There’s a big, intriguing blue hole right in the middle of the Asus Blue Cave that catches your full attention the first time you lay eyes on it.
But that’s all there is to it. I was a bit disappointed when Asus told me there was no deep meaning to this hole. It’s just a conversation — or review — starter. There you have it!
As a Wi-Fi router, however, there’s nothing blue about the Blue Cave. It’s one of the fastest Wi-Fi 5 routers I’ve tested, with tons of useful features. It also has a surprisingly long Wi-Fi range considering its compact footprint.
If you have a medium-size house of around 2,000ft² (180m²), you’ll find the Blue Cave an excellent buy. Get one!
Dong’s note: I originally published this review on May 10, 2018, and updated it on July 12, 2018, with additional information on the new AiMesh feature.
Table of Contents
Asus Blue Cave: A weird name in an unconventional design
At a glance, the Blue Cave is like no other router you’ve seen. It’s a square piece of hardware with a big hole — big enough to put a golf ball through — right in the middle.
When the router is on, the entire area surrounding the hole glows different shades of blue and remains that way until you choose to dim or turn it off via the router’s web interface.
(By the way, you can only turn the light off when using the Blue Cave as a router. When used as an AiMesh node, the router’s web interface is not user-accessible, and you, therefore, will have to live with that light being on at all times. That’s not necessarily a terrible thing unless it’s your bedroom.)
I’ve asked Asus many times about the idea behind this design since the router’s announcement. At first, the company said it had something to do with the positioning of the internal antennas, but now, it turned out; there’s nothing to it. It’s just for the look, and that works! You sure will remember the Blue Cave once you’ve seen it.
So, I like the design. While you can’t wall-mount it, you can place it on almost any surface, thanks to its small footprint. The router has a nice heft and stays put — it doesn’t topple easily.
Its exciting look means you won’t need to hide it, either. By the way, I dig the name, too. Blue Cave. Slightly weird for a networking device but easy to remember.
On the back, the router has the usual ports and buttons: four Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN (Internet) port, one USB 3.0 port, a power button, a reset button, and a WPS button. It’s just like any other Asus router, such as the Asus RT-AC86U, which has a terribly generic name.
The Asus Blue Cave has powerful hardware. It’s an AC2600 dual-band 4×4 router with the top speed on the 5GHz band of up to 1733Mbps and on the 2.4GHz, up to 600Mbps (or 800Mbps for TurboQAM-ready clients).
The router sports 512MB of RAM, 128MB of flash memory, and an Intel (Lantiq) dual-core 1.6 GHz CPU. Lantiq was originally a company focusing on smart-home devices until Intel acquired it in 2015.
But the Blue Cave doesn’t have many smart-home features, just the support for Amazon Alexa & IFTTT. Both have been available in most other Asus routers, so this isn’t a novelty.
You’ll first need to activate it with Alexa before using your voice, but I wouldn’t do that. Among other things, anyone, including those on TV, can easily mess you up by saying a command that, for example, causes your router to restart. Voice commands and networking don’t mix.
Asus Blue Cave: Hardware specifications
|Asus Blue Cave|
|Dimensions|| 6.29 x 6.29 x 1.49 in |
(16 x 16 x 8 cm)
|Weight||1.76 lb (800g)|
|Network standards||IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, |
IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac, IPv4, IPv6
|System memory||512MB of RAM and 128MB of flash memory|
4×4 5GHz: Up to 1733Mbps
4×4 2.4GHz: Up to 800Mbps
|Asus AiMesh support||Yes|
|Gigabit Port||4x LAN, 1x WAN|
|USB Port||1x USB 3.0|
Asus Blue Cave: Detail photos
Setting up the Blue Cave is like any router with a web interface and is the same as the RT-AC86U.
First, you connect the WAN (Internet) port to your modem or your gateway. Then hook a computer to one of its LAN ports using a network cable, then open a web browser. You’ll automatically get to its web interface, where you’ll find a wizard that walks you through the process step by step. Alternatively, you can also use the Asus Router app (for iOS and Android) for this job.
(Note: The Blue Cave doesn’t support universal setting restoration. In other words, you can’t restore it with the setting backup file of another Asus router, but only of another Blue Cave unit.)
After the setup process, you can continue to use the app for the ongoing management of the router. However, I prefer using the router’s web interface since it has access to all its features and settings. You can always get to the interface by pointing a browser of a contested computer to router.asus.com (or the router’s default IP, which is 192.168.50.1).
Here you’ll find all of its settings and a ton of useful features.
Familiar feature set
The Blue Cave shares the same feature set as that of the RT-AC86u, minus the Game Boost — this is not a router for hardcore gamers. That said, if you’ve used any Asus router before, you’ll feel right at home.
Asus Blue Cave’s features via screenshots
The router has all the settings you would need for your network. It can work as a VPN server (or a client) and has a powerful AiProtection online security feature.
Powered by TrendMicro, AiProtection scans your network and the online connection in real-time to keep our entire system safe. While there’s no total protection, in my experience, AiProtection works quite effectively. Best of all, it’s free.
Via its USB port, the router can do all you can imagine with a plugged-in external hard drive. Apart from data sharing, and media streaming, you can even set the Blue Cave to work as a Time Machine backup server.
By the way, if you decide to use Time Machine backup, make sure you set a backup limit if you want to use the storage for other purposes.
Other than that, the router also has a cool Traffic Manager feature that includes an easy-to-use QoS for Internet prioritization and a Web History that keep tap of connected clients’ online activities.
Generally, all router-related features a home user can think of, the Blue Cave has it. OK, maybe not all since the router does have some imperfections.
At launch, the Blue Cave didn’t support MU-MIMO as well as Asus’ AiMesh. Later on, both were available via firmware updates.
Like most other routers from Asus, the Blue Cave can’t block secure websites, those with HTTPS in their web address. Since most sites now use HTTPS, the router’s web filtering feature is rather useless.
Like other Asus routers, the Blue Cave has a Parental Controls feature, part of AiProtection, that can block sites based on categories. But it doesn’t allow you to pick and choose individual websites to block.
Unlike many other routers from Asus, the Blue Cave doesn’t support Dual-WAN, where you can turn one of its LAN ports into a second WAN port, enabling you to use two Internet connections at a time. However, this omission is not a huge deal since most of us don’t have a secondary broadband connection.
Asus Blue Cave: Fast performance
The Asus Blue Cave did well in my testing as a Wi-Fi router, being in the top three on the 5GHz band. It’s faster than many routers of bulkier physical sizes.
It did even better on the 2.4 GHz band, the fastest I’ve seen in close range. At some 40 feet (18m) away, it was still among the top three.
The Asus Blue Cave also had an excellent range, about the same as the RT-AC86u, with larger and higher hardware specs. Generally, you can expect the effective range to be 150ft (46m) and even further. Note that Wi-Fi signals change depending on the environment, so your mileage might vary.
When coupled with a USB portable drive via a Gigabit connection, the Blue Cave’s network storage speed maxed at 27 megabytes per second for writing and reading. While this is fast enough to do light data sharing, it’s not fast enough for big tasks.
That said, if you want to get serious with network backups and media streaming, get a dedicated NAS server, like the Synology DS218+ instead.
Asus Blue Cave's Rating
Generous feature set including the ability to protect the home network against online threats
Unique design with a small footprint
Easy to set up and use
Not as feature-rich as other Asus routers
Unable to block secure websites
USB-based storage’s performance could be faster
The Asus Blue Cave is an exciting Wi-Fi router that works well for anyone living in a medium home or smaller. And if you happen to like its quirky-looking object (I do!), this is the router for you.
Considering the recently added support for AiMesh, the Blue Cave is an easy recommendation for anyone wanting a robust home Wi-Fi network with the option to scale it up to a Wi-Fi mesh system at a later time.
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58 thoughts on “Asus Blue Cave Router Review: A Hole Lot of Excellent Wi-Fi”
Have the Blue Cave set up as an ai-mesh node, and was pleasantly surprised to discover the Blue Cave LED CAN be adjusted when using the BlueCave in mesh mode. Not sure if this is due to firmware updates since the above was written or other, but it would be helpful to update the article with this info.
To adjust BlueCave LED while in mesh mode
– Click on AiMesh on the left menu
– In Topology view, click on the BlueCave (under your main router)
– On the Right, in the middle, there are three options; click on Management (the far right)
– The first item in the list is a slider for LED Brightness. If you don’t see the slider, use a different browser (I saw on another website that some people were having that issue). Using Chrome I’m able to see and adjust the slider.
I almost did not buy the BlueCave because of this, but it had such a good price before the holidays, I decided to try it as a main router, and use it as a mesh node if that did not work. It did not work sufficiently as a main router, but seems to be mostly solving my issue as a mesh node.
NOTE: In Ai-Mesh mode you only get your main SSID as a mesh system. It does NOT make your Guest Networks a mesh system, nor does it even seem to amplify to signal of any of your guest networks. Apparently the Blue Cave is AiMesh 1.0, and you need AiMesh 2.0 or something to get the guest network meshed.
Yes, lots have changed since the review and generally, Wi-Fi 5 hardware is stuck at the old version as noted in the related posts.
Thanks for the input!
Seems that this router isn’t being supported anymore. No new firmware updates, and with AI, ethernet backual doesn’t seem to work well (I can’t remember exactly, but the blue cave uses a previous version of aimesh with less features). Too bad, it looked really nice in my family room
Yeap, it’s getting old. But you can still use it as an AiMesh node. You just have to manually put it in that role before adding it at the main router.
Hoping you can help me because I’m at my wits’ end. I purchased two Blue Caves with the intention of using them as an AiMesh system but no matter what I do, I can’t get them to connect. I’ve tried all the obvious stuff – I’ve swapped router and node, I’ve tried three recent firmware versions, tried using the app as well as GUI. Every time, I can find the node but the connection process counts very slowly up to 81% then rapidly skips to 100% and fails.
BTW – both units perform perfectly as routers. I just can’t get either of them to work as a node.
If you have any suggestions, I would be incredibly grateful.
Follow the steps in this post, Mike. Try using a network cable to connect the two for the setup process, then remove the cable when finished (if you don’t want to use wire background.)
Thanks Dong. Apologies – I should have mentioned that I already tried connecting router and node using ethernet cable. That works – I can complete the node connection process – but only while the cable is connected. As soon as I disconnect the cable, the node goes offline. The node won’t connect wirelessly – even if I power cycle the node. It retains the small ‘wired’ (ethernet) icon and says it’s offline.
It’s incredibly frustrating. I can use either unit as a router. Both units, when set up as the router, will connect wirelessly to anything in the house – laptop, phone, speakers – except the other Blue Cave. How is that possible?
Thanks anyway – I appreciate the reply.
I’m in contact with ASUS technical support but so far they haven’t been able to help. In the meantime, I’m almost ready to throw both of them through the nearest window.
Maybe it’s just a matter of patience, Mike. First, when the two are connected via a cable and successfully linked up as a mesh, choose the Connection Priority for the node to be “Auto” instead of “Wired”. After that, remove the cable and give them up to 10 minutes to sync up wirelessly. I tested mine a long time ago, and it worked perfectly then. But what’s happening there is odd. You might have made some assumptions somewhere… You can also try putting an older firmware version on both and then moving along slowly with some attention…
After much trial and error, I finally got the node to connect. And I’ve repeated the process to make sure it wasn’t a fluke. Here is the step-by-step that worked for me in case it’s useful for anyone else.
Step by step
– Set up the router as normal.
– Reset the node to factory settings.
– Unplug the router from the PC and plug the node into the PC (ethernet cable to LAN port).
– Go to 192.168.50.1
– You should see the initial setup screen (white screen with an image of a Blue Cave).
– Choose ‘Advanced Settings’.
– Choose ‘Operation Mode’.
– Choose ‘AiMesh’.
– Should see picture of a house – choose ‘Next’.
– Choose ‘I want to set this device as an AiMesh node’.
– Should see a diagram of the network – choose ‘Next’.
– Unplug the node from the PC. Plug the router back into the PC.
– Go to 192.168.50.1 and log into the GUI.
– Search for node.
All other instructions said that it was important to reset the node and leave it at factory settings before trying to connect. That never worked for me no matter how many different things I tried (different firmware, settings etc).
Thanks for sharing, Mike. Yes, I should have done that, too. I think after some firmware versions, Asus no longer tested the Blue Cave for AiMesh. Glad you figured it out!
I have 2 gt-ac5300 with a wired back haul. Is it recommended to add a blue cave as a second node wirelessly? Will it cause an issue with it being dual band and connected via a wireless back haul? Also with all the updates can you now turn off the blue light in a aimesh setup?
You should add the Blue Cave via a wire and use the Tri-band node wirelessly, Dos. As or the light, that’s a maybe with the latest firmware. The last time I used it, tht was not possible.
Hmmm ok. Thank you Dong. I have been following your reviews from when you first started with CNET.
Let’s say I didn’t get the blue cave, would you recommend mixing the my current setup of the 2 gt-ac5300 with a gt-ax11000? I want to add a 3rd router but I want your best advice but the 3rd has to be connected wirelessly.
Thank you for your advice
If you use wired backhaul then yes, Dos. If not, no. More in this post on how to pick AiMesh routers. Glad to know that you found me here! 🙂
So use it as the main (ax1100) and hard wire to the 1st (ac5300) then 3rd (ac5300) wirelessly? Or should I just keep them all the same and get a 3rd (ac5300)?
That works if you can make sure the 3rd node connects to the 2nd and not the router. Another AC unit is the safest way.
I have an aimesh system with a blue cave as the main router and a pair of ac66u b1 routers as nodes on a gigabit backhaul. The blue cave has a pervasive error where it loses the WAN connection when reset and requires user intervention to find it again (unplug/plug in WAN cord, mess with settings, whatever). I was thinking of just making one of the satellites into the master router and making the blue cave a satellite, do you think that would work even though the blue cave has better specs?
That would work, CB. It’s a matter of degrees and when you opt for lowest possible cost hardware, it’s not a good idea to expect the world. 🙂
Is the Blue Cave still a good option in 2020? I have a Linksys WRT1900ACS that doesn’t reach my bedroom in my new 800sq ft home (moved from an apartment). Considering buying one Blue Cave now, and might test a second with AiMesh if needed – is that better than an Eero or other mesh wifi? Thanks.
Yes and yes, Kenya. More here.
I just discovered this router, and your past reviews have TOTALLY sold me on past hardware. I am moving to the mountains, into a house no larger than 1,500 SQFT, and from the sound of it, this router should be fine for coverage.
I THINK I saw this router supports UPnP functionality- I have a QNAP NAS I’ll be hardwiring into it, but, would like to access remotely, and UPnP would be key – does this router have UPnP support?
Yes, it does, G.G., but you don’t need UPnP to have remote access. In fact, you should turn UPnP off. By the way, you should move to Synology. QNAP is a bit too convoluted for my taste. 🙂
I tried the web UI as well. The connected 2.4 Guest devices do not show up. When I setup the Lyra Trio instead, I can see them online using either the Web UI or app
Probably a glitch somewhere. Generally, I don’t trust most routers when it comes to seeing connected clients, at least the timing of it. It’s a bit more complicated than you might think. Some routers, including Asus ones, don’t even show connected clients at all. This, by the way, also depends on the clients, as well as how you set up the DHCP server.
already updated to latest. one more thing, all the devices using Guest network shows up as Offline in the Asus Router app but they are actually online, just not showing up as online in the app or web ui
Don’t trust the mobile app. I’ve always used the web interface. You can use the interface on your mobile device, too, and it’s kinda a mobile app.
I just bought this Blue Cave yesterday. Set it with nothing fancy, just added a Guest network for both 2.4 and 5Ghz. Everything else is default. After a couple of hours, the 2.4Ghz band goes missing and the 5Ghz, althought still showing but you cant get on the internet. Off and On fixes it. I reset the router and setup again. Again the same thing happened. Altogether 5 times yesterday. I also noticed that it says it is disconnected from the Internet but it can still surf to any websites. Today I went back to the store to exchange another unit. Brought it back and its still happening. The difference this time around is it doesnt say its disconnected and my 5Ghz still can work. The 2.4 is missing both the main and guest. I dont know what else to do. I Off/On it and the band comes back on but my device cant login, says wrong password. Any suggestion is fully appreciated 🙁 Oh, I switch back to my old router a TPLink Ac1200 and it works fine.
Make sure you use the latest firmware, Dr. Stranger.
I have been using 3 RT-AC68U for AiMesh, but nodes are disconnected from the main router often.
I just replaced the main 68U with Blue Cave, but then I’m having issue with manually assigned IPs for DHCP.
Apparently, devices connected to the nodes will have a 2nd MAC address (for routing purpose? the first 3 parts of MAC are the same for all devices connected to the same node) and Blue Cave’s DHCP server seems not assigning the IPs set in the DHCP table associated with the original MAC, but instead doing dynamic allocation of a new IP. It’s causing the devices sometimes use dynamic IP but sometimes jump to assigned IP. Any services requires the assigned IP, like my NVR, cannot connect to those devices reliably.
Anyone have the same issues? I didn’t have this DHCP issue when using RT-AC68U has main router.
Hi Dong Ngo, I have a 500Mbps line and living in a single level 1900 sq ft apartment with lots of concrete walls. I’m getting decent 5Ghz but very poor 2.4Ghz in my bedroom. I got lots of IoT devices connected to my 2.4Ghz Guest Network. Should I get a Blue Cave and 2 units of Lyra Trio or should I not mess with AiMesh and just buy the 3 pieces of Lyra Trio. For 2.4Ghz Im getting around 50Mbps and 5Ghz band Im getting around 280Mbps (near to router) Your advice is greatly appreciated sir.
Peter, 2.4Ghz is ALWAYS terrible, there’s no way around it. If you intend to use the hardware units wirelessly, get a tri-band system (like the ZenWiFi CT8). Generally, use a dual-band system only if you can have wired backhaul.
I just go this router and I absolutely love it! It really is living-room friendly. Any idea if an AX version is in the works?
I’m not sure. I don’t work for Asus. 🙂 But you won’t need an AX router right now. A few years from now, maybe.
Hi all- Can I use the Blue Cave as both my modem and an AIMesh hub? (Specturm says it’s authorized and compatible btw) I would like to eliminate the existing Arris modem from the mix if possible and hardwire the Blue Cave to an Asus Ac3100 as part of a whole home AIMesh network. Thanks for the help!
The Blue Cave is a router. Check out this post for more https://dongknows.com/how-to-install-your-own-cable-modem/
It is only Ethernet. If you have a cable coming into it > no or if you have a phone line going into it > no….
Actually I want to point out that is the purpose of the “cave”, it was designed so that the heat is transferred to the plastic inner portion of the cave via the heatsink, which contacts air. I think they were going for something similar to the Dyson fan. The Dyson fan uses some created airflow to pull the air through their hole( think filling a vacuum caused by the air displacement, or the vacuum used when siphoning gas through a tube). while the bluecave design relies on passive exchange, heat is transferred toward the hole in the bluecave, and airflow in the room( I think this is a design assumption that isnt true if placed in a corner or homes without centralized ac/heating) circulates the air. But since the hole material is not metal( to prevent interference from antennas I assume) I question the efficiency of this, but you can place your hand on the gray inner plastic of the hole and feel that heat transfer is occuring. The ventilation holes in back of device allows for some passive ventilation and making holes bigger/more would have little impact if there is no fan in the system to displace the heat unless removing walls completely for a pure open system.
There are not even proper vents on the top which are really needed. I added those myself. Then the bottom heatsink is upside down and there is not even enough vents there to draw in cool are? The size of the holes are too small for all the heat that comes off that. I fixed that also. the ac-68u was a pinnacle for terrible ventilation even though the design is still one of the very best. I would of thought they would of learned from that alone. The holes are too small for the amount of heat coming off the heatsinks. Best regards
Dong, I feel the blue cave and the ac86u are both pretty good as I have seen in various reviews such as yours, Which would you recommend for a 2 story home with 1 Gig connection that has a lot of wifi activity, echos, consoles, wifi cams, etc. currently my 5ghz wifi has horrible range/not usable upstairs
If your place is large, get the RT-AC86U as the main router and the Blue Cave as a node. You should link them together using a network cable if possible. If not, chances are you won’t be able to get close to full Internet speed via Wi-Fi. Alternatively, you can use a tri-band router as a node (RT-AC5300). For more information, check out this post: https://dongknows.com/asus-aimesh-overview/ and this one: https://dongknows.com/mesh-wi-fi-system-explained/
If your place is small, a single unit of either the 86U or Blue Cave mounted on the ceiling of the first floor (or close) will do.
Hope this helps. 🙂
AC68U is router, Blue Cave is node. Backhaul is wired (and set to Ethernet in settings).
All good when connected to router but when connecting to node, wired or Wi-Fi, the upload speed drops from 300 to 400mb to just 2 or 3.
download speed halves but as i have a 1000gb connection I can live with that.
Any ideas as to why upload speeds are dropping right down?
That’s super odd. I have the Blue Cave as a node myself and don’t experience that at all. Try these:
1. Restarting the routers.
2. Using a different network cable to connect the two.
3. Using a different network port on each to connect them.
4. Manually updating their firmware. (Download the latest first.)
Hope that solves it. I can’t think of anything else.
If you have a Blue Cave and an AC68U, does it make much difference as to which is the router and which is the node?
No it doesn’t, Dom.
AC68 bakes temperature wise. Had to modify to get the temp in a safe zone. Hope this Blue Cave does not have the heat issue that one did. I went from well over 140 degrees to under 115
I’ve used a Blue Cave — as an AiMesh node — for a few months now and it’s been very stable.
That is good to hear. read someone said the bottom was really hot of their unit.
was really shocked at the terrible 3 dimensional grill that was too dense for the heat build up to vent out in real-time. Have one coming and see what I can learn.
thanks for the reply Dong
It bakes inside and the ventilation is totally inadequate like some of their other (68u)? Amazing how high tech they are except in this area. They have a good size heatsink actually 2. But that size displaces its share of heat. The holes are way too small to let get rid of that heat in real time? I fixed mine and it will last a while now. When cpu’s get high heat they throttle back clock-rate /performance to protect themselves….. Best regards
Thanks for the input, Morse. I personally haven’t run into the heat issue at all. But I do live in a relatively cool area and always put networking gear in the open.
I currently have a mesh Google Wifi system, but I’m not entirely happy with it’s performance. I’m looking to get the best performance (mainly wired) over a 3000 sq home. I have gigabit (fiber) and was looking for suggestions.
RT–AC86U as the main hub and the blue cave as an access point? I definitely want the “smart connect” feature so I can just use 1 SSD name. Are there any performance differences between the 2 as far as wired performance is concerned?
That will work really well. AiMesh is definitely much better than the Google WiFi and wiring is the way to go. Keep in mind though that you’ll not be able to turn the blue light off on the Blue Cave. Also make sure you update both to the latest firmware.
perfect. thank you Dong
Which is a better buy? The Blue Cave or three RT-AC86i?
I assume you meant the RT-AC86U, if so, definitely the latter. 🙂 But you can get one RT-AC86U as the main router and one or two Blue Caves as nodes. In this case, note the blue light, you might not be able to turn it off.
Do you prefer this or the Asus RT-AC68U?
Yes, it’s much better than the AC68U, Matt.
Dong Ngo, I’m a big fan of your reviews and opinions, CNET currently rates the performance of the AC68U at 10 and the Blue Cave at 8.5 in it’s Best Wireless Routers for 2018 review. Why do you feel the Blue Cave is the “much better” router.
Thanks for your continued support, Rick. Yes, at its time the RT-AC68u was totally awesome (and it’s still very good now). I reviewed it then. However as time passes by, the newer Blue Cave is now faster and cooler. As for the Blue Cave review at CNET, it was after my time and I had nothing to do with that. 🙂
Truth be told, for most homes, the differences between the two are minimum. Chances are both will serve your Wi-Fi needs equally well.