the ‘gateway’ set-up. Rather than 50 mbps download speeds, I consistently get speed test results of 90 mbps even when streaming and multiple devices being used in the evening. I was shocked to see speed tests greater than 300 mbps download speeds on Wi-Fi at ‘non-peak’ times, usually any time before 3pm (for transparency, we have HFC from iiNet, and have always enjoyed relatively fast LAN speeds offset by relatively sluggish Wi-FI). The reference to “mostly” working relates to the issue we experienced with images for the few first days, which has since resolved.
I’m enjoying the benefit of having a newer device than my old ‘gateway’ with the advantages of more recent technological developments, including Wi-Fi 6 – albeit you will need devices that can take advantage of that option. And that’s not even considering the options available via the app that comes with the device – with features ranging from management of each “extender” and “client” connected, including but not limited to parental controls, network scheduling, features labelled as “AI” for managing client priority automatically to optimise connection to devices that are assessed as most frequently used.
Overall, the AQUILA PRO AI Wi-FI Smart Mesh system significantly improved my network speed and connectivity throughout my whole home, and was almost a breeze to set-up despite my lack of expertise. I definitely don’t regret giving this a trial, in fact I intent to keep the Wi-Fi mesh set up as my regular network. My less-than-ideal experience with tech support aside, I think the vast majority of people who consider themselves “regular” users of Wi-Fi at home on mobile devices will find the AQUILA PRO AI is a straight forward and quick solution that exceeds their expectations for usability – and probably meet their expectation for the price point.
AQUILA PRO AI AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 Smart Mesh System (2-Pack) Features
- Eco-friendly Design: With a housing made from post-consumer recycled materials and delivered in sustainable packaging, the M30 was designed to reduce its environmental impact
- Rapid Connectivity: Revel in speeds up to 3 Gbps with an extra antenna on the faster 5 GHz band, assuring seamless video streaming, video conferencing, and smooth gaming
- Uninterrupted Wi-Fi Everywhere: Enjoy robust 360° spherical coverage courtesy of a sophisticated antenna design and advanced AI technology, ensuring fast and consistent Wi-Fi in every corner of your home
- Scale-as-you-need Mesh: Future proof your network and easily expand your coverage by adding more AQUILA PRO AI devices to create a whole home Mesh network
- Ultra-Fast Gigabit Wired Connection: 1 x Gigabit WAN port + 4 x Gigabit LAN ports (per M30 Router) allow you to make fast and reliable connections to wired devices like smart TVs, gaming PCs and more
- Help Protect Your Home Network: Help keep your family safer online with our premium home network security features like Advanced Parental Controls, ETSI EN 303 645 cybersecurity standards and WPA3 encryption
- Setup and Management Simplified: The intuitive AQUILA PRO AI app helps guide you through setup and monitors your network to help you keep it running at peak performance