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Lots of features
Below average range
The Asus RT-AC88U is one of the company's most well-rounded routers, making it an easy choice for our top pick. It combines solid network performance with some cool advanced features at an affordable price. Thanks to its 1.4GHz dual-core CPU and 1024-QAM technology, it's able to offer 802.11ac speeds of 2.1Gbps on the 5GHz channel and up to 1Gbps on the 2.4GHz side, with coverage of up to 5,000 square feet, and thanks to MU-MIMO technology, more of your devices can take advantage of these top speeds without slowing each other down.
Typical of almost all of Asus' routers, you also get AiProtection, powered by Trend Micro, which will help to keep your network safe from malware. It also features robust parental controls and the ability to detect other network vulnerabilities. A whopping eight Gigabit Ethernet ports on the back provide the ability to hardwire in more PCs and gaming consoles than most home routers usually offer, saving you the trouble of needing to connect a separate hub or switch.
Fast USB performance
Smart Connect can cause unreliable connections
For faster speeds, look no further than the Asus RT-AC3200, which offers combined speeds of 2.6Gbps on the dual 5Ghz bands, plus up to 600Mbps of speed on the 2.4GHz band. Those speeds can easily handle 4K streaming and online gaming. The 3T3R (three transmit, three receive) beamforming antennas help to increase both Wi-Fi range and signal quality to reach nearly anywhere in a medium-to-large home.
The addition of Asus' Smart Connect technology adds even more brains to the router by allowing it to manage all internet traffic on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Extras such as AiProtection from Trend Micro and Asus AiCloud bring increased levels of security, as well as cloud syncing for all your files across any internet-enabled device, including Android and iOS smartphones, thanks to the USB 3.0 port that offers faster data transfers.
Eight Gigabit Ethernet ports
Two USB 3.0 ports
Gamers Private Network
Asus' GT-AC5300 is a router designed with gamers expressly in mind, featuring a tri-band Wi-Fi system that provides dual 5GHz bands plus a single 2.4GHz band that offer combined maximum throughput of 5,334Mbps, with MU-MIMO and beamforming technology that ensures that your client devices can get maximum throughput at all times.
What separates the GT-AC5300 from the pack of other Asus routers, however, is its support for a Gamers Private Network (GPN) which helps to optimize your network connection for the best online gaming experience you can get, along with VPN Fusion which lets your normal internet traffic remain secure and private while ensuring that it doesn't slow down your gaming. The ROG Game Dashboard also adds other gamer-centric features like Game Boost, Game IPS, and route-optimized low ping time gaming servers on the GPN so you'll get low latency, lag-free connections.
If the blazing-fast Wi-Fi speeds that the GT-AC5300 offers aren't quite enough for your needs, there are also eight Gigabit Ethernet ports around back so you can hardwire in, plus two USB 3.0 ports for connecting external hard drives to share and store files across your network.
Gamers know that having the lowest latency possible is crucial and can make the difference between success and failure. Gaming-specific routers focus on optimizing the gaming experience, but this also makes them great high-performance routers suitable for just about anything else too.
USB 3.1 ports
Short-range performance is below average
No mounting options
Adding 120 percent more coverage than previous-generation routers, the Asus RT-AC86U is a hardware lover's delight with some of the best overall performance of any router Asus makes. The premium price is justified with dual-band Wi-Fi that adds up to a throughput speed of 2.9Gbps that can easily cover a larger home, plus a USB 3.1 port for sharing file from an external hard drive at maximum speeds.
Helping to maintain that speed and range is MU-MIMO technology that directs bandwidth specifically to the devices utilizing the network for enhanced performance. Extras such as the WTFast Gamers Private Network (GPN) adds low latency for gaming and AiProtection from Trend Micro introduces an additional level of security. Setup and router management is easily handled by the downloadable Asus app, which even lets you monitor real-time network traffic and manage parental controls.
The most advanced Asus router you can buy right now is the GT-AX11000, and while it's targeted at gamers, that's just because they typically have the most demanding needs. This thing is a veritable powerhouse, with support for the latest Wi-Fi 6 technologies and combined throughput of up to 10Gbps, so this could very well be the only router you'll need to buy for the foreseeable future.
Although it performs best if you have 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 devices on your network, it also easily handles 802.11ac (now known as "Wi-Fi 5") and older devices, since it has the power to spare, and the eight-antenna array with MU-MIMO and beamforming allows it to deliver great 5GHz performance across two separate bands that help to reduce network congestion, with coverage that can easily extend through a very large home.
Four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports on the back let you hardwire in your gear for 1Gbps speeds, but there's also a special 2.5Gbps gaming port too, along with a ton of network optimization features powered by its 1.8GHz quad-core CPU, including full VPN support, Dynamic QoS, and support for Asus' AiProtection and AiMesh technologies, which offer safe browsing and the ability to use other Asus routers to set up a mesh network.
Wi-Fi 6 isn't just about faster speeds, but also offers significantly better performance if you have a lot of devices on your network. The latest smartphones from both Apple and Samsung already support Wi-Fi 6, and you can easily add 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 adapters to your PCs or game consoles to begin upgrading your whole network.
Solid Wi-Fi performance
Quick and easy setup
Simple and useful mobile app
A bit pricey
The Asus RT-AC68U is a great combination of performance and price. Featuring 802.11ac 3x3 technology, the combined 2.4GHz and 5GHz performance add up to combined total speeds of 1.9Gbps. Setting it up out of the box is a breeze with the Asus smartphone app or the AsusWRT web interface that has new buyers connected to their home network in just a few steps. Asus' TurboQAM technology is built right in and helps drive signal strength to increase total Wi-Fi speeds.
Additionally, the 1GHz dual-core CPU inside the RT-AC68U provides more than enough power to enjoy 4K video streaming, VoIP calls and ensure that online gaming is a lag-free experience. Beamforming technology rounds out the feature set by adding an even more stable signal for improved coverage inside a home.
Very easy to setup
Good close-range performance
Setup requires mobile app
Only one Ethernet port
Poor long-range peformance
While most buyers look to performance when considering a router purchase, Asus wants to change old stigmas and prove good looks and performance can coexist. Gone are the days of stick-out antennas with the release of the compact Asus SRT-AC1900 OnHub. With all the antennas and hardware hidden away inside the futuristic-looking cylinder design, the OnHub utilizes smart software to direct a Wi-Fi signal right toward your devices, which means you won't have to worry about tinkering with antennas or placement.
The inclusion of 4GB of storage makes automatic software updates easy to store and install (and there is still plenty of room for additional features down the road). The downloadable Android and iOS Google OnHub app helps with installation and automatic updates directly from your smartphone. Perhaps the most notable feature is the inclusion of Wave Control, which allows an owner to prioritize Wi-Fi speeds for any particular device just by waving it directly over or across the top of the OnHub.
Nice, unique aesthetic
Smart home features
Slow storage speeds
Design isn't for everyone
While it may not look like a traditional router, the Asus Blue Cave allows for Amazon Alexa integration, so you can easily control your entire home with voice commands. Securing your smart home connection is handled by Asus' AiProtection powered by Trend Micro software, which blocks external threats that might jeopardize your network privacy.
Beyond security is a simplified setup with the downloadable Asus smartphone app. The Blue Cave allows for 802.11ac dual-band technology and has speeds of up to 2.6Gbps across the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, plus support for 128 devices at a single time. Additionally, parents can activate advanced controls right from the smartphone application to keep their kids away from Internet dangers.
Range - The worst discovery is purchasing a top-of-the-line router only to find out that it can’t adequately cover your property. Blazing-fast speeds are great, but if your router can’t provide Wi-Fi to your entire home, there might not be a point. Ensure that the router can cover the proper square footage needed.
Speed - Are you sending emails, playing video games, or streaming videos? Not everyone’s needs require routers with rocket-fast speeds so consider how you use your internet before purchasing. AC routers are currently the fastest available option, but those who aren’t doing much gaming or video streaming should still be happy with the last generation N routers.
Smart features - Routers are much more intelligent than they were years ago. Check for special abilities such as parental controls, built-in firewalls for security, mobile application access, and prioritization for significant traffic. Smart routers give you the ability to be entirely in control of your Wi-Fi.
Complicated back-end can be intimidating
Doesn't have the same range as other models
This “plug and play” router was a winner with one of our testers because it was “surprisingly easy” to set up — plus it was faster and more efficient than the models he’d used in the past. This efficiency is partly due to four tall antennas, which one tough tester wished were smaller: “My cable line is in my living room and I rest the router on a shelf,” he explained. “I wish it was a little flatter so I could hide it better.”
Find more tips and recommendations around what to look for when selecting a new router with our ultimate router buying guide.