X

Asus Blue Cave Smart Wi-Fi router review: This stylish router blue away the competition

The Asus Blue Cave smart router is the whole package with style, speed, security and all the customization options you could want, including Amazon Alexa support.

dan-dziedzic
Dan Dziedzic
dan-dziedzic

Dan Dziedzic

Associate editor

Dan has been a professional writer for more than a decade and now specializes in routers and networking devices. Originally from Chicago, IL, Dan studied comedy writing at Second City and worked as a Chicago sports journalist for a number of years. With a background in physics, he spends his spare time learning about the intricacies of the universe.

See full bio
5 min read

If you want a router that has style, speed, security and great Wi-Fi coverage, the Asus Blue Cave AC2600 router is the one you want. At $175 or £180 (which converts to about AU$320), it's affordable and has all the latest 802.11ac features. 

asus-blue-cave-router-product-photos-1
8.8

Asus Blue Cave Smart Wi-Fi router

The Good

Asus' Blue Cave offers top speeds at an affordable price. The menu gives you access to almost every setting imaginable. Free security from Trend Micro provides added peace of mind. Alexa and IFTTT are supported.

The Bad

Network storage transfer speeds were slow. Constantly explaining to friends that it’s actually a router might be annoying.

The Bottom Line

It's a cool looking router with a big, blue-rimmed hole in the middle. It has lots of speed, features and security for an affordable price. The menu and app give you as much control over your network as you want.

It's not average in any way -- especially with a gaping blue hole that lights up in the middle, making it look kind of like a speaker or subwoofer. You'll love the in-depth web interface if you really want to customize your settings, or you can use the Asus Router app to quickly establish a set-it-and-forget-it home network.

Yes, I'll say it: The Blue Cave is the hole package. Oh, there's more where that came from.

Asus gives you the hole package with this stylish router

See all photos

This router's design just blue my mind

The Blue Cave is a small white box with a big, blue-rimmed hole in the middle that lights up. It's a far cry from the alien bug robot designs we've seen throughout the history of routers, but this weird-looking device is interesting enough to be a conversation piece.

It's lightweight and you can place it just about anywhere in your home (especially since you can see right through it). The back is populated with lots of ventilation holes, further adding to its eye-catching nature.

As for function, you get one gigabit WAN port for internet, four gigabit LAN ports for your wired devices and one USB 3.0 port for printers, network storage or charging your mobile devices. There's also a few smaller buttons for WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup), reset and power. Asus did a great job designing a cool-looking device while incorporating all the ports and buttons you need.

The menu is its ace in the hole

Setting up the Blue Cave was easy from either the Asus Router app or its web interface. Just use an Ethernet cable to connect the router to your modem and you're ready to go. Setup should only take a few minutes with either method.

asus-blue-cave-setup-screen

The web interface makes the setup process super easy and the menu has just about every setting you could want.

Asus/Screenshot by Dan Dziedzic/CNET

Now the real fun begins -- that is, if you like to customize every single one of your router settings. The Asus web interface gives you access to all the standard settings, such as changing your Wi-Fi password, setting up a guest Wi-Fi network and rebooting your router, but the advanced settings are insane. If you've used Asus routers before, you should be familiar with the interface. For newbies, get ready to take full control over your home network.

The Blue Cave offers in-depth quality of service (QoS) to prioritize which devices on your network can use the most bandwidth. It has both manual and automatic options for getting the most speed out of everything you own.

There's also AiProtection, which provides easy-to-use parental controls and bonus network security powered by Trend Micro. This free lifetime service detects malware and viruses, conducts a router security assessment, and prevents spam and DDoS attacks. Asus also offers a free one-year subscription for additional antivirus software, which you can install on up to four devices. Look for a postcard included in the retail box.

asus-blue-cave-router-app-menu

The Asus Router app is convenient for people who want a set-it-and-forget-it network.

Dan Dziedzic/CNET

The menu is seemingly endless. Plus the app has all the standard settings, plus some advanced ones for security, USB network storage and parental controls. No matter what your level of networking knowledge, you should be able to get your devices connected without a problem.

Asus gives you its hole bag of tricks

The dual-band AC2600 Blue Cave has all the features you'd expect and more at this price point. It offers theoretical speeds of 800 megabits per second (Mbps) on 2.4GHz and 1,733Mbps on 5GHz. Its 4x4 antennas provide four spatial streams from each one as well as beamforming for fast long-range connections. The only thing missing is MU-MIMO, which would let the router send data to multiple devices at once. Asus said that this feature will be added in June, however.

It has band-steering, which lets the router choose the best network for your devices to connect to, support for IPv6 for added security and you can use it as a wired access point or wireless bridge to extend your network. In July, the Blue Cave will also support AiMesh, which will allow it to wirelessly extend your network by connecting it to other Asus networking devices.

asus-blue-cave-router-product-photos-4

The back features one gigabit WAN port, four gigabit LAN ports, one USB 3.0 port and a whole bunch of ventilation holes.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You can easily use the USB 3.0 port for a printer, a 3G/4G wireless dongle for mobile internet or network storage to backup your data. Management through the web interface for network storage is comprehensive too. It even supports Apple's Time Machine backup.

Want more convenience? The Blue Cave works with Amazon Alexa and IFTTT (If This, Then That) for voice-controlled and automated smart features. Right now, Alexa can turn your guest Wi-Fi network on or off, pause your internet, reboot the router, turn on various network prioritization modes, check for firmware upgrades and connect new devices.

A deep blue sea of Wi-Fi

For something that looks like a square doughnut, it provides excellent speed and coverage. On 2.4GHz, it performed at more than 165Mbps from 50 feet (15 meters) and two rooms away. This is the fastest speed I've seen at that distance in CNET's Smart Home. That means you should get good coverage in a medium to large home.

2.4GHz Wi-Fi Performance

Linksys WRT32X AC3200 172 165 152TP-Link Archer C3150 V2 AC3150 163 163 160Asus RT-AC86U AC2900 142 169 143D-Link DIR-882 AC2600 165 164 164Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 167 166 158Netgear XR500 AC2600 166 158 153Norton Core AC2600 168 142 112Asus Blue Cave AC2600 168 166 165TP-Link Archer C2300 AC2300 125 128 114D-Link DIR-867 AC1750 163 156 139
  • 7 feet
  • 25 feet
  • 50 feet
Note: All speeds in megabits per second (Mbps)

The Blue Cave didn't disappoint on 5GHz either. It topped out at 902Mbps at close range, giving hope to the growing population of fiber internet customers.

5GHz Wi-Fi Performance

Linksys WRT32X AC3200 770 370 116TP-Link Archer C3150 AC3150 897 529 274Asus RT-AC86U AC2900 938 567 293D-Link DIR-882 AC2600 927 568 283Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 703 300 98Netgear XR500 AC2600 772 530 224Norton Core AC2600 866 431 151Asus Blue Cave AC2600 902 558 218TP-Link Archer C2300 AC2300 733 407 239D-Link DIR-867 AC1750 802 403 209
  • 7 feet
  • 25 feet
  • 50 feet
Note: All speeds in megabits per second (Mbps)

The only complaint I have about the Blue Cave is that its network storage speeds were near the worst I've seen. I tested the USB 3.0 port with an ADATA SD700 256GB external solid-state drive, downloading and uploading 1GB and 2GB test files. Check out the results compared to other routers I've recently tested.

USB Network Storage Performance

TP-Link Archer C3150 AC3150 9.73 11.10 17.57 15.28Netgear XR500 AC2600 14.66 18.96 49.34 30.80Phicomm K3 AC3150 10.09 17.82 10.75 15.17Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600 11.74 9.31 18.38 12.53Asus Blue Cave AC2600 6.89 5.60 14.42 9.68
  • 2.4GHz Download
  • 2.4GHz Upload
  • 5GHz Download
  • 5GHz Upload
Note: All speeds in megabytes per second (MBps)

Should you buy one?

The Blue Cave intrigued me with its cerulean vortex and surprised me with its plethora of features and lightning-fast speed. Its menu might be overwhelming for many people, but the app is much more manageable. I'll take too many options over not enough any day -- the default settings should work just fine in most medium to large homes. The extra security from AiProtection is another standout feature that makes this router worth $175. I'd definitely recommend the Blue Cave to anyone who wants style, speed and security from their hole home network. OK, I'm done now.

Asus Blue Cave specs

Brand AsusModelBlue Cave
IEEE 802.11 Standard a/b/g/n/acClassAC2600
Speed (Mbps) 2,600 (800+1,733)CPU ProcessorDual core 800MHz
Frequency Dual band (2.4GHz+5GHz)RAM Memory512MB
Ethernet Ports 1 Gigabit WAN; 4 Gigabit LANFlash Memory128MB
USB Ports 1 USB 3.0Guest Wi-FiYes
Antennas 4 InternalParental ControlsYes
Spatial Streams 4 (2.4GHz); 4 (5GHz)MU-MIMONo (available June 2018)
Modulation 256-QAM 5/6BeamformingYes
Security WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Enterprise, WPS support, Firewall with SPI intrusion detection and DoS protection, AiProtection SetupApp or Browser
Size (in) 6.3 by 6.3 by 1.5Weight (lbs)1.8
asus-blue-cave-router-product-photos-1
8.8

Asus Blue Cave Smart Wi-Fi router

Score Breakdown

Setup 9Features 9Performance 8.5
laptop
Get the best price on everything
Shop your favorite products and we’ll find the best deal with a single click. Designed to make shopping easier.
Add CNET Shopping