Last year saw huge increases in wireless network speeds, with the wide adoption of 802.11ac. This year, we may see even greater speed increases as faster AC devices come to market, using new technology to utilise the available bandwidth. We have still got a way to go, with the maximum throughput of 802.11ac being eight spatial streams each working at 866.7 Mbps, giving a theoretical total of 6933 Mbps! While we have seen tri-band devices reaching speeds of 3200 Mbps, for these devices, the maximum speed on any single channel has been 1300 Mbps.
Today we are looking at a device that offers 3100 Mbps on just two channels, the ASUS RT-AC88U. To do this, it increases speeds on the 5 GHz channel to 2167 Mbps and 1000 Mbps on the 2.4 Ghz channel. This delivers the maximum available current bandwidth across these channels, but to take advantage you are going to need compatible client devices and adapters. Currently, these are hard to come by. My Macbook Pro offers a maximum AC speed of 1300 Mbps and you’ll be hard pushed to find an AC3100 adapter for a while.
Wireless speeds aside, the ASUS RT-AC88U continues to offer top-end features with support for link aggregation, eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, and a gaming accelerator VPN.
All these features come at a cost, and here that is $280/£299 – significantly more than we are used to seeing even for top-end consumer routers. So let’s take a look at what your money gets you…
What’s in the Box?
ASUS has kept their standard formula for the exterior of the box, featuring sturdy packaging with a large product image and clearly marked features adorning the rest of the packaging. Of note is the three-year warranty which should see you well into the next wave of wireless tech.
When you first open the box, you are presented with a naked RT-AC88U. It sits proudly in the centre of the box showing off its red highlights. Unlike many plainly boxed routers, a designer at ASUS has done well to make the unboxing something of an experience, rewarding the buyer for their choice. Whilst this is not the same experience as unboxing an Apple device, it is getting close. Once you have got over admiring the RT-AC88U you notice that, in common with the ASUS RT-AC3200, this is not a small router.
The router sits above a lower level containing the four antennas, Ethernet cable and large laptop-style power supply. Also included are the warranty notice and quick start manual.