Whether you are streaming a live event in 4K UHD or gaming online in a heated competition, buffering and lag are simply not an option. The Asus RT-AC88U is a Dual Band 802.11 AC router with a massive feature set and an equally large price tag.
It uses Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output technology to serve multiple Wi-Fi clients simultaneously without sacrificing bandwidth. However, each client must contain a Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output compatible network adapter in order to take advantage of the technology.
The router is equipped with numerous Gigabit LAN ports and multiple USB ports. The RT-AC88U offers a wealth of management options in a thoughtfully designed user interface and delivers blazing output on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
On top of that, it has a robust and fun-to-use Web interface, a slew of excellent network monitoring features, a built-in VPN server, and the ability to protect your home network from malware and intruders. What’s more, the router includes unique features for gamers.
The RT-AC88U uses the Broadcom NitroQAM chipset, which is the same chipset used in current AC5300 routers such as the RT-AC5300, or the Netgear R8500. The only difference is the RT-AC88U doesn’t have the additional 5GHz band.
That said, the only time when you’ll find the difference between an AC3100 router and an AC5300 router, in terms of Wi-Fi speeds, is when you have 10 more or concurrent active 5GHz clients on the same network. In this case, AC5300 router, thanks to its two 5GHz bands, can support more concurrent clients without slowing them down.
On the inside, the RT-AC88U is powered by a 1.4GHz dual-core processor, 512MB of DDR 3 system memory and 128MB of flash storage. In all, it is one of the most powerful routers on the market.
Striking Design Features
The new RT-AC88U looks almost exactly the same as the RT-AC87U, with four detachable antennas and two USB ports. It is an advanced model of its basic design, 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 the router to also serve as a network storage server.
The RT-AC88U has one big difference, however. It now 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 mean 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.
And there’s more to the RT-AC88U’s LAN ports. You can aggregate the first two ports to deliver a superfast 2Gbps connection – a bonus for those with a high-end NAS server – and use any of the first four ports as a second WAN (Internet) port.
This means if you have two broadband connection (such as one Cable and one DSL connection) 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.
Unbeatable Wi-Fi Coverage
With a ‘four transmit’ ‘four receive’ (4T4R) antenna design, both Wi-Fi range and signal stability improve dramatically. AiRadar beamforming further focuses Wi-Fi signal on your devices, making your Wi-Fi faster, clearer and stronger.
Advanced parental controls help you to prevent users from visiting inappropriate websites, for example keeping young children safe from viewing adult content. You can also restrict the times that each device or guest account can access the internet, by applying scheduled time limits.
Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO)
The RT-AC88U supports Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) 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 the 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.
MU-MIMO has been quickly adopted by both routers and clients, and it is predicted that by the end of next year, most, if not all, new Wi-Fi devices will support this technology.
Free Game Accelerator Inside
Ping time and variance are critical technical parameters that affect responsiveness in online gaming, and their values depend heavily on the route game packets take to and from their destination.
The Gamers Private Network (GPN) from WTFast automatically performs route optimization, choosing the most efficient route for game packets, resulting in consistently lower ping time and minimal packet loss.
With RT-AC88U this optimization is free for accelerating one selectable device at a time, so you can enjoy the results with a supported competitive multi-player online games.
Router Specifications and Features
- Wi-Fi standards – 802.11a/b/g/n/ac with MU-MIMO
- Wi-Fi bandwidth – 2,167 Mbps (5GHz) and 1,000 Mbps (2.4GHz)
- Chipset – Broadcom BCM47094, BCM4366 and BCM4366
- Flash memory – 128 MB of NAND
- System memory (RAM) – 512MB of DDR3
- WAN – 1 Gigabit WAN (Internet) port
- LAN – 8 Gigabit LAN ports
- Antenna – Four detachable dual-band antennas
- USB – 01 USB 3.0 port and 01 USB 2.0 port
Features – ASUS WRT firmware, AiCloud, AiProtection, High-power mode, Download master application, Dual-WAN, Port Aggregation, VPN server, Guest network, DLNA server, Automatic IP, Static IP, PPPoE (MPPE support), PPTP, L2TP, IPv4, IPv6
With the ASUS RT-AC88U dual-band router, you get very fast performance, simultaneous multi-client Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output data streaming, and a killer feature set. Its read/write file-transfer is not all great.
It offers extensive management features in a user-friendly interface, including gamer-friendly Quality of Service settings, parental controls, advanced file sharing, and mobile cloud services.
With eight LAN ports and two USB ports, this router is an excellent choice for users who want to connect multiple peripherals and wired clients, such as gaming consoles, network attached storage devices, printers, and home-automation hubs. It is the best choice so far among high-end routers and great for gamers.