ASUS RT-AC88U Dual-band Wireless-AC3100 Gigabit Router Reviewed

The ASUS RT-AC88U Dual-band Wireless-AC3100 Gigabit Router
The ASUS RT-AC88U Dual-band Wireless-AC3100 Gigabit Router

The ASUS RT-AC88U is an AC3100 class router featuring a mouth-watering eight gigabit ports supporting link aggregation. One of the LAN ports can also be converted into a WAN port providing support for a dual-WAN configuration. The RT-AC88U also supports MU-MIMO and a range of features that power users, especially gamers will find useful.

The sleek design of the RT-AC88U not only gives it a modern look but also some practical features such as better ventilation. ASUS have included vents in all the right places with this model including just above the internal heatsink.

The ports on the ASUS RT-AC88U. (Image courtesy of Asus)
The ports on the ASUS RT-AC88U. (Image courtesy of ASUS)
A closer look at the ASUS RT-AC88U specifications:
Network StandardIEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac, IPv4, IPv6
CoverageVery large homes
Data Rate802.11a : 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 600 Mbps
802.11ac : up to 1734 Mbps
1024QAM (2.4GHz) : up to 1000 Mbps
1024QAM (5GHz) : up to2167 Mbps
Antenna4 x External antenna
Transmit/ReceiveMIMO technology
4 x 2.4GHz
4 x 5GHz
Memory128MB Flash
512MB RAM
Wi-Fi TechnologyBeamforming: standard-based and universal
1024-QAM high data rate
20/40/80 MHz bandwidth
Operating Frequency2.4 GHz / 5 GHz
Encryption64-bit WEP, 128-bit WEP, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPA-Enterprise , WPA2-Enterprise , WPS support
Firewall & Access ControlAccess control:Parental control, Network service filter, URL filter, Port filter
ManagementUPnP, IGMP v1/v2/v3, DNS Proxy, DHCP, SNMP, NTP Client, DDNS, Port Trigger, Virtual Server, DMZ, System Event Log
WAN Connection TypeInternet connection type : Automatic IP, Static IP, PPPoE(MPPE supported), PPTP, L2TP
Ports1 x 10/100/1000Mbps WAN
8 x 10/100/1000Mbps LAN
1 x USB 2.0
1 x USB 3.0
ButtonWPS Button, Reset Button, Power Button, Wireless on/off Button, LED on/off Button
Guest Network3 x 2.4GHz
3 x 5GHz
VPNVPN server : IPSec Pass-Through, PPTP Pass-Through, L2TP Pass-Through, PPTP Server, OpenVPN Server
VPN client : PPTP client, L2TP client, OpenVPN client
Printer ServerMultifunctional printer support (Windows only)
LPR protocol support
Download MasterSupport bt, nzb, http, ed2k
Support encryption, DHT, PEX and magnet link
Upload and download bandwidth control
Download scheduling
AiDisk file serverSamba and FTP server with account management
Other FeaturesLink Aggregation
MU-MIMO
Traffic Analyzer
Adaptive QoS
AiProtection
Parental Control
Mac OS Backup
Enhanced media server (AiPlayer app compatible)
AiCloud personal cloud service
3G/4G data sharing
Dual WAN
IPTV support
Roaming Assist
LED Indicator1 x Power
2 x Wi-Fi
1 x WAN
2 x USB
1 x WPS
1 x LAN
Power SupplyAC Input : 110V~240V(50~60Hz)
DC Output : 19 V with max. 2.37 A current
Dimensions300mm (W) x 188mm (D) x 84mm (H)

Software

Similar to what we saw with the RT-AC5300, the RT-AC88U also comes with the ASUSWRT OS.

The ASUSWRT OS landing page shows a network map of connected devices
The ASUSWRT OS landing page shows a network map of connected devices
AiCloud enables you to have your own private cloud where you can "manage your files anywhere, anytime"
AiCloud enables you to have your own private cloud where you can “manage your files anywhere, anytime”
By connecting a USB enabled device, you have access to a range of features including time machine backup and file/printer sharing
By connecting a USB enabled device, you have access to a range of features including time machine backup and file/printer sharing

Wireless Performance

Signal performance from various locations was similar in most places to the RT-AC5300.

Signal strength of the ASUS RT-AC88U across a range of locations
Signal strength of the ASUS RT-AC88U across a range of locations
Signal strength from same room
Signal strength from same room
Signal strength from same floor, next door room
Signal strength from same floor, next door room
Single strength, same floor opposite corner
Single strength, same floor opposite corner
Signal strength, same floor but from outside
Signal strength, same floor but from outside
Signal strength from the upstairs room
Signal strength from the upstairs room

To provide a more realistic scenario, a Surface Pro 2 was used with a AC1200-WiFi USB 3.0 adapter from another room (separated by a wall, a void and another wall) to perform some file copy tests over the 5Ghz network.

File copy speeds was similar to what we experienced with the RT-AC5300 over the same distance
File copy speeds was similar to what we experienced with the RT-AC5300 over the same distance

Final Thoughts

The RT-AC88U is easily one of the best feature packed routers I’ve seen in some time. The eight gigabit ports instantly made it one of my favourites as the lack of ports on modern day routers is one of my biggest bugbears and more manufacturers should take note.

The ASUS RT-AC88U was also an excellent performer doing well in our signal strength and file copy tests. If you are a power user and want to get the best out of your wireless router, the RT-AC88U is definitely worthy of your consideration.

GeekLingo_Highly_Recommended

Post Author: Noeneel Sharma

Australian born tech expert, Noeneel, is the founder of the GeekLingo. He has over 25 years of experience in the Information Technology (IT) world. As an Information Technologist, he has a Bachelor in Information Technology, MBA and a Master of Business Process Management. He has professional working experience working in reputable industries including telecommunication, legal, accounting, banking, and most recently electricity. He spends most of his time with his gadgets as he enjoys photography, researching and cryptocurrencies. Connect with Noeneel on Google+, Twitter, and Facebook. If you find this content useful, feel free to shout him a crypto coffee - BTC: 13QHePrFtKPY2axwRLVjEM6AjbbRvDSmP6 or ETH: 0x61a11050DC156CBA3ec49B81FC4F368FBd112059

17 thoughts on “ASUS RT-AC88U Dual-band Wireless-AC3100 Gigabit Router Reviewed

    Ricky

    (March 8, 2017 - 11:50 am)

    Hi Noeneel,

    Thanks for the review. Did you know that you can also check the -dbm within the admin page? If you go into System Info -> Wireless Info, it will tell you the -dbm of each device. Could you do another test and update your review? For me, I get about -41 dbm on 2.4Ghz about 2 rooms away using INSSIDER (similar to what you got for testing on the same floor in the opposite corner). However, if I check the Wireless Info page on my router, the dbm is a lot higher compared to what I see in INSSIDER. It’s about -60dbm.

    I’m unsure if my antennas are faulty or something, would be keen to know what you get.

      Noeneel Sharma

      (March 8, 2017 - 12:24 pm)

      Hi great suggestion and something I’ll keep an eye out for on future router reviews to keep inssider in check. Unfortunately, we return the routers after reviewing so I am unable to check this for you.

        Ricky

        (March 8, 2017 - 12:59 pm)

        Aww……that’s a bummer. Yeah some routers have logs that display the noise/attenuation info. From there, you can see the info for all devices that the router sees, so it might give you a more accurate benchmark than just running INSSIDER on a single machine.

        There’s also problems with wifi chips on some hardware, e.g. my Intel chip on my laptop sucks when dealing with 2.4Ghz.

        But it’s good that you’ve done some Inssider benchmarks, it should give me something to compare against when I get home.

        Oh and lastly, your Inssider screenshots are quite blurry, may be a good idea to check them for future reviews.

        Thanks!

          Noeneel Sharma

          (March 9, 2017 - 6:15 am)

          They shouldn’t be blurry, I’ll check my other reviews but if they are, I suspect it may be the image optimiser that’s doing it. Hmmmm thanks for the heads up.

    Ricky

    (March 8, 2017 - 4:15 pm)

    Forgot to ask you…

    1. For each of your INSSIDER tests, were those values grabbed from a single test, or did you let INSIDDER run for a while and took down the average?

    2. Since you can only connect to one SSID at a time, the more important question here is did you benchmark both the 2.4Ghz and 5.0Ghz SSIDs when you tested from the same spot? For example, your 3rd test (Single strength, same floor opposite corner) shows the following:

    2.4Ghz – 43 dbm
    5.0Ghz – 63 dbm

    Here, you’re connected to the 5.0Ghz SSID. Did you then connect to the 2.4Ghz (while at the same spot) to get 43 dbm?

    The reason I ask is because of beamforming. When you connect to either the 2.4ghz or 5.0ghz bands, beamforming occurs and gives you a better signal connection. For me, I get similar results to you if I’m opposite a corner of the router on the same floor. Here’s my result:

    2.4Ghz – 44 ~ 55 dbm
    5.0Ghz – 61 dbm

    Here, I’m connected to the 5.0 ghz SSID. At the same time, my 2.4 ghz SSID fluctuates between 44 and 55 dbm.

      Noeneel Sharma

      (March 9, 2017 - 6:27 am)
      1. I let INSIDDER run for around 10 mins before taking the screenshot
      2. No, you don’t need to connect in order for INSIDDER to see the signal strength

      The 2.4Ghz could be fluctuating due to external conditions? For example, one time I had a particular wireless card which would keep dropping the connection. It was by pure coincidence that I worked out my microwave was causing the problem. A lot of other household devices work on 2.4Ghz, have you got anything that would fall into this category between your device and the AP?

        Ricky

        (March 9, 2017 - 7:26 am)

        Yeah, you don’t have to connect to let SSID run, but once you connect to one, beamforming will make the signal better than it actually is (which makes sense, as that’s how beamforming is supposed to work).

        So let’s say I don’t connect to anything. InSSIDer will report about -71 dbm for my 5Ghz band. Once I connect to it, I’ll get about -61~-62dbm.

        So if I understand this correctly, for all your tests you didn’t connect to either SSIDs?

          Noeneel Sharma

          (March 9, 2017 - 7:37 am)

          That’s correct and I think you have highlighted a flaw in my testing of signal strength. I’ll need to redesign my testing methodology with the next router to cater for beamforming. Thanks for the feedback, it’s appreciated.

            Ricky

            (March 9, 2017 - 9:56 am)

            Wow…..in that case I think there’s something seriously wrong with my router.

            My initial assumption, based on your house / floor plan image, was that you’ve connected to the 5Ghz band for 3 of your tests and connected to 2.4Ghz for the other 2 tests. This meant that the values you were getting were the enhanced due to beamforming. In my own tests, I’ve replicated the same scenario, where I connect to the same band based on the location of where I am at.

            However, now that I understand that you didn’t connect to any band for all 5 tests, it shows that the signals you were getting from inSSIDer were the raw values, i.e pre-beamforming enhanced….personally, I prefer the raw values, as it shows how good the router’s signal is from a base level.

            However, this also depresses me a bit, knowing that my values were from beamforming and they weren’t even as good as the raw values you were getting.

          Ricky

          (March 9, 2017 - 9:49 am)

          Typo, I meant “Yeah, you don’t have to connect to let InSSIDER run”

    Ricky

    (March 8, 2017 - 4:20 pm)

    Sorry and one last question, for your first test (Signal strength from same room), you have the following result:

    2.4ghz – 15 dbm
    5.0ghz – 28 dbm

    How far were you away from the router? Were you right next to it? I’m in the same room and about 2~3 meters away and I get this:

    2.4ghz – 38 dbm
    5.0ghz – 34 dbm

      Ricky

      (March 8, 2017 - 4:23 pm)

      Oh and if I’m like right next to the router, I get the same result as you.

      I hope all of my results are within the norm and that there’s nothing wrong with my router…

      Noeneel Sharma

      (March 9, 2017 - 6:29 am)

      It was less than 1m

    Ricky

    (March 9, 2017 - 10:01 am)

    Sorry for the multiple replies, I hope you don’t mind!

    One final suggestion I’d like to make is for routers that have adjustable antennas, I’d like to see results based on their position / placement. From my research, the best position is to have them placed perpendicularly. Some would suggest to have them all pointing up, or at a 45 degree angle. Depending on the antenna positions, the same router may produce different results.

    Also, it’d be good to know where the router is placed. E.g. mounted on a wall or from a ceiling? Or inside a cabinet? What the surround materials are (wifi friendly or not), etc…

    Most sites don’t mention this and not many do InSSIDer tests. Most focus on speedtests and some basic file copies. Which is why I find your info valuable, although it could be improved in the future 🙂

      Noeneel Sharma

      (March 9, 2017 - 10:07 am)

      Noted. Hopefully we’ll see some new models this year and will revise how I do the testing and present the results. Thanks for the feedback.

    Patrick

    (October 28, 2017 - 8:49 am)

    So. Will it lower the ping from a satellite (NBN) connection to an acceptable level for on-line racing with Project Cars? I think not, but would like to be wrong

      Noeneel Sharma

      (October 29, 2017 - 9:06 am)

      No, that’s not physically possible as your ping constraint is before the connectivity into the RT-AC88U and not after.

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