Wireless network performance
It's time to get our hands dirty and evaluate the real-world performance offered by this router. But first, let's take a 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. Obviously, with most wireless routers, the signal strength is not that great in rooms like the Kitchen and the Medium balcony,
Our testing was done using a fast 1 Gigabit Internet connection that's capable of uploads on the Internet of up to 200 Mbps. We used a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for all our measurements and several software tools. To get a better perspective of the performance offered by ASUS RT-AC5300, we compared it with TP-LINK Archer C9 and ASUS RT-AC3200.
First, we evaluated the 2.4 GHz wireless network and measured the signal strength offered in each room, using a tool named inSSIDer.
Below you can see a graphic with the evolution of the signals strength, from room to room. You can see that ASUS RT-AC5300 had a great start, being able to offer better signal strength than its competitors, in all rooms.
Next, we used SpeedTest to measure how fast the Internet connection offered by this router is. In the download test, ASUS RT-AC5300 was faster than ASUS RT-AC3200, but in some rooms it was beaten by TP-LINK Archer C9.
When measuring the upload speed, ASUS RT-AC5300 was the fastest in almost all the rooms.
For the last set of measurements on the 2.4 GHz wireless network, we used LAN Speed Test Lite to measure downloads and uploads when transferring a 350MB file between two computers connected to the network. ASUS RT-AC5300 was faster than ASUS RT-AC3200, but in most rooms it was beaten by TP-LINK Archer C9.
When measuring the upload speed, ASUS RT-AC5300 was a good performer, without being the best.
Next, we analyzed the performance offered by the 5GHz wireless network. First, we looked at the evolution of the signal strength, from room to room. ASUS RT-AC5300 delivered great signal strength in all rooms, being the best router we tested so far, from this perspective.
Then, we moved to SpeedTest, to measure the speed of the Internet connection on the 5GHz wireless network. As you can see below, in terms of downloads, the performance offered by ASUS RT-AC5300 is a bit uneven. In the room where the router is placed, we had the fastest wireless ever. However, in other rooms, ASUS RT-AC5300 was not the fastest router in this comparison.
When it comes to upload speed, ASUS RT-AC5300 delivered less than we expected.
Lastly, we used LAN Speed Test Lite to measure downloads and uploads when transferring a 350MB file between two computers connected to the wireless network at 5 GHz. Again, ASUS RT-AC5300 performed well but it was not the top performing router.
The same trend was noticed when measuring the upload speed. ASUS RT-AC5300 was a good performer but not the best performer.
ASUS RT-AC5300 delivers very good signal strength and fast transfers over the wireless network. We have enjoyed the fastest downloads from the Internet ever, when using the wireless network in the room where we placed the router. However, in certain situations, ASUS RT-AC5300 is beaten by other routers. The speed you get also depends a lot on your networking hardware and its support for the latest networking technologies and features that are included on this router. If you want to enjoy very fast wireless networks, you have to invest not only in this router but also in high-end devices with new wireless network chips and cards. There's no point in having one of the most advanced wireless routers in the world if your network computers and devices can't take advantage of what the router has to offer.
Wired network performance
In order to test the quality of the wired Ethernet connection, we used a desktop PC, equipped with an Intel Core i5 4460 processor, running at 3.20GHz, 16GB of RAM and a very fast Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SSD and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with an Intel Core i5-4300U processor, running at 1.9 GHz, 8 GB of RAM and a fast 256 GB SSD drive from Samsung.
First, we measured the download and upload speeds using SpeedTest. As you can see below, ASUS RT-AC5300 is a solid router which is able to deliver true 1 Gbps Internet connections. As a reminder, our upload speed did not get higher than 209.43 Mbps because our ISP doesn't allow it, not because the routers we have tested are not capable of faster uploads.
For the last measurement, we transferred a 883 MB file between the same two computers connected to the network, both of which were using an Ethernet cable. Again, ASUS RT-AC5300 delivered the performance that was expected of it, managing to be the fastest router we ever have tested.
ASUS RT-AC5300 delivers solid 1 Gbps wired network connections. If you have computers with modern processors and SSD drives, you will be able to enjoy very fast transfers over the network.
The ASUS RT-AC5300 offers a long list of extra features that you won't find on many other routers. There are so many that it took us a long time just to identify them all and experiment with them enough for us to understand what they do. Here they are:
Guest networks - you can set up several guest wireless networks that provide Internet access for your guests but restrict access to your network. You can enable both 2.4GHz guest networks and 5GHz guest networks.
AirProtection - a feature powered by Trend Micro, which includes two modules: Network Protection and Parental Controls. The Network Protection module allows you to block malicious websites for all your computers and devices, prevent infected network devices from communicating personal information and scan your router for any security vulnerabilities. The Parental Controls module can be used to block access to all kinds of online content types, for any of the devices that are connected to your network.
Adaptive Quality of Service (QoS) - ensures bandwidth on both wired and wireless connections for prioritized applications and services, using pre-defined presets like gaming, media streaming, VoIP, web surfing and file transferring. This, coupled with the new Smart Connect feature, allow you to set in a very granular way, how your bandwidth is used. Imagine that you can do load balancing for each wireless network independently.
Game Boost - this feature is a first in the world of wireless routers. It is an exclusive gamer private network(GPN), which automatically performs route optimization, choosing the most efficient route for your game packets. The service is life-time free for one device and multiple platforms are supported.
Traffic Analyzer - visual traffic statistics which give you a clear picture of how your network is used and by which devices. If you are managing a network with lots of devices, you will very much appreciate the data shown by the analyzer.
USB applications - 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.
ASUS 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. The only downside is that there is no Windows Phone app available.
ASUS Router - a mobile app for iOS and Android, which allows you to monitor and manage your wireless router when you are away from home.
Dual WAN - very useful 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. Gamers might also love this.
Smart Connect - this is an optimization feature which, when turned on, intelligently assigns wireless clients to the fastest band according to their signal strength, speed or band traffic.
VPN server - 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 via OpenVPN, PPTP and L2TP protocols without additional VPN software required.
Network tools - for analyzing the network and identifying what's wrong. They are surely useful when you need to troubleshoot problems.
Feedback tool - allows you to contact ASUS when you need to report problems and get help with your router. It can be very useful at times, as this tool automatically sends useful data like system logs and settings, which can be useful to ASUS in troubleshooting your problems.
The ASUS RT-AC5300 tri-band gigabit wireless router includes many useful extras which can be turned on when needed. Some of these additional features are aimed at gamers, like Game Boost, Adaptive Quality of Service (QoS) and Dual-WAN, and they promise to deliver always-on connections and the maximum speed possible with the minimum latency. This is the first router we've tested with so much focus on this niche of users. However, many of this router's features are also useful to casual users, IT professionals and small businesses.
The ASUS RT-AC5300 wireless router is a beast in the true sense of the word. It's big, it's heavy, with impressive looks, impressive hardware and a very long list of features. This router can deliver what you expect it to but, in order to enjoy very fast wireless networks, you need not only to invest in this router but also in other premium devices with support for the networking features offered by ASUS RT-AC5300. It's a premium device, with a premium price-tag, that delivers premium performance, if you are willing to invest in a network with high-end devices that connect to the two 5 GHz wireless networks that are broadcasted by this router.