Wireless network performance
First, let's look at the apartment that was used in our testing and how it is set up. You can see that the router is placed in the living room. With most wireless routers, the signal strength is not that high in places like the Kitchen and the Medium balcony.
Our testing was done using a fast 1 Gigabit Internet connection that is capable of uploads on the internet of up to 500 Mbps. We used an HP Spectre 13 laptop and a Lenovo Yoga Book for our measurements and several software tools.
We analyzed the 2.4 GHz band first and measured the signal strength with NetSpot. You can see below how the signal strength evolved from room to room. The signal strength offered by ASUS RT-AX88U was good in all rooms. You can see how it evolved, from room to room, in the graphic below.
Next, we used SpeedTest to measure how fast the internet connection offered by this router is when using 2.4 GHz wireless network. ASUS RT-AX88U offered fantastic downloads in all rooms, except the one furthest from the router. ASUS RT-AX88U was often twice as fast than the routers we compared it to.
Uploads were very fast too, in SpeedTest.
Continuing our measurements on the 2.4 GHz wireless network, we used the PassMark Performance test to transfer data between two computers connected to the network. In this test too, ASUS RT-AX88U was the fastest router in our comparison. In some rooms, the ASUS RT-AX88U was three times faster than the previous generation routers we compared it to.
The same trend applied to the upload speed.
Our testing has shown that ASUS RT-AX88U is amazingly fast on the 2.4 GHz wireless band.
For the next set of measurements, we analyzed the performance of the 5GHz wireless band. We looked at the evolution of the signal strength, from room to room. ASUS RT-AX88U performed well without being too different from its competitors.
Then, we ran SpeedTest to see how fast the internet connection is when using the 5GHz band. To view the maximum potential of this router, we used the world's only PCI-Express network card with support for 4x4 MU-MIMO. When we used this network card, we obtained a maximum speed of 622.20 Mbps for the download and 375.82 Mbps for the upload - fast speeds but not the fastest you can get. The upload speed was rather underwhelming. Other 802.11ac routers like ASUS RT-AC86U, perform even better in this test.
To get back to earth, and everyday devices people use, we took our laptops and measured the download speed with SpeedTest, in every room of our test apartment. ASUS RT-AX88U delivered fast downloads in the rooms with a direct line of sight to it. In others, it was outmatched by ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300.
We noticed a similar trend when measuring the upload speed with SpeedTest.
For the last measurements on the 5GHz wireless network, we used the PassMark Performance test to transfer data between two computers connected to the network. This test had similar results to the previous one: ASUS RT-AX88U delivers very fast network transfers as long as you have a direct line of sight to it. When one or more walls get in the way, previous generation routers can outperform it.
When we measured the upload speed, ASUS RT-AX88U was outmatched by ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC5300.
When network clients have a direct line of sight to ASUS RT-AX88U, this router delivers super fast downloads and uploads on the 5 GHz band. However, when one or more walls get in the way, previous high-end 802.11ac wireless routers outperform it.
Wired network performance
To test the quality of the wired Ethernet connection, we used a desktop PC equipped with an AMD Ryzen 5 1600 processor, running at 3.20GHz, 16GB of RAM, a fast Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SSD, and a Lenovo IdeaCentre 610s mini PC.
We measured the speed of the internet connection when using a 1 Gbps Ethernet cable, using SpeedTest. ASUS RT-AX88U reached speeds that were close to the maximum potential of our internet connection. However, the routers we compared it to were slightly faster.
Then, we ran a network transfer between the two computers, using the PassMark Performance test. ASUS RT-AX88U delivered speeds that were close to 1 Gbps both for the download and the upload.
The Ethernet ports on the ASUS RT-AX88U work at speeds close 1 Gbps, both for the download and the upload.
We connected a portable SSD drive to the USB 3.0 port of the ASUS RT-AX88U. Then we ran a few transfers from a desktop computer to this drive and back. We measured 635.6 Mbps for the download speed and an upload speed of 657.5 Mbps. These are top-notch speeds, making the ASUS RT-AX88U one the fastest routers that we have tested so far.
Users are going to love the speed potential of the USB 3.0 ports on the ASUS RT-AX88U. It is one of the fastest routers that we have tested so far, in this regard.
ASUS RT-AX88U bundles many of advanced features that are not found on competing routers. On this specific model, there are quite a few features for gamers:
- WTFast GPN - You get the option to create a WTFast account, for optimized online gaming through a unique VPN service. You get access to some free features but, for the full service, you need to pay extra to WTFast.
- LAN Boost - a one-click optimizer that enables Adaptive QoS to optimize inbound and outbound traffic for online gaming. If you want the best online gaming experience, you should enable this feature.
- Real-Time Network Protection - a shortcut to the AiProtection module that provides many advanced security features.
Security tools are a significant addition offered by ASUS RT-AX88U. The AiProtection module provides them:
- A comprehensive Router Security Assessment tool which verifies where your router's settings are secure. When it finds problems, it proactively informs you and takes you where you need to fix things.
- Malicious Sites Blocking - an efficient cloud-based module that blocks malicious websites on all the devices that are connected to your network.
- Two-Way IPS - a two-way intrusion prevention system that protects all your network from spam, DDoS attacks, network attacks and more. Additionally, it also scans the packets that are sent from your network to the internet.
- Infected Device Prevention and Blocking - if your network devices get infected, and they become zombies in malware networks, they are automatically blocked by your router, and you are informed about this problem so that you can fix things.
Other features offered by the ASUS RT-AX88U wireless router include:
- Integration with Amazon's Alexa voice assistant and IFTT (If This, Then That) - a service that automates tasks that might otherwise be repetitive or unable to talk to each other. With the help of these services, you can do things like say "Alexa, ask ASUS ROUTER to upgrade the firmware" or get an email when your child gets home and connects his or her smartphone to the home WiFi.
- Guest Network - you can enable up to three wireless networks for each band, with individual security and access settings.
- Adaptive QoS - an intelligent QoS (Quality of Service) tool that you can use to analyze and prioritize network traffic efficiently.
- Traffic Analyzer - offers visual traffic statistics which give you a clear picture of how your network is used and by which devices.
- USB Applications - apps that are designed to work with all kinds of devices that you can connect to the router using USB: external hard disks, printers, and 3G or 4G dongles or modems.
- AiCloud 2.0 - a mobile app that keeps you connected to your data wherever and whenever you have an Internet connection. With it, you can access the folders shared in your home network from your Android or iOS smartphone or via a personalized URL
- IPv6 - support for IPv6 addresses that are going to replace IPv4.
- VPN - you can set the router to work as a VPN server, and you can also use it to turn your network-connected devices into VPN-enabled clients, without additional VPN software required.
- Network Tools - for analyzing the network and identifying what's wrong. They are useful when you need to troubleshoot problems.
- Dual WAN - excellent for both small businesses and professionals who require always-on internet connections. You can also use a dual WAN to improve the quality of your internet connection and get the best possible performance.
- DDNS - a service that allows you to connect to the router from the internet, even if your internet provider gives you a dynamic public IP address.
The ASUS RT-AX88U wireless router packs many premium features and tools that are going to be useful to its users. Some of them are aimed at gamers, others at parents, some at IT professionals, and many of them are useful to any user who wants more than just WiFi.
What is your opinion of the ASUS RT-AX88U?
You have arrived at the end of our review, and you know our opinion about the ASUS RT-AX88U wireless router and how it performed in our testing. Do you like what it has to offer? Would you consider purchasing it? If you already have the ASUS RT-AX88U, do share your experience with other readers and us.