MSI is well known for its graphics cards, motherboards, laptops, and more. Most people think of MSI when thinking about premium gaming products. Over the last year, the company has jumped into networking by offering gaming routers and WiFi adapters to give gamers that extra edge. The RadiX line was born, and with it, MSI launched the RadiX AX6600 WiFi 6 and AXE6600 6E Tri-Band Gaming Routers while also launching the AX1800 WiFi USB Adapter. All three offer gamers up to 5 GHz operating frequency, with access to 6 GHz on the AXE6600 model.
The RadiX AX6600 is $219.99, while the AXE6600 is $319.99. The USB adapter allows users to extend their signal (if necessary) for $39.99. With identical specifications on both routers and some found on the USB adapter, what are the differences, and what is the best bang for your buck? In this analysis, we will review the specifications and discuss our findings so that you can make an educated decision before you buy.
MSI RadiX AX6600/AXE6600 WiFi 6/6E Tri-Band Gaming Routers — Specifications, Comparison, and Thoughts
On paper, these routers offer identical performance, with a tiny difference. The MSI RadiX AXE6600 taps into the WiFi 6e (802.11ax) WiFi standard. That, and its MSI Mystic Light integration, light your router up in cool RGB colors.
Let’s look at a comparison from the MSI website of the two router models. The item on the left is the MSI RadiX AX6600 WiFi 6 Tri-Band Gaming Router, while the one on the right is the AXE6600 WiFi 6e Tri-Band Gaming Router:
Outside of the additional access to the WiFi 6e standard, the Mystic Light integration I mentioned, and an extra 0.5 lb difference in weight, there is not much difference between the two. Suppose you have a system or product with wireless capabilities, and it has access to WiFi 6 or 6E. Will you notice a difference if several items are connected to the router? The honest answer is no. Not really. Running several Speedtests (by Ookla) at the same time of day (evening between 7:00 to 8:00 pm CST), I accessed the same amount of network access as I would have before. But, it had less to do with WiFi standards and how the software integration of the router helped with the connection.
The Web GUI is fantastic if you want to get deep into the settings of your routers. The MSI Router app, available for iOS and Android, allows you to access the router from anywhere in the home, which I found incredibly convenient, especially when trying to discover why my connection was terrible one night. MSI Center, well, I have started to appreciate tiny aspects of it, but I primarily still dislike the bloatware feelings I have for it. When I turn on my system to have the MSI Center Terms and Conditions ask me to agree and for me to constantly say “Cancel,” to then having it pop up after a necessary restart from an upgrade that I did on the PC, well, I have a reasonably decent distaste for the application.
Below are a small collection of screenshots from the Web UI. There is a wealth of limitations and customization that you can do through the Web UI. You would need an extensive Masterclass to understand most of what is being asked. For the everyday user, it was a tad overwhelming.
Next are selections from the MSI Router app on mobile devices:
However, the actual results were terrific. Before using either MSI RadiX WiFi gaming router, I used an old version of Netgear’s Orbi Router and satellite combo (estimated retail value was previously $300). The Netgear Orbi router and satellites offered a decent WiFi 4 connection to travel from one side of my 1004 sq. ft. home to the opposite side using the WiFi-extending satellites. The signal barely made it through half of the house without extra extenders. We had one plugged into an AC power outlet in the middle of the home where many electronic devices were (which became my office for a few years) to the main bedroom with some tablets for late-night reading and writing on a laptop for my wife. Occasionally I would bring in my Nintendo Switch and be able to play effortlessly with little slips in connection during sessions of Fortnite with my daughter.
After installing the MSI RadiX AX6600 WiFi 6 gaming router, and eventually switching it out for the AXE6600 WiFi 6e variant, I could have the routers’ signals run throughout the home without issues—no more need for extra equipment. The router solved that need. However, it posed a new problem for the home. We had almost twenty items connected to the router, all vying for access to the best signal. The RadiX system is fantastic in that I can set priority through several ways or completely cut devices off from access to limit the amount of use so that necessary devices would be given access.
However, my connection changed slightly and became less noticeable over time. I was already using devices that offered WiFi 4 or 5, so stepping up to 6 and 6e was practically negligible after extended use. The system prioritizes gaming systems through its intuitive AI, noticing signals resembling PC systems that consistently want wireless access while playing online. Products in the home suffered a tiny bit during those times but would then bounce back to normal once the gaming was over. Less affected products were streaming devices (Roku, Fire Stick, Smart TVs, etc.) as the signal required was consistent. Mobile devices took a slight hit at times, but again, not enough that it was uncomfortably slow.
The AX1800 WiFi USB Adapter worked as intended, as I could walk out of the home and still maintain a connection around the home’s perimeter where I might not have had a signal before. But this is not a common practice for me. I never use my laptop, and if I did, it would not be walking outside the home. When not in use, it can fold up for easy storage and mobility, or if you don’t want the dongle sitting on the laptop, there is a wired connection to a stand to act as an antenna. If you have a router that does not give you the signal from one side of the house to another and needs that extra boost to a PC or laptop, this will help you immensely. Or maybe not.
It is hard for me to sell you on a router that is $100 more, has RGBs, and has the extra WiFi standard ability. It is also hard to recommend a device thoroughly if everyone experiences a different level of connection at varying times of the day with different amounts of devices at any given time.
If I had a choice, I would spend $219.99 for a device that can suit my family’s needs and save $100. The router is in a part of the home that no one ever sees, and the added lights are unnecessary. Or, if I were a gamer who needed more glam and maybe streamed, placing the product just in the perfect spot in the background that showed I was the proud owner of an MSI RadiX AXE6600 WiFi 6E Gaming Router, then yeah, the value would seem more enticing. On a practical level, I’m satisfied with the MSI RadiX AX6600 WiFi 6 Tri-band Gaming Router for $219.99, especially for my and my family’s needs. For hardcore gamers, it boils down to what you need from your gaming router and if the added expense for the AXE6600 version ($319.99) is worth the cost.