Thursday, November 24, 2016

Asus (AC3100) [AC88U] Router Review with Video!

ASUS (AC3100)[AC88U] ROUTER



     The RT-AC88U is one of Asus's top of the line routers. Its radios are in a 4x4 arrangement, which means it has four transmitters and four receivers each for its 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequencies. It also boasts MU-MIMO [(Mew My Moe)] support, so all those radios can be shared efficiently by clients that support the standard. The AC88U can also perform beamforming, a method of extending the effective range of a wireless signal by essentially focusing the direction that the signal is sent instead of broadcasting it in all directions.
If you'd rather watch a Video of this Router being Unboxed and this being explained audibly instead of reading this -- Then by all means,.. Click this link to watch the video:






     But What about Speeds?! - This is what everyone wants to know - so let's get to it:
ASUS has always had a small share of the wireless router market going all the way back to the WL-500b, but its seems they have been becoming more of a powerhouse with the launch of the 802.11n solutions and now their 802.11ac devices. The AC88U is a rather interesting solution as with its large AC3100 marketing number you would think there are at least three bands within this solution, but instead, ASUS has, due to the beamforming technology, enabled this router to use 1024QAM on both 2.4 and 5GHz. This means the AC88U Router which operates at 600 Mbps on the 2.4GHz and 1734 Mbps on the 5GHz can now be pushed to 1000 Mbps on 2.4 and 2167 Mbps with 5GHz.
     So how fast is AC88U? The Asus AC88U router is as fast as an AC5300 router, both sharing the same top speed on the 5Ghz band of 2,167Mbps and 1,000Mbps on the 2.4Ghz. Note that these are just the top speeds on paper. In real-world usage, the actual sustained speed of a Wi-Fi connection is always lower than the theoretical speed, however I can honestly say this router is the best of them when it comes to reliable, consistent, Top of the mark wireless AND Wired Speeds.
     This brings up WIRED speeds.  You know, -- the speeds you get from the devices you actually have an Ethernet cable going to , instead of relying on the wireless 2.4 or 5 Gigahertz signal.   From personal experience one of the largest factors in buying this router was the wired speed capability -- both WAN to LAN and pure LAN speeds.  The WAN to LAN speed is the maximum speeds the router can maintain from your internet provider.  I have Cable broadband.  The broadband connection I have, runs at 350Megabits per second - this is a recent speed increase from Charter in my area and due to AT&T being in the process of deploying it's 1,000 Megabit download AND upload symmetrical "Gigapower" Speeds.  I needed a router that would handle not only the 350Mbps I have now but also the future speeds that are becoming more common through this and other countries... which are the speeds approaching or meeting 1 Gigabit OR  125 Mega BYTES per second.  This router meets this capability AND exceeds it by a fair margin.  So if you have or anticipate having Gigabit internet available to you in the future - This Asus AC88U Router will handle these speeds on a WIRED connection.  There are ZERO Wireless routers or standards that will allow 1,000 Megabits to be sustained or met wirelessly right now or the short term future. So in short,.. this AC88U Asus Router is mega fast both wired and wirelessly.  


     As you can see in the above picture - This router has some features you probably haven't seen on other routers or the one you own currently.    
     This Asus AC88U has been designed to work with services like WTFast - Which is a Gaming latency ROUTING service that takes your path from your home to the game server you happen to be playing on and establishing the absolute FASTEST, lowest latency (Ping), route humanely possible for you.  So you can get the drop on your friends and enemies in first person shooters -- or even games like Rocket League where latency STILL matters on the first 'hit' on that Soccer (Football) Ball.   This really works. 
     It also has a 'LAN Boost' - LAN stands for Local Area Network -- it's your entire network throughout your home, apartment, dorm, wherever.  This "LAN Boost" Feature is dynamic, and constantly changing (adapting) to the internet and local technical "things" going on in your network to optimize and enhance your bandwidth for BOTH your wired (using Ethernet cables to devices like the Xbox, or computer) AND Wireless connections.  Bottom line is it automagically makes your gaming as fast as it can be on the 'internet' side of things.  It accomplishes this through what is called QoS (Quality of Service) - It's nothing you need to really bother with learning if you don't wish to - You set it to 'on' and it will do the work for you.
     You may have noticed the Ai Protection on this screen as well.  This is Real Time Network protection.  This is another fantastic partnership with a top Fortune 500 company, Trend Micro.  Asus teamed up with Trend Micro to secure your network on the HARDWARE level before anything arrives at your Computer, PC/Mac,.. or devices (phone, Xbox, Playstation, etc).  Think of this as a "hardware" version of a massively strong Anti-Virus/malware , except it's acting , again, before things arrive/get to your devices.  You can't beat that.  This is why it's called "Enterprise level" security -- as this type of security is usually only reserved/used in large companies who utilize "hardware" firewalls/security in their networks where home users typically utilize software security alone ON the devices (computers, etc) when it's often too late.

     That's what comes in the retail box.  Basically you get the beast of a router (imho, the best router on the market for a plethora of reasons) -- 4 High Gain , High Quality, Long Range, Antennae, a 2.37 AMP - 19 Volt Power adapter (this is twice the normal power for traditional routers), a Cat 5e Network Cable, and of course your 'setup/driver, etc' CD and some warranty information.  Speaking of Warranty this Router comes with a 2 Year Warranty from Asus!  


     You must remember there are TWO versions of this router, so don't be confused.  There is an ASUS AC3100 and this router, which is the upgraded version called the Asus AC3100 AC88U.  Specifications of the AC88U include the MIMO Functionality with a four by four simultaneous send and receive setup.  At the heart of this Router is a 1.4 Gigahertz DUAL CORE Processor with 512 Megabytes of DDR 3 RAM as well as 128 Megabytes of NAND Memory for the firmware -- Be it the VERY good stock firmware or any Third-Party Firmware of your choosing (Such as DD-WRT, Tomato, etc.).  Adding to this,... the AC88U has all the standard bells and whistles including WEP, WPA< and WPA 2 Security along with uPnP, IGMP, and SNMP for all sorts of monitoring -- i.e.: Bandwidth usage of each computer slash device or all devices bandwidth usage in real-time or over long periods of time.
A great feature...802.3ad support... is really starting to become a mainstream feature and is deployed in this AC88U router... specifically with the LAN 1 and LAN 2 Ports.  What is 802.3ad ?  --  
802.3ad is Ethernet Link Aggregation at the physical layer to form a single link layer interface.  What does that mean?  It means you can combine two ISP slash Broadband internet connections, for example, on the LAN 1 and LAN 2 Ports for a true Dual WAN connection -- Essentially combining two internet connections from any source into one large pipe. 
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, shown here, doesn’t have the one extra ..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.  I honestly don't see the value in spending close to $400 for the AC 5300 over this AC88U from Asus which is about $100 cheaper when the primary difference between the two is the aforementioned additional 5Ghz band that only becomes beneficial with over 10 Wireless clients accessing the router at the same time.

     Now I've mentioned MU-MIMO already - and this is a huge feature of this router.  Given its importance in wireless performance I am going to attempt to explain just what the hell MU-MIMO with beamforming is... to some greater or lesser degree.

     Both MU-MIMO and beamforming require client support.  MU-MIMO simple stands for Multiple User - Multiple input and multiple output for wireless communication. Basically, this refers to the way bandwidth is broken up by the Router and pushed to individual devices.  The router you likely have, and many still sold use the old method called SU-MIMO which of course means, Single User, Multiple Input, Multiple Output.  With SU-MIMO routers, only one device can receive data at any given time.  For example if you have one person watching Netflix and another person watching YouTube... if you were to start both of those streams at the same time, one computer or device would get priority while the other device will have to wait until the first had buffered a few bits of data for itself.  Often you wouldn't notice a slowdown because SU-MIMO old tech routers do this in rapid succession... which to the naked eye looks like a solid stream of data.  To use an analogy:  think of it like a Pez dispenser strapped to a carousel: everyone standing around the circle is eventually going to get a piece of candy, but the carousel still needs to make one full rotation before all the members of the network are satisfied. However a router like this Asus AC3100 AC88U,.. with MU-MIMO technology ,.. is able to break up this bandwidth into separate, individual streams that each share the connection evenly, no matter the application. MU-MIMO routers come in three flavors: 2×2, 3×3, and 4×4, which refers to the number of streams that they can create for each device in your household. This way, the MU-MIMO carousel can simultaneously send Pez flying in four directions at once. Without getting too technical, this is like each device getting its own “private” router, up to four total in 4×4 MU-MIMO loadouts.
     The main benefit here is that instead of each stream being periodically (albeit very, very briefly) interrupted by the time it takes for the carousel to spin around once, a MU-MIMO router can keep its signal constant for those four devices, and fairly distribute the bandwidth to each without compromising the speed of any of the others at the same time
     There are a few more hardware features worth mentioning. If you check out the back of the RT-AC88U, you'll find eight gigabit Ethernet ports instead of the four typical of consumer wireless gear. There's also a USB 2.0 port on the back and a USB 3.0 port under a cover on the front. These ports can be used for connecting external devices like hard drives, printers, and auxiliary internet connections from cellular hotspots.
     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 protect your home network from malware and intruders. What's more, the router supports MU-MIMO, and includes unique features for gamers. In all, I've never seen a router with more to offer than the RT-AC88U.
     Performance-wise, this router excels in all real-world tests, delivering top Wi-Fi data rates, long range and a stable wireless signal. If you're in the market for a top-notch home router with little compromise, you can't go wrong with the RT-AC88U. But at $280, it's not cheap. If you have the money, though, it's WELL worth the investment - If you'd like an equally reliable and solid all around router at a lesser price but obviously at the cost of some speed capabilities and features on the 'high' end - Then I first recommend the regular Asus AC3100 - Which will save you about $40-50 -- It this is till out of your budget, then jump down to the Asus AC68u which will cost about $150 and if that is still too expensive, then my final recommendation would be the Asus AC66U which costs around $99 and can be found under $100 on sale from time to time.

     What's more, the router supports MU-MIMO, and includes unique features for gamers. In all, I've never seen arouter with more to offer than the RT-AC88U.
     The AC88U has a robust and fun-to-use Web interface, a slew of excellent network-monitoring features, a built-in VPN server, and the ability protect your home network from malware and intruders. What's more, the router supports MU-MIMO, and includes unique features for gamers. In all, I've never seen a router with more to offer than the RT-AC88U.
     Performance-wise, the router excels in all real-world tests, delivering top Wi-Fi data rates, long range, and a stable wireless signal. If you're in the market for a top-notch home router with little compromise, you can't go wrong with the RT-AC88U. But at $280, it's not cheap. If you have the money, though, it's WELL worth the investment - If you'd like an equally reliable and solid all around router at a lesser price but obviously at the cost of some speed capabilities and features on the 'high' end - Then I first recommend the regular Asus AC3100 - Which will save you about $40-50 -- It this is till out of your budget, then jump down to the Asus AC68u which will cost about $150 and if that is still too expensive, then my final recommendation would be the Asus AC66U which costs around $99 and can be found under $100 on sale from time to time.

     If you have any specific questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment and as always thanks for reading/watching and take care.
     

1 comment:

  1. Do you own an ASUS AC88U Router, or an ASUS AC3100 or even AC5300 ? If so, comment and let us know your experiences with this router. If you have another comparable router -- tell us why you think it's superior or equal to this router!

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