ASUS RT-AX86U - Overall the Best WiFi 6 Gaming Router
The Asus RT-AX86U was launched a few months back along with the RT-AX82U in a bid to dominate the mid-range WiFi 6 consumer market and while I wouldn’t say they managed to leave their competitors behind, I’ll just mention that it’s difficult for most to offer a package of features that’s just as compelling.
There’s support for the ‘usual’ WiFi 6 technologies, such as OFDMA, 1024QAM modulation, 160Hz channel bandwidth and TWT, but there are some extra ones to help create a proper mesh network (the AiMesh), as well as some gaming features since, apparently the Asus RT-AX86U (just like the RT-AX82U) is a gaming router. I mean, there are some red accents on the case, but the lack of RGB almost fooled me into believing this a regular WiFi 6 router.
In any case, the support for NVidia GeForce Now Cloud Gaming Optimization is still there, as well as the support for 2Gbps link aggregation, but the RT-AX86U went a few steps forward and has added a 2.5GbE port, as well as a better processor (than the RT-AX82U) and a whopping 1GB of RAM which does remind me of the well-equipped RT-AC86U.
And it’s no surprise since the Asus RT-AX86U is essentially the successor to the RT-AC86U. Let’s face it, the WiFi 6 devices are getting cheaper, but they’re still out of reach for a lot of people and, since there’s already a WiFi 6E Asus router out, is there even a point in adopting the WiFi 6?
The manufacturers clearly made a mess with these overlapping WiFi standard releases, but the point is that the adoption of the WiFi 6E is still far in the future (maybe). So, if you need a better network that can handle more clients right now and if you have some compatible devices, then you will most definitely benefit from the WiFi 6 features. That being said, let’s find out whether the Asus RT-AX86U is worth the extra dollars over the RT-AX82U.
Design and Build Quality
While Asus went all out with the design of the RT-AX82U, it did take a more conservative approach with the RT-AX86U, so don’t expect those flashy RBG lights, but a mostly black plastic case covered by a matte finish and with some red sections that are barely visible (since they point downwards).
The idea was to make it more office-friendly and, since the Asus RT-AX86U is, apparently, the official successor to the RT-AC86U, there are more than a few common design traits. Indeed, both routers are designed to stay upwards and there’s that Y-shape on the front, but the RT-AX86U needed a bit more ventilation cut-outs, so there are a few surrounding the Asus logo.
Overall, I do think that it looks less dynamic than the RT-AC86U and, if you check its profile, it looks like it has a beer belly.
So yes, in terms of size, the Asus RT-AX86U is larger than the RT-AC86U (which had retained the dimensions of the RT-AC68U) and it measures 9.44 x 6.41 x 3.14 inches without the antennas (or 24.0 x 16.3 x 8.0 cm), but the good news is that the footprint remains pretty much the same as its predecessors.
The base of the router has more complicated angles (it’s a bit over-designed), but it’s solid enough to keep the device in place (also thanks to a couple of silicone bands that keep the router from budging). It’s true that it won’t take more space than necessary from your desk, but, if you want to mount it on the wall, you can’t. The Asus RT-AX86U has followed in the footsteps of its predecessors, so it lacks any mounting holes and, instead, you get a busy rear section with lots of patterns and cut-out areas for the air to move in and out of the case.
And they work really well since, while testing the router, the temperature remained decent, with no signs that it may overheat. The status LEDs are still on the front (towards the bottom), with the Power LED on the right side and going towards the left, we get two LEDs for the WiFi networks (5GHz and 2.4GHz), followed by the 2.5G LAN LED (that lights up solid white regardless of the type of connection, be it at 1Gbps or 2.5Gbps), the Internet LED (red when there is no link), four LEDs for the Ethernet LAN ports and a WPS LED.
The ports are positioned on the rear side, close to the built-in stand and Asus has removed the central plastic section with the LED On/Off button that was characteristic to the RT-AC86U and the RT-AC68U, so there is no division between some ports and buttons anymore.
That being said, from the left, there’s a DC-In port which is finally using an universal connector, there’s a Power switch, a Reset button (press and hold it for 10 seconds to return the router to its factory settings) and two USB 3.0 (type-A) ports for storage devices. Going forward, we get the 2.5GbE port which can act as either WAN (if you have the suitable Internet connection) or LAN, followed by a Gigabit WAN port and four Gigabit LAN ports. The first LAN port is the Gaming port which, just like on the RT-AX82U, it prioritizes the connected client device which is going to be very useful when you’re playing games online. Of course, the LED switch is still available and you will be able to find it on the right side of the case, while the WPS button sits on the other side. It’s also worth mentioning that the three antennas are removable (the RT-AX82U had its antennas non-removable).
There is truly no better WiFi 6 gaming router than money can buy out on the market today. With the ASUS RT-AX86U you get everything that a gamer can dream of. Why not check it out today?