The Asus RT-AX3000 (as well as its RT-AX58U variant) is among the most affordable Wi-Fi 6 routers in the market, and that’s the least interesting thing about it.
This little Wi-Fi machine delivers a lot more than its compact design suggests. It has a ton of useful features and the support for the venerable 160 MHz channel bandwidth. Featuring Asus’s AiMesh, you can use a couple of hardware units as (part of) a versatile Wi-Fi mesh system.
On the downside, as a mid-tier router, the RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U doesn’t have the power of its more expensive dual-band cousins, like the RT-AX88U or the RT-AX89X. But comparing with similarly-specced and priced counterparts, it’s an easy winner.
For those living in a medium or smaller home, the RT-AX3000, as well as the RT-AX56U, is worth their sub-$200 price tag. And if you wonder which to get — in case you have the option to pick — either will do. They are exactly the same.
Dong’s note: This review, first published on April 6, 2020, was initially about RT-AX3000. On May 6, I updated it — based on questions and requests from readers — to include the performance of the RT-AX58U as a single router as well as part of an AiMesh system formed by the two.
ASUS RT-AX3000 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Router$179.99
- 160 MHz channel support
- Fast and reliable performance
- Ton of useful features with excellent AiMesh support
- Full web interface and well-design mobile app
- Compact design, wall-mountable
- No multi-gig port or Link Aggregation
- Modest hardware specs
- Relatively short Wi-Fi range
- The Parental Control feature could use some improvement
Asus RT-AX3000 vs. RT-AX58U: A tale of two identical twins
The RT-AX3000 and RT-AX58U are both AX3000-rated Wi-Fi 6 (802.11AX) routers. They have the top speed on the 5GHz band of 2400 Mbps and the 2.4 GHz, 600 Mbps. In other words, again, you can call both AX3000 routers.
So the RT-AX3000’s name makes things a bit confusing, while the RT-AX58U uses Asus’s traditional naming convention. What’s important, however, is the fact the two are of exactly the same hardware. They are not a similar case to TP-Link’s Archer AX3000 and Archer AX50, which are indeed two different routers. Asus itself has assured me of this in more ways than one.
Still, to make sure, in testing, I even tried flashing RT-AX58U with the RT-AX300’s firmware, and then the other way around, and that worked. Though the routers’ model names remained the same, the flashing went through without a hitch, and both functioned normally afterword.
Asus told me that the only reason for two separate model names is the fact the AX58U is a Best Buy exclusive router in the U.S. while the RT-AX3000 is more of a generic version. So if you want to blame Best Buy for this, I don’t blame you.
There you have it. Again, these two are the same routers.
Asus RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U: A compact traditional design that packs a punch
You’ll be a little surprised getting either router out of the packaging, they are much smaller than the photos on the box suggest, easily among the most compact Wi-Fi 6 routers.
The two router’s boxes do show two different model names, Asus RT-AX3000 vs. Asus RT-AX58U. The fact the box of the latter shows a seal of Broadcom while that of the former doesn’t might suggest they use two different Wi-Fi chips. That’s just not the case. They both use the BCM6750 1.5Ghz Triple-Core CPU.
Traditional design, non-removable antennas, wall-mountable
Both routers take the shape of a traditional design, with four antennas sticking up from its back. These antennas are not removable but you can swivel them around.
In between the antennas, you’ll find the four usual Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port. There’s also a USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB 3.0) port to host a storage device, a printer, or a supported mobile cellular device.
Neither router has a multi-gig port, nor do they support Link Aggregation. However, both manage to offer Dual-WAN and allows users to turn one of their LAN ports or the USB port into a second WAN port.
On the underside, there are four little rubber feet for the routers to stay put on a surface. But you can also mount them on a wall.
Asus RT-AX3000 vs. Asus RT-AX58U: photos
The RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U’s hardware specifications vs. competitors’
Modest hardware, dual-stream Wi-Fi 6
Standard Asus feature set
Like most Asus routers, starting with the RT-AC86U, the RT-AX3000 and RT-AX58U comes with what I call the Asus core router feature set, which is the most generous on the market.
If you have used an Asus router before, you’ll feel right at home with this pair. Specifically, you can expect the following.
- Universal setting restoration: You can restore the backup settings of most Asus routers — so far, among those support AiMesh, all but the RT-AX89X and the Blue Cave — interchangeably. As a result, in an upgrade, you won’t need to program the new router from scratch. Most of your network’s configurations — including those of an AiMesh system — will migrate from the old router to the new one. Note, though, that it’s always better to set up the router from scratch to avoid possible setting conflicts.
- A robust full web 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: Alternatively, 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 to have an account with Asus.
- AiProtection: This feature includes a free-for-life real-time online protection powered by Trend Micro and a decent Parental Control engine. I’ve used AiProtection for years, with many different routers, and it proved to be quite useful. Parental Control, on the other hand, could use some improvement as the way Asus define categories for web-filtering is a bit vague.
- 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 in case you want to know who uses the most Internet at all and Web History that shows web sites a client has visited.
- Traffic Analyzer: A set of tools and statistics in case you want to find out what’s been going on in the network in a set amount of time, and in 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.)
AiMesh support and other features
On top of that, the RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U also features AiMesh. It can work as the main router or a node when coupled with any AiMesh router from Asus. The router can work as a VPN server or a VPN client.
It also includes some nifty networking tools, including the Wake-on-LAN function which will come in handy if you want to turn on a local device via its interface. I’ve used this tool many times on my Synology servers.
It’s worth noting that the RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U doesn’t have all the features you can collectively find in Asus routers. Notably, it doesn’t include any game-specific features.
But in all, the router has plenty more compared to those of the same physical size and hardware specs. In fact, it’s comparable to Asus’s top of the line dual-band router, the RT-AX89X, in terms of features and settings.
Standard setup process
Setting up the RT-AX58U / RT-AX3000 is the same as that of any Asus router and similar to the way you do all routers that has a web interface.
Specifically, from a connected computer, just point a browser to the router’s default IP address (192.168.50.1) or router.asus.com, and you’ll run into a wizard that walks you through the process step by step. After that, the rest is self-explanatory.
I was able to set the RT-AX3000 up in less than 20 minutes, as a standalone router, including the time to update it to the latest firmware. The RT-AX58U took even shorter since I just uploaded the backup file of the RT-AX3000.
Asus AX3000 routers: Excellent performance
Both the RT-AX3000 and the RT-AX58U worked well in my testing with almost exactly the same performance throughputs.
Note: Initially with the launch firmware, I found that RT-AX58U had some issues with certain Wi-Fi 5 clients, similar to the case of the RT-AX92U. Specifically, my test PCE-AC88 4×4 Wi-Fi 5 adapter, also made by Asus, had a hard time connecting to it. However, with the latest firmware, this was no longer an issue.
Fast mid-range Wi-Fi speeds
Both routers support the 160 MHz channel width and my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients had no problems connecting to them, as standalone routers, at 2.4 Gbps within a short distance.
However, since there’s no multi-gig LAN port, the data rates of my test methodology will still cap at 1 Gbps. Nonetheless, both routers still delivered quite impressive and almost the same sustained speeds.
With 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients, at less than 10 feet (3 m) away, both routers averaged faster than 880 Mbps. And when I moved the client to some 40 feet (12) away, they still scored almost 750 Mbps. Both were faster than the Netgear and TP-Link counterparts.
The routers did well with Wi-Fi 5 clients, too. At close range, my 4×4 test client got a sustained speed of 770 Mbps with the RT-AX3000 and almost 780 Mbps with the RT-AX58U. Farther out, my 3×3 device drew higher than 530 Mbps. Again both were quite impressive compared to their peers.
On the 2.4 GHz band, I test Wi-Fi 6 routers using only 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients, and both the RT-AX3000 and RT-AX58U did quite well, averaging almost 170 Mbps and more than 130 Mbps for close and long ranges, repetitively. Again faster than their direct competitors.
Asus RT-AX3000 + RT-AX58U = a viable AiMesh solution
When testing the RT-AX3000 solo more than a month ago, I tried it as an AiMesh node with the GT-AX11000, and it worked quite well. This second time around, since I also had the RT-AX58U on hand, it only made sense to test them out as a system of their own.
And the two didn’t disappoint. It was easy to combine them into a mesh system, just like any other AiMesh routers. And the performance was quite good, too.
Since they are dual-band routers, there’s no dedicated backhaul band — devices connected to the satellite unit will get slower performances compared to those connected to the router. That’s just the nature of any dual-band wireless mesh systems.
One thing to note, though, in a wireless mesh setup, for some reason, my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients only connected at 1.2 Gbps (instead of 2.4 Gbps) at the satellite’s end.
But overall, the system delivered speed fast enough to take care of any typical residential broadband connection in full.
By the way, the two also worked well via a wired backhaul. And in this case, I got the same performance, from either unit, as when they worked as a standalone router.
Reliable performance with a decent range
Like the RT-AX3000, the RT-AX58U passed my three-day stress test with no disconnection at all. And both routers had the same coverage. If you have a medium home of round 1800 ft² (167 m²) or smaller, either will be able to take care of it when placed in the middle.
As a system, depending on how you arrange them, the two can handle about 3000 ft² (279 m²) to 4000 ft² (372m²) easily. Considering their Wi-Fi specs, it’s best to use them with wired backhaul, however.
Modest USB-based NAS performance
The RT-AX3000 and RT-AX58U shared the same network-attached storage performance. Considering their hardware specs and the lack of a multi-gig port, you couldn’t expect much from them, by the way. But they worked quite well as a mini NAS server.
When coupled with the Micron X8, via a wired Gigabit connection, the two delivered sustained copy speeds of some 65 MB/s and 44 MB/s for reading and writing, respectively.
These weren’t terrible, and faster than the Netgear RAX40, or the TP-Link Archer AX50. Still, you should definitely consider a real NAS server if you want to get serious about network storage.
Considering there are currently only 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients, the Asus RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U fits in the sweet spot where it will deliver the best bang for your buck, thanks to the rich feature set.
While the router has less bandwidth than higher-end options, it has enough to deliver almost full Gigabit Internet to a couple of Wi-Fi 6 clients at the same time. And that means it can handle any household with a typical broadband connection with ease.
That said, if you live in a small home and want to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6, either of the two is an excellent choice. And if you have a large house that’s wired with network cables, get the couple of them to form a real mesh system. You won’t regret it.