What can I say, it’s a router, it routes your internet between your internet enabled devices… at speed! The ASUS RT-AC88U offers so much more than just the “bog standard” router you get free from your ISP, or even one you’ve spent a little bit of money on.
First you have to ask yourself what you need in a router, for me, WiFi range, lots of ports, gigabit preferably, and a USB port for my external hard drive. This has all of that, and more. Let’s start with connectivity. Eight gigabit LAN ports including two for Link Aggregation, which combines ports 1 and 2 to create a super fast wired connection with speeds up to 2 Gbps for your NAS drive. Two USB ports one of which is a USB 3.0 port, either can be used for printers, hard drives, or even a 3G/4G dongle. Ultra-fast 802.11ac wireless speeds, up to 2167 Mbps on the 5GHz (1024QAM) band.
Here’s my network map, there’s a few other devices in my household that don’t get much use. Such as a printer and a Mac mini, because I don’t have that much room for them to be set up permanently The speeds between WOTAN (the wife’s PC with a Linksys AC1200) and the RT-AC88U allow the same download speeds in Steam as HAL9000 (my PC). This router is limited by my Superhub 2. I use the USB 2 port on the back of the RT-AC88U due to the horrible placement of the USB 3.0 port at the front. Not sure if it was an oversight, but keeping the USB 3.0 under a little flap on the front really kills it for me.
Another design flaw for me is the inability to mount it on a wall or under a desk. It has a rather large footprint, my desk is big, but could really do with the extra space. Where the design is awesome, the look. Peaking through the vent on the top you can see a lovely red anodised heatsink. This thing makes my mancave look a tad bit boring. My first loud thoughts when I lifted it out of the box was “It’s a like an Aventador! It’s so pretty! Mannnnnn, look at it”. I’m not a Lamborghini fan, but a matte black Aventador LP 700-4…
The ASUS RT-AC88U in everyday use, well you don’t actually notice it. Previously I was shouting at my WiFi devices because the signal was terrible, distancing my device beyond arm’s length putting my shoulder out. WiFi strength is more than enough, I can actually go to the shop across the road and still use my own WiFi. Watching videos, looking at pictures and backing up via phone and computer couldn’t be easier. I just the attached Hitachi 1TB and mounted it in Windows 7, and on Android I use ES File Explorer. It also uses AiCloud 2.0 which means I can browse, download, and upload on the go. I’ve just remembered another gripe, the lack of Google Cloud Print support. I don’t have that much space to set up my printer permanently, but I’d make room for Cloud Print. It does have its own way of enabling printer support, just it’s not Google’s way, which would make it much easier to use.
All these words and I’ve not even scraped the surface of the features. There’s probably too many to mention. So I’m only really talking about the ones I use. VPN Server – PPTP, what is this you may ask. It allows you, wherever you may be to connect to your actual internet connection securely via tunneling. So when you’re out and about and you see some free WiFi, you can use the VPN feature to allow you to surf safe and securely. Adaptive QoS, you can set the bandwidth priority for things like gaming, file sharing, video streaming etc. So which ever is set at the highest priority will be get better bandwidth over than the lowest.
Gaming > Video/Audio > VoIP > General Browsing > File Transfer
If you are struggling for speed you can always check out the QoS – WAN/LAN Bandwidth Monitor or use the ASUS Router app (available on Android and iOS) which allows you to monitor and limit bandwidth if you need to… or if someone is annoying you!
Overall this router could remove all the hassle of ISP routers and make your life easier. It’s one less thing to worry about, it’s a computer in itself, it has a job and it knows how to do it well. The price maybe a let down to most, but it’s something that upgrades part of your life. Like when I bought a Chromecast, it was so nice to get rid of the cable, the cable that you had to step over every time you needed to go to the loo. My wingback armchair, it’s comfortable and it makes coming home from work great. Sitting back with a glass of whisky in one hand and my phone in the other, connected to WiFi. These days everything connects to WiFi, I have a light bulb that is connected to the internet, speakers that are connected to the internet, we all are connected to the internet. For me it is worth it.