As home networking has evolved over the last decade, nothing has brought Wi-Fi up to speed more than 802.11ac. With Wi-Fi 5 as they now call it, we saw new technologies like MU-MIMO, Beamforming, Mesh along with Wave 2 allow more users and more overall throughput on consumer platforms. With that said, 802.11ac is at its end of life, and while many vendors will continue to push new solutions to market, the focus has now come to getting the cost down, so everyone can upgrade.
802.11ac was really the driving technology behind opening up our homes for DIY security, smart home functionality and just allowing more devices to connect and communicate at once. With 802.11ax or Wi-Fi 6 this is the first generation to be designed around the current atmosphere of connectivity, so while we will have increased throughput as per usual, we will also see bi-directional MU-MIMO and 1024QAM at work along with OFDMA which will increase the efficiency of the Router or Aps when deployed in a dense environment.
August 30th, 2017, ASUS announced its first 802.11ax platform, the RT-AX88U. Today, we have this unit in house for review. That being said, we currently have no client devices for 802.11ax so while performance will be tested, it will be up to current generation standard with the Intel 9260 160MHz 802.11ac solution. Getting into the AX88U, design follows last year's AC88U with a new colorway of black and gold.
This is a Broadcom platform with the BCM49408 at the heart, a four core SoC operating at 1.8GHz paired with 1GB of memory and 256 MB of flash memory. This 4x4 design is powered by the BCM43684 Radio offering 1148Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 4804Mbps on the 5GHz band. Adding to this we have an eight-port switch with LACP and Link Aggregation capabilities along with two USB 3.0 ports.
MSRP of the ASUS RT-AX88U comes in at $349.99 with a one-year warranty.