Asus RT-AX88U Review (The complete edition)

asus-rt-ax88u-review

Want to know if ASUS RT-AX88U is right for you? Then read this guide.

Pros

  • Good performance
  • Has a built-in protection feature against malware
  • The installation process is easy enough
  • Comes with eight different LAN ports
  • Makes use of the latest technology in the form of 802.11ax
  • The QoS settings are more robust than ever

Cons

  • Fairly expensive
  • Scarce AX clients

Summary

Asus could not have put out a more exciting router than RT-AX88U.

This model is a WiFi 6 router with a lot of speed.

It comes with a ton of robust features and has a pretty powerful software as well.

Asus RT-AX88U Full review.

If you have been following news surrounding the router industry, you would know that the market isn’t really flush with WiFi 6 routers.

Well, ASUS RT-AX88U is perhaps one of the best WiFi 6 routers in the market today.

And if all things go well, it looks all set to usher a new generation of fast and reliable WiFi technology in the coming years.

The Asus RT-AX88U Wifi router is armed with a lot of new technology.

The first one we would like to mention is the state of the art 802.11ax circuitry.

Perhaps that is the reason why this WiFi router is fast enough to deliver throughput speeds of up to 160 Mhz.

Not only that, our research shows that the file transfer speeds are also very fast when done via this router.

As for the 802.11ac performance, our research shows that it is solid.

It won’t break any records, but it is still enough for the vast majority of users who will buy ASUS RT-AX88U.

We feel that the ASUS RT-AX88U is a fantastic choice for people who have this desire to future-proof their current WiFi home network.

Of course, it goes without saying that you will definitely need some of the latest client devices if you want to make sure that you fully take advantage of every performance-enhancing WiFi features that Asus RT-AX88U has to offer.

And that’s a problem since AX client devices are not that common as of yet.

That’s all great. But what is WiFi 6?

Well, it will help you if you just think of WiFi-6 as 802.11ax.

In other words, HE or High-Efficiency Wireless.

Our research shows that it is indeed the latest and the greatest WiFi protocol.

By most measures, the 802.11ax is a product of 802.11ac evolving into something much greater than itself.

All of this means that 802.11ax promises vast increases in throughput speeds compared to older WiFi technologies.

Currently, it is estimated that 802.11ax is capable of delivering close to 4.8 Gbps.

The newer 802.11ax protocol also promises far less network traffic congestion along with an increased client capacity and of course, improved range performance.

As mentioned before, the 802.11ax is able to promise that got users courtesy of a good number of improved and new wireless technology features.

For example, it makes use of the OFDMA or the Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access in order to improve the overall throughput speed by making sure that it breaks up WiFi channels into various sub WiFi channels.

Because of that, the 802.11ax protocol can accommodate up to a total of 30 users sharing the same channel all at the same given time.

There is also the TWT or Target Wake Time feature which is designed specifically to bring down the power consumption of the router.

It does that by enabling various internet-enabled devices to determine how often and when they would like to take up in order to begin the process of receiving and sending data.

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Our research also shows that new technologies such as Target Wake Time will also help routers along with tablets and smartphone devices to extend their standard battery life.

Not only that, we feel that the TWT technology will also benefit battery-powered internet-enabled smart home equipment such as video doorbells and security cameras.

Apart from that, WiFI 6 is also able to take full advantage of various different and previously unutilized radio frequencies.

This would help in boosting 2.4 GHz performance.

WiFi 6 also makes use of a refined and improved downlink and uplink bandwidth management system in order to provide a better Quality of Service or QoS feature.

Additionally, WiFi 6 is able to download and uplink MU-MIMO streaming.

Some of our readers would already know that the current 802.11ac WiFi protocol is only able to support the downlink MU-MIMO.

The other feature that we should mention here is that the new 802.11ax protocol has full backward compatibility with those devices that make use of the much older and less efficient 802.11 a/b/g/n WiFi technology.

It not only supports such devices but works with them without any major problems.

As mentioned before, even though 802.11ax supports these devices, if the user wants to take full advantage of all the latest that 802.11ax has to offer then the user has to get an 802.11ax client.

Otherwise, all the enhanced features and performance would go to waste.

Again, we have already mentioned that 802.11ax client devices are rare in the market at the moment.

ASUS RT-AX88U may look familiar

The ASUS RT-AX88U has a beveled top.

It has a matte finish black in color and the front along with the dies have an angular shape to them.

Our research shows that the ASUS RT-AX88U looks very similar to an older version of another ASUS router by the name of RT-AC88U.

The ASUS RT-AX88U has dimensions of 2.4 x 11.8 x 7.4 inches (height x width x depth) and has a total of four antennas.

Each of the antennas is removable.

There are two antennas at the back fo the router and one on both sides of the router.

Now, at the front of the ASUS RT-AX88U router, users should have no problems in finding a USB 3.1 fast port.

Apart from that, there is also a WiFi Off/On button along with an LED off/on button and a separate row consisting of LED indicators for things such as,

  • WPS activity
  • USB activity
  • LAN activity (there is a separate LED light for each given port)
  • WAN activity
  • 5GHz and 2.4 GHz activity
  • Power indicators

But that is not all.

There is a rear panel as well.

And it holds a total of eight gigabit LAN ports along with,

  • A power jack
  • Power button
  • Reset button
  • WPS button
  • USB 3.1 secondary port
  • WAN port

As for the processor, the RT-AX88U router gets its power from a 1.8 GHz quad-core processor along with 256MB of fast flash memory and 1GB of RAM.

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We have already mentioned the fact that this new router is actually a 4 by 4 AX6000 WiFi router and has the capability to reach data rates close to 1,148 Mbps while it is working on the smaller 2.4 GHz band and a total of 4840 Mbps while working on the larger 5GHz band.

Of course, we are assuming here that the user has WiFi 6 clients connected to this router.

Additionally, readers should also know that the ASUS RT-AX88U comes with a host of other WiFI 6 technologies such as support for the 160 MHz channel bandwidth along with Smart Connect (using this feature the router selects the best and fastest radio band automatically to optimize throughput), simultaneous MU MIMO (Multi User, Multi-Input, Multi-Output) data streaming and Direct to Client (D2C) signal beamforming.

If that was not enough already then know the ASUS RT-AX88U router also has support for the proprietary Asus AiMesh technology.

What does this technology do?

This is the technology that allows users to make use of a multiple number of routers made by Asus (they can be of different models) in order to give birth to an entire in-house WiFi system.

Because of that, users can take advantage of perks such as one network ID along with seamless roaming.

As for the control, our research shows that users can actually fully control the RT-AX88U WiFi router by making use of its official mobile application.

Advanced users may want to access all the options via the web console.

Both these options are equally competent at letting the user control other ASUS routers such as RT-AC86U.

As for the ASUS web console, its main screen has an entire network map which is able to show the user all the connected devices/clients along with other stuff such as WiFi information regarding both the radio bands and USB connected devices.

It also shows the security and internet status of the network.

If you take a look at things placed near the left side of the main screen, you should see a menu which contains settings labeled General and Advanced.

The General tab contains settings related to things such as,

  • Traffic analyzer
  • Guest networking
  • Adaptive QoS
  • Settings related to USB storage
  • Settings for AiCloud

Our research shows that the Adaptive Quality of Service (QoS) settings are able to provide automatic and manual bandwidth thresholds.

There are also options for application-specific prioritization.

Moreover, users also get to have access to the latest WTFast WiFI routing technology.

In the GameBoost settings, there is an option for Gamers Private Network as well.

The new ASUS RT-AX88U router is also able to make use of the Trend Micro AiProtection product in order to prevent the user from accessing various known malicious sites.

Not only that, it also allows users to apply various Parental Control features and detect viruses.

The Parental Control feature has the ability to block various different adult-themed websites as well as restrict any access to popular sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

For advanced users, the Parental Control settings can block entertainment and streaming media content.

Moving on to the advanced wireless options and you have a screen which allows the user to edit various wireless security settings.

The options page also allows the user to change various channel width settings and change the name of current SSIDs.

If that was not enough for you then there are even more professional-grade settings as well.

We’re talking about stuff such as,

  • TX power modifications
  • Airtime Fairness
  • RADIUS settings
  • Beacon intervals

Via the same menu users also have the option of enabling or disabling beamforming and MU-MIMO features.

Believe it or not but there are even more advanced settings to mess around with such as,

  • Firewall controls
  • WAN controls
  • LAN controls
  • VPN Client settings
  • VPN Server settings
  • IFTTT settings
  • Alexa settings

The IFTTT and Alexa settings enable users to carry out a variety of different tasks such as pausing the internet access with nothing but voice commands and disabling/enabling guest network.

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There are also settings in place which allow the router to interact with the user’s other web services and IFTTT devices.

If you want to configure RT-AX88U to change its role from being a router to,

  • Repeater
  • Access point
  • Media bridge

then there are settings for that as well.

They are found under the Administration menu as a matter of fact.

This same menu will also update the router’s firmware if you want it to.

Great Performance

Our research shows that it should not take you more than a few minutes to finish the installation process.

All you have to do is to connect your router to your PC machine via the Ethernet cable and then connect the router to your cable modem.

And that is it.

After doing that, you will have to turn on the router and then open up your web browser to type http://router.asus.com in the address bar.

Doing so will allow you to launch the installation wizard setup.

You are free to make use of the Advanced Setup setting if you want to use different operations mode such as,

  • AiMesh
  • Media bridge
  • AP
  • Repeater
  • Router

with security passwords, automatic assigned SSIDs and DHCP for the two available bands.

There is also an option for users who want to change the name of their router and/or password.

Again, to complete the installation process you can update the router’s firmware as well.

This conveniently brings us back to the point about there being not many 802.11ax clients available in the market today.

So it will be hard for any average user to run RT-AX88U to its full potential.

However, if you have an 802.11 ac laptop that comes equipped with a chipset like Intel Wireless AC-9260 then you can test ASUS RT-AX88U’s 160 MHz throughput capabilities, especially on the larger 5GHz band.

Needless to say, we say that because any laptop with the chipset AC-9260 can and does support the channel bandwidth of 160MHz.

Using such a laptop you may also be able to test out the router’s performance on the close-proximity 5GHz channel.

Our research shows that you should find it faster than some of the other fast routers available on the market today such as Nighthawk RAX80.

Previous the top router for performances on GHz channel bandwidth was ASUS Rapture GT-AC5300.

Another one that comes to mind is the TP-Link Archer C5400X.

If you would like to test the router via the 30-foot range test then you will see that ASUS RT-AX88U has no problems in beating other fast routers such as TP-Link Archer C5400X and Nighthawk RAX80.

Now, the thing we need readers to note here is that the ASUS RT-AX88U performances are relevant to the channel bandwidth of 160MHz.

Do not mix this up with the advantage that the router gets because of making use of the newer 802.11ax technology.

We are pretty confident that if you use this router with a computer system that has support for the new WiFi 6 technology, routers such as ASUS RT-AX88U would gain even more speed on the routers mentioned above.

You may also further test the performance levels of the new ASUS RT-AX88U with the help of a laptop that has 802.11ac Wave 2.

Such a laptop should have no problems in supporting the 80/40/20 MHz channel bandwidth.

However, know that such laptops cannot work with the larger 160MHz channel bandwidth.

Comparing with other routers such as Netgear Nighthawk RAX80, our research shows that the ASUS RT-AX88U is faster.

On the same close-proximity test via the 2.4 GHz band, the ASUS Rapture GT-AC5300 is still slightly faster than the new ASUS RT-AX88U.

Similarly, you will find that even the TP-Link Archer C5400X is slightly faster than ASUS RT-AX88U router on the 2.4GHz band when it comes to close proximity test.

Again, on the 30-foot test, the ASUS RT-AX88U managed to outperform Nighthawk RAX80 but could not do the same when it went against Rapture GT-AC5300.

Repeating the same tests for the 5GHz band, users will find that the ASUS RT-AX88U has the capability of reaching scores of close to 520 Mbps.

That is decent.

Perhaps even better.

But this score is not as high as some of the other routers available in the market today.

As mentioned before,  the older ASUS Rapture GT-AC5300 is still pretty much the fastest when it comes to the 5GHz band with scores reaching close to 600 Mbps.

However, things change when you test the router at 30 feet.

Our research shows that the new ASUS RT-AX88U should have no problems in beating everyone else in this regard.

As far as the file-transfer speed tests go, our research shows that users should see good performances when they are using the new ASUS RT-AX88U router.

The best way to test for file-transfer capability is to simply measure the write and read speeds of the given WiFi router by making use of a 1.5GB file-containing folder and portable USB 3.0 device.

The folder containing the data should ideally have a mix of different types of content such as,

  • Audio
  • Video
  • Photos
  • Document files usually used in an office environment.

Our research shows that users can expect speeds of up to 80 MBps if they are testing the write speed.

Such a number is slightly faster than the older Netgear Nighthawk RAX80.

On the other hand, it is almost twice the speed that a router like TP-Link Archer C5400X would provide to users.

The same goes for ASUS Rapture GT-AC5300 as well.

As for the read speed, our research shows that the new ASUS RT-AX88U should have no trouble in hitting the 85MBps mark.

Now that may sound impressive but it is still enough to beat Nighthawk RAX80.

This score does beat the likes of ASUS Rapture GT-AC5300 and Archer C5400X.

Conclusion: Is Asus RT-AX88U the right router for you?

 

Users who consider themselves as early adopters of new technologies will find that the new and improved ASUS RT-AX88U is an excellent option for them.

This router can also come in handy for those users who want to future-proof their home WiFi networks with the help of the new WiFi 6 protocol.

Of course, to gain the full benefits of this router and any other router of its class, users will have to make sure that they have access to the required client devices.

By that, we mean that the client devices should have no problems in supporting the new 802.11ax protocol.

That is the only way to run ASUS RT-AX88U at its full potential.

With that said, if you are one of those users who have the older 802.11ac client devices that only support the larger 160MHz channel bandwidth, then they can probably enjoy the fastest 5GHz throughput which ASUS RT-AX88U is capable of achieving right now.

As for file-transfer performance, our research shows that his router is pretty speedy at that task.

The router also scores some solid marks on the 80/40/20 MHz.

But there are some other faster routers available in the market in this respect such as ASUS Rapture GT-AC5300.

We have no doubt that this situation will change drastically in the future when 802.11ax client devices become common.

 

Zohair

Zohair is currently a content crafter at Security Gladiators and has been involved in the technology industry for more than a decade. He is an engineer by training and, naturally, likes to help people solve their tech related problems. When he is not writing, he can usually be found practicing his free-kicks in the ground beside his house.
Zohair

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