The new Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 router looks so similar to the GT-AC5300 — if you think Asus has run out of design creativity with this one, that will make two of us!
Indeed, this router is a bulky box with eight massive removable antennas sticking out around the sides — it’s either an eyesore or a badass depending on your questionable taste. (I’m on the eyesore camp, in case you haven’t noticed). But if you can look past the appearance and dig deeper, you’ll probably love this piece of networking hardware, especially if you’re into online gaming.
So, here’s the endgame: For hardcore gamers and geeks, the Asus GT-AX11000 is a nice upgrade, even at the hefty cost of some $450. Everyone else, who is not drowning in cash, should wait.
Note: Initially, at its launch early this year, the GT-AX11000 was quite buggy. After a few rounds of the firmware updates, it now seems ready for prime time. And that’s good timing since I’ve just been able to acquire some Wi-Fi 6 clients to put it to the test.
ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Gaming Router
- Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance with excellent range
- Lots of useful features for home users
- Unique and effective settings for online gaming
- Multi-Gig network port, Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation
- Mesh ready
- Bulky design, loose antennas, non-wall-mountable
- Fewer LAN ports than previous model
- Long boot-up time, buggy (at launch), fluctuating Wi-Fi throughputs
Asus GT-AX1100: A massively bulky box of power
Again, the GT-AX11000 resembles the GT-AC5300, and that means it’s huge — a square that measures 9.5-inch (241 mm) wide, without antennas, and 2.4-inch (61 mm) tall. It’s also heavy at 3.8 pounds (1.73 kg).
The router looks even more massive with the antennas attached. By the way, I found it quite hard to screw the antennas in tight. They tend to stay loose and might droop to a side instead of staying up straight. That doesn’t affect the performance but sure is an eyesore.
The GT-AX1100 is enormous for a reason. This device has enough processing power to rival a storage server. As for Wi-Fi, it’s one of a few 4×4 tri-band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) routers on the market with two 5GHz bands and one 2.4GHz band — details in the specs table below.
Considering Wi-Fi 6 is currently in the early state with a lot of backward compatibility issues, having two 5GHz bands, apart from the ability to host more concurrent clients, translates into some extra advantages. Stuff that dual-band routers, like the Netgear RAX120 or even the Asus RT-AX88U, can’t deliver.
Specifically, you can use one band in compatibility mode to support the legacy clients and the other in high-performance mode. Also, since the GT-AX11000 supports AiMesh, one of the 5GHz can work as a backhaul to increase performance when you use it in a mesh.
Most noticeably, though, the new router includes lots of handy features tailored to online gaming. Its huge ROG logo light on top is self-evident — the light syncs its color with other ROG gears that support Asus’s Aura RGB. By the way, ROG stands for Republic of Gamers — a brand Asus founded in 2006 to dedicate to gaming equipment.
The Asus GT-AX1100’s hardware specification
But what if I’m not a gamer?
For regular home users, the GT-AX11000 is overkill. It doesn’t hurt to get it, but you won’t get much more out of it than other less pricey alternatives, such as the RT-AX88U, the RT-AC86U, or even the much older RT-AC88U. And that’s because, at the core, the GT-AX11000 is a familiar Asus router.
Still a familiar router with universal setting restoration
If you’ve used an Asus router before, you’ll feel right at home with the GT-AX1100. To get it up and going, connect a computer to one of its LAN port, fire up a browser and go to router.asus.com (or the router’s default IP which is 192.168.50.1), and the rest is self-explanatory. Generally, you can treat it like any router with a web interface.
By the way, in my testing, the GT-AX11000 could accept a setting file from any Asus router. So if you’re upgrading, just backup your old router and upload the settings to it — your network setup will remain the same. This universal restoration saves you a lot of time, especially if you have an AiMesh system. In this case, you won’t need to re-setup your nodes when you use the GT-AX11000 as the new router unit.
Robust interface, generous feature set
The GT-AX1100’s web user interface features the ROG theme like the case of the GT-AC5300. The UI is responsive — most responsive among Asus routers I’ve worked with — and organized, making setting it up and managing its features a pleasure. The router is not hard to use, but you do need to know the basics of setting up a home network before you can get the most out of it.
And this router has so much to offer. There are all the settings you can ask for, including but not limited to an interactive network map, convenient IP reservation, port forwarding, Dynamic DNS, IPv6, Guest networks (one for each band), Traffic Analyzer, so on and so forth. And for the Wi-Fi networks, there is a lot of customization, including using Smart Connect where you choose to use all of the bands as a single Wi-Fi network.
On top of that, the GT-AX11000 has a lot of useful features for any home users. And I’m not talking about the support for gaming yet. The following are those you sure will appreciate.
The Asus GT-AX1100’s prominent for-everyone features
2.5Gbps port: Apart from the usual four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port, the router has a 2.5Gbps port to work either as a LAN port or a WAN port. However, it’s a bit disappointing that there’s no faster (5Gbps) LAN port, as the case of the Netgear RAX120.
AiMesh: An effective way Asus turns Wi-Fi awesome. The GT-AX11000 can work either as the primary router as well as an AiMesh node. Note that, in my testing, the GT-AX11000, as well as other Asus Wi-Fi 6 routers, proved to be quite buggy in an AiMesh setup. You might need to restart it once in a while. Hopefully, future firmware will work out the kinks.
AiProtection: Powered by TrendMicro, this feature keeps bad things at bay and blocks infected devices within the network from dialing to a malicious server, in real-time. AiProtection also includes a comprehensive Parental Control feature.
Dual-WAN: You can turn one of the LAN ports into a second WAN port if you want to use two Internet connections at a time.
Link Aggregation: You can combine the first two LAN ports into a single 2Gbps connection for supported devices, such as a NAS server. Link aggregation worked very well in my tests with the Synology DS1019+.
USB applications: When hosting a storage device, the GT-AX11000 can work as a robust NAS server with so many storage-related features. But there’s more; you can also use a USB port to host a cellular dongle as a backup Internet connection, or a printer.
VPN: Apart from working as a VPN server (supporting PPTP, OpenVPN, and IPsec VPN protocols), the GT-AX11000 also uniquely features VPN Fusion where you can link multiple VPN servers together and assign clients to different tunnels. Among other things, it allows clients that don’t support VPN natively — like IoT devices — to be part of a VPN network.
Wi-Fi Radar: A complete set of tools for users to diagnose their Wi-Fi, including site survey, Channel Statistics, and more.
Other than those, there are even more things you can do with the GT-AX11000. For example, you can use it to wake up other network devices via the Wake-on-LAN tool. There’s also Alexa and IFTTT integrations for the router to work with other SmartHome devices.
In short, the GT-AX11000 can do more than I have time or space to list them all here.
Asus GT-AX11000’s detail photos
It’s hard to take pictures of the GT-AX11000. Partly because the router is so big but mostly, since it’s is a square, it looks the same from any angle. Again, from my point of view, appearance is the least exciting thing about this piece of hardware.
Asus GT-AX1100: Why gamers will love it
I’ve reviewed several different gaming routers before, and the GT-AX11000 ups the ante on this front. It has everything the GT-AC5300 had to offer and then a lot more.
When you log into its web user interface, you’ll immediately realize how this router is all about gaming. For example, on the dashboard, there is a display of real-time ping and jitter (ping variation) values of your Internet connection and a long list of popular games. Clicking on a game icon will bring you to the Game Radar, one of a few features mentioned below.
You can also customize the router’s ROG light on top to make it sync with other ROG gears. And then, of course, there is a slew of game-related features.
This feature is the includes Game Boost and Gamer Private Network found in the GT-AC5300. The former is a QoS engine that quickly prioritizes Internet traffic for different services, including online gaming (default). You can quickly select one of the pre-programmed options via a click. Or you can customize an alternative to your liking.
Gamer Private Network, on the other hand, allows the router to connect to a game-centric private network powered by WTFast. Generally, you need a WTFast account for each gaming client, but with the router supporting this, all connected devices will be part of the private network, without you having to configure WFTfast on each game console.
This feature, also available to the GT-AC5300 (via firmware update), allows you to pick a game (on a regularly updated list) to find out its servers’ locations (on a world map) and their ping values in real-time. You can use that information to pick the best server to use.
This feature is my favorite. Open NAT allows for quickly setting up port forwarding for up to 32 clients on the network based on a particular game and the type of game console, be it an Xbox, a PlayStation, or a computer. It’s much more convenient than manually setting up a port forwarding, where you need to figure out and enter all different values.
I’m not exactly a hardcore gamer, but I tried out all these features with a couple of games, and they worked. It’s always fun to see how the experience changes according to different network settings, and the GT-AX11000 makes it easy to do so.
Asus GT-AX11000: An excellent performer
I tested the GT-AX11000 the way I did the Netgear RAX120, and the router proved to be a formidable contender — both in Wi-Fi and network storage performance.
By the way, I used the router’s 2.5Gbps port for the testing. For a Wi-Fi 6 router, a Multi-Gig port makes a huge difference. It ensures the wired connection is not the bottleneck. And this is where the GT-AX11000 is decidedly better than the RT-AX88U.
Fast and (almost) reliable Wi-Fi
In Wi-Fi tests, I used both Wi-Fi 5 and the new Wi-Fi 6 clients for the testing.
On the 5GHz band, at a close range of 10 feet (3 m), via the 2×2 Intel AX200 client, the GT-AX11000 had the sustained speed of some 1333 Mbps, a tad faster than the Netgear RAX120. When I increased the distance to 40 feet (12 m), it now averaged more than 960 Mbps, clearly faster than the Netgear.
Keep in mind that this is a 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 router. Consequently, when used with 4×4 clients (there are none now), it can deliver double the speed. Also, I had a bit of a hard time getting my clients to connect at the full 2.4Gbps speed consistently. Hopefully, this will change via firmware updates.
When used with Wi-Fi 5 clients, the GT-AX11000 was, as expected, slower but still quite fast, averaging some 905 Mbps and 800 Mbps for close and long-range, respectively.
On the 2.4GHz band, like other routers I’ve tested, the GT-AX11000 performance fluctuated a lot. Also, there was no difference between Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 clients. In the end, the router registered some 420 Mbps for close-range and some 125 Mbps for long-range.
As for range, the GT-AX11000 has about the same coverage as a high-end Wi-Fi 5 router. If you have a house of 2000 ft² (186 m²) or smaller, it can take care of every corner if placed in the middle. The router also proved to be reliable in my testing.
For three days straight with lots of heavy tasks, the router didn’t disconnect once. However, I also noted that its speeds fluctuated a lot.
The router never slowed down to the point of not able to deliver my Internet in full, but if you expect top Wi-Fi 6 speeds at all times, you might get disappointed. Again, likely future firmware will make it work better.
Excellent NAS speed
Considering the 2.5 Gbps port, I expected the GT-AX11000 to perform well as a network-attached (NAS) server when hosting a portable drive via one of its two USB 3.0 ports. And it did.
I tested this feature using a WD My Passport SSD and got the averaged sustained copy speed of around 150 MB/s, one of the fastest I’ve seen. It was slower than that of the Netgear RAX12, which has a speedier 5Gbps LAN port and beefier CPU.
When I switched to use a regular Gigabit LAN port, the GT-AX11000 still did quite well. It averaged some 90 MB/s for writing and some 112 MB/s for reading.
At these speeds, you can probably use the router as a NAS server. Keep in mind, though, when you use the USB ports in USB 3.0 mode (fast), they might adversely interfere with the router’s 2.4GHz Wi-Fi performance. To avoid that, you can use them in the USB 2.0 mode, which caps at some 35 MB/s. So, if you want to enjoy network storage, it’s a good idea to get a real NAS server instead.
The GT-AX11000 is not perfect. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Long boot time, buggy firmware: Other than the speed issues above, the GT-AX11000 can sometimes — not consistently — take quite a long time to apply specific changes that require a reboot. For example, when I changed its Wi-Fi settings, the router took almost five minutes before the wireless network become available again. Generally, it’s good to give it some time before you think something is wrong. Overall, the router seems buggy though to the point that causes concerns.
- Only four LAN ports: That’s an average amount, but compared to the GT-AC5300, it’s a 50% reduction. Yes, the GT-AX11000 does have an extra 2.5Gbps port. But that means it still has three fewer LAN ports than its older brother.
- SMBv1 required for the NAS feature: When hosting an external drive, the router’s NAS function only works with SMB version 1, which is old and not secure.
- Not wall mountable: The router is enormous, and the fact that you can’t mount it means it’s going to be tough to find a place to put it.
- No support for WPA3: Like the case of the RT-AX88U, the GT-AX11000 doesn’t currently support WPA3 — this might change with future firmware updates. Considering the majority of clients on the market don’t support this new encryption method yet, this is not a huge deal.
With Wi-Fi 6 clients still scarce, the new Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is not a must-have. It will take a while before more clients are readily available, and the Wi-Fi standard itself gets to the current popularity of Wi-Fi 5. So generally, you should wait before upgrading to Wi-Fi 6. The GT-AX11000 will get better with new firmware anyway.
However, if you’re a hardcore gamer, the GT-AX11000 delivers a lot more than just fast Wi-Fi speeds. Among other things, its excellent support for online gaming and the well-deserved bragging right it brings will make the hefty investment worthwhile.