The Asus RT-AX82U AX5400 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router looks the part. Gamers — well, almost anyone actually — will love the cute design and especially the large front-facing programmable fancy lighting.
On the inside, though, the new router is a somewhat muted version of the RT-AX86U. It has lesser processing power, Wi-Fi specs, and no multi-gig port. Other than that, these two are almost the same despite their distinctive looks.
If you’re looking for a well-performing, feature-laden, compact Wi-Fi 6 machine that you can use for gaming as well as everything else, including a mini disco party, the Asus RT-AX82U fits the bill squarely. I recommend it.
Asus RT-AX82U AX5400 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router
- Excellent performance
- Beautiful design with tons of helpful networking, game-related features and settings
- Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app
- Comparatively affordable
- No support for WTFast Gamer VPN
- No multi-gig network port
- Network storage performance (when hosting a portable drive) could use some improvement
- Not wall-mountable
Asus RT-AX82U: A fancier, yet muted, version of the RT-AX86U
It’s impossible to look at the RT-AX82U without thinking of the RT-AX86U, especially for me, after having reviewed the latter.
For one, the two were released at the same time two months back, both as “gaming routers,” though neither has everything an Asus gaming router has to offer.
That’s right. Compared to Asus’ real gaming router, the GT-AX11000, the RT-AX82U is also missing the support for WTFast gamer VPN. But in return, it’s (on the way to be) certified as part of the NVIDIA GeForce NOW‘s recommended routers.
And the two share a lot of similarities in hardware specs, too. Both are dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router with a 4×4 5 GHz band that can deliver up to 4800 Mbps.
Hardware specifications: RT-AX82U vs. RT-AX86U
The only difference between the two, in Wi-Fi, is the fact the RT-AX82U has a lower tier 2.4 GHz band. In reality, though, since this band is so slow anyway, the two delivered similar real-world performances you can see in the performance section below.
RT-AX82U: A crazy cool design
The RT-AX82U looks entirely different from its fraternal twin, even though it’s also not wall-mount-ready — you need a surface for it. It’s a more compact router that has a larger footprint.
The router shapes somewhat like a trapezoid, tapering toward the back. Its front looks like the air intake of a spaceship or a race car and also work as two large color-changing lights. More on them below.
On the back, the four external antennas are not removable. You can only swivel them a quarter of a sphere around. Between the antennas are the usual four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port. There’s also a single USB 3.0 port.
Flexible network ports
So there’s no multi-gig network port, and that generally means you won’t get faster than 1 Gbps network speed out of the router. But there are a couple of cool things to note about these network ports:
- Game port: The LAN1 port is a gaming port by default. Plug a wired device (like an Xbox) here, and it automatically gets prioritized for gaming.
- LAN Link Aggregation: You can combine LAN1 and LAN2 into an aggregated 2 Gbps connection. (When you do this, the gaming-prioritized function of LAN1 is no longer.)
- WAN Link Aggregation: You can combine the WAN port and the LAN4 port into a 2 Gbps WAN connection when working with a supported modem.
- Dual-WAN: You can use the WAN port and any of the LAN ports (or the USB port) to host two separate broadband connections (from two different providers) at the same time for high availability or load balancing.
Other than the game port, which is unique to the RT-AX82U and RT-AX86U, the rest of the network port features listed above are also available in many other Asus routers.
That fancy Aura RGB lighting
The moment you turn the RT-AX82U, its front lighting, called Asus Aura RGB, will catch your eyes. It’s not just on or off but pulsing smoothly with different colors. And it can do more.
There’s no on-off switch for these lights, but you can use the Asus router mobile app to customize it. And there are lots of customization for this light that you can change to fit your mood.
I’m not a fan of excessive lighting on gadgets, but that of the RT-AX82U is different. It comes in all different shades of colors. It will flash, pulse, or roll like a wave or a rainbow, and much more. So you can customize it to fit any room perfectly.
And of course, you can turn the whole thing off completely, which is always lovely. I do wish, though, that there was a way to manage it on a schedule. For now, you need to change the lighting manually.
By the way, you can control the Aura RGB lighting only when the RT-AX82U works as a standalone device or the primary router in an AiMesh system. When working as an AiMesh node, there’s no way to manage its lighting, at least for now. You’ll be stuck with the default Aura setting (pulsing blue) or the one you last picked when it was working as the router.
Asus RT-AX82U’s detail photos
Familiar feature set and setup process
Other than the unique fancy lighting, the RT-AX82U shares the same gaming features as that of the RT-AX86U, and it behaved exactly the same in my testing.
Basically, the router will automatically create especial QoS and port-forwarding settings for a game of your choosing. On top of that, you can also use the mobile app to turn on the mobile game mode quickly.
And similar to the case of the RT-AX86, turning on a gaming feature means you will need to stop using the router’s friendly Adaptive QoS, which has a gaming section of its own.
I’m not big of a gamer (not anymore), and the RT-AX82U worked out as intended in my testing for games. I could live without these features, though.
All Asus’ core router features
Apart from the game-related things, it’s important to note that the RT-AX82U has all the common features you’d expect from an Asus router. Here’s the list:
- Universal setting restoration: I tried restoring the router using the backup files from a bunch of other Asus routers, including the RT-AX86U, RT-AX3000, GT-AX11000, and all worked without a hitch. Basically, you can do that with any Asus routers running Broadcom chips. This flexibility makes upgrading to the RT-AX82U from another Asus router a super convenient job, especially if you have lots of settings, such as IP reservation or port-forwarding entries.
- 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. In the case of the RT-AX82U, the app is a must-have since it’s the only way to control its Aura RGB lighting.
- 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.
As a result, setting up the RT-AX82U is precisely the same as that of any other Asus router. That, by the way, is similar to the case of any standard router with a web interface. All you have to do is point a web browser from a connected computer to the router’s default IP address, which is 192.168.50.1 (or router.asus.com), and the rest is self-explanatory.
Asus RT-AX82U: Excellent performance
Again, since the RT-AX82U doesn’t have a multi-gig port, its speed will cap at 1 Gbps according to the way I test routers. With that in mind, the router delivered!
Impressive Wi-Fi throughputs
My 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients could connect to it easily at 2.4 Gbps and produced a sustained speed of 880 Mbps at a close distance. At 40 feet (12 m) away, it now averaged 860 Mbps. Note how the numbers are close to the top speeds of Gigabit after overheads.
To see how the router’s wireless bandwidth panned out, I did another test with two Wi-Fi 6 clients.
And this time, the connection between the two averaged 560 Mbps and 475 Mbps for the close and long-range, respectively. That means if the router had a multi-gig port, my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client would get the sustained speeds of around 1120 Mbps and 950 Mbps, respectively.
The router did well with Wi-Fi 5 clients, too. In fact, it edged out the RT-AX86U a little with the sustained speeds of 875 Mbps and 694 Mbps at the close and long-range, respectively.
And finally, on the 2.4 GHz band, which the RT-AX82U has lesser specs compared to its brother, the numbers were quite impressive, too.
My 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 registered almost 200 Mbps at 10 feet (3 meters) away. At 40 feet (12 m), it now averaged some 160 Mbps. Both were slower than those of the RT-AX86U but not by a huge margin.
Reliable signals, excellent coverage
At publication, I’ve used the RT-AX82U for some three days consecutively and had no problem with it. I’ll keep using it for a while longer and will update on its reliability, but so far, it has proved to be a reliable router.
The RT-AX82U’s range was similar to that of the RT-AX86U in my testing, maybe slightly shorter. It’s always hard to figure this out precisely but if you live in a home of 1800 ft2 (167 m2) without thick walls, this router will be able to take care of every corner.
By the way, if you live in a larger place, you can get another one and use them in a mesh. In this case, you should wire the home with network cables first. I did try the RT-AX82U in an AiMesh system with a bunch of other routers — including the RT-AX86U, RT-AX88U, RT-AX89X, and the GT-AX1100 — and it worked out well.
OK network storage performance
Due to its relatively modest hardware specs, the RT-AX82U does have one area where it was clearly behind the RT-AX86U in my testings. When hosting a storage device, its network-attached storage performance, though not slow, could use some improvement.
I tested it with a WD My Passport SSD. Via a wired Gigabit connection, its sustained copy speeds averaged 56 MB/s for writing and 73 MB/s for reading. There weren’t slow. But considering the vast amount of storage-related features the router has to offer, you will wish the numbers were higher.
The Asus RT-AX82U AX5400 Dual-Band Gaming Router is an excellent Wi-Fi 6 solution. It ranks close to the RT-AX86U, and which one you should pick depends mostly on your style.
If speed is what you care about, the RT-AX86U has more to offer. But if you’re living in a home of sub-Gigabit Internet, the difference between the two is minium. That’s where the RT-AX82U’s fancy design will get you, and then the friendlier price won’t hurt.
Of course, you can always get both. In this case, though, picking which to be the primary router of the AiMesh system will be challenging. But that’s a good problem to have.