Network equipment is not a frequent guest on the pages of our site. It is understandable, because the number of fps in games does not increase from it, and the central processor does not overclock with its help. But the Internet has become such an integral part of our lives, whether it’s visiting social networks, watching streaming videos, running online games, sending results after a benchmark session to HWBot.org, that we can no longer do without it. Moreover, the park of home intellectual equipment has long been not limited to only one PC, it is now made up of laptops, tablets, smartphones and smart televisions, and even household assistants. And it can all be in one family! Now try to tie all this together so that each device can safely go online and not interfere with the other, and so that your neighbors do not interfere with you, given the growing popularity of wireless technologies. Ultimately, we come to the conclusion that we need a router that meets modern requirements, and even with an original design, since it’s not comme il faut to keep a dull and unremarkable box at home. And now, the ASUS RT-AC88U router that came to us for testing just has all the necessary characteristics.
|Network standards||IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, IPv4, IPv6|
|WAN connection type||Automatic IP, Static IP, PPPoE(MPPE supported), PPTP, L2TP|
|Operating frequency||2.4 GHz / 5 GHz|
|Data transfer rate, Mbps||802.11a: 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54
802.11b: 1, 2, 5,5, 11
802.11g: 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 36, 48, 54
802.11n: up to 600
802.11ac: up to 1734
1024QAM (2.4 Hz): up to 1000
1024QAM (5 Hz): up to 2167
|MIMO technology||2.4 GHz 4×4, 5 GHz 4×4|
|Operating modes||Router, Access Point, Bridge|
|Processor||1.4 GHz dual core|
|Memory||128 MB PPZU, 512MB OZU|
|Encryption||64/128-bit WEP, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPA-Enterprise , WPA2-Enterprise , WPS support|
|Interfaces||RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for WAN x 1, RJ45 for Gigabits BaseT for LAN x 8, USB 2.0 x 1, USB 3.0 x 1|
|Buttons||WPS Button, Reset Button, Power Button, Wireless on/off Button, LED on/off Button|
|Dimensions, cm||30 x 18.8 x 8.4 cm (WxDxH)|
ASUS introduced new models of dual-band routers supporting the IEEE 802.11ac standard on the domestic market this winter, among which the novelty in question occupies not the last line. Devices with operating frequencies of 2.4 / 5 GHz are not new for a long time, they allow you to avoid interference from routers operating in the neighborhood, but the bandwidth of the same IEEE 802.11n is limited to 600 Mb / s, which, for example, will not be enough for streaming 4K video . Therefore, all hopes for a new standard, which in theory is capable of transmitting data at a speed an order of magnitude higher.
Packaging and equipment
The ASUS RT-AC88U router comes in such a huge box that not every top-end video card can boast of such package dimensions. Its dimensions are impressive – 40 × 26 × 14 cm.
The front side is decorated in a classic style for ASUS network equipment. Here we see an image of the product, icons informing about its key features, and the like. More information is already presented on the back, it shows the rear panel of the router with a description of all the sockets, as well as a table comparing the coverage of key devices in the lineup.
The RT-AC88U itself is placed in a separate compartment and actually occupies most of the box area. Under it is a compartment in which you can find the power supply and network cable, documentation and four antennas.
It would be nice to see a couple more patch cords, but on the other hand, this bundle is standard and is unlikely to be expanded even at a higher cost of the device.
The updated design is pleasing to the eye. The development of the style set by the previous model – RT-AC87U – only suits the new device. The decorative stylization “under the notch” was finally got rid of and the surface of the router is now made of coal-gray matte plastic. There is a truth and a minus, fingerprints are collected on it very well, but getting rid of them is not so easy. In general, it is noticeable that the designers were inspired by the stealth theme, and possibly the appearance of Lamborghini cars.
I am glad that the bottom of the router is actually completely composed of gratings and there are no “deaf” zones. This means that, at a minimum, the air flow will be quite intense. Behind the rubber plugs are holes for mounting on vertical surfaces.
On the left side of the front face is a plastic cover, which hides the USB 3.0 port. It is a little unclear why the creators brought a high-speed port here, while leaving a slower one on the rear. The capabilities of the router allow you to make cloud storage out of it, while the flash drive sticking out in front is unlikely to please the user, and it may well be damaged by careless movement.
The developers used the right side of the front panel for the location of the buttons for turning off the LED indication and wireless modules.
The back face already has a classic layout. There are buttons for resetting settings and activating WPS, a USB 2.0 port, antenna connectors, eight LAN ports, a WAN port, a power socket, and an on / off button for the device.
The side edges are unremarkable. They are perforated and there is another pair of antenna connectors, made in the same style as the router and decorated with red inserts.
Separately, I would like to dwell on the operation of the LED indication of the router in question, which is now not as intrusive as, for example, in the RT-AC66U model, in which very bright blue diodes literally illuminate the entire ceiling with their joyful blinking at night. The hero of today’s review, not only has the ability to turn off the display with one button, but also the diodes are completely invisible in the dark. By the way, they have a neutral white color, and in case of problems with a certain function, the corresponding diode will glow red.
In general, the appearance of the router deserves all praise, just expect that its dimensions are very large and it will not be so easy to place it on a table near a PC.
ASUS RT-AC88U is equipped with the most powerful SoC on the market – the dual-core Broadcom BCM47094 based on the ARM Cortex A9 architecture, operating at up to 1.4 GHz. 128 MB of NAND flash memory, soldered by one ESMT F59L1G81LA-25T module, is used to store the firmware, and 512 MB of DDR3 RAM are recruited by two ESMT M15F2G16128A-BDB chips. Two Broadcom BCM4366 radio units provide speeds up to 2167 Mbps in the 5 GHz band and up to 1000 Mbps in the 2.4 GHz band. The router has four Skyworks SKY2623L / Skyworks SKY85405 power amplifiers and an NXP BGU7224 / Macom MAAL-011078 LNA amplifier for the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands, respectively. It should be noted that the Broadcom BCM47094 platform supports 5 gigabit ports, so the first four ports and WAN are connected through it. LAN ports from the fifth to the eighth are implemented using a Realtek RTL8365MB gigabit switch.
Most of the filling is hidden under solid metal plates, the dismantling of which can damage the device. I am glad that aluminum radiators with sufficiently advanced fins are installed on metal plates through thermal pads, which could have a large area. Further operation of the device showed that the cooling system copes with the tasks assigned to it, even despite powerful components.
The speeds declared by the manufacturer are achievable thanks to the NitroQAM modulation implemented by Broadcom (aka 1024-QAM). Naturally, to obtain such speeds, customers must also support this technology. Also, 4×4 MU-MIMO technology should help in working with several clients, allowing the router to simultaneously provide several devices without processing their requests one by one. True, again, don’t be fooled by the 4×4 numbers – the router, therefore, has the ability to work with two devices that support MU-MIMO.