Sometimes it feels like most people just grab any old wireless router they can find and call it a day. Of course, with wi-fi becoming as important as it is, that’s definitely not the proper course of action. If you’re setting up a new home or you’ve finally decided it’s time to upgrade your wi-fi to more modern standards, then you’ll need a new wireless router.
If you understand the importance of a good wireless router to help all of your Internet activities, whether for work or pleasure, flow smoothly, then you’ve probably taken to Google to find the best wireless router for your needs. If you’ve done that, you’ve undoubtedly come across the Asus RT-AC88U, which is one of the premier products on the market. You may be wondering if this Asus product holds up to the standard, and that’s what we’re here to find out. By the time you finish our Asus RT-AC88U review, we guarantee you’ll be ready to decide if the Asus RT-AC88U is worthy of being the central hub of your home network.
What’s So Good about the Asus RT-AC88U?
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Asus is hardly a brand that needs an introduction. The tech company boasts some of the best products out there from wireless routers to laptops to gaming desktops. So whatever your modern needs are, they’re a good first place to look. As for the Asus RT-AC88U, this high-quality router is a great option no matter what you’re looking at, as it combines a reasonable price with all of the necessary (and luxurious) features out there, so you can be in on the newest in wi-fi technology without maxing out 3 different credit cards. Of course, we don’t want to just tell you that, we’re going to show you. Here are the main perks that make the Asus RT-AC88U one of the most popular options out there.
Important Feature #1: Tons of Ethernet Ports
For a lot of more casual Web surfers, ethernet cables are a thing of the past. After all, the Internet is wireless now, so why would I tether myself to a port if I don’t have to? Of course, die-hard techies will know that the only way to get the absolute best speeds possible is by plugging your device directly into the gigabit LAN port of your router with an ethernet cable.
Even the best routers out there usually have 4 gigabit LAN ports at most. The Asus RT-AC88U is not messing around though, and this versatile wireless router boasts 8 gigabit LAN ports. If you’re good at math, you know that’s double most of the competition. So even if you and your roommate both want the best speeds on your laptop while you surf the Web or download files, you’ll be able to keep your new video game console plugged into the router to give you the smoothest online gaming experience and have your smart TV access those ethernet speeds. And after all of that, you’ll still have four ports left over.
I’d honestly struggle to find a use for 8 different ethernet ports, but if you know the value of a wired connection, then the Asus RT-AC88U makes a pretty convincing case as the best router out there.
Important Feature #2: Fantastic Speed
It’s pretty obvious that we want our wireless routers to give us a fast connection, and the Asus RT-AC88U does just that and then some. Our Asus wireless router uses dual-band technology to provide you with a 2.4 GHz network and a 5 GHz network. This means that your older devices that can’t connect to the 5 GHz network will still get a signal from the 2.4 GHz band. And even though the 2.4 GHz network is meant for older devices, both bands on this dual-band router are pretty darn fast.
The 2.4 GHz band features a maximum speed of 1,000 Mbps (megabits per second) while the faster 5 GHz band boasts a blazing speed that goes up to 2,167 Mbps. For some context, there are plenty of dual-band wireless routers in the same price range as the RT-AC88U dual-band router whose 5 GHz band barely breaks 1,000 Mbps. Your older devices will enjoy modern speeds, while your newer devices will be jump started into the future of wi-fi technology. With the Asus RT-AC88U router, you’ll never look at a loading screen ever again.
Important Feature #3: Easy App-Based Interface
Especially for the more technophobic customers out there, setting up a wi-fi router can be a pretty daunting task. Luckily, our Asus router makes that as easy as ever by allowing you to configure everything through a simple and intuitive app that you can download on your smartphone or tablet.
No fiddling in the back and looking at long and convoluted serial numbers, no playing with knobs and buttons you don’t understand, and no talking to customer service for what feels like hours on end. The RT-AC88U router streamlines everything by using the same app-integration that’s becoming common in the fancier mesh wi-fi systems that are now available. That provides you with a pretty good understanding of what the RT-AC88U dual-band router offers. This router is pushing the boundaries of modern technology and bringing you into the future.
Important Feature #4: MU-MIMO Technology
If you live in a crowded house or apartment where everyone is constantly using the wi-fi, then you’ll need to find yourself a router that boasts MU-MIMO technology. MU-MIMO, which stands for Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output, basically means that, even if everyone in the house is using the wi-fi at the same time, there won’t be any noticeable dip in your speeds.
I can’t promise that if your entire house is streaming a video or engaging in more bandwidth-demanding activities that you won’t see any drop in speeds, but MU-MIMO technology is definitely the best way to make sure that you don’t have to wait for all of your roommates to be out of the house or asleep before you start your online gaming sessions. That means that the Asus RT-AC88U router is perfect for anyone who lives with a large group of Internet-savvy people.
Pros and Cons
After reading all of that praise for the Asus RT-AC88U dual-band router, you might be under the impression that this router is perfect. But, unfortunately, that’s not the case, and we wouldn’t be doing our job if you didn’t walk away from this review just as aware of the cons of this Asus router as you are the pros. So here’s a quick pros and cons section just to help you keep all of the information in order and make the best, most well-informed decision possible.
- An industry-leading 8 gigabit LAN ports
- Fantastic speeds, even from the 2.4 GHz band
- MU-MIMO technology to avoid congestion on the network
- A little bulky
- Expensive, considering it’s not a mesh system
What Do the Reviews Say?
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only review of the RT-AC88U out there, and our word isn’t the end of the discussion when it comes to this Asus router. Since we’re dedicated to giving you the full picture, we want to give you an idea of what the other reviewers are saying in addition to our own opinions.
PC Mag gave a very flattering review of the RT-AC88U router, praising it for having fantastic speeds and pointing out its unmatched number of gigabit LAN ports. They also gave extra points to the Asus RT-AC88U for performing well on what they call the 30-foot test, with the 5 GHz band achieving a speed of 302 Mbps and the 2.4 GHz band achieving a speed of about 75 Mbps. Unless you’re on the other side of the house, you wont have to worry too much about distance weakening the signal of this router. Finally, PC Mag noted the RT-AC88U’s MU-MIMO technology, but also pointed out that its file-transfering was sub-par and that it’s pretty expensive. When everything was said and done, PC Mag awarded the Asus RT-AC88U dual-band router their Editor’s Choice award for high-end routers.
CNet gave a particularly straight-to-the-point review of the Aus RT-AC88U that focused on most of the traits that we’ve already covered. Just like PC Mag, they praised this router for its 8 gigabit LAN ports and its amazing speed, and they gave a shoutout to the app’s simple interface. As far as flaws go, they pointed out that the LAN ports on the RT-AC88U are awkwardly placed, which honestly probably won’t bother most customers. but it could get annoying if you’re constantly plugging and unplugging your laptop from the router. At the end of the day, CNet gave the RT-AC88U a positive review and stated, “You’ll pay a lot for the Asus RT-AC88U, but it has everything you’d want in a router.” Again, we see the price of this router come up.
The Asus RT-AC88U was reviewed very well on Amazon customers, but it didn’t gather nearly as many overall reviews as some other routers out there. This means that if you prefer to go where the crowd goes, you may want to keep looking at other options. But if you trust the experts, then the Asus RT-AC88U is the perfect choice for you.
How Does It Compare?
Nothing exists in a vacuum, and even if you’ve pretty much formed your opinion on the Asus RT-AC88U, it’s important to look at the other top products on the market. In this upcoming section, we’re going to quickly compare Asus RT-AC88U to some of the other popular wireless routers on the market so that you can see what else is out there before making your purchase. You don’t want to make your purchase before you see what’s out there, and with any product, context is important to really understand what you’re looking at.
Asus RT-AC88U vs Asus RT-AC3100
We’re already looking at Asus, and if you like what you see, it’s never a bad idea to look at the rest of the catalog. The RT-AC3100 is one of the other premier products that Asus has to offer. This wireless router is the real workhorse of this line.
The RT-AC3100 boasts a speed of 3167 Mbps, which is a little faster than our main product in the RT-AC88U. The RT-AC3100 only has 4 gigabit LAN ports, which is honestly – if anything – on the good side of things, but we’ve been spoiled by the 8 ports that the AC88U offers.
Other than that, the two routers are honestly more or less identical, as they have the same general frame and size, and they the same basic features such as app-based configuration, MU-MIMO technology, and identical security settings.
If you actually think you’ll need the extra LAN ports, then you should obviously pick the RT-AC88U for your home. Otherwise, the RT-AC3100 is technically faster, but you honestly probably won’t even notice the difference. At the end of the day, it’s a coin flip between these two Asus wireless routers. Of course, both products use dual-band technology.
Asus RT-AC88U vs Asus ROG Rapture
I called the Asus RT-AC3100 the workhorse of the AC line, but the Asus ROG Rapture WiFi 6 Gaming Router has to be the most powerful router in the entire Asus catalog. This heavy-duty gaming router boasts tri-band technology, which means you get an extra 5 GHz band on top of what dual-band routers already offer. The advantage of this is that, even if you have a lot of people using your router at one time, you can have an entire network all to yourself so you can game in complete peace with zero lag.
The metaphor I always give is that a tri-band router is like having your own personal Internet highway. The actual speed of each 5 GHz band, 2,167 Mbps, is the same as the top speed of the RT-AC3100, but the extra band helps guarantee that there won’t be any interference or congestion on the network, so the Asus ROG Rapture tri-band router definitely wins when it comes to speed.
On top of that, the Asus ROG Rapture boasts the same 8 LAN ports that make our main router stand apart from the crowd, but it comes at a pretty insane price tag, if I’m being honest. So that makes the decision pretty simple. If you want to spend the big bucks for the best connection possible, then you’ll pull out your credit card and buy the Asus ROG Rapture. Of course, if you want to keep things affordable and still get a high-quality product, then the RT-AC3100 router is calling your name.
Oh, one last thing – this gaming router also boasts the incredible GameBoost feature, which will actively give priority to video game consoles. Most customers will probably prefer the AC3100 router, but if you’re a diehard gamer, you’ll have to at least try and move things around to see if you can afford Asus ROG Rapture gaming router.
Asus RT-AC88U vs Asus RT-AC66
The fact that I didn’t have to look to a different brand for products that make a worthy comparison shows how reliable the Asus brand is. They really do offer products for everyone. The Asus RT-AC66 us one of their cheapest products. So if you’re looking to save money, then this is definitely the product you want to check out.
This dual-band router offers 450 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and up to 1,300 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. So if you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably figured out what the trade-off is. The pros and cons are pretty clear, though it’s up to you to make the decision. Along with the slower speeds, the Asus RT-AC66 also has “only” 4 gigabit LAN ports, but, as I’ve mentioned, this is really more than enough for most customers.
So if you don’t need absolutely blazing speeds and you want to save some money, then the Asus RT-AC66 is perfect for you. It’s not exactly cutting-edge technology, but it’s more than good enough, and it’s much cheaper than the RT-AC88U.
What Is a Mesh Wi-Fi System?
If you’ve been researching wireless routers, it’s very possible you’ve come across the newer mesh wi-fi systems that are gaining popularity. It’s also possible that you don’t fully understand what a mesh system is. As the name implies, you can think of a mesh system as a net of wi-fi that covers your entire home.
While a standard wireless router is one console in one place, a mesh wi-fi system is made up of a main router and at least one wireless node that expands the range of your network to make sure that your entire home is covered and receives the same amount of service.
So if you’ve noticed that the corner of your kitchen where you frequently Google recipes has a worse signal than the rest of your home, you may want to splurge for a mesh wi-fi network. Of course, the actual top speeds of a mesh system aren’t inherently better than any newer router. This means that it’s really only the range that you’re paying for, and you’re paying a lot for some mesh wi-fi systems. If you live in an apartment or a smaller home, a standard router is probably the more responsible choice for you.
Does the Asus RT-AC88U Support AiMesh?
Yes, the Asus RT-AC88U does support Asus’ AiMesh feature. While is it not a mesh system router like the products we described above, the AiMesh compatibility means that the RT-AC88U is easily integrated into your pre-existing mesh system, or can be integrated into a mesh system you want to set up in the future.
Essentially, the AiMesh product allows you to use your RT-AC88U as one of the nodes on the mesh system, so you can add the high quality of this product to your network. The AiMesh will also automatically prioritize the closest router on your network, so you won’t find yourself losing service because you’re too far from the router you happened to be using a few minutes ago.
Of course, if you aren’t interested in building a mesh system, that’s fine, and you don’t need one to use the RT-AC88U. If you are interested in adding the RT-AC88U to your mesh network with the AiMesh, it should be noted that some reviewers have said the AiMesh system is a little more complicated to set up than standard mesh systems.
Just as with all mesh systems, if you live in a tiny apartment in New York City (or anywhere else for that matter) you’re better off saving your money and going with a typical router, as the only real difference is how far your signal will reach.
Verdict: Is the RT-AC88U Worth It?
Everything we’ve just taught you boils down to just one question: Is the Asus RT-AC88U wireless router worth it? The answer to that, as is the case with most Asus products, is a resounding yes.
For a middle-range price, the RT-AC88U delivers top-tier speed, and the 8 LAN ports will have any gamer or tech junkie going wild. Of course, if you’re going for speed over everything and you don’t care how much you need to pay, then the Asus ROG Rapture tri-band gaming router might be more up your alley. On the other end of things, if you just need a passable wi-fi network and you don’t want to blow all of your money, then the Asus RT-AC66 dual-band router is perfect for you.
Obviously, there’s also a whole catalog of non-Asus products out there that you may be more interested in, and if you live in a bigger home, then it might be worth it to invest in a mesh system. But at the end of the day, almost any customer will be more than satisfied with the Asus RT-AC66 and its MU-MIMO technology.