The RT-AX82U quality WiFi 6 router steps out of its sibling’s shadow to offer superb performance levels for the price. While Asus’ flagship RT-AX88U is designed for maximum performance, the RT AX82U is more of a balancing act, promising next gen wireless for a much lower price.
That being the case, it’s remarkable how closely the core hardware matches up to its big brother’s. The 5GHZ radio has the same maximum connection rate of 4,8ooMbits/sec and there’s 4×4 MU-MIMO, with full support for 160MHz channels.
What We Expected
It wasn’t too surprising, therefore, to see the RT-AX82U put in a very respectable showing in our tests. It couldn’t quite equal the RT-AX88U’s download speeds over Wi-Fi 6. but it gave us a strong, fast signal in almost every part of the house. Only in the difficult-to-reach bathroom did the RT AX82U fall significantly behind, and even then a download rate of iqMB/sec is hardly disastrous.
The news was even better when we repeated the tests on our legacy Wi-Fi 5 laptop. This time, the RT-AX82US same room performance was merely decent, but speeds held up superbly as we moved around the house, making this overall the fastest router on test for 802.11ac connections.
The feature set hasn’t been cut down, either: open the management interface and you’ll find all the same functions and settings as on the top-end model. Those include outbound VPN support, so you can route all your household traffic via a third-party provider to hide your identity or spoof your location, and a built in VPN server for securely accessing your home network from elsewhere. Nine different dynamic DNS services are supported too, along with a flexible QoS function that lets you prioritise certain types of traffic or clients.
The Asus firmware a Iso excels when it comes to parental controls. For each connected client you can allow or deny network access on an hour by hour basis, and optionally bar adult sites, instant-messaging platforms, peer to peer software or video streaming sites. The database is licensed from Trend Micro, but if you’re worried about unrecognised sites slipping through the cracks then you can use the Web History function to review and block the pages each client has been accessing.
Additional network protection features aim to block malicious websites and attempted remote exploits, and a one-stop security assessment tool flags up potential issues such as weak/default passwords or various types of remote access being enabled. If you want to isolate visitors or untrusted devices, there’s the ability to create up to three separate guest networks on the 5GHzband and another three over 2.4GHz.
A final feather in Asus’ cap is USB support. The USB connector is of the ultrafast 2oGbits/sectype, and you can plug in anything from an external hard disk to a printer or a 3G/4G modem. Storage devices can even be shared over the internet via the free AiCloud service.
You’re probably wondering why this router is so much cheaper than the RT AX88U, since it seems to offer very nearly all the same benefits. One point is that while the AX88U has eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, the AX82U provides only four. It also sports a single USB connector rather than the pair found on the AX88U. But frankly, we doubt many people will find this constraining.
The 2.4GI Iz radio in this router is half as fast as the one in the AX88U, with a quoted maximum speed of 574Mbits/sec and it only supports 2×2 MIMO, rather than 4×4. Again, this is unlikely to be a deal-breaker for anyone.
Our biggest reservation about the RT AX82U is that the standard Asus web portal feels overloaded with features and options. Expertswill appreciate the wealth of technical settings, but with so many pages, tabs and dropdowns to navigate it’s not always easy to find what you’re looking for or even to understand what you’re looking at. Beginners are likely to find this quite discouraging.
Still, that’s something you’ll rarely need to deal with beyond the initial setup, and it’s not a big enough deal to take the lustre off this absurdly capable router. Those willing to pay a premium for the fastest router around should consider the RT-AX88U or the Netgear RAX80 – but the RT-AX82U gets you into the same performance bracket for a price that’s much easier to swallow.