Asus is one of the two large players in the consumer home network space (being opposed by Netgear). They make solid products that are reliable and they have really well developed software. For those who are more daring there is open source software such as merlin that you can download and use instead of the default firmware. Therefore, let’s talk about this routers specs, feature set, and who should use this.
Who Should Use This Router?
If you’re in a smaller home or apartment setting with a few devices this router will suffice for your family. I have found that it can handle several devices (desktops, laptops, and phones) working on it actively without much fuss. However, I find it difficult to recommend this router if you’re in one of the two following groups.
If you’re in a larger home installation that requires multiple access points I wouldn’t recommend this router even multiple of them using their mesh software. The issue is the range isn’t that great nor are it’s specs that solid. Furthermore, even in my current home it has a hard time penetraing walls say in my walk-in closet. This leads to signal loss and while I could use another the routers form factor isn’t pretty nor is it easily extendable.
The second group are those I would dub smart home enthusiasts. Under heavy work load I have experienced some issues with this as I have been growing my smart home. Adding several amazon echo devices, philips hue lights, and more I am noticing more internet drop outs, and sometimes the admin panel of the router will become inaccessible unless I restart the entire system. I am going to be upgrading my own network but I can’t recommend this in a deployment where even if the space is small there are many devices or heavy workloads.
Effectively for a smaller home, with not too many devices this router works really well. But let’s look a bit more into the feature set and the value of the product which is also just as important.
There are a lot of features packed into this small router and many of them are actually really interesting to use. However, many of them are ultimately pointless and if you experience high network load they could cause you issues.
- Dual-Band 802.11ac 3×3 mu-mimo. Essentially the router supports both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and uses 3 antennas. The router states it has a combined speed of 1900Mbps. Something to note that this is 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band and 450-600Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. You will never have a speed of either one of these, as this is the theoretical speed, also you won’t be able to sustain these speeds under large amounts of time due to the fairly low specs.
- AiProtection – This is a built-in antivirus functionality that will scan websites and connections on all devices and block them if they are found to be malicious. I don’t recommend this functionality most of the time your devices will have their own antivirus and it wastes the fairly limited processing power of this device.
- AiMesh – You can use this device as part of a mesh network to extend range and performance I don’t recommend it but you can.
- QOS Support – Quality of Service is very important if you’re trying to manage network device’s performance. The issue is that the auto configuration isn’t very good if you have a lot of devices. I found that when I disabled it and used manual rules I got better performance. For most users this will be of no issue and I recommend you use it.
- Guest Network – Great feature if you have friends over you can setup a guest network anyone can connect to without a password.
As far as features that are noteworthy those are the major ones you can checkout their product listing for a far more detailed list and it’s quite extensive. I will note though that because there are a lot of features they might not all be “good” features or really serve you any purpose.
It’s really hard to pin down value on a router because we have to have a sort of baseline to compare it to. If you’re on comcast and renting their $10/month router (assuming it’s not the one with the mesh system) you would need a new router and gateway. You are getting a much better system with this router. You’re getting theoretically better specs, more features, longer range from my experience, and faster performance.
You can also find this product on sale on Amazon for $133.99 at the time of writing. However you would need to accompany it with a modem as well which could cost you anywhere from something cheap as $60 to well over $100.
Therefore, if you’re looking to get something that is better than your ISP provided router and provides a robust feature this is a solid choice for you. Especially if you’re looking to spend less than $200 to get rid of those pesky rental fees.
Having used this router personally it lasted me for a long period of time and do this day it doesn’t show and real signs of degradation. However, like with most things the router has its limits and as I have continuously added more smart home features into my home it’s not as solid as it used to be. Therefore, I have a hard time recommending this for anyone with a large collection of smart home tech OR a particularly large home. While the AI-Mesh system is fine in testing the routers themselves are bulky and not nice to look at.