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Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: It’s More Like Multi-Gig vs. Gigabit

Asus RT AX88U vs Netgear RAX120 Ports
Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: The latter comes with a 5Gbps network ports while the former is a pure Gigabit router.

This post is all about the Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120 matchup. Both are top-tier dual-band routers, but they are quite different. In many ways, they represent the way their makers, Asus and Netgear, approached home networking.

You’ll be able to find out which suites you better by the end. Hopefully.

See also  Best Wi-Fi 6 Routers of 2021: Take One, or Two, Home Today!

Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: Similarities

These two are dual-band 4×4 routers, capable of delivering up to 4.8Gbps in a single Wi-Fi 6 connection, or 2.4Gbps to existing 2×2 clients. Note though, that some might call them 8×8 routers by combining the total streams of both bands.

In all, they are somewhat like the case of the Asus GT-AX11000 vs. Netgear RAX200 matchup, minus the 2nd 5GHz band on each router.

Both routers support Link Aggregation, where you can combine two Gigabit ports into a 2Gbps connection. And finally, they are quite huge.

Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: Hardware specifications

Asus RT-AX88UNetgear Nighthawk RAX120
Wi-Fi TechnologyDual-Band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) AX6000Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) AX6000
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs802.11ax (2.4GHz) : up to 1148 Mbps802.11ax (2.4GHz) : up to 1148 Mbps
5GHz Wi-Fi Specs802.11ax (5GHz) : up to 4804 Mbps802.11ax (5GHz) : up to 4804 Mbps
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac
AP ModeYesYes
Mesh-readyYes (AiMesh)No
160MHz Channel SupportYesYes
Gigabit Network Port8x LAN, 1x WAN 4x LAN, 1x WAN 
Multi-Gig Network PortNone1x 5Gbps LAN/WAN
Link AggregationYes (LAN ports 1 and 2)Yes (LAN ports 1 and 2)
Dual-WANYesYes
USB2x USB 3.02x USB 3.0
Mobile AppAsus RouterNetgear Nighthawk
Processing Power1.8 GHz quad-core CPU, 256MB Flash, 1GB RAM2.2GHz quad-core CPU, 512MB of flash, 1GB of RAM
Dimensions11.8 x 7.4 x 2.4 inches (30 x 18.8 x 6.04 cm)12.2 x 7.48 x 1.77 in (310 x 190 x 45 mm)
Weight2.1 lbs (945 g)3 lbs (1364g)
Hardware specifications: Asus RT AX88U vs Netgear RAX120

Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: Differences

The RT-AX88U has a standard look of a Wi-Fi router, while the RAX120 is a fantastic looking piece of hardware (it shares the same design as the RAX200). The latter also has more raw power with a faster CPU and twice the amount of flash storage.

Port-wise, the RAX120 has the usual one Gigabit WAN port, four Gigabit LANs plus one 5Gbps LAN port. The multi-gig port can work either as a LAN port or a WAN port. So, this router can handle a faster-than-gigabit connection on either the LAN or the Internet side.

The RT-AX88U has no multi-gig port at all, but it has eight LAN ports and one WAN port, all are Gigabit. But Asus features Dual-WAN, where you can turn one of its LAN (or USB) ports into a second WAN port.

Asus RT AX88U vs Netgear RAX120 Antennas
You can collapse the RAX120’s antennas and remove those of the Asus RT-AX88U

The RT-AX88U has many features but can be a bit buggy, especially with its few early stock firmware versions. Alternatively, though, you can put the Merlin third-party firmware on it.

The RAX120 has a standard feature set, minimum Wi-Fi settings, but, for the most part, it works well right out of the box.

Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: Performance

Thanks to the 5Gbps LAN port, the Netgear can deliver faster real-world speed than the Asus when working with top-notch clients. That’s especially true in NAS performance, where each router hosts an external storage device, as shown here.

RT AX88U vs RAX120

But if you have sub-Gigabit Internet, you’ll see almost no difference between these two. The two routers had similar Wi-Fi coverage in my testing. Either can handle a relatively large home with ease.

Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: Ratings

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.
  • Merlin firmware support

Cons

  • No multi-gig network port
  • Buggy firmware (at review)
Asus RT AX88U vs Netgear RAX120 Backside
Both the Asus RT-AX88U and the Netgear RAX120 are massive routers, with the latter being slightly larger than the former.

NETGEAR Nighthawk AX12 12-Stream WiFi 6 Router (RAX120)

$384.77
8.1

Performance

8.5/10

Features

7.5/10

Design and Setup

9.0/10

Value

7.5/10

Pros

  • Powerful hardware, fast performance
  • Beautiful design
  • Multi-Gig network port (5Gbps)
  • Well organized web user interface
  • Ultra-fast network storage performance

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No online protection, gaming, or mesh features
  • A bit bulky

Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: Which to get

Both of these routers have their own strengths and weaknesses. But chances are the two will deliver the same Wi-Fi experience.

That said, get the Asus RT-AX88U if you want extra LAN ports and don’t mind tweaking the settings, and you don’t care about multi-gig wired speeds. It’s also the only out of the two that features Merlin, making it great for geek and nerds.

On the other hand, Netgear RAX120 is a better fit for those wanting reliable performance out of the box, or the fastest Wi-Fi and NAS performance when hosting an external storage device. It’s also my personal pick — the 5Gbps port is worth the extra dough.

Looking to compare other Wi-Fi solutions? Check them all out here.

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14 thoughts on “Asus RT-AX88U vs. Netgear RAX120: It’s More Like Multi-Gig vs. Gigabit”

  1. Hi! I have new AsusRt-AX86U router. I am seeking to buy right extender. Wonder, can my new router connect to NETGEAR Nighthawk WiFi 6 Mesh Range Extender EAX80? Extremely appreciate your best advise. thanks!
    James Cody

    Reply
  2. What’s the use case for 1 x 5gbps port if all other ports are 1 gbps, and clients are on WIFI? Would NAS device have to go on USB and then a wired client on the 5gbps port to take advantage of the full 5gbps transfer speeds?

    Reply
    • Here are a few things you can do with that port with, Chris:

      1. A multi-gig switch: In this case, you can have a full multi-gig wire network.
      2. A multi-gig server: The server can serve multiple Gibigit clients with ease.
      3. A multi-gig broadband connection: You can get faster than 1Gbps Internet via Wi-Fi.
      4. A multi-gig client: It now can get super-fast NAS performance from the router’s connected drive.

      Reply
  3. I had horrible issues with the RAX120’s firmware. Pushing any amount of data over 5 GHz to a gigabit Internet connection would cause the router to crash and reset.

    One speed test that got a 800-1000+ mbps result would be all it took to crash the router.

    Reply
    • That’s super odd, Michael. I’d recommend updating it to the latest firmware. If you’re already using that, maybe use the previous firmware version for now until a newer one is released.

      Reply
      • I gave up on it long ago but the support thread is still going strong on the Netgear support site (with no resolve).

        To clarify my above post, It worked great with one client attached and could easily saturate my Gigabit connection over 5G AX. Once multiple clients were attached the 5G radio would crash or begin to crawl. It would take anywhere from a couple minutes to a few hours. Most of the time a speed test was enough to trigger the crash. The LAN ports were fine, so something with the 5G radio specifically. I disabled everything, including AX. For $500, it just wasn’t acceptable.

        I’ve noticed other AX routers in this prosumer range also seem to get similar reports. It has me wondering if there is some common related hardware, driver, or software component that can’t keep up with gigabit service.

        I just purchased the Asus AX86U after reading your review! 🙂 I’m optimistic about this one, especially with Merlin.

        Reply
  4. I’ll be getting the Xbox Series X on release date and I’m getting 1Gb internet installed tomorrow. Planning to have my Xbox setup in the loft whilst the router will be 2 floors down in the living room. Best router for me? Deciding between the ASUS RT-AX88U and the RT-AX86U. Your advice would be valuable (even a different router cos ur the expert)

    Reply
      • I’m not very tech savvy, what do u suggest I do cos I don’t have an ethernet port in my loft…and isn’t the 88 better as it has better download speeds over wifi?

        Reply
  5. The Netgear RAX series has known firmware upgrade issues. The Asus has poor factory firmware, withbuggy Merlin firmware too. Best to wait on both until open source firmware available.

    Reply

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