Many of the best VPN providers have launched different apps and features to expand their suite for users, but none that we know of have yet launched a hardware device. None other than ExpressVPN, that is.
September 2022 saw the launch of ExpressVPN Aircove, a dedicated VPN router produced and distributed by the British Virgin Islands-based provider. Seeking to simplify the router VPN experience and offer greater flexibility and functionality to an oft-neglected part of the industry, Aircove is nothing if not a bold move.
Here, we’ll be explaining exactly what Aircove is, how it differs from current VPN router setups, and whether it’s worth considering for your home.
What is Aircove?
At its core, Aircove is a dual-band (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) Wi-Fi 6 router with ExpressVPN preinstalled. It costs $189.99 – currently exclusively on Amazon – and at launch is only available in the USA, with more countries rolling out in time.
Although usable as a Wi-Fi 6 router without an ExpressVPN subscription, to get VPN protection you’ll need to sign up to ExpressVPN (opens in new tab). However, what sets it apart from a manually set-up VPN router is the intuitive dashboard, accessible at expressvpnrouter.com (opens in new tab).
From the dashboard, you can set up device groups, with different locations for each group and enforce blocks on certain devices, which could be used to encourage kids to enjoy internet-free time. This centralized control area allows the permanent protection of a VPN on a router as well as the flexibility of a device-by-device installation.
- Dual-band (2.4 GHz/5 GHz) Wi-Fi, AX1800 MU-MIMO,
- Wi-Fi 6 (IEEE 802.11 b/g/n/ac/ax)
Wi-Fi speed and coverage
Expand to see full Aircove specs
- Enables up to 600 Mbps (2.4GHz), up to 1,200 Mbps (5GHz)
- Up to 1,600 sq. ft.
Processor, memory, and storage
- 1.2 GHz 64-bit Quad-Core CPU, 512 MB RAM, 128 MB flash storage
- Built-in ExpressVPN protection
- WPA2/3 Wi-Fi security
- Automatic updates
Supported VPN protocols
- 210 mm x 120 mm x 36.8 mm, 445 g
- 1 x WAN Ethernet port
- 4 x LAN Ethernet ports
- 1 x LED
- 1 x reset button
- 1 x 12V/1.5A DC input
- 4 x external antennas
How much is ExpressVPN Aircove?
Available on Amazon, ExpressVPN Aircove is $189.99 (opens in new tab). Be aware, however, that you’ll also need a subscription to ExpressVPN to access its special features. ExpressVPN starts at $6.67 a month (opens in new tab) (including our exclusive 3 months free deal).
How is it different from a regular router?
In short, not very. It has all the basic functions of your day-to-day router, but with the bonus of quick and easy ExpressVPN integration. Its Wi-Fi 6 integration is a big bonus, and it’s reported that its connections are strong and can deliver good speeds.
However, it’s worth noting that at launch there are a couple of limitations and kinks to be ironed out. Most notably there’s a deactivated USB port and button on the device. Hopefully these will be activated in the future with firmware updates, and seeing as – at the time of writing – Aircove has only been available for a matter of days, we’re sure these will be sorted in time.
How set up Aircove
Setting up Aircove is super simple:
- Unbox your shiny new router, and plug the power adapter in.
- Take the included ethernet cable and connect your Aircove’s internet port to your current router/modem’s LAN port. Wait about a minute.
- On your mobile device, you can scan the QR code on the bottom of your Aircove.
- On your laptop, connect to the default Wi-Fi network printed on the sticker.
- When connected, head to expressvpnrouter.com and Get Started. You may need to enter your current internet login credentials. Then connect.
- Enter your ExpressVPN activation code and sign in.
- You’ll be asked whether you want to share anonymized data to improve products – either way, this won’t affect your experience.
- Pick a new name and password for the Aircove network.
- Set a password for the router dashboard.
- Your Aircove will automatically update, and then you’ll be prompted to connect to the new Wi-Fi network.
- You’ll then be taken to the dashboard – and you’re ready to go!
Are there any downsides?
For most users, Aircove will be a useful addition to your router, and will give you access to Wi-Fi 6 and excellent connection speeds. However, if you’re not using a VPN with it – which, admittedly, is an unlikely situation – for what you get in the box it’s quite expensive.
Another downside is a problem shared by all VPN-router integrations: incompatibility with some websites and slightly more frequent CAPTCHAs. However, Aircove minimises this by making it much easier to switch locations and deactivate the VPN.
Aircove also lacks some of the very advanced features of the best routers available on the market. For example, Amazon reviewers have complained about the lack of IPv6 and LAN static addresses.
Finally, it’s worth noting that Aircove is only compatible with ExpressVPN. If you subscribe to NordVPN, for example, you won’t be able to log in with your current plan and make the most of Aircove’s advanced VPN and usability features.
Is it worth getting Aircove?
If you want to set up a router to deliver VPN connections, Aircove is an incredibly simple solution that’s far more powerful than a simple flashed router. The device groups feature and native support of ExpressVPN offer great customization, and negate almost all of the negatives associated with using VPNs on routers.
While it’s more expensive than a regular router, if you want a router VPN, don’t want the hassle of setting it up yourself, and want to use ExpressVPN to protect your household, it’s well worth considering.