Is the Asus RT-AC88U the best new home router?

A router is a small device that sits between your modem and computer. Most routers are about the same size and shape as a modem. The purpose of the router is to take the information from the modem and deliver it to your computer. The important thing about a router is that it is able to take this information from several networks and deliver them to several computers. In other words, you can be on your desktop in the office and your kids can be on their computer in their room, and you can both use the internet at the same time using the same internet connection. But knowing which router to buy can be a challenge with all of the different options or features out there.

ASUS at Mobile World Congress_don burns_home router
Image courtesy of Kārlis Dambrāns at Flickr.com

The common features of routers are: Dual Band, Coverage or Range, Gigabit & USB ports and Speeds.

If case you are wondering which one to buy, we present the Asus RT-AC88U, presumably the best new home router in the market (Here in this analysis we include the RT-AC3100, which is essentially the same as the RT-AC88U, including its appearance, but which has just four LAN ports)

The RT-AC88U router from Asus is a true dual band router. It is the first home router with 8 Gigabit LAN ports, with additional support for Dual-WAN and port aggregation. On top of that, it has a robust Web interface, a slew of excellent network monitoring features, a built in VPN server, and the ability protect your home network from malware and intruders. The router also supports MU-MIMO (a set of multiple input and multiple output technologies for wireless communication, in which a set of users or wireless terminals, each with one or more antennas, communicate with each other), and includes unique features for gamers.

The RT-AC88U supports Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output technology, which is designed to handle Wi-Fi bandwidth efficiently. MU-MIMO was first introduced with the Qualcomm MU/EFX 802.11AC Wi-Fi chip. The RT-AC88U, however, uses the first Broadcom Wi-Fi chip that supports this technology. Prior to MU-MIMO, all 802.11ac routers treat all Wi-Fi clients the same, regardless of their Wi-Fi power. Since a router typically has more Wi-Fi power than a client, in a particular wireless connection, the router is hardly used at full capacity. For this reason, most Wi-Fi connections are not efficient, where the router wastes its power for lower-tier clients and hence doesn’t have enough power to maintain connection quality for multiple clients. With MU-MIMO, multiple simultaneous transmissions of different Wi-Fi tiers are sent to multiple devices at the same time, enabling them to connect at the speed each client needs. In other words, having a MU-MIMO Wi-Fi network is like having multiple wireless routers of different Wi-Fi tiers. Each of these “routers” is dedicated to each tier of devices in the network, so that multiple devices can connect at the same time without slowing one another down.

LAN cables_home router_don burns_internet
Image courtesy of Christiaan Colen at Flickr.com

The new RT-AC88U looks almost exactly the same as the RT-AC87U, with four detachable antennas and two USB ports. And like its older brother, the RT-AC88U has its USB 2.0 port on the back and the USB 3.0 port on the front, which is not an ideal place. This is because, due to its much faster speed, the USB 3.0 port is preferred for hosting a permanent storage device. So, having this port on the front will translate into clutter when you want to the router to also serve as a network storage server.

The RT-AC88U has eight Gigabit LAN ports (as opposed to four found in most other routers). In fact, it is the first home router with this number of LAN ports. This is a huge improvement, considering it has the same physical size as the RT-AC87U. More LAN ports means more wired clients, such as a server or a printer that you can connect to the router before having to resort to using a switch.

Additionally, you can aggregate the first two ports to deliver a superfast 2Gbps connection and use any of the first four ports as a second WAN (Internet) port. This means if you have two broadband you can use them both with the router to make sure your network is always online. On top of that, the router’s USB ports can also be used to host a USB cellular dongle for those wanting to share a cellular broadband connection with the rest of the network.

So, is this the best new home router?

Yes! The Asus RT-AC88U home router has a high price compared with some other home products in the market, but it has everything you would want in a router and more. If you have the money, don not waste another second, this is the router to get.

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