Four years into its life-cycle, it’s still one of the best routers that you can buy.
Even though Asus are mostly known for motherboards, graphics cards and their Republic of Gamers line of products, which includes the excellent Asus Rog Gladius II gaming mouse, the company is also a top dog in the networking market.
Their routers are preferred by gamers because they offer tons of features, as well as flawless performance. One such example is the tongue-twistingly-named ASUS RT-AC88U (from here on referred to as the AC88U, for simplicity’s sake), a router which, nearly four years after release, is still capable of competing with newer models. But don’t take my word for it; read through my ASUS RT-AC88U review for more details.
*This item was not provided by Asus. It was purchased by Unleash The Gamer for review purposes only.
Being a product targeted toward a gaming audience, you can probably guess that the design is, well, game-y, for a lack of a better word – not that there’s anything wrong with that. To their credit, Asus didn’t go overkill with the gaming design.
Sure, it’s got its fair share of sharp edges, a black matte casing, an angular shape and a very game-y black and red pattern, but weirdly enough, it’s surprisingly low profile. The design strikes the perfect balance between a gaming and a regular, household gadget. I could easily see this router in an office somewhere between printers, misplaced coffee mugs and real estate lawyers discussing the latest TV show at the watercooler.
Ease of Use
Installing the AC88U is a walk in the park thanks to Asus’s easy to use Setup Wizard. All you have to do is mount the antennas in their dedicated slots, plug in the router and point a browser from a connected computer to the router’s default IP address (192.168.1.1).
You’ll be greeted by a Web-based wizard, which will give you the choice of either configuring the router manually or through the router. Create a password for the interface and the Wi-Fi networks and you’re good to go.
As for the interface itself, you shouldn’t have any issues with it if you’ve configured routers before. Every feature you would ever need for using the router at its full capacity is in front of you, one click away.
I was especially pleased by two specific things, namely the Network Map and Traffic Manager. The first one displays all the devices connected to the same router. The latter offers data regarding bandwidth usage for management purposes.
Interface, Features, Security
Feature-wise, the AC88U is quite rich. You’ll get all the features found in older Asus models, and with the recent firmware updates, they’ve been optimized to work on ‘’modern’’ networks. The list of features is too long to cover in a single article, so let’s focus on the ones that have a direct impact on your user experience.
Let’s start with AiProtection. As you’ve probably guessed from the name, this features is designed to protect your home network against malware, viruses and other nasty things from the internet. From what I’ve gathered from the trial and the Internet – you seriously think I’d intentionally infect my computer to test it? -, it’s quite reliable. If a client gets infected, it will automatically stop sending out personal information.
The AC88U comes with a built-in PPTP VPN server. It is capable of hosting 10 remote clients. Combined with the option of using one of its LAN ports as a second WAN port, you can easily use this router in a small office or another similar setup that requires network juice.
The next feature is the Adaptive QoS (or quality of service). Adaptive QoS is a neat tool that prioritizes your bandwidth according to the type of traffic, be it video and audio streaming, gaming, web browsing, file transfer, and so on and so forth.
Using the aforementioned interface, you can simply arrange these categories by priority, and the router will handle this automatically. There another function called ‘’apps analysis’’ that allows you to monitor Internet activity in real time-time of any connected client – you can also use this to see how much download and upload bandwidth is being used in the household.
Under advanced settings, you can create wireless SSID names, enable WPS settings, configure VPN, RADIUS and wireless bridge settings, and you can select a security protocol and a method of authentication. Further on, under Wireless Professional Settings, you can fiddle with beacon intervals, wireless scheduling, beamforming and others. All in all, as far as features are concerned, the AC88U offers everything you would need.
As for testing, we connected three desktops, four smartphones and a gaming laptop to the router via Wi-Fi. We booted up Overwatch on the desktops and started playing, while the other devices were used for browsing and work-related stuff. We experienced no latency issues – the connection was smooth as butter.
Things are a little trickier when it comes to range. This is not the kind of router you’d want in a multi-room building with lots of walls. While we experienced no issues in the same room with it, once we put 10 meters and two walls between us and the router, we had trouble catching signal on our smartphones.
This is not necessarily a deal-breaker, just something to keep in mind. Granted, there are many other factors in play here, such as the thickness of the walls and the layout of the building, so if it happened to us, it doesn’t mean you will experience the same problem.
Even nearly four years after release, the ASUS RT-AC88U is one of the best routers that you can buy right now. Say goodbye to lag in multiplayer games when your roommate is streaming the latest Netflix flick – this router has you covered.
|The Good||The Bad|
|Neat Design||USB 3.0 awkwardly positioned|
ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit
WiFi Gaming Router
|Frequency Band||2.4 GHz / 5 GHz|
|Capacity||Guest networks: 6|
|Flash Memory||128 MB|
|Status Indicators||Power, WAN, LAN, wireless, USB, WPS|
|Encryption Algorithm||MPPE, 128-bit WEP, 64-bit WEP, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Enterprise|
|Routing Protocol||IGMPv2, IGMP, static IP routing, IGMPv3|
|Data Link Protocol||Ethernet, Fast Ethernet, Gigabit Ethernet, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n|
|Data Transfer Rate||3167 Mbps|
|Line Coding Format||1024 QAM|
|WAN Ports Qty||1|
|Integrated Switch||8-port switch|
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