Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review - Featured 1

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 Review | Is The Cylindrical Design A Success?

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Here we are with another review of a Xiaomi router and this time it is the Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100. For the audience looking for a unique design in the routers lineup, the Mi AC2100 seems to be a choice as it has the 360-degrees hidden antenna and appears to be nothing but a big and beautiful cylinder. It follows the design of the once-popular Apple AirPort (not an Airport though). However, the question is that if this Antenna-less cylindrical design is really good and can provide the same coverage as the traditional rectangular router with external antennas, or not? Plus there are more factors to consider, such as the bands, the speed, the wall penetration, ease of use, and setting up. So, let’s find out in this Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review:

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 Review – A Cheaper Yet A Better Chinese Apple AirPort

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 Review – Design & Appearance

Let’s be honest, after seeing the Redmi Router AC2100 and Xiaomi AIoT router AX3600, one thing is sure that Xiaomi has one of the best-looking routers out there. Each router is unique and beautiful and the AC2100 is no exception. It adopts a cylindrical minimalist design and a built-in 360° hidden antenna. If not, this is the only Xiaomi router I love the most in terms of appearance and design. If I would have selected an external antenna router and a hidden antenna router, the Xiaomi AIoT AX3600 and the Xiaomi Router AC2100 would have been my preferred choice because both of them have a unique design. The whole router is completely black, without any unnecessary design, simple and clean.

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review - Featured

The cylindrical design has another advantage, which can avoid the signal loss caused by the incorrect placement of the antenna, and can also effectively prevent damaging of antenna caused by bumps.

At the lower bottom, the Xiaomi router AC2100 have two strip-shaped indicators, which are blue during normal operation, and can be turned off from the APP.

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review - LEDs

On the back are the connectivity ports which include a power connector, reset button, 1 Gigabit WAN port, and 3 Gigabit LAN ports. Among them, the WAN port is marked “WAN”, and the three LAN ports are marked “1,2,3”. At first, it’s slightly difficult to see the labeling on each port as the color is black but inadequate light, it’s easily visible. However, it would have been great if Xiaomi had differentiated the two types of ports with color, but it looks like they didn’t want to ruin the 360-degrees whole black color feeling which looks incredible. Sadly, there’s no USB port available on the router.

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review - Ports

Mi router AC2100 adopts the top-bottom three-dimensional cooling grills for good ventilation. The air convection channel cooperates with the large area heat sink to effectively reduce the SoC temperature. It also has a built-in large-area fin-type aluminum heat sink, which can effectively reduce the chip temperature on the original basis and keep the router in the best state at all times, without crashes caused by heat.

In addition, it occupies a space of 120mm in diameter and 213mm in height. I personally think that the router is big, but considering its heat dissipation effect and hidden antenna design for aesthetics, this size is acceptable.

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 Review – Hardware & Performance

The Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 is equipped with an MTK MT7621A dual-core four-thread 880MHz processor which is the same one found in the Redmi AC2100. Compared with the traditional single-core processor router, the response speed and stability has increased significantly.

It can easily support the data transfer of Gigabit network ports and Gigabit dual-band Wi-Fi with lower network latency. The 128 MB storage and 128 MB Flash flash memory bring a larger data cache space for the Mi router AC2100, which is optimized for the access of Xiaomi Smart Home devices. It effectively alleviates problems such as slow network speed caused by a long time boot. At the same time, larger memory also provides a solid hardware base for the stable connection of more devices. According to the officials, the Mi router AC2100 can connect up to 128 devices without facing any stability issue

The built-in 4 high-gain 360 ° hidden antennas, with a flexible internal layout cover the network signals uniformly in all directions. One doesn’t have to set the direction of the antenna. I prefer to set the router at the center of my house and experience equal signal strength at all corners.

The router provides two frequency bands of 2.4GHz and 5GHz, and the dual-band concurrent connection rate can reach up to 2033Mbps. When the user connects, the router will automatically switch between the two frequency bands according to the signal conditions, making full use of the 2.4GHz wide coverage, good wall penetration, 5GHz speed, and less interference. This also reduces the effort of changing the bands manually and is suitable for the older generation which finds it difficult to switch between the two bands. However, Dual-band integration also has a disadvantage. For some people who often play games, if the phone location is between 2.4G and 5G, and there is a risk of disconnection when switching WIFI. One can turn off the auto-switching from the settings page.

It is worth noting that Wave2 MU-MIMO technology is also used in the 5GHz band, which allows multiple devices to connect at the same time.

Xiaomi Beamforming

At the same time, the 5GHz frequency band of the Xiaomi router AC2100 supports a 4×4 architecture. Two additional high-speed channels are added to double the transmission rate. Also, a total of 6 signal amplifiers of 2 channels and 4 channels of IPA + iLNA are integrated into the 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless chips respectively, which increases the transmission distance and widens the coverage area. The 200 meter-square area can be easily covered despite the hidden antenna design.

Thanks to beamforming technology, the signal penetration through the walls is also good. It can automatically detect the network location of your phone and computer, enhance the network signal, and make the signal quality of the device more stable. And the 5GHz band also supports LDPC (that is, low-density parity-check code) error correction algorithm to enhance the anti-interference ability during data transmission.

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 Review – Speed & Signal Strength

Here’s a map of the house in which the speed & signal strength of the Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 was conducted. We have four locations (A, B, C, D) which are (1m, 5m, 8m, and 10m) away from the router, respectively. The broadband connection is around 160Mbps of Unicom, China, and 5GHz band is used.

locations

Signal Strength Test

Point A: In an environment that is about 1 m away from the router and there is no obstruction in the middle, the signal value received by phone is -26.1dBm (take the average value within 120 seconds, the same below), and the jitter is 0.86.

Point B: At a distance of about 5m, a wall is in-between the router and the phone, the value is -55.1dBm and 1.26.

Point C: In an environment that is about 8m away from the router, separated by two walls, the readings are -71.2dBm and 2.36.

Point D: Going further away, to the location of 10m + three walls away from the router, the 5GHz signal diminishes, and the network is automatically switched to 2.4GHz. At this time, the two values area -63.6dBm and 2.79 respectively, and the performance is still good.

signal strength

Maximum Range for 5GHz network: 8m away from router separated by two walls or 15m without any wall or interruption.

The signal strength of the router is good as it’s under -80dBm and given the fact that it has a hidden antennas design. It’s not as powerful as the Redmi AC2100 or the Tenda AC23. It won’t be fair to compare this router with the other two as they have 6 external antennas.

However, for a large multi-story house, it might not be good as it will automatically shift to 2.4GHz once the limit is crossed. If you are okay with the 2.4G network then it’s completely fine, only the data speed will be low but the coverage will be more. For a small apartment, I think it’s the best option especially for someone concerned about buying a unique and beautiful router to match their environment.

One thing to remember! Though Xiaomi officials say that the area the router can cover is 200㎡. However, one must understand the meaning of that. 

Speed Test (Ookla)

Point A: 1m + no wall, speed is 159Mbps / 23.9Mbps

Point B: 5m + 1 wall, speed is 158Mbps / 23.9Mbps

Point C: 8m + 2 walls, speed is 158Mbps / 23.6Mbps

Point D: 10m + 3 walls, shifts to 2.4GHz, speed is 14Mbps / 20.3Mbps

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review - speed

It can be seen that in the 5GHz range, the signal of the Xiaomi router AC2100 decreases with distance, but the transmission rate can reach the level of high-end broadband, but under the 2.4GHz connection with a long distance and more intervals, the download speed is average.

Note: When dual-band concurrency is enabled, the router will automatically switch the network frequency band according to the signal strength, but in actual tests, switching from 5GHz to 2.4GHz is smooth, but switching from 2.4GHz to 5GHz is somewhat difficult, and there is a chance it might not switch automatically to 5GHz when you come close to the router. If you also encounter such a situation, it is recommended to turn off the dual-band concurrency function and leave the automatic selection to the phone or switch manually.

The Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 Review – Setting Up

The Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 is really easy to set. First, plug the power adapter into the power socket and attach the power cable at the back along with your LAN cable in the WAN port. At this time, you will see (blue, orange) indicators on the front of the Xiaomi router AC2100. Blinking indicates that in safe mode/system upgrade. Wait for some time. When the orange light is on it indicates that the router is starting. Again wait for a while. Now the blue light is steady on which indicates that the router has successfully connected normally. At this time, we can continue with the next step which is either connect the router with the smartphone app (Mi WiFi) or connect it via the MiWiFi Web login page/192.168.31.1.

We can find the router’s name and password at the bottom of the router. However, I recommend using the app which is super easy to control the router. For the web login, you will need the help of Google Translator until you install the updated English language firmware (I don’t see any at the moment) or change the timezone, location, and then language, as it’s for most Xiaomi routers, (still not possible as the router becomes unstable). So, we only have the choice to connect it via the App.

Setting it up via MiWiFi App

  1. Download the Xiaomi Wi-Fi application on your phone.
  2. After opening, it will automatically scan the nearby Wi-Fi router
  3. After recognizing the Xiaomi router (there will be the model name mentioned which is written at the bottom of the router). Click Connect and Bind.
  4. Copy the WiFi name and password from the back of the router and login.
  5. You can choose to automatically set or import the previous settings.
  6. After a few simple steps, you can enter the APP main menu, and the router can only be managed by the currently connected APP, greatly improving security.

How to Set It As Repeater?

  1. Download the Mi WiFi app
  2. Choose the Wi-Fi mode and then choose “Wireless repeater mode”.

You can also set it as a wired repeater.

Finally, all two LED indicators are in blue indicating normal functioning.

The Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 Review – App Experience

To use the Xiaomi Mi router, the Xiaomi MiWiFi app is essential. The updated version of the APP has reached version 5.2. However, bugs and stability issues still exist, though decreased somewhat for the most routers. It allows you to manage routers and other devices more easily and intuitively. And is much better than the MiWiFi webpage.

app

First, you can control all the connected devices from the app. You can safely scan devices, access control, set intelligent network speed limits to prohibit networking, or add some device in the blacklist.

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review - app 2

The toolbox is mainly integrated with an anti-hack network, security center, Wi-Fi optimization, restart action, Child Internet protection, and NetEase UU game acceleration and other features and practical functions. You can read about all these features in our Redmi router AC2100 review.

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review - app preview features

Our Verdict

Ending this Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review, we can say that this router is excellent for a small-to-average-sized apartment. Despite the hidden-antenna design, the signal strength and speed are quite impressive. It might not be as strong as the Redmi router AC2100, however, given its beautiful and unique appearance which can match your room’s environment, this sacrifice is nothing. Moreover, in addition, the beautiful cooling vents on the top and bottom with large heat sinks can minimize the device temperature. Apart from this, one doesn’t need to set the antenna’s direction, because of the built-in 4 360 ° omnidirectional high-gain antennas, integrated 6-channel signal amplification module. The most important upgrade I think is the newly added MU-MIMO support in the 5GHz band.

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review - Featured 1

Like most of the new Xiaomi routers, the firmware needs to be updated and improved to the English one as well where one can easily change the language of the MiWiFi web page as well and set location. MiWiFi app also needs more improvement on the connectivity side. However, we have seen that Xiaomi doesn’t abandon its devices, the old Xiaomi Mini router, and Xiaomi Mi Router 3C also add such problems but were ultimately fixed, either by the manufacturer itself or by the Mi community.

Price & Availability

You can grab Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 from Global Chinese stores like Aliexpress and Banggood. The starting price of the router in China was around 229 Yuan (32 USD). However, the global price of this product will be more which is around $40 to $60. Aliexpress currently has the best prices for the Mi router Ac2100. Here’s are some of the links to the store given below:

Image Credit: 球球球

Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 review - Featured 1
Xiaomi Mi Router AC2100 Review | Is The Cylindrical Design A Success?
Summary
The hidden antenna 360-degree cylindrical design is a success and a remarkable design which retains signal strength and speed over a specific distance.
Design & Appearance
9.5
Hardware & Performance
8
Functions & Features
8.5
Speed & Signal Strength
7.5
App
6
Firmware
6
Price
8
Price/Performance Ratio
8.5
Reader Rating3 Votes
4.1
Pros
Incredible 360-degree cylindrical design
Internal Antenna design (no damage, no need for specific position)
Tons of Features & Functions
Good signal strength and speed (4 x 360 ° omnidirectional high-gain antennas + integrated 6-channel signal amplification module)
MU-MIMO support in the 5GHz band
Incredible Hardware
Affordable Price
Cons
App connectivity and stability issue
Firmware needs update (English firmware not available)
7.8
Total Rating
    1. In terms of hardware: >>>>> Both have the same performance (MT7621A MIPS Dual Core 880MHz, 128MB RAM and ROM)
      In terms of connectivity: >>>>>>Both have 3 ports with 1000M ethernet support
      App >>>>>Both uses Mi WiFi app with the same features (also same on web page)
      The only changes I have seen is in the antennas and their strength.
      Both have a 5dB antennas, however, the number of antennas and the design varies.
      Redmi AC2100 has 6 antennas, while Xiaomi AC2100 has 4 antennas and a 360 all directional design.
      Redmi AC2100 will have a better signal reach in a specific direction (corner placement) vs Xiaomi AC2100 will have a better coverage area in all directions (center room placement)
      Lastly, it depends on you whether if you want a traditional router design or a hidden antenna design.
      Not to forget the price difference as well, Redmi is slightly cheaper than Xiaomi.

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Design & Appearance
Hardware & Performance
Functions & Features
Speed & Signal Strength
App
Firmware
Price
Price/Performance Ratio
Final Score

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