- Modern design
- 2.5GbE gaming port
- WPA3 compatibility
- 160MHz support
- Excellent wireless throughput
- Mobile Gaming Mode
- OpenVPN support
- No overheat issue
- AiMesh and AiProtection bundled
- Removable antennas
- No VPN Fusion feature
Being one of the two Wi-Fi 6 routers launched recently by ASUS, the RT-AX86U targeted towards hardcore gamers. Unlike its previous generation, the RT-AX86U were revamped in terms of processing power, features and memory to allow better internet utilization by your device. The RT-AX86U features an ultra fast speed up to 5700Mbps thanks to its Wi-Fi 6 technology and 160MHz channels. The RT-AX86U is a direct successor of RT-AC86U in terms of gaming product segment.
ASUS RT-AX86U powered by a quad-core Broadcom clocked at 1.8GHz with RAM up to 1GiB. According to a rumors, the chip provides stock clock speed. A few ASUS model that utilizes the same processor are RT-AX88U and GT-AX11000. With such processing power, the router suitable for extensive use such as online gaming, LAN parties or even powering the entire network in an office.
The standard accessories supplied are a unit of RT-AX86U, three removable antennas, a power adapter, an RJ45 cable, a quick start guide and a warranty card. For an expensive gaming router like this, I feel the supplied accessories are quite…standard.
According to a few China media companies, the RT-AX86U design were inspired from a shark, thanks to its ventilation holes calibrated with red strips that resembles the teeth of the shark. The router has an abundance amount of ventilation holes that allows the operate under an optimum temperature.
Unlike its younger brother, the RT-AX86U comes with a 2.5GbE gaming port, five 1GbE capable port, two USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, a power switch, a WPS button and a Wi-Fi button. The maximum bandwidth given by the ISP’s in Malaysia are up to 1Gbps. In order to fully utilize the 2.5GbE port, you will be require a client device that comes with 2.5GbE port for a better file transfer speed.
The appearance of the router is somehow similar with RT-AC86U, with basing on RT-AC68U. ASUS claims they’ve solved the overheating issue identified from two older models. I will share the operating temperature later in the review.
ASUS RT-AX86U has the following hardware specifications:
|Wireless Technology||Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)|
|Data Rate||802.11a : 6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps|
802.11b : 1, 2, 5.5, 11 Mbps
802.11g : 6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11n : up to 450 Mbps
802.11n (1024 QAM) : up to 750 Mbps
802.11ac (1024 QAM) : up to 4333 Mbps
802.11ax (2.4GHz) : up to 861 Mbps
802.11ax (5GHz) : up to 4804 Mbps
|Processors||Broadcom BCM4908 (1.8 GHz, 4 cores)|
|Encryption||WPA3-Personal, WPA2-Personal, WPA-Personal, WPA-Enterprise , WPA2-Enterprise , WPS support|
|Ports||RJ45 for 10/100/1000 BaseT for WAN x 1, RJ45 for 10/100/1000 BaseT for LAN x 4, RJ45 for 2.5G BaseT for WAN/LAN x 1 USB 3.2 Gen 1 x 2|
|VPN Support||IPSec Pass-Through|
|Firewall & Access Control||Firewall: SPI intrusion detection, DoS protection|
Access control：Parental control, Network service filter, URL filter, Port filter
NVIDIA GeForce Now Cloud Gaming Optimization
|Dimensions||242 x 100 x 325 mm (WxDxH) with antenna|
242 x 100 x 164 mm (WxDxH) without antenna
The router only takes less than three-minutes to be fully operated. One thing I liked about ASUS routers is, the process of setting up is the same for all router models, including mesh systems. As per the current time this review is being written, the router running on its latest firmware.
The router comes with a standard user interface. Similar to AX82U, the AX86U does share the similar features with more powerful processor and memory for better internet utilization. The features were mapped on the left navigation panel. The features can be tweaked easily to fit your current requirement. The AX86U does feature AiMesh feature by default. The wireless network can be expanded further with AiMesh supported models.
RT-AX86U comes with the standard real time network protection, called AiProtection powered by Trend Micro that comes free for lifetime. There is some discomfort from users mentioning that ASUS routers tend to be more pricey than other router brands. The reason why ASUS routers are expensive compared to other router brands because you not only buying their network hardware ‘router’, but you are also buying an after sales service from ASUS with long term firmware support and a free network protection for lifetime.
The QoS feature offered with the RT-AX86U is Adaptive QoS, Traditional QoS, Bandwidth Limiter and GeForce Now. You can pick your preferred device to be prioritized the most over others. I must say, this probably the best QoS management settings provided for a router that targeted towards home-consumers.
Another advantage of RT-AX86U is the Open NAT feature that allows you to add your preferred device to utilize the most bandwidth. The process of adding the device into the game device list is pretty straightforward. Do note that, when the feature in use, the port-forwarding rule will be automatically turned on.
Figure 12 and Figure 13 shows the Open NAT feature. This is a special feature that allows you to set port-forwarding rule for the game profile. This somehow eases the time and effort to create a rule for a smoother gaming experience. Also, if your preferred game isn’t available in the game profile preset, you can add the game port-forward rule by referring to the game developer site.
The port-forwarding rule has been created with a port created randomly via qBittorrent program. Once created, I’ve put the rule to a test. Based on the test, I able to create a successful rule that allows me to fully utilize the bandwidth when it comes to p2p connection.
Another interesting feature I would like to share via this review is the IPv6 support. Out of the box, the router supports IPv6 by default. You can further setup IPv6 settings via the given profile and your own IPv6 DNS server. The feature working as expected. Well done, ASUS.
Almost every ASUS router supports OpenVPN feature by default, regardless entry level or highest end router. This is the beauty of ASUS routers. One of the reasons why I like ASUS routers is the VPN support. The process of setting up is pretty simple. I’ve setup an OpenVPN configuration from my preferred VPN provider, into the router. The feature work as expected, however, I would be happy if this router supports VPN fusion (ROG) or Multiple VPN (TUF), so that you can prioritize which device should be routed through a VPN connection and which device shouldn’t.
Figure 17 shows my best wireless settings after a few wireless analysis was carried out using a free-tool. In order to set the best settings, it is advisable to scan your surrounding first before opting for the best settings that suits your environment.
Wireless throughput test is an important analysis should be done before buying a router. Thankfully, I was given an opportunity to test the RT-AX86U. I’ve compared the wireless performance with its younger brother, and the result from both test were plotted in the Figure 18 on above. Based on the reading above, the RT-AX86U performs better in terms of Wi-Fi 5 mode and Wi-Fi 6 mode when utilized with a right Wi-Fi 6 client.
The Mobile Game Mode from ASUS really helps to boost your mobile gaming experience to the next level. In this mode, you can prioritize all mobile game for your mobile devices to have a smoother gaming experience. I am able to get a better latency reading when using this mode compared to a standard mode.
After a week of use, I find out that the router stays cool and the casing doesn’t feel that hot, compared to RT-AC68U or RT-AC86U, I’ve reviewed previously. I must say, ASUS did solve the overheat issue. The router performs smoothly, and I don’t experience temporary internet freeze or disconnection, since most routers out there, will somehow freezes before operating in a normal way, possibly due to bugs or kernel panic in the router. However, ASUS did code the firmware of the RT-AX86U so well, that I don’t feel there are much bugs present apart from a few security patches may issued to the model in the future.
To conclude my review, based on my personal use for about a week, I personally feel, this router does a good job. While using the router under an extensive activity such as downloading and streaming, I realize that the CPU usage never hit 20% and above. Thanks to its powerful processing clock, the router suitable to be used for LAN parties and small offices.
I was told by ASUS that, this router is fun to use. I must say, for the first time, I do agree. The router is really fun to use. With most feature offered are user friendly and suitable for consumer-class users, the RT-AX86U definitely is a best buy. For such price, I can certainly recommend the router for those who are looking for a powerful router with a standard gaming feature without having a fancy gaming features. The router is now widely available in major IT-retail stores in Malaysia.