If you've been looking for the perfect router to carry on the go and can't justify the Netgear M6 Pro's agonizing $1000 price tag, the Asus RT-AX57 Go AX3000 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Travel Router, first announced in the last days of 2023 and recently available for purchase, is the much-needed relief.
Among other things, this router won't mercilessly poke a giant hole in your wallet. Here's a bit of math: at the street price of around $130, you can literally buy seven RT-AX57 Go units with the amount of cash you've repeatedly failed to budget for the M6 Pro and still have some change. And chances are you only need one.
So what's the catch? For a travel router, there seems to be nothing I can think of other than the fact it's not battery-powered. But the new Asus RT-AX57 Go is not perfect, either. Or is it?
Dong's note: I first published this post on December 29, 2023, as a preview and updated it on February 14, 2024, to an in-depth review after thorough hands-on testing.
RT-AX57 Go: Honey, I shrunk our Wi-Fi router!
The heading says it all. Take an Asus AX3000 router, such as the RT-AX58U or the probably more accurately comparable RT-AX57, and shrink it into a square box that is less than 5-inch wide and three-quarter inch thick, and you get yourself the RT-AX57 Go.
So, if you have used an Asus router before, you'll feel right at home with this new travel option. Its most significant difference from the rest of Asus's RT series is its miniature physical size.
Asus's Wi-Fi hardware
Asus has a vast collection of Wi-Fi hardware options available in the following series:
- The RT series: General consumer-grade standalone routers ranging from entry-level, mid-range, and high-end models. Improved variants might carry the "Pro" suffix, such as the RT-AX88U Pro. Some models include gaming-related features, such as the RT-AX82U. Most feature AiMesh as an option.
- The TUF and ROG series: Gaming-related Wi-Fi routers of different tiers, including the highest-end flagship routers. Improved variants, such as the GT-AX11000 Pro, might carry the "Pro" suffix.
- The ZenWiFi series: This series includes consumer-grade purpose-built AiMesh-based Wi-Fi systems with a broad range of configurations. Some variants have built-in MOCA or Powerline support.
- The ExpertWiFi series: Hardware for networking enthusiasts and office environments. These are AiMesh-enabled business-oriented solutions with more advanced options in network customization and hardware design, available as purpose-built mesh systems, single (Wi-Fi) routers, APs, and switches.
Generally, all AiMesh-enabled hardware — the case of most, if not all, Asus Wi-Fi 6 or newer routers — can work together to form a system.
The new Asus travel router is slightly larger but slightly lighter than the Netgear M6 Pro. The table below shows the hardware specs of these two similar-looking but vastly different travel Wi-Fi solutions.
Asus RT-AX57 Go vs. Netgear Nighthawk M6 Pro: Hardware specifications
|Asus RT-AX57 Go AX3000 Dual Band WiFi 6 (802.11ax) Travel Router
MR6110 Nighthawk M6 Pro Mobile Router
|4.72 x 4.72 x .85 in
(120 x 120x 21.5 mm)
|4.14 x 4.14 x .85 in
(105 x 105 x 21.5 mm)
|7.1 oz (200 g)
|8.9 oz (252 g)
|Dual-core 1.3GHz SoC,
256 MB Flash, 512 MB RAM
|2.4GHz 2x2 AX: Up to 600Mbps
|5GHz 2x2 AX: Up to 2.4 Gbps
|5GHz 2x2 AX: Up to 2.4 Gbps
6GHz 2x2 AXE: Up to 2.9 Gbps
|WPA, WPA2, WPA3
|Built-in Cellular Modem
|Web User Interface
|All Asus Routers' Core Features, for example:
(WireGuard and OpenVPN server or client supported)
|Mobile hotspot (via a tether cellular mode/phone)
Wi-Fi (AiMesh) router/(AiMesh node)
Wi-Fi repeater (WISP mode),
Wi-Fi access point
|Mobile hotspot/USB cellular modem,
Wi-Fi repeater (WISP mode),
|1x USB-C (charging)
1x USB 3.0 (all USB-related features)
|1x USB-C (charging/data) USB 3.0
|1x LAN, 1x WAN
|1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN
(up to 13 ours)
(per 24 hours)
|≈ 130 Wh
|≈ 70 Wh
(measured when plugged in, battery removed)
A flexible broadband/Wi-Fi solution for travelers or those in a small home
As shown in the table above, the RT-AX57 Go is not a mobile hotspot since it has no built-in cellular modem and no SIM slot.
While this seems a shortcoming, that can be a good thing since most of us have a phone. All you need to do is plug a smartphone into its USB port, turn on the tethering features of the phone, and the router will automatically use the cellular connection as the Internet source. And it can charge the phone simultaneously.
So, for cellular connection, you can think of the RT-AX57 Go as the magnifier of a phone's personal hotspot feature. On the upside, you won't need a separate data plan for it. In return, if you want to use the phone at the same time, such as for calling, then this router is a bit inconvenient — you'd need a very long USB cable or use the phone's loudspeaker.
To make up for this lack of an internal cellular modem, the new travel router can work as a traditional router — connect its WAN port to an Internet source, such as a Fiber-optic ONT, a cable modem, or a wired port at a hotel and you're ready.
For travelers, the RT-AX57 Go has another fitting trick: It can handle a public Wi-Fi connection and use it as the Internet source for its network via the WISP mode.
WISP stands for Wireless Internet Service Provider. It's an operating mode in which a supported router receives an Internet connection via Wi-Fi and then distributes that to multiple devices using its own separate Wi-Fi network. It works similarly to a Wi-Fi extender (or repeater) with two added elements:
- The WISP router's Wi-Fi network is shielded from that of the Internet connection to keep the connected clients safe or private.
- The WISP router can handle an incoming Internet-enabled Wi-Fi connection that requires a particular authentication method, such as a captive portal or via a paid login account.
That said, the RT-AX57 Go can handle the Internet from three separate sources: its default WAN port, via USB tethering with a smartphone, or using a WISP connection. And it can handle the first two simultaneously in a Dual-WAN setup.
Additionally, when the USB port is not used for tethering, it supports all other USB-related features. And that means you can plug a portable drive into it and turn the whole thing into a mini NAS server for data sharing or media streaming.
Last but not least, the travel router is part of Asus's AiMesh ecosystem. It can be used as the primary node for a mesh system or a satellite to extend the Wi-Fi coverage of an existing one.
It's worth noting that most, if not all, other Asus routers can do all the above. What makes the RT-AX57 Go special is the fact it's tiny. So yes, it's not without merit to say that it's the result of getting standard Asus home routers shrunk down significantly.
Modest but sensible Wi-Fi specs, impressive set of features
Featuring the AX3000 Wi-Fi 6 tier, the RT-AX57 Go isn't a high-end router, and it doesn't even have the 6GHz band. Still, its mid-range specs are enough for any sub-Gigabit broadband connection. For travelers, its performance easily beats the M6 Pro, as described in the performance section below.
The M6 Pro supports Wi-Fi 6E, but only the 5GHz or 6GHz band is available at the time. Considering the popularity of 5GHz devices, this type of selectable 6GHz band support is sort of useless.
The modest Wi-Fi specs make the RT-AX57 Go's lack of a Multi-Gig port understandable. Gigabit is plenty fast for anyone needing Wi-Fi on the go.
What makes the RT-AX57 Go standout is its impressive set of features, virtually the same as any Asus standard router in the RT series. Specifically, you can expect the following, among other things:
- It features universal setting restoration — you can restore it with the backup file of most existing Asus routers. This makes carrying the home Wi-Fi network on the go easy.
- It can work as a member of the AiMesh ecosystem, as a primary router, or as a satellite unit.
- It features the Guest Wi-Fi Pro with lots of options, including a login portal.
- It has all available VPN protocols and features both VPN Fusion — you can mix VPN and non-VPN connections in the same network — and Instant Guard.
- It has advanced QoS, Parental Control, AiProtection, Dual-WAN as well as many other settings and features.
Overall, compared to the Netgear M6 Pro, the RT-AX57 Go is by far more advanced and versatile. You can literally use it as a standard router for a small home. That's especially true when you consider its performance.
Asus RT-AX57 Go: Excellent performance
I tested the Asus RT-AX57 Go for almost a week and was thoroughly impressed with it. Considering the physical size, it was among the most impressive Wi-Fi machines I've used. And it passed my 3-day stress test with no disconnection.
Impressive Wi-Fi throughput and range
For a Gigabit router with mid-tier Wi-Fi 6, there's only so much you can expect from it in terms of throughput speeds. Specially, at best, it can only deliver sub-Gigabit performance. However, for a travel router, that's all you'd need. In fact, when compared to similarly-specs standard routers, it was faster than many, as shown on the charts. And it was definitely much faster than the Netgear M6 Pro.
The RT-AX57 Go had impressive range, too. Its signals could reach the same distance as most AX3000 routers. It's always tricky to figure out the actual coverage of a router. However, if you have a place of around 1500 ft2 (139 m2), place this little router in the center, and chances are it'd be able to reach every corner.
Your mileage will vary, but it's safe to say if you're in a hotel room or traveling in an RV, this router's coverage will be more than sufficient. By the way, its real-world coverage, in my experience, was clearly better than the 1000 ft2 (93 m2) per Asus's claim, which was a pleasant surprise.
Excellent cellular tethering, OK network storage performance when hosting an external drive
I also tested the router's USB port with cellular tethering and network storage and had a mixed experience.
The tethering worked great. I was able to connect my smartphone, including a Pixel 8 Pro and a One Plus 11 5G, and get a fast 5G connection out of it — the same speed as the phones would get when working alone — both as a single resource of the Internet or a secondary in a Dual-WAN.
On the other hand, when I used a portable SSD with the router and shared data from it as a network-attached storage solution, the write performance was relatively quite slow, capping at around 9MB/s, just about one-9th of the read performance, as shown in the charts.
It's worth noting, though, that considering the compact size and lightweight, you should only use its USB 3.0 port without the base. Else, the router will topple easily.
By the way, again, the router can charge a plugged-in phone, making tethering a sensible option. Also, its USB-C charger has a rated output of 9V and 2A, which is within the USB Power Delivery specifications — it can be used to charge any other USB-C device. And that makes the RT-AX57 Go even more fitting as a travel router.
Asus RT-AX57 Go's Rating
Excellent performance for the hardware specs; compact design with versatile broadband support
Identical features and network settings as full-size routers; advanced features available free-for-life
Full web interface with a useful optional mobile app; standard USB-C charging
No 6GHz band support; mid-range Wi-Fi 6 specs; no Multi-Gig ports
No built-in cellular modem or SIM slot
No battery option
The Asus RT-AX57 Go is not a simple travel router. In more ways than one, it's a standard versatile Wi-Fi 6 router that's compact and light enough for you to carry on the go.
This little Wi-Fi machine will work well for those needing sub-Gigabit bandwidth and living in a small apartment or a studio. Have a board or an RV and need Wi-Fi while roaming the world? Get one today!