Asus RT-AX88U Review: A Router for True Gigabit Internet

The Asus RT-AX88U is one of the first 802.11ax routers on the market.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Asus RT-AX88U is one of the first 802.11ax routers on the market.

The Asus RT-AX88U is one of the first Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) routers on the market, and I was quite excited to get my hands on it. So excited, I decided to test it for a second time — I didn’t have any Wi-Fi 6 clients the first time around. So, this is an updated review to include the router’s Wi-Fi 6 performance, using some Intel AX200-based devices.

It’s important to note that RT-AX88U has no multi-gig network port. As a result, there was no way to find out how fast its Wi-Fi is. At most, you’ll get 1Gbps wireless speed out of it. But that’s enough for most of us, including those few who are lucky enough to have a Gigabit Internet connection.

So, if you have upgraded your computers to Wi-Fi 6, for around $300, the RT-AX88U is a sensible purchase.

READ NOW:  How to Upgrade Your PC to Wi-Fi 6 Right Now

Dong’s note: I first published this review on January 6, 2019, and updated it on October 22 with 2×2 Wi-Fi 6-based test results.

ASUS RT-AX88U AX6000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

$310.99
8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Fast Wi-Fi performance
  • Tons of useful features
  • Eight network ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation
  • Universal setting backup and restoration
  • Fast network attached storage speed when coupled with an external drive.

Cons

  • No multi-gig network port
  • Buggy firmware at launch, especially as an AiMesh node

Asus RT-AX88U: The RT-AC88U’s clone with a significant twist

In many ways, the new RT-AX88U router is like a souped-up version of the RT-AC88U that came out almost four years ago.

The two share the same physical design, feature set, and the number of network ports (8 LANs and one WAN). It even carries over the awkwardly placed USB 3.0 (or USB 3.2 Gen 1) on its front. On the back, though, the second USB port is also USB 3.1 (and not 2.0 in the case of the RT-AC88U). By the way, the two routers also share the same power adapter.

While the Gigabit network ports are enough for the RT-AC88U, they are not for the RT-AX88U. As a Wi-Fi 6 router, the latter’s wireless speed can easily surpass 1Gbps. Consequently, in a wired-to-wireless connection, the router’s LAN ports are the bottlenecks.

So, yes, it’s disappointing the RT-AX88U doesn’t have any multi-gig network ports, like the case of the GT-AX11000 or the Netgear RAX120.

The RT-AX88U (left) is almost like the mirror image of the RT-AC88U.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The RT-AX88U (left) is almost like the mirror image of the RT-AC88U.

On the inside, the new router is much more powerful than its older cousin. For one, it features 802.11ax with top Wi-Fi speed of up to 4333 Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 1148 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. It also sports a beefier 1.8GHz quad-core CPU and has double the amount of RAM (1GB).

Note that the Wi-Fi speeds mentioned above are theoretical, and you need a 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 client to see. Chances are the real-world speeds will be lower, but still much faster than that of Wi-Fi 5.

Asus RT-AX88U’s specifications

Straightforward setup process

Setting up the RT-AX88U is precisely like that of any previous Asus routers. It’s similar to that of any routers with a web interface. Here are the steps:

  1. Connect the router’s WAN port to an Internet source (such as a cable modem)
  2. Connect a computer to one of its LAN ports (or its default open Wi-Fi network.)
  3. From the connected machine, open a browser and navigate to the router’s IP address, which is 192.168.50.1, or router.asus.com, you’ll get to the initial setup process. You’ll first need to create a new admin password (for the router’s Interface) and a secure Wi-Fi network before you can connect to the Internet.

And that’s it. Now you can use the interface to manage the router’s settings and features.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The RT-AX88U shares the same web user interface as that of other Asus routers.

Universal setting restoration

During the setup process, you’ll have a chance to upload settings from a backup file. In this case, you can upload settings of almost any other Asus routers. Like most Asus routers released in the past five years or so, the RT-AX88U supports universal setting restoration.

For those having a network with lots of settings (like port-forwarding, IP reservations, AiMesh, and so on), being able to transfer the settings from one router to another saves a lot of time since they won’t need to program the new router from scratch.

In my trial, I uploaded the settings of an RT-AC86U and then an RT-AC88U to the RT-AX88U, and it worked each time flawlessly.

Note: You can’t transfer all settings from one router to another. Special features, like a VPN server, may require to be set up from scratch.

Familiar feature set

The RT-AX88U has the same feature set as that of the RT-AC88U, which is among the best among home routers. Here is the list of significant and useful features:

AiProtection: Powered by TrendMicro, this free feature protects the entire network from online threats. For example, when you’re about to browse a malicious website, the router will stop your browser and display a warning.

AiProtection also includes a useful and easy to use Parental Control function. You can block individual clients from specific online categories (Adult, Social media, and so on) based on a schedule. It’s interesting to note that while Parental Controls works well, albeit vague in terms categorizing, the router’s URL Filter function (part of its Firewall) can’t block secure (https) websites.

Adaptive QoS is one of many cool and useful features of the RT-AX88U (as well as many other Asus Routers.)
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech Adaptive QoS is one of many cool and useful features of the RT-AX88U (as well as many other Asus Routers.)

Adaptive QoS: This prioritizes Internet traffic for clients or applications of your liking. QoS is not new, but Asus’s Adaptive QoS is both easy to use and effective. It also includes a bandwidth monitor — in case you want to know who’s been hogging the Internet — and web history.

Game Boost: This aims toward gamers. Game Boost includes a free client for WTFast GPN, a VPN gaming network, and a one-click tuneup for the QoS setting.

AiMesh: This feature turns the router into a part of a robust mesh network. It’s so cool that it deserves a separate post. Note, however, that AiMesh has been quite buggy in my testing with Wi-Fi 6 routers and might take Asus a while to develop better firmware for it.

Other than that, the router has a host of other features. For example, you’ll find a ton of things host you can do with its USB ports that support external storage devices or cellular dongles. You can also turn the router into a powerful VPN server, or a VPN client. And there are all other advanced settings you might need to customize your home network to the max.

Asus RT-AX88U’s detail photos

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech From the front, the RT-AX88U (left) is like the RT-AC88U with a new set of antennas.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The RT-AX88U’s antennas are easily removable.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The RT-AX88U comes in a traditional design of a Wi-Fi router.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech One of the router’s USB port is awkwardly placed on its front.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech Also on the front are the router’s Wi-Fi on/off and the WPS buttons.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The router looks quite good from the front.

The RT-AX88U is the latest AiMesh router from Asus.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech And from the side, it doesn’t appear too sappy, either.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The eight Gigabit LAN ports make the RT-AX88U an excellent route for those with a lot of wired devices.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The RT-AX88U features Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation (both LAN and WAN) but it doesn’t have any multi-gig ports.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech Despite the black color, the RT-AX88U’s second USB port features USB 3.2 Gen 1 (USB 3.0) speed.

The RT-AX88U has 8 Gigabit LAN ports.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The RT-AX88U looks quite nice from the backside, too.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech Here are all of the router’s ports.

Asus RT-AX88U: Gigabit-class performance

I tested the RT-AX88U using a couple of home-made 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients, and it did well, though not as well as the GT-AX1100.

READ NOW:  Wi-Fi 6 in Layman's Terms: Speed, Range, and More

Wi-Fi 5-like Wi-Fi 6 performance

The reason, again, was because it has no multi-gig port. To find out the top Wi-Fi speed of a router, you need to use a single wired-to-wireless connection so that its Wi-Fi bandwidth is not shared. And in the case of the RT-AX88U, its Gigabit network ports are the bottleneck. Indeed, its performance with Wi-Fi 6 clients was almost the same as when I used a high-end Wi-Fi 5 client.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Specifically, on the 5Ghz, the router got around 900 megabits per second at close distance. When I increased the range to 40 feet (12.2 m), it averaged some 810 Mbps. Note that I used a 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client, but if even when you have faster 4×4 clients, the result won’t be different.

I did an anecdotal test by using two 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients and copy data from one to another and got an average speed of about 650Mbps. That means the RT-AX88U has the sustained 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 speed of about 1300Mbps, on par with the Netgear RAX120.

Average 2.4GHz Wi-Fi speed

On the 2.4Ghz, the router was about the average, with some 198 Mbps and more than 110 Mbps for close and long-distance, respectively. Note that the performance on this band tends to suffer gravely from interferences and backward compatibility. That’s been the case for many routers, at least where I live, in the past many years.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

In terms of coverage, the router was about the same as the RT-AC88U in my testing. When placed in the middle, it can handle a single home of 1800 ft² (167 m²) to 2000 ft² (186 m²) easily with Wi-Fi speed at every corner fast enough to deliver an average broadband connection in full (70 Mbps to 250 Mbps).

Minor issues

This second time around, I tested the RT-AX88U with the latest firmware (Ver 3.0.0.4.384.6436), and for the most part, the router worked well. However, it wasn’t flawless.

One thing I noted is that it took quite a long time — up to five minutes — for the 5GHz band to be ready, each time I made any changes to the Wi-Fi settings. During this time, the network wasn’t available — you might think something is wrong. Another thing is Wi-Fi 6 clients’ speeds fluctuated a lot when older clients were present.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech Until new software drivers are available, you might need to disable the 802.11ax HE frame support for a Wi-Fi 6 router to work well legacy clients.

Another thing is, the RT-AX88U worked well as an AiMesh router in my testing, but as a node, it wasn’t reliable. I had to restart once in a while. At times, its Wi-Fi network wasn’t available for the mesh.

I have no doubt Asus will soon release firmware updates to improve the router. That said, you should wait for a bit if you intend to get this router to use in an AiMesh setup.

Also, until new software drivers are available, you might need to disable the router’s 802.11ax HE frame support for the router to work well with legacy clients.

Fast network-attached storage

I expected the RT-AX88U to have better network storage performance when coupled with an external hard drive, and it did.

I used a SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD for the test. Via a Gigabit connection, it registered more than 72 megabytes per second and some 111 MB/s for writing and reading, respectively. These are excellent speeds among routers with similar network storage feature. But, due to the lack of a multi-gig port, the RT-AX88U trails behind the RAX120, or the GT-AX11000 on this front.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech


Note that the router’s USB ports tend to default to USB 2.0, likely to reduce the impact on the router’s 2.4GHz Wi-Fi performance. To make sure you get the best network storage performance, you need to switch them to work in USB 3.0 mode manually. You can do this via the Network Map section of the router’s web interface.

By the way, in USB 2.0 mode, the router’s NAS performance was 35MB/s and 38MB/s for writing and reading, respectively.

Conclusion

Supporting 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 yet without a multi-gig port, the Asus RT-AX88U is half of a router it can be in terms of performance. Specifically, even when 4×4 clients are available, there’s virtually no scenario in which you can enjoy its faster wireless speeds.

But Gigabit is plenty fast, and for now, there are only 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients on the market. That plus the generous set of useful features, make the RT-AX88U it a sensible upgrade for those wanting a robust router that can for sure deliver Gigabit-class Internet in full.

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96 thoughts on “Asus RT-AX88U Review: A Router for True Gigabit Internet”

  1. Hi Dong

    Can’t speak highly enough about the AX88U since I implemented it 2 months ago using the guidelines you recommended here. In a nutshell :

    1. get the latest firmware before you start and if your router supports Merlin on Asus I would encourage you to do so.
    2. can’t beat a wire ! after a few visits to this site I realised that no matter how much hype a vendor puts on their box about ‘fast wifi backhauls’ you can’t beat the humble cat 6. Best money I spent before I launched into my mesh set up, 4/5 AX88U routers in my mesh are wired.
    3. I stuck to the old school web interface, as nice as the phone app was (great for browsing etc) I did all my changes via the web.
    4. Kicked off with router defaults for the most part, just now starting to play with QOS and have dabbled with dual WAN successfully.
    5. I get the same max internet speed provided by my ISP (75 mps) anywhere in the home. Gotta be happy with that !

    Everything works just like in the Dong review, really happy I went this way because that Alien router looked awesome. Happy to trade that beauty for 8 ports in each node !!

    Looking forward to AIMESH 2.0 when it encapsulated in Merlin.

    Reply
  2. Hi Dong,

    I’m wondering how many streams this router has. I find it strange than some routers are very heavily marketed as 12-stream or 6-stream and in others, like this one, I cant seem to find that spec anywhere online. Is there a reason for that? I’m a beginner so I apologize if there’s some sort of obvious answer to this.

    Reply
  3. Hi. Which do you recommend more? The Asus Ax88U or TpLink Archer Ax6000? Which of these two has the longest WiFi range. Thank you.

    Reply
  4. Thank you !! that was exactly what I was hoping the router would do. All set up and now using Dual WAN.

    I was trying to set up some rules to direct traffic for some devices and I don’t understand what it means by ‘Destination IP’ in the rules. The obviously cannot be the same (tried that…)

    Reply
  5. Hi Dong,

    I have a wireless internet service to which I am committed to for the next 12 months; with the success of my AX88U Mesh implementation (via cable ISP) the wireless has now become an expensive backup to my ISP services. Ironically the wireless service is 20% faster than my cable service !

    Is there a way (I am using a Mac) to somehow feed the two services into the AX88U router ? I was reading about AX88U link aggregation but from what I saw it was going back to the same router. I am looking at feeding two services into the AX88U and that it somehow aggregates the bandwidth.

    In 12 months I will cancel the wireless but it seems a waste to have this service idle.

    Reply
  6. Hi Dong,

    I’m struggling with my smart locks (august) after upgrading to RT-AX88U. Previously was stable with RT-AC68U, everything on same place and the Signals and SNR with basically the same levels.

    I tweaked all possible settings on the new router (one each time), such as Airtime Fairness, WMM and WMM APSD, Target Wake Time and the list goes, but what I get varies from two August “Bridges” disconnecting each 3 minutes to disconnection around 6:02 hours. I couldn’t have a reliable diagnosis neither identify the source of all issues.
    The logs shows WLCEVENTD: Deauth_ind …. and nothing more.

    Searched a lot over the internet to find nothing… I’m really without ideas here… Hope you may have any empirical/historical experience on that, because I’m in contact with both companies support teams but none seems to have a clue about where the incompatibility may be…..

    Congrats for all content and great information you provide. I’ve decided on my new router here… Source of reliable information !!!

    Reply
    • Set the band used for your locks in the most compatible settings, MB. My take is your locks don’t support the latest security or Wi-Fi grade of the new router. Alternatively, you can backup the settings of the 68U and restore those on the 88U.

      Reply
  7. Thanks for that, i will leave things as they are.

    Very interesting comment about -69 dBm ; I never thought about it in terms of relativity to my location.

    If I understand you correctly , a score of -69 in my home is not the same as -69 reading in your location but only relative to our respective homes ??

    Reply
  8. Hey just letting you know, the AX88U’s processor was able to keep up up with bandwidth limiter on the 4K TVs. However, when I also enabled LACP-IEEE 802.3ad Wan Port Aggregation, the AX88U would drop from 700mbs to about 10mbs on all clients after about 2 hours use. For now, I had turn that off. I’m still only getting about 451mbs on my closest ethernet client at the same spot where I was getting about 700mbs with the AC66U (with no features on). Remember I got 110mb with the same features on the AC66U

    Reply
  9. Hi Dong,

    Been running the AX88U mesh for 2 weeks now with ZERO outages or dropouts, I am stoked about my system having come from a reliable but underwhelming Apple Extreme extended network. Full ISP speed everywhere in the house and about 80% in garage (basement).

    I added an additional AX88U in the basement to improve the coverage in the garage for some cameras and smart devices (5 connections) , the 4th node is connected via wifi as I have no ethernet backbone there. My queries are :-

    1. Is the wifi connection between the mesh routers at wifi6 speed ? (definitely using 5Ghz, 3/4 bars)

    2. I am getting -69 dBm signal down there from the 4th Mesh (worst case I have seen), would adding a 1Gb Powerline and ethernet make this connection better ?

    Thanking you,

    Mario

    Reply
    • 1. Yes, Mario, but remember you’ll have to deal with signal loss. Still it’ll be more than fast enough. But you can’t count on wireless backhaul to be consistent and reliable (compared to wired backhaul.)
      2. No, Powerline is always going to be much worse than Wi-Fi 6 wireless backhaul. You need network cable or maybe MoCA. By the way, the 69 number is relative. It’s only meaningful to your location.

      Reply
  10. I think I may have found a bug on my Asus RT-AX88U. I have a burglar alarm with a wifi card in it that cannot operate on any channel above channel 11 on the 2.4GHz network (it also doesn’t work with 5GHz). I have the check box unticked on my router that says “Auto select channel including channel 12, 13” and yet my router still auto selects channel 12 (causing the alarm to disconnect with a ‘comms error). I also have 2 x XT8s in an AI Mesh with the AX88U so am a bit unsure which mesh device the alarm is connecting to but obviously with a mesh system, I presume the settings are the same across all mesh devices. I’ve raised a ticket with Asus but thought I’d see whether anyone here had seen this before.

    Reply
  11. Hi Dong!
    Great website! Very informative!

    Last month changed my internet service to At&t fiber and they gave me the BGW210. Max speed through wifi in the same room was 500 mbps top so did some research and decided to get a better wifi router to improve it. Decided to go with the RT AX88U after reading quite a few blogs, yours included, that it was a really good router.

    The wifi speed improved a bit to 600 mbps top same room, but was expecting it to improve to 800 mbps, like your testing was showing.

    Don’t have any AX clients, most are AC. Set the modem to passthrough to the Asus. Have set up the Asus as described below:

    Enable Smart Connect OFF
    Wireless Mode: Auto
    802.11ax / Wi-Fi 6 mode: Disable
    Wi-Fi Agile Multiband: Disable
    Target Wake Time: Enable
    Channel bandwidth: 20/40/80/160 MHz
    Control Channel: Auto
    Auto select channel including DFS channels (unchecked)
    Extension Channel: Auto

    I’ve been playing with these settings but can’t figure out what I need to do to. Getting to the point of returning the Asus. Any insights, things I can try?

    Thanks!
    Hernan

    Reply
  12. Hi Dong it’s quite a comprehensive review on AX88U. Have been using AC68U for many years and so far it never let me down. I thinking to get an upgrade from AC68U to AX88U. Seeing AX 88U has some negative points, is it still worth for an upgrade or should I wait for AX86U which has a multigig WAN port? I would like something that is future proof that can serve me for many years of usage. Thanks.

    Reply
  13. Thank you Dong.
    I have a follow-up question then.

    The system on which I wish I would have more speed to use from that Google Fiber connecton is my main server which is running integrated Intel 9260 on the motherboard ASUS TUF x570 Wifi mobo). I never get more than 500mbps on it so would upgrading to a wifi 5 pci card that supports 4×4 vs. the 2×2 that I have now lead to a substantial increase in wifi speed?

    If so, I am considering this one: https://amzn.to/3go07kt

    Anything better out there?

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • That one is an excellent adapter, Mike. I use it for my testing. And no, it’s as fast as Wi-Fi 5 can be and since Wi-Fi 6 is currently available at only 22 on the client-side, it’s almost as fast as Wi-Fi can be. Generally, though, it’s very hard to get true 1 Gbps via Wi-Fi, but faster connection grade helps. More on that here.

      Reply
  14. Hi Dong,

    My house is a 2-story and about 2,100 sqft in size. I am not a big gamer but need reliable wifi at max speed.

    My Asus RT-AC66U B1 is setup as the main router on one side of the house to Google Fiber to distribute Wifi and I am using an older first-gen Asus RT-AC66U as media bridge downstairs on the other side of the house for my living room. In total, I have 18 devices connected via Wifi through this setup.

    I am planning to move my RT-AC66U B1 in place of the first-gen AC66U as a media bridge and buy a new unit to act as primary router.

    Should I go for the Asus RT-AC86U at $180 or get the RT-AX88U at $350?

    Reply
    • The former, Michael. It’s not a good idea to mix Wi-Fi standards. The 88u probably won’t make a meaningful difference.

      Reply
  15. Dong,

    You were correct, the meshing did not update the firmware on the other units. I found the menus you recommended and I am now running Merlin on all routers. Many thanks !!

    Reply
  16. Hi Dong,

    After weeks of reading your tips etc I plunged and put my money on 3 X AX88U routers meshed via ethernet (one each floor). I took your comment and ditched the ISP router so it is a clean ASUS setup.

    I installed the latest Merlin firmware 384.18 and then went ahead and meshed the other 2, all went pretty smoothly and I am now getting 73 Mbps anywhere in the house (3 floors), that is the max my ISP can pump so I am very happy with thruput. Those pesky Ring devices are all showing sub -50 RSSI so life is good all round. I will play a bit more with parental control on the iPhone app but so far so good. I kept router defaults as they were based on so much contention here.

    I do have a couple of questions, when I flashed the Merlin software on the main router all went well; when I meshed the other two routers (via the Merlin interface) it linked them perfectly but never gave me an opportunity to update the firmware and it would seem that once meshed you can’t get to the individual mesh routers other than thru the main router.

    My two queries are :-

    1. Does Merlin firmware propagate itself to its mesh clients ? The Mesh process took 3-4 mins each which makes me think that it brought the router firmware in synch.

    2. Despite knowing the IP addresses of the Mesh devices I can’t seem to logon to them and all interfacing happens thru the main router ?? If the answer to Q1 is YES then it is now an awesome synched system.

    I decided to go AX88 rather than wait for AX89 which does not support Merlin and would cost more for features I could not make use of because of my ISP’s poultry speed offerings.

    Reply
    • Cool, Mario.

      1. Likely no, you need to upgrade the node via the interface of the router. There’s an Upload link for each in the upgrade section of the router, the login username and password is the same as those of the router.
      2. It is.

      Reply
  17. Dong, thanks for the quick response. My modem is the Netgear CM1150V and it supports LACP-IEEE 802.3ad Wan Port Aggregation. The reason I want to use Bandwidth limiter (PER DEVICE) is the internet caps at 1TB a month and I have some small 4K Roku Tvs that are abusers. If fact, 1 TV can use the entire limit with only 2-3 hours of viewing per day. There are no throttle settings on the TV itself. I want to limit them to around 5-10mb for HD quality and keep the rest of the bandwidth open for the other devices. This works nice on the RT-AC66U but it switches from hardware acceleration to “store and forward” and the processor cant keep up. QoS isn’t the answer because it will allow the TVs to switch to 4KV when there are no higher priority devices on the network. I hope this clears it up a bit.

    Thanks again

    Reply
    • Wow, that’s crazy! Why don’t use just turn the Roku off? Mess around, I think you’ll be able to do it. I’ll look into this.

      Reply
  18. Great site. I’m so glad I found it. I have Xfinity 1GB service and I’m interested in using the following features together 1) WAN Aggregation, 2) Bandwidth Limiter and 3) AiMesh (with cat5e backhaul). I am upgrading from a RT-AC66U and noticed that when I use Bandwidth Limiter the Cut Through Forwarding is disabled and my speeds drop to under 200mb. This got me worried about how using multiple features affect throughput on the RT-AX88u.

    On this ASUS FAQ https://www.asus.com/us/support/FAQ/1039053/ it states that “WAN Aggregation only works under Router Mode” so I didn’t know if that meant I can’t use it with AiMesh. Any thoughts you can offer on this including recommending a different router would be helpful.

    Reply
    • Happy to have you here, Gerald. You can find WAN Aggregation in the Internet section of the WAN setup area. That only works when you use a modem of the same feature. If you use Bandwidth Limiter, your speed will be throttled, that’s the point. I’d recommend using Adaptive QoS instead.

      Reply
  19. 2 houses? If the houses are next to each other, then use Ethernet cable to backhaul. Use wireless backhaul only if the 2 nodes/routers are within 40 ft with walls between, may even closer if walls are bricks or stones. ZenWiFi AX does not have Ethernet backhaul supported.

    Reply
  20. Hi Dong,

    First off good work on your reviews! I really like the breakdowns and speed graphs. I recently purchased the RT-ax88u to replace my rt-ac68u. I find the WiFi signal much weaker and slow than the ac68u(its in the same spot and has the same connections). Upon start up of the 88u I used a load of the 68u settings. This really caused problems with speed and signal, so I factory reset the 88u. I have now spent hours trying to tweak settings to increase performance, but it still seems inconsistent. Obviously there are a lot of factors at play here, but I wonder if you have why it would perform worse than a router that’s almost 8 years old.

    Thanks!

    Reply
  21. Thanks Dong for your excellent reviews. I am considering purchasing a RT-AX88U router to use in a AiMesh setup. Is there any performance differences in using another of the RT-AX88U units vs. using a RT-AX58U as the node? I am specifically interested in range to an outdoor space from the node.

    Reply
    • Sure, Matt.

      1. If you use a wireless setup, the speed at the node unit will cap at just half of what the router there can do.
      2. If you use wired backhaul, the speed there will be at full, but the RT-AX58U is slower and has a *slightly* shorter range than the RT-AX88U.

      For more check out this post on mesh systems, and this post on AiMesh.

      Reply
  22. Hi Dong,

    Thank you so much for a great review. I bought the router after reading your take and I am happy with it. My apartment is l-shaped and the WiFi signal collapses from 85% to 18% from a room to the next I guess because of a thick reinforced wall. The room at the very end of the corridor doens’t get any reception whatsoever. I used to cover that room and the one next to it with a devolo CPL+Wifi but I wasn’t really happy with the results, hence the switch to Asus. Now my question is, what is the best way to cover those two rooms given I can’t connect it via ethernet and the wifi signal is so weak? I was thinking of a CPL but I can’t find any with AiMesh. I’m intrigured by the new ASUS ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4), maybe if I have one repeater per room it’ll work? What do you suggest?

    Many thanks,

    Paolo

    Reply
  23. Hi Dong I enjoy reading your blog. I have one question. If I have a AX88U (Wifi6) and Asus ZenWifi AC (non-Wifi6) AC3100, which should I set as a backbone, sorry this may sound simple, but I’m very new.

    Reply
    • Glad you’re here, Andrew. I assume you mean which one you should use as the main router. In that case, this depends. If you have wired backhaul, use the 88U, if not, use one of the ZenWiFi. More on that here.

      Reply
  24. Hi Dong, thanks for the reviews. It was very helpful in deciding which router to get. The RT-AX88U is working well so far. Currently I have a powerline extender to cover the weak signal at the back (too many walls) however that is limited to about 100mbs. I’m thinking of getting another Asus to use as a mesh and put in the middle. I don’t need IP6 at the back so another AX88 would seem overkill. What do you recommend that would work well from the ASUS range?

    Reply
    • You’re welcome, Graham. You can try RT-AX3000, or the RT-AX92U. Either will work with your RT-AX88U in an AiMesh system. Alternatively, you can get the Netgear EX8000 extender. Make sure you update it to the latest firmware and set up to use one of its 5 GHz band as backhaul.

      Reply
  25. Thank you Dong. I see in your first link that the AX88U’s satellite performance is about equal to the performance listed in this article. Is that because this unit has bandwidth that far exceeds the gigabit input (i.e. if this unit had a 2.5 input, we’d expect to see ~1600+ Mbps?).
    What would you recommend for an 1100 sqft one-floor apartment with upgradability in mind? Wifi 5 or 6? Mesh capable or no? Currently between the ASUS AX3000 and a single ZenWifi AX (upgrading from a netgear c3000 :X)

    Reply
  26. What approximate speed could you expect from the satellite of a pair of AX88U’s using AiMesh? Would it be 3/4 the speed because the wireless backbone uses 1 out of 4 streams? In general, are 4×4 capable units better than 2×2 for mesh purposes? When a mesh network is established, does the master unit also suffer the same penalty as the satellite?

    Reply
  27. I do get a signal of -65dBm if I use 2 AC87U’s one as AP and the other in bridge mode. (On 2.4GHz of course)
    I can’t move them closer then I need to put them outside. Distance is 30m with 2 walls in between.
    Both setups work, but I would like to get a bit better performance there. No need for gbps speed, but 200mbps would be nice…

    Reply
  28. Hi Dong,
    I have a zenwifi AX installed between 2 houses, but the connection is showing as weak(-85dBm) in the UI.
    If I would replace them by 2 AX88U’s, would the connection then be better? Since it’s not a tri-band, I’m hoping it can use the 2.4GHz as the backhaul instead of the 5GHz. Or is a setup with 2 AX11000 better, but then again, the 5GHz-2 will be used as backhaul with the related range restrictions of the higher frequency…

    Reply
    • No, Bart. It seems the distance is either too far or there are two many walls in between the two. No new hardware will help you in this case. You need to figure out a way to move the two units closer.

      Reply
  29. I purchased this device and installed, but having issues getting all my devices connected and out to the internet. I can connect 3 devices, but all others it shows connected with no internet access – any suggestions?

    Reply
  30. Hey Dong,
    I just bought the ASUS RT-AX88U and i have a question. What is the maximum range you can get from it?
    My router is set up in the front of the house and the router does not cover the backyard. It’s about 18/20 meters (65 ft.) Away. Is this normal?

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  31. Nice review, Dong. I’m now using the AX88U since ca. 1/2 year. At the beginning it was a bit buggy, but over time (and this is exactly why I went for another Asus router – Asus are upgrading firmware for many years) it was vastly improved with better firmware.

    The issue with 5 GHz needing long to restart may be from the 802.11 implementation where the router needs to test for presence of other signals on channels 100-140 before activation of the radio as these channels are shared with air traffic radar frequencies. If you are using these channels activation of 5G will take much longer than if other channels are used. The benefit is potentially of course less ‘competition’ of other routers on these channels.

    I’m currently thinking of replacing my old AC66U (which I am using as a repeater) by another AX88U. Do you have any idea what Wifi connection speed can be achieved between 2x AC88U this way? Between the AX88U and the AC66U I now have a link speed of 1300 Mbps at a distance of ca. 15 m (not bad, I know…)

    Reply
  32. I was wondering if there was an firmware update that resolved the issue where it was acting up as a node. Im planning on getting a RT-AX89X as a router and AX88U or AX92U as a node. Do you have a recommendation for which one I should get for the node? The AX88U seems more powerful, but Im worried that it might have issues like yours did.

    Also on ASUS site it lists the AX89X as having a 8×8 5Ghz setup, they mean bean 2 4×4 5Ghz right?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • I reviewed it a while ago and there have been a few firmware updates since. I’d say it should work better now. You should a couple of RT-AX89X units together. Read my review on it for more.

      Reply
  33. How do you merge the settings of my RT-68U to the RT-AX88U? I would lik e use the RT-68U in my rear bedroom and the AX88U on my computer desk.

    Reply
  34. Good day Dong,

    I love your website. I decided to go ahead and purchased Asus AX88. Unfortunately, I did not receive much better performance than my ac86. I suspect that there might be some settings that should be adjusted. Did you do any customization to improve the range. I have iPhone 11Pro and I am losing the signal on ax88 much closer compared to ac86.
    In your test for the NAS it was mentioned that AC 86 can deliver only 45 MB /s. I am getting 112, To have those speeds I changes USB 2 to USB 3 in configurations.

    I really want to upgrade the system since more and more devices are coming to my home.

    Hope you can help me to tweak the settings so that the range on Ax88 is as good as on Ac86

    Thank you,
    Alex

    Reply
    • Thanks, Alex. Your observation is correct. I probably tested the RT-AC86U with older firmware and generally, you need to have Wi-Fi 6 clients to see the benefits of the RT-AX88U. For now, make sure you upgrade the RT-AX88U to the latest firmware and use Smart Connect for its Wi-Fi settings. Wi-Fi 6 is still an early stage now and it might take Asus a while to make things work as well as they do in Wi-Fi 5.

      Reply
  35. Hi Dong. I am already invested in the Asus biosphere:) as I have an rt68u functioning as an access point currently and rt86u as the main.

    I managed to damage two of the lan ports on the 86u and so I currently need to buy a new main router. The 86u will be turned into an access point or node. I am currently waiting to see if the AX88u will be put on sale this black friday or cyber monday but am wondering if I should wait to see if there are new product releases on the horizon from Asus?

    Can you tell me if there are any new exiting router products coming from Asus, perhaps with multi gig ports? Best wishes and love your site and reviews.

    Reply
    • Sorry to hear, Daniel. I wonder how one can damage the LAN ports! 🙂 Currently, there’s only one router from Asus that has one 2.5Gbps network port which is the GT-AX11000. I’m not sure if that’s worth the extra cost, though.

      Reply
  36. Its not my first time to pay a quick visit this web site, i am visiting
    this web page dailly and take nice facts from here everyday.

    Reply
  37. Thanks for the review. I needed a new router and figured I could “future proof” my setup. I do have to state that I don´t have all the router options available like you guys do in 1st world countries, so out of the list you’ve tested only a handful get to Mexico, and this is one of them.
    I just wanted to clarify one thing for readers, ask a question, and give a little bit of caution…
    First, the router does support link aggregation via LACP, and none of your tests nor examples take that into consideration. I have a D-LINK DGS-1210-28 switch and a QNAP TS453Be NAS that both support link aggregation, and my PC also has a quad gigabit network card, so eventhough the router is a gigabit router, connection speeds in both WiFI and NAS performance are way bettter than those stated when in this mode. For the NAS I am getting 130 MB/s write and 160+ MB/s read speeds constantly both in single large file and multiple small file sizes tests. I am just stating this since it is unfair to judge this router in equal terms when this is not considered in your testing methodology. I do realize that for the average user this will not be used, but it should at least be mentioned for the reader’s consideration.
    The question is, why can´t you use your Samsung S10 to test this as you mention in Clamb’s post of March 23, 2019? I have a S10+ and haven´t had issues using the device to test my network. Obviously I can´t saturate it with that single device, but speeds and throughput on my device can be measured and tested.
    The caution part here is that the router’s little door that covers the front side USB port is very flimsy in its hinges, so if you plan to use the front USB panel a lot, you might just end up holding a broken door in your hand at one point.
    In any case. I do thank you for the review since it did sway my purchasing decision.
    Saludos desde Mexico.
    Alex

    Reply
    • I forgot to also add, since for me this was the tipping point, I purchased this router, since it is one of the few AX routers that is actually wall mountable.

      Reply
      • De nada, Alex. Gracias por tus comentarios y preguntas. The reason I didn’t use link aggregation to test the router is that not all routers support link aggregation. Also, not everyone uses a NAS server, either, and I need something that’s relatable to the larger audience. For the same token, I don’t use a mobile device for the testing. In short, I need a method that’s generic and can be applied to ALL routers so that I can compare them apples to apples, at least in terms of speeds. If you wonder how I test router, check out this post. Saludos desde California! 🙂

        Reply
  38. Just picked mine up and one thing I like is the android ASUS Router app available on the google play store. My only gripe is that the app does not let you activate/deactivate stored vpn client profiles. I know you can just browse to the router using chrome, IE, etc, but the smartphone app should allow you to administer your router’s vpn.

    Reply
    • You’re right, Harry. But generally, apps are less in-depth as the web interface. By the way, you can skip the app, use DDNS and your mobile browser for the router’s web interface, make a shortcut for it. It’ll work somewhat like an app and gives you access to everything.

      Reply
  39. What features does the router support, uplink mu-mimo for instance? What are the benefits of an 5ghz 8×8 config vs 4×4-4×4 5ghz trio band? Ty

    Reply
    • Uplink MU-MIMO won’t be available till WAVE 2 of Wi-Fi 6 (no ETA yet). The 8×8 (160Mhz) allows for the top Wi-Fi 6 speeds but only work with Wi-Fi 6 (and a few Wi-Fi 5 clients). The other support legacy clients better but is generally slower.

      Reply
  40. Wondering if you can help make a choice. I was going to get Ubiquiti pro access points but wondering if Asus AX6100 might be a better choice. I now AX is still down the road but would that “future proof” the set up.

    Thanks

    Reply
  41. Hey Dong, just came across your site and have been enjoying your reviews and comments a lot.

    Want to replace my rental Verizon Fios G1100 AC1750 WiFi router with a 802.11ax purchased router that hopefully gives me some better performance wired and WiFi as well and reduces my monthly bill a little. Of course, multi-year before I break even on money, haha. Have three Elac Discovery Z3 speakers on three levels in house powered by sonicTransporter i7 – and sometimes I have some music lag. TV is connected via Cat6 – and sometimes have lag streaming video from QNAP TS-251+ that is connected to Cat6.

    1. I’m assuming I can just swap out the Fios router with the AX88U?
    2. Even more overkill than the RT-AX88U for my needs, are you going to test out the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000?

    Debating running out to MicroCenter this weekend and buying a new router 🙂

    Thanks.. enjoyed your CNet reviews in the past.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Z.

      1. This depends. I don’t know how your Fios works (we don’t have it where I am) but it might need an end device (like a modem) in the place of the current Verizon gateway. If so, you’ll need that to plug your Asus router in. If the current gateway uses a special port to hook to the service line (and not a WAN port) then you definitely need a modem.
      2. Yes, I will. I have a bunch of AX routers with me right now and I’m waiting to get AX clients before I’ll review them. After the Asus RT-AX88U, I feel there’s no point in reviewing AX routers without the clients. There are still no clients on the market right now other than the Samsung S10 which I can’t use for my test method.

      Stay tuned! 🙂

      Reply
  42. Hi Dong, love your site and info! Currently running an RT-AC68U (old!) and looking to future proof. Is the AX88U recommended yet with the new firmware updates? Also, if I wanted a mesh that works well, is the AC68U too old (no backhaul)? If so, what newer Asus would you recommend to get that doesn’t break the bank and work well with the AX88U? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Clamb. I still haven’t had a Wi-Fi 6 client — the new Samsung S10 phone won’t work for my tests — but so far the RT-AX88U has been working very well. I don’t have any reason to believe it won’t work well with Wi-Fi 6 clients. That said, yes, I personally recommend it. As for your setup, you should try the RT-AX88U (as the router) with the RT-AC68U (as a node) for a while and see how it goes. It will likely work well for your needs for a long time. Or you can try the Blue Cave. It’s quite great. Relatively soon, Asus will release Wi-Fi 6 AiMesh nodes.

      https://dongknows.com/asus-blue-cave-router-review/

      Reply
  43. Hi Dong, I would often read your reviews on CNet and was wondering why their router reviews seemed to die off, so I am glad I found your new site. I currently have the 88U and I am looking to add another ASUS router so I can utilize the Airmesh feature. Just curious if you have thoughts on any performance benefit that the new quad processor and double RAM in this AX88 would have over the 88U? I have a house that can have 30 + clients connected at a time (smart home devices, gaming, and video streaming). At times I have 3 Xboxes running online while someone is streaming Netflix 4k at the same time (all wired connections btw). Just trying to decide if I should just get another 88U or if the extra cpu and memory would any benefit to my situation and worth the extra $ to upgrade to the AX88? Thanks for any insight!

    Reply
  44. Hi Dong,

    I have been considering getting an AiMesh setup for my new place. My challenge is that my place has 4 levels – basement and 3 levels. I was hoping whether you could weigh in your opinion about my potential solution given your knowledge and experience in this area.

    I was thinking of getting an AX-11000/ AC-5300 in my basement (where the fibre line is) and an AX-88u on the 2nd floor.

    I am hoping that the basement router can penetrate the ceiling to cover the first floor and the AX-88u to cover the 3rd and 4th floors.

    I don’t quite understand thoroughly the backhaul stuff, but both routers would be connected to lan points so I suppose that wouldn’t be an issue? Also, even in the pairing of the AC-5300 with the AX-88u, I would suppose the AC-5300 should be the main router instead of the node?

    Hope to hear your opinion. Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    Reply
    • Hi John,

      Generally, I think you should hold up from getting an AX router for now. Wait a few years, this is because there now no Wi-Fi 6 clients yet and existing clients can be incompatible with Wi-Fi 6 routers.

      That said, for your home, you can just get two AiMesh routers, such as RT-AC88U, 86U, or 68U, Blue Cave, or a combo of them. Generally use the one with most features as the main router. But if you intend to use a tri-band router then make sure that router is used as a node first. Since you use network cable, back-haul won’t be an issue. Make sure you place the routers as close to the ceilings and the middle of the house, as you can.

      For more on this check out this post: https://dongknows.com/asus-aimesh-overview/

      Hope this helps!

      -Dong.

      Reply
  45. I’m so glad I found your site. Most detailed router reviews with methodology. AiMesh sounds amazing conceptually. With WiFi6, 5G channel is now supporting over 4Gbps, so AiMesh connection should be also substantially improved on paper if router and node are both Ax. So I have two questions/request.

    Have you tested two of these with one as Router and another as Node to see even better connection speed? Obviously, bottleneck will still be client PC/Mac or even ethernet cable itself as this can only support 2.5Gbps max per port.
    AiMesh has mixed reviews for its speed. I like your numbers as conceptually makes sense but other sites state they are by far slower than dedicated Mesh systems like Orbi when connecting to node. My guess is proper placement on AiMesh may be even more important than dedicated Mesh system perhaps due to too close placement may be taken over by router instead of node, may be even signal intereference? So my question is can you give us a detail how you figured out placement of AiMesh or even better is give us an insight how placement can affect the speed to really comfirm my gut feeling of those sites having numbers AiMesh had almost neglible impact.

    Thanks in advance,

    Reply
    • Thanks, Sen. Funny you should ask, I’m actually getting another unit to test AiMesh with AX. As for the placement, I place the node 40 feet away from the main router. That’s consistent for all mesh systems I review. Personally, I always use network cables as back-haul.

      Reply
    • Possibly. But the connection and firmware restoration issues have been confirmed by Asus. I’m running a new beta firmware and it’s much better. Haven’t re-tested the NAS feature yet, though.

      Reply
    • You’re correct, Jay. Apparently, originally, the router defaulted to USB 2.0. The latest firmware really helped. Thanks again for letting me know.

      Reply

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