Although ASUS has mainly become known and popular for their graphics cards and motherboards, the company is also quite well-known in the world of networking. ASUS routers have been favored by a lot of gamers since their products are fast and have a lot of features; things that are featured in its new RT-AC88U gaming router.
The ASUS RT-AC88U doesn’t only appear similar to a gaming device – with its classic black | red color design – but it is also packed with a ton of game-specific features, making it stand out from other routers in the market today. The ASUS RT-AC88U may be somehow categorized under the higher-priced devices, considering that it’s a dual-band router and not the tri-band types; but let’s go on and take a look at what it has in store for us and if this router from ASUS is worth its price.
ASUS RT-AC88U Router Review – Whats in the Box?
When you get your hands on the ASUS RT-AC88U, notice that it comes in a fairly large package with all of its contents set nicely and securely in place. Once you open the box, you’ll see the ASUS RT-AC88U instantly since it is placed right at the top of the package; other accessories sit securely together with the ASUS router and these include the Ethernet cable, power adaptor, and a CD manual which is enclosed in another compartment beside the RT-AC88U.
Beneath the ASUS router, you’ll find four external antennas available which can be screwed to the back and rear portion of the RT-AC88U. We noticed that the ASUS router features a more classic aesthetic compared to other routers that we’ve seen recently. The four antennas are fairly large but sized proportionately to the RT-AC88U’s chassis which has a rather bulky appearance. Also, notice that the ASUS RT-AC88U does not come with the usual ROG red streaks that can be found on the other top ASUS devices; this may be the case but we really can’t call its design subtle, though we can definitely say that the RT-AC88U has a more pleasing aesthetic compared to the AC-5300 model.
The front portion of the ASUS router features eight bright and highly visible status indicators that often turn white while the Internet WAN indicators turn red whenever you disconnect the device. A finely concealed button located on the front portion of the RT-AC88U can be utilized to disable the LED; plus, there is also a big Wi-Fi button for switching the radios off. Another front-facing and well-hidden 3.0 USB port is set perfectly behind the extended flap on the front left portion of the ASUS RT-AC88U. At the back portion of the device, you’ll get your usual lineup with such devices: one WAN Gigabit Ethernet port, a 2.0 USB port, four Gigabit LAN ports, the reset button, the power input, and the WPS button.
Everything’s set neatly in place which is great for both beginners and pros alike; and once you have found all the hidden features of the RT-AC88U, you will definitely enjoy this router’s efficiency. Its build quality is great, just as expected from ASUS.
ASUS RT-AC88U Router Review – Gaming Optimised
The ASUS RT-AC88U looks just like the RT-AC-87U but with four movable antennas plus two additional USB ports; and just like the older version, the RT-AC88U features the 2.0 USB port at the back of the device while the 3.0 USB port can be located on the front portion of the router. Some may think that having this port in front of the router is a little inconvenient, but due to its quick speed, the 3.0 port is favored for hosting storage devices that are permanent so having the USB port in this position will turn into clutter whenever you want the router to work as a network storage server.
One difference that the ASUS RT-AC88U has is its eight Gigabit LAN ports which are unlike most of the routers today that only feature four LAN ports; in fact, this router from ASUS is the very first home router that features this total number of ports for the LAN. We think that this is a really great improvement since it also has the same size as the RT-AC87U; plus, with more LAN ports, it also means you can have more wired clients like a printer or server – things that you can link to the ASUS RT-AC88U before resorting to utilizing a switch.
There’s also more to the ASUS RT-AC88U than just its LAN ports: you can readily combine the first two ports to provide an excellent and extremely fast 2 Gbps connection and can utilize any of the first four ports as a second internet WAN port. This is actually a good thing if you have two broadband connections – something like a DSL connection and a cable – since you can utilize both of these with the ASUS RT-AC88U to keep your network always online; aside from this, the USB ports of the router can also be used to host a cellular USB dongle for those planning to share their cellular broadband connection with the whole network.
Built using the same BCM-4366 wireless chipset and the 1.4GHz dual-band Broadcom that powers most of the current high-end routers today, this quad stream ASUS RT-AC88U features a strong specification sheet: with a good support of 512 MB RAM present, there is a lot of horsepower present for the usual set of extended features from ASUS.
The company included Broadcom’s Smart Connect that instantly controls device arrangements on certain bands that optimize the speed. This feature can dramatically boost and improve combined network speed that can reach up to 80% based on numerous tests that we’ve done.
From a connectivity aspect, the RT-AC88U follows a reasonably regular path: 4 Gigabit WAN ports joined with one WAN port are present, as well as a single 3.0 USB port and a 2.0 USB port. There are also four attached antennas located at the rear part of the device that ensures a sleek and more polished aesthetic compared to other routers that have appeared in the market in the previous years.
Now, let’s take a look at the features of the RT-AC88U and see if it’s really as good as ASUS claims it to be.
Extremely Quick Dual-Band, 802.11 AC Wi-Fi Router
The device can boost up to a speed of 3,167 Mbps perfect for fast file sharing, low latency online gaming, as well as smooth 4K-UHD video playback.
4×4 Antenna Style + Ai-Radar
The RT-AC88 features a 4×4 antenna design and the AI-Radar universal beam-forming for exceptional Wi-Fi range. Additionally, ASUS’ intuitive Router App also lets you easily manage your network anywhere without really having to boot your PC.
The MU MIMO Technology
The MU MIMO can readily and simultaneously connect numerous MU MIMO-compatible clients on each of the device’s total speed.
Supported by Ai-Mesh
You can connect to other suitable routers from ASUS to establish a flexible, powerful, and efficient home Wi-Fi network.
Printer Server: Multifunctional printer support (Windows only), LPR protocol support
Download Master: Support bt, nzb, http, ed2k, Support encryption, DHT, PEX and magnet link, Upload and download bandwidth control, Download scheduling
AiDisk file server: Samba and FTP server with account management
Power x 1
Wi-Fi x 2
WAN x 1
USB x 2
WPS x 1
LAN x 1
AC Input : 110V~240V(50~60Hz)
DC Output : 19 V with max. 2.37 A current
Mac OS X 10.6
Mac OS X 10.7
Mac OS X 10.8
8 x 7.4 x 2.38 inch (WxDxH) (Without Bezel)
Wireless router mode
Access point mode
Media bridge mode
How it Performs
When it comes to the performance of this RT-AC88U router from ASUS, we can say that it really excelled in the numerous tests we’ve let it go through. The router was able to deliver great Wi-Fi rates, stable wireless and long range signal. If you’re in the market searching for a high-quality home router with just a little compromise, you definitely can’t go wrong with the ASUS RT-AC88U. It’s quite on the pricey side, but it is worth the investment especially if you are someone with great needs.
The RT-AC88U router from ASUS is something that you’d call a full package: it combines excellent software interface – specifically for desktop and mobile, high-class performance, and is loaded with quality adjustments and features. The routers from ASUS have been highly regarded by a lot of enthusiasts for these reasons, and their RT-AC88U maintained these aspects nicely. It’s generally the fastest router we have tried out and its interface has adequate advanced features to please even the most hardcore user around. Just make sure that your AC vets aren’t concealed because just like every other router, the RT-AC88U also gets slightly warm at times.
This ASUS RT-AC88U router will provide you with intensively fast throughput performance, a killer feature set, and a concurrent multi-client MU MIMO data stream. Our throughput tests showed excellent scores, and its read | write file transfer scores were just as good. The router also provides you with extensive control features in a user-friendly and easy to use interface which includes parental controls, mobile cloud services, game-friendly QoS settings, and advanced file sharing. Also with two USB ports and eight LAN ports, the RT-AC88U is the best choice for you especially when you want to link numerous wired clients and peripherals like NAS devices, gaming consoles, home automation hubs, and printers.
With all of its great features and efficiency, we can definitely say that the company worked really hard on this router. The UI’s features were outstandingly mind blowing and no other company has ever done such an excellent job with their device. Generally, you do not really need to aim for ASUS’ high-end routers since the RT-AC88U is more than capable enough to accomplish things that a lot of gamers greatly require.
How to Use
The ASUS RT-AC88U router has a common setup process since it is a device with a web interface: all you need to do is plug the device then point a browser from any linked computer to its default IP address. For the first time, notice that your interface will greet you with a wizard that is web-based. The wizard will walk you through a couple of steps like creating passwords for the interface, as well as the Wi-Fi networks.
Once the initial setup is done, you can start utilizing the interface to control your router. This interface is something that we’d consider as one of the best we’ve seen since it is easy to use and very well organized; not only that, but the interface also has a collective network map that displays linked devices in real time. With that, each of the devices will be identified by its vendor and name; you can also click on a linked device to readily interact with it, rename it based on your preference, or even view more details about it – this is definitely a big improvement compared to the much earlier versions of ASUS routers. Basically, when there are a lot of clients linked to the ASUS RT-AC88U, you’ll be able to easily determine which device is which and that’s something that we really appreciate about this device.
Apart from the RT-AC88U’s settings, you can also utilize the web interface to control the other features of this device.
If you’re a gamer, the RT-AC88U has a couple of tricks up its sleeve and you won’t find these in any other router out today since these make the device stand out. First, it provides you with free membership to a GPN or Gamers Private Network care of WTFast. This specific service is said to route gaming traffic away from networks that are busy since it is on its own; it essentially turns it into a private network that promises improved ping times while also decreasing packet loss.
Now for the software itself, its general settings page features a Network Map, as well as tabs that allow you to access QoS or Adaptive Quality of Service and Guest Network Page. These areas let you prioritize and plan out bandwidth for certain applications; it also features a bandwidth monitor that shows your download and upload speed. It also features a Traffic Analyzer page that provides you with a graph of your regular client usage, as well as charts of outgoing and incoming data packets utilized for wired and wireless network clients. A Game Boost page is also available, allowing you to connect to the GPN of WTFast to accelerate your online gameplay.
For the ASUS RT-AC88U’s Quality of Service, it is undeniably more powerful than a lot of routers since it offers two-pronged attacks that allow you to prioritize both activities and devices. We aren’t really sure how many devices can actually be included for highest priority but we were able to do this with four different devices while simultaneously setting gaming on the top of the priority list.
When it comes to ASUS’ Ai-Protection feature, it makes use of the Smart Home Network solution from Trend Micro and it works by detecting, as well as monitoring viruses and malware while also blocking any malicious site. This also offers a lot of parental control such as app filtering and app scheduling; additionally, you can also easily access data via smartphone or a tablet with an Android or iOS app with the Ai-Cloud feature.
The software’s advanced settings allow you to create multiple wireless SSID names, configure VPN / wireless / RADIUS bridge settings, enable WPS settings, and select a security protocol and authentication procedure. On the page for Wireless Professional Settings, you can also readjust the multicast rates, beacon intervals, beamforming, and wireless scheduling; as for its Firewall setting page, it offers you URL filtering, keyword filtering, and Denial of Service protection.
Lastly, ASUS also provides you with a mobile application that looks just like what anyone would expect from ASUS – a real-time traffic monitor that features a cutting-edge appearance. It also has a lot of graphs and bars that appear to show a lot of activity. Think of it as your router’s blinking lights but instead, translate these into an application that is showing you that things are currently happening.
After all the tests, we can say that the ASUS RT-AC88U is a very impressive router for a dual-band type. Overall, it is extremely fast and has excellent admin software for both mobile devices and desktop; we also liked that it features a game-specific Quality of Service as well.
With its quality features, it’s also easy for us to say that the RT-AC88U is the best router made by ASUS, and is also the most efficient dual-band router available on the market. With exceptional performance and lots of great features, it’s definitely an excellent purchase for anyone who wants to get the best out of their home network.
The fact that the RT-AC88U also features 8 Gigabit LAN ports instead of just four, it only means that you can readily plug in more wired clients to the ASUS router whenever the need for a switch arises. If you are an MMO gamer, then this router’s support for WTFast is definitely worth the additional price.
All in all, despite its slightly higher price, we highly recommend the ASUS RT-AC88U and consider it a great investment.
Where to Buy
If you want to get your own RT-AC88U from ASUS, you can check out their store locator to see all the sellers, shops, as well as the retailers offering this high-quality router. The router can be picked up for around $429AUD.