The Asus RT-AC88U Dual-Band Router is a sleek looking dual-band router that is packed with advanced wireless networking features to make that relatively hefty price tag worth it.
The Asus RT-AC88U incorporates a similar build to other Asus routers in the market but comes with slight tweaks to help separate it from the pack.
One of the most notable features that this dual-band router has is the MU-MIMO technology support along with a generous number of Gigabit LAN ports.
So, where does the Asus RT-AC88U router land on the totem pole of high-end routers?
Does the RT-AC88U provide enough features to deliver excellent performance when it comes to your online experience?
Let us go through each essential aspect of this Asus dual-band router to find out.
802.11ac Dual-Band Wireless Standard
Equipped with MU-MIMO technology
AiRadar beamforming technology
Built-in WTFast technology which is a game accelerator to ensure a lag-free experience when gaming online.
AiProtection triple-strength network security.
AiMesh support to help expand the Wi-Fi coverage.
Compatible with Asus Router mobile app
Gigabit LAN ports (x8)
Brings Both the Sizzle and the Steak
Design-wise, the Asus RT-AC88U looks like your typical modern-day wireless router.
The matte black finish, sleek build, and the eye-catching red accents on the antennas hit all the right marks in regards to the contemporary router design.
This router will fit into any modern interior design with its futuristic look. You can easily see that the Asus RT-AC88U was designed to appeal to the gaming community, and I have to say that it certainly works.
Of course, we are not here to fawn over the aesthetic merit of the Asus RT-AC88U as performance is the crucial factor to consider when looking for a router.
First, let us go over the exterior components of the RT-AC88U.
When it comes to wired connections, the Asus RT-AC88U goes above and beyond with a total of eight Gigabit LAN ports. You are also given the option to convert one of the LAN ports into a WAN port thanks to the Dual-WAN design.
Additionally, this router unit comes with the ability to combine two LAN ports into one via the port aggregation technology.
This can help further improve connectivity speeds for when you need that extra boost when playing multiplayer online games or for streaming 4K video.
For regular use, those eight Gigabit LAN ports are more than enough – which gives you an idea as to which audience demographic this router was designed to cater to.
Stylish Yet Practical Build
The angular design of the RT-AC88U takes a lot of pointers with previous Asus routers. The unit measures in at 3.3 x 11.8 x 7.4 (HWD) and is relatively sleeker than some of its bulkier competition.
You can see the LED status indicators on the front top of the unit, which makes checking the status of the router quite quickly. Underneath the hood of the RT-AC88U lies a Broadcom 1.4GHz dual-core processor.
The processor also incorporates the NitroAQM technology which can significantly boost speeds and throughput.
Quick and Easy Setup Process
The RT-AC88U features a run-on-the-mill setup process – meaning it is straightforward and easy.
Once you have installed the router in an ideal placement in your home, plug it in and wait for it to boot up.
Once the Wi-Fi is up and running, go to the official Asus web portal to start setting up your network.
If you are unsure how to go to the router web interface, check the instruction manual or go to the default IP address which is 192.168.1.1.
Once you have logged in using the default security credentials of the router, you will then be brought to a Setup Wizard which will allow you to choose between Recommended Installation or Manual/Advanced Setup.
Again, if you are unsure how to set up your wireless network properly, you should go with the default automated procedure. You should also take this time to change the SSID and input a strong password for your Wi-Fi network.
Once you have completed the initial setup process, you can now tinker with the router settings via the web interface, if you wish.
What I liked about Asus' interface is how simple and straightforward the options are presented to the user.
Every page and option is delivered in a very understandable manner that even those who are unfamiliar with this technology will be able to figure out what most settings will do.
Also, the web interface is highly intuitive and will allow users to optimize their network to their liking fully.
Fortunately, one of the most common complaints that plagued older Asus routers has been rectified this time around. What I'm talking about is the severely limiting information on display in regards to connected clients.
In previous Asus routers, only the MAC address is shown in regards to devices that are connected to your Wi-Fi.
This time around, you get more information about each client, and admins are also given the option to rename each client to help you distinguish each client faster.
Once you are done setting up your network, the web interface also allows users to tinker with the router's superb features.
Functionalities and Features
A Feature-Rich Router
As we have noted during the introduction, the Asus RT-AC88U is filled to the brim with advanced features to make your online experience as convenient, safe, and secure as possible.
If you are familiar with previous Asus router models (such as the RT-AC87U), you can rest assured that the RT-AC88U delivers all the features of previous models and then some.
For example, Asus routers' primary feature includes its AiProtection technology as well as an advanced QoS (Quality of Service) feature. These are all present within the RT-AC88U, and they brought backup.
Additional features that the RT-AC88U provides users include a multiple guest access network, a built-in VPN server, and versatile LAN and USB ports.
The RT-ACC8U is most certainly a significant upgrade from previous Asus routers.
Advanced Router Features Galore
Asus router incorporates the AiProtection technology, which is designed to enhance the security of home networks.
This router security protocol is designed to block malware and viruses from infecting your system. Sounds pretty standard, right?
However, the AiProtection does go a step further by automatically placing an infected device or client in quarantine to prevent it from sending out personal information to outside parties.
I do have to inform you that if you turn the AiProtection feature on to full capacity, it will force certain network features such as remote access and UPnP to stop.
The reason for this is that the AiProtection system deems these settings as security risks.
I recommend you adjust the AiProtection's security level to ensure that it won't hinder certain aspects of your home network.
Another critical feature that the RT-AC88U router offers is Asus' signature Advanced QoS setting.
The Advanced QoS feature allows users to prioritize which type of internet usage will get the "lion's share" of the bandwidth.
You can specify whether bandwidth allocation will give top priority to gaming, multimedia streaming, or web surfing.
For example, if you place "gaming" at the top, any client or device that is participating in an online game will be prioritized.
The RT-AC88U also offers traditional QoS settings for those who prefer to manually adjust which client gets top priority when it comes to internet access.
There is also a feature called "App Analysis" which allows a network admin to monitor the internet activity of every connected client in real-time.
This is a handy feature if you want to know which client is taking up a huge chunk of bandwidth.
The RT-AC88U also offers multiple guest network access points, a total of six, to allow specific devices to connect to your Wi-Fi without allowing them access to your network.
This is a helpful feature to keep essential files shared through your home network to remain private. This feature will also prevent other clients from using network shared devices such as printers.
Another notable feature is the built-in VPN within the Asus RT-AC88U router. Specifically, the PPTP VPN server which is designed to host up to ten clients simultaneously.
Add the feature that allows users to transform one of its LAN ports into a WAN port makes the RT-AC88U a great router to use for small offices and businesses as it is quite versatile in its router capabilities.
An Ace in the Hole
The Asus RT-AC88U has proven itself to be one of the most well-rounded routers in the market today. Based on the features that we have already touched upon, the RT-AC88U is a complete package already.
However, Asus decided to go a step beyond when they unveiled that the RT-AC88U is also compatible with the WTFast technology.
The WTFast is also known as the Gamer Private Network (GPN) and is a data network designed for massively multiplayer online games (MMO).
As you would expect, this feature alone pushes the Asus RT-AC88U router to the forefront of the pack if you are an avid online gamer.
How does a GPN operate? It optimizes data transmission between your computer (during an online gaming session) and the game server.
This considerably, if not wholly, eliminates lag and latency problems when playing online games. Take note that since the WTFast is built-in into the RT-AC88U, one client can utilize this service free of charge.
Any other devices that wish to connect to the GPN will be required to register for a paid subscription service.
All in all, the Asus RT-AC88U can be considered as a 'top-dog' in Asus' router yard when it comes to functionality.
It packs all the features that helped previous Asus routers climb the ranks while also polishing and improving itself to deliver next-level router performance.
Fairly Decent Range and Stable Internet Speeds
In terms of internet speeds, the RT-AC88U performed quite well across the board. Both dual-band frequencies managed to clock substantial numbers.
Connecting to the 2.4GHz band, we were able to clock in speeds at around 200Mbps. Moving further away from the router (approximately 50-feet away), our device managed to reach speeds of around 100Mbps.
These numbers are, overall, not that impressive but are still decent numbers that won't hinder your online gaming and streaming experience.
Switching to the 5GHz wireless band, we first speed tested the router and device in the same room.
The results were excellent at 800Mbps. Moving further away from the router, walls, and furniture included, our device was still able to hit speeds of around 600Mbps.
As for the wireless range, we reckon that the RT-AC88U router can adequately cover 180sqm households.
Of course, this is considering that the RT-ACC8U router is installed in an optimum location in your residence.
Preferably in the center and away from corners, walls, and sizable obstructive furniture. Also, the RT-AC88U offers the option to restart the router from time to time automatically.
This is a recommended method to help keep your router running at optimum performance.
Average File Transfer Capabilities
This is the one aspect where the RT-AC88U falls short of expectations. Even with the USB 3.0 port available, the max speeds for USB storage file transfers hit its limit at 30Mbps.
If you plan on transferring large quantities of data from an external storage device to the router, you might want to take a seat somewhere cozy. It might take you a while.
The Asus RT-AC88U Dual-Band Router is considered to be a high-end router brand, so the price tag that it comes with is not surprising at all.
Coming in at around $250, the Asus RT-AC88U is relatively more affordable than other routers that offer similar performance in features.
To help point you in the right direction, here's what you should consider:
Everyday casual internet use? The RT-AC88U is too overpowered for the job. If you will primarily be playing a lot of online games and will be streaming videos and music, this router is a perfect fit for you and provides the best value for your money.
while the Asus RT-AC88U Dual-Band Router has been in the market for a bit of time, it is still a worthwhile investment in 2020.
With its excellent features and a focus on supporting online gaming, you can expect the RT-AC88U to do well while delivering superior throughput.
This is a superb router if you plan on streaming 4K videos or play MMO games the whole day.