If you’re a gamer, you know that a fast and reliable internet connection can make or break your gaming experience. That’s where the Asus RT-AX86U gaming router comes in.
Are you searching for information on this router? I have you covered! In this review, I am about to embark on an exciting journey into the world of high-performance gaming routers, with a particular focus on the Asus RT-AX86U.
I will delve deep into its features, performance, and why it’s a must-have for serious gamers. So, buckle up and get ready to explore how this gaming router can take your gameplay to the next level.
Specs and Features
The RT-AX86U is like a double-barreled Wi-Fi beast, firing out AX5700-level speeds, thanks to its support for Wi-Fi 6. Basically, it’s got two bands – 2.4GHz and 5GHz – that together can supposedly hit 5,700 Mbps or 5.7 Gbps. But hold on, those numbers are like the best-case scenario, tested in a lab with zero real-world messiness like walls or distance. In reality, you can only connect to one band at a time, so your actual speeds will be much lower.
But don’t sweat it, because the RT-AX86U still delivers some impressive speeds. It can whip out up to 4,804 Mbps on the 5GHz band and 861 Mbps on the 2.4GHz one. Plus, it’s got a 2.5 Gbps WAN port for crazy-fast wired connections from your modem. So, if you’ve got gigabit internet, this router’s your buddy. And it can handle a bunch of devices at once with its 4×4 MU-MIMO magic on the 5GHz band.
I hooked up a MacBook Pro to the super-speedy WAN port, and I managed to sling files wirelessly to a Wi-Fi 6 PC at almost 1.8 Gbps. Even when I pushed the Mac and the PC apart by 75 feet, speeds only dropped to around 1.4 Gbps. Keep in mind, though, your internet plan’s speed limit will play a part in your actual download speeds. Still, this router’s a champ.
Asus gaming routers also come with a slick app that lets you fine-tune your network settings. You can even fire up Mobile Game Mode with a tap, making your phone the star of the network show. And if you’re into online gaming, there’s a treasure trove of game-specific port forwarding rules to keep you winning.
But it’s not just about gaming – this router’s got your back with parental controls, guest network management, and even Asus’ AIMesh feature for mesh networks. If you’ve already got an Asus router that supports AIMesh, you can expand your network by adding this one into the mix. It’s like Wi-Fi on steroids.
Speed Test With My Home Setup
In my cozy, shotgun-style home, I’m rocking an AT&T fiber internet connection boasting 300 Mbps. Perfect for a tech enthusiast, right? Let’s dig deeper!
So, here’s the scoop: the RT-AX86U router was impressive. It hit max speeds on the 5GHz band at close range, as you’d expect. But what caught my eye was that it occasionally burst past 400 Mbps in download speeds. Now, that’s not the norm – the ISP usually plays referee and brings it back down to reality. Still, the close-range average landed comfortably at 339 Mbps.
I’ve seen my fair share of routers, but none have spiked above 400 Mbps like this one did. It’s like the router is Hercules, lifting the kid (your ISP speed) holding the balloons (your data) a couple of inches off the ground.
Coverage Across My Home
I embarked on a week-long speed test journey, crisscrossing my home. The 5GHz band held strong for most areas, but it did dip to around 70 Mbps in the back bathroom – a notorious dead zone. Most routers I’ve tested struggled there, but mesh routers managed to keep speeds above 150 Mbps. If coverage is your game, mesh might be the way to go.
When the dust settled, my average download speed across all tests clocked in at 218 Mbps. Respectable, but not quite as beefy as those fancy Wi-Fi 6 routers like the Netgear Nighthawk AX12 and Asus’ RT-AX89X, boasting 250 and 289 Mbps, respectively. But remember, those are pricey beasts.
Affordable Wi-Fi 6 Options
If you’re budget-conscious, the TP-Link AX1500 and the Linksys MR7350 felt a tad underpowered in my tests, with whole-home average speeds of 189 and 97 Mbps. The RT-AX86U outshines them both.
The SmartConnect Conundrum
I decided to unleash the SmartConnect feature, which merges both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands into one network. It’s supposed to steer you to the better band automatically. Yet, it didn’t always hit the mark – speeds dipped, and performance was inconsistent. If you connected far away and then moved closer, it wouldn’t figure it out without a disconnect and reconnect. Not cool.
Update on Band Steering
Fast forward to 2022, and after upgrading to gigabit speeds, the band steering issue seemed less bothersome. Maybe the firmware got a brain boost. Also, Asus might have mesh setups in mind, so I’ll give that a whirl later.
A Closer Look At The Design Of The Asus RT-AX86U Gaming Router
The Asus RT-AX86U is a powerful and stylish gaming router designed to meet the demands of the Wi-Fi 6 era. Its unique design, efficient cooling, and powerful hardware make it a standout choice for gamers and power users.
With a focus on user convenience and security, it offers a comprehensive package that ensures your network stays fast, reliable, and safe from online threats. Whether you’re a hardcore gamer or a tech-savvy user, the RT-AX86U is a router worth considering for your home network needs.
Design and Form Factor
The Asus RT-AX86U is the successor to the popular RT-AC86U gaming router, and it’s ready to take on the high-performance Wi-Fi 6 world. This router maintains the distinctive angular folded origami design of its predecessor, setting it apart from more conventional routers like the Linksys Max-Stream MR8300. The black and red color scheme remains, but one noticeable change is the absence of the AC model’s iconic vertical racing stripes.
In terms of size, the RT-AX86U measures 9.0 x 6.7 x 3.1 inches. However, when you attach its three antennas, the height increases by 6 inches. Unlike some routers with recessed inserts for wall mounting, the RT-AX86U is meant to stand vertically. It boasts cooling vents on the front and top, ensuring it stays cool even during data-intensive tasks. The router’s peak temperature reaches 105 degrees Fahrenheit, indicating efficient heat management.
One striking feature of the Asus RT-AX86U gaming router is its antenna setup. Instead of the usual four to eight antennas found on some routers, this model opts for three external antennas and an internal patch antenna. This design choice not only keeps the router looking sleek but also allows users to aim and rotate the antennas for the strongest signal reception.
Under the hood, the RT-AX86U packs a punch with Broadcom’s BCM4908 and BCM43684 chipsets, accompanied by 1GB of RAM and 256MB of flash storage dedicated to firmware and settings. The router is driven by a robust 1.8GHz quad-core processor.
Its 802.11AX dual-band configuration enables the creation of 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks, harnessing ultra-wide 160MHz data channels, MU-MIMO, and beamforming to maximize data transmission. In terms of performance, it can deliver speeds of up to 861 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and a whopping 4.8Gbps on the 5GHz band, earning it an AX5700 rating.
Taking a look at the rear panel, you’ll find a 1 gigabit per second (Gbps) and a 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig WAN input port, making it compatible with the latest broadband modems.
Complementing these are four dedicated gigabit per second downstream Ethernet ports and an extra LAN port for versatility. In total, the RT-AX86U offers five downstream ports, one more than most routers, and it allows the aggregation of two network ports for maximum speed.
Incorporating the needs of users who require network storage, Asus has equipped the RT-AX86U with a pair of USB 3 ports. These ports support the connection of up to two external hard drives, turning the router into a hub for shared storage solutions. Additionally, the router includes switches for turning it on or off, as well as a side-mounted button for easy use of the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) protocol to quickly add devices to the network. For those moments when a factory reset is necessary, the router also features a recessed reset button.
Moving to the front of the router, you’ll find 10 white LEDs that provide vital status information. These LEDs indicate whether the router is powered on, connected to the Internet, and transmitting on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
There are also activity indicators for each of the Ethernet ports and the status of the WPS system. While this LED array can be quite the light show at night, Asus has thoughtfully included a button to easily turn off the lights, ensuring a peaceful environment.
One of the standout features of the RT-AX86U is its robust security. It comes with built-in security software from Trend Micro, known as AIProtection Pro. This software not only safeguards your network against intrusions but also actively blocks malware attacks.
What sets it apart is that it operates within the router itself, working discreetly behind the scenes to protect your devices. Furthermore, AIProtection Pro offers lifetime updates to counter new threats, eliminating the need for additional subscriptions, unlike some other routers that charge yearly fees for security updates, saving you money and providing peace of mind.
I spent a week putting the Asus RT-AX86U to the test in my century-old, 3,500-square-foot home, using Ixia’s ixChariot network simulation benchmark. Let me break it down for you in plain language.
It Was Great!
At a distance of 15 feet from the router, this bad boy delivered a peak throughput of 929.7Mbps. It might not be as speedy as the Netgear Nighthawk RAX80, which maxed out at 1.39Gbps, but it did outperform the TP-Link AX6000 by 4 percent (888.2Mbps), the Netgear Nighthawk XR1000 by 7 percent (859.1Mbps), and the Linksys MR9600 by a solid 12 percent (822.0Mbps).
But, and there’s always a but, at 50 feet away, things got a bit sluggish, clocking in at 285.3Mbps. It was barely ahead of the Netgear RAX80 (271.3Mbps). The TP-Link AX6000 (396.7Mbps) and the Linksys MR9600 (363.3Mbps) left the RT-AX86U eating their dust.
Now, let’s talk 75 feet. The RT-AX86U made a comeback, pushing out 250.1Mbps, slightly edging out the XR1000’s 280.1Mbps. Meanwhile, the TP-Link AX6000 and Netgear Nighthawk RAX80 lagged way behind with throughputs of 125.4Mbps and 142.1Mbps, respectively.
But wait, there’s more!
Was It All Good?
At a whopping 90 feet, the Asus RT-AX86U gaming router struggled, giving me an average of only 7.4Mbps. That’s barely enough to stream HD content. The TP-Link AX6000 couldn’t even maintain a connection at that range, while the Netgear RAX80 managed 20.8Mbps, and the Netgear XR1000 led the pack with 75.0Mbps. The RT-AX86U’s range topped out at 95 feet, just 10 feet shy of the XR1000.
Now, when it comes to punching through walls and ceilings, the RT-AX86U didn’t disappoint. It delivered 698.5Mbps through a wall that was 25 feet away and 615.7Mbps to a floor above. Sure, it can’t quite match the Netgear RAX80’s 1.07Gbps or the TP-Link AX6000’s 744.7Mbps in the wall penetration test, but it’s pretty much on par with the Netgear XR1000’s 614.8Mbps.
So there you have it, the Asus RT-AX86U, a router that’s a reliable workhorse and a decent gaming buddy, as long as you’re not trying to connect from a football field away. It might not be the absolute fastest, but it’s no slouch either, especially when it comes to plowing through walls to keep your Wi-Fi signal strong.
Should You Get The Asus RT-AX86U Gaming router?
The RT-AX86U, priced at $250, is a definite upgrade compared to entry-level Wi-Fi 6 routers like the TP-Link Archer AX10 for $70 and the Linksys MR7350 for $150. When I tested those cheaper options at my place, they didn’t impress me much. But the RT-AX86U easily outshone both of them and felt like a top-notch access point in action.
Outside, it showed off some impressive speeds, hitting up to 1.8 Gbps on the 5GHz band within 37.5 feet (even at 75 feet, it only dropped to about 1.4 Gbps). At home, it maintained low latency better than any other router I’ve tried, making it a dream for gamers and still awesome for regular users.
At $250, this router seems like a pretty reasonable deal to me. In a nutshell, it ticks all the boxes: it’s fast, packed with features, user-friendly, and future-proofed with a WAN port supporting speeds up to 2.5 Gbps. Whether you’re a gamer or not, this Editors’ Choice-winning router deserves a spot at the top of your wireless networking wishlist.
To SmartConnect or Not?
For most people, especially solo RT-AX86U users, I’d say turn off SmartConnect and stick with the trusty 5GHz band for your heavy lifting. If your speeds seem wonky, that’s the way to go.
In case you wanted to know about the Asus RT-AX86U gaming router, I hope that this article has been of help to you. If there are any other series related to the same, feel free to let me know. All that you need to do is scroll down till you reach the bottom of the page. Then leave your comments and queries in the box below. And I will be there to answer them all for you!