When we reviewed the Asus RT-AX88U back in 2019, it was the first Wi-Fi router from ASUS and we liked it for its powerful hardware and new functionality of the then-new Wi-Fi standard. This router became some sort of pioneer for both the company’s future router developments, and its competitors too.
As with any technology, change is always in the shadows; that’s why wireless standards come and good, and too often they are more marketing hype than any incremental, practical improvement. To make wireless standards simpler, 802.11ac was renamed ‘Wi-Fi 5,’ while the current standard, 802.11ax, is dubbed ‘Wi-Fi 6’ by the Wi-Fi Alliance.
The latest standard – Wi-Fi 6, promises to bring to the industry some benefits, including greater bandwidth. The other highlight here is Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), which is designed to increase the number of subchannels for each wireless channel, thereby reducing latency and allowing the router to handle more clients simultaneously. However, there are no improvements to MU-MIMO that would allow for more data to be transmitted once, and other refinements to beamforming as well.
The Asus RT-AX88U Pro (AX6000), an update to the Asus RT-AX88U, is a newly introduced router that promises to bring the advantages of 802.11ax (aka Wi-Fi 6) to the home/gaming router market. With a learning curve from its popular RT-AX88U sibling since 2019, this emerging wireless standard indeed holds quite a bit of potential, and surely represents an even more meaningful transition from 802.11n to 802.11ac.
Just in time for 2023, ASUS announced the RT-AX88U Pro with Wi-Fi 6 support. This is just a Pro-version of the already popular and excellent RT-AX88U. This new router promises to deliver stable, high-speed connectivity for both wireless and wired environments. Let’s find out if it was worth updating an increasingly popular model after four years in the market.
About the ASUS RT-AX88U Pro
Since the launch of Wi-Fi 6, we’ve reviewed several supported routers, but ASUS claims the RT-AX88U Pro to be one of the best dual-band routers that promise to offer uninterrupted internet connectivity and a host of security features.
The Asus RT-AX88U Pro comes with 2.5 Gigabit ports for both WAN and LAN connections, supporting maximum speeds of 1148Mbps in the 2.4GHz band and 4804 Mbps in the 5GHz band. The router also features adaptive QoS which gives gaming packets priority for a smooth gaming experience.
For security, the RT-AX88U Pro is fitted with the latest security features, such as Trend Micro’s AirProtection Pro, ASUS AiMesh, and ASUS Safe Browsing. Other interesting features on this router include Asus professional suites such as Guest Network Pro and VLAN, which were not present in the original ASUS RT-AX88U.
The router is equipped with a 64-bit 2.0 GHz quad-core Broadcom BCM4912 processor, 256MB of flash memory, and 1 GB of RAM. All that in a nice-looking enclosure that can fit anywhere in your home.
ASUS RT-AX88U Pro specifications
Here are the basic features of the ASUS RT-AX88U Pro route:
- Type: Wireless router
- Processor: 2.0 GHz 64-bit quad-core Broadcom BCM4912 processor
- Memory: 256 MB NAND Flash, 1 GB DDR4 RAM
- Power over Ethernet (PoE): no
- Power supply: AC input: 110~240 V (50~60 Hz); DC output: 19 V with a maximum of 2.37 A, or 19.5 V with a maximum of 2.31 A
- Standard: Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), WiFi 6E (802.11ax), backward compatible with 802.11a/b/g/n/ac Wi-Fi
- Maximum connection speed:
802.11a: 6; 9; 12; 18; 24; 36; 48; 54 Mbit/s
802.11b: 1; 2; 5.5; 11 Mbit/s
802.11g: 6; 9; 12; 18; 24; 36; 48; 54 Mbit/s
802.11n: up to 600 Mbit/s (up to 1000 Mbit/s for devices with 1024QAM support)
802.11ac: up to 3466 Mbit/s (up to 4333 Mbit/s for 1024QAM devices)
802.11ax (2.4 GHz): up to 1148 Mbit/s
802.11ax (5 GHz): up to 4804 Mbit/s
- Dual-band support: Yes
- Antennas: 4 external (collapsible)
- Connection interface (WAN/LAN ports): 1×RJ45 10/100/1000/2500 BaseT for WAN, 1×RJ45 10/100/1000/2500 BaseT for LAN, 4×RJ45 10/100/1000 BaseT for LAN
- USB ports: 1×USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A
- WAN connection type: Automatic IP, static IP, PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP
- Connection: IPSec VPN, L2TP, PPTP, OpenVPN
- Wireless network security: WPA3-PSK, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Enterprise, WPS
- Other: MU-MIMO, Beamforming, WiFi 6E, OFDMA
- Weight: 1,010 kg
- Dimensions: 300×185×60 mm
On paper, this looks like a capable network device with support for the latest wireless standards and has powerful hardware and functionality.
Design and Build Quality
The ASUS RT-AX88U Pro is an update to the older ASUS RT-AX88U, and it shows. The overall design of these two routers is so similar that they may have just reused the same mods, although with some subtle variations. The overall body is flat and angular, with a row of indicator LEDs spread across the front, and a big grill with the Asus logo emblemed into the top rear. There’s another grill that features prominently on the front to further help with heat dissipation.
On the ASUS RT-AX88U, there were two large buttons: one for switching the LED lights on or off, and another for manually turning the Wi-Fi network on or off. And opposite these buttons, there was a flip-down cover with a USB 3.0 port, but all those have been dropped in the latest design.
The rest of the ports are present around the back, including a USB 3.1 port to connect your modem, and LAN ports to connect devices. This is where there’s another difference from its predecessor: the WAN port has now been upgraded from Gigabit Ethernet to 2.5G Ethernet, but instead of eight 10/100/1000 BaseT LAN connectors, the Pro model offers only five ports, of which one supports 2.5G Ethernet and the rest are 10/100/1000 BaseT.
This is a four-antenna router, with two antennas on the back and the other two on the sides. They connect to the router via screw-on connectors and are identical in appearance to the antennas found on the ASUS RT-AX88U, with the same gold highlights.
How fast you can get up and running depends on how your network is set up, but you’ll be able to have it up and running in just a few minutes. You have a choice: either to configure using the ASUS router mobile app or the web interface from a PC or laptop which redirects to http://router.asus.com to get the process started. Whichever method you use, both are quite straightforward and do not require any special knowledge or skills.
The wizard takes care of the basic setup quickly, allowing you to set a custom SSID and password and choose whether to combine the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks under a single SSID. You’ll be online and ready to connect devices within a few minutes.
There’s just a lot of tweaking you can do on this router beyond a basic setup, and things can get a little complicated if you’re setting up an AiMesh network, instead of just setting up a single router. You can also choose whether to enable the built-in firewall, enable settings like denial of service (DoS) protection, and activate the game boost feature, but all that is optional. Most of these settings are available on the ASUS Router app, which makes it even easier to set up and use your gaming router.
The major defining feature of 802.11ax (aka Wi-Fi 6) has always been the ability to encode more information into each packet of transmitted data than previous wireless standards. Therefore, even though the RT-AX88U Pro uses the same frequencies as an 802.11ac router, it’s still able to deliver significantly higher bandwidth: the 2.4GHz radio can transmit data up to speeds of 1,148Mbits/sec and the 5GHz radio is rated at a super-fast 4,804Mbits/sec.
On top of these impressive speeds, the standard uses new techniques to reduce the impact of interference, so less of that bandwidth is lost to environmental factors. Asus claims that, as a result of these improvements, the RT-AX88U Pro delivers up to 2.3 times the performance of a comparable 802.11ac router, like the Asus RT-AC67P router and several budget home routers.
To test the ASUS RT-AX88U Pro in the usual, installing the router with default settings then walking around the home with an Alienware x17 R2 laptop (equipped with a 2×2 MIMO Intel AX200 802.11ax adapter and connected on the 5GHz band) and copying files from to and from a NAS appliance connected to the router via Ethernet.
|All speeds are MB/sec
The results from various rooms, in megabytes per second stacked up well against the fastest Wi-Fi 6 router I’ve tested, the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700:
The RT-AX88U Pro roughly doubles the download speeds compared to the Nighthawk XR700, and the write speeds in many areas of the house were more than six times as fast. To reiterate, those numbers are in megabytes per second, so even when at the opposite end of the house to the router, the connection is strong enough to max out a 250Mbits/sec fiber internet connection. This is impressive considering the sheer number of walls and appliances in the way, without mentioning the plumbing.
Finally, the router’s 2.4GHz performance is amazing too. This radio band is better able to penetrate through physical obstacles, but it has a lower data rate and a greater susceptibility to interference, so you’re almost always better off with a 5GHz connection.
For both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, there’s more than enough bandwidth to play your online games, watch Netflix on 4K on your laptop, and it’s just hard to see what more you could ask for. And since the RT-AX88U supports 4×4 MU-MIMO, the connection shouldn’t stutter if other systems in the house start demanding network access at the same time, although a tri-band model would be able to handle even more clients at once.
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The ASUS RT-AX88U Pro is a stellar Wi-Fi router and is a great way to future-proof your home network even if you don’t already have a lot of Wi-Fi 6 devices. It’s only a Wi-Fi 6 router but is extendable to support gaming, and that means you shouldn’t have to worry about that as much once the majority of your devices are using 802. ax instead of 802.11ac – but most recent devices use the latest standard.
Of course, you can save some money by sticking to the more affordable Wi-Fi 5 routers out there, but you’ll end up wanting to upgrade in 2023 and beyond as Wi-Fi 6 devices have become more ubiquitous.
With the ASUS RT-AX88U Pro, you have extremely efficient network equipment that can cover a really large apartment or private home on its own. Alternatively, it can be used to create a mesh network, and it will certainly be perfect for its role as a central network hub. It provides maximum speed not only in Wi-Fi networks, but also in wired interfaces, and offers powerful software with many performance and security features that will delight network administrators.
Overall, the RT-AX88U Pro is one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers around and one that will meet all your network needs. If you’re looking for a high-performance dual-band router with wide configuration options and gaming features, the ASUS RT-AX88U Pro is an excellent choice.
ASUS RT-AX88U Pro
The ASUS RT-AX88U Pro is an excellent Wi-Fi 6 dual-band router with a rich feature set, solid performance, and extensive features to future-proof your wireless and wired networks.
ASUS RT-AX88U Pro (AX6000) Dual Band WiFi 6 Extendable Gaming Router, Dual 2.5G Ports, ASUS Rangeboost Plus, Port Forwarding, Subscription-Free Network Security, Instant Guard, VPN, AiMesh Compatible
$239.99 in stock
20 used from $184.23
- Excellent 802.11ax speeds
- Decent 802.11ac performance
- Speedy, dual 2.5G ports
- Fiddly firmware
- Less bandwidth than tri-band models
Last update on 2024-02-28 at 10:21 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API