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Asus RT-BE88U Quick Preview: A Powerful Wi-Fi 7 Router with No Love for the 6GHz Band

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Late last month, Asus unveiled the RT-BE88U, its third standalone Wi-Fi 7 router, after the RT-BE96U and GT-BE98 Pro.

It's worth noting that the company made the announcement for markets outside of the U.S. It's unclear when the new router will hit the shelves, if it will be available worldwide, or if there'll be a special version for the U.S., like the case of the GT-BE98 Pro.

For now, the name rings a bell. The RT-BE88U is the latest version of the RT-AX88U, which is the Wi-Fi 6 variant of the original RT-AC88U. The new router is destined to be special.

Indeed, in the past couple of days, I have received many inquiries about it. This quick preview aims to give you an idea of what to expect beyond the endearingly familiar design and the most valuable feature of this lineage: the network ports galore.

Asus RT BE88U Dual band Wi Fi 7 Router
The Asus RT BE88U is the first Dual-band Wi-Fi 7 router.

Asus RT-BE88U: First Dual-band Wi-Fi 7 router

The first thing to note about the new Asus RT-BE88U is that it does not support 6GHz. It's not Tri-band (or Quad-band) hardware like the rest of the Wi-Fi 7 crowd I've worked on. Instead, it remains Dual-band like all previous models, with a 2.4GHz and a 5GHz band.

If you're thinking, "What's the point of Wi-Fi 7 without 6GHz?" you're not alone. However, the truth is that the 6GHz band is not universally available worldwide, and where it is, it varies in width and portion. That's to say, this band is complicated.

The adoption of the 6GHz band for Wi-Fi around the world

The 6GHz band has a total width of 1200MHz, ranging from 5.925GHz to 7.125GHz, and is divided into 59 channels of 20MHz each. These channels are grouped to create "sub-bands," which also vary from one region to another.

In the U.S., the FCC has designated four sub-bands across the entire spectrum, including U-NII-5, U-UNII-6, UNII-7, and UNII-8, for Wi-Fi use, though portions of the band are reserved for other applications. The EU Commission, on the other hand, allows only the U-NII-5 equivalent part of the frequency, or 480MHz in width, for Wi-Fi.

countries enabling wifi in 6ghz
The status of the 6GHz for Wi-Fi around the world

The use of the 6GHz frequency is complicated. Generally, Wi-Fi 6E needs a 160MHz channel to deliver the best performance, and Wi-Fi 7 requires double that. However, in most cases, hardware uses narrower channels for various reasons.

The table below shows its current adoption worldwide. The "Considering" potion is generally slated to be finalized by the end of January 2025.

CountryStatusSpectrum
United StatesAdopted5925-7125 MHz
AndorraAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
ArgentinaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
AustraliaAdopted
Considering
5925-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
AustriaAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
BahrainAdopted5925-6425 MHz
BelgiumAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
BrazilAdopted5925-7125 MHz
CEPTAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
CanadaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
ChileAdopted5925-6425 MHz
ColombiaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
Costa RicaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
Dominican RepublicAdopted5925-7125 MHz
EgyptConsidering5925-6425 MHz
El SalvadorAdopted5925-7125 MHz
European UnionAdopted5945-6425 MHz
Faroe IslandsAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
FranceAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
GermanyAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
GibraltarAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
GuatemalaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
HondurasAdopted5925-7125 MHz
Hong KongAdopted
Considering
5925-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
IcelandAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
IrelandAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
Isle of ManAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
JapanAdopted
Considering
5925-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
JordanAdopted5925-6425 MHz
KenyaAdopted5925-6425 MHz
LiechtensteinAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
LuxembourgAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
MalaysiaAdopted5925-6425 MHz
MauritiusAdopted5925-6425 MHz
MexicoAdopted5925-6425 MHz
MonacoAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
MoroccoAdopted5925-6425 MHz
NamibiaAdopted5925-6425 MHz
NetherlandsAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
New ZealandAdopted5925-6425 MHz
NorwayAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
OmanConsidering5925-6425 MHz
PeruAdopted5925-7125 MHz
PortugalAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
QatarAdopted
Considering
5925-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
Russian FederationAdopted5925-6425 MHz
Saudi ArabiaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
SingaporeAdopted5925-6425 MHz
South AfricaAdopted5925-6425 MHz
South KoreaAdopted5925-7125 MHz
SpainAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
SwitzerlandAdopted
Considering
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
ThailandAdopted5925-6425 MHz
TogoAdopted5925-6425 MHz
TunisiaConsidering5925-6425 MHz
TurkeyAdopted5925-6425 MHz
United Arab EmiratesAdopted5925-6425 MHz
United KingdomAdopted
Considering 
5945-6425 MHz
6425-7125 MHz
Countries with 6GHz band for Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7 as of late 2023.

Additionally, Wi-Fi 7 also has improvements in the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands and will help make things better even when the 6GHz is not part of the equation. Since these two bands have been in use for Wi-Fi for almost two decades, the hardware supporting them will fit anywhere.

Per Asus, even without the 6GHz, the new router supports Wi-Fi 7's new 4K-QAM to deliver up to 20% in bandwidth compared to a similar-tiered Wi-Fi 6 broadcaster and features Dual-band Multi-Link Operation (MLO) to increase throughput and minimize latency.

Finally, for better or for worse, the new router's lack of a third band helps it maintain the traditional trait of previous models, starting with the RT-AC88U and then the RT-AX88U, which has a Pro version. The table below shows their similarities and differences.

Asus RT-BE88U vs. RT-AX88U vs. RT-AC88U: Hardware specifications

Asus RT BE88UAsus RT AX88U Pro vs. GT AX6000 TopRT AX88U 2Asus RT AC88U 2
ModelRT-BE88URT-AX88U ProRT-AX88URT-AC88U
Wi-Fi BandwidthDual-band BE7200Dual-Band AX6000Dual-band AC3100
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs
(channel width)
4x4 BE: Up to 1376Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4x4 AX: Up to 1148Mbps4x4 AC: Up to 1000Mbps
5GHz Wi-Fi Specs
(channel width)
4x4 BE: Up to 5764Mbps
20/40/80/160/240MHz)
4X4 AX: Up to 4804Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
4x4 AC: Up to 2167Mbps
6GHz Wi-Fi SpecsNone
Asus's "Pro" Features
(Guest Network Pro and VLAN)
YesYesNo
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n
AP ModeYes
AiMesh-readyYes
Gigabit  Ports4x LAN8x LAN, 
1x WAN
Multi-Gig Ports1x 10Gbps WAN/LAN
1x 10Gbps SFP+
1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN
3x 2.5Gbps LAN
1x 2.5Gbps WAN-only,
1x 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN
None
Link AggregationYes 
(LAN and WAN)
Dual-WANYes
USB Ports1 x USB 3.0 1x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
Mobile AppAsus Router
QoSYes
Parental ControlYes
Processing Power2.6Ghz quad-core CPU,
256MB Flash,
2 GB DDR4 RAM
2.0 GHz quad-core CPU,
256 MB Flash,
1 GB RAM
1.8 GHz quad-core CPU, 
256MB Flash, 
1GB RAM
1.4 GHz dual-core CPU,
128MB Flash, 512MB RAM
Built-in Online ProtectionYes
Asus Gaming FeaturesTBDYes
Aura Game LightNo
Dimensions11.8 x 7.4 x 2.4 in
(30 x 18.8 x 6.04 cm)
Weight2.23 lbs (1.01 kg)2.1 lbs (945 g)
Release DateMarch 2024January 2023January 2019December 2015
Firmware Version
(at review)
not yet reviewed3.0.0.4.388.222503.0.0.4.384.64363.0.0.4.384.5329
Power Input100 - 240V
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
TBD≈ 285Whnot measured
US Price
(at launch)
TBD$349.99$299.99$279.99
Hardware specifications: Asus RT-BE88U vs. RT-AX88U vs. RT-AC88U

Same design but now with more ports

As shown in the table, the new RT-BE88U retains the same traditional design as a router. It's a flat rectangular box with four external antennas (likely detachable) sticking up from the back.

What's most noteworthy is the fact it has the most built-in network ports—all 10 of them, five of which are Multi-Gig, and one is an SFP+ to deliver the total wired bandwidth of 34Gbps, the highest among home routers. The RT-BE88U is also the second from Asus with an SFP+ port, beside the RT-AX89X, opening up the support for high-end switches or certain Fiber-optic ONTs.

Asus RT BE88U Ports
The Asus RT BE88U is the first home router with 10 network ports, six of which are faster than Gigabit.

A familiar Asus AiMesh router

Despite the support for Wi-Fi 7 and the increased number of ports, the new RT-BE88U is slated to be a familiar router. Specifically, it'll be very similar to the GT-BE96U Pro with Guest Network Pro and VLAN, on top of other goodies available to Asus's entire RT series, including:

  • AiMesh support,
  • Built-in Parental Controls
  • AiProtection
  • USB-based cellular tethering
  • Tons of network settings and features.

The new router will also likely use the latest Asuswrt 4.0 firmware with the 3.0.0.6 kernel, similar to the case of the RT-BE96U.

Asus RT-BE88U Pro's Preliminary Rating

8.3 out of 10
Asus RT BE88U
Hardware Specs (untested)
8 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
8 out of 10

Pros

Top-tier Wi-Fi 7 for 2.4GHz and 5GHz band with 4K QAM and MLO support

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

Ten built-in network ports, six of which are Multi-Gig ports and SFP+ with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation support

Universal setting backup and restoration; open source firmware

Cons

No 6GHz band

The takeaway

The new RT-BE88U is an interesting router. As the first Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster without the 6GHz band, it likely will disappoint many users. However, if you don't care for the new and complicated frequency, its extras in wired networking have their allure.

The details on the new router, especially its availability and pricing, are still sketchy. I will update this post as I learn more. One thing is for sure: The RT-BE88U won't be the last Dual-band Wi-Fi 7 router you'll find. Looking for a more "traditional" Wi-Fi 7 router? Check out this list.

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4 thoughts on “Asus RT-BE88U Quick Preview: A Powerful Wi-Fi 7 Router with No Love for the 6GHz Band”

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  1. Dong,

    You seem to have stopped doing router WiFi bandwidth tests. That’s what I liked best about your reviews. The advertized bitrate on all routers is nonsense. I hope advertizers aren’t leaning on you to stop embarrassing them. I have been looking to you to find out how fast these routers really are.

    Thanks,
    Gene

    • Stop how, Gene? This router is not even available yet. Maybe you should start reading more than just the performance charts.

  2. First thing I wondered… How are they getting a 320 MHz Bandwidth in the 5 GHz Band? From what I understand, there are only three (3) 160 MHz Bandwidths available in the 5 GHz band, and they are not contiguous. Thus, it has to be doing aggregate channels. On top of that, the 5 GHz band is pretty congested, which means they may have issues trying to use a 160 MHz bandwidth. I know EERO uses a 240 MHz bandwidth in the 5 GHz band, but not sure how you could expect to get a 320 MHz bandwidth…

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