Let’s dig into the Asus RT-AX88U wifi 6 router review 2020. The Asus RT-AX88U is the most traditional looking of all the routers. But it doesn’t give up anything in terms of features to its more exotic looking rivals.
In fact, it’s just about the most feature-rich router of the lot (other than the pricier Asus AX6100 mesh system).
It offers more USB functions than any other router, including the ability to plug in a USB modem so that you can even use your phone as your internet source. Plus it offers Alexa and IFTT support for easier home automation.
Style-wise, the RT-AX88U is traditional both in terms of its flat,wide shape and four detachable antennae, as well as its fairly aggressive, angular lines.
To an extent, all the routers are the same dark and moody design language, but the AX88U is the most extreme proponent .You at least get a few flashes of gold paint to liven up the exterior.
The unit itself is very wide, with its width measuring a whopping 390mmwith the aerials attached. Add in the plentiful 188mm depth and 187mm height and you’ll need a sizeable space to house this router.
For that girth, though, you do get plenty of physical features. A rank of eight Ethernet ports runs along the back, where they’re joined by the WAN port, a USB 3 port, the power socket, and the buttons for WPS, reset and power.
Around the front you get two further buttons for turning off the Wi-Fi and the indicator LEDs, and a second USB port behind a flap.
It’s an odd arrangement of buttons, consigning the far more useful WPS button to the back, while having enormous dedicated buttons on the front for features that most people are unlikely to ever use.
|Dimensions (mm)||390 x 188 x 187 (W x D x H) (with antennae)|
|Ethernet||8 x LAN + 1 WAN 1000Mbps, use two ports for WAN link aggregation|
|Wi-Fi||802.11ax dual band (AX6000)|
|USB ports||2 x USB 3|
|Processor||1.8GHz quad-core Broadcom BCM4908|
|Extras||Removable antennae, USB modem support|
Likewise, while we’re glad to see a second USB 3 port is available on this device, having it hidden behind a front flap isn’t all that useful.
You would seldom want to only temporarily plug a USB device into a router, compared with Tenda Nova MW5s Mesh WiFi System and other number of devices you might want to attach more permanently, such as USB storage, a printer or a USB modem.
As with the AX6100, the AX88U’s menu system isn’t quite as slick as the other routers on test, and can feel a little overstocked with features.
Moreover, this router also suffers from the same problem as the AX6100 with setting up USB storage sharing.
It probably works if you’re prepared to faff with it, but it wouldn’t play ball for us. Inside, there’s the same 64-bit, 1.8GHz, quad-core CPU that we suspect powers all these routers: the Broadcom BCM4908.
This, along with the hefty external aerial system, enabled the AX88U to deliver the fastest speeds in our shortest-range tests. It also did well in the longer-range tests on the 2.4GHz band.
However, using the 5GHz band (which has a shorter range than 2.4GHz), we simply couldn’t record a result for the longer tests. The connection either wasn’t available or the test failed part way through due to the weak signal.
The Asus RT-AX88U is a highly capable Wi-Fi 6 router, with a tonne of features and some impressive short-range peak performance figures. However, its interface isn’t the easiest to use and it failed our longer-range tests on its 5GHz band. You can get a better-performing router elsewhere for this money.
Loads of features, and solid short-range performance, but disappointing 5GHz range puts a dent in this router’s appeal.