The MSI Radix AXE6600 is lightning fast and even outperforms mid-range mesh networks for pure speed right around the house. You’ll need the latest tech, a punchy ISP and a seat nearby to get the most out of it though.
the good bits
Lightning performance at close range
RGB lighting with a purpose
Decent web UI and tools
the not so good bits
Speed falls away sharply at distance or through walls
Pricey at full RRP
MSI Radix AXE6600 WiFi 6E Gaming Router
With demands on home internet rapidly increasing and users realisting just how poor ISP supplied routers can be, MSI are here with a solution. The MSI Radix AXE6600 is a venture into new tech from a long established player in the computing world.
Officially dubbed a ‘gaming router’, this is a high spec option for those looking to extract every ounce of performance from their network. One of the few options on the market already offering the latest WiFi 6E standard, are MSI setting the benchmark early on?
The MSI Radix AXE6600 looks like the Lamborghini of WiFi routers, I can’t unsee it.
Snap the six adjustable antennas off and you’ve essentially got the front end of an Aventador. (Don’t actually snap them off, that’s probably not great for performance.) Even the MSI badge on top looks eerily Lamborghini-esque – someone in the design department definitely had a poster on their wall.
This isn’t a negative of course, everyone loves a Lambo and if you’re going to promise full throttle performance you may as well lean into the narrative. The MSI Radix AXE6600 is a collection of dramatic, angled lines and grills that just simply make it look fast. I quite like it and I dare say the kind of user this is targeted for will too. This isn’t a router for your Grandma to have sat in the hall – this is going to find a home in RGB riddled gaming dens and in those environments it’s going to look right at home.
It wouldn’t be a gaming product without a few RGB tricks of its own, though on the MSI Radix AXE6600 they hold more than just an aesthetic purpose. The striking tapered LED beam on each antenna may make it look like a supervillain lair but also offer a glace view of which mode the router is currently set to. It’s rather over the top, but it works in context and the fact it actually has a use is good to see. If you want to tone it down a bit, you can turn them off entirely by holding the Dragon Shield button.
Each of the antennas fold out like a blooming flower and can be adjusted side to side too which allows them to fold in along the sides of the Radix AXE6600. While they will hold just about any position along the way, there’s a few natural presets built into the hinges where they’re clearly happiest sitting. There’s no way to detach these completely so if space is a concern just be mindful you’ll need a good six inches of headroom to fit them in their folded up form.
Along the top of the MSI Radix AXE6600 are your expected row of buttons and indicators with LED backlights that can also be switched off entirely, stealth mode if you will. Across the back are four gigabit ethernet ports, a 2.5 gigabit WAN port and a USB 3.0 port for connecting network storage.
The Lamborghini comparisons continue into performance too. A Huracan is capable of 200mph, but the speed limit on the M1 is 70 so it doesn’t really matter anyway. The MSI Radix AXE6600’s WiFi 6E band could deliver speeds up to 6600mbps, but my Virgin Media connection gets me around 550mbps at full whack. No matter how hard I try I’m not going to make it sweat. This is likely going to be true of a majority of UK users, the chances of maxing out what the Radix AXE6600 can do in terms of pure speed are slim.
So the question of how to measure performance changes. It’s not about drag strip top speed testing or aspirational lab stats, it’s how well does the AXE6600 perform day to day? What’s the Aventador like for doing a big shop at Tesco?
On the whole, it’s really quite good – but you’d hope it would be for the best part of £320.
Testing wireless speeds in each room of my house, plus a couple of spots in the garden, the MSI Radix AXE6600 consistently delivered stronger performance than even my existing three-point Deco M5 mesh system.
Testing with an iPhone 13 Pro (the only device I own able to use the 6E band) I saw speeds around 15% higher than with the mesh system in every room. Sat on my laptop in the same or adjoining room as the AXE6600 I was greeted with nearly the full speed my Virgin line offers. The speedtest.net results also showed more stable performance that reached top speed faster rather than a gradual build up.
Moving upstairs, particularly up and away from the living room there was a drop in performance with the MSI Radix AXE6600 parked up below. This wasn’t a huge dip however, it was still delivering 75% or more of full speed so for most scenarios this won’t be a problem. Bear in mind Prime Video recommend a connection speed of 15mbps, so you probably don’t need to stress about not getting the full half-gig in your bedroom anyway.
Heading into the garden gave more unusual results and began to highlight the main shortcoming of the Radix AXE6600 – distance and obstacles. While again I did see higher overall speeds outside than with my Deco M5, these were a fraction of what was on offer closer to the router’s home in the living room. Around 10m away from the router in the garden my maximum speed dropped from 550mbps to 25-30mbps. There are a couple of walls in the way, but for a top end router like this I was hoping for more.
It takes a little while to unlock that speed too, I found it’d sometimes be more than five minutes before the AXE6600 switched my connection to the slower but more stable 2.4Ghz band to get any data flowing at all. In MSI’s online dashboard you can setup a secondary network dedicated to a specific band to overcome this, should I be having to manage my own bands in 2023 though?
Of course I’m looking for fault, MSI doesn’t pitch this as a whole home solution so I’m taking the Radix AXE6600 out of its comfort zone. Around the house it’s a great performer and comfortably shared around the full best my connection had to offer.
The online settings hub is a full colour, welcomingly laid out affair with most of the settings you’d expect from a modern router, and a couple of jazzy extras. You’ll find ways to select one of the AXE6600’s modes that prioritises things like gaming, streaming or video call connections – or you can leave it on AI auto to handle things for you.
There’s native support for OpenVPN and its own BitTorrent client for downloading onto that USB 3 storage. Native content and time based controls at a client level is a welcome addition for parents, no need to block certain content for the entire network – just choose the devices and which kind of content should be blocked. A nice touch.
In its element, the MSI Radix AXE6600 is a powerful performer and likely more than enough for UK home setups. Chances are your ISP will cap out before the AXE6600 does. It’s also slightly ahead of its time, I only had a single device that was happy to jump on the 6E network, everything else stuck using the older 5Ghz standard.
Things start to slow down the further away you get but it still delivered speeds higher than mid-range mesh networks and confidently filled my home with more speed than I needed in the upstairs bathroom. A £320 RRP is steep though and will come loudly into the conversation, I did see it as much as £100 below that on Amazon while testing though which makes it a far more tempting proposition.