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Asus RT-AX88U Pro Wi-Fi 6 Router Review (vs RT-AX88U): Saving the Best for Last

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It would only be fitting if the Asus RT-AX88U Pro ended up my last Wi-Fi 6 router review, which it might be. In early January 2019, its variant, the original RT-AX88U, was my first.

And a lot happened in those four years. We now have plenty of other Wi-Fi 6 routers, a new Wi-Fi 6E standard, and Wi-Fi 7 around the corner.

Like the case of the RT-AX86U Pro vs RT-AX86U (or GT-AX11000 Pro vs GT-AX11000,) the RT-AX88U Pro is slated to be the advanced version of the previous model.

And it’s indeed so. For that reason, I decided to take it for a spin.

Here’s the bottom line: If you’re still in the market for a Wi-Fi 6 router, which would be a wise decision now that the standard is mature, the new Asus RT-AX88U Pro is an excellent buy at the current street price of $350. Get one today!

Untangling the model names

A couple of things to note on the hardware variants:

  • The 6-port Multi-Gig RT-AX88U Pro (released in 2023) is the high-end version of the identical-looking 9-port RT-AX88U (2019). Both are Wi-Fi 6 (AX) routers.
  • The RT-AX88U is identical to the 9-port RT-AC88U (2015), a Wi-Fi 5 (AC) router.
  • The RT-AC88U is an AC3100 router that has a 5-port RT-AC3100 variant.

Altogether, we have the RT-AX88U Pro, RT-AX88U, RT-AC88U, and RT-AC3100 as four different routers that look identical if you ignore their ports and antennas’ colors.

Dong’s note: I first published this post on February 4, 2023, as a preview and updated it on March 29, 2023, to an in-depth review after thorough hands-on testing.

Asus RT-AX88U Pro Wi-Fi 6 Router
The Asus RT-AX88U Pro Wi-Fi 6 router shares the same look as its older variant, the RT-AX88U.

Asus RT-AX88U Pro: Everything the RT-AX88U Should’ve Been

From the appearance, the RT-AX88U Pro is the non-Pro version with a different set of network ports.

Specifically, instead of one Gigabit WAN and eight Gigabit LANs, the Pro now has two 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig ports (one WAN and one LAN) and four Gigabit LANs. Additionally, it also has a faster CPU.

The new Pro router on the inside reminds me of the similarly-specced GT-AX6000, part of Asus’s ROG Rapture gaming hardware.

Matchup: RT-AX88U Pro vs GT-AX6000

Let’s check the RT-AX88U Pro’s hardware specifications against the other two.

Asus RT AX88U Pro Ports 1RT AX88U Ports
Asus RT-AX88U Pro vs RT-AX88U (right): The former has fewer LAN ports on the back but now comes with a 2.5Gbps WAN and 2.5Gbps LAN.

Asus RT-AX88U Pro vs RT-AX88U vs GT-AX6000: Hardware specifications

RT AX88U 12 Asus RT AX88U Pro 1 Asus ROG Rapture GT AX6000
ModelRT-AX88URT-AX88U ProGT-AX6000
Wi-Fi BandwidthDual-Band AX6000Dual-Band AX6000Dual-Band AX6000
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs
(channel width)
4×4 AX: Up to 1148Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4×4 AX: Up to 1148Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4×4 AX: Up to 1148Mbps
(20/40MHz)
5GHz Wi-Fi Specs
(channel width)
4X4 AX: Up to 4804Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4X4 AX: Up to 4804Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4X4 AX: Up to 4804Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
Asus’s “Pro” Features
(Guest Network Pro and VLAN)
NoYesYes
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac
AP ModeYesYesYe
AiMesh-readyYesYesYes
Gigabit  Ports8x LAN, 
1x WAN
4x LAN4x LAN
Multi-Gig PortsNone1x 2.5Gbps WAN-only,
1x 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN
1x 2.5Gbps WAN,
1x 2.5Gbps LAN
Link AggregationYes 
(LAN and WAN)
Yes 
(LAN and WAN)
Yes 
(LAN and WAN)
Dual-WANYes YesYes
USB Ports1x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.0 1x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
Mobile AppAsus RouterAsus RouterAsus Router
QoSYesYesYes
Parental ControlYesYesYes
Processing Power1.8 GHz quad-core CPU, 
256MB Flash, 
1GB RAM
2.0 GHz quad-core CPU,
256 MB Flash,
1 GB RAM
2.0 GHz quad-core CPU, 
256MB Flash, 
1GB RAM
Built-in Online ProtectionYes Yes Yes
Asus Gaming FeaturesYesYesYes
Aura Game LightNoNoYes
Dimensions11.8 x 7.4 x 2.4 in
(30 x 18.8 x 6.04 cm)
11.8 x 7.4 x 2.4 in
(30 x 18.8 x 6.04 cm)
13 x 6.6 x 2.6 in 
(33.02 x 16.76 x 6.6 cm)
Weight2.1 lbs (945 g)2.23 lbs (1.01 kg)2.47 lbs (1.12 kg)
Release DateJanuary 2019January 2023January 2022
Firmware Version
(at review)
3.0.0.4.384.64369.0.0.6.102.4856 (Beta)
3.0.0.4.388.22250
3.0.0.4.386.47629
Power Input100 – 240V100 – 240V100 – 240V
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
not measuredβ‰ˆ 285Whnot measured
US Price
(at launch)
$299.99$349.99$399.99
Hardware specifications: Asus RT-AX88U Pro vs RT-AX88U vs GT-AX6000
Asus RT AX88U Pro no Front USBAsus RT AX88U Front USB Port
Asus RT-AX88U Pro vs RT-AX88U (right): The former does away with the second USB 3.0 port on the front.

VLAN and Guest Network Pro

As you might have noted in the table above, the RT-AX88U Pro supports VLAN and Guest Network Pro. They are part of the Pro-enabled features available in other β€œPro” or similar routers.

VLAN in Asus’s β€œPro” routers

VLAN, short for virtual local area network, is a business feature that allows users to create a logical network on an existing physical network. It’s similar to building a mini mother-in-law guest house within your property.

All Asus routers have Guest Wi-Fi networks, a form of VLAN, or SDN (software-defined network).

The company’s select models — including RT-AX86U Pro, RT-AX88U Pro, GT-AX11000 Pro, GT-AXE16000, GT-AX6000, ZenWiFi Pro ET12/XT12, and ExpertWiFi Series — also support a more advanced VLAN feature allowing users to customize their network ports accordingly. Additionally, these models generally share the same Pro-only features on top of the standard set available in all Asus routers.

However, if you get the router right now, you’ll be surprised that these features are not there. The two are still in the testing phase. To try them out today, you must first flash the router using the Beta firmware.

Asus RT AX88U Pro VLAN SectionAsus RT AX88U Guest Network Pro
The Asus RT-AX88U Pro features VLAN and Guest Network Pro, currently available only with the Beta firmware.

In any case, VLAN is an advanced network feature that enables users to create a logical local sub-network within their local network for segmenting or security purposes. You can think of VLAN as walls in a big condominium that divide the building’s space (the local network) into separate apartments (sub-networks.)

On the other hand, Guest Network Pro is an enhanced version of the existing Guest Network (which itself is a form of Wi-Fi VLAN) that now offers several types, including:

  • Guest Network: The traditional isolated Wi-Fi network for guests.
  • IoT Network: A secondary also isolated Wi-Fi network for IoT devices. Technically, this is just another guest Wi-Fi network like the one above.
  • Kid Network: A separate Wi-Fi SSID with kid-unfriendly online content automatically filtered out. It’s a network with a special QoS setting.
  • VPN network: A Wi-Fi SSID that automatically puts connected clients as part of a VPN server.
  • Customized Network: An extra customizable SSID for additional network segmenting or isolation purposes.

These Guest Network flavors include AiMesh support to be available system-wide instead of just the router. How that pans out remains to be seen when the firmware is out of Beta.

Asus RT AX88U Guest Network Pro SettingsAsus RT AX88U Guest Network Pro Kid Settings
The detailed settings of the RT-AX88U Pro’s two Guest Network flavors, original and Kid. All Guest Network SSIDs can be isolated from the main network (Intranet) and comes with a handy Internet Bandwidth Limiter to ensure no guest can hog all of the Internet bandwidth.

Asus RT-AX88U Pro: A inconspicuous yet formidable gaming router

While it is not marketed as a gaming router and doesn’t look like one, the RT-AX88U Pro has many gaming features included with its initial firmware release.

Out of the box, my review unit used a pre-released firmware version — similar to the case of the GT6.

After a quick update, I got it to the initial version, 3.0.0.4.388.22250, which I used for the testing. As you might have noted, the router used the latest major release of the firmware, version 388. (The router is also supported by Merlin firmware.)

Considering the beta firmware mentioned above, it’s safe to say the RT-AX88U Pro will soon get multiple minor updates. The drawer below will give you some highlights on how to read and deal with Asus firmware updates.

Extra on Asus firmware updates

Asus regularly releases firmware updates, a Linux-based operating system called Asuswrt, for its routers. Many of these updates add new features to the hardware — they do more than patch security vulnerabilities.

Some updates may inadvertently cause a particular model to go haywire, likely because the company tries to do so much with its routers.

As a result, firmware is a tricky thing with Asus. When it comes to updating — especially in an AiMesh setup of mixed hardware units using wireless backhauling — keep the following three items in mind:

  1. Avoid the initial major release(*): This is the first firmware version of a model where the 3xx number changes, such as from 384 to 386 or from 386 to 388. Generally, the latest minor update of the previous major firmware release is always the most stable.
  2. Avoid using Auto-Update for firmware: You should update the firmware when you see fit instead of letting the hardware update itself.
  3. Version consistency (in a mesh system): Generally, it would be best to use the firmware version of the same major release for all AiMesh members. (Mixing hardware of different releases might produce mixed results.)

(*) How to read an Asus router’s firmware: As shown in the screenshot below, in a particular official firmware version, such as 3.0.0.4.386_47629, the 3xx number in the middle denotes Asus’s home-grown major release. The following number — often includes five digits, such as 47629 in the screenshot — indicates a minor update.

(A firmware version that starts with 9.x.x.x instead of 3.x.x.x is a beta release meant for testing purposes only.)

Asus firmwaremajor minor release
The major release (3 digits) and minor update (5 digits) in an Asus router firmware version.

The part before that — 3.0.0.4 in the screenshot — is the Linux kernel version that will also change, albeit much less frequently. It’s even more significant and should also be taken into consideration.

On the one hand, moving between major releases might break your AiMesh setup or even your standalone router. On the other, new hardware comes with a specific initial version out of the box — you have no option to downgrade it — and some old models won’t get the latest release. So depending on the mesh combo, your luck will vary.

AiMesh started as an add-on feature with firmware version 384 in early 2018 — represented by the RT-AC86U — and was stable by the latest minor update of this version. In early 2020, Asus released version 386, buggy in the early stages, to add AiMesh 2.0 via the introduction of the ZenWifi product line. By late 2022, version 386 became fully mature, and Asus started releasing version 388, and the history repeated itself. So on and so forth.

As a rule, in a mesh system, it’s best to wait for a few minor updates of a major release before upgrading. Depending on the hardware combo, you might need to rebuild the system from scratch or reset and re-add a satellite node if you change the major firmware version (in one or all hardware units involved.)

In fact, the new Pro router has everything you’d expect in a top-tier ROG Rapture router, save for the bling — there’s no Aura light. And that includes a built-in client for WTFast gaming private network, which is normally only available in top-tier gaming routers, such as the GT-AX11000.

Asus RT AX88U Pro Game Section
The Asus RT-AX88U Pro, running an official firmware as pictured here, includes all gaming features available in Asus gaming routers.

While not everyone needs a gaming router, the support for this feature doesn’t hurt and only adds value to the hardware.

A familiar experience

Despite having new hardware specs and features, the RT-AX88U Pro proved to be a standard Asus router in my trial.

It shares all common features and settings collectively available in Asus Wi-Fi routers, as I detailed in this primer post. It’s similar to any Dual-band Asus Wi-Fi 6 router, including the non-Pro version or the GT-AX6000.

Like most Asus routers, the RT-AX88U Pro can take backup files of almost any others Asus router. As a result, if you want to upgrade from a previous model, including the RT-AX88U, you won’t need to reprogram your network from scratch.

Additionally, the new router retains all the flexibilities with its network port, allowing you to turn any LAN port (or the USB port) into a secondary WAN port in a Dual-WAN setup or combine LAN1 and LAN2 into a LAN Link Aggregation.

Last but not least, the RT-AX88U Pro supports AiMesh 2.0 and can work as a Multi-Gig primary or satellite node with any member of Asus’s Multi-Gig AiMesh hardware.

With that, let’s check out some detailed photos of the new router before we get to the much-anticipated real-world performance section.

Asus RT-AX88U Pro: Detail photos

Asus RT AX88U Pro Retail BoxAsus RT AX88U Pro Wi Fi 6 Router Box Content
Out of the box, the Asus RT AX88U Pro looks exactly like the non-Pro version. It, too, includes four detachable antennas.

Asus RT AX88U Pro Wi Fi 6 Router 1
The new router has a traditional look of a typical Wi-Fi router, dating back to its Wi-Fi 5 variant, the RT-AC88U.

Asus RT AX88U Pro Wi Fi 6 Router BackAsus RT AX88U Pro Wi Fi 6 Router Has two Mult Gig Ports
On the back, though, the Asus RT AX88U Pro now has two 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig ports (WAN + LAN) and four Gigabit LAN ports instead of the 9 Gigabit ports in previous Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5 variants.

Asus RT AX88U Pro Wi Fi 6 Router Underside
Here’s the underside of the Asus RT AX88U Pro. The router is not wall-mount-ready. (The two rubber lids by the side antennas cover the chassis screws and are not placeholders for mounting holes.)

Asus RT AX88U Pro Wi Fi 6 Router Power Adapter
The power adapter of the Asus RT AX88U Pro is rather bulky.

Asus GT-AX88U Pro: Excellent performance

I tested the RT-AX88U Pro for over 10 days and was impressed. The router worked well with its current official and Pro-enabled Beta firmware.

Stellar Wi-Fi speeds and coverage

It’s an understatement to say the new router did well in my Wi-Fi testing. First and most important, it passed my multiple stress tests with no disconnection, and the Wi-Fi performance was excellent, as shown on the charts.

Asus RT AX88U Pro AX 5GHz Long Range PeformanceAsus RT AX88U Pro AX 5GHz Short Range Peformance
Asus RT-AX88U Pro: 5GHz performance when hosting a 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client.

The RT-AX88U Pro was also excellent in terms of Wi-Fi coverage. Generally, the Wi-Fi range is similar in each frequency band. The difference is in the sustained speed at the end of a band’s coverage.

Asus RT AX88U Pro AC 5GHz Long Range PeformanceAsus RT AX88U Pro AC 5GHz Short Range Peformance
Asus RT-AX88U Pro: 5GHz performance when hosting high-end Wi-Fi 5 clients.

In the case of the RT-AX88U Pro, I was able to get sustained internet of over 300Mbps — out of 10Gbps broadband fed into the router’s 2.5Gbps WAN port — at 60 feet (18 m) away with a couple of walls in between. That was among the most impressive I’ve experienced in my anecdotal tests.

Asus RT AX88U Pro AX 2.4GHz Long Range PeformanceAsus RT AX88U Pro AX 2.4GHz Short Range Peformance
Asus RT-AX88U Pro: 2.4GHz performance when hosting a 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client.

Generally, this Wi-Fi machine can easily cover some 2500 ft2 (232 m2) when placed at the center. But, the way Wi-Fi is, your mileage will vary.

Good Multi-Gig sustained rates, excellent network storage performance

Like all Asus routers with two or more Multi-Gig ports, the RT-AX88U Pro’s 2.5GbE WAN port doesn’t work as a LAN port.

So to test its Multi-Gig connection using its two 2.5GbE ports (WAN + LAN), I used a double NAT setup via another 10Gbps router, and the router did quite well, producing a sustained rate of over 2000Mbps. (A port has to deal with more overhead when working as a WAN port than a LAN.)

Asus RT AX88U Pro Switch Performance
Asus RT AX88U Pro: Wired performance of the Multi-Gig ports

And 2Gbps was also the fastest Internet connection I could get out of the router when letting it host a 10GbE Fiber-optic line. While not a true 2.5Gbps performance, it’s a sure thing that the router can do well for any Gigabit or Gig+ Internet plan.

And the router’s Mulit-Gig LAN port helps its network storage performance when hosting a USB portable storage drive, too.

Asus RT AX88U Pro Router based NAS Write Performance Asus RT AX88U Pro Router based NAS Read Performance
Asus RT AX88U Pro: Network storage performance when hosting a USB portable SSD.

I used a WD My Passport for the NAS test, and the RT-AX88U Pro did very well for its specs. It wasn’t the fastest, but definitely above average compared to other Multi-Gig routers, as shown on the charts.

If you’re looking for a quick way to share data or perform backups within the local network, the RT-AX88U Pro will get the job done before you decide to get a real NAS server.

Asus RT-AX88U Pro's Rating

8.8 out of 10
Asus RT AX88U Pro Router
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
10 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
8 out of 10

Pros

Excellent Wi-Fi, wired, and network storage performance

Tons of useful features, including AiMesh 2.0 and Pro-only Guest Network Pro and VLAN

Two 2.5GbE Multi-Gig ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation support

Universal setting backup and restoration

Merlin firmware support

Cons

Pro-enabled features are still in the Beta

Only 6 networks port (instead of 9 in the previous variant)

No Wi-Fi 6E, not wall-mount-ready

Conclusion

Three years ago, the Asus RT-AX88U Pro would have been tremendous. The router has everything you’d look for in a Wi-Fi 6 machine.

Today, when Wi-Fi 6 is no longer a hot commodity, its dual 2.5Gbps ports still play a significant role for those wanting to truly enjoy Gigabit or faster Internet. And its excellent Pro-enabled features only make things that much more exciting.

Considering the Wi-Fi 6E FOMO can be quickly fixed via upgrade hardware, it’s safe to say the RT-AX88U Pro will remain relevant, even exciting, for the foreseeable future.

So, if you’re in the market for an excellent standalone Wi-Fi router today, the RT-AX88U Pro is an easy recommendation at its current street price of $350. Live in a large, wired home? It’s an excellent mesh member when coupled with other Multi-Gig AiMesh hardware.

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127 thoughts on “Asus RT-AX88U Pro Wi-Fi 6 Router Review (vs RT-AX88U): Saving the Best for Last”

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  1. Dong: I noted today that my ASUS RT-AC88U trusty router is now on the end of life list at the ASUS website. Your reviews have never let me down, so I think I should replace the RT-AC88U with the RT-AX88Upro given firmware/security risks? ASUS tech support indicates that I will not be able to save settings from my RT-AC88U and then import them to the new RT-AX88Upro. Will everything with the swap reconnect without hassles if I use the same SSID and password on the new router or should I be prepared for hours of reconnecting a gazillion devices? Thanks for your time and your insights.

    Reply
    • Generally, all you need to do is keep the SSIDs and passwords the same, Timothy, and avoid using WPA3 exclusively. To be sure, keep the default IP of the new router the same, too. If you haven’t changed it, it’s 192.168.50.1.

      I’d try porting the settings over via backup and restore, I think that should work. (Always take what Asus support says with a grain of salt.)

      Good luck!

      Reply
      • Dong: Just wanted to circle back to you and your readers. Using the backup and restore method with upgrading the ASUS RT-AC88U to the new ASUS RT-AX88U pro worked FLAWLESSLY. Router IP address, security settings, etc. migrated to the new router without any issues. The process is simple in that at the opening browser screen for set-up you just choose the advanced option and the next screen directs you to find the configuration file to upload to the new device. Thanks for your advice. Now I just need to determine if I am going to keep my network of old and new devices at WPA2 or try the transitional WPA2/WPA3 option.

        Reply
  2. 2 questions…
    Could the non pro AX88U be wall mounted?

    Also does the wan/lan port work with the other lan ports on the same subnet? Any linitations on using the 2.5gb port as lan? I’ve seen routers separate different ports.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • I don’t think so but you can mount anything if you’re creative. I don’t understand your questions about the ports. Give the review another good read, you might find your answers.

      Reply
  3. If wanting to set up an additional subnet on RT-AX88U PRO can you not have DHCP enabled on additional subnet?

    Reply
  4. Looking for a VPN Fusion router with Open VPN and Wireguard client who can deliver best speeds. Currently owning GT-AC5300.
    What do you recommend?

    Reply
  5. Hi Dong
    I have a brand new ax88u pro in aimesh with ac68u rev A from 2014 node with gigabits back haul between two device. It work very well but I think upgrading my ac68u to have the same firmware 388…. On each instead of latest 388.3.0 and 386.11 , two Merlin firmware . Do you think it’s a problem and need to buy example , ax58u or I can keep the ac68u ? I have leave all the option for the wifi 6 on ax88 u pro , my device seem to have all benefits when connect to the ax88u pro , and connect well on ac when I reach far away location in front of my house

    Thanks !

    Reply
    • Ok when I setup aimesh for the first time , I was scared that one node with ac only , it will disable ax performance when my device connect on the main router , mixing wifi standard only impact when using wifi back haul ? And the cpu of the node does not matter ?

      Reply
  6. Stumbled onto your site. You’ve done great reviews on routers.
    I current have the RT-AX88U having had the previous versions before it. I don’t have anything major, mostly wireless to laptops and iphones. No problems except some of my IoT devices are reaching the end of the range. I was thinking of upgrading to the PRO since it is an excellent price point. Based on your review, it looks like there is a sizeable speed increase at distance for the PRO vs. the non-pro?

    Do you think its worth upgrading to the PRO?

    Reply
      • Problem is a strong word since I am getting communication just fine. I can see that the range on the far side of the house (outside) is minimal. I still get connection though. I’m actually not certain I’d want to extend the range since that has its own risks.

        I may go ahead and upgrade. I was just wondering if it was worth the $260 vs say spending more and getting another ASUS model. I’m also on the fence because fixing something that isn’t really broken always introduces new problems…LOL.

        Reply
          • After thinking it through I decided to hold off on any upgrades. I read your other post about when to upgrade and right now the AX88U meets my needs. I can manually create an IoT network using one of the available guest networks if I want to as well.

            So after reading it all, just decided to wait until I have more time to piddle around with my network. So two years from now when I actually get around to it…LOL.

  7. Hi Dong,
    Any word on when the VLAN parts of the Pro 88u and 86U will be finalized and non-beta anymore?

    Read your posts about waiting for a few firmware updates before jumping in. Whats the best way to stay on top of that info?

    Thanks,
    Stephen

    Reply
  8. Hello,
    Well, I got the RT-AX88U Pro about a month ago. I noticed no real issues day to day but after some changes in my network I wanted to do some speed tests. First, right out of the modem IOT, the sppd was coming in over 900Mbps. Wired connection to the AX88U router had my numbers dropping down by almost half. I did a full reset and got up to around 700 but mostly around 500. Could I have some problematic settings? When I turned on AiProtection it also drops by about 100-200 Mbps less. Very confused about what is happening. I have a support call into ASUS and they are supposed to call me within the next 24 hours.

    Reply
  9. So glad i found your page i was in need of a new router and didnt want an old one but i ended up buying the 2019 version thinking it was the newest luckily after reading your write up i was able to return it and get the pro
    thanks again
    J

    Reply
  10. Thank you for sharing your view of the RT-AX88U Pro. Want to share some context before I ask a few questions.

    I was running (for the last year) the RT-AX82U. Pretty decent router … No complaints. I am in a 2,600 Sq ft home, and noticed some weaker signal strength at far ends of my house (to be expected based on my network location on the 2nd floor). I did a quick test and was seeing 2.4 at 254mbps … Just for reference. I tested in areas where I’ve never had issues.

    I decided to recently purchase the RT-AX86U Pro, and planned to convert the AX82U to a mesh node. Process was pretty simple .. Definitely not rocket science. Router firmware (stock) updated on both routers.

    Noticed a little lag in websites opening … That I’ve never had issues before, and speed test showed a drop from 254mbps to about 75mbps. So took the network down … And ran both the AX82U & AX86U pro separately for some additional testing.

    My 2.4 wifi speed is still lower than before on both routers (80 vs 254). Nothing in my network environment changed. I also used the same device to perform all tests (speedtest app on iPhone xr). I only swapped routers, and intentionally left all settings untouched. I did however set my 2.4 to channel 11 (best channel found when using wifi analyzer). Where should I start looking to restore my 2.4 speed? Suggestions are greatly appreciated! It’s driving me crazy!

    Last question … I am considering returning the AX86U Pro … And picking up the AX88U Pro based on the info you shared. What are your thoughts about upgrading the AX86U Pro … To the AX88U Pro? Anything the AX88U Pro offers that would sway you to spend a little more?

    Thank you for any suggestions/recommendations you can provide!

    Reply
      • Thank you for the reply.

        I think I understand switching the USB to 2.0. Although I don’t use the usb port on routers, I guess the port type gives back some bandwidth?

        Also read thru the proper testing and your review of the RT-AX86U Pro (actually read that before purchasing the router) πŸ‘πŸΌ

        Still wondering if you would select the AX88U Pro or AX86U Pro. They appear to be very similar, but which would you recommend, and why? Networking is not one of my strengths, but I am open minded enough to take suggestions/recommendations from someone like yourself, who clearly knows more than I.

        Reply
        • I’m guessing you’ve already made your purchase, but if not — and if it makes you feel any better — I went with the RT-AX86U Pro.

          I knew I’d never, ever see that couple-hundred Mbps the RT-AX88U Pro supposedly offers over the RT-AX86U Pro for 802.11ax, and I really only use 2.4 GHz for low-bandwidth IoT devices that don’t support 5 GHz anyway.

          The RT-AX86U Pro is significantly less expensive, of course, and I prefer its profile. The RT-AX88U Pro has a rather huge footprint, although it is very well suited for placing on a laptop cooling pad, if you wanted to.

          Both have Asuswrt-Merlin firmware available.

          I just couldn’t see a reason to spend more on the RT-AX88U Pro.

          As soon as I replaced my old RT-AC68U with the RT-AX86U Pro, I gained over 100 Mbps on a wired connection, thanks no doubt mainly to the faster processor. I’m now getting ~945 Mbps (up and down) on a connection rated for 1 GHz.

          I have a 3,000 square foot two-story house, with the RT-AX86U Pro on the second floor, all the way on one side. And without any AiMesh nodes or any other help — just the router providing a signal — I can connect easily while outside on the other side of my home. That’s 50-60 feet away with several walls and other obstacles in the way.

          Reply
          • Hey Scott. I am still in a testing phase. I bought both the rt-ax86u pro & rt-ax88u pro. Wanted to try them both, and make an informed decision. Right now … There is only a $20 difference between the 2 models.

            The results in my testing, so far … the rt-ax86u pro is a solid router that works very well with my rt-ax82u in mesh. No resets, everything is communicating well, and both the app and web gui work flawlessly. Post 48 hours … Zero issues.

            The rt-ax88u pro on the other hand … Not the same story. I setup the rt-ax88u pro, and at first all seemed good. That changed quickly. I received an error when I tried to “optimize” things at device level (selecting the Optimize button gave me the following error message – Notice: Operation failed). Found absolutely nothing online about this error. This error occurred on every device in my client list. Also, as the devices settled in overnight, all devices eventually moved to the 88u pro, and nothing was on the 82u (mesh node)… Although the 82u had the stronger wifi signal.

            Also, I noticed a significant lag with my Ring cameras with the 88u pro compared to the 86u pro. The 86u pro opened my cameras instantaneously. The 88u pro needed to think about it before eventually connecting.

            And when trying to troubleshoot, 2 other issues I found with the 88u pro … 1> Randomly the Wan would show as disconnected. 2> Not all clients show up. I can click on the Clients button, and all Clients would appear in the online client list. However, clicking on the Aimesh button under General (web gui), some of my clients were completely missing.

            I factory reset the 88u pro 3x … Same issues would come back in less than 4 hours of being online. Made sure all routers were running current FW.

            The 86u pro experienced none of the issues seen with the 88u pro. Kind of disappointing. The only positive thing I can say .. The 88u pro did show a slightly faster wired/ethernet DL speed, but not worth the aggravation and other issues I experienced.

            Although I am new to the mesh network scene, I have been an Asus router user for many years. I just can’t recommend the 88u pro. I have another week before I need to make a final decision … Which one to return. Right now … 86u pro is my choice!

          • I’m currently seeing an $80 price difference between the 86U Pro and 88U Pro…? Unfortunately for me, the price of the former dropped by $30 literally two days after I bought one.

            I’ve decided to stop worrying about it until WiFi 7 is a real thing.

            Maybe try the Asuswrt-Merlin firmware on the 88U Pro?

          • I know Asuswrt-Merlin will work with the 88u pro, but since I am using my 82u as a mesh node .. And not seeing the 82u supported by Asuswrt-Merlin, I don’t know if I can run the 88u pro on Asuswrt-Merlin … And the 82u on stock FW. In other words, do both routers need to run Asuswrt-Merlin? I can definitely give it a shot. One interesting detail … Some of the issues with the previous 88u appears to have been carried over to the 88u pro. Ex. Disconnect from Wan/internet. I need the boost from the mesh node for other devices.

  11. I wanted to upgrade my 1250 mbps xfinity plan with new equipment since I am not getting speeds I pay for with supplied comcast combo equipment.

    i have a gen 1 apple tv and some 2012 macbook pros I still use that I have upgraded and use a vivo x90 pro plus phone. Was thinking about getting Asus RT-AX88U Pro Wi-Fi 6 to be used with Motorola MB8600 modem. Do you think this is going to be a compatible choice given the age of my equipment and the speed of my internet plan? I have been looking for several days and believe this should be okay unless my equipment is too old. I didn’t find anything online I could reference this so looking for a “what would you do” type of scenario and not so much as advice.

    Reply
  12. I notice that this now has only one USB port. Yes, I know you are only supposed to use one, but I have four devices attached to mine and they work very well , as I only use them for storage now and then.

    My question is: Can I still use multiple devices on just the one USB port? , ie how many can I “daisy chain” off a hub?

    I want to upgrade , but if I cant use my storage off the router , its a bit of a deal breaker

    thanks in advance…

    Reply
  13. I have been very happy with my ASUS RT-AC88U since reading Dong’s review of this router in 2016! It is still working well, but has received no firmware updates since March 2022. The product is not on the ASUS end of life list. Can I safely use the current RT-AC88U until ASUS puts this model on the end of life list or should I upgrade to the ASUS RT-AX88U Pro? I have absolutely no functional issues with the RT-AC88U, but am concerned about lack of firmware updates for over one year from a security standpoint. Thanks in advance for any advice on this issue.

    Reply
  14. Hey Dong. Thanks for great review, really appreciate it! I noticed that TUF-AX6000 gaming router appeared on the ASUS webpage recently (https://www.asus.com/networking-iot-servers/wifi-routers/asus-gaming-routers/tuf-gaming-ax6000/) and has pretty much the same hardware specification as RT-AX88U PRO (except RAM capacity: 512 MB instead of 1GB), but significantly lower price. I wondering what’s the catch? πŸ˜‰

    Do you know maybe how it differs comparing to RT-AX88U PRO from the software perspective? I guess TUF-AX6000 may miss the VLAN support? Or am I wrong here?

    Reply
    • I don’t think we have TUF-Ax6000 in the US, but if has the same hardware as the RT-AX88U Pro then likely it’s the same. I’d say go for it! The VLAN support is minor.

      Reply
      • I mean the specifications are the same, but I think the hardware may not be identical. Both are advertised having “2.0 GHz quad-core processor”, but TUF-AX6000 seems to consume less energy deducting on the attached power supply (“12 V with max. 2.5 A” in TUF-AX6000 vs. “19 V with max. 2.37 A” in RT-AX88U). Perhaps TUF-AX6000 has a CPU manufactured in newer technology, but that’s only my guess. Shame on ASUS that they’re not publishing more detailed specs… I will try to ask their support.
        Unfortunately VLAN setting is a requirement from my ISP.

        Reply
        • So they are actually not the same… What you need from your ISP is generally called IPTV or VLAN tagging. If so that’s supported by all Asus routers.

          Reply
          • Yep, you’re right.
            I’ve received a response from ASUS support:
            “The devices indicated by you are connected to two completely different routers. In addition to the external appearance, they also differ in the segment and the functionalities themselves.
            as for the VLAN, this one is supported only in the models indicated in the article: https://www.asus.com/us/support/FAQ/1049415/ that is:
            GT-AX11000 Pro, GT-AX6000, ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000, RT-AX86U Pro, RT-AX88U Pro, ZenWiFi Pro ET12, ZenWIFI Pro XT12
            At the moment, other models do not support VLAN.
            These models are based on different chipsets, hence completely different power supplies with different power.”
            They didn’t provide detailed specification although…

  15. Hey Dong, I know this a hard question to answer but if anyone can help it’s you! So my Ax86U just took a dump I don’t know if I should buy the same model again or β€œupgrade” any input on a replacement would be much appreciated.

    Use: Apartment
    600MB Internet
    6 users on Wi-Fi
    18 Wi-Fi devices
    3 Ethernet devices
    Two gaming consoles
    1550 sq ft
    No gaming computers.

    Reply
  16. Great information from you. Thank you so much. I am upgrading from a AC88U tomorrow as my RT-AX88U Pro arrives In the morning.

    Reply
    • That’s not the case, as mentioned in the caption of the photo showing the router’s underside in this section, Noner. I actually opened those rubber lids and checked. But that could just be the US version.

      Reply
  17. Hey,

    Great review as always.

    Which one would you buy if they were same price between AX88u pro and GT-AX6000 ? I know situations differ, I’m not so much interested in the ROG lighting or situational features as much as I’m interested in reliability and range.

    I’m looking to use one of the above as a primary router with wired backhaul mesh with my old AC86u for now. Guess both should be fine?

    Thanks

    Reply
  18. Performance is almost identical to GT-AX6000 (except NAS read speed), so it is no brainer to me to pick up the later since current price at Amazon is $235.

    Reply
    • Actually Dong, for 2.4Ghz test, I would say connection at 40 feet should not be considered as far, at least not far enough.

      2.4Ghz connection is more for utilities like garage door, surveillance cameras, back yard smart outlet, etc. The speed is not that important compare to range. My suggestion is, can you add a “super far” range like 60 feet in your backyard through wall(s) as stand test in future. Also probably you could test the extreme range with stable 2.4Ghz connection, give the environment is fairly stable (no dramatic change with your neighbor’s routers). This would be useful as many non-tech readers prefer single router option rather than mesh. If a $250 router covers my house well and stable, I would not go to 2-3 mesh set options.

      Reply
      • I agreed, Roy, which is why I do long term testing over a period of time on all routers and mesh systems… There are a lot of “useful” things you can ask for, or suggest. That part is easy. Contributing to getting those done — putting your money where your mouth is — is where it gets interesting. πŸ™‚

        Reply
        • Thank you Dong. I am new to your site, and have not read any router review ever since I bought a AC68U since it is so good and stable. I only start to search for new routers as I upgraded to Xfinity 800Mb but the max I can see is 200Mb with AC68U. The router reviews here are the best to me, provides all the information I am looking for, and easy to understand. Thank you for all useful information. I still need to dig out more here. Happy weekend!

          Reply
  19. Just a “stupid” question – on the web site :

    https://www.asus.com/networking-iot-servers/wifi-routers/asus-gaming-routers/rt-ax88u-pro/techspec/

    It does NOT mention that this router is backward compatible with the old standards like b,g,n,ac – only ax.

    I’ll guess that’s just a glitch? In your test you do list backward combability for this router – but its not on the vendors site…

    For the other model AX86U Pro – it DOES mention backward compatibility – and for the model AX88u it also list backward combability.

    I’m thinking it must be a glitch, but I need to be 100% sure

    Reply
  20. Hi Dong

    Thank you very much for review Asus RT-AX88u Pro.

    I want change my router. I have two models in my mind
    asus RT-AX86u Pro and RT-AX88u Pro and I have question will the asus RT-AX86u Pro have them same performance on NAS server as RT-AX88u Pro. The NAS server is the most important for me.

    Now i using RT-AX86u and i have the same performance like in your review.

    Best regards and thank you very much for answer.

    Reply
  21. I’m going to buy a new router and I’m not sure if I should buy the ax88u pro or the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX6000. Both are on offer in Denmark at the moment and cost 265 usd, which one is best and which one should I choose?

    Reply
      • have now read both reviews and searched the web thinly for information and have not become any wiser. I will primarily use the cable for csgo which I play at a high level and use it for 20-30 devices wirelessly in a 250m2 house with 2 floors. It must be able to use vlan tagging as my ISP uses it. Are you at the same time in doubt as to whether WTFast is a gimmick or not? Would love to have help choosing.

        Reply
  22. Hey Dong ! Long time no talk.

    Is it worth upgrading the AX86U yet?
    If so, what router/s are superior in 2023?

    Reply
  23. Thank you for this great review !
    In case the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Pro was at the same price as the RT-AX88U Pro, which one would you take and why ?

    Reply
  24. Hi Dong, thanks for the great review of this new router.

    I’ve been using the GT-AX6000 for some time now, and have been using Beta firmware version 9.0.0.6.102_4856 on it for about a week. This is working quite well for me, very solid, no problems, and of course has the guest network pro, and other features that the RT-AX88U Pro is listed as having. I don’t know for sure, but am guessing, that these RT-AX88U features come with the Beta firmware release you list for it, as well. I’ve been impressed how well this Beta firmware release works on the AX6000, unusual for Asus *smile*.

    Just wanted to point out that the GT-AX6000 also has these new features, since I didn’t see that in your review. I may have overlooked that, though.

    Again, thanks for your reviews!

    Reply
    • Yes that’s the case with all Asus routers supporting VLAN as mentioned in one of the lightbulb boxes. Thanks for the input, though.

      Reply
  25. Hey Dong, I am between the AX88U Pro or the AX6000. Primary concern is coverage. Would you go one way vs the other? Bought the ASUS ZenWiFi AX6600 Mesh system recently and am going to return as seeing connection issues around the house. Thank you for everything!

    Reply
    • I’d say the two are very similar, Joe, on all counts. I’m a bit leaning toward the Pro since it has some emotional value, but I’d say just get whichever is cheaper, and the GT is great and has that cool Aura Light.

      Note though that the ZenWifi you had is a 2-pack which generally has better coverage than a single router. More in this post.

      Reply
  26. As good as this looks I think the Asus GT-AX6000 is probably the better buy for most people since their specs are more or less the same and that is usually on sale for $260 on Amazon, so you save $90, at least until the RT-AX88U Pro goes on sale.

    Reply
    • You’re correct, Jason, which is why the GT-AX6000 is rated a bit higher. πŸ™‚

      But this one has a lot of emotional value to some.

      Reply
      • LOL yea understandable since I had an RT-AC88U and RT-AC86U for my Aimesh until I upgraded to RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U like 2 years ago and recently added the GT-AX6000 when it went on sale.

        Was debating to get the RT-AX88U Pro when it goes on sale, but at that point, might be better off just getting Asus Wifi 7 routers.

        Reply
  27. FYI…according to this FAQ on ASUS site — [Wireless Router] What is VLAN and how to setup? — (https://www.asus.com/us/support/FAQ/1049415) it looks like VLAN supported for this model (and others) — Product GT-AX11000 Pro, GT-AX6000, ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000, RT-AX86U Pro, RT-AX88U Pro, ZenWiFi Pro ET12, ZenWIFI Pro XT12

    Reply
    • I mentioned that in the post, Shawn. Guest networking is a form of VLAN by the way and all Asus routers have that. Thanks for the input, though.

      Reply
  28. Hi Dong,
    Just wanted your clarification. In your article, you mention that Asus RT-AX88U pro has 2 x USB 3.0 ports, while ASUS global website mentions as 1 x USB 3.2 gen 1. Can you help here?

    Reply
  29. Dong, thanks for your work and education of the public.

    I have the RT-AX88U and it works fine in my 4000+ sq ft house as a single router with 70 devices (including 7 wifi streaming cameras and 2 streaming doorbell cameras). I do occasionally get a few seconds of buffering from my streaming fire tv devices, so I wonder when my current Asus router dies (seems like my routers live about 4 years or so before they start to get flaky) should I just splurge for the GT-AXE16000 with more bandwidth or should I consider something else. Spending $700 for a router is not an issue for me — I just want raw power and range — and I want the simplicity of a single router vs going with a mesh system.

    Reply
    • Yes, the GT-AX16000 will work for your situation if the current RT-AX88U has been sufficient. It might not fix the buffering issues, though, since that might have had something to do with your Internet.

      Reply
  30. People interested in future-proofing their home network setup should SKIP this already outdated trash. Why? Let me explain:

    1. Apple and most device manufacturers support 160 Mhz channel width only on 6Ghz Wifi 6e band. So you will always get 1.2 Gbps link speeds if you use Wifi 6e iPad Pros from late 2022 with this router and not 2.4 Gbps link which your iPad is capable off if you had a REAL Wifi 6e router.

    2. This router is not taking technology any further and it seems to be a rehash of RT-AX6000 with few USB Port changes.

    Price for same SOC and tech SHOULD be lower but it’s on sale for same price as RT-AX6000 which makes it an extremely poor buy.

    Reply
    • There’s so such thing as “future proofing” — get what works for your needs today — and, as I mentioned, it’s easy to add the 6GHz band to your network.

      But nobody has to buy this router, or any particular tech product, either.

      Ready the post in it’s entirety, please! πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • I replied only after reading your post in entirety. I stand by my opinion that this RT-AX88U Pro should be skipped unless it is available for RT-AX88U (Non-Pro’s price) of $249. I see that amazon.com has already dropped the price of Pro by $50 even before sale which tells us how much of poor value this product is. If someone has an itch and just wants to spend money because they can’t sleep peacefully, they better buy Zen Wifi ET12 single for $429 as one is at least getting Wifi6e and better aesthetics.
        No disrespect to you Dong. Love your site and you are doing God’s work in exposing all these Wifi intricacies.

        Reply
        • No offense taken. I just wanted to note that I had already mentioned in the post most of what you said, which was a little harsh, though not without merit.

          I haven’t tested this new router, so I’d give it some benefit of the doubt. And I like the design. In any case, it’s not a must-have, and folk can tally skip it.

          And thanks for the kind words.

          Reply
    • I do not own a single Apple device, and not planning to.
      My Lenovo and Dell laptops, as well as Samsung and Pixel phones work just fine with 160MHz channels on AX88U (non-pro) models. Tested with my NAS (connected using 2x1G port aggregation) i was able to get roughly 200MB per second, so way over 1,2Gbps.
      I guess you meant to say, that Apple users should not get this router. But it’s not Asus’ fault, that Apple has such limitations.

      Reply
      • Have always been an ASUS Wi-Fi router fan. I’m upgrading my network since getting gigabit service from Spectrum. This is replacing an RT-AC3100 AiMesh primary node and 4 RT-AC1900s as satellites with wired back haul. I cover a mixed use 54,000 sq ft building and a 5 acre parking lot with 28 Wi-Fi security cams feeding a Synology DS718+ running Surveillance Station. The current 3100 struggles a bit these days, so I’m hoping this new router lives up to the hype!!

        Reply
      • Thanks to FedEx my RT-AX88U Pro didn’t arrive until today. One big difference between the Pro and the standard 88U is the port config. There’s one 2.5gig WAN, one 2.5gig LAN and only 4 1gig LAN ports!! I’ll install this weekend and post any other things I find.

        Reply
  31. Hello Dong, I noticed the rt-ax88u pro and rt-ax86u pro are now available on the Asus website {…}. I am upgrading my home router and are considering these two options, but not sure if they are worth the extra $. Are you planning to do a review on one or both of these models?

    I have a 3000 square foot house with a finished basement – our needs are that of a standard suburban family. Do you have a suggestion between rt-ax86u at $250, rt-ax88u at $250, rt-ax86u PRO at $300, or rt-ax88u PRO at $350?

    Thank you! Mark.

    Reply
    • To add on to my above comment, I am not price sensitive so am willing to spend more to get the best model — but I obviously also don’t want to throw away money if a certain “upgrade” isn’t worth it. -Mark

      Reply
      • You might need two, Mark, considering how large your place is. I’d recommend getting the 88U Pro (I haven’t tested it yet) first and seeing how it pans out. If you indeed need one more, another RTA-AX86U as the node (preferable via wired backhauling) will make a great setup. If you need more help, check out this AiMesh setup guide post (in the related posts box up top.)

        Reply
  32. Hi Dong –

    I’m in the market for a new router as I just moved into a larger home (3500 sq. feet but it’s a single story with 800 sq. feet finished basement) and my old cheap router isn’t going to cut it anymore. I just started researching new routers this last week and have been torn between the RT-AX86U and RT-AX88U. I was actually very close to ordering the RT-AX86U and then I saw your new post about the new 86U and 88U Pro versions. Based on your previews it looks like I might be most interested in the 88U Pro. Do you think it is worthwhile to hold off on purchasing a new router until the Pro version is available? I’m not the type who is interested in frequently upgrading my router hardware (maybe every 3-4 years) so I’d be okay in waiting if you think it might be worthwhile. Appreciate your input!

    Z

    Reply
    • I can’t say about the RT-AX88U Pro since it’s not available yet (and I don’t know when), but the RT-AX86U is excellent. Go for it! Chances are the RT-AX88U Pro won’t make much of a difference. Or you can go for the GT-AX6000, which is the same in terms of hardware specs but better in features.

      Good luck, Zander!

      Reply
      • Thanks Dong! Appreciate your input. In the above article you mentioned the following:

        β€œAnd if you’re thinking you’re missing out on Wi-Fi 6E, that can be quickly added via upgrade hardware. So yes, when available, the RT-AX88U Pro will still be a relevant, even exciting, Wi-Fi machine for the foreseeable future.”

        Do the non-Pro versions have the same upgrade capability?

        Lastly, when Asus releases their new Pro models, do they typically reduce the price for the older models (non-Pro)? β€” (similar to when Apple releases a new iPhone) β€” or is that typically not the way it works for new router releases?

        Reply
  33. Dong, great thorough update as always.

    Your readers may be interested to know that Asus is currently beta testing vlan support and configuration in the gui for a couple models, namely the RT-AX86U Pro and the GT-AX11000 Pro, and it is expected that the remaining “Pro” devices, such as the RT-AX88U Pro, will gain this feature as well.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the input, Ozzie. I think that’s the company’s new direction with its new Wi-Fi 7 product lines. We’ll see how it pans out.

      Reply

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