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Asus RT-BE88U Review: A Straightforward and Powerful dual-band Wi-Fi 7 Router

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The RT-BE88U, first announced in late March, is Asus's third standalone Wi-Fi 7 router after the RT-BE96U and GT-BE98 Pro, and it's a special one.

Unlike any other Wi-Fi 7 broadcasters I've seen, the RT-BE88U is unique in that it does not feature the 6GHz band. It's a new type of cutting-edge hardware without having all the edges. While that might disappoint many enthusiasts, going dual-band has its perks.

Here's the bottom line: If you can live without the 6GHz band, which might just be the way it is in certain parts of the world, the RT-BE88U is an excellent Wi-Fi 7 router with all you can look for in a single broadcaster. It has everything to justify the $399 price tag and then some.

On the other hand, if you need the 6GHz, the RT-BE96U is a better alternative.

Dong's note: I first published this post on April 3, 2024, as a new piece and updated it to an in-depth review on June 12, 2024, after weekslong hands-on testing.

Asus RT-BE88U Wi-Fi 7 Router Box Content
Like previous models, the Asus RT-BE88U Wi-Fi 7 router comes with four detachable antennas, making it easy to use as a non-Wi-Fi router—the Wi-Fi functions can be turned off via its web user interface.

Asus RT-BE88U: A powerful first dual-band Wi-Fi 7 router

The first thing to note about the new RT-BE88U is its name. If it rings a bell, that's because it's the latest version of the RT-AX88U, which is the Wi-Fi 6 variant of the original RT-AC88U. For over a decade, this 88U lineup has been famous for two reasons:

  • Its typical design has become unapologetically representative of a "Wi-Fi router"—a flat rectangular box with four detachable external antennas sticking up from the back. At a glance, even the most novice users would know it has something to do with Wi-Fi.
  • It has the most generous built-in switch. In other words, it comes with the highest number of network ports a router can have, significantly more than the usual one WAN and four LANs.

The Asus RT-BE88U maintains those. In fact, it looks almost exactly the same as the RT-AX88U and is now even more generous on the port front, with 10 built-in ports in total.

Asus RT-BE88U Wi-Fi 7 Router Left AngleAsus RT-BE88U Wi-Fi 7 Router Multi-Gig Ports
The Asus RT-BE88U Wi-Fi 7 retains the traditional "I'm a Wi-Fi router!" design and now comes with the most network ports ever found in a home router, including six multi-Gigabit ports, one of which can work as the Gaming port, and four Gigabit ports.

The second thing to note about the new router is that it is a bit less exciting—or maybe more exciting, depending on who you ask. As mentioned, the new router does not feature 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 may be reserved for other applications. The E.U. 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, 320MHz. Due to spectrum availability and other reasons, real-world hardware tends to use narrower channels in most cases.

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, it's easy for hardware supporting them to fit anywhere.

In my testing, the new router proved to support Wi-Fi 7's new 4K-QAM and featured dual-band Multi-Link Operation (MLO) to increase throughput and minimize latency—more in the performance section below.

Thanks to the lack of a third band, the new router maintains the traditional physical size used by previous models. The table below shows similarities and differences between variants of the 88U in Asus's R.T. series.

Asus RT-BE88U vs. RT AX88U
Asus RT-BE88U vs. RT AX88U: The two look almost identical, with a few minor differences. The former (bottom) has a fancier logo badge and does away with the front button and ports. Instead, it now has 10 built-in network ports, of which six are multi-Gigabit.

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

RT-BE88URT-AX88U ProRT-AX88URT-AC88U
ModelAsus RT-BE88U Wi-Fi 7 Router TopAsus RT AX88U Pro vs. GT-AX6000 TopRT AX88U 2Asus RT AC88U 2
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 1148Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4x4 AC
Up to 1000Mbps
(20/40MHz)
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
(20/40/80MHz)
6GHz Wi-Fi SpecsNone
Guest Network Pro (SDN) and VLANYesNo
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
Multi-Link Operation
(MLO)
YesN/A
(Wi-Fi 7 only)
Automated Frequency Coordination
(AFC)
N/A
(6GHz band only)
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
Power
2.6Ghz 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 FeaturesYes
(with Gaming port)
Yes
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)
3.0.0.6.102.339213.0.0.4.388.222503.0.0.4.384.64363.0.0.4.384.5329
Power Input100 - 240V
Power Consumption
(per 24 hours)
≈ 340 Wh≈ 285Whnot measured
U.S. Price
(at launch)
$399$349.99$299.99$279.99
Hardware specifications: Asus RT-BE88U vs. RT-AX88U vs. RT-AC88U
Asus RT-BE88U Wi-Fi 7 Router FrontAsus RT-BE88U Wi-Fi 7 Router Back
The front and back of the Asus RT-BE88U. The router comes with four detachable antennas.

Same design but now with more ports

The RT-BE88U looks identical to the RT-AX88U, including the color of its antennas.

There are minor differences, though: Its Asus logo badge is now a bit more fancy, and the new router also does away with the WPS and Wi-Fi buttons and the second USB 3.0 port on the front. In return, it has the most built-in network ports—all 10 of them, five of which are Multi-Gig, and one is an SFP+. In all, it has a combined total wired bandwidth of 34Gbps, the highest among its peers.

By the way, the RT-BE88U is Asus's second with an SFP+ port after the RT-AX89X, which allows it to support high-end switches or certain Fiber-optic ONTs. Some might want to swap this port for a 2nd 10GBASE-T port, which can be arrived via an SFP+-to-10GBASE-T transceiver—I'd recommend the TP-Link TL-SM5310-T, which worked well in my trial.

The new router comes with four antennas that can rotate 360 degrees and open up to 90 degrees outward. Like the previous version, you can detach them if you don't use the Wi-Fi function, which can be turned off via the web user interface.

So, if you still feel raw about the lack of the 6GHz band, you can use it as a non-Wi-Fi router and get a tri-band or quad-band Wi-Fi 7 access point to complete your setup. This is actually a good setup if you need to place the router in a far corner of the house or in the basement, where it's not ideal to place your Wi-Fi broadcaster.

Asus RT-BE88U Web User Interface MLOAsus RT-BE88U Web User Interface Guest Network Pro
The Asus RT-BE88U features Wi-Fi 7's MLO and, with AsusWRT 5.0, has Guest Network Pro, which enables users to create multiple virtual SSIDs to fit different scenarios, such as Guest Portal, Guest Network, LoT Network, and more. These additional SSIDs have in-depth customization and can be made available at the router or the rest of the system in an AiMesh setup when multiple hardware units are in use.

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, running AsusWRT 5.0, it'll be very similar to other Asus Wi-Fi 7 routers with Guest Network Pro and VLAN, on top of other goodies available to Asus's entire RT series, including:

  • Robust web user interface with optional Asus Route mobile app and the ability to import setting backup files of other Asus routers. (In my trial, the RT-BE88U's universal restore feature could handle backups from many, including the ExpertWiFi EBR63.)
  • AiMesh support.
  • Built-in Parental Controls and online protection (AiProtection) plus other traffic-related features.
  • USB-based features (cellular tethering, network storage, media streaming server, etc.)
  • The support for advanced VPN, including WireGuard and Instant Guard.
  • Tons of network/Wi-Fi settings, tools, and other features.

In fact, in terms of features, it'll be very similar to the RT-BE96U, which shares the same AsusWRT 5.0 firmware. You can expect lots of practical applications from it, and all are free for life.

Asus RT-BE88U Web User Interface VPNAsus RT-BE88U Web User Interface VLAN
The Asus RT-BE88U supports all flavors of VPN and also has advanced VLAN for a robust network.

Like previous members of the 88U gang, the RT-BE88U also has gaming features built for gamers, making it an even more versatile router. It is part of the long list of Asus's gaming routers in the table below.

US
MSRP
Multi-Gig
Port
Gaming Private NetworkROG First,
Game Radar
Gaming PortGeForce NowAura Lights
RT-BE88U$3991x10GbE
1xSFP+
4x2.5GbE
NoYesNoNo
RT-BE96U$7002x10GbENo
GT-BE98 Pro$8002x10GbE
4x2.5GbE
WTFastYesNoYes
RT-AX88U Pro$3502x2.5GbEWTFastNo
GT6
(canned mesh)
$600
(2-pack)
1x2.5GbENoYesNoYes
GT-AXE16000$7001x2.5GbE
2x10GbE
WTFastYesNoYes
GT-AX11000 Pro$4501x2.5GbE
1x10GbE
WTFastYes
GT-AXE11000$5501x2.5GbEOutfox YesNo Yes
GT-AX11000$4501x2.5GbEWTFast YesNo Yes
GT-AX6000$4002x2.5GbENoYesNoYes
GS-AX5400$250NoneNoYesNoYes
GS-AX3000$180NoneNoYesNo Yes
RT-AX88U$350NoneWTFast No
RT-AX89X$4501x10GbE
1xSFP+
No
RT-AX86U$250 1x2.5GbENoYesNo
RT-AX86S$250NoneNoYesNo
RT-AX82U$230NoneNoYesNoYes
RT-AX92U
(canned mesh)
$400
(2-pack)
NoneWTFast No
TUF-AX5400$200NoneNoYes NoYes
The incomplete list of Asus's gaming routers—the street prices might be different from the MSRP.
All of these routers include the standard set of Asus's gaming features, including Mobile Game Mode, Open NAT, Gear Accelerator, and VPN Fusion.
You need a SFP+ to BASE-T adapter to use the Asus RT-BE88U with two 10GBASE-T devicesThe Asus RT-BE88U is being tested
The Asus RT-BE88U is being tested. I used a TP-Link TL-SM5310-T to get a second 10GBASE-T port out of it, and it worked well.

Asus RT-BE88U: Excellent performance

I tested the RT-BE88U as a standalone router for a couple of weeks, and it performed excellently for the most part.

The router's multi-Gigabit port proved to have among the fastest sustained wired performances, and its Wi-Fi delivered excellent coverage and sustained rates.

Clearly, without the 6GHz band, its wireless performance wasn't as impressive as that of other Wi-Fi 7 routers, but it was more than fast enough for most homes' needs, with Gig+ sustained speeds in many cases.

Asus RT-BE88U Multi-Gig Ports Wired Performance
The Asus RT-BE88U's Multi-Gig wired performance.

The router also had excellent range, similar to that of the RT-AX88U Pro or any other high-end dual-band router. It's hard to put Wi-Fi coverage in numbers, but if you have a home of around 2500 ft2 (232 m2) when placed at the center. But, the way Wi-Fi is, your mileage will vary.

The router also passed my 3-day stress test without disconnecting. It proved to be reliable. Despite having no internal fan, it remained pretty cool—it got slightly warm even during heavy operation.

Asus RT-BE88U Router Long Range PerformanceAsus RT-BE88U Router Close Range Performance
The Asus RT-BE88U's Wi-Fi performance when hosting clients of different Wi-Fi standards.

On the downside, the RT-BE88U's network-attached storage (NAS) performance could use some improvement. When hosting a portable SSD, via Mulit-Gig wired connections, its read and write performance generally averaged below 200MB/s, as shown on the chart. That wasn't exactly slow, but it clearly could be faster. That said, the router will pass for a mini NAS server for those with casual network storage needs.

Asus RT-BE88U NAS Write Real World PerformanceAsus RT-BE88U NAS Read Real World Performance
The Asus RT-BE88U's network-attached storage performance when hosting a portable SSD via Multi-Gig wired connections.

Asus RT-BE88U Pro's Rating

8.4 out of 10
Asus RT-BE88U Wi-Fi 7 Router Ports out of box
Performance
8.5 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; excellent performance

Tons of valuable features, including AiMesh 2.0, Gaming, 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; fanless design

Comparatively affordable

Cons

No 6GHz band; no 2nd 10GBASE-T port

Not wall-mount-ready

Conclusion

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 wired networking extras make it worth the $399 retail cost. The fact that it has only two bands means it's a lean piece of hardware, which can be a good thing.

There are many tri-band and quad-band routers out there, and they are good for all situations. However, within the world of dual-band hardware, the RT-BE88U is arguably the best router to date. And with Asus's recent announcement, it's not the only Wi-Fi 7 router sans 6GHz you'll find down the line.

Looking for a more "traditional" Wi-Fi 7 router? Check out this list.

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20 thoughts on “Asus RT-BE88U Review: A Straightforward and Powerful dual-band Wi-Fi 7 Router”

  1. Dong, happy 4th! Long time reader, appreciate your reviews and attention to questions and comments.

    1. I was looking for RT-BE88U and only found RT-BE7200 at my “best” buy store, is this the same device? All looks same but zero mention of RT-BE88U on packaging etc.

    2. I have it setup, and max download speed using Azus QoS tool shows 4GB, but when I connect direct to my Google router I can get 8GB… is this normal or should these Asus routers achieve full speed coming from an 8GB router?

    3. If I want more than 2.5GB to any devices downstream the Asus router do I need to make use of the SPF+ port, presumably to an SPF+ compatible switch?

    Thanks much from a novice just trying to max out my speeds!

    -Jeff-

    Reply
    • Happy Fourth, Jeff!

      1. That happens a lot, like the case of the RT-AX58U vs RT-AX3000. They are essentially the same. The name change is to create a different SKU to help Best Buy cheat on its “price matching” promise. Generally, I’d go with the standard version, though, regardless of vendors. They tend to have better (firmware) support, etc..
      2. Don’t trust a router’s built-in speed test, they are generally accurate up to a certain threshold, often that’s Gigabit. More on speed testing here. As noted, a 10Gbps port generally deliver between 6.5Gbps to 8.5Gbps. Performance drops when you enable traffic-managing features, such as QoS.
      3. That or you have to use a transceiver as mentioned in the review. For your case the Zyxel XGS1250-12 or the Zyxel XS1930-12HP is a good option.

      Reply
  2. Hi Dong,
    Providing that all of my devices only use up to WiFi6 (I mean, even the latest iPhones and Mac’s only support standards up to WiFi6e), should I stick with the AX88U Pro for the time being? Do I read it correctly, that the AX and AC protocols will be more efficient on the older model (considering I do not require more than two 2.5gbps LAN connections)?

    Reply
  3. I don’t like that dongknows.com doesn’t show the different mixes of router generations because a great example of “progress” without improvement is the BE88U vs AX88U Pro. If you look at the benchmark charts, neither will be on the other’s benchmarks. The description and summary talks about the BE88U being a great dual band router but when you compare the speeds compared to the AX88U Pro, you see the older does better in many scenarios since both are non-6ghz.

    Reply
    • You can put only so many items on a chart, Jeremy. Also if you want to compare apples to oranges you’ll need to do that yourself. Generally, a Wi-Fi broadcaster does better with clients of its standard than a broadcaster of a higher standard. Keep that in mind. There’s more to a router than the performance numbers.

      Reply
  4. Would have been perfect for me…..
    but the SFP+ port is a deal breaker.
    I need two “normal” 10g multi gig ports….
    I’m therefore strongly considering the older ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000.

    Reply
  5. Hi Dong,
    Thank you for highlighting this router … you might have a look at the new router’s 5Ghz performance, is it a typo?
    Cheers Vern

    Reply
      • Thank you for replying Dong,
        I noted that the 2.4GHz WIFI specs were all confirmed “up to 1376 Mbps” on the third line of the table entitled “ Asus RT-BE88U vs. RT-AX88U vs. RT-AC88U: Hardware specifications” but then, rather than leave the 5.0GHz WIFI specs line blank for the new router (as you would expect if the figure was unknown) on the 4th line … 1000 Mbps was entered (I processed that and thought it should read 10,000 Mbps?). Kindest regards, Vernon

        Reply
        • It was a typo. Wordpress has issues with tables where sometimes the content of the cells moves around… Next time, please just highlight the text and click the red box to report it, much easier to fix. Thanks.

          Reply
  6. 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

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

      Reply
  7. 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…

    Reply

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