- Long reach
- Stable, fast streaming
- Strong connectivity
- Looks like a demented alien craft
We review the ZyXEL Armor Z2 (AC2600), a Dual-Band Wireless Gigabit home router that’s designed for super-fast and reliable gaming and 4K media streaming.
If you’re stumping up for a fast broadband connection but still find your online gaming sessions or Netflix nights in are ruined by choppy frame rates and lag, then chances are your home router is to blame. You can have the best Fibre Broadband in the world, but if your WiFi router is farting out a weak signal for devices to connect to, things are going to be ponderous at best.
That’s where the ZyXEL Armor Z2 comes in. This mighty dual-band home router is made with gaming and UHD streaming in mind, to ensure you get impressive upload and download speeds from the furthest corners of your homestead.
ZyXEL Armor Z2 (AC2600) home router review: Design and ports
Subtlety isn’t the Armor Z2’s strong point, and this is one of the bulkier home routers that we’ve ever tested. Not only is it rather chunky, taking up a serious portion of space on any coffee table or windowsill, but it’s also shaped like some kind of terrifying angry alien spaceship.
Which of course means it’ll look right at home in a gamer’s den. Just don’t expect it to blend in with your Ikea furniture.
On the front of the Armor Z2 you’ll find four indicator lights. These helpfully tell you when the router is powered up and connected to the net, and what signal is currently being output (2.4G and 5G).
Around the back there’s a power button as well as a separate WiFi button for turning the wireless signal on and off. You also get a WAN port and four Ethernet ports, supporting up to 10/100/1000Mbps data transfer. And there’s a WPS button for quickly connecting your devices.
ZyXEL Armor Z2 (AC2600) home router review: Setup
Setting up the ZyXEL Armor Z2 is a doddle, and as secure as you’d expect. You get instructions bundled in the box and it’s essentially just a case of connecting a laptop, tablet or phone to the Armor Z2’s private network and setting the router up just how you like it.
After entering your ISP login details, you can change the name of the WiFi network and password. In this way you can setup the Armor Z2 to mimic your old router, so your devices all connect automatically when setup is finished.
We found that the setup process kept falling over when we attempted it on our iPad. However, we had no problems at all using an old Windows laptop and were ready to rock in just a few minutes.
ZyXEL Armor Z2 (AC2600) home router review: Signal strength and performance
The Armor Z2 boasts four adjustable antennas, which beam out a powerful WiFi signal. We found that the router happily cut through two thick walls to provide HD video streaming to a distant Sky Q Mini box, while Steam gaming on an entirely different floor proved to be a smooth experience (we tested with the online co-op mode of classic action title, Zombie Army Trilogy).
In fact, we couldn’t find any WiFi black spots anywhere in our house (which for the record is a three-bedroom family home). Likewise, streaming video on a tablet while moving around your home is a seamless experience. We didn’t experience any kind of judder or sudden drop-outs, or even a dip in video quality.
You can happily connect several devices and get them working all at the same time, with no dip in performance either. One family member can be downloading large documents while another streams Netflix and yet another plays online games, and the router seems to work out which devices to give priority to on the fly.
If you’re serious about gaming or simply want a dependable router for streaming high-def and 4K content to every corner of your house, then the Armor Z2 is a solid bet – as long as you don’t mind the in-your-face design.