Friday, January 15th, 2021

Asus RT-AX86U Review: The Best Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router to Date

Asus RT AX86U On Standing
The RT-AX86U is a large router with a relatively small footprint.

The RT-AX86U AX5700 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router is the more powerful option out of the two new gaming routers Asus announced late last month. And it proved to be a stellar contender in my testing.

Unlike the GT-AX11000, the RT-AX86U is not a full gaming router, in my opinion. First, it doesn’t include the Asus ROG signature lighting or fancy theme decoration. (For that might need to wait for the RT-AX82U). Also, it doesn’t have every game-related feature found in the tri-band cousin.

READ NOW:  Asus RT-AX82U Gaming Router Review: A Fancy Little Wi-Fi 6 Performer

But gamers sure will still have fun with it. Most importantly, no matter how you view it, the Asus RT-AX86U an all-around excellent standalone (and mesh-ready) Wi-Fi 6 machine that truly delivers. So, at a current price of $250, it’s a steal. Get it!

Update: It’s confirmed that the RT-AX86U will get its own Merlin firmware.

ASUS RT-AX86U AX5700 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router






Ease of Use





  • Fast performance, excellent range, reliable
  • Tons of helpful networking features and settings
  • Useful settings for online gaming
  • Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app
  • Multi-gig, WAN/LAN Link Aggregation support
  • Excellent NAS performance and features when hosting a storage device
  • Comparatively affordable


  • No support for WTFast Gamer VPN
  • Not wall-mountable
  • Gaming features turn Adaptive QoS off
  • Multi-gig port caps at only 2.5 Gbps

Asus RT-AX86U: The RT-AC86U’s worthy upgrade

The RT-AX86U reminds me of the RT-AX88U that came out last year. For the most part, both are the Wi-Fi 6 version of Asus’s Wi-Fi 5 counterparts, the RT-AC86U, and RT-AC88U, respectively.

While the RT-AX88U didn’t have much to qualify as a must-upgrade — it’s basically like the older cousin plus the support for Wi-Fi 6 — the RT-AX86U now is an entirely new beast that will tempt you.

To put it in perspective, the RT-AC86U is a great router I still recommend today. And I will keep doing so for as long as Wi-Fi 5 remains relevant. With that in mind, I have no problem calling the RT-AX86U an excellent upgrade, especially if you have a Gigabit-class broadband connection.

Asus RT-AX86U’s hardware specifications

Compact footprint, multi-gig ready

The RT-AX86U shares the same upright design as its Wi-Fi 5 version. It’s not a small router but still manages to have a relatively compact footprint. In return, it’s not wall-mountable, you need a surface for it. The router has good heft and will stay put. It won’t topple easily.

Asus RT AX86U 18
There’s an array of tiny LED lights on the router’s front.

The RT-AX86U comes with three removable antennas that you can swivel around its top. Asus insists that there’s a fourth one hidden inside the chassis, but nobody cares. On the front, there’s an array of tiny status lights for the router’s Wi-Fi bands and network ports.

On the back, there are the usual four Gigabit LAN ports (for local wired clients) and one Gigabit WAN (Internet) port. What makes the RT-AX86U special is the presence of the new 2.5 Gbps port that can work either as a LAN (default) or a WAN.

And you can do a lot of things with the router’s network ports, including:

  • Combine the LAN1 and LAN2 ports into an aggregated 2 Gbps LAN connections. This feature, available in most Asus routers, is great to host a NAS server or any devices that also feature Link Aggregation.
  • Use LAN1 as the game port. A wired device connected to this port will automatically get prioritized for online games.
  • Combine the WAN port and the LAN4 port into an aggregated 2 Gbps WAN connection. This configuration works great for those having a 2 Gbps Internet connection via a modem with WAN Link Aggregation.
  • When you choose to use the 2.5 Gbps port as the primary WAN port, the original WAN port now works as LAN.

With these options and flexibilities, one might wish there were more network ports — I sure did — but six is a decent number. And the router also includes two USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps) ports that support a host of USB-related features, just like any other Asus routers.

Asus RT-AX86U’s detail photos

Asus RT AX86U 2
The Asus RT-AX86U’s retail box.

Asus RT AX86U 3
The router comes with three detachable antennas.

Asus RT AX86U Ports
The Asus RT-AX86U comes with six network ports and two USB ports.

Asus RT AX86U 15
One of those ports is a 2.5 Gbps LAN/WAN port.

Asus RT AX86U Hand
The Asus RT-AX86U is quite compact and relatively light, or maybe I’m just strong.

Asus RT AX86U 7
You’ll find the LED on/off switch on its right side.

Asus RT AX86U 8
And on the left, there’s the WPS button.

Asus RT AX86U 11
The red ventilation grille on the underside is just that, and not a fancy light as one might hope.

Asus RT AX86U 25
The swivel the antennas all around on the router’s top.

Asus RT AX86U On Back
The RT-AX86U laying on its back.

Asus RT AX86U 16
The RT-AX86U is the first Asus router I’ve seen that comes with a modular power adapter, making it easy for it to fit in different parts of the world.

Asus RT AX86U 1
The only lights you’ll see on the Asus RT-AX86U are those tiny ones on its front.

Asus RT-AX86U: All those familiar features you’ve been enjoying

The RT-AX86U comes with a host of common functions and settings available in most, if not all, of Asus routers. Even though I’ve collectively mentioned them all in previous reviews, they worked so well on the new router that it’s worth going through them again here.

The time-saving universal setting restoration

The RT-AX86U can take the setting backup file of any other Asus router. And it did so very well.

Indeed, I tried restoring it with backups from a bunch of Asus routers — including the RT-AC86U, RT-AX300, RT-AX92U, GT-AX11000 — and they all worked flawlessly.

The restore process automatically ignores irrelevant settings of the old router and applies the rest. For example, when I used the backup file of a tri-band router, such as the GT-AX11000 or RT-AX92U, the configuration of the 5 GHz-2 band was ignored. That happened both when I used the routers as a standalone or the host of an AiMesh system.

By the way, even if you’re using your old router as the main one in an AiMesh setup, the whole mesh setup will migrate over to the new the RT-AX86U — all the node units will remain. In my case, I didn’t have to re-add them at all.

What’s interesting was the fact the settings of unique features — such as the VPN server, or Dynamic DNS — also migrated in my case. What’s more, the data of certain features moved over, too, as though I had been using the same router. Basically, the way I experienced it, everything was carried over beautifully.

Since my network has lots of customization, including a ton of entries for port-forwarding and IP reservations, this universal setting restoration proved to be an incredible time-saver. If you’re using an Asus router, keep this in mind the next time you upgrade.

RT AX86U Network Protection
The RT-AX86U comes with the standard web user interface and includes lots of useful settings and features. Note the dates of the Network Protection feature, those were ported over from the old router.

Of course, the router works well, too, if not better, when you set it up anew from scratch. And, note that using the backup file of another router can also carry over erroneous settings. So make sure to back up your old one when it’s working well.

The robust full web interface with a standard setup process

The RT-AX86U shares the same web user interface as that of other Asus routers, including the RT-AC86U. So if you have used an Asus router before, you’ll feel right at home with this new one.

You can get to the interface by pointing a browser on a connected computer to the router’s default IP address, which is or

Together with this interface is the fact you can set up the RT-AX86U the way you do all standard routers. I was able to get it up running in less than 15 minutes, including upgrading it to the latest firmware.

But the interface has a lot of options and settings, which can be overwhelming for novice users. In this case, they can opt for the mobile app.

The helpful Asus Router mobile app

Unlike the mobile app of other routers, the Asus Router doesn’t require a login account with the vendor.

By default, the app only works locally — your phone must connect to the router’s Wi-Fi network. However, you can turn on remote access via Dynamic DNS so that you can manage your home network when you’re out and about.

There are two scenarios.

  • If you haven’t set up DDNS on the router, the app will do that for you using Asus’s own free DDNS service, as I detailed in this post. In this case, it will pick up a domain name in the form of, where xxx is a random string of text.
  • If you have already set up DDNS separately, including when you use a popular third-party host such as or, the app will automatically use the domain name you picked.

In either case, there’s little or no privacy concern, the DDNS host generally only has the information of your WAN IP and not much else. Your Internet traffic doesn’t go through it.

Overall the app is well-designed and responsive. It also has in-depth access to most of the router’s settings and features, including those of an AiMesh system.

With the RT-AX86U, the Asus Router app has an additional feature, which is the Mobile Game Mode. Available only locally, this allows you to quickly tune the router, via one tap, for mobile gaming.

Asus Router App
The Asus Router mobile app is a pleasure to use to control a single router or a mesh system.

In all, while I personally still use the web interface, the Asus Router one of a few mobile apps I’d recommend for your Wi-Fi network. It’s a bit geeky, in a good way, and overall a pleasure to use.

The valuable AiProtection feature

AiProtection includes a Parental Control feature and an online protection engine called Network Protection powered by Trend Micro.

The latter is free-for-life and protects the entire network in real-time against online threats and malware. It worked as expected on the RT-AX86U during my trial.

Note on privacy: When you turn on Network Protection, certain Internet traffic will pass through Trend Micro. However, that’s the only way the system can protect you.

The Parental Control feature could use some improvement, though. It was easy to use, but the way Asus defines categories for web-filtering is a bit vague, and you can’t block a specific website, which is a significant shortcoming.

The Flexible Adaptive QoS and helpful Traffic Analyzer

Asus’s Adaptive QoS is one of my favorites in the Quality of Service. It’s super flexible in prioritizing the Internet since it does so based on the type of traffic rather than connected clients.

You can set it up with minimum effort and the router will take care of everything for you, including figuring out your download and upload speeds. The RT-AX86U also features another way to manage QoS if you choose to use its gaming features. More on this below.

The Traffic Analyzer, on the other hand, is a set of tools and statistics. It’s super helpful in case you want to find out what’s been going on in the network during a period or in real-time.

This part is true for all Asus router that has a USB port.

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.

On top of that, you can also use the router’s USB ports to host printers or select USB cellular modems. By having two USB ports, the RT-AX86U allows you to have two USB-based applications at a time, and with the multi-gig port, it also delivers excellent NAS performance as you will see below.

Asus RT-AX86U: An interesting set of gaming features

As mentioned above, the RT-AX86U doesn’t have everything the GT-AX11000 has in terms of online gaming support. But it also has something of its own.

Specifically, the new router doesn’t include the support for WTFast GPN, which is a VPN for gamers. In return, it’s the first from Asus that’s certified for NVIDIA GeForce NOW.

It’s worth noting that the latter is just a tweak in the router’s QoS, and you can probably achieve that manually on the GT-AX11000. So, if you’re a real hardcore gamer, the support for WTFast is perhaps a better value. But then again, you can also use WTFast at the computer level, independently from the router.

Adaptive QoS vs. Game features

Without the support for WTFast, all of the RT-AX86U’s game-related features, including Game Accelerator, Open NAT, and Mobile Game Mode, are just special QoS settings and port-forwarding tweaks.

(By the way, while the Mobile Game Mode starts with the RT-AX86U, it’s available retrospectively to other gaming Asus routers, including the GT-AX11000, when you upgrade them to the latest firmware. That was the case in my trial.)

RT AX86U Game Features
The RT-AX86U’s game-related features basically includes easy way for users to tune the router’s port-forwarding or QoS features.

In other words, the gist of how the router’s gaming features work is like this: Just tell the router which game or games you want to play, and it will configure all the related settings for you. (As opposed to you having to do that manually, which is possible but requires more work and then you’ll have less time to play). The objective here is to get the games, or the console, the highest possible priority to the Internet.

And while that worked as intended in my trial — I’m no hardcore gamer and have relatively low expectations on this front — one thing is clear:

If you choose to use the RT-AX86U’s game features, that will generally require a different QoS mode, instead of the user-friendly Adaptive QoS. As a result, other critical applications, such as video conferencing or Voice over IP, might suffer. So, you have to choose between gaming and working.

On the other hand, if you keep using Adaptive QoS, which has a gaming section of its own, chances are you can keep everything to co-exist peacefully, though not all applications will work at their best.

The point here is that the router’s game-related features might not necessarily be all good in all cases. I hate to break it to you, but the router will not give you everything you want, all the time.

Mobile Game Mode
The Mobile Game Mode only works locally and will turn Adaptive QoS off.

Asus RT-AX86U: Stellar performance

What’s always great, however, is the RT-AX86U’s performance.

With the 2.5 Gbps port and the support for 160 MHz channel width, you can expect the top speeds out of this router. And that was exactly what I got in my testing.

READ NOW:  Internet or Wi-Fi Speed Test: How You Can Figure Out the Correct Numbers

Excellent Wi-Fi speeds

My 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client was able to connect to the router at 2.4 Gbps quite easily and consistently and registered the sustained speed at a close range of 1245 Mbps. At 40 feet (12 m) away, it now still averaged almost 1080 Mbps. These were among the fastest I’ve seen.

Asus RT AX86U Wi Fi 6 5 GHZ Perfomance Chart
(W-W): Tested done with two 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients.

Just for kicks, I decided to test the router using two 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients. In a full wireless connection, the router still delivered some 600 Mbps and 520 Mbps at close and long ranges, respectively.

Asus RT AX86U Wi Fi 5 5 GHZ Perfomance Chart

The RT-AX86U did well with Wi-Fi 5 devices, too. At a close range, my 4×4 test client got the sustained speed of some 870 Mbps. And at 40 feet away, my 3×3 laptop managed to connect at some 670 Mbps. There were also among the fastest on the charts.

Asus RT AX86U Wi Fi 6 2 4 GHZ Perfomance Chart

On the 2.4 GHz band, which has always been slow where I live, the RT-AX86U did very well, too. It was again, one of the fastest, registering the real-world speeds of more than 260 Mbps and some 180 Mbps at close and long ranges, respectively.

In all, while the Asus RT-AX86U isn’t the fastest Wi-Fi 6 router I’ve tested, it’s up there on the charts. Most important, among similarly-priced routers, it’s definitely the fastest one.

Excellent reliability and and range

The RT-AX86U delivered excellent range in my testing, edging out that of the GT-AX11000 by a small margin. It’s hard to put Wi-Fi range in a specific number, but at certain locations where I only got 3 bars with the GT-AX11000, I had full bars with the RT-AX86U and slightly faster real-world speed.

So it’s safe to say if you have a home of some 2000 ft2 (186 m2) or smaller, this router will be able to handle it when placed in the middle.

Dongs AiMesh Network
The RT-AX86U as the primary router in an AiMesh system.

The router also passes my 5-day stress test with no issue at all. Let me put it this way; I’ve always used the GT-AX11000 as the primary router in my personal AiMesh system since I first got it for my review. It’s been a great router!

Now, after having switched it out with the RT-AX86U for testing purposes, I don’t want to put it back anymore. And that’s really something.

Totally fast NAS performance

With the 2.5 Gbps port, the RT-AX86U has no excuse in network attached storage (NAS) performance when hosting a portable drive. And it didn’t need one.

Asus RT AX86U NAS Perfomance Chart

I tested it using the Crucial X8 and the WD My Passport and it excelled in copy speeds.

Via a 2.5 Gbps wired connection, the router delivered the sustained speeds of some 150 MB/s and 140 MB/s for reading and writing, respectively. And via a regular 1 Gbps connection, it averaged around 110 MB/s for both, about the max speed of Gigabit.

That said, if you want to dabble into network storage, the RT-AX86U sure will make an excellent mini NAS server, especially when you consider its generous amount of storage-related features.


The RT-AX86U AX5700 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router is in no way the first Asus router I’ve reviewed, nor is it the last. However, it’s the first that I found problem-free in Wi-Fi performance. And that’s big, considering Asus routers are known to be buggy at launch. (The RT-AX88U was a prime example.)

More importantly, this router has everything one would want from a Wi-Fi 6 machine, including the multi-gig support, top Wi-Fi specs, a robust interface, an excellent mobile app, and a ton of features and settings. And then it has the performance to match all of those.

Of course, there are always more I’d want the Asus RT-AX86U to offer, like tri-band, more network ports, faster multi-gig speeds, and a nice bottle of wine. But, still, when I say it’s the best Wi-Fi 6 router to date, I mean it. This router is worth every penny of its $250 price tag.

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299 thoughts on “Asus RT-AX86U Review: The Best Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router to Date”

  1. Great info Dong,
    I am replacing a Netgear nighthawk system that has a AP wired too. I was thinking of getting RT-AX88U as my main router with the RT-AX86U as a mesh node. Or should I just go with 2 Ax-86U?

    Thank you

  2. Hi

    Anyone experienced upload WAN issues with the AX86u? I replaced my old Apple Time capsule and this new router won’t max out my connection on either or my ISPs custom speedtest (FibreStream).

    Im in a condo on 500/500 fibre, my download is fine but upload caps out at 50-80mbps. Direct connecting my laptop or desktop max out at ~480 each way. If i make my apple router a switch and put it in front of the ax86u my upload goes over 250mbps. Makes me wonder if its a firmware issue

  3. Hi Dong,
    I currently have old Asus RT-N66U and just purchased (based on your review and info) the RT-AX86U as a general upgrade. 1Q: do you think I can use the configuration file of RT-N66U to configure RT-AX86U. It saves me some time due to specific settings I used for dhcp- dns- portforwarding (NAS- IP phone- Printer- 3 extra acces points are all on a fixed assigned IP).


    • I haven’t checked with the RT-N660 but the chance is 50/50, Mark. It’s pretty old. You can try, if it doesn’t work, nothing bad will happen, you’ll get a notice or you’ll see that the settings are not ported over and you have to set up the RT-AX86U from scratch. Mot the end of the world.

  4. Excellent review, thank you!

    I just received my RT-AX86U a couple of days ago before coming across this review and it has been reassuring to see so many good comments, reviews and awards for this WiFi router from all over the internet. Your review here has been very helpful and informative.

    I’m quite novice when it comes to networking and it’s many protocols and features, although I have some computer knowledge.

    One thing that I was pondering over, is that I noticed the 160Mhz option is set to “off” as default within the router’s Wireless>5GHz settings section. I have an ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501GI gaming laptop which has a built network card that shows as “Intel(R) Wireless-AC 9560 160MHz”, therefore I’m assuming it should be turned on to take full advantage of the WiFi’s connection quality — also there’s a couple of other devices that may have 160MHz capability in the home. I already get my ISP’s full speed of just over 200Mbps with the router’s default 160MHz option set to off (because the laptop is sitting only 2 Metres away on a desk), but I’m wondering why it is set off as default. Can it cause problems or signal deterioration to other devices using the lower WiFI frequencies?

    I think I did read somewhere once, that a user had long distance WiFI deterioration and found that turning 160MHz off had helped in their case.

  5. I’ve just got the ASUS RT-AX86U
    but does it need a separate modem to work ( sorry I’m not tech savvy and just want Wi-Fi in house) it’s saying WAN is disconnected ???

  6. Hi Dong,

    Due to some strange pricing going on, the RT-AX86U and GT-AX11000 are almost the same price where I live, so I was wondering if the RT-AX86U had compelling advantages over the GT-AX11000 despite being “only” a dual-band router.

    You say that you’re considering the RT-AX86U replacing the GT-AX11000 as your primary router. Could you elaborate? Is it more stable than the GT-AX11000 despite all the firmware updates the AX11000 has gotten? Is it something else?

    • When I say something, Marius, that’s always within a context. Since you didn’t provide that, check out this post and find your own answer. Make sure you pay attention and don’t just look for something that justifies what you already believe.

  7. Hi Dong,

    I’m planing to buy second RT-AX86U to extend wireless coverage to the second floor using LAN cable. Which LAN port on primary router will you recommend to use for backhaul, put ISP modem cable to 2.5G port and use WAN port now working as LAN for backhaul? Or can I use 2.5G LAN port as backhaul too?
    Also which port on node will be best to use to connect LAN backhaul cable?


  8. Hello Dong,

    Happy new year 🙂

    I’d like to ask you about the curious comparation: Asus Blue Cave vs Asus RT-AX86U.
    You’ll see, actually, I’ve the Asus Cave in my house (around 120m2 split in 2 simetric floors). Nowadays, because the pandemic, the 2.4GHz signals did raise from my nieghbors.
    The WiFi performance has decreased the enough to lose connection in some places in the lower floor. Around -55db and -70db drop…
    Also, the 5GHz signal has dropped but I’ve changed the channel fixing a litle the problem.

    At this fact, I want to re-enforced my wifi signal and I’ve been read all your reviews about Asus Routers: ZenWifi AX, RT-AX88U, RT-AX86U, RT-AX58U; my selection, after create a comparation table is: RT-AX86U or RT-AX88U.

    But, my prime concern is: the strength 2.4GHz signal because I have some IoT devices (they’re some the most affected because the lost signal wifi). Is the RT-AX86U better than Cave even 3×3 2.4GHz streams vs the 4×4 the Cave has?

    In the way, I want to prepare for the next WiFi 6 and I’m interested with Lan Aggregation (for my NAS) and maybe dual-wan too.

    Excuse me for all the details but I really want to invest in a good/better router than the Cave what is very likely I can to sell it.

    Thanks a lot

    Best regards


    • The RT-AX86U is definitely a step up from the Blue Cave, Humberto. Get it! You won’t be able to restore the Blue Cave’s backup file onto the RT-AX86U though.

      • Thank you very much, I really didn’t expect your answer so quickly. It doesn’t matter the backup from the Cave, for me there is no problem to configure again all the customized settings.

        When I buy the new unit, if it’s good for you, I could share the comparation/impressions about my real conditions for both models.


        • Sure, please share, H. Note that the RT-AX86U might not show any improvement in terms of speeds when used with legacy clients.

  9. Hi Dong,

    I triedZenWiFi AX but had to returned it due to lag spikes every few minutes which made gaming almost unbearable. Tried everything, nothing solved lag spikes.

    Also it seems like if I will position it in the middle of my house one router would do. One point to consider is that I live near the airport, so I’m not sure if 160Hz band for 5Hz is an advantage or disadvantage here. My internet speed is 200 download and 10 upload and it looks like it will stay that way. So. I don’t really need gygabit speeds. If 160Hz will not be of much use would you recommend looking for WiFi5 routers instead?

    My main goal is to have my Xbox console playable with minimum ping while everyone is watching Netflix.

    Also how would this one compare with AmplifyHD single unit for my purpose? I know AmplifyHD doesn’t have QoS but since you’ve reviewed it too I believe you have better idea.


  10. Ok I think you’ve sold me on upgrading to this router. No router previously has successfully provided WiFi coverage to one end of my house though, so in a recent remodel I had Ethernet wired to that end terminating at a low voltage box in the ceiling. It will require PoE (I have a PoE switch). Can you recommend a WAP that can ceiling mount and be powered through PoE to pair with this router to cover this far end of the house?

  11. I’m having some difficulty getting reliability from my RT-AX86U. Have updated firmware, reset a few times, completely changed SSID (that was a pain changing it on all devices), etc., but I still get random disconnects on my devices. Often times, it’ll require me to disconnect and reconnect the wifi on my devices (this happens mostly with my MacBook Pro and my Windows PC, other devices don’t seem to exhibit this issue). 160hz enabled, Wi-Fi 6/AX mode enabled, and channels set to Auto. I live in an apartment complex, so I’m sure airspace is crowded.

    Additionally, I’m only getting ~500 Mbps on my Wi-Fi 6 devices (I have gigabit, and can get 900+ directly connected via ethernet cable) even right by the router (iPad Pro 2020, iPhone 12 Mini, Windows PC with Wi-Fi 6, etc.).

    Do you have a 2nd recommendation in terms of reliability? I’d rather have reliability over top speed. But also am concerned that I can’t get closer to 700+ on speed.

  12. What a great site this is. I’m replacing a Netgear R6400 from a few years back. I thought I’d just go ahead and spend the money for the Asus RT-AX86U. My question if is you have a guide for setting up a new router while the old router is still being used? I want to copy SSIDs, password, etc. to the new router. Can I plug the new router into my computer to set it up before doing the switch with the old router? Thanks!

    • You have to write down the info from the Netgear and program that into the Asus, Amy. If you have an old Asus, you can port the information over via the universal backup restore support, but you can’t do that between vendors. If you just care about the Wi-Fi settings (network name and password), though, that’s a no-brainer, the setup wizard will work you through. Good choice on replacement, by the way! 🙂

      • Wow, that was quick. I’ll use the wizard. I don’t have an old Asus. But I’m wondering if it’s a problem to set it up before I connect it to the modem. Or am I over thinking this (which would not be unusual).

  13. First of all thank you for keeping up the good work! I bought my current Asus RT-AC88U because of your review on CNET. I also really enjoyed your article explaining the proper use of a guest network. I am strongly considering getting a new router and I’m leaning towards your top WiFi-6 pick, the Asus RT-AX86U. My hesitation is that I only have 2x WiFi 6 clients. Will switching to the RT-AX86U help with sharing my gigabit broadband across 20+ active clients even though they are not WiFi 6? I really want the best router for a small/medium home (~1,500 sqft) with a growing collection of smart home devices. Thank you.

      • Hello Dong, love the articles, thank you. I need help in what feels like it should be basic. I’m having trouble figuring out WiFi 6 being new to this and I feel like my simplistic question is too simple to answer from the fine people at ASUS. I have RT AX86u. I have Netgear Nighthawk CM1200. I have new iPhone 12 and new MacBook Air with the M1. I don’t understand how to connect to WiFi 6…. when I connect to WiFi I see the 2.4 I set up and the 5 I set up, but I don’t see, or never did set up, anything for WiFi 6…. does it work the same way as 2.4 and 5? Will I essentially have 3 ways to connect to my WiFi? Why don’t I see it anywhere on my products when I click to connect to my WiFi? I have ‘ax’ enabled on the router in its setting and have updated it as well. Please help me understand what this should be.

  14. Thanks for this review Dang. I bought this router this week. While testing NAS speeds over WiFi using Samsung EVO 860, I only got like 55-60 MB/s for write and around 75-80 MB/s for read. I tested this sitting 6 ft away in line of sight of router with my laptop (Intel AX200). I am getting 2.4 Mbps when I checked WiFi properties on my Windows 10. I have 500 Mbps internet connection but I don’t think that should come into picture for NAS over WiFi. Did you test NAS speeds over WiFi? Are these normal speeds? What can I do to improve them?

    Also does positioning antennas at different angle help? I am in 2 bedroom apartment and currently have all antennas straight pointing upwards. My router is on top of the cabinate at 7 ft height.

      • Thanks for information. I had to set-up my office in guest room and there is no way to set-up a wired connection between router and my desk in rented apartment so I have to rely on wireless connection for any data upload. However, I got QNAP TS-453D and connected that to 2.5 GbE connection of AX86U. I am getting 60 MB/s over Wi-Fi for write and around 115-120 MB/s for read. I see that my Wi-Fi connection is maxing out at 1 Gbps at my laptop with Intel AX200 inbuilt adapter. AX200 specs shows it’s 2.4Gbps and I have connected router and NAS using 2.5GbE WAN connector using CAT6a cable. This set-up seems good to get 2.5 Gbps over LAN on my laptop but I am stuck at 1 Gbps only. Do you see any issues with set-up or any router setting I need to tweak?

        • A lot to be taken into account here:

          – The speed of the NAS’ internal drive.
          – The sustained speed of your Wi-Fi card.
          – The speed of our laptop’s internal drive.

          Overall, the numbers you saw are that surprising, considering you’re using a QNAP. Try a Synology instead.

  15. Greetings Dong,
    I want to replace my wrt3200acm router with one that has SIMULTANEOUS support for
    1) Android USB tethering (LG stylo4 on Verizon) for ISP backup
    2) NAS server using my Seagate 8TB USB 3.0 drive
    I also plan to add 2.5GBase-T PCIe Network Card to my I7-8700K PC.
    It looks like the Asus RT-AX86U is the ticket!
    Do you see any reason it won’t meet these requirements?

  16. Hi Dong,
    I recently discovered your site and I’m really enjoying all the great info!
    Background: I currently have a NG R7000P that I’ve been using for a couple of years. It served me well until the 5G radio started giving me trouble at which point I loaded DDWRT which helped but didn’t totally fix the occasional minutes-long dropouts. I’ve had 3 NG routers over the years but all had short lifespans so I want to try Asus based on your reviews.
    Now the question: Will the AX86U meet or exceed the range of the R7000P in my 2800sf two story house? If so, I will get it since the R7000P meets my needs when it works. I’m a bit unsure since you wrote that the AC86U could cover 2800sf but the AX86U only 2000sf and I can’t find any comparisons with the R7000P. I suppose when it comes down to it range is the main concern, but reading your reviews I’ve decided against a mesh system.
    Thanks so much for your help!

  17. My home is about 4500 square feet on 3 levels (basement, main and upper). I currently have an Archer C7 in the middle of the basement and an TM-AC1900 set up as an access point, but have a few weak spots in the house. I like the Asus RT-AX86U (thanks to your review). I want to set up AiMesh. Do you think buying two RT-AX86U routers makes sense? Or instead of the second RT-AX86U, should I get 2 (cheaper) Asus routers for my AiMesh network to ensure better coverage? I have Ethernet to each router. Oh, and do you agree my old Archer C7 v2 would make a good network switch?

    • @Dong Ngo, Thank you for the quick response! But now I’m second-guessing. Two RT-AX86U routers would cost about $500 right now. But I’m thinking about one RT-AX86U and the ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) ($270 on Amazon right now). I really like the idea of being able to have the router and nodes spread out more in my house. So, two RT-AX86U routers ($500 total) vs one RT-AX86U and the XD4 ($520 total).

      In a setup with the XD4, the primary router (RT-AX86U) would be in the basement, but a bit closer to the north end to give me better signal there. Then, I’d place one node in my office (main floor, south side), one in the upstairs loft (kind of south/central), and one in my bedroom (north). I’d basically have 4 units staggered throughout the house. Again, that’d be lower north, main south, upper north and upper south/central. All with wired backhaul.

      The specs of the XD4 are not as good as the RT-AX86U, but I’m not sure that matters in my situation. Overall coverage and stability is the priority. Internet speed is next, then node-to-node handoff. LAN speed is lower on the list. I’m not sure we need 160 MHz channel support. Do we?

      Sigh…I know it’s hard to give advice without the whole picture. I really appreciate your thoughts as well as the great reviews and detailed information, though.

        • I just thought I’d give an update. CenturyLink installed their C4000XG modem/router in my home and I connected my XD4 mesh kit, creating a double-nat, which caused remote access issues for my Plex server. I used used your article about this situation (as well as some other sources) and after a few failures, successfully managed to set up port forwarding through both routers. Anyway, even though I have a very large home, with the XD4 router in the middle of the basement and one node in the middle of the upstairs level (wired backhaul), I’m getting great signal strength and speeds in almost every corner. I just picked up a network switch and hope to install more Ethernet cable to the main floor where I’ll put the second node. That should nicely fill in any weak areas. All-in-all, I’m very happy with the Asus XD4 and probably won’t need to get the AX86U, but it’s still on my list in case I change my mind. Thanks again for the great articles.

          • Great job, Jon, especially on the dual port-forwarding! Give yourself a pat on the back. You’re now officially an expert. 🙂

  18. hi, dong i just finished reading your ax86u review and is kind of puzzled why you called it the best Wifi 6 router to date when its performance isnt the best…

    i am looking for a router thats best suited for a 100sq m apartment. i am looking at tuf ax3000, ax88u, ax86u and ax11000. i dont play games but i appreciate good fast stable performance. so the second question here is what routers do you recommend and why?

  19. Greetings Dong,
    I just purchased a RT-AX86U to compliment my RT-AC88U and RT-AC1900. I will redo my network to make the RT-AX86U my main and the others Mesh (Connected via Ethernet backbone). Is there any recommend optimize setting I should set on the router to get the best connection speed, etc? Like 2.4Ghz should I set to 20/40 or 40, should I set 5Ghz all settings or specific one etc.

    Thank You.

    • Not really, you’re getting close, David. If you want to make sure things work the way you want, you can separate the 5GHz and 2GHz into two networks and use the former for devices that require high speeds. I’d leave the rest of the Wi-Fi settings to Auto, do enable 160MHz on the router though. Have fun! 🙂

  20. Hey Dong,
    nice website and I’ve read your best routers guide. I’m a bit torn on my solution. We recently renovated our space and it’s about 2000sqft. We have gigabit and my Fios gateway is on the first floor and my basement’s wifi has been very shoddy. there are a bunch of heavy walls and a closet between the router and my work desk. I think a mesh network is overkill for my space though that’s what the advice I’ve been getting. It seems that getting something like the RT-AX86U would suffice. What do you think?

  21. Hi Dong,

    I’ve been reading a lot of your articles lately. I think my expectations may be too high for internet speeds. I just moved into a new house (coming from an appartment where the internet is all WiFi on the premise, mounted in the wall and not to be touched by tenants). The home is about 1,800 square feet, and has two stories. The office space is the only room where there is an ethernet connection, as the house was built in 1988. I’m just glad they had fiber before I moved in here. I have an AT&T fiber 1000 plan. The modem is seeing speeds well above 900mbps, so I am happy there. The equipment they provided was sufficient to supply a weak signal to every area in my home, but I wanted a stronger and more stable connection in my bedroom upstairs as well as the living area. I went with the Asus RT AX86U. I put my modem in IP passthrough mode and disabled the WiFi, using the Asus router. The speed takes a pretty big hit on the device I have connected to the router, but it’s still above 600mbps. The weaker areas in my home are still noticeably weak (I would say it’s about the same as the Arris BGW210 Gateway from AT&T). I decided to try out another RT AX86U to utilize the Aimesh support. This works better. I get about 300mbps in my bedroom and living area. Very few places are below 100mbps in my home now. I am just curious if the real-world difference is justified in this setup. I considered getting a powerline adapter to utilize the ethernet backhaul on the mesh router and node, but I was wondering if this would really make a difference? Are my expectations too high, or is there something I may be doing wrong? I don’t believe any of the walls are cement, but my mileage seems to be varying drastically from other user’s reports at longer ranges when I only have the one router in use. Thanks for all the great content!

  22. Hi Dong,

    I have an RT-AC86U that I have been happy with for years, but do have some weak signal on the opposite side of the house. I decided to buy the RT-AX86U after reading Merlin was in the last stages of beta testing and build a mesh system. To make a long story short I ended up with (2) RT-AX86U by accident. I have someone coming to pull CAT 6 cable drops on Thursday. I have 940 up/down through my ISP. I’m thinking at this point to keep the AX units and just sell or give the AC unit to family running a stock ISP router. My question is with the 2.5G port should I run my WAN into the router 2.5G and then run from a Lan port into the 2.5G port on the node or is there an optimal configuration I should follow.

    • Using the 2Gbps port for backhaul is not available for now, via Asuswrt, at the node’s end, Jon. I’m not sure if Merlin can make it work. Try it and keep me posted! 🙂

  23. Hey Dong,

    I’m glad to have found your website. It has been incredibly informative as I try to properly network my home!

    My question revolves around providing good wireless coverage to my 3 story 3300 sq ft home. I am liking how this has been reviewing and think it would a great deal for the price and features. I am planning to place this in the middle of my home on the second floor and the biggest barrier to interference would be the concrete wall that essentially vertically divides the house in half into 2 rectangles.

    I’m hoping that having a router like this AX86u will help mitigate my concerns but I am also eyeballing the more expensive Asus Rog AX11000 router. Which would you recommend as the better option? I plan to use my network for a NAS server as well as game streaming like Steam Link or GeForce. I am currently using Google Wi-Fi with too many nodes but I am in sore need of proper QoS support that my current setup sorely lacks.

    Would it be a safe bet to start with the AX86u first to see where I stand and then perhaps eventually get the AX11000 to become the central node with the AX86u then connecting to it via AiMesh?

    I appreciate any help and love the work you do. Thank you!

  24. Hi Dong, do you know if the AX86U supports VPN bypass to exclude devices that you don’t want using it when permanently dialed up?

  25. Hi Dong. Came across your site a couple weeks ago and have been pouring over it like crazy trying to decide the best way to get greater coverage. We are in a 2 story, 2900 sq.ft home. Have a Nintendo Switch and 4 kids, 2 of which are high schoolers forced to do online learning most of the time. I believe our issues are related to neighbours on both sides of us that have an absurd number of WiFi broadcasters – just keep adding repeaters, right?! Our older TPLink router died and I’ve been trying to use our ISP provided router, but it has underperformed (as expected). After a lot of research, I had been leaning towards the Asus ROG GT-AX11000 even though I wouldn’t say we qualify as “gamers”. However, this article in particular has got me thinking I would be better off with an AiMesh setup. Oh, and I will be able to run a wired backhaul between any devices I put in place. That’s the background.

    My specific question is I’m a bit unclear, do I need to go with TWO of the AX86U and mesh them?

    But, I see you have recommended others reuse their older equipment as another part of the mesh coverage and get the single AX86U. If that works well, could I get the one AX86U as my main router and then as a mesh node use something like the RT-AX55? I’m in Canada and our BlackFriday sale price for the AX86U is $279. Whereas the RT-AX55 is just under half the price at only $130. Would I perhaps be even better off to try a 3 device mesh setup with one of the AX86U and then add up to 2 of the RT-AX55 if I’m still not happy with the WiFi stability? Thanks so much for your input! I should have added, that I can run cables. So I will be using a wired backhaul.

  26. I have a 2500sq ft home, using a AX-58u placed near one side of the house where the modem is which works fine for the most part but I do notice weak signals in the opposite corners of the house and by the yard areas. Would buying a ax86u increase the range of the signal in this scenario or would a 2 router mesh make more sense here? I have 3 wifi6 devices(macbookpro, two ax200 cards in pcs) and want to get the best speed and strength possible.

      • Thanks Dong. I setup the wired ethernet backhaul this weekend and bought a AX88u as the ax86u was OOS everywhere. Have you noticed any issues pairing a ax88u with a ax58u(my current router) in your testing?

        • I haven’t tried that combo, Charley, but I’m pretty sure they will work out well via a weird backhaul. Make the RT-AX88U as the main router.

          • Hi Dong. Love your website, has so much fantastic information. I’m looking at the AX11000 as main router, with the AX88U connected via ethernet backhaul in a mesh configuration.

            As the 88U is dualband, and the 11000 is Tri-band how will the primary node advertise the three separate WiFi bands on the main router. Our will put merge them?

            Thanks again

  27. Thanks for the great review. My AX86U is only getting around 600 Mbps with Wifi 6 2×2 client. Any idea what the reasons might be? I only have less than four devices connected, and my place is free of interference.

  28. Dong, Great review and your site is an amazing resource. It’s time to upgrade my RT-N66U, which has served me well. Moving to FIOS to cut the cable to save money and would rather use a reputable ASUS router than what the cable providers provide. So, I’m going with the RT-AX86U. I’m going to set it up in a different part of the house and get a switch to handle connections in my office. I hope to have better coverage. If I don’t, what are your thoughts on running a backhaul and keeping the N66U as an Access Point closer to the dead spots? Is that too old to work well with the AX86U? If not, what would you recommend? My thoughts were RP-AC1900, RT-AX55, RT-AC86U or a 2nd RT-AX86U (w/ current Black Friday pricing ~$240).

    What do you think? Will Asus come out with a wifi6 capable repeater? And should I wait for that?

  29. Hi Dong, I posted about POE in the AX92u review because I was looking for an AImesh node for up in the roof of my 2-storey house to connect via wired POE to my AX86u. I ended up getting a second AX86u and connecting it via POE using the Planet POE 171 and 171s injector/splitter combo. This combo, while hard to find here in Australia, delivers the 19v and enough watts (60) to work perfectly for an Asus AX86u (or any router with similar power requirements). They have higher wattage versions available as well for more $. It even has the right power cable for the AX86u in the box – literally plug and play. Not connected with Planet in any way, but this was a lifesaver for me and I thought you should know. Now have excellent wifi to every corner of the house and only one SSD to connect to. Hooray! 🙂

  30. Man you are a wealth of information, so glad I stumbled on your site. Here is my situation, and sorry for so much detail but I figured it will help you best understand.

    My internet currently is 1gbps but will be likely downgrading (due to pricing promotion ending). Anyways, with my 1gbps currently, just using the modem from my internet provider and 3 Eero pods (WiFi 5), I only get down speeds on WiFi of 40-280 Mbps (usually between 40-120), which I think it’s quite abysmal and part of the reason why I felt in my case paying for 1gbps was overkill. This system uses IPTV from my provider and despite being completely wireless, no issues watching 3 TVs, or kids playing PS4 and gaming computer ( WiFi 6 card) simultaneously, me surfing the net, or my ring security system with 4 outdoor cameras, local NAS I use for backing up photos and videos or streaming using Plex. I do find download speeds can be really slow, or occasionally internet can be a bit slow, but overall with about 30+ devices connected, it works ok. The modem is in the basement as that is the only cable connection I have (I don’t have cable running through my house). Basement is about 800 sq ft, main level and 2nd level combined 2000 sq ft.

    Now, as I’ll be switching to an internet service into the modem with speeds of 300+ mbps, I think it’s as important as ever that I choose a router/mesh that with deliver the best possible speeds over WiFi and also reliable since I am working from home.

    Based on what I’ve read in your articles, I have narrowed down some possible options of which I’d really appreciate your opinion on based on my situation:

    Option#1 – single dual band router
    ASUS Wireless AX5700 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router (RT-AX86U). This would be placed on the main floor, only work I’d have to do is bring in the main internet cable to the main floor rather than to the basement where it currently is. If I do this, would I need to add a node on the second level or basement or would this be sufficient to deliver high speeds over WiFi for the whole house? (Would not be in a central location in either level, rather at the corner of the house). Another option here is I could run a cable on the outside of my home to have a wired connection to the 2nd level node if one is needed or recommended. This setup with the node would cost roughly $500 Canadian.

    Option #2 – ASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8) AX6600 or Linksys Velop AX4200(MX8400). This seems to be the best solution I think with a dedicated backhaul using one of the 5ghz bands wirelessly. I’d place one unit in the basement corner where my internet cable currently runs, and one unit more central on the main floor. Cost is $500 Canadian.

    Option #3 – Linksys Velop AC2200 Whole-Home Mesh Wi-Fi 5 System – 3 Pack .
    This is where I’m a little unsure. With this option, it’s on sale for $350 Canadian. It seems like this will get me the best coverage (each unit covers 2000 sqft), but not sure whether it will get me comparable speeds compared to the first two options which are WiFi 6. I could have all three with a wired backhaul, but I’d prefer not to (and not sure if need to). These would all be on the same corner of the house if I hard wired them versus staying wireless but having the main floor and second floor nodes placed more centrally.

    Lastly, if you have a better solution that I haven’t thought of, I’d be open to that as well.

    Anyways, thanks in advance for your feedback, and for all you are doing to help people make these decisions.

    • I guess another option building off the third is two dual band top tier WiFi 5 routers with one on the main floor, and wired backhaul on the second floor. Both would be in the same corner of the house.

      • Ok, so what I get out of your response and reading those links, is that if I can run an ethernet cable for a wired backhaul (I’m thinking ethernet cable), then do it for improved stability to avoid signal loss. However after reading your article explaining mesh wifi systems ( it suggests I won’t get any signal loss from a tri band mesh system with dedicated wireless backhaul providing I set up the system correctly (and by correctly I take it you mean that the node should not be too far from the main router, 10-15ft for example is ok on different floors). So if my understanding is correct:

        Wouldn’t I get the same WIFI performance with option #2 then, (ZenWIFI XT8) using dedicated channel for wireless backhaul with main router and node set up correctly (i.e. no further than 10 – 15ft apart on different floors) and not having to run ethernet on the outside of my house


        connecting the dual band routers (or the dual band mesh ones you linked which seem to all have only ok WIFI performance) like the AC86U via ethernet backhaul (I’d still be relying on the WIFI output of these to my devices for the most part, exception of a NAS, and perhaps the gaming computer which would connect to to the 2nd floor node)?

        I can’t place the AX86U in the center of my house so that is a non starter, the main router will be near an outside wall, either corner or center, but not in the middle of my home.

  31. Can people use an infrared thermometer to show thermals on the body and the top and rear vents on their AX86U?

    I’m getting 100F on the body and 110F on the top vent and 126F shooting it inside the top vent of my current RT-AC68P. I got my AX68P but haven’t set it up yet. I’m wondering if I should get a USB fan for it. Some can attach a thermal controller but it only goes up to 98 deg. It turns on your USB fans at set temps.

    Hey Dong, Can you get a $10 infrared thermometer and do some temp tests on your future reviews?

  32. Dear Dong,

    I am contemplating on upgrading to the ax86u from my current TP-link C4000. Is it a worthy upgrade for mixed use of home devices (less than 20), some are 2.4 only, most are 5ghz?
    My main concerns are:
    1. Coverage for a medium-large apartment with no plans for a mesh network. The C4000 does a good job.
    2. 2.4ghz connectivity for a Ring video doorbell – the c4000 is barely able to penetrate the steel and concrete, and any less than that signal strength would dim my doorbell unusable.
    3. NAS speeds.

    Any better recommendation?

    Thank you!

  33. Dong, apologies in advance for this verbose post :), but it may be difficult to help without a good summary of the issue, hence the details.

    I’m using the 86U as an access point on a gigabit fiber Fios (Frontier) connection. On a speed test, I see 900Mbps download, and 300Mbps upload. This is very consistent, whether I’m in the same room as the router, or in an adjacent room (the above was done 2 rooms away from the router in AP mode). I checked the ‘Professional’ tab for the wireless settings on the router, and enabled 1024QAM for modulation settings, MU-MIMO, DL/UP OFDMA *and* beamforming. I have a 2×2 Intel wifi 6 AX200 card on my Windows 10 laptop (i3, 8000 series). None of these settings made a difference however on the upload speed.

    What am I missing, why can’t I see 900Mbps on both upload and download? BTW, I see a much higher upload speed on a wired connection, just not on WIFI.

    Thanks very much for your kindness!

  34. Hello Dong,

    Great reviews there. I have RT-AX86U as main router in a single storey home. I have mixed Wifi 5 and Wifi 6 clients. My internet is 1 Gbps.

    I am thinking to add RT-AC86U as AP mode (wired). Do you think it is workable if I set 5GHz band 160MHz at AX86U and set 80MHz at AC86U to maximize Wifi throughput for both Wifi 5 and Wifi 6 clients?

    Or a second RT-AX86U as AP would be better?

    Hope to have your comments.


    • Since you have wired backhaul, AP mode or AiMesh node will work fine, Reedo. Most Wi-Fi 5 clients don’t support 160MHz so don’t get too hang up on that. Even when you use this channel width, the 80MHz is in effect to non-supported clients. In short, I’d just use the Auto setting.

  35. Great thorough review. For NAS performance how big were the files and how many files did you use?

    PC Mag only got 53MBps write, 66MBps read on “a 1.5 GB folder containing photos, video, music, and office document files back and forth between a USB 3.0 external hard drive”

    I want to mainly use it for 2GB movie files and my current ASUS RT-68p gives me about 26MBps to 30MBps write.

  36. Hi Dong
    I “listened” tocyou and got 3 of these which I have wired in 3 different spots and working as a Mesh. Performance has not suffered and all clients are connected without issues or disconnection and when I check the router page the distribution of clients is also pretty Even.

    Question is: is it possible to install Merlin and is it worth it, when the Mesh performance is pretty good?

  37. Got one of these based on your review, but unfortunately it has not been performing as well as I would expect.

    This is replacing my ASUS RT-AC1900P router and that got ~850 Mbit download speed from WAN. Testing directly to the modem gives the same results. Connecting RT-AX86U though, this drops down to 500Mbit – 600 Mbit, well short of the expected ~850 Mbit that I’m seeing otherwise.

    All advanced features (and QoS) are off and everything shows up as 1 Gbps in the status page. Plugging into the 2.5G port didnt help either. CPU usage on the router is very low, so its not getting blocked by that. Original firmware and latest firmware ( have the same issue.

    At this point, I’m lost as to what might be going on and maybe its just a dud. I got this from Best Buy, so might just return it and move on – pretty disappointed as the Wifi performance is definitely way better than my previous router…

      • Thank you for your response!

        I think you misunderstood me though – I seem to be getting decent Wifi performance (~700 Mbit from my iPad Pro), however I seem to be capping at about ~600 Mbps over LAN/Ethernet, while I can get 850Mbit from the same PC when connected to my old router or to the modem directly over LAN/Ethernet.

  38. Thanks Dong for your review. It encouraged me to buy the AX86U. But my Wi-Fi tests are very different than yours. I used an iPhone 11 to test both 2.4ghz and 5ghz by running iPerf on a windows 10 pc connected with the Ax86u router using Ethernet cable. The best i received is 45 Mbps on 2.4G and 510 Mbps on 5G with the iPhone placed close to the router. Also i am not sure if I’m able to use the 802.11ax but can confirm I have all the right settings enabled. Wondering if anyone else has experienced similar problem. Thanks

    • Hi Dong,

      I have an old RT-ac68u which is doesn’t have a signal strong enough for my new home.
      I’m trying to take a decision whether to go for the ZenWifi XT8, AX86U (two routers in mesh) or AX88U (only 1 due to the price).
      The new apartment is 250 square meters over 2 floors (The router would be located a the far end of the house).
      There are around 15 main devices connected at any time + many additional smart home accessories.

      I find it hard to understand the differences between the above 3 options and which would be best for my needs and fit my scenario.

      Thank you very much!!

      • If the RT-AX68U hasn’t worked out well, chances are you’ll need two hardware units, Z. In this case, get the XT8 if you intend to use them in a wireless setup. If you have wired your home with a network cable, then get a pair of RT-AX86U, or you can get just one and use the RT-AC68U as an AiMesh node. You can also get an AiMesh AC router to couple with the RT-AC68U.

        • Thank for the fast response!!

          I have the ability to connect the 2 routers with a network cable so I guess I would buy the RT-AX86U and connect it to my existing router.
          I’m also planning on connect an SSD drive to one of the routers to act as a file server, in that case is there a difference between the RT-AX86U and the RT-AX88U?

          Thank you very much for your help

  39. Hi Dong,

    thanks for your site and reviews, help a lot and get more doubts 🙂

    In terms of wifi usage, coverage and performance for ‘wifi 5’ clients, which one is your choice between ax86u and ax88u.

    Best regards,

  40. Hi Dong,

    I currently have an Asus RT-N66U that I want to upgrade to something more current. After lots of research, I purchased the RT-86U and within the 1st 2-3 days I was losing wifi signal and it dropping randomly. I ended up returning it and went back to my N66U. I’ve read mixed reviews with wifi dropping/completely dying and then some don’t have any problems at all. I’m now trying to decide between changing it again with the RT-AC86U or getting the new RT-AX86U. I don’t have any AX devices so not sure if its worth extra money, but I want something reliable and not going to be having wifi issues. I have a couple pcs, chromebooks, streaming devices, tablets, phones, and video game systems. What are your thoughts and do you also have any others you’d recommend? Thanks.

    • Hi Garrett,
      I’m sure Dong will respond to your query. In the interim, he just responded to mine on a different post and my query was along similar lines. My asset base is also similar with me being a heavy streamer. For me between AX88u (1 year old) and AX86U, he recommended the latter. Its new (Asus worked out all the kinks over a year), has a newer optimized Broadcom Wifi radio, excellent coverage, firmware stability and supports AiMesh for range extension where required. I would recommend it over the AC86u to ensure you are future proofed even though we are on Wifi 5 for now. Good luck!

      • Thank you Marcus for your helpful comment. I also was hoping to hear back from Dong too, but still haven’t gotten a response. So you purchased the AX86U, correct? How has it been overall with handling your devices and connectivity wireless? Have you experienced any wifi disconnects or it just quit working on you since you’ve owned it? I’m trying to see if I should go for the RT-AX86U or still try the RT-AC86U again and hope for no wifi issues like the last RT-AC86U I took a chance on. I really need to get this RT-N66U upgraded. Thanks.

        I would like to stay with Asus since the RT-N66U has served me well for many years and I like/am used to the Interface. The one time I tried a Netgear router before buying my Asus, it was a bad experience and I returned it right away. My friend said he bought a Linksys and it’s been awesome and handles everything he does. I’m open to other brand suggestions as well. My one main thing too is being able to use a USB Portable drive attached to router and stream my media files through my Fire TV devices. I also want to make sure it’s reliable and can handle multiple devices and not have to worry about any wireless issues like I mentioned originally.

        Also, if you see this message Dong, can you please respond with your thoughts and feedback. Sorry this was very long.

          • Thanks for the reply back. Do you mean go with the AC86U or the AX86U? I did try the AC86U about 3 weeks ago when I experienced all the wifi trouble. Do you think that the one I purchased was just a defective one and still worth trying another? I’m a little worried I might experience the same problem again. Will using Merlin on it fix that or will it still experience wifi trouble/drops? I was leaning a little more towards the AX86U now, but again curious if it’s worth it to do that or not for the added cost. Would I be better off future proofing for the AX or you still would go for the AC version? Lastly, do you know if there was more or less % rate of AC86U routers with the wifi issues? Hoping to order router today and almost bought the AX before seeing this message. Thanks again.

          • Personally, Garrett, I’d get the RT-AX86U, which I’m using, but the RT-AC86U is an excellent router, too. I can’t address your particular concerns. They are too general yet also too specific. You can also consider the RT-AX82U.

  41. Hello Dong, just recently stumbled across your site and then spent considerable time digging around it, fantastic stuff!

    My old AC68U is looking a little long in the tooth these days, been debating heaving between the AX86U and the AC86U. With the WiFi 6E standard and devices just around the corner my inclination is to save the $60 and go with the AC86U for now with the anticipation of getting whatever the ASUS equivalent of the 86 line is whenever they have 6E. Is there any reason you would still lean towards the AX86U over the AC86U if I don’t really need any features beyond what is already offered on the AC68U other than and a slightly stronger signal? I am having a hard time justifying dropping money on a WiFi 6 router at this point since we’re so close to 6E.

    I live in a small house, old construction (1890s), the AC68U gets decent coverage most places though the 5Ghz tends to drop out in the at the furthest point from the router. I currently only have one or two clients that even support AX, and nothing I do certainly justifies the need for those speeds. A slightly stronger 5Ghz signal and at least a similar strength 2.4Ghz signal compared to the AC68U is really all I need at this point beyond what the AC68U currently offers me.

    Unless there is a really compelling reason to get the AX86U over the AC86U, it really seems like the AC86U makes more sense for me at the moment. What are your thoughts?

    Keep up the great work, seriously this website is a wealth of knowledge on home wireless gear. Cheers!

  42. Hi Dong!

    I recently bought the AX86U and through ethernet everything is great, I usually see 900+ download. Where it gets odd is when I use my Samsung note 20 ultra(has wifi 6) I am only getting around 400 when I am standing right next to the router. I have tried everything I know but I must be missing something within the settings. In addition to this, I tried to set up wan aggregation and the speeds actually got worse! I tried two modems so I must be doing something wrong. Any help is appreciated! Thank you!

    • You can’t use two modems in WAN Link Aggregation, Kevin. If anything that’s Dual-WAN, but only if you have two separate Internet plans, from two different providers. Even in that case, you won’t get speed higher than the faster connection of the two. As for your Samsung, the device might be working in battery life optimized mode.

      • Hi Dong, thanks for responding. I probably should have clarified that I tried using two different modems separately as I thought one may have been defective. But if I understand, with the correct set-up, my speed wont increase? I am just trying to figure out the right settings to use.
        I did try putting the Samsung in high performance mode and got around 450, I also attempted to test the speeds with an iPhone 11 pro max and got similar speeds. I am thinking I could add an intel ax200 to my laptop and see if I get good speeds from that but I am stumped with the phones. Thanks Dong.

        • You can’t set up WAN Link Aggregation unless your provider suggests so (and the modem supports that). Anyhow, using mobile devices to test can be problematic. Follow this guide on how to test your Internet or Wi-Fi speed.

          • Thank you for the guide! I will run through it over the weekend.
            The modem I am using right now is the netgear nighthawk cm1100 and I am with Cox. But if I understand you correctly, its probably Cox that is preventing me from making link or wan aggreation from happening? Is that something I can call them to activate? Thanks again Dong!

  43. Hi Dong- your reviews are amazing! I decided to shift from Netgear over to Asus RT-AX86U (w/mesh nodes) and it has been great so far, the firmware in Asus is outstanding.

    I’ve ran into a problem though, when using WAN (wired) my connections are slow. At the modem I get 900+ but through the AX86U I am only getting 300mbps. Previously with the NG I saw full speeds, so I know this must be in my router settings somewhere.

    Once I turned off QoS the speeds jumped back up to 800+ so it leads me to believe that max performance on Asus QoS is around 300mbps.

    You probably already knew this but I did not see any info in the review and I had to hunt around a bit to find some answers.

    Best, -Jeff-

  44. Hello! I’m looking for some help!
    I just got fiber optic installed at my house and I was seeing what you would recommend as far as router! I have my Xbox hardwired and then I have about 6 devices connected wireless what would work best you would say? This router right here?

  45. hello dong,

    i don’t know why most people are not interested in this but could you do a testing with the following setup.
    attach a usb drive and measure how fast the read and write speeds are through the 5ghz wifi and a laptop. i currently have the ax92u with has a much nicer formfactor, but if the speeds are better i might switch as well.
    all my best telemarker

    • The speed would either be that of the tests done via a wired connection OR the wi-Fi sustained speeds. Both are available in any review, T.

      • this could be not true since the router uses some power to transfer the usb data as a nas drive through the net. usually thats exactly the bottle neck in the game – my asus ax92u results 50MB/s write speed and 90 MB/read from a connected usb drive with a intel ax200 laptop card.
        my question would be if the write speed would increase with the ax86u because it has 4 cores.

          • i will get my device tomorrow and let you know if there’s an performance thrust to my current ax92u which delivers to wifi6 clients 650mbits/s internet download and 90MB/s read and 50MB/s write – i hope my gigabit fiber will be pushed fully through the air soon.

          • ok i just finish to setup the wifi (usb is still scanning the files, i got to delete the .minidlna stuff otherwise it scans endless) and i got something between 850 – 900 mbit/s which is definitly an upgrade to the ax92u.
            also i did some speedtest from my provider which tells me – actually 1166 mbit/s is connected to my cable modem which i have set in bridge mode. so i don’t know if i can improve the speed somehow (i doubt that my cat7 ethernet cable to the router is the bottleneck – maybe activating the 2.4ghz wifi slows the other one down?), so far so good all my best.

          • ok, usb is setup and i got a wooping 112 MB/s down through a wifi6 client. but only a 50 MB/s up which is quite a shame because all the cores are max. 60% – i guess the asus devs should improve firmware to achieve the wireless writespeed we need.

  46. Thank you for the review. I have a 3 level home with the modem buried the basement. The house is wired with cat5e ethernet in most rooms. I purchased the ASIS ZenWifi 2 pack, but I think I need a dedicated router in the basement to help with the AI mesh coverage. Based on your recommendation, I am thinking of buying the ASUS RT-AX86U AX5700 router to connect with the basement modem and add the Zenwifi’s to the second and 3rd floor, all units hardwired/backhauled. I have 2 questions: 1. Is there any good reason to pay more for the Rapture gt-ax11000 router? I’m not a gamer. 2. Will the AI mesh function properly with One ASUS router and the 2 Zenwifi units (in AP mode I’m guessing – will the app set that up or do I)?
    Thank you for all your great work!

      • Thank you for the advice, it makes sense to get two dual band AX86U routers instead and create a back-wired AI mesh that way.
        1. Is there a difference between the AI mesh created by two wired AX86U vs the two ZenWIFI units (wired) as far stability, range and mobile app features?
        2. The AX88U is a bit better, spec wise, than AX86U, but I’m worried about the AI mesh of two of those. In you review you describe the AX88U node needed to be restarted frequently to work. Also amazon has a lot of reviews about how glitchy AX88U is. Do you know if the glitches were resolved by now by the newer firmware updates?
        3. If I keep the modem/router from Centurylink gigabit fiber, and add the ZenWifi to the CL router (backhauled wired), I’m assuming both ZenWIFI units will be set in AP mode. Will they still generate a fully featured Ai mesh with parent control features?
        I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your knowledge and answers !

    • I just bought the AX86U for main router and floor 0 and i’m very happy, if not gamer i don’t see why i should upgrade to a AX11000 …
      I was thinking about 2 or 3 mesh satellites to complete my mesh system, Asus XT8 but they seems to be instable and too costly. Also i have ethernet cables to connect the satellites so i don’t need a 3 band system … so i’m looking availability of the 3 nodes Zenwifi AX Mini XD4 … but nobody is selling them

  47. Dong, would happen to know the maximum storage size for a usb external drive connected to this router. I honestly didn’t think storage size was an issue with any drive connected to the usb port of a router until I started reading online about the processor limitations using large usb external storage. Since this asus gets a good score for usb transfer speeds as a sort of a mini NAS, and since it has a pretty powerful cpu, do you think a 12tb wd drive connected to this router streaming to a few 2019 Nvidia Shield pro’s would be too large of a drive to work it. I’ve read people were successfully running an 8tb drive with the previous gen without issues, so I’m just wondering, in your experience, have you tried anything close to a 12 tb usb external drive on this router?

    Thanks for any input.

  48. Hi Dong, i’m going to buy either a AX86U or AX82U as main router, still hesitate between both, and i’d like to have 2 or 3 more satellites in mesh.
    – All will be with RJ45,
    – 2 will be indoor, medium wifi coverage (about 10 to 15 meter with small walls
    – 1 will be outdoor (but protected from rain), medium+ coverage (15/20 meter)
    I’m waiting for Zenwifi XD4 but they are still not available in Europe.
    => do you have any news about a worldwide availability ?
    => what other Asus node points you would advise for my 3 satellites in mesh mode ? (not too expansive)

  49. hi Dong,

    Nice review there, been following your articles since early this year.
    I have AC86U (main) and AC66U B1 (node) in aimesh.

    Working well so far with a very few hiccups which needs me to restart my main router.

    Do you think I should upgrade to AX86U? Can I mix AC86U as node, since your other article mentioned it is not good to mix between AX and AC.

    Thanks in advance

  50. Hello Dong
    I’ve been trying to find a way to talk or chat to Asus about my rt-ax86u and some info on the tr-ax89x but having no luck. When I click on chat i get directed to the help page that just has a list of pre-canned questions and canned answers.
    Have you come across a functioning link?

    • I don’t usually need to contact support, Darryl. But if I do, I’ll just call my contacts at the company. If you can’t find the info online, chances are the person you can reach won’t know, either, since you can’t reach the engineers.

  51. I came across your site when i was researching routers. Based on your review, i bought the Asus rt-AX86u. Absolutely love it! It’s fixed so many little issues that i was having in my house. I’m a first time Asus user, and i am in love with the firmware and all of its features.
    That being said, i do have a question. I’m setting up some parental controls with some content blocking. Do you know if there is a way to change the landing page of blocked content? Currently, it gives the “Secure Connection Failed” page, but is pretty generic and a little hard to tell if the site is being blocked by the Rule or if its something else. Would having a custom blocked content page only be available if i choose to use another DNS service?
    Regardless, i love your site and am going to buy you a coffee!

    • You’re on the right track, Seth. And no, there’s no way to customize that page. And yes, you can use OpenDNS’s parental control and get a completely new set of blocking customization. Thanks for the support! 🙂

  52. Dong, wow, I just spent a few hours on your site reading your reviews and articles. Impressive detail. Thank you.

    I have a 3700 sq ft U-shaped ranch home that’s spread out, and recently upgraded to Gigabit fiber. My primary router in the center of the house is a Linksys EA9500 AC5400. On the left side of the house, connected via cat 7 is a TP-Link AC1750 (Archer 7) in bridge mode. I’d like to boost the signal strength on the right side of the house (also wired) — the Linksys wifi gets there, but it’s weak. Based on your reviews, I was thinking of getting the Asus RT-AX86U to place there. (I like the performance and security features.)

    My questions are:
    1. If I get the RT-AX86U, should I make that my primary router? And if so, does it matter if I put it in the center rather than the side of the house? (the wiring in my house would permit either the center or right side to be primary in a “star topology” — not daisy chained.)

    2. Or instead, should I consider replacing everything with Asus ZenWifi AX Tri-band 2-pack (when it comes back in stock)? Perhaps locating them on the two sides of the house and skip the center location?

    3. Or something else?

    My son is a gamer, and we sometimes have 6 simultaneous Zooms.

    • Happy to have you here, Reed.

      Since you have wired the place, you have a lot of well-performing options.

      1. Use the RT-AX86U as the main router. It’s fine to daisy-chain if you use network cables to link the hardware. But the star topology is still the best. So you’re fine on this front.
      2. Use the rest of your existing routers in the AP mode (which you might call “bridge” though that’s actually something else.) OR
      2b. Get two other dual-band AiMesh Wi-Fi 6 routers, any is fine, really. Pick the one with the Wi-Fi speed you want. But these will work well: RT-AX86U, RT-AX82U, RT-AX3000, RT-AX88U, ZenWiFi XD4.
      3. Don’t go with tri-band routers.

  53. Hi Dong, thank you for such a wonderful site full of great info, I have read many of your articles and am always impressed by your vast know-how and also by the effort you put into each one.

    I need help. Today I have NG RAX120 and EAX80 extender. But I’ve got 75+ wifi clients in my “smart” house and it seems every couple days my kids laptops get booted (wifi connected, no internet to their clients but rest of house is fine, laptop reboot doesn’t work, maybe a dns issue IDK but I have to reboot wifi) which is awfully inconvenient while they’re in virtual learning and IT support (dad) is on his own work Zooms.

    Rather than troubleshoot my existing NG setup, I’d rather get a new setup that has good parental controls and a true mesh, so I am leaning towards a new all-in Asus setup.

    My main location is 1st floor, with a wired backhaul available on 2nd floor. But I’d also like to have mesh nodes on the work desks of my kids so they can use a wired connection to the node. (I’m thinking I’ll have fewer IT issues with the wifi from nodes vs their laptops/ipads etc). Thus, I think I want 1 main, 1 wired mesh node, 2 wifi mesh nodes.

    Based on working through a number of your posts, I am leaning towards ASUS RT-AX86U for the Main, and then ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) for the 3 nodes.

    I’m hopeful (please!) you can help with a few questions: Is this a decent plan? Is there another route I should try? Will all 3 of the XD4 units work as nodes? Will the Parental Controls available in RT-AX86U work correctly from the XD4 units despite those having less features in their firmware? If you were choosing, would you go AX11000 or AX86U for your main?

      • Hi Dong- thank you. I double checked the RAX-120 and IP pool size is 2-254. I suspect that the issue with my kids laptops is with their client somewhere, I noticed one laptop that was wifi “Connected, No Internet” worked just fine just by plugging in wired connection.

        In any case, I’d say at this point that my prime motivation is to get a Router with nice Parental Controls, and having mesh nodes on the kids desks with wired connections would be a nice bonus.

        I am leaning towards ASUS RT-AX86U for the Main, and then ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) for the 3 nodes. If the XD4’s are all AIMesh Nodes, will they be correctly governed by the RT-AX86U’s Parental Controls? I believe I read in your post that the XD4’s had stripped down QoS and PC’s, I’m not sure if that means they’re limited even when running as nodes. I liked the XD4 looks, for sitting desk-top, but am open to other options.

        As you noted, my house has a lot of clients so I do want my main unit to be robust enough for all the workloads. (gaming is not a top priority though) Is there any reason to consider the AX11000 over the AX86U? Is consumer grade good enough, or should I be looking at commercial grade gear at this point?

        many, many thanks… I don’t know how you find the time to respond to so many people’s questions!

  54. Hi Dong,
    Exceptional review, thank you! I am on verge to replace my very old but somehow stable router. After some research I narrow down my list to 3 routers until I came across with RT-AX86U. When your review published, I had no doubt to go with Asus RT-AX86U since my other options were either expensive or not convincing as the Asus. However, just about to purchase I found TP-Link Archer AX11000 priced down to $300 from original price, which makes it $50 more expensive than Asus RT-AX86U with all that AX11000 bells and whistles! So, I need your help to choose between RT-AX86U and Archer AX11000 for me. I regularly play games but I’m not a hardcore gamer. WIFI coverage for both devices seems to be enough for me (about 2500 sqft). AX5700 data rate is more than enough for me, let alone AX11000. I don’t need mesh at this moment but it’s a feature that I prefer to have if it doesn’t cost me a fortune. I’m not sure if AX11000 superior specs like tri-band, 4×4 MIMO for all bands, higher speed rate is something that I seriously need to consider in my case, what are your thoughts?
    Notes: Unlike Asus, TP-Link tends to update once a blue moon. AX11000 currently doesn’t have a mesh capability even though they promised to add mesh ever since it was released, still waiting! Potential custom Merlin firmware for Asus is something that I really like. I prefer hardwired networking over wireless so I need to add an unmanaged switch to RT-AX86U, while AX11000 comes with 8 ports.

    Things that personally I like or I don’t about these two routers, outside what you already addressed in your reviews:
    RT-AX86U I like: performance, regular updates, possible custom firmware. I don’t like: 4 lan ports. all for $250 + $25 (for adding a switch)
    Archer AX11000: flagship features, 8 lan ports. I don’t like: No mesh support (promised but not very optimistic) and slow updates (I heard but never had a TP-link router, very happy with their Kasa products though) for $300.

    And since you published Asus RT-AX82U review yesterday, which one you would choose between Asus RT-AX86U or Asus RT-AX82U?

    I would really appreciate your help, thank you.

  55. I enjoy reading all your articles. Thanks.
    I have used RT-AC87U for last five years. Looks like time to retire for AC87.
    I am thinking of buying RT-AX86U or RT-AX89X (both have a rating of 9 from you).
    If price is not a concern then which one I should buy?
    Also, can I use RT-AC87U as a node in mesh? I see on Asus site that in mesh router, RT-AC87U is not mentioned in the list of mesh router!

      • Thanks Dong for a prompt reply. Your site is the best to get knowledge on networking and other hardware. Five years back, I took your advise while you were working for CNET and bought Asus RT-AC87U. And I still enjoy RT-AC87U. Looks like, soon, I will replace it with RT-AX86U or RT-AX89X. Again, thanks for all your excellent suggestions to make our life easy.

  56. Hello,

    Just wondering if the Asus RT-AX86U stock firmware supports a SMB version greater than 1. Not looking to tweak windows to allow SMBv1.

    Alternatively, is there a comparable router that supports full tunnel vpn and ftp access and also uses SMBv2 or 3?

    I like the detailed reviews you provide. Very helpful.

  57. Saludos, soy nuevo por acá pero me gustaría me pudieras ayudar con un problema de red que poseo.

    Actualmente cuento con una conexión por fibra óptica de 500mbps, tengo desde el año 2013 utilizando el router Linsys Ac 1750 y siempre me funciono bien hasta que adquiri esta velocidad de 500mbps ya que anteriormente solo tenia contratados 20mbps. El router pareciera no soportar la velocidad que me brinda mi operador de red y solo en la banda de 2,4ghz alcanza maximo 40mbps y en la de 5ghz 220mbps. Deseo poder disfrutar de la velocidad completa contratada y estoy en la busqueda del mejor enrutador en el orden de precios como el del Asus Ax86u. Mi pregunta es, podra este router brindarme los 500mbps en ambas bandas o cuales serian las velocidades maximas a alcanzar en cada una.

    • No, Eudo, el RT-AX86U (como todos routers) no va a brindarte los 500mbps en la banda de 2.4 GHz, pero solo en la 5.0 GHz band.(Puedes ver su velocidades de ambas bandas sobre las tablas de rendimiento). Necesitas los clientes los que sont capaz de los 500 Mbps ou mas rapido, tambien. Soy hablando de la velocidad del mundo real, no teórica. Lea esta articulo para mas.

  58. You Convinced Me!
    I now have to make my rt-ac68 Sad.
    Sorry Buddy, You served me Great. for almost Half a Decade.
    time for Retirement.

      • I need your suggestion on a router plan. I just read this article and trying to come up with a plan to change my stuff. My house is 3500 ft2(1750 main 1750 basement). My wireless router is in the basement, that’s where my main tv and kids Xbox is at. I have an Apple extreme and airport and am having slow wireless speed with my devices. 1computer, 3 laptops ,2 iPhone 11 Pro, 4 tablets one is iPad Pro, printer, 3 smart TVs , 1apple tv , 2 wireless security cameras and 1grarage door link. The wireless router has to be down in the basement and I cannot run any networking cables in the house. Do I start with this router and create a mesh system with it? If so what other parts do I need? Or do I just buy a mesh system already complete? I want to step up to WiFi 6 if possible. Unless you think it is not worth doing. Any ideas would help. I’m having trouble with the system I have right now and it keeps running slow or having connectivity issues while the 4 of us are on the system.

        • Daniel, here’s what you should do:

          1. Run a network cable along your basement.
          2. Get two of this router, or this one and another dual-band AiMesh router. Or any other dual-band AiMesh combo you prefer.
          3. Set the first one up as the main router where the Internet drop is, and the 2nd one at the far end of your basement.

          Now try to place the routers higher up, close to the ceiling of the basement, and you’re all set.

  59. Hi Dong,

    Thanks for the RT_AX86U review, very helpful in my decision of buying the RT-AX86U to extend my existing AiMesh network.

    My existing AiMesh network is made of a RT-AC5300 as the main AiMesh router and a RT-AC86U as a node.

    Should I replace the RT-AC5300 as the main AiMesh router by the new RT-AX86U or keep the RT-AC5300 as the main AiMesh router?

    Any difference in performance or functionality between the two configurations?

  60. Hello
    does the dual wan settings allow us to choose a USB 4G lte dongle for fail-over purpose?
    I can’t find the information… :/
    thanks !

  61. Just got one and must say it is very good.
    Just an evolution, less heat, a bit faster, better built (at least the rocker switch for ON/Off).
    I was OK with the RT-AC86U but like the AX86U better now.
    Again, just a slight improvement but unlike going from wireless N to AC the step from AC to AX is minimal.
    I don’t see the AX86U as essential, especially if you are on a good AC router.
    If you need a new one this one is recommended for sure.

  62. Hi Dong -> Great Review. I enjoyed reading your article. Just want to get your thought between this router and Amplifi Alien. Correct me if I’m wrong, technically purchasing 2 RT-AX86U will work the same with Amplifi Alien Mesh Kit since Amplifi Alien doesn’t have dedicated backhaul. It will act as dual band to connect to the satellite.

    Just want to ask your experience as well using AIMESH for this router? Did you encounter any issues? I’m not sure if one router is enough on my home. That’s why I’m planning to purchase a single router first(between Alien or RT-AX86U). Hence, I’m looking your opinion using this router as AIMESH.

  63. Hi Dong,
    If I understand correctly I can connect my backhaul cable from the 2.5G port (using it as a LAN) of the ax86u to the Wan of my ac86u node. My modem is wired to the 1G wan and the 4 gigabit LANs are full.
    Stay well.

    • That’s correct, Darryl, but it’s better to use the 2.5 Gbps for a fast client and use one of the four LANs for the backhaul.

  64. Hi Dong.

    Do you feel the Asus RT AX86U is better than the RT AX88U? Which of these two has the most WIFI range? My House is 5300 sq ft and 2 floors.


    • Neither will be able to cover your home, John, it’s too large. You need a mesh, in that case, run network cable and get a couple of dual-band AiMesh routers.

      • I’ll only use it for one part of my house, so I’d like to know which of those two you recommend most and why. Thanks.

  65. Hey Dong, I am currently using an ASUS RT-AC5300 as my main router with a new AX56U as a AIMesh node, it works pretty well, but I plan to update my internet connection and have many multiple wifi 6 devices.
    I was thinking of upgrading the AC5300 to this AX86U. Do you think this would make a huge difference in the speeds seen by the AX56U?
    My main issue is getting internet in a back room, and being able to move to Mesh node a little further away would be really useful.

  66. Hello Dong,
    Got my new RT-AX86U hooked up and my old AC86U as a node. Setup was smooth and I seem to have good wifi out on the back deck.
    Here in my study my PC, Modem and AX86U are all right together. For a test I connect my PC direct to the modem and I’m getting 325mbps, I reconnect modem to Router and PC to router and sometimes I will see 300+/- mbps but after a few minutes download is down to anywhere from 15 to 30 mbps. There are no other devices hard wired to the router at this point and there are several smart devices thru the home but nothing actively accessing the internet.
    Whats goin on? Have I got a dud router?
    I’d appreciate your thoughts.

      • Every time that I see the low numbers I quicly re-hook the pc direct to the modem and check – it is very consistent at 320+/-

      • Dong, is there a chance that clicking multiple times on the “GO” to test the speed that is embedded in your article “the right way to do an internet speed test” the test might go a bit wonky? I have since loaded the Ookla app to my desktop and so far it is not showing any of those weird low numbers???

          • Thanks Dong, I have not seen those low numbers of late and I suspect there could be some operator error involved :o).
            I am getting a consistent 325mbps thru the router now. When I unhook from the router and connect wireless from the PC that is very close to the rt-AX86U router I am getting 70mbps does that sound normal to you? The wireless adapter is a qualcomm QCA9377 802.11ac with the latest drivers

          • No, that’s not right, Darryl. Make sure the computer uses the 5 GHz band and not the 2.4 GHz one, or a 100 Mbps wired connection.

  67. Hi Dong

    Thanks for the detailed review as always, particularly the painstaking test results.

    I have a question relating to the long range speeds on the 5GHz band when used with Wi-Fi 5 clients. The results here seem to suggest a lower speed as compared to the AC-86U (668 vs 801) from your AC-86U review of Feb 2018. With the majority of my clients being Wi-Fi 5 and only a couple being Wi-Fi 6, would this suggest I will be better off holding on to the AC-86U? Or are there any other technical factors I’m missing? Thank you for your thoughts.


    • I wouldn’t worry about that too much, Rex. There are different settings (like QAM) that my 3×3 test clients worked better with the AC86u than it did with the AX86U. You might experience differently with other clients. It’s always tricky for devices to work cross standards.

  68. How’s the fan noise of this router? Usually Asus router is known on this issue. Do you experience the same thing just like rt-ax89u or ax11000? Thanks.

    • From my experience, it doesn’t seem to have a fan, James. As I said in the review, it’s the most stable one (at launch) so far.

  69. Hi Dong -> Great review. Just want to ask your opinion about this router and other mesh products(amplifi or orbi). I lived in a small house(less than 2000 sqm). Would you recommend this compare to a mesh product? They say tri-band is better nowadays but this one still runs at dual-band. I’m looking for a router that will process our wifi needs.

    Also, one question about this specs:

    2×2 Wi-Fi 6: up to 861 Mbp
    4X4 Wi-Fi 6: up to 4804 Mbps

    Does this matter only if you have plans to hook up this router with synology nas? If you will you use your router for purely wifi(no lan connection), the specs above doesn’t matter? Thanks.

  70. Hi Dong,
    I’d like to use either the ax89x or the ax86u as my main router and my existing ac86u as the mesh node with ethernet backhaul.
    You call the ax86u the best wifi6 router yet but the ax89u seems to have better specs. Which one will give me the best range and best potential for the future?
    I see my local shop got some ax86u’s in but have yet to see the ax89x here in Canada.

    • If you read the reviews in full, you’ll know why I called the routers one way or another, Darryl. As for your situation, you’ll likely see no difference between the two. So, I’d recommend the RT-AX86U, but the other one will work, too.

      • Good morning Dong,
        I would not have asked the question if I had not read the reviews in full several times. I guess my almost 80 year old brain just isnt picking up some of the import of some of your observations. It seems like that happens to me more and more of late ☺. Sorry for bothering you.

  71. Hi Don,

    That’s a comprehensive review of AX86U. Finally I manage to get this to replace my trusted AC68U which has served me for many years.
    I got a better wireless coverage compared to AC68U on 5Ghz band. I am using AC8265 adapter with the latest driver, latest router firmware, disable all the 802.11ax setting on the router and I only able to connect to a, n network mode of the router on 5 Ghz band, not the 802.11ac mode. Previously on AC68U I could connect up to 780Mbps on 5Ghz on 802.11ac.
    I am thinking maybe is due the compatibility of the network adapter or maybe the firmware?

    • Yep, check to make sure your card’s driver was released in 2019 or later, Andy. Also, it’s the sustained speed that matters, not the negotiated connection speed.

  72. I’ve tried to find this router (RT-AX86U) for sale anywhere, and I can only find it on amazon, but it won’t ship for a month or more. Is there anywhere else that sells it?

  73. Hi Dong,

    Great site, very informative! I’m moving in to my own home and buying my first router ever (have always used the ISP provider’s routers).
    House is 1800sq ft, two floors, and will be having 1gb fiber service. Will ethernet hardwire two computers, and otherwise just have 1 smart tv and the usual mobile devices/tablets.

    Would you recommend the Asus RT-AX86U over the Amplifi or Unifi products of ubiquiti which seem really popular on reddit? Specifically, the Amplifi Alien (main downside seems to be lack of 160mhz and i don’t expect much need for the Teleport VPN) or a dream machine and AP.

    With either option, do you think i need a second router/ap device to create a mesh or is my house not large enough for such a need?


    • If you can get the router as near as the center of the house as possible, Roy, chances are that’s all you need. I’d get the RT-AX86U in your case, but either will work.

  74. Love your site and reviews,

    Just a quick question, I have a AC86u and am always looking for an “edge”.
    I have over 30 connections at a time (ip cameras, google home, tv streaming, gaming on 3 separate systems with kids etc) . I have a gig bandwidth that I pay for through my internet provider.

    The AC86U has been running well for 2 years but I’ve noticed lately that there is stutter or ‘lag’ when all connections are running full. Meaning, if the kids are on Xbox and PC gaming away, and the wife is streaming Netflix (nvidia shield 4k), the Google homes are playing music, and I’m in VR (Index or Oculus) there is a drop in music buffering and sometimes game delays.

    I am very tech savvy but I’m wondering if the AX86u will solve these issues OR if I simply need the AX1100 or better for my needs,


  75. Great site Dong. I’ve been following you since CN**. Keep up the informative work!

    I’m doing a complete overhaul of my home network. I’ll be upgrading to 1 Gigabit cable so am purchasing a Docsis 3.1 modem and plan to replace my aging, but still perfectly functioning Apple Airport Extreme routers (primary and a second hardwired AP configured for “roaming”). I also have a DSL based secondary service for backup (limited to 10mbps where I live) and job required landline phone.

    The ASUS products with the dual WAN configured for failover points draws me to their routers so I can utilize both ISP on a single network. I’m thinking the AX-86U will be a great choice for a wired backhaul AiMesh node, but still trying to decide about the AX-89X vs the AX-86X as the primary router. I’m really not sure what advantage the 89 offers over the 86 in real life scenarios I may encounter? Am I missing something? Sure, I’d like the extra LAN ports, but I already use a gigabit switch so wouldn’t have to purchase one due to the slightly limited ports on the 86. The AX89X still seems to have issues with dropping clients from what I read and it’s been out a while now. At that price point, that makes me a little weary. What are your thoughts for my application?

    • Happy to have you here, Gary. I’d use the RT-AX86U in your case. Note though, Dual-WAN can be a tricky business, especially there’s a huge difference in speeds between the two. But if you just want to use them for failover (and not load balance), it will likely work without any problem.

      • Thanks Dong, that’s where I’m leaning. Any idea when it will be released? It’s not available yet it seems. We live on the coast where weather takes our our cable provider’s service not infrequently, yet the ‘ol land line seems to hang in there typically. So failover would be all I would need the twisted pair for and typically not for long. Load balancing would be a disaster for sure.

  76. Glad I found this review! I am looking to replace my ISP-supplied Zyxel EMG3425-Q10A (AC2200) which lately is giving me erratic wifi speeds despite the stable wired speeds. I noticed that Zyxel routers are not listed on your comparison charts maybe because they are not as popular, and I’m assuming that my ISP is providing them because they are a cheaper solution to providing internet service. This also leads me to believe that they probably don’t perform as well. Do you believe that the ASUS RT-AX86U is a signifcant upgrade to a Zyxel EMG3425-Q10A? My household does a lot of video conferencing, gaming, and 1080p streaming services (mix of wired and wifi). Ultimately I’m hoping that the ASUS RT-AX86U will solve my erratic wifi issues. The Wifi 6 support is also a bonus.

    Was thinking of getting the ASUS RT-AX88U (which seem to be out of stock almost everywhere) based on your earler reviews, but the RT-AX86U appears to be nearly equal in performance and superior in price.

    BTW, thank you for providing clear explanations in your reviews, they’re very helpful for network newbies like myself!

    • Assuming your Internet connection is sound, Patrick, yes, the RT-AX86U is a significant improvement over your current router in ALL counts. And you’re welcome! 🙂

      • I have a netgear nighthawk ac 1750 with about 35 devices (smart home stuff mostly). Would this router be an improvement? Or do you have a suggestion for one that could handle several devices in a 2800 sq ft home?

  77. I’m puzzled by your statement, “However, it’s the first that’s totally problem-free. And that’s big, considering Asus routers are known to be buggy at launch.”

    I, along with everyone else who has responded to my question on snbforums, have totally blank traffic stats/web history on our brand-new RT-AX86U routers, so that’s at complete variance with your statement above. Can you explain please?

    • What I meant by that is in terms of Wi-Fi performance, Brian. You might have noted that if you read the entire review, but I should have quantified that statement. Thanks for pointing that out.

  78. Hey Dong,

    Great info. If I have gig/fiber internet would you recommend to use the 2.5gig port as the port connected to the fiber gateway (i.e. the WAN port)?

    Thanks you!

  79. Hi Dong,
    Currently have wired backhaul:
    AX88U as main router
    AC86U as node
    Mentioned previously been eyeing the AX86U vs getting a second AX88U. Thought maybe 88 prices would drop with introduction of AX86 so I was holding off. After your review I’m thinking just get the AX86U. Question is, which to use as the main router. I keep all firmware up to date, don’t use Merlin because don’t know enough about it. In past posts you made a point that the AX88U is a wonky node and better as primary. Does that still hold true in your experience? Logic would seem AX86U as primary because newer tech and AX88U as node.
    Bonus- maybe Powerline the AC86U in the concrete basement for the IoT like W/D and water heater OR Powerline 3rd floor corner of house to reach the most distant / weakest -78 outside security cam. Figured keep the AC nearer the legacy frequency devices like you mentioned in your “Why Wifi 5 is still good” article.
    I’ve read your Powerline article and your mixing AImesh article but still have two questions;
    Better main router – AX88U vs AX86U?
    Does mixing AC and AX routers cap WiFi 6 benefits like mixing cat 5 with cat 6 wiring? I’m fuzzy on where the fall off in that mix is. I’d say no, otherwise why bother mixing.
    Thanks so much.

    • Hi Steven. You should put Merlin on routers that support it — though that’s not a must-do. It’s the same process as updating your firmware using Asus’s stock. Merlin seems to works the kinks out and makes the router quite stable, and the two firmware (Asus vs. Merlin) works together. After that, your vision of the new setup will work out well. I prefer RT-AX86U.

      There’s almost no discernable difference between using CAT5e vs. CAT6 since the two can deliver the same speeds for nearly every home since you won’t likely need to use a cable longer than 150 feet. Mixing AC and AX, on the other hand, can be tricky. The gist of it is that you should only expect Wi-Fi 5 performance in that case.

      • Ok Thanks. AX86U for the main router it is.

        As far as only expect WiFi 5 performance….do you mean within range of the AC router, or throughout the whole network.

  80. In my search for a new router, I discovered your site and now my decisions are harder.
    I only have 400 Mbps internet, could have gig but not sure I can justify the monthly cost.

    My question is I currently have a Netgear AC2300 and hate it, mostly due to parental controls and now getting random reboots (does provide signal throughout my house). I’m buying a new router I was undecided between mesh or router but leaning towards router now. I was set to buy the Tp-link ax6000 mostly due to robust parental controls, then I just read the RT-ax86u review. Which one would you recommend? Other note I’m a gamer too with teens currently have 2 Xboxs and a gaming PC will also be getting the new Xbox when it’s released this year.

  81. I would like to upgrade my brownstone WiFi and the RT-AX86U seems like a great main router. If I want to pair other units as Access Points (with a wired backbone), is there a better bet than the RT-AX86U for the access points (that will cost me less). I need to have one on each of four floors and if the RT-AX86U is on the ground floor, what can I use on the other floors that will get WiFi 6 but cost less and function only as Access Points (I have cat 5e from each floor to the room on ground floor.

  82. Hi Dong,

    Your website is always a great resource, thank you!

    I am going to be upgrading my RT-AC66R with the RT-AX86U. I’m currently using a range extender with the AC66R for dead spots in the house, so I would like to pair an Asus AiMesh router with the AX86U so I can remove the range extender. Is there an Asus router you could recommend?

    Our house is 3 levels, 2500 Sq ft, currently have 600Mbps coming up, but will upgrade that to 1Gb soon.


  83. Dong, first at all you are amazing!!!

    2nd is a small advice if you don’t mind. I am here on budget and 250$ is just about max I can see myself spending for the router.

    Currently I have ISP provided router D-Link DIR-850L, which I am quite aware it’s erm not that good.

    I will not lie, I need that upgrade for better performance overall in the apartment(bedroom signal is bad) plus I do like to play games. 🙂

    Considering my geographic location I am outside of Europe but most of the games I play with my friends are located in Europe I have issues with the ping. Is this router have any chance of making this issue a bit better? I am aware it can not do magic for me and give me 30-50 ping but still any improvement is appreciated.

    Lastly, RT-AC86U with the old technology or AX86U as investment for Wi-Fi 6?

    What would you suggest me, save some money with AC86 or go with new tech and pay 100$ more for AX86?

    Sorry for huge post, hope you don’t mind. Wish you great day.

    • Thanks, Al. Can we spend a bit more time on the first, please? 🙂
      If the D-Link kinda worked out, then the RT-AC86U will totally be an improvement. That’s well within your budget. The RT-AX86U is definitely better but you might have the needs for all of what it has to offer.
      As for your gaming situation, unfortunately, that’s super hard. They make different game servers for different regions for a reason. I’d say the Asus (either of them) will make things slightly better, but not by much.

  84. Been looking for an AX router since I got Gigabit internet and thought this would tick all the boxes – thanks for confirming that it does, I’ve got it on pre-order at the moment to replace my ISP’s

  85. Thanks for this review. I’ve been needing to replace my very very old Netgear WNR1000 router. I’ve been eyeing this for a few days now. My internet speed is only 200Mbps and I live in a 1200 sqft apartment. But I would like to buy a router can be used if I were to move into a bigger space and/or increase my internet speeds. I’m still torn on whether to go with Wifi6/Dual-Band vs Wifi5/Tri-Band.

  86. Got a AX88U last year to ‘upgrade” from my AC1900P model from Best Buy. I loved that damn thing, was a great router, but the “upgrade bug” got me with AX88U hype

    Needless to say, I wasn’t really “blown” away by the difference other decent increase in wifi coverage increase in my apartment, but I had constant Skype lockups with my wife in Japan no matter what setting or firmware I ctried and overheating issues/worries from SNBforums made me worried I was gonna have a brick after warranty. So I had to sell it and buy another one that’s luckily been more stable but I’ve since moved and now its simply too damn big of a router taking up precious desk space as I am now working from home a lot due to covid, so I’ve been eying this spiritual replacement for the long loved AC68U model series for some time.

    Needless to say, your review has me pumped and I cannot wait to unbox it from Newegg tonight and get it wired up! I pray it fixes still exisiting Skype lockups with my second AX88U.

    Cool about your story from Vietnam, I had two ex’s who were actually from their and always wanted to visit their someday with them, but neither worked out and my new wife is from Japan, so yeah, probably not gonna happen now lol

  87. Since I work in IT and need speed and reliability etc but no gaming. I will have many computer connected wifi, installing os updates etc. I need a good range for inside and outside to. Also will be streaming 4k. Is this what you suggest and would be further proof? Or mesh system?


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