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RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX82U: The Hard Choice Between Asus’s Gaming Duo

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It’s a quick take on the RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX82U matchup. Since I published the reviews on Asus’s new gaming routers, many have asked me which to get and why. This post aims to answer that.

Asus RT-AX86U Hand
The RT-AX86U sure is less flashy, but it’s a much more fulfilling Wi-Fi 6 gaming router on the inside.

Asus RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX82U: More similarities than differences

Asus calls both the RT-AX86U and RT-AX82U “gaming routers,” Indeed, both include a lot of features for gamers.

However, neither is a proper router for online gaming the way the GT-AX11000 is. Among other things, none supports the special VPN for gamers, called WTFast.

Both routers have the same 4×4 5 GHz Wi-Fi specs and can deliver top speeds thanks to the venerable 160 MHz channel width support. The two also share the same robust web interface with many features and settings, including AiMesh support.

So, the gist is that both can work as a reliable standalone router and later scale up to be the host of a Wi-Fi system when more supported broadcasters jump in the mix.

You can get a pair of each or both and form a formidable mesh system that way. In other words, you can get them both if you live in a large home. It’s an either-or choice in this case.

Asus RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX82U: Hardware specifications

Wi-Fi TechnologyDual-Band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) 
Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) 
ChipsetBroadcom BCM4908Broadcom BCM6750 SoC
2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs3×3 Wi-Fi 6: up to 861 Mbps2×2 Wi-Fi 6: up to 574 Mbps
5GHz Wi-Fi Specs4X4 Wi-Fi 6: up to 4804 Mbps4X4 Wi-Fi 6: up to 4804 Mbps
Backward Compatibility802.11a/b/g/n/ac802.11a/b/g/n/ac
AP ModeYesYes
Mesh-readyYes (AiMesh)Yes (AiMesh)
Channel Support20 MHz, 40 MHz, 
80 MHz, 160 MHz
20 MHz, 40 MHz, 
80 MHz, 160 MHz
Gigabit Port4x LAN, 1x WAN4x LAN, 1x WAN
Multi-Gig Ports 1x 2.5 Gbps LAN/WANNone
Link AggregationYes (LAN 1 and LAN 2)Yes (LAN 1 and LAN 2)
Dual-WANYes (WAN + LAN4 or USB)Yes (WAN + LAN4 or USB)
Parental ControlYes Yes 
Online ProtectionYesYes 
USB2 x USB-A USB 3.0 
(storage, modem, printer)
1 x USB-A USB 3.0 
(storage, modem, printer)
Mobile AppAsus RouterAsus Router
QoSYes (Excellent)Yes (Excellent)
Processing Power1.8 GHz quad-core CPU, 
256 MB Flash, 1 GB RAM
1.5 GHz tri-core CPU, 
256 MB Flash, 512 MB RAM
Dimensions 9.52 x 3.93 x 12.79 inc. 
(242 x 100 x 325 mm) 
9.52 x 3.93 x 12.79 inc.  
(242 x 100 x 325 mm) 
Dimensions (With Antennas)
9.52 x 3.93 x 6.45 inc. 
(242 x 100 x 164 mm)
9.52 x 3.93 x 6.45 inc. 
(242 x 100 x 164 mm)
Weight1.8 lbs (814.5 g)1.63 lbs (740 g)
Game FeaturesMobile Game Mode, 
Game Port (LAN1)
Front Gaming Lights, 
Mobile Game Mode, 
Game Port (LAN1)
MSRP (U.S)$249.99$229.99
Hardware specifications: RT-AX82U vs. RT-AX86U.

Asus RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX82U: The minor differences

Specs-wise, the RT-AX86U is a more powerful router. It has more processing power, higher Wi-Fi specs on the 2.4 GHz band, and a 2.5 Gbps LAN/WAN port. As a result, it’s generally faster, has a slightly better range, and can work as a much better mini NAS server.

In short, I called the RT-AX86U the best dual-band router to date for a reason.

Design-wise, though, the RT-AX82U is a much cooler-looking router. It comes with a futuristic appearance and front mood lighting that you can program to the max. It’ll give you a lot of bragging rights.

Asus RT-AX82U Front
The Asus RT-AX82U is possibly the coolest-looking gaming Wi-Fi 6 router.

Asus RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX82U: Performance and ratings

Having more power and especially the 2.5Gbps port, the RT-AX86U was consistently faster than the RT-AX82U in my testing. But the RT-AX82U isn’t bad at all. It’s one of the fastest among its peers.

Both also worked well as a mini NAS server, but the RT-AX86U was faster, as shown here, thanks, again, to the higher hardware specs.

Asus RT-AX86U's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus RT-AX86U 12
9 out of 10
9.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
8.5 out of 10
9 out of 10


Fast performance, excellent range, reliable

Tons of helpful networking features and settings

Useful settings for online gaming

Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app

Multi-Gig, WAN/LAN Link Aggregation support

Excellent NAS performance and features when hosting a USB storage device

Comparatively affordable


Single, low-speed (2.5Gbps) Multi-Gig port

Not wall-mountable

Gaming features turn Adaptive QoS off

No support for WTFast Gamer VPN

Asus RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX82U Performance

Asus RT-AX82U's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus RT-AX82U 19
8.5 out of 10
9.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
8.5 out of 10
9.5 out of 10


Excellent performance

Beautiful design with tons of helpful networking, game-related features, and settings

Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app

Comparatively affordable


No support for WTFast Gamer VPN

No multi-gig network port

Network storage performance (when hosting a portable drive) could use some improvement

Not wall-mountable

Which to get

This one is a tricky question. I like both routers equally well and have been using both in a wired AiMesh system—nothing to complain about so far.

But if you had to pick, generally, the RT-AX86U would be a better choice. It has so much more to offer than the extra cost of around $20.

If you’re into bling, though, then the RT-AX82U is a unique and rewarding option. Among other things, this one sure is a conversation starter.

Truth be told if you live in a small home that a single broadcaster can cover, either will give you an excellent experience. The RT-AX86U is only clearly better when you can take advantage of its single Multi-Gig LAN/WAN port.

And then, again, if you move to a larger place later, get another unit of the same router, or the other one, to form a mesh. Just make sure you get your home wired first. And in this case, use the RT-AX86U as the primary router.

Dong’s note: I updated this post from a previous version published in late 2019, which included multiple router matchups. Looking for the rest, and possibly even more? Check them all out here.

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136 thoughts on “RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX82U: The Hard Choice Between Asus’s Gaming Duo”

  1. Hi Dong, great site, I’ve been continuously coming back to your articles over and over to re-read stuff.

    I just bought the ZenWifi XT9 (2-pack). I’m leaving behind a Google Nest 3-pack (unstable), but one advantage it had was a wi-fi node in my master bedroom which now I have poor coverage in. I’ve done a wired backhaul for the XT9’s and I have the possibility to do so in my master bedroom as well.

    What is your advice on another piece of hardware? I’m looking at the RP-AX58 extender ($130 CAN), RT-AX55 ($80), RT-AX57 ($130), and RT-AX82U ($180). AX57 or AX55 probably give me best bang for buck and extra ports compared to the extender and not overkill with the 82U. I’m trying to keeps costs low but I also like to keep myself open to future configurations.

    Follow up: I did buy the AX82U, should that be my main router and use the XT9’s wired downstream from that? Any other suggestions?

    Hopefully you’re able to answer.

    I appreciate all your content!

    • A few things, Sterling:

      1. A 2-pack generally can never outdo a 3-pack in coverage.
      2. If you have wired backhauling, you shouldn’t have gotten a Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 set.
      3. It’s never a good idea to start out wrong and then try to fix it via patch work.

      Give this post on how to pick a mesh a good read. It’ll help. Since you said you’re returned reader, make sure you actually read it in its entirety.

  2. Hi Dong, fantastic article as usual…
    My question is about security, I’ve seen that the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore has launched a cybersecurity Labelling Scheme(CLS) with 4 levels, best of al is the fourth, to cover and rate consumer smart devices according to predetermined levels of cybersecurity provisions.

    The ASUS rt-86u pro got level 1 and ASUS rt-82u got level 4!

    I don’t know if you knew it, but do you understand that difference when they have similar firmware and similar features? Do you agree with them?

  3. I am looking for a new router and currently I can get an rt-ax86u Pro or a TP-Link AX95 (basically an AX90 with a faster second 5GHz band) for the same price (the AX95 is actually $10 cheaper). Which would you recommend?

  4. I have both of these routers. What is the reason the RT-ax86u should be used as the primary router in a wired AiMesh situation? Would that still be the case if the primary router is in a less ideal location (near ceiling in basement)?

        • Hi Dong,

          I appreciate your website, and I’m not sure I agree with Paul’s approach, but… I haven’t received an answer to my question. How did you respond?

          • I thought I answered to your message sent via the Contact page awhile back but it could have been a different Aaron with the same question. The gist is that you can use either but generally it’s best to use a more powerful router as the primary, as mentioned here. I’ve only tested the two that way. But the other way around should work.

  5. Hi Dong, I was just wondering in your opinion which would be the better option the Asus RT-AX82U or Asus RT-AX86S?

  6. Hello Dong. Thank you for all the work you do to help us out. I was hoping you can shed some light on a configuration I am looking for as I have noticed that most routers are rated based on their Wi-Fi capabilities. I don’t care for Wi-Fi in the router as I want to deploy Access points where ever Wi-Fi is needed. I have no problem running cables in my single story home and care more about Packet Priority and Bandwidth control with the fastest CPU for my gaming PC and consoles. I have the XR500 and would never buy a DumaOS based router as it has constant problems that Netduma and Netgear are aware of that have never been fixed. I have no need for aesthetics and as I am looking for raw performance and stability. I have Fiber 1Gig, and any help would be greatly appreciated.

  7. Hi, thanks for the article. I already have a single 86U serving my home fine considering it is tucked away in a cupboard!

    I have been considering increasing my WiFi coverage to a corner of my house where signal is poor and thus pushing it out to the garden as well.

    I have just seen an open box offer on Amazon and an additional discount on top of it that makes the A82U really attractive. I already have ethernet CAT6 in the new location so the mesh will be wired backhaul. is this a good combination for the AIMesh?
    The main router will be the A86U with the A82U being the node. I am not a gamer or anything…just want to extend my network if possible. currently on 300MBs download speed but can upgrade to 1GB if needed. no need for the 2.5GBs port as can’t see a use for it.


  8. Hey Dong,
    Thank you for this comparison. I purchased the 82U yesterday from Amazon and have been loving it, and it’s been really stable so far. I realize the 86U has better specs, but the reason I went with this is because of the lighting, but also because I felt like I wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the larger router specs in my current situation.
    I live in a 877 sq ft apartment, most of my high speed devices are connected by Ethernet. I don’t have any 2.5G compatible devices. My only wifi 6 device is my iPhone 12 Pro Max. My 2.4 g devices are very low bandwidth devices such as smart light bulbs. Most of my other devices that support 5ghz are also low bandwidth. Amazon Echos and a Google Home, and Nest Audio. So, I didn’t think I’d need anything more than this. Also it’s my first Asus router and since I’ve been on the fence based on Stability issues I’ve read about, I felt like this was a good deal for the first product.

    It will give me a good router until WiFi 6e becomes mainstream and then I’ll have a better reason to spend more than.

    Also, it’s just me, so I’m not managing multiple users.

  9. Have you considered using POE for a mesh installation. I will be updating a church’s internet to full coverage using mesh with wired backhaul in a partly star / partly serial configuration. I forsee two problems, getting power to some of the satellites (POE) and theft resistaNT (Light weight boxy covers?) Any information that you could supply would help.

  10. Great article, I know i’m a bit late to the party. I have an 5000sq ft home with 4 floors including the basement. My current setup is an AiMesh system with an RT-AX86U in the basement, a wired backhaul to an Asus RT-AX3000 on the first level and wireless backhaul RT-AX3000 to the second story.
    Would I be better off coverage wise by placing the AX3000 in the basement, then running the wired backhaul to the AX86U on the first level?

  11. Hi Dong

    Firstly, herewith wishing a Merry Christmas to you.

    Would you be able to elaborate on the Con for the RT-AX86U: “ Gaming features turn Adaptive QoS off”?

    Which gaming features are you referring to and how does this affect the Adaptive QoS? I would also be interested to know if this is the case for the bigger RT-AX88U and GT-AX11000?

    Thank you in advance.


  12. Hey first of all thanks for your advise
    1. will you review the GS-AX5400
    2. which one do you think is faster for wifi6 RT-AX86U or GS-AX5400 thanks for your help

  13. Hi Dong,

    I have read through most of you articles on routers, and I have a question on whether to get Asus RT-AX86U or GT-AX11000.

    I am currently using RT-AC86U. I do not have wired connection as renovation is needed to get those cables into my room. I am currently on 800mbps Internet plan.

    My wifi connection speed is at 200-300mbps on 5ghz. (sometimes 100mbps) I am looking to get a router to get faster connection speed as I have over 50 devices (sometimes more) connected to my router at the same time (phones, iPads, CCTV, gaming console, laptops, speaker system, tv box, smart tv etc) All devices are connected via Wifi, only CCTV is connected via

    When streaming using TV box, I am faced with constant buffering issue.

    Ps: the router is installed in study room and my room is next door.

    Which router would you recommend me to go for as I wouldn’t want to change router again for the next few years.

    Appreciate you feedback on this.


  14. I have a 5300 sq.ft. home, 3 levels. If I wired an AX86U on the main level, then connected it to another AX86U on the lower level, would it be a seemless ‘mesh’ transition when walking upstairs and downstairs? Or would we need to manually switch Wi-Fi connections on a device like mobile phone?

    I assume I would connect the main level’s AX86U only multigig port to the modem, and use a LAN port to connect to the ‘mesh’ AX86U downstairs… but I would lose some Wi-Fi speed downstairs vs upstairs the because of that, correct?

  15. My MSI GODLIKE desktop supports 2.5G Lan, 10G Lan and WiFi 6. But if the RT-AX86U only has one 2.5G Lan port how useful is that really? Is there seriously a speed difference over 1G Lan?

    You can’t build a 2.5G network so what the point of 1 port? I can see the Wan side of that dual port being very useful for people on high speed fibre tho.

    When my kids visit they’ll be playing on 2 Xbox Series X consoles via ethernet and/or streaming videos on wifi… Will that 2.5G Lan help me during their bandwidth usage?

    I’ll be connecting it to Starlink so I’ll rarely get over 150mbps. One of the things I like about the 86U is that it supports dual WAN, so I can keep my old ISP until the Starlink Beta is over, which is when I’d start using the 2.5G Lan on my desktop.

    Thank you,

    • Not godlike enough it seems, Shayne. 🙂

      The quick answer for your case is yes, via a multi-gig switch. But you can think of that port as a regular 1Gbps for now. And that’s enough for most cases anyway.

  16. Hi Dong,
    Thanks for the Great review information. I’m not very knowledgeable with routers at all, so this sure does help. I’m looking to upgrade my current Netgear Nighthawk AC 2400 router because I have upgraded my cell phone to the Note 10+ which can use wifi 6 and I have signed up with a VPN service. If I understand correctly, an ASUS router can work with a VPN service out of the box, where most other routers require you to install something called DD-WRT software in order to connect a router to an VPN service. I read some information on how to do it and it sounded way over my head.

    So, I’m looking at the ASUS brand routers and specifically the AX86u. I’d gladly pay the extra $20.00 for the extra power, however, I’m seeing it is sold out almost everywhere (New Years Eve 2020). I can find it online, but people at asking close to $400.00 for it on ebay. That is $150.00 over regular retail price. I am not needing it that bad. So, I can wait for the retail stores to get it back in stock OR perhaps go with the AX 82U.

    I don’t know what the 25 gbps port is for, but I am not a gamer. As I said, I just want to upgrade to wifi 6 for my phone and be able to connect my devices to the VPN through the router rather than individually. Also, I am hoping the new router will increase my internet speed and range over my existing router. I have a 400mbs connection from the internet provider, but have to use a wifi extender the back rooms of my little 1,200 sf. home.

    What are your thoughts? Do I need to wait for the AX86u to come back in stock or will my needs be satisfied with the AX82U ?

    Thank you!

  17. Merlin is coming to the ax86u! At long last. The code is now in alpha… (386.1), so not yet beta or live on Merlin’s website… but it’s coming. Runs nice.

  18. Hello Dong and thx for your time replying to all of us. Sharing is giving….
    So my setup here is a ASUS DSL-AC68VG an all in one modem/router/ap
    Unfortunately this has been a discontinued and not updated product since 2 years from ASUS
    Very disappointing as it reaches/ locks the highest VDSL speeds with the provider
    But I am facing many loss of signaling and drops which makes my smart house sometimes not listening to my tasks
    Also Xbox suddenly and for no reason looses connection
    My LG TV gets confused between 2G and 5G signals ….
    The question 1 : here is if I should connect/pair it with a new router Ax82u/86u/88u
    Or 2 : buy a new DSL-AX82U and sell my old one
    In this case I am loosing the ability of internet phone calling which is supported by the old modem

    If rt-ax82u will come after my old modem will this be messy and loss of bandwidth speeds on internet ?

    Thank you in advance!
    Greetings from Athens Greece to everyone here

    • Check out this post, Nick. After that consider one of these:

      1. Best: Use the DSL-AC68VG gateway in the modem-only (Bridge) mode. Or
      2. Second best: Use a double NAT setup. Or
      3. Workable: Use the new router in the AP mode.

  19. Excellent review and comparison Dong! I ended up buying the AX86U and because I live in a 3000 sq ft home with three floors being used, would it make sense to buy another Asus AX router to set up a aimesh network? I have 600mbs service and get close to this near router. I seem to have decent wifi strength but of course speed drops in the farther regions of house. I do not have the ability to hardwire a backhaul though but considering the AX3000/58U to start with. Should this combination help increase speed – in general – throughout house in areas farther from main router? Thanks!

    • Sure, Ray. The RT-AX3000 will work but it will not increase speed, just the coverage. Chances are you’ll get up to around 400 Mbps out of the RT-AX3000 when using it as a wireless node as you can see in the review’s mesh chart. It’s better if you use another RT-AX86U or the RT-AX82U as the second unit.

      • Thanks for quick response! How ironic you mention 82U as a better node (makes perfect sense) as that is what I initially bought as main router but upgraded to 86U. I was going to return the 82U for 3000 to save a little money but if speeds will be better I think I’ll stick with 82U as a node.

  20. Thanks for your whole series of router reviews! Based on them, I decided to get a pair of RT-AX86U’s for my rather sprawling multi-level home (including a finished basement). I have Cat 6a cable run throughout and intend to use a wired backhaul between the routers. I’ve been able to get the two units to connect via the 1Gbps WAN/LAN ports, but haven’t figured out the trick to allow a wired backhaul over the 2.5G ports (i.e. setting the 2.5G port on the node to WAN). Is there something obvious in the setup that I missed?

    • I don’t think that’s possible, for now, Jeff. Also, that prolly won’t make any difference. Just use the Gigabit ports for that. 🙂

  21. Thank you so much for the detailed reviews and information. I am in Singapore and considering between a TP-Link Deco X60 or Asus AX XD4 mini setup which seem to be similar in terms of complexity of setup or something based around the Asus RT-AX86U.

    I can’t really work out the difference between these pre-packaged units like the first two I mentioned, vs the AX86U type setup.

    We live in a condo which is about 120 sqm with gigabit ethernet in and ethernet ports in every room.

    I don’t mind doing something a bit techie. It seems like the X60 might be a good option bang-for-buck (2 unit since it’s a small condo), but can you please give your opinion?

    Thank you

  22. Okay, so it’s mid-September 2020, and I should upgrade my wifi setup. I have a two story house with a finished basement so I think 3 unit solution will work best? I’ve got a gamer upstairs, laptops all over the place, a desktop on the main floor and in the basement, in-house wiring to *most* rooms, and about 100 wifi devices including 25-30 smart home devices (switches, light bulbs, doorbells, cameras) that are always on. And 4 Roku streaming heads.

    I’d like to be able to enforce some parental controls, some students need to sleep at 3am and he wakes the dogs, who then start barking. Currently Mac Address randomization is defeating my parental controls implemented at the network.

    Best advice you can suggest?

      • Isn’t there a way to literally tell the router to only talk to configured MAC addresses, like the ASUS “MAC filtering – Accept mode (whitelist)”? Force all unknown addresses to the Guest network? I suppose at that point the hacker would figure it out and start duplicating the MAC of a known device, though.

  23. Hi Dong,

    Thank you for all your thoughtful advice.

    I am replacing two routers, one upstairs and one downstairs, connected with Ethernet which I can use for the mesh backhaul.

    ASUS XT8 or AX86U – Is one or the other a better choice?

    Two AX86Us are just a little more than an XT8 set, so price isn’t a big factor.

    XT8 has the third channel, but it’s not clear to me how AiMesh uses both 5GHz channels for clients.

    AX86U has more processing power, more ports, which I could use, and better 2.4MHz specs, though I don’t think I really need it.

    Do you know which has better potential range? This is probably my biggest decision factor.


      • Hi Dong,

        Do you know how many total units you can chain together with this system? I believe you recommended the same units to me as well. I sthis the same unit as Asus XT8 ZenWi-Fi AX6600 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System? I cannot seem to find anywhere that tells me the maximum amount of units I can chain together to increase coverage area. I need as many as possible

      • Hi Dong
        I’ve spent an hour reading several of you articles. Thanks so much for you help. My house is wired with Cat5 and I currently have a DSL-AC68U. This doesn’t reach one bedroom upstairs.

        I’m going to get an RT-AX86U. My question is, I believe I can upgrade the firmware to use the DSL-Ac68U as a node. Is this true? Should I sell it and get 2 RT-AX86U?

        Thanks again


        • I’m not sure about the AC68U, Barry, but chances are that’s possible because it’s just the RT-AC68U with a built-in modem (make sure you use the latest firmware). In any case, you will be able to use it as an access point. Of course, two RT-AX86U is the best, but you can try with one first, via a wired backhaul, the current two might work out. Clearly, you’ll need a different modem.

  24. Hello,
    I wanted your thoughts/suggestions on the ASUS ZenWiFi AX XT8 vs. the Amplifi Alien. Im looking for one that has good speed up and down with range about 65 feet through walls for security cameras and lots of streaming that has good consistency? Any thoughts appreciated.

    • A single Alien router won’t have a better range than the XT8 which is a 2-pack, Manny. So if you need larger coverage, go with the former. But if you choose the Alien Mesh Kit (it’s also a 2-pack) then it’ll be slightly better than the XT8, mostly thanks to its ease of use.

      • thanks for the reply. I get what your saying about the single compared to the 2-pack. Single wise units would you say they are equal in the amount of speed for upload and download plus the range would be the same for each if it was a single? thanks for your input.

  25. Hi Dong,

    I really respect your reviews and thanks for doing a great Job !!

    I have a 3000 square ft single floor house with 4 rooms.

    My router is placed in the center of the house. As it is an old house there is no provision of wiring.

    Kindly suggest which Wi-Fi router will be best to cover my house.

  26. In a comment below, you mentioned that the Asus Zenwifi XT8 is unique. Is it very different from the wifi 6 Orbi from Netgear?

  27. When you test 5Ghz speeds, what channels do you use? I find that DFS channels at times perform at a higher bit rate than non-dfs channels. Of course the problem with DFS, is auto frequency hopping if radar is detected. But I would like if you could indicate to your readership what frequency channels you use…

  28. So my ar700 “died”and have put in orbi 4200 system from costco as a band aid. Im debating between getting 5 asus ax11000 with aimesh or the new orbi-pro 6 system. I have a 9000 sq ft home and no ability to do a wired backhaul. Heavy use for home office video games and zoom schooled Teenage kids.

      • I have been comparing the orbi pro 6 and i cant see any real advantage over the as ax11000 except that it is newer. Not having 160 hz channel on the orbi 6 pro goes against it.

        I was also thinking about the new wifi-e version of the 11000 that asus announced. Theoretically, wouldnt the 6 ghz channel mean that the routers would have to be placed closer together in order for aimesh to work? I was kind of disappointed, was hoping for a quad band router so that the second 5 ghz could remain the backhaul. Waiting a few months for something that might not be as good as the current ax11000 is in an aimesh setup is not what i want to do.

  29. Hi!! article. I currently have an orbi system not sure what model but pretty sure it the first one made as it is 2.5 years old and am running 3 satelites. With the addition of lots of devices it has gotten really slow and I have Fios at the speed they have. My home is about 4k sqaure feet all one story and my house is on a flat acre 37k square feet. I am looking for the fastest router that can cover the most amount of square footage inside and out and not get clogged by devices. I would really like to be able to use my wifi signal in as large of an area outside as possible and inside obviously. your help is mush appreciated. I was looking at the Asus RT however I am not sure if that is an expandable unit to cover more ground at the highest speeds. Cost really isn’t an issue within reason. I have friends that have the google system that say good things about it however his yard area is much smaller than mide and I really would like to use my network at the fastest speed possible as far as I can possible while outside

      • thank you so much. I didn’t notice how expensive those things are and bulky. do you have a second choice? also the AiMesh setup, is this a separate piece of hardware required to run the Asus? With the Asus configuration you recommended, Do I only have to have one router connected to the Line coming in for internet service? I have been looking at the wifi 6 Orbi systems. Not really wanting to drop the money on the top of the line model with the faster processors and more antennas, but looking at the second one down. I have sourced one locally reasonably priced. Box says wifi 6 and it has a total of 3 untis in the box. Is it even worth it? someone is selling one for 300.00

  30. Hi Dong, wonder if you tested/compared Netgear RAX50 AX5400 and Asus RT-AX92U AX6100. If so, I like to know your conclusion. Thank you!

      • Can you compare the ZenWifi AX versus the Amplifi Alien as a Mesh for Gigabit internet?

        Secondly, your site is awesome.

        Any chance you can do an article on how to set up external ethernet cables if you want to install wired backhaul? Cat 8 cables, or how does it work? Do you need cables from the router room to go to different parts of a house? And the necessity of this versus using the Wifi 6 backhaul band on the Mesh routers. Thanks.

  31. As for performance, both routers support the 160MHz channel bandwidth and delivered very fast Wi-Fi rates when working with both Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi clients. They also feature LAN Link Aggregation where you can combine two ports into a 2Gbps connection.

    question for above quote…
    what is meant by both , was something omitted? Just curious.
    “with both Wi-Fi 6 Wi-Fi clients.”

    with both WI-Fi 6 [and] Wi-FI [ac] clients?
    Or did I misinterpret something from something stated before that sentence
    regarding perhaps Wi-Fi 6 clients being some composite entity?

    Thank you.

  32. Hey Dong, im still hesitant and unclear on what to buy. I really need a wifi 6 router to future proof my budget is around 380 usd but my house is about 240mt2. Im on the verge of buying an amplifi alien. What router would you recommend? Our bandwidth is nowhere close to gigabit.

    Thank you!

  33. No problem. Ended up trying a bunch of routers both WIFI 6 and WIFI 5 over the last couple months.

    I’m convinced the R7800 (+ XR450/500 rebrands) and the AC86U (+ GT-AC2900 rebrand) are the best routers for price to performance via my AX200 client.

    Though I will say the NETGEAR (XR450 in my case) while a good performer.. seems very dated and the DUMA OS is very buggy/sluggish. (WIFI Calling doesn’t work unless you disable QoS completely and reboot). The 1 year warranty support is also kind of a let down. Ended up keeping GT-AC2900 given the 2 year warranty and consistent updates it recieves.

    I’m hoping you can move testing of wifi 5 clients to 2×2 adapters exclusively in future reviews! It’s more indicative of real word performance, though I understand why stuff is tested via 4×4 adapters.

  34. Hi Dong, Thanks so much for the time and effort you put into this resource for all of us. Unbiased, knowledgeable recommendations are so valuable. I’ve read most of your reviews over the last several days. Sorry to take more of your time with a couple questions.

    – just upgraded to 1 gig service
    – service enters home in far corner of 4000 sf home .. modem is there along with primary router
    – 2 network cables were run when house built – 1 to other side of house, the other to a detached casita 130′ away
    – currently: Nighthawk R6700 (AC1750) as “primary” router and two Netgear EX6200 (AC1200) at wired access points. Very stable but I have 6 different networks (three 5GHz, three 2.4GHz) and I must manually change networks as I move about.

    Figured now is good time to upgrade to WiFi-6 and like the idea of AiMesh. With wired backhaul for both AP locations, I’m looking at dual-band solutions. Primary need is excellent range (in all 3 locations) to extend into backyard and garage, rather than massive bandwidth.

    Looked at:

    1. ZenWiFi XT8 x 3: feel like tri-band is wasted. don’t like the idea of creating a separate SSID for the best (4×4) band (5GHz-2) when not using it for backhaul. Middle-of-the-road performance on your testing.

    2. ASUS RT-AX3000 x 3: “relatively short range” from your review. (is this significantly less range than AX88U?)

    3. Netgear RAX120 x 3: expensive and no AiMesh option

    4. ASUS RT-AX88U x 3: your reviews use the word “buggy” which worries me. Also, seems like overkill, but if I get lower cost units for the AP nodes the range will suffer in those locations (right?)

    So, I’m going with option 4. Anything else I should be considering for less overkill or cost?


  35. We have a 5th gen Airport Time Capsule that is slowly dying. It has been a pretty good router for our home and I love the NAS aspect and may carry something forward in our new setup. Currently the TC covers most of our home which is 2 floor x1800 sqft each (3,600 sqft total). It is basically a long rectangle 27×68 ft with the router about 1/3 of the way in from one end of the rectangle. We had to set up a wired separate Base station to give better coverage to our bedroom on the end of the house furthest from the router and up one floor, providing only 2.4Ghz signal. As I look at new routers I am struggling to determine if a new router will cover our house solo.
    1. Would a AX/WiFi 6 unit provide better range than an AC/Wifi 5 unit?
    2. Is the “tier” of the unit a market of expected signal range? For example would a ax6000 category unit give better coverage than ax3000?
    3. How about the number of antennas or separately supported user streams?
    It does not seem like a triband vs dual band will be better for the signal strength and coverage alone.

    Really appreciate your site. I have spent hours this week reading some of the articles. Thank you so much.

  36. Warning to anyone considering the ARRIS. The firmware/software is unfinished and very buggy. Basic things like changing the DNS setting has a chance to NOT WORK.

    The backhaul also has an issue that makes gaming impossible going through the mesh point. (+10 ping and constant disconnects.)

    Gaming on the main point is fine, but the signal drops off significantly. You can only really use WIFI 6 clients in this situation as AC range gets destroyed on stuff like my IPhone.

    The biggest kicker is that the AX7800 and AX11000 share firmware so you’re basically paying more for something thats supposedly more premium. The AX7800 currently operates as a 4×4 + 4×4 80mhz client..(likely backhaul too). This also means the specs are completely misleading. Especially on the AX11000 which requires 160mhz configuration for its rating.

    Arris claimed the units will be updated to support 160mhz but I wouldn’t hold my breath. I returned the system after I realized the (high end) hardware and price I paid ($199) doesn’t make up for the software/firmware optimization.

  37. Glad I found this blog/site. Really into tech and routers especially. People take them for granted all the time but they’re just like cars. There’s one for everyone (mostly lol). Also some are great and some suck. I’ve had FIOS with a Gigabit plan for about a year now and just recently replaced their Quantum Gateway Router for a Netgear AX120. Only took about 10 mins to setup and besides me tinkering on the online interface for more settings, this baby works like a charm. I’m on the second floor in an old brick building with poor service and I get a connection all the way outside my building. Seems like I got one at a good time. When I set it up, it had a firmware update and that seems to be pretty stable so far. Have had it for about a month now with no issues. On the 5 GHz I have 3 4k Samsung TVs, A Galaxy phone, 2 Asus ROG gaming laptops,and a PS4 slim. On the 2.4 GHz are 2 IPhones, 2 Nintendo Switches, Amazon Echo, Google Home, Google Home Hub, PS VITA, and a Sengled Smart WiFi bulb. And last but not least, on my LAN ports is my Xbox 1X, One S and Samsung Smart things Hub. my 1X is Wired with Cat6 through the multi-gig port just for laughs at the moment 😂. Also worth mentioning, although obvious, is that the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz are distributed automatically by the router as an option. Thank god for this implementation whenever it was conceived. didn’t work great on the Verizon Gateway Router but the Netgear seems to do all the same things so much better, especially allowing me to use all my bandwidth. Also pretty sick having a router resembling Kylo Rens Command Shuttle.

  38. Hi Dong. Asus it is! Thanks a lot. Question, Given my situation below, and your very favorable review of the Asus RT-AX89X, do you think that the Asus G-AX11000 is the preferred? As I mentioned, wireless gaming is not a priority (my gamer is wired), and when considering dual versus tri-band, if I added a mesh component, I would most likely hardwire if possible versus using one of the 5ghz as a dedicated “backhaul”.

    Currently, in my tri-band router, I distribute my devices across the 3 bands to “spread out the wireless demand”, so all “smart home”, Echo Dots type devices on 2.4ghz, and my family devices on the two 5ghz bands. So, I think my only concern moving to dual would be more competition for the one 5ghz band available and therefore a possible performance hit. But, then again, this could be just in my head and no basis in technical reality (-:

    Any additional guidance would be most appreciated. I know I would be giddy with either, but just wanted your thoughts. Then the quest moves to actually finding stock on either and pouncing!



  39. Thanks a lot Dong. I greatly appreciate your response and advice. FYI, I also love all of your real world reviews and considerations on your site! You provide a great service and sanity for all of out here trying to keep it together IT-wise for some pretty tough end users… our families. Awesome. Please keep it all coming! Take care. Bryan

  40. Hi Dong. Happy Memorial Day! Apologies for the lengthy ramble here. I really need your thoughts between the Asus GT-AX1100 and the TP-Link Archer Ax11000. Also open to other router solutions. I have read through your awesome write-ups, but can you please give me a “push” one way or the other based on my situation? I may be way overthinking this, but your guidance will help me be done with all this!

    My TP-Link C5400 is failing according to TP-Link tech support. Not sure if the following is sound logic, but my thought was that a new wifi 6 “gaming” router versus regular router would give me the most “horsepower” and future proofing, though gaming is not my Wifi priority. I do have a serious PC gamer teen, but he is hardwired.

    I need fast and reliable wifi with whole house range, and throughput for the wired as well. For Pandemic, my family of 4 doing 2-3 school Zooms, and sometimes all simultaneously with my work Skyping, streaming music and tv on 4 plus devices, PS4 etc throughout the day. This is via WiFi, and worst case is all happening at the same time…. Also simultaneous wired PC gaming, MacBook pro cellular to internet converter box, etc. My TP-Link C5400 is doing a pretty good job with all this, but is increasingly unreliable, and as I mentioned, their tech support believes it to be a hardware/cpu issue… So time for a new one.

    FYI, I try to hardwire ethernet the stationary devices whenever possible. I have 2 ethernet switches on separate floors to my hardwired devices, as the router only has 4 ports, and on one floor aggregation through the switch allows me one cable run upstairs to the router & only occupy 1 router port.

    So, I am struggling with the idea of 4 versus 8 ethernet ports with these two new routers. Currently I have 4 and use the switches, but concerned about performance hit of consolidating hardwired traffic into 4 ports via switches versus the 8 on the Archer AX 111000 for example…

    Eventually, I would also like to streamline the network by eliminating the Verizon gateway/router, and have my new router handle everything and eliminate at least one ethernet switch… Which leads back to my available ethernet port and potential throughput challenge…

    Your advice would be greatly appreciated!

    My stuff:
    Verizon 1gbit internet with Verizon Quantum Gateway. Parental controls, firewall, Wifi turned off.
    TP-Link C5400 v2 router wired connect to Quantum Gateway. NOT in bridge mode (as I lose ability to tweak the router e.g. parental control, QoS, etc) C5400 is providing DHCP, antivirus, parental controls, firewall.

    Security cameras, Amazon Echo Dots, Wemo plugs etc on my 2.4ghz band approx 15 devices and growing

    4 iPhones, 1 iPad, 4 MBPros, 1 Apple TV, PS4, printer, etc 5ghz bands

    PC for gaming
    Smart TV
    Music amp/receiver
    MBPro, PC laptop via switch for my work
    2 8 port ethernet switches as router only has 4 ports

    • Get the Asus, Bryan. It has five, not four, LAN ports, and many more features, including the options to host a multi-gig server, and a mesh when you add more routers later.

  41. Hi Matt. You can go with AiMesh. It doesn’t hurt to go with tri-band routers (GT-AX11000) — you’ll need to spend more but get an extra band — but since you have wired your home, a tri-band set will do (like a couple of units of the RT-AX3000.)

  42. Hey, assuming I have a wired backhaul, would it make sense to get a pair of Asus AX3000 (possibly a.k.a. Ax58U) or to get the ZenWiFi XT8 (AX6600) ? The third band does not matter much if I use a wired-backhaul?

  43. I just bought a set of ARRIS Surfboard Max Pro Mesh 11000 routers/satellites to replace my Netgear Orbi’s (set of three) and I am ready to return the ARRIS system tomorrow. Speeds are great when you are 20 feet from the router/satellite and drops significantly in speed compared to my Orbi’s. I have a three level (upstairs, main and basement) 3300 square foot house with regular drywall interior construction and stucco outside and I am on a 1/2″ acre lot with multiple WiFi cam’s outside. The Orbi’s did a great job of covering the whole property and the house with minimal signal drop but they did suffer from handing off devices to other the satellites and assigning things to the wrong satellite/router.

    The new ARRIS system doesn’t effectively cover 50% of the house without serious speed drops. I am getting 890mbps at the router but if I move two rooms I am at 150mbps and 10 feet further i am at 50mbps. The ARRIS 2.4 does seem to have decent range but it moves my wifi 6 devices (Samsung note 10) to 2.4 if more than 20 feet away so it makes the tech of WiFi 6 kind of insignificant.

    I didn’t like the interface for the Orbi it was very basic and you really could not customize much. The ARRIS is WAY WAY WAY worse and no web interface. I tried to find the positives but it lasted less than a day and it is gone tomorrow.

    I am considering either a mesh setup of two asus gt-ax11000 routers or two RT-AX89X routers. I would love to hear which would be a better fit.

    • Well, David, I talked about the issue with the ARRIS in my review. Your assessment of the Orbi is spot-on by the way. Get the GT-AX11000 if you intend to go wireless, the RT-AX89X if you can link them using a network cable.

  44. Hi – sorry for the followup, but I am still confused as to the radio capability of Orbi “6” vs AmpliFi Alien. In your review and comment you indicate that both hardware’s specs are the same but in the chart, and from their respective websites, it would indicate that Orbi is 4×4 max on the client-side radio (1200+2400+2400), while Alien is 8×8 (both on the 80 Mhz spectrum) – 4804+1148+1733 (the latter being the 5 GHz 8×8 Wi-Fi 6 radio (Max speed 4804 Mbps)
    Are both companies just visualizing their radios differently in advertising? 🙂

  45. Great review as always.
    Quick questions:
    1) It looks like future-looking, the Alien may be a better bet than the Orbi since it seems the max speed of the alien is 4800Mbps (vs 2400), and a 8×8 setup (based on your comparison chart?) vs Orbi’s 4×4 per radio? Or am I misreading this (understanding there are no 8×8 Wifi6 clients today)
    2) It looks like Alien performance is fairly mediocre, compared to other single-router solutions (based on your measurements), yet you seem to recommend it as a powerful (simple) solution. Is that ‘correct’ or am I misreading this?
    Thanks again!

  46. Cant possibe to run a cable. Can u recommended any mesh with cheaper price… and also whats d prob for higher range ne than c7 like ax3000 or netgear axx40

  47. Hello Mr Dong Ngo,
    I am using tp link c7 router. But It did not cover my whole house because of thick brick wall. Also I need to put the router at the corner room because of the internet cable and ips so I cant put it on d middle of the house. so at the other end of room I get weak signal. Im planning to buy a new router between 150 to 200 range can u pls suggest me some good one with better range. I prefer wifi 6 but also suggest me some wifi 5 as well..

    • You need to run a cable and out the router out of that room. If that’s not possible, you need a tri-band mesh systems.

  48. Thanks! Was wondering that. Equal features for $150 less is hard to pass up so picked up the Asus AX11000, also the mesh option especially with the third band seems really compelling if I move to a bigger space and want to expand my coverage.

    • This depends on what you want. The Alien lacks common settings and has no web user interface. Alien is much easier to use and less buggy. Both will deliver similar Wi-Fi speed and coverage.

  49. A great review. My old Asus RT-AC66U is finally dying so looking at a new router. I like to future proof so think I’ll grab a wifi 6 one, so your article is a perfect reference. My wife and I do a lot of streaming and gaming for context.

    What’s interesting is how much cheaper the Asus routers are… For example the 12 stream tri-band Asus option GT-AX11000 is $342 on Amazon while the Netgear comparable the RAX200 is $500. Right now I don’t want to spend more than about $350 (though wouldn’t mind spending less, but again I prefer to future proof) so I’m compared the Asus AX11000 to the Netgear Nighthawk RAX80 which both sit at around $340, though the Asus is 12 stream and tri band (and supports mesh) while the Nighthawk is only 8 stream and dual band (and no mesh it seems). Is there a reason the Nighthawks are so much more expensive? Are they none to be more reliable than the Asus or something? Just curious why such a big price difference.

    • Get the Asus, Matt. It’s a much better deal. Netgear is slightly more stable but for the most part, it’s just expensive for the hell of it. 🙂

  50. Thank you for your detailed comparison and valuable information. I have an year old Netgear X4S router which is serving us great and i really haven’t had any issues in my 1400 sqft apartment. Now we will be moving to 3200 sqft single story house and I started to look out for options. I started my search with thought of getting a Ex7300 with existing router but landed on your site and now I am thinking whether it will make more sense to go for wifi6 based mesh system. I am considering Orbi mesh system (wifi 6) but not sure if its worth the price difference over ASUS mesh system. I am planning to connect all smart home devices (planning to get lots of wifi bulbs instead of adding more hue bulbs) and video doorbell and looking for uninterrupted and reliable connectivity. I am no longer into online gaming 🙁 but we do stream netflix on multiple devices.
    If i get Netgear AX200, can i use my x4s in bridge mode for the dead zones. Or is it possible to make use of x4s with Asus AX11000 router. Or mesh is the way to go.
    Do you think i should stick to my original plan of using ex7300 till the time wifi6 becomes more common (and cheaper).
    Thank you

    • Congrats on the upgrade, D. How did you afford it? 3200sf is HUGE!

      For that, you’ll need a mesh system. Don’t even think about using extenders. They suck.

      As for which system, it depends. I’d recommend running network cable (wired backhaul). In this case, you can get any systems (Wi-Fi 5 will suffice) that support wired backhaul. If running network cables is not possible (why?) then I’d recommend a Wi-Fi 6 system or the Synology Mesh.

  51. Thanks for the advice. I’ve never really understood this aspect, to be honest.
    I always see 4K movie streaming estimated at ~25Mbps but I’m guessing that’s for online streaming, not what I’m doing.
    I have a 4K movie remux on my NAS right now that has a bitrate of 97.5Mbps (according to Plex) with the lowest end files being ~40Mbps… I want to stream one of those movies from the NAS to an Apple TV while surfing the net on my MacBook and while it also completes a Time Machine backup at the same time as my phone syncs photos and music to the NAS. That’s not uncommon at all for me and it all has to happen on 5Ghz.
    Does that justify having a second 5Ghz band to split the activities (i.e. movie streaming on one band and the rest on the other)? I always thought it would…

    • A good router can easily deliver speed faster than 100Mbps, some on here even faster than 1000Mbps. Just make sure your streamer connects to the 5GHz band, Kash. To understand more about Wi-Fi, check out this post.

  52. I want to go with Asus and I’m tossing up between the GT-AX11000 and RT-AX88U… It’ll come down to whether I really need tri-band or not…hoping for your help!
    Right now, I have a dual band router. My NAS is on ethernet using two LAN ports. On 5ghz wifi, I have 2 x ATV 4K, MacBook Pro, Android phone, LG TV, Google mini, 12 x smart home plugs/lights. Will be adding an xbox or PS soon too. On 2.4ghz, I have 12 x Sonos speakers. The highest traffic activity is streaming 4K movie remuxes between my NAS and the ATVs but there’s always backups and syncing between my MacBook and the NAS too.
    In terms of Wifi 6, I’m guessing that new model of the ATV will come out at some point and that I’d upgrade if that were the case. And, if they bring out a new Macbook, that too.
    Do you reckon I need a wifi 6 tri-band or will dual-band be enough?
    Alternatively, if wifi 6 capability is overkill for my needs, then I’m thinking the tri-band Asus RT-AC5300 as a third option…

  53. The RAX200 is riddled with issues. I am not sure if you purchased the router retail, but it has a major issue where it artificially caps the wired connection speed at 500Mbps. They have yet to solve it.

    • I tested the retail version, Dr. And it didn’t occur to me as the case since I used the Gigabit ports (as well as the multi-gig port) for the testing.

  54. I’ve given up on Netgear – Have the Orbi in a 3 AP setup and have had nothing but issues – Their firmware is just horrible and their frequent updates tend to break the router – What would you recommend for a stable large environment 5000 sq ft – Was thinking the Amplifi, but with no dedicated backhhaul band I’m concerned – I have Cat 5 throughout the home so I can hardwire a second Amplifi, but wouldn’t that limit the throughput? I have 1 gig internet speed, my Orbi tests at 900 or so but hardwired I’m only getting 200.. frustrated..

  55. I have a problem. I can’t decide on the router I want. I purchased and returned the Netgear Nighthawk XR700 gaming router because I was having connection problems. I rebooted the router a number of times and would still have hiccups here and there. I also thought some of the features offered in the device like the 60Ghz band was going to go unused because the lack of devices on the market that supported than bandwidth. I also didn’t think I was going to use the 10Gbps SFP port. I’m still learning about networking in general so everything seemed a bit overwhelming. DumaOS was okay, but I wish there was an app that was simpler to use on a mobile platform. I highly doubt I will be using the Geoservice feature because alot of my friends are on the Westcoast and I’m in the Midwest. I know I’m going to have a less than optimal ping, but that’s okay as long as I can have fun with friends and family.

    I’m considering a purchasing a wifi 6 router. I’m currently looking at the Nighthawk RAX 200 and RAX 120. Money really isn’t a really big option for me. I just want a router that will offer the most seamless hassle-free experience possible. I just upgraded my internet speed to 1Gig and my Time Capsule Second Gen. just can’t keep up anymore. I spent about $300 on it Jan 2012. I don’t mind spending $500-700 on a wifi router or system as long as it’s worth it. I also don’t mind saving some money if I could as well.

    So, if you could, I would like you to offer a low end recommendation and a high end recommendation. I really enjoy your work here and look forward to following you in the future. I’ve been a fan of yours since Cnet so many years ago.

  56. Which firmware did you use on the Netgear routers? I tried the latest firmware (avail in nov 2019) on rax120, and it wouldn’t remain reliable when axmode+160 MHz channels were simultaneously enabled. Usually once I enabled 160 MHz channels, performance throttled to ~10 mbps within about 5 min or so. I tried two of these routers and same bad performance. So I gave up. I’m sticking with wired 10 gbps for now….until they make better hardware. I didn’t try Asus; but Netgear’s rax120 forums are crowded With complaints… So it’s not just me. It’s surprising you didn’t encounter any issues with the rax120.

    • I always review router at the latest firmware available at the time of testing. For your situation, I think you should back up the settings, reset the router, then set it up again. Then restore the setting.


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