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ASUS RT-AX88U router review: A promising glimpse of the possibilities of Wi-Fi 6

By Kenny Yeo - 27 Feb 2019

Introduction

The ASUS RT-AX88U router. (Image source: ASUS)

In late September last year, we ran a preview of the ASUS RT-AX88U. It was the first Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) router to be available in Singapore and easily one of the most anticipated routers at that time. If you don’t know what Wi-Fi 6 is, here's our handy guides to better undersand it before proceeding:

In the time since, ASUS has released a new firmware that improves performance and fixes some of the bugs that I encountered during my testing for the performance preview. So here is the full review of the ASUS RT-A88U.


The ASUS RT-AX88U

The RT-AX88U looks like the older RT-AC88U but with gold instead of red accents.

The ASUS RT-AX88U looks familiar on first glance. It looks just like the older RT-AC88U. That is until you look closer and realize it has subtle gold accents around the external antennae and cooling vent which hints at the RT-AX88U’s higher specifications.

A USB 3.0 port is hidden at the front of the router under a dust cover.

The RT-AX88U is one of the few Wi-Fi 6 routers on sale now. Like its contemporaries, the RT-AX88U is powered by the quad-core Broadcom BCM49408 CPU that runs at 1.8GHz. The CPU is paired with a generous 1GB of RAM and 256MB of flash. The RT-AX88U is an AX6000-class dual-band router. Its 2.4GHz network supports a maximum data transfer rate of 1,148Mbps and its 5GHz network supports a maximum data transfer rate of 4,804Mbps. Add them up and you have 5,952Mbps - hence the AX6000 classification.

It might have a lot of ports but they don't support port aggregation and link speeds are limited to just 1Gbps.

The router has a lot of ports. There are two USB-A ports that support USB 3.0 - one hidden in front under a flap and another at the back. These can be used for print and file-sharing. And at the back, there’s a single Gigabit WAN port and no less than eight Gigabit LAN ports. One major drawback of the RT-AX88U is that its WAN port only supports speeds of up to 1Gbps and not more like some of its rivals do.

The ASUSWRT interface isn't the prettiest but it is logically laid out and has tons of features and options for advanced users.

Router management can be done using the conventional ASUSWRT web-based router management interface or via the ASUS Router app that is available for iOS and Android mobile devices. The amount of features and options is bewildering and can be overwhelming to first-time users. Fortunately, the interface is well labeled and logical to navigate. And since ASUS routers are so popular, it’s not hard to find an online guide for them. For most users, what you need to know is that you have all the usual features and functions like parental controls, QoS, bandwidth monitor, traffic monitor, cloud storage, guest networks, VPN, dynamic DNS, and many more.

The ASUS Router app is actually very powerful insofar as router mobile apps are concerned, allowing users to manage a wide range of features and parameters.

The most important feature is perhaps AiMesh. To recap, AiMesh is ASUS’ clever feature that allows owners to create their own mesh Wi-Fi network with ASUS routers that they might have lying around. People won’t feel so bad about upgrading their routers if they know they can put their old ones to good use - and especially if it can be used to increase their Wi-Fi coverage. You can find out more about AiMesh and how it works in our guide here.

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