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Asus RT-AX89X Review: All Wi-Fi Bases. Covered. And More!

The Asus RT-AX89X looks quite awesome. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

If you’re the type who gets excited about nice-looking and powerful home networking devices with a ton of ports, the Asus RT-AX89X will hit you like a six-pack of RedBull. At a glance, you know instantly that this Wi-Fi 6 router, at the very least, will give you enough materials for hours and hours of bragging.

And it’s a real deal, too. The RT-AX89X did well in my testing, topping the charts in many categories. It worked well as a single router but could also be part of a top-notch mesh system if your home is ready for it.

Despite some minor issues, the RT-AX89X has more than enough to justify its suggested retail price of some $450. So, If you’re in the market for a fast-performing, feature-laden, dual-band standalone Wi-Fi 6 router, this one is arguably the best you can find right now. And the opportunity to impress your significant other, on things that probably have nothing to do with Wi-Fi, is a bonus.

Dong’s note: I first published this post on January 14th, 2020, as a preview and updated it on March 6th to a full review.

Asus RT-AX89X 12-stream AX6000 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

9

Performance

9.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

9.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Excellent Wi-Fi performance
  • Uniquely cool design with two 10Gbps network ports
  • Eight Gigabit network ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation
  • Super-fast network attached storage speed when coupled with an external drive
  • Tons of useful features, including free-for-life real-time online protection, and AiMesh
  • Universal setting backup and restoration

Cons

  • No game-specific features
  • Smart Connect setting not available at launch
  • Tweaking required to deliver top Wi-Fi 6 speeds
  • Bulky physical size with internal fan
  • Web interface needs work
  • Not wall-mountable

Asus RT-AX89X: Top-notch Wi-Fi 6 router got curves 

The RT-AX89X is like no other router I’ve seen, and I’ve seen many. It demands your attention.

While helping me get it out of the FedEx box, my 4-year-old toddler uttered: “Wow, is it a new toy, daddy?”. “It’s a new toy indeed, but not for you, sweetie,” I told her, before withdrawing myself, with the router, to the basement.

Days later, she was still asking about it.

A design that screams for attention

The RT-AX89X comes in a large, almost square box. The photo on the box suggests it’s something that moves, like a robot, instead of a networking device. No surprise or disappointment there.

And the router itself is massive. For an equivalent, in terms of design and physical size, you can think of the Asus GT-AX11000, or especially the TP-Link Archer C5400X. However, the RT-AX89X has more curves, and by that, I mean angles.

That’s because it’s not exactly round, taking the shape of an octagon, measuring 13.52-inch (343.64 mm) wide and 3.15-inch (80.02 mm) tall. Physically, the RT-AX89X is like a rounded, smoothed out version of the GT-AX1100. It also has eight antennas sticking up from its sides.

The antenna themselves are not removable, but they can open outwards or collapse down on the router’s top. Either way, they give the router an intriguing look. At the very least, this piece of hardware sure is a conversation starter. 

RT-AX89X’s photos

Out of the box, the RT-AX89X is something to marvel at — it has so many things you’d want to put your hands on. My kids loved moving the antennas back and forth, which is quite understandable. The odd thing is I found myself doing that, too. For no reason.

OK, maybe there are some. The mechanics of the movement is fun. Each time an antenna hits its max position, it makes a satisfying click sound. Also, right them up differently, and you can create all kinds of weird shapes with the router.

The following are a few photos so you can judge it for yourself.

Asus RT-AX89X Wi-Fi 6 is a massive Wi-Fi 6 router. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

The Asus RT-AX89X has eight non-removable antennas sticking up from its sides. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

You can collapse these antennas to keep the Asus RT-AX89X a bit more compact. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

You can arrange the antennas to turn the Asus RT-AX89X into all kinds of weird shapes. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

The spider that is the Asus RT-AX89X up-side-down. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

The Asus RT-AX89X’s eight gigabit LAN ports take up two sides of the router. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

And the multi-gig and USB ports occupy another two sides of the Asus RT-AX89X. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

There are two USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) ports for Asus’s generous set of USB-related features. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

The Asus RT-AX89X’s two 10Gbps network ports that can work either WANs or LANs. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

The Asus RT-AX89X next to the RT-AX88U. Both are dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Asus RT-AX89X: A powerful dual-band router with a ton of ports

While having an original appearance, on the inside, though, the RT-AX89X is similar to the RT-AX88U. That’s because it’s, too, a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router, not a tri-band one. So, it’ll work best as a standalone router, and not as part of a wireless AiMesh system.

The new router supports AiMesh just fine and will work well in one, but since there’s no dedicated backhaul band, it might be a bit inferior to the GT-AX1100. That’s unless you choose to use wired backhaul with it. In this case, it can potentially be the best AiMesh router considering the sheer amount of ports it has.

First router with two 10Gbps ports

The RT-AX89X is the first home router I’ve seen that comes with the support for 10Gbps wired networking — that’s why its name ends in X instead of U like most others.

(By the way, per Asus, U is to indicate that the router has USB-related features. The RT-AX89X also has USB ports, but the 10Gbps capability is much more significant.)

And it includes two 10Gbps ports — the multi-gig runner-up is the Netgear RAX120 that has just one 5Gbps port, and I already considered that a big deal.

READ MORE:  Netgear RAX120 Router Review: The Multi-Gig Age Is Here

One of the RT-AX89X’s 10Gbps ports is an RJ45 10Gbps BaseT that works with all existing home wired devices — you’ll be able to use a regular CAT5e (or CAT6) cable with it. This port also supports all speeds grades — including 1Gbps, 2.5Gpbs, 5Gbps, or 10Gbps — depending on the device you plug into it.

The other is a 10Gbps SFP+ port that requires a different type of network cable. You can use it to connect to a server or select fiber optic internet services.

Versatile multi-gig applications

In terms of usage roles, here are how the RT-AX89X’s two 10Gbps ports work:

  • Both as LAN ports (default). In this case, they don’t support LAN Link Aggregation — you can’t combine them into a single 20Gbps connection.
  • Both as WAN ports. In this case, they don’t support WAN Link Aggregation but can work as Dual-WAN, where each connects to a different service provider.
  • One as a WAN port, and the other as a LAN port.

By the way, as a WAN port, the SFP+ supports multi-mode optical fiber. As a result, depending on the Internet provider, the router can connect directly to the broadband connector, without the need for a fiber modem. With a single-mode fiber connection, however, a modem might be necessary.

That said, again, you can get multiple units of the RT-AX89X and use network cables to link them up to via 10Gbps connections to form an AiMesh setup. In this case, you’ll get yourself the fastest home mesh Wi-Fi system that can deliver multi-gig Internet throughout.

Nine Gigabit network ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation

Similar to the case of the RT-AX88U, the RT-AX89X also has one Gigabit WAN port and eight Gigabit LAN ports.  So, yes, it has the most amount of network ports among home routers I’ve seen. 

There are also two USB 3.2 Gen 1 (5Gbps) ports that can host storage, printer, and USB cellular modem. 

Like most Asus router, the RT-AX89X’s Gigabit ports feature Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation. For the former, you can use a combo of the WAN port and a 10Gbps port or a USB port, and the latter, the LAN 1 and LAN 2 ports, can work together to form a 2Gbps connection. 

RT-AX89X’s specs: The RT-AX88U on steroids

On the inside, the RT-AX89X is a souped-up version of the RT-AX88U. It has more powerful hardware and more ports, as mentioned above. It’s safe to say, the RT-AX89X is the most powerful, dual-band router on the market, to date.

It’s worth noting that the RT-AX88U’s 5GHz is a 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 band, which caps at 4800 Mbps. The RT-AX89X’s 5GHz band also caps at 4800 Mbps. However, Asus calls it an 8×8 band. As a result, when combined both bands, the company call the RT-AX89X a 12-stream router.

That’s just a marketing ploy, used quite widely among networking vendors, like Netgear with its RAX120, or Ubiquiti with the Alien. In this case, Asus told me that it just wanted to emphasize on the router’s use of the poplar 80MHz channel bandwidth. I explained more on that matter in this post about Wi-Fi 6 speeds.

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

The same feature set

Though unique in shape and specs, at the core, the RT-AX89X is just like any other Asus routers.

It has the same web interface, uses the same Asus Router mobile app, and, for the most part, the same feature set. That said, you can set it up like any other Asus router, which is the same way you do any router with a web interface.

During the setup process, you’ll get the opportunity to upload the settings from any other Asus router. So yes, it, too, supports universal restoration. So, for example, if you decide to upgrade to it from another dual-band Asus router, you won’t need to program your network from scratch.

As for settings and features, like other Asus routers, the RT-AX89X has one of the most comprehensive sets on the market. You’ll find standard features, including Dynamic DNS, port forwarding, IP reservation, VPN server (and client), Wake-on-LAN, and a lot more. 

Other than that, the router comes with a standard set of Asus’s useful networking features.

The RT-AX89X has the core features of an Asus router, including the handy Adaptive QoS. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Asus RT-AX89X’s core features

Below are the common features you can find in most Asus routers, as well as the RT-AX89X.

  • AiProtection: This feature includes a free-for-life real-time online protection powered by Trend Micro and a decent Parental Control engine. I’ve used AiProtection for years now, with different routers, and it proved to be quite useful.
  • Adaptive QoS: A quality of service engine that allows you to prioritize Internet traffic to support different applications or services. Adaptive QoS requires minimum work from the user and is quite useful. It also includes Bandwidth Monitor in case you want o know who uses the most Internet at all and Web History that shows web sites a client has visited.
  • Traffic Analyzer: A set of tools and statistics in case you want to find out what’s been going on in the network in a set amount of time, and in real-time.
  • USB-related features: When hosting a storage device, the RT-AX89X has all the features you can imagine. From data sharing (locally and over the Internet) to local backup (including the support for Time Machine), to a personal cloud. You can also use the router’s USB ports to host printers or select USB cellular modems.

So, as you might have noted, the RT-AX89X doesn’t have everything you can collectively find in Asus routers. Most notably, Game Boost is missing. This feature has a unique VPN, called WTFast, that keeps local game consoles in a virtual network with extremely low latency. Among Asus’s Wi-Fi 6 routers, the GT-AX11000, RT-AX88U, and RT-AX92U have Game Boost.

So, while you can play games just fine with the RT-AX89X and the Adaptive QoS helps, it’s not intended to be a gaming router.

Some minor issues

The RT-AX89X is not from perfect, and I did note issues that you should keep in mind.

Internal fan

The first is the internal cooling fan. Fans generally translate into tricky maintenance. It’s a moving part that might fail at some point, and when it does, you might have heat-related issues. The way the router is, it seems quite challenging to open it up to replace the fan.

This fan ran constantly my testing even when the router had no loads. It was quiet, though. I could only hear it when I put my head near the router, even in a room with no ambient noise. 

To be fair, many other routers I’ve reviewed recently have a fan. The Ubiquiti Dream Machine is an example. But the RT-AX89X is the first of which the fan runs almost all the time.

Tweaking needed for top Wi-Fi speeds

By default, the RTA-AX89X worked quite well in my testing. However, I needed to tweak its settings quite a bit to get things to work the way I wanted.

For example, right out of the bat, my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients only connected at 1.2Gbps (instead of 2.4Gbps). As it turned out, I needed to disable the Extended NSS setting — you can find this setting in the Professional tab of the Wireless section — to get my client connected at full speeds.

By the way, enabling extended NSS enables the RT-AX89X to have better compatibility when working with specific devices. But it’ll work in 80MHz channel bandwidth, which cuts down the speed for most Wi-Fi 6 clients in half.

The Asus RT-AX89X shares the same web user interface as that of previous Asus routers, and it supports the venerable 160MHz channel width. Note the Smart Connect is currently missing. Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Interface needs work

At publication, the router doesn’t have the Smart Connect mode — you need to name its two bands as with two separate SSIDs manually. Asus told me that Smart Connect was actually in effect when the two bands shared the same SSID and password and that in “weeks” it would release a new firmware that includes an explicit Smart Connect option.

Another thing is the router didn’t require clients to use the ancient SMBv1 protocol to work with this NAS function (when hosting an external drive). But the interface still shows that you need to turn that on for the sharing to work.

So, the RT-AX89X feels a bit like a beta or release candidate instead of a final product. However, in my experience, that’s the case of all Asus’s Wi-Fi 6 routers. There are just so many settings and features that it seems the company can’t keep tabs on all. But the networking vendor indeed regularly pushes out new firmware to fix bugs and improve its products.

Asus RT-AX89X: Excellent performance

I tested the RT-AX89X using a couple of 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients and a few Wi-Fi 5 clients and was quite happy with the router. 

In Wi-Fi 6 tests, I was able to get the client connected to it at 2.4 Gbps, which translated into the sustained speed of some 1435 Mbps at close range, the fastest I’ve seen. When I move the client to 40 feet (12 m) away, it still registered more than 1150 Mbps, also the fastest.

The router also did well with Wi-Fi 5 clients. At a distance of fewer than 10 feet (3 m), my 4×4 device was able to connect at 1.7Gbps and had a sustained speed of almost 1025 Mbps, quite impressive. At a distance away, my 3×3 laptop now registered nearly 700 Mbps. 

I tested the 2.4Ghz band only for reference since its performance varies a great deal where I am (and possible where you are, too). The RT-AX89X averaged some 180 Mbps and 120 Mbps for close and long ranges, respectively. That was far slower than the 1300 Mbps in its specs but fast enough for most online applications.

Since I had only one RT-AX89X unit, I couldn’t test its AiMesh using a 10Gbps wired backhaul. However, I tried AiMesh out with other routers, and it worked well, just like any other AiMesh routers.

An overall positive Wi-Fi experience

I tested the RT-AX89X for some three weeks, and over time it grew on me. At the default setting, you won’t get the fastest Wi-Fi speed out of it, but it was still quite excellent. If you take time to tweak its settings, you’ll get even more.

The router passed my 3-day stress test with no disconnection. Its range was about the same as the of the RT-AX88U. Generally, if you have a house of 2000 ft² (186m²) or smaller, the RT-AX88X can handle it with fast Wi-Fi all around, when placed in the middle.

By the way, in my trial, even in extended and heavy loads, the RT-AX89X remained cool. So its internal fan did its job. I also tried out the two 10Gbps ports in LAN mode and was able to get a sustained copy speed of some 850 MB/s. That wasn’t a true 10Gbps speed — my test server likely played a role — but quite close.

Finally, the RT-AX89X worked fine with its antennas placed in any positions. But I did note that it had a shorter range when I collapsed them all on the router’s top. So, opening them all up is the way to go.

Super-fast though uneven NAS performance

The RT-AX89X, when hosting a portable drive, delivered the fastest speed I’ve experienced via a wired 10Gbps but only in reading. Indeed, I tested it with the Crucial X8 and got the sustained read compy speed of almost 380 megabytes per second.

In writing, however, the router was noticeably slower than reading, registering a bit shy of 150 MB/s — still super-fast but not the fastest. The Netgear RAX120, which has a 5Gbps network port, got almost 190 MB/s in this test.

When tested via a regular Gigabit connection, it delivered around 110 MB/s both ways, similar to other high-end routers.

In all, for a router-based network-attached storage server, the RT-AX89X is quite potent. Get it a decent external USB storage device, and you’ll have yourself a viable NAS solution.

Conclusion

Most Wi-Fi routers are similar, take my word for it! Once in a long while, there comes along one that strikes a wow, and the Asus RT-AX89X is that one. Get it and you won’t be disappointed.

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About the Author: Dong Ngo

Before Dong Knows Tech, I spent some 18 years testing and reviewing gadgets at CNET.com. Technology is my passion and I do know it. | Follow me on Twitter, or Facebook!

36 Comments

  1. Their routers always run pretty hot. Have had to add better ventilation for many of them but it also adds a lot of years and they don’t have to clock back to save themselves. But they’re not alone netgear has a few also and probably many other brands.

  2. Nice article. I enjoyed reading. I have Asus RT-AC87U which worked perfect for more than 4 years.
    I will get this new one (AX89X). Just one question. Since this has a built in fan and if fan fails then do I need to change the router?

    1. Maybe, I think you can probably open the router up and change it, Raj. I wouldn’t be concerned much, really. Most routers have them these days.

  3. Good article. I can’t wait for this to release in US. 10GbE interfaces should be standard in WiFi 6 devices.

    IRT your experience with the USB interface (“NAS”), it’s likely you’ve maxed out the pipes/lanes/channels between the device and the processor with all the other various options of the device being enabled. And requiring SMBv1 be enabled – shame on ASUS, for shame.

    1. No difference in terms of speed, Gregg, but the GT-AX11000 is a gaming router with game-specific features. The RT-AX89X is not. I mentioned that in the review.

    1. I feel you, but the GT-AX11000 actually has more features and an extra 5GHz band. If you don’t care about 10Gbps, you don’t miss much. 🙂

    1. I’m using the GT-AX11000 now and debating if I’d want to switch it out with this one. So, I’m not sure yet. The GT does have a third 5GHz band.

  4. Running a Netgear R7000 for 4-5 years, but itching to upgrade. Was debating the Asus RT-AX88u (and maybe a second 88u for Aimesh with wired backhaul). Should I wait to see what the 89x can provide? Also, how would either the 88 or 89 compare to the newest Asus ZenWifi AX (running 2 88s or a mix of 89/88 vs the Zen)? Thanks for any advice!

    1. Brandon, the ZenWiFi product line uses tri-band routers. It’s good for homes where you can’t run network cable as backhaul. The 88U and 89X are both dual-band routers. They intend to work as single routers, or in a mesh where you can use network cables to link the hardware units. Between the two, the 89X is clearly better in terms of specs.

  5. Thanks for all your help Dong, on the asus website it says “the SFP+ interface only operates at 10gbps speed and is not compatible with 1gbps data rate” so I just got a sweet deal of $485 CAD for the GT-AX11000 and could not be happier! Also picked up a TP-LINK Media Converter to hopefully eliminate Telus modem. Thanks again for your help and assistance, its great to see someone that replies to every comment!

  6. EDIT: remove multi-gig option i mentioned, i only care about plugging fiber directly into modem to use on device and get rid of the telus one. also forgot to mention that i did read a bit about a media converter, would that help or work in any way? thanks again and sorry for the multiple posts.

  7. thanks for your response, if you don’t mind i have a couple more questions (new to fibre) the telus modem/router has a Nokia GPON ONT SFP (G-010S-A) device plugged into it, will this still work in the SFP+ port? i heard this 10gbps SFP+ port will only work with a 10gbps connection, is this true? do i need to use a router with regular SFP port or a multi-gig 1/2.5/10gbps port? also found out telus SFP devices are provisioned so not like i need to but i cant buy different ones if needed. i just want the fastest internet i can get using just one device and not like the asus ax11000 or netgear rax120 or rax200 as i am putting in a space with not a lot of height clearance. i assume you can use this router with the antennas folded down or slightly up. maybe giving you a couple things to test for the review. anyways thanks Dong i appreciate all the help, watched you on cnet for the longest time and now just finding this site!

    1. SFP+ always connects at 10Gbps, but that doesn’t mean you’ll get, or need to have 10Gbps internet speed. So, my take is you’ll be able to plug the router into that Nokia port termination device. Whether the router will work, without the current modem, only your service provider can answer for sure. But chances are it will.

      You can use routers with the antenna folded (or even without the antennas) but that will affect the Wi-Fi coverage.

  8. Hi Dong Ngo I have a question that will make or break me buying this router. I have telus fiber optic 1gbps with the fiber cable plugged directly into the modem/router, can I take that fiber cable and plug it directly into the SFP+ port and get rid of the telus provided modem? Thanks

    1. You need to ask your provider to make sure, Erik, but generally, if you already have a termination device, the one that give you a SFP+ port, then you can use the RT-AX89X, or any SFP+-ready router, directly with it.

  9. Routers are definitely important, I’m just saying there are plenty more options that aren’t this kind of cost. If anything, the modem is the most important thing in the household. Without the correct setup or the modem to handle the speeds up and down you need, you’ll fall short of even the routers performance. If you’re not more than 500 down on a connection. The referenced router above does wonders for multiple systems at less than half the price. For most of us who are tech savvy, you could have an old high end computer replace a router when you’re purchasing a new computer. Some phone’s hotspots are pretty nice too, I’ve used multiple devices on mine while moving and traveling.

  10. Unfortunately, like all of these routers that cost as much as a phone, a console, a mid grade 4k TV, a decent gaming monitor, or any other device that I could see the cost justified…I still cannot and will not pay that kind of price for a router, especially when wifi6 isn’t really main stream on a lot of the devices we still currently use. It’s a bummer that the cost is driven so far up to make something that I would think, with all the advancements would keep the same price of my current Asus router (AC1900) when it was new, that lasted with no issues for more than 6 years. I wonder if these new routers are made with the same quality. I find most electronics these days don’t last past 2 years before something inevitably goes wrong. It’s a cool looking router with lots of options… But for 430? That’s a hard pass for me, what about you guys?

    1. Yes, the price could get lower and it will over time. However, think about it, Micah. All of the devices you’ve mentioned are totally useless if your network is not in order. Invest where it matters. Just because routers are underrated doesn’t mean they’re not the most important thing in your home.

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