The Asus Lyra Trio is not your usual run-of-the-mill purpose-built mesh. It’s the first (and so far still the only) 3×3 Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) Wi-Fi system on the market. And with the support for Asus’s AiMesh — available with the latest firmware –, it’s, among other things, the most versatile mesh system yet.
If you want to quickly have an extensive, secure, and fast Wi-Fi network, without potentially compromising your privacy or sacrificing networking features and settings, at the current cost of less than $250 for a set of three units, this is an excellent buy.
Dong’s note: This review was first published on April 25, 2018, and was updated on December 6, 2018, after AiMesh support became available.
Asus Lyra Trio
- Fast, reliable performance, excellent Wi-Fi range
- Generous feature set and robust web-interface
- Easy setup, helpful mobile app
- Built-in security, no privacy risks
- Ability to work as an extension of an existing network via the access point mode, or as part of an AiMesh system
- Setup, firmware updates, and configurations can be a pain
- Minimal Wi-Fi settings
- Not able to block secure (HTTPS) websites
Asus Lyra Trio: A new mesh with a familiar concept
Out of the box, the Lyra Trio resembles many existing Wi-Fi systems. It includes three identical hardware units, called hubs. Each hub has two Gigabit network ports. One is a LAN/WAN port, and the other is a LAN port.
The way a Wi-Fi system works, you pick one of the hubs — any of them in the Lyra Trio’s case — to work as the primary router. This unit needs to connect to an Internet source, such as a cable modem, using its LAN/WAN port. After that, the other two hubs will automatically extend the Wi-Fi network. In other words, you have one router plus two satellites working together to form a mesh.
The LAN/WAN port only matters in the router unit. On the other two, these ports are always LAN ports. You can use these ports to connect wired devices (like printers or game consoles) to the network.
You also can (and should, when possible) use these ports to daisy-chain the Lyra Trio hubs together using network cables to get the best possible performance. Otherwise, to reduce signal loss, place the satellites in a way that each of them has a direct wireless connection to the main router.
Asus Lyra Trio’s hardware specifications
The first full 3×3 Wi-Fi system
The Lyra Trio is the first dual-band Wi-Fi system I’ve seen that fully uses the three-stream (3×3) Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) standard. The only other system that also uses top-tier Wi-Fi is the original Netgear Orbi. But the Orbi’s 4×4 Wi-Fi is just for its third back-haul band that links its hardware unit together, and only serve clients with 2×2 Wi-Fi.
In the case of the Lyra Trio, each of its hubs is a dual-band 3×3 routers. In a wireless setup, not all clients will be able to enjoy the 3×3 speed due to signal loss — the Lyra Trio doesn’t have a dedicated backhaul band.
However, if you use a network cable to link the hubs together, it’s the fastest system on the market, with the top ceiling speed of up to 1300Mbps.
Unique and effective antenna design
Lyra Trio hubs take the shape of a hollow triangle pyramid, with each pyramid leg being an antenna. As a result, when you place a unit on a surface, its antennas stay at an optimal angle for the best Wi-Fi coverage. At least that’s what Asus told me.
In testing, though, the range was indeed impressive. The router unit by itself, when placed in the middle, could deliver Wi-Fi to every corner of a 1,800ft² (≈ 165m²) home.
Not every corner got the full-bar signal, but the connection was consistently fast enough to deliver a 150Mbps broadband connection in full, throughout. While I’ve seen many standalone routers being able to offer this kind of coverage, the Lyra Trio unit is quite small, just a third the size of most standard routers.
That said, in a wireless setup with all three units, the Lyra Trio could indeed easily cover some 5500ft² (≈ 500m²) of space. If you use a cable to connect the hardware units, you can increase the coverage significantly more, with even faster Wi-Fi speeds.
Easy setup, useful mobile app, no Asus account needed
Setting up the Lyra Trio is similar to that of most Wi-Fi systems, using the Asus Lyra mobile app (available for iOS and Android). The app walks you through the process, step by step. The process is self-explanatory, and you won’t even need to press any button on the hubs.
You can also use the app to turn on the remote connection, which allows you to manage your network even when you’re away from home. Important note: this remote connection is very different from that of other Wi-Fi systems.
With the Google Wifi or the Eero, for example, you need to register an account with the vendor and log in before you can use the app. Your home network also connects to the vendor at all times: You manage your home through the vendor’s server — a potential privacy concern.
The Lyra Trio’s remote connection doesn’t require you to have an account with Asus at all. Instead, it automatically sets the Lyra Trio system to connect to a Dynamic DNS service that points you directly to your home network. Consequently, Asus, if at all, only knows your WAN IP address and nothing else.
Alternatively, you can also use the web interface to set up and manage the Lyra Trio. In this case, the setup process is similar to setting up any routers that have a web interface.
Point a browser from a connected computer to the Lyra Trio’s default IP address, which is 192.168.72.1, and follow the onscreen wizard to finish the initial setup process. After that, you can manage the Lyra Trio the way you do any other Asus standalone router via the web interface.
Asus Lyra Trio’s extra photos
Full feature set
But you will want to use the app once in a while.
The reason is the app is convenient to use. It shows to which hardware unit, the primary router, or a satellite, a client connects. You can also change many settings via a single tap.
I prefer the web interface because it allows much more in-depth access to all of the system’s settings and features. And just like any other Asus routers, the Lyra Trio has a lot of useful features, more than most routers on the market.
Apart from all the general settings such as port forwarding, IP reservation, dynamic DNS, etc., the system also has all the flagship features. These include VPN (it can work both as a VPN server as well as a VPN client), QoS, AiProtection, and so on. There are also unique tools hardly found on non-Asus routers, such as Ping or Wake-on-LAN.
You’ll love AiProtection, by the way. Powered by Trend Micro, this feature protects the entire network against online threats in real-time, at no additional cost. It proved to be quite useful in my experience, both with the Lyra Trio as well as in other Asus routers.
I’ve never worked with any other canned mesh system that even comes close to having the same level of features and settings as that of the Lyra Trio. But compared to other Asus routers, it doesn’t have the following:
- Dual-WAN: You can’t use the Lyra Trio to host more than one Internet connection at a time.
- Gaming-related features: You can still play online games, it’s just that you can’t tailor specific network settings specifically for certain games.
- USB-related features: The system doesn’t have a USB port.
- In-depth Wi-Fi settings: You can only change the name of the Wi-Fi network and its password and nothing else.
AiMesh support. Consider the Lyra Trio is a mesh system, I find the lack of support for the AiMesh feature a bit ironic. Asus told me that this would change via a firmware update, however. Hopefully, that will happen soon.
Update: On November 23, 2018, Asus released firmware version 188.8.131.52.384.45122 that added AiMesh support to the Lyra Trio system. The firmware enables each unit of the system to function as an AiMesh node, and not as an AiMesh router.
The Lyra Trio has another shortcoming: Its web filtering feature can’t block secure websites (https). Consequently, you can’t make it block sites like Facebook, YouTube, Tweeter, or any other popular websites. However, all Asus routers share this weakness.
Asus Lyra Trio: Excellent performance
The Lyra Trio is among the fastest routers/Wi-Fi systems on the market. When working as a single router, with a sustained speed of more than 500Mbps, rivaling many high-end routers.
Since there’s no dedicated back-haul band, in a wireless setup, clients connected to a satellite unit will experience a signal loss, meaning they will have just about half the speed of those that link directly to the main router.
However, thanks to the 3×3 Wi-Fi, even then, the numbers were still impressive. For example, its satellite unit’s performance was consistently faster than that of the tri-band Linksys Velop.
When I used network cables to links the hubs together, now all clients had similar Wi-Fi speed, no matter to what hubs they connected. By the way, the seamless hand-off worked well, too. I was able to move around between hubs without being disconnected from the Internet.
The Lyra Trio worked well in access point mode. Keep in mind that in AP mode, most of its features, including AiProtection, no longer work. If you want to keep your existing router, the Lyra Trio’s AP mode will come in handy.
The Lyra Trio also proved to be reliable. It passed my 3-day stress test with no disconnection at all.
Update: I started with the Lyra Trio back in March 2018, before the launch date. Now, after some nine months of continuous usage, the system proved to be reliable. There were no unexpected disconnections during this period. I also tested out the newly added AiMesh function, and that also worked as expected.
Keep in mind that, to use the system with AiMesh, you first need to update its firmware to the latest, then reset it to the default setting and add each of the units, as a node, to an AiMesh system one by one.
The Lyra Trio is an excellent Wi-Fi solution that has the right balance of features, performance, and cost. If you have run network cables in your home, this is the fastest Wi-Fi system on the market.
Those using it in a wireless setup will have to deal with the signal loss, which happens with all systems without a dedicated backhaul band. But even then, thanks to the 3×3 Wi-Fi setup, the Lyra Trio is still faster than many others, including those that cost more.
That said, this system is a safe purchase for anyone looking to expand their Wi-Fi network quickly. You can also get a high-end AiMesh router and a set of Lyra Trio. After that, link them together using network cables to get the best possible Wi-Fi system to date.