Asus RT-AC87U Dual-band Wireless AC2400 Gigabit Router

Asus RT-AC87U Dual-band Wireless AC2400 Gigabit Router

This is probably the best consumer router you can buy now. At least until other manufacturers release their own Wave 2 802.11ac models.

A huge caveat here: it cannot be used to its full potential for a while.

First, some background: Current 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers are based on the draft 802.11ac protocol, which is intended to replace the ubiquitous 802.11n standard. These routers usually come with three antennae as they support three spatial streams. Each stream provides up to 433Mbps of bandwidth. So if you have a 802.11ac client with three receivers, the speed tops out at 1,300Mbps.

A second wave (dubbed Wave 2) of these 802.11ac routers builds on this by potentially supporting up to eight spatial streams.

More importantly, they have a feature called MU-MIMO (or multi-user, multiple input multiple output) that truly lets these routers send data to multiple devices at the same time. Routers without this feature essentially juggle the data transmission to give the illusion that they are serving all their clients simultaneously.

In the case of the Asus AC87U, it supports four spatial streams for a top speed of 1,734Mbps on the 802.11ac standard. It also supports the 2.4GHz 802.11n channel at 600Mbps via TurboQAM technology. Add the two and generously round out the figure to get the 2,400Mbps touted by Asus.

But as with other cutting-edge routers, the maximum speed is pure fantasy - unless you are using it in a controlled lab environment and have the proper client devices.

Currently, there are no devices with the required four receivers to enjoy the 1,734Mbps speed from the AC87U. There are also no clients or Wi-Fi adaptors that support MU-MIMO.

All this makes the AC87U a very tough sell. Yes, you are getting a very powerful router that is probably good for the next few years. There is even a new security feature called AiProtection that is powered by Trend Micro and claims to block malicious websites and exploits.

But you will be paying a premium for features that will not be useful for a while. At $399, the AC87U is also one of the most expensive models.

The first Wave 2 802.11ac router in the market is for the early adopter.

vinchang@sph.com.sg

TECH SPECS

Price: $399

Ethernet Interface: 1 x 10/100/1,000 Gigabit WAN, 4 x 10/100/1,000 Gigabit LAN

Standards: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

Security: WPA/WPA2, WEP

Advanced Firewall Features: SPI, DoS protection

RATING

Features: 5/5

Design: 4/5

Performance: 4/5

Value for money: 3/5

Overall: 4/5


This article was first published on Nov 5, 2014.
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