Asus RT-AX86U Review

About a year ago, Asus introduced the RT-AX88U model, which is superior to most of its fancier and even more expensive gaming routers in the router market.

It has a fast and stable speed while the lag is low. Now, Asus has released a newer model – Asus RT-AX86U. 

This particular Asus model is the newest Wi-Fi 6 router designed and produced for home users and gamers that require connectivity with high and stable speed.

It comes with a 2.5Gb/s WAN and LAN port, a LAN port dedicated for gaming, and it also provides a LAN speed through link aggregation.

The RT-AX86U delivers all the tools you need for a maximum lag-free gaming experience and a better home network experience.

The X in the Asus RT-AX86U implies there might be a chance that it supports Wi-Fi 6. In addition to the gaming-centered features, this router supports Wi-Fi 6 features.

These features make the network at home faster and even more efficient. Although this particular Asus router supports Wi-Fi 6, it doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6E.

Buying the Asus RT-AX86U at $250.00 might seem like a lot but, a major upgrade from other entry-level Wi-Fi 6 routers.

The regular entry-level Wi-Fi 6 routers cannot be tagged as an upgrade if compared to this model as it outperforms them in every way.

The speed recorded on the 5GHz band went as high as 1.8Gb/s from a certain distance. With a doubled distance, it dropped by just 0.4GB/s. When tested at home, its latency is low, and as a gamer, this is just what you need.

Even if you aren’t a gamer, a router like this one, with such features and specs, is not too small for its worth. 

Connectivity TechnologyWi-Fi, Ethernet
Frequency Band ClassDual-Band
Data Transfer Rate5700 Megabits Per Second
BrandASUS
Wireless Type802.11n, 802.11b, 802.11ax, 802.11a, 802.11ac
Number of Ports7
Operating SystemMicrosoft Windows, Apple iOS
Control MethodApp
Controller TypeIos, Android

Design

The RT-AX86U is an upright-only router, which means it can be positioned only in a vertical stance.

That being said, the RT-AX86U might look very cool when using web photography or when you have enough space in your abode but if you have a smaller space, well, be sure of where to place it because the vertical pose is the only pose.

The RT-AX86U router features a matte black casing taped with red at the bottom corner. All three antennas at the top are removable. Towards the bottom of the router, you will find 10 LED indicators assigned to different activities.

The 4Gb ports are placed with a 2.5 Gb/s WAN/LAN port, 2 USB3.2 ports, a GB WAN port, a power jack, a power switch, and the reset button at the back of the router.

Specifications 

  • Network Standard – IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11ax, IPv4, and IPv6.
  • Data Rate – 802.11a : up to 54 Mb/s; 802.11b : up to 11 Mb/s; 802.11g : up to 54 Mb/s; 802.11n : up to 450 Mb/s; 802.11n (1024QAM) : up to 750 Mb/s; 802.11ac (1024QAM) : up to 4333 Mb/s; 802.11ax (2.4GHz) : up to 861 Mb/s and 802.11ax (5GHz) : up to 4804 Mb/s.
  • AX Tech – Yes.
  • Antenna – 3 External antennae and 1 Internal PCB antenna
  • Transmit & Receive – 2.4GHz 3×3; 5GHz 4×4 (Dual Band).
  • Processor – 1.8 GHz quad-core processor.
  • Memory – 256 MB Flash; and 1 GB DDRIII RAM.
  • Weight – 814.5g

FEATURES

  • New-Gen Wi-Fi 6 – Ultrafast internet speed of 5700Mb/s.
  • Game mode – Less lag and latency, which is just perfect for mobile gaming.
  • 2 GB/s wired and wireless speed – Average wireless connection speed of 2Gb/s and wired connection speed of 2.5Gb/s.
  • ASUS AiMesh support – Enjoy flexible and seamless whole-home mesh network.
  • Future-Proof – 2 WAN ports for the Internet connection; the typical Gigabit Ethernet port; and a 2.5 Gigabit port.
  • Others – Lifetime of ASUS Aiprotection for free. Trend Micro powered. Advanced parental control.

Package Content 

  • RT-AX86U Wi-Fi router
  • Power adapter
  • RJ-45 cable
  • Warranty card.
  • User manual.
  • Pros

    • Easy to install and manage.
    • Multi-gig LAN.
    • Close range throughput performance.
    • Parental controls.
    • Malware protection.
    • Link aggregation.

    Cons

    • Can only be mounted vertically.
    • Expensive.
    • Middling file transfer and long-range performance.

    Installation and Configuration

    You can manage the Asus RT-AX86U Router from the Asus Router mobile app. On the Asus Router mobile app homepage, all connected devices, connected USB devices, and other basic details are displayed.

    The side menu houses Quick Internet Set-Up, General, and Advanced Settings

    You can configure and set up guest networking, USB storage settings, access your router’s Traffic Analyzer, Game Settings, and Adaptive Quality of Service from the General Settings tab.

    From Adaptive QoS, you can configure the priority of application-specific bandwidth and assign bandwidth thresholds. From the Game Settings tab, you can access Gear Accelerator – for giving bandwidth priority to particular devices.

    The Game Settings tab also has the Mobile Game Mode. When activated, it boosts the performance of online gaming and the Open NAT settings too. It presents a shortcut to portal creation forwarding online gaming rules.

    The Advanced Settings section allows you to set up wireless security settings, activate and deactivate MU-MIMO and beamforming, edit the width of channels, rename your SSIDs and configure other professional settings like RADIUS settings, Airtime Fairness, and Beacon Intervals.

    You can also configure the firewall, LAN, and WAN controls, and you also have the option to add VPN and configure its settings from Advanced Settings and enabling the Alexa voice control and IFTTT.

    Now, to the installation. It shouldn’t take long at all because the Asus RT-AX86U Router has a fast installation.

    You can start the installation process by plugging in the router to your modem and connect your PC to any of the LAN ports. The next step is to open your favorite web browser and log on to www.router.asus.com.

    Once on the page, click on Setup a New Network. Next, you will have to separate the radio bands and enter names and choose a password for each SSID.

    Then you will have to create an administrator name and choose a password, then update the firmware. Finally, a three minutes update will take place. Once completed, it is ready.

    Speed Tests

    The performance tests on the RT-AX86U delivered a throughput on a 2.4GHz proximity. The RT-AX86U scored an approximate speed of 140Mb/s.

    It makes it faster than both the AX11000, 133Mb/s, and the Linksys MR900, which is 111Mb/s though the Asus RT-AX88U is a bit faster than it with a difference of about 7Mb/s.

    However, the long-range test is not as good, as it scored 38Mb/s. The RT-AX86U is slower than the AX1100 by 29Mb/s and the RT-AX88U by 21Mb/s.

    On the 5GHz close-range test, the RT-AX86U acquired an average speed test score of 831Mb/s, which is very close to AX11000 and 49Mb/s faster than the RT-AX88U. At a 30 feet distance, the RT-AX86U scored 237Mb/s.


    Its score in the 30 feet distance speed test is significantly low compared to the AX11000 and the RT-AX88U, which scored 328Mb/s and 318Mb/s, respectively.

    A 1.5GB folder containing video, music, photos, and text files was transferred back and forth from a USB3.0 external hard drive plugged into the router and a PC to measure and record the file transfer speed.


    The file transfer speed, though not so bad, was not so great either. It garnered a written score of 52Mb/s and a read score of 66Mb/s.
     
    The last test ran was the latency test. The RT-AX86U is exceptionally outstanding in handling latency and boastfully the best router in terms of lag.


    The lag test determines how long it takes your router to send and receive a signal from a particular server. 

    When running the test, it was done using a certain tower 80 miles away. Almost every other router will spike once or a few times in this same test. But, as for the RT-AX86U, a lag time of more than 20ms was not recorded.

    Conclusion

    The RT-AX86U is a very capable and efficient router. It uses Wi-Fi 6 to its advantage and also has more to offer the gamers. Though, with a mesh router, you will enjoy a better coverage area. Also, the RT-AX86U lacks band steering.

    It is not an issue at all, as there is an available option to turn this off while you stick to only the 5GHz band. The 5Hz band offers top speed and a range sufficient to provide the required coverage for small and medium-sized homes.

    As for the price, well, I think it is fair. The RT-AX86U is way expensive than an entry-level Wi-Fi 6 router like the Linksys MR7350 or the TP-Link Archer Ax10.

    However, the price is justifiable based on all the superior performances, features, and steady and reliable networking. It is comparable to a fancier gaming router that even costs over 100 times more.

    Performances and features of the RT-AX86U earned it the Editors’ choice award, in not only the gaming routers category but also the Wi-Fi 6 category.

    Finally, this router is not dedicated to gaming like the GT-AX1100, it is one of your best picks for gaming.

    If you are wondering why I said it’s not a dedicated gaming router, well, this is because it misses the Asus RoG signature look and some gaming features.

    Notwithstanding, as a gamer, if you are looking to eliminate network bottlenecks, you should go for the Asus RT-AX86U. 

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