Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Asus’s ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000 Preview: A New Type of Tri-band Entirely

Asus GT-AXE11000 Router
The Asus GT-AXE11000 is the first Wi-Fi 6E router on the market.

I had a hunch. To the chagrin of many, Asus’s very first Wi-Fi 6E router, the ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000, originally announced last September, indeed didn’t materialize in 2020.

But that crazy year is no more, and today, Asus announced the official availability of this much-anticipated router. It’s real. A clear sign that things are looking up in 2021!

That’s not to say this is a God-sent router or anything. It’s probably not! And the new router is not exactly affordable to boot. As usual, I will take my time to find out for sure how it really is. Wi-Fi 6E is totally new, after all — to be sure, I actually got two units, just in case.

So this preview is to confirm its existence and, therefore, that of the 6GHz frequency band. You’ll also find here real-life photos and details that weren’t available before. Check back soon in due time for an in-depth take complete with performance charts and what’s not.


Update (as of January 21, 2021): For those of you who are itchy to get your own, I’d recommend patience. Until there are compatible clients, there’s almost nothing extra you can benefit from this router yet.

Also, existing Wi-Fi 6E clients, namely the Intel AX210 chips, won’t work (well) yet until the next firmware, which is coming out soon. (For now, make sure you update it to the latest software driver.)

So far, my test units have been working well… as regular dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers. More to come.


Asus’s ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000: Not an upgrade to the GT-AX11000

As the name suggests, the Rapture GT-AXE11000 is the Wi-Fi 6E version of the GT-AX11000 that came out in early 2019. There are a lot of similarities between the two.

In fact, swap out one of the latter’s two 5GHz bands for a 6GHz one, and you get yourself the former. For the most part, everything else of the two remains the same.

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And here’s the interesting part: While the AX11000 is a high-end Wi-Fi 6 router — it has an additional 5GHz band –, the GT-AXE11000’s band configuration is the norm of a Wi-Fi 6E router.

For backward compatibility, tri-band is now a necessity. We need all of them to make sure a router will work with all existing clients. Though each band’s specs might vary, it’s safe to say all Wi-Fi 6E routers will have at least three bands (2.4GHz + 5GHz+ 6GHz).

Hardware specifications: Asus GT-AXE11000 vs. Asus GT-AX11000

Again, these two routers share almost the same hardware specs and differentiate only by the third band. That of the GT-AX11000 is a traditional 5GHz, and the GT-AXE11000’s is a 6GHz.

Both share the same total bandwidth, but they use them differently. The AX11000 doubles down on 5GHz clients and has no support for 6GHz ones, whereas the AXE11000 has one band for each client type.

The latter’s 6GHz band’s purpose is to deliver seven more 160MHz channels that are not part of the problematic DFS spectrum. The goal is that 6GHz clients can connect at high speeds without ever being disrupted by radar signals.

A feature-richer gaming router

At the outset, the GT-AXE11000 is a gaming router, just like its older cousin. So it includes a fancy QoS-based Game Boost section within its web interface.

Asus says it has “triple-level game acceleration to boost game traffic every step of the way.” I don’t really know how to interpret that. (Seriously, how many steps are there? And what way?)

Anyhow, what I do know, though, is like the case of the RT-AX86U (or RT-AX82U), the new router also has a dedicated Gaming Port. That’s a LAN port that automatically prioritizes any connected wired device.

And probably most significant is the fact the GT-AXE11000 is the first Asus router that comes with a 90-day free trial of the Outfox gaming network. No, not the trial, the router’s support for that gaming network is indeed a novelty.

All core features and setting of an Asus router

On top of that, the GT-AXE11000 also includes all core features and settings found in most Asus routers. Following are what you can expect:

  • A robust full web user interface: Asus’s web user interface is one of my favorites. It’s intuitive and allows for in-depth customization. But the interface can be overwhelming for novice users.
  • Helpful Asus mobile app: Alternative to the web UI, users can use the Asus mobile app to manage and set up their router. It’s a well-designed app with decent access to the router. You can also turn on the Dynamic DNS-based remote access without having a login account with Asus.
  • AiProtection-Pro: This feature includes a free-for-life real-time online protection powered by Trend Micro and a Parental Control engine for parents wanting to keep tabs on their children’s online life.
  • Adaptive QoS: A quality of service engine that allows you to prioritize Internet traffic to support different applications or services. Adaptive QoS requires minimum work from the user and is effective. It also includes Bandwidth Monitor if you want to know who uses the most Internet at all and Web History that shows the websites a client has visited.
  • Traffic Analyzer: A set of tools and statistics if you want to find out what’s been going on in the network in a set amount of time or real-time.
  • USB-related features galore: When hosting a storage device, the router has all the features you can imagine — from data sharing (locally and over the Internet) to backup (including the support for Time Machine) to a personal cloud. You can also use the router’s USB ports to host printers or select USB cellular modems.
  • Frequent firmware releases: Asus regularly pushes out new firmware updates to improve its routers. For the most part, this is a good thing. However, once in a while, new firmware can cause issues. In this case, you should downgrade the router to the previous stable version and wait for the next release. (Asus routers don’t auto-update firmware by themselves.)

In short, as a standalone router, you likely can expect the GT-AXE11000 to deliver everything collectively found in previous Asus routers and more.

ROG GT-AXE11000: Detail photos

The GT-AXE11000 is a massive Wi-Fi machine. It’s slightly larger than the GT-AX11000.

Asus GT AXE11000 14
Asus GT-AXE11000’s retail box. Since it’s the very first Wi-Fi 6E on the market, I got two for testing. Two are always better than one anyway.

Asus GT AXE11000 Top
The GT-AX11000 share similar design as the GT-AX11000 but manages to looks a bit better.

Asus GT AXE11000 Corner
This corner for example, serves as a panel of buttons.

Asus GT AXE11000 Power Switch
One another corner, you’ll find the Asus GT AXE11000’s power port and on/off switch.

Asus GT AXE11000 Ports
The new router, like its older brother, has four Gigabit LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN port and a 2.5 Gbps LAN/WAN port.

Asus GT AXE11000 USB Ports
The Asus GT-AXE11000 comes with two USB 3.0 ports.

Asus GT AXE11000 Top View
The Asus GT-AXE11000 has eight non-removable antennas. You can swivel them some 180 degrees around.

Asus GT AXE11000 Underside
Here’s the view of the Asus GT-AXE11000 laying upside down.
Asus GT AXE11000 Label
The GT-AXE11000’s label on the underside showing its default settings.

Asus GT AXE11000 20
Asus’s Tri-band gaming routers trio: GT-AX11000, RT-AX92U and GT-AXE11000.

It’s a Wi-Fi 6 router at the core

It’s important to note that the GT-AXE11000 is first and foremost a Wi-Fi 6 router.

That said, it comes with all the benefits of this standard, including Target Wake Time and the combo of OFDMA and MU-MIMO technology.

But Wi-Fi 6E does require new hardware. So if you intend to enjoy this new router’s 6GHz frequency band, it’s time to upgrade your machine to a supported adapter.

Will it be good for AiMesh?

As a new Asus router, the GT-AXe11100 sure will support the popular AiMesh feature. The question is how well, and we’ll find out soon when I’m done with testing.

One thing is for sure, though. Since the router has three different bands — it’s a traditional tri-band router — you can’t use one of them as the dedicated backhaul. That’s because you need all three to make sure the router is compatible with all clients, new and old.

Also, chances are you can’t use its 6GHz band for backhaul unless you get multiple units. That’s because, in this case, the router won’t work with any other AiMesh routers (as nodes.)

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Finally, the GTE-AXE11000, for sure, will work with wired backhaul. In this case, it’s going to be interesting to find out if you can use its 2.5Gbps port for this purpose. (So far, you can’t do that with existing AiMesh routers with a Gigabit WAN port when working as a node.) And if that’s not possible, well, your Wi-Fi 6E AiMesh system will still cap at 1Gbps.

So it seems this new router suits better those needing just a single broadcaster in their home.

The most expensive Asus router to date

And that’s a good thing because GT-AXE11000 is not cheap.

Today, it’s officially available as a pre-order for a whopping $550 — the most expensive Asus router to date. You can probably get your hands on it before this month is out. By then, though, chances are there’ll be more choices from other networking vendors.

Again, bookmark this post and check back (relatively) soon for its full review that answers all the questions above and many more juicy details.

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50 thoughts on “Asus’s ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000 Preview: A New Type of Tri-band Entirely”

  1. Well, thank you for the pictures! It clearly shows how ugly the thing is compared to the renders…
    So what’s exactly wrong with the ax210 current firmware?
    I just upgraded my Asus card, and that was like doing brain surgery haha

    Reply
    • I saw the latest version of the driver 22.20.0.6 from 1/12/2021
      And these are the fixes:
      -Windows* Stop Errors (BSOD) may occur which are associated the Intel Wireless driver.
      -Windows* Stop Errors (BSOD) may occur when transferring large files from one PC connected.
      to a Wi-Fi 6 Access Point to another PC in a mixed mode environment (e.g. 802.11ax/ac).
      -When a cellphone is connected to a Wi-Fi 6 adapter system using Windows®10 mobile
      Hotspot and switching system from 2.4GHz to 5GHz band, the mobile hotspot connection
      may fail.
      -Intel® PROSet/Wireless Software 22.20.0 has been updated to include functional and security
      updates. Users should update to the latest version.
      I can’t find any info at all of problems related with Wi-Fi 6E

      Reply
  2. Hi again Dong,

    Quick question: I currently have an Arris SB8200 3.1 that supports aggregation. Would you pair that with the AXE1100 or would you go to the ARRIS SURFboard S33 to use the 2.5Gbps link?

    Thanks!

    Derek

    Reply
    • That’s up to you, Derek. Getting one with a 2.5Gbps will save you a network port, but the current modem will allow you to use the 2.5Gbps port for something else.

      Reply
  3. Hey Dong,
    Your reviews are always well thought out and I definitely enjoy reading them! Had a question for you that I haven’t really found a clear answer on… I’ve been thinking about upgrading my ASUS Triband AC3200 + LAN bridged Netgear Dualband AC1900 network to the ASUS AXE11000. I have over 50 devices and so I’ve temporarily setup these two devices as separate SSID it seemed that the ASUS router solo couldn’t sustain a connection with all devices and occasionally, certain 2.4Ghz smart home devices would disappear momentarily in-n-out. What are your thoughts on this particular router and managing an abundance of smart home appliances with next to none service disruptions?

    Cheers,
    RAD

    Reply
  4. Dong,

    Hopefully I am getting this right. I was contemplating getting rid of my GT-AX11000 for the GT-AXE11000 but you mentioned one interesting point that I had not considered and that is the GT-AXE11000 utilizing the third band for 6E. I am currently using the 3rd band for wireless backhaul from my AX11000 to XT8’s which unfortunately I have no way to convert to wired backhaul. If wireless AX backhaul is a requirement, it sounds like regardless of the cost differential the current AX11000 is better for my use case. Correct?

    Reply
  5. Hiya again Dong,

    This appears to be pre-order only for U.S on Amazon but I live in the U.K, will I be able to buy and use it here if I get an adapter for the power lead/brick? Or is there a known date for it’s release in Europe regions?

    Sincere,y

    Tammy

    Reply
    • The router will work anywhere but you’ll need an adapter to make it fit the power socket. Generally, it’s a good idea to get the version made for your region, though.

      Reply
      • What about Asus router region lock/area encryption I’ve heard being put on their other routers to stop them being used in different countries with the wrong area code or some such?

        Reply
  6. Hi Dong,

    Thank you for the incredibly helpful reviews and information you post.

    I’ve been working my way through a “DongKnows style” upgrade to my home network. I’m wiring for backhaul with cat8 cable (I’m hoping I don’t have to wire again for LONG time) and I’m even making my own connections. We have a large and old house with plaster and stone construction so I need at least 2 nodes for wireless access. I’ve planned on a double NAT setup because we have Fios with cable/phone service as well.

    I decided on using ASUS equipment because of the AI Mesh features and currently have 1 AX89X router in use. I was initially planning on using two of these but while waiting for them to come back in stock the AXE11000 was announced. My work laptop is currently Wifi6 and I anticipate that we’ll have other Wifi6/6e clients in the future.

    I noticed that your early thoughts were that the AXE11000 might function better as a standalone router and not as part of a mesh network. Can you expand on that? Is it primarily not being able to transmit speeds higher than 1Gbps even by wire to other nodes? Thanks

    Reply
    • That depends on what you use as nodes, Austin. If you use another GT-AXE11000, the 6GHz will default as the backhaul. But then what happens if you put another non-Wi-Fi 6E in the mix? Well, it’s now a mess.

      Reply
  7. So vs the RAXE500 it’s basically a spec match. $50 less on price tag. Free vs paid protection. AiMesh.

    Unless performance is radically different this is as simple a choice as a $550 price tag can be?

    Reply
  8. I have the AX11000 and Xfinity internet, supposedly 1gb speed. On my ethernet-wired desktop I just got 826 down and 35 up. On my two-year old Samsung Note 9 (AC I assume) in close proximity to the router, I just got 403 down, 35 up. In the router settings, I turned off “Enable Smart Connect,” which seemed to give much slower speeds, so I have separate SSIDs for the three router bands. I haven’t done much other tweaking to settings. FWIW.

    Reply
      • Thanks. Yeah, I don’t expect to actually get 1GB. BTW, on a laptop in which I recently installed an AX WiFi card, one floor above my AX11000 router I just got 821 down, 23 up via the 5ghz band on which I have WiFi 6 enabled. I’m just posting these numbers for the guy who is only getting 95 from his AX11000. The router can definitely do better than that.

        Reply
  9. Dong, I have been looking to upgrade my network for a while now, but decided to wait on pulling the trigger until we learn more about 6E. Your guides have been incredibly helpful. The main reason I want to upgrade is that my current setup (first gen Orbi’s) can no longer handle the amount of traffic in my home. I would say with all the computers, gaming systems, phones, cameras, and smart home gadgets we easily have 50+ devices connected at any given moment. With this in mind, I was thinking that picking up two AX1000 routers and then connecting via ethernet for the backhaul would give me three channels to spread the devices over, and with two routers, I should have a really solid signal across my home/yard. My question is about this 6ghz band on the new AXE11000. With none of my devices in the home 6E compliant, would any of the devices even be able to use the 6ghz band at all? Would I essentially be throttling my devices down to the 2ghz/5ghz bands with the third band (6ghz) unusable until 6E devices come into play?

    Reply
  10. It would be very interesting to see a comparison of backhaul speed and performance between a Dual band router and the new 6E tri band router. Is the new band better at penetrating walls and holding performance over distance? Of course, wired backhaul will always be better, but in those situations where wired isn’t possible, is 6E really an advantage?

    Reply
  11. Yo DN,

    Always lovef your reviews before on the C. So my gripe is I have the ROG 5300 and the AX11000 and the 11000 is much much slower. I tried factory resets, channel twesks, everything and its just plain slow. My korean ISP is 500U/D. I played with manual ch settings, spacing, everything…before I consider E I need the previous to perform…

    Reply
      • Hi DN,

        I tried additional processes and my N20U and my G-Flex-2 could do no faster than 95Mbps yet my old 5300 (in another room) due to concrete walls was 250Mbps. Many posts on the web seemed to lead me to believe the 11000 has a bug in the wifi…I’ve updated firmware, factory resets, etc. I gave away a NightHawk to a friend
        that was much faster…

        I like asus & asustor but the 11000 is buggy in its wifi…I love the GUI…

        However, I don’t think I will buy the AXE-11000 unless you swear to me the wifi is stellar.

        Reply
          • DN,

            Well as an electronics tech, radio tech, and computer tech I thought I knew what I was doing…Spectrum Analyzers, LinkRunners, OTDR’s, etc…(I understand the basics better than the ave Joe).

            My point is I value your opinion (a lot) and it holds a level of prestige if you give it two thumbs up…I have been able to solve 99% of issues bar the slow wifi on this model…I have googled this issue till Im blue inthe face…

            But always we can learn…its just frustrating when you spend quite a bit on something slower than what you gave away…

            Anyhow I hope you can review the newer model as I trust your reviews as unbiased…

          • LAYER ZERO….DOH!!!

            Moved it too two other rooms and magically 350Mbps…

            This apartment is like new…no one certified the cat 6…

        • If your device you are using has wifi 6, I would make sure your driver is up to date. Also if it is wifi 6 enabled, make sure you turn on 160MHz in the wifi settings of the rt-ax11000.

          Reply
  12. I have the gt-ax11000 and the zenwifi xt8 and use them with aimesh. I wanted to let you know that I use the ax11000 as my hub and the xt8’s as the nodes. One of them is used by the 2.5GBe port for wired backhaul via cat6. When I pull up the status of the port it states it is using its full capability of 2.5GBe and not just 1GB. The other xt8 is on another lan port for 1GB wired backhaul.

    I’m really hoping in later firmware updates they give the option to use the third band instead of having it on standby if the wired backhaul fails.

    Reply
    • You can use the third band (5GHz-2) right now for clients, Joshua. Just unhide it and give it a meaningful name/password. More here. By the way, the case of the XT8 is interesting because it’s WAN port is 2.5Gbps. That’s not the case with the GT-AXE11000 — it has a separate WAN port.

      Reply
      • You’re exactly right. I am not sure why they did this for such a high end router. Fortunately my modem has 2 ethernet ports and both router and modem support link aggregation. LAG is nice for traffic distribution with doscsis 3.1 as its full duplex. Maybe in the near future with docsis 4 coming around we will see more 10GBe ports standard.

        Long time fan of your work. I always enjoyed your reviews the most because of your humor and insight back when you worked at Cnet. Glad to see your still in the business.

        Reply
        • Gald to have you here, Joshua. And I’m sure the GT-AXE11000 is just the beginning of Wi-Fi 6E. We’ll see how it pans out when more clients become available.

          Reply
  13. Hello Dong. I really do appreciate your insight and reviews as I use it to finalize all of my network purchases! I currently have the AX11000 and I have until the end of January to get a refund on it. If I go ahead and purchase the AXE11000 will it be backwards compatible with 2.4/5 GHz bands until I’m able to upgrade to 6E? Thank you!

    Reply
  14. Dong, when you’re doing your testing, please check to see whether you can indeed dedicate the 6GHz band to backhaul if you have multiple units. DFS channels on my 5GHz backhaul are killing me! 😉

    Reply

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