Home » ASUS RT-AX86U Review: High performance AX5700 WiFi 6

ASUS RT-AX86U Review: High performance AX5700 WiFi 6

You probably heard of ASUS legendary RT-AC86U router before. It’s well known for its amazing class-leading performance and the abundance of features. In fact, it still outperforms some low-end Wi-Fi 6 routers today. However, times has changed and the RT-AC86U is slightly outdated in today’s standard.

Fast forward to 2020 where Wi-Fi 6 is widely available now and ASUS released the RT-AX86U with Wi-Fi 6 support up to AX5700. It’s not just a Wi-Fi refresh as ASUS also beef up the specs by upgrading to a much faster Quad-Core 1.8Ghz CPU and 2x more RAM than the predecessor.

Table of Contents

The RT-AX86U design reminds me of the RT-AC86U it replaces. I like the upright design as it occupies less space and allow the router to be cooled more effectively. Speaking of cooling, ASUS certainly improved in this area by using more heatsinks within 2 sides of the PCB.

ASUS still maintain having 3 external removable antennas on the RT-AX86U with an additional 4th antenna hidden inside the chassis of the product. Don’t be fooled by just 3 antennas, the RT-AC86U WiFi coverage is extremely strong with some clever engineering done by ASUS. It’s certainly one of the strongest WiFi signal from a dual-band router in the market now.

The RT-AX86U support all the features defined by the WiFi 6 specifications. However, we aren’t sure whether it’s going to support WiFi 6E that’s coming soon in the near future. This means the RT-AX86U will offer the best performance for your latest WiFi 6 devices. If you already own a WiFi 6 device, you’ll need a WiFi 6 router to gain the most benefit.

However, older Wireless AC devices will also benefit from the RT-AX86U due to the modern radio circuitry that offer a stronger WiFi coverage. It also provide incremental improvements in terms of interference mitigation which will result in a faster WiFi speed for older devices as well.

Hardware and Specs

Individual LAN status indicator

The RT-AX86U is certainly a performance beast powered by a Broadcom 1.8Ghz Quad Core CPU coupled with 1GB RAM. In fact, the CPU and the RAM amount is exactly same as ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 flagship ROG model which costs twice as much. ASUS certainly is generous on the specifications for the RT-AX86U.

As for the Wi-Fi stack, the RT-AX86U uses a 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 configuration for the 5Ghz band which support up to a maximum speed of 4804Mbps thanks to 160Mhz capability. This is on par and similar to the RT-AX88U. However, the 2.4Ghz WiFi radio is just a 3×3 configuration which makes it slightly slower than the RT-AX88U. It’s unlikely to notice a difference in reality since 2.4Ghz is highly congested.

ASUS added a 2.5G WAN/LAN port in addition to the single Gigabit WAN port and 4x Gigabit LAN ports resulting in a total of 2 WAN ports. This is a surprise considering the more expensive ASUS RT-AX88U does not even feature a 2.5G WAN port. There’re also 2 USB 3.0 ports for USB file sharing and printer sharing.

During the initial setup process, the router will actually ask which port to use as the WAN port of the router. The other port will function as the LAN port when one is selected to be the WAN port. This means technically there’s a 2.5G LAN port on this router as well. ASUSWRT also allow a DUAL-WAN configuration for load-balancing or backup failover.

Wi-Fi Performance Test

RT-AX86U and Apple iPhone 12 Pro WiFi 6 Speedtest

Now, what’s so good about the RT-AX86U is the WiFi performance. It’s one of the fastest dual-band WiFi 6 single router that we have tested currently. The high performance is very consistent on all my mobile devices or laptops with WiFi 6 capability. On a short distance from 1-5m, the RT-AX86U can easily exceed 900Mbps WiFi speed with any WiFi 6 devices

What’s so good about the RT-AX86U is long range performance when compared with other WiFi 6 router. The RT-AX86U even outperforms the RT-AX88U which come at a surprise at us. We can get more than 500Mbps out of the RT-AX86U even after 2 thick walls in my test scenario. This is tested on a laptop with WiFi 6 adapter in 80Mhz operation mode at channel 44 for all models.

The WiFi coverage of the RT-AX86U is extremely strong despite having just 3 antennas. The strong WiFi coverage will also benefit older WiFi devices even they do not support Wireless AC. This is also really helpful if you have a ton of smart home devices at your home.

USB Performance

I also tested the NAS performance by using a portable SSD plugged into the USB 3.0 port of the RT-AX86U. Then, I shared the drive via the SAMBA protocol to my laptop connected to the router over a Gigabit LAN connection. Well, the performance is shockingly good and it’s probably as good as a physical NAS. I am getting over 100MB/s file transfer rate consistently on the router.

Firmware and Interface

The next great thing about the RT-AX86U is the software that make full use of the the high-performance specifications on this router. It runs ASUSWRT which is consistently one of the most customizable router firmware in the markett.

There’s a bit of learning curve to make full use of all the advanced features on this product. For those prefer something simple, I find the ASUS Router app to be highly sufficient for most basic configurations and some advanced features on this product.

One of my favorite new features on the ASUS Router app is the application-based AdaptiveQoS panel. Mainly, there’re multiple profiles to optimize the network for the best performance based on the scenario selected. I use the work-from-home profile most of the time which really helped to improve the overall smoothness of the Zoom call.

For gamers, there’s a gaming QoS profile to priority gaming traffic. ASUS also added a mobile gaming mode on the ASUS router app that give the phone a higher priority to improve gaming stability on a mobile phone. These features are really useful on a slower Internet connection or a more congested network.

In reality, the effectiveness of the QoS feature and mobile game boost feature depends on the speed of your Internet plan. If you’re on a relative fast connection, it probably won’t improve anything further. However, it’s really useful on a slower Internet or when more devices are connected.

Security wise, there’s a built-in antivirus feature to block virus or malware infected website from being accessed from devices connected to the Internet through the router. ASUS AiProtection Pro parental control is also included with the ability to block online services based on a preset category for selected devices.

ASUS also support WPA3 encryption but it is disabled by default as some older devices may refuse to connect to the WiFi network with WPA3 encryption. Being an ASUS router, we also know that ASUS will provide timely firmware updates for many years to come.

AiMesh Feature

Although the WiFi coverage from the RT-AX86U is extremely strong, it can be further expanded by using the ASUS AiMesh feature. With AiMesh, you can link any AiMesh compatible product to form a mesh WiFi system. I recommend sticking to WiFi 6 models for the best compatibility and performance.

In my situation, I linked the RT-AX86U with the ASUS RT-AX3000 to get an even an even better performance in my apartment especially at those rooms that are further from the main router. The RT-AX3000 will enhance the WiFi coverage especially the 5Ghz network which will provide a faster WiFi speed at those rooms.

Closing Thoughts

ASUS RT-AX86U is probably one of the best wireless routers you can buy in the market right now. It offers class-leading performance, strong Wi-Fi coverage and a ton of value-added features to compliment the powerful hardware of the router. It’s a really solid complete package from ASUS and the only thing I can nitpick is the amount of LAN ports.

At RM1388, it is certainly not a cheap router for most consumers. But, if you can afford this router, it will certainly put a smile on your face for the solid performance and strong coverage.

ASUS RT-AX86U

9.4

Tubi Rating

Good Stuff

  • 2.5G WAN Port in addition to Gigabit WAN 
  • Class-leading WiFi 6 coverage and performance
  • NAS grade USB file sharing performance

Bad Stuff

  • 2.4Ghz WiFi is 3X3 only
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Chayan

Hello,

In my country ax86u is not launched ,
My options in my budget are asus ax88u , tplink ax73 , tplink ax6000
Requirement is range across 1300 sq ft .wifi 5 speed is also important to me. Current plan is 500 mbps , likely to upgrade to 1 Gbps connection.
Can you kindly advise?

Thnx

Jeng

Hi. Thanks for the detailed review. Would like to seek your view on the recommended setup for: Double storey semi-D house with the TM terminal at the living room and on 300 mbps plan. Would like to be able to enjoy the same speed even in the furthest bedrooms on second floor. Will a single AX86U unit suffice or need a mesh setup like 2 units of XT8? And if using 2 units of XT8, do you think relying on the triband backhaul separated by one wall (concrete slab layer) will be strong enough (i.e. One unit on ground floor,… Read more »

Jeng

Thanks for the prompt and valuable feedback. This narrows my options and makes my life a lot easier!

Josh

Hello. I’ve recently read your article about the ASUS ax86u and the zenwifi xt8. Just want to ask is the performance and coverage better for ax86u and a tuf-ax3000 in mesh configuration compared to the xt-8 or the deco x60. Mainly for gaming for console and video streaming.

Chan

Any advantage if use the 2.5G WAN port to connect to Unifi fiber optic modem? I don’t think there is any device with 2.5G LAN yet, if use the 2.5 G as LAN will be wasted rigth?

Khai

is this router suitable for my unifi 500 mbps?

Ryan

Hey Blacktubi, hope you can help me out with something. If I’m in a double story terrace house with a total of 11 people and we all need to have video calls for classes, would this router be sufficient? Or should I get the ASUS ROG GT-AX11000 just to be safe. Our fiber internet is Maxis 100mbps now.

Jon

Can you do a first time installation setup for this router? I just recently bought the router for Maxis Fibre but I can’t seem to get it to work.

Azmi

Hi, how to check internet speedtest from Asus router itself (I mean WAN speed)? Tplink router app do have own speedtest and in my case it shows apprx 500mb/s download and 100mb/s upload – as what i paid for. Cannot find this feature at Asus router. Not sure what is ISP speed to my home in future.

Thanks

Azmi

Thanks, i am on 386 firmware but still dont have the feature.. perhaps Asus still could not find the solution on this. Btw, thanks again…

Aaron

802.11 k/v/r supported ?

Lan

Based on graph you shown above, did you ever try dlink dir-x1860 ax1800? Does dlink ax1800 router’s 5ghz as good as ax20?

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