This is the latest creation from Asus RT-AX86U – a dual band Wi-Fi6 gaming router.
This router is actually smaller than we expected. This is probably because it’s designed to sit upright with three antennas going on top.
On the left side we have a WPS button and on the opposite side there is a LED on/off button. On the back we find DC in, power and reset buttons followed by 2 USB 3.0 ports.
As to network we have 4 Gigabit LAN ports with one of them designated as a gaming port – more on that later, single 1 Gigabit WAN port and single 2.5 Gigabit LAN port. This router actually supports link aggregation so you could merge WAN and one of the LAN ports together to get 2 Gigabit internet connection.
When it comes to wireless, it supports Wi-Fi6 with up to 5700 Megabit speeds. Do note – if you don’t have many Wi-Fi6 devices you can still get some benefits, we actually have a dedicated video for that, if you’re curious, we recommend checking it out.
Considering this is a gaming router, I am actually pleasantly surprised that ASUS has toned down the gaming aesthetic and made it reasonably discrete. I wish they had included the ability to wall mount it. This design choice would be perfect for that. But it already has a reasonably small footprint so it’s not an issue.
This router has a quad core processor with 1GB of RAM and it comes in really handy as it has many features, such as support for ASUS AiMesh, parental controls, adaptive QoS and traffic analyser. Also ASUS AiProtection Pro Home network security, firewall and of course VPN.
You can set-up a whole stack of things using the two USB’s at the back. Most notable is the ability to have your own mini cloud, essentially creating a cheap NAS just by plugging in an external hard drive. This can then be used in your home or remotely should you desire. Very handy for those who need to have their data available but don’t want to either trust or pay for online cloud services.
Since this is a gaming focused router, it does have a few neat gaming features. If your ISP or some other router settings are blocking particular ports – with game profiles you can easily ensure that connection for the particular game will not be blocked.
Also there is a gear accelerator – with this tool, you can select devices on the router to prioritize traffic. So you can be sure that in a situation where everyone in your household is simultaneously using the internet, your gaming doesn’t suffer. I have played a few matches on our existing RT-AC1200G+ router and then on RT-AX86U with the gear accelerator turned on, and found ping staying a little bit more stable and generally lower which is nice to see.
This router also has a cool and gimmicky feature which will likely be used by people who have many guests or parents trying to manage internet usage for their kids. It is the ability to integrate with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT. So you could surprise your guests by saying something like ‘’Alexa, ask my router to turn on the guest network’’ – a definite party trick to surprise your guests. Or the more mean one: ‘’Alexa, pause Wi-Fi on PlayStation,’’ to ensure kids come for dinner.
My favourite feature is actually the ASUS mobile app. While it is not exclusive to this router, it is still a very cool tool. This app lets you quickly check connection status, as well as carry out most of the setup and troubleshooting. It is also easy to configure parental controls and manage devices on the fly or you can select network priorities from the list, especially if you are gaming – just enable mobile game mode which in turn will prioritise this device for the internet traffic.
Ok, I think it’s time to check out this router’s performance, starting with Wi-Fi. Here we test it against our ISP provided router. Testing is done using Samsung S20 Ultra which by the way supports Wi-Fi6.
First location is in the same room as the routers, and we are seeing almost double the speed. Let’s check out the signal strength (this is measured in decibel milliwatts – dBm for short). The way it is calculated is a little confusing but basically the higher the number (closer to 0) the better. In this case we are seeing between -25 and -30 on the AX86U and -41 and below on the AC1200G+.
Second location is the bedroom which is just one room away and here the download speed is double and upload is 3 times lower. When looking at the signal strength it has dropped hence the drop in performance. To be fair 150Mbps is still a very manageable speed.
Now we move to the third location, it’s the furthest point from the router and has a few walls in between – this simulates router placement across the whole home so it’s absolutely the worst case scenario. The download speed here is more than 2 times faster, and the upload is 3 times faster. While using the older router, the phone dropped the 5GHz signal and connected to the 2.4GHz signal for better signal quality therefore sacrificing the speed. What is interesting, in this location the signal strength on the AX86U is worse but it is still able to maintain the faster 5GHz connection.
In this situation, if we had more people in the house using Wi-Fi then with the older router we would have noticeable dips in performance, while AX86U would maintain enough bandwidth for everyone.
When testing wired network we see similar download speed and slightly faster upload speed which is expected, but as mentioned earlier – this router supports link aggregation, so it’s possible to set-up 2 gigabit internet connection. With this in mind you can connect your compatible 2.5Gigabit devices and utilise the full WiFi capabilities to have crazy speeds. And if you’re quick enough – Singtel is launching a new gaming bundle for a 1+1 Gigabit fibre internet and currently running limited time offers, these include discounts and also free gifts for the first 50 subscribers – go check them out.
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