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

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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.

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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

Legend:

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

Legend:

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
15.28
Netgear XR500 AC2600
14.66
18.96
49.34
30.80
Phicomm K3 AC3150
10.09
17.82
10.75
15.17
Zyxel Armor Z2 AC2600
11.74
9.31
18.38
12.53
Asus Blue Cave AC2600
6.89
5.60
14.42
9.68

Legend:

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 Asus Model Blue Cave
IEEE 802.11 Standard a/b/g/n/ac Class AC2600
Speed (Mbps) 2,600 (800+1,733) CPU Processor Dual core 800MHz
Frequency Dual band (2.4GHz+5GHz) RAM Memory 512MB
Ethernet Ports 1 Gigabit WAN; 4 Gigabit LAN Flash Memory 128MB
USB Ports 1 USB 3.0 Guest Wi-Fi Yes
Antennas 4 Internal Parental Controls Yes
Spatial Streams 4 (2.4GHz); 4 (5GHz) MU-MIMO No (available June 2018)
Modulation 256-QAM 5/6 Beamforming Yes
Security WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Enterprise, WPS support, Firewall with SPI intrusion detection and DoS protection, AiProtection Setup App or Browser
Size (in) 6.3 by 6.3 by 1.5 Weight (lbs) 1.8