If you want an affordable router that has it all, the Asus RT-AC86U checks very nearly all the boxes. From gaming to security to fast speeds, everyone can find something to like about this high-end dual-band AC2900 router. And for only $200 (£200 in the UK, which converts to AU$350), you don't have to invest a fortune to get exactly what you need.
I saw top throughput speeds on 5GHz during testing and was pleasantly surprised by the app. One of the best features of many Asus routers is their menu, which is very customizable. The Asus RT-AC86U is no different.
It won't disappoint if you need an easy-to-use router with reliable Wi-Fi coverage in a large home.
Cool look, but not a versatile design
The Asus RT-AC86U is very sleek, showcasing a mostly black look with two red streaks across the front. It stands upright with three detachable antennas, a few status lights and an overall compact design. You can't lay it down flat or mount it on a wall, but at 8.6 by 6.3 by 3.3 inches and 1.9 pounds, it can be hidden if you really can't stand to see it.
The back has a power button, reset button, power adapter socket, USB 2.0 port, USB 3.1 Gen 1 port and a helpful LED on/off button. There also is one gigabit WAN port and four gigabit LAN ports, one of which can be used for dual-WAN to connect a second internet connection to your router for better Wi-Fi stability.
The side of the RT-AC86U features a Wi-FI on/off button and a WPS button for quickly connecting new devices. The front LEDs are small and not very distracting. They represent LAN ports 1-4, internet connectivity, 2.4GHz band, 5GHz band and power.
Overall the design is very modern, but like most routers, it probably will stand out if you place it in plain view. My advice, keep it out of sight in a central location of your house.
Intuitive menu that's easily customizable, but only if you want to
I love it when a router menu has lots of customizable features. What I like even more is when a router is easily navigable and even helpful at times. The Asus RT-AC86U is all this and more.
Even the setup process easy. All I had to do was connect it to a modem, connect my laptop to the router, power on the router, enter a PIN, set up the log-in/password for the router and set up the SSIDs/passwords. The firmware is upgraded automatically, and the whole process took about five minutes. Easy.
Mostly. The setup menu was in a foreign language when I received it and I couldn't log in. All I had to do was hold in the reset button for 10 seconds and when it rebooted, I was off and running in English. So, easy fix. Luckily I didn't have to spend months learning a new language.
Bonus: if you sign up for an Asus account through its website, you get 5GB of cloud storage for free. A nice extra if you haven't used Asus products previously.
The ASUSWRT user interface is a beast to behold, as owners of other Asus routers should know. To help out, Asus incorporated a functionality that, when you mouse over a setting, a question mark pops up. When you click the mouse, a dialog box pops up, telling you what the setting does. This is convenient and helpful.
The menu is easy to navigate and has options for pretty much everything you want to customize and more, including adaptive QoS for prioritizing devices, GameBoost to enhancing your gaming experience, and AiProtection for increased network security.
Added security and gaming features are a great bonus
When it comes to specs, the Asus RT-AC86U only lacks tri-band capabilities (that is, not having an extra 5GHz band). The dual-band AC2900 router offers 750Mbps speed on 2.4GHz, 2,167Mbps on 5GHz and a 1.8GHz processor.
MU-MIMO technology allows it to connect to multiple devices and simultaneously provide data streams to each at their top speed. Remember though, that your device needs to have MU-MIMO-capable hardware to take advantage of this feature, which is only available on the 5GHz band.