Singapore has the honor of being the first country in the world to get ASUS’ new RT-AX88U router. This router was announced last year and it was only launched just very recently in Singapore. It is easily one of the most anticipated routers of the year. I just got my hands on a unit and I'm here to share some early testing numbers with you.
First, a quick primer on Wireless 802.11ax, which this new router is based upon. Wireless 802.11ax looks to be the wireless standard of the future. It offers faster speeds than 802.11ac, but more importantly, has technological implementations that seek to solve the congestion problems that plague 802.11ac. To find out more, I suggest reading our guide to Wireless 802.11ax here.
Back to the ASUS RT-AX88U. This is the first 802.11ax router that ASUS will be launching locally and it is a dual-band AX6000-class router. Thanks to 802.11ax, the RT-AX88U is capable of delivering up to 1,148Mbps on its 2.4GHz network and 4,804Mbps on its 5GHz network. Add them up and you have 5,952Mbps, round it up and you have '6,000' figure used in the marketing collateral.
I will elaborate on the RT-AX88U’s specifications in greater detail in our full review but key specifications and features include a 1.8GHz quad-core processor, 1GB RAM, 256MB flash, a single WAN port, and 8 Gigabit Ethernet ports. Make no mistake, it might only broadcast two networks but it is a very high-end router. The price is equally high-end too - S$599.
The lack of a third network might be disconcerting for power users, but remember, 802.11ax was specifically designed to overcome the congestion problems that 802.11ac face, so it's possible that users might not need a third network at all. Anyway, let’s quickly take a look at what 802.11ax can deliver on the performance front.
Since there are no 802.11ax clients available, we are conducting this test a little differently. We will still have a host and client device but these two devices will be connected using two ASUS RT-AX88U routers, with one configured as the router and the other configured as a media bridge. The host and client devices are connected to the routers via Ethernet to ensure the fastest possible performance.
To very quickly give readers an idea of just how much performance 802.11ax can yield, we have decided to do two quick tests over two and five meters. Two meters represent being the in same room while five meters simulates performance from an adjacent room.
One important thing to note is that comparison results from the Linksys EA9500, Netgear Orbi, and Google Wifi were achieved using our usual setup which consists of a MacBook Pro notebook acting as a client device. The MacBook Pro has supports 802.11ac and has a 3x3 radio which can support speeds of up to 1,300Mbps, so naturally, the results won’t be competitive. Even so, this test gives a good idea of what kind of performance users can expect when 802.11ax becomes the predominant wireless standard.
Predictably, the ASUS RT-AX88U setup recorded impressive download and upload speeds. Barring a minor hiccup during upload at two meters, it achieved about 770Mbps on average, making it over 60% faster than even the Linksys EA9500, which happens to be one of the fastest routers we have ever tested. Even its slowest recorded speed of 674Mbps on upload at two meters was about 40% faster than its closest competitor. Clearly, with the right combination of devices, 802.11ax can yield very promising performance figures.
Based on these early numbers, there is clearly a lot of promise to 802.11ax and the ASUS RT-AX88U router. That said, at this point in time, it is hard to say if 802.11ax is really a significant improvement over 802.11ac because 802.11ax is supposed to alleviate the problems of congestion that occurs when a router has to transmit to multiple Wi-Fi devices and this is something that is hard to test right now when there are no 802.11ax clients available.
Stay tuned for the full review of the ASUS RT-AX88U router when we re-test the router using release-ready firmware!