• Udit Agarwal

ASUS RT-AX86U - one of the best WiFi 6 Gaming Routers




The Asus RT-AX86U was launched in 2020 along with the RT-AX82U in a bid to influence the mid-range WiFi 6 consumer market.


This WiFi 6 gaming router comes with the ‘usual’ WiFi 6 technologies, like OFDMA, 1024 QAM modulation, 160Hz channel bandwidth and TWT, but there are some additional mesh network capabilities (the AiMesh) built in as well. The support for NVidia GeForce Now Cloud Gaming Optimization is still there, along with the support for 2Gbps link mixture. The RT-AX86U even moved a step ahead and has added a 2.5GbE port, a better processor (than the RT-AX82U) and 1GB of RAM.


Asus RT-AX86U is essentially the successor to the RT-AC86U. WiFi 6 devices are getting cheaper, but they’re still out of reach for a lot of people; since there’s already a WiFi 6E Asus router out, is there still any point in doubting WiFi 6? The manufacturers have already caused a little disarray with these overlapping WiFi standard releases, but the point is that the adoption of the WiFi 6E is still far, so if you want to improve your network, make sure it can handle more simultaneous clients and have some compatible devices - you will most definitely benefit from the features that WiFi 6 has to offer.




Design and Build Quality


While Asus launched the design of the RT-AX82U, it took a slightly conservative approach with the RT-AX86U. So don’t expect those flashy RGB lights, but a mostly black plastic case covered by a matte finish and with some red sections that are narrowly visible. The motive was to make it more office-friendly, and since the Asus RT-AX86U is apparently the successor of the RT-AC86U, there are many common design traits as well. While both routers are designed to be sleek with a Y-shape on the front, the RT-AX86U needed a bit more ventilation cut-outs. Overall, it looks less dynamic than the RT-AC86U, and, while checking out its profile, it looks like it has a beer belly.


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 great news is that the footprint remains the same as its predecessors.


The base of the router has more complex 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 is not wrong to say that it won’t take more space from your desk, but if you want to mount it on the wall, you can’t do so too.


Usability


These gaming routers work really well while testing too; the temperature remains neutral, with no signs of an overheating problem. 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 networks (5GHz and 2.4GHz), followed by the 2.5G LAN LED (that lights up solid white), the Internet LED (red when there is no linkage), four LEDs for the Ethernet LAN ports and a WPS LED.



The ports are placed on the rear side that is close to the built-in stand, and Asus has washed out the central plastic section with the LED On/Off button that was characteristic of the RT-AC86U, so there is no extra space between some ports and buttons anymore.


There’s a DC-In port which is using a universal connector; there’s a power switch, a Reset button (press and hold it for 10 seconds to return the router to its default settings) and two USB 3.0 (type-A) ports specifically for storage devices. Moving ahead from this, we get the 2.5GbE port which can act as either WAN (if you have a 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 is similar to the RT-AX82U; it prioritizes the connected client device, which is going to be very useful while playing games online.


Of course, the LED switch is there, and you will be able to find it on the right side of the case while the WPS button stands on the other side. All three antennas are detachable (the RT-AX82U had its antennas non-removable).


Performance


Last but not least, performance is something we cannot stress enough on. The RT-AX86U is simply amazing at handling latency and the best router when it comes to lag.


Lag, (or ping) is a measure of the time it takes for your router to transmit a signal to a server and get a response. Almost every router will experience occasional spikes even while testing, but the RT-AX86U remains unaffected. It has almost never registers a lag of more than 20ms.


Concluding


At it's price point, the ASUS RT-AX86U is more expensive than competing gaming routers like the TP-Link Archer AX10 or the Linksys MR7350, but we argue that it's still worth it, given the advanced features, great performance and stellar looks that look better than some gaming routers worth a few hundred more.

Overall, this router is surely one of the best WiFi 6 gaming routers. With the ASUS RT-AX86U, you will have everything you need to get your gaming career off the ground. Whether you need a gaming router for PS4, PS5, Xbox or PC gaming, this one will fit the bill.

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