Editor's note: This post was updated on December 27, 2015 to add information about the router's performance.
If you think the Asus RT-AC3200 is overkill, you have no idea. The networking vendor has just made available another with much higher Wi-Fi specs than its older brother, the RT-AC5300.
Similar to the RT-AC3200, the RT-AC5300 is also a tri-band router. It has three Wi-Fi bands: one on the 2.4GHz band and two on 5GHz. However, as it has Broadcom's latest Wi-Fi chip, each of its bands has much higher bandwidth.
Specifically on the 2.4GHz band, the RT-AC5300 has a top Wi-Fi speed of up to 1,000Mbps, and on the 5GHz, each of the two bands has a top speed of 2,167Mbps. Combining those, the router has a total Wi-Fi bandwidth of some 5,300Mbps at any given time.
Obviously this is only the speed on the paper. The real-world performance of the router will also depend on the Wi-Fi specs of the clients (devices such as laptops, tablets, phones and so on) and will likely be much lower due to other factors, such as range, interference and software/hardware overheads. However, generally, higher Wi-Fi specs tend to deliver higher real-world performance, so the RT-AC5300 is definitely exciting.
Update: In preliminary tests, the RT-AC5300 proved to be essentially the same as Asus' RT-AC88U (of which the full review can be found here) with two main differences. While the RT-AC88U is a dual-band router with eight Gigabit LAN ports, the RT-AC5300 is a tri-band router with just four Gigabit LAN port. Other than that, the two routers share the same performance and feature set, including the support for a built-in WTFast client. This means, pricing aside, the only time you should pick the RT-AC5300 over the RT-AC88U is when need to support a lot (10 or more) concurrent active 5Ghz Wi-Fi clients at a time. In this case, thanks to the extra 5Ghz band, the RT-AC5300 can handle all clients better without slowing any of them down. Otherwise, chances are you won't see any difference between the two at all in terms of networking experience.
The RT-AC5300 will support all existing Wi-Fi clients, including those using the obsolete 802.11b standard. To get the most benefit from it, however, the clients need to support 802.11ac and better yet the same performance tier that the router has.
|Chipset||BCM4709+BCM4366 (2.4GHz) + 2 x BCM4366 (5GHz)|
|Memory||128MB of flash and 256MB of DDR 3 RAM|
|Antenna||8 x external dual-band detachable antennas|
|Operating frequency||2.4GHz and 5GHz (concurrent)|
|Data Rate||802.11b: up to 11Mbps | 802.11a/g: up to 54Mbps | 802.11n: up to 600Mbps | NitroQAM (2.4GHz): up to 1,000Mbps | 802.11ac (5GHz): up to 2,167Mbps.|
|Interface stype||1 x Gigabit WAN port, 4 x Gigabit LAN ports, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port|
|Features||ASUS WRT firmware, AiCloud, AiProtection, WTFast client, High-power mode, Download master application, Dual-WAN, Port Aggregation, VPN server, Guest network, DLNA server, Automatic IP, Static IP, PPPoE (MPPE support), PPTP, L2TP, IPv4, IPv6.|
Asus says the new router comes with eight dual-band detachable antennas, which is the highest number of external antennas on a home router to date. The router also has two USB ports (one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0) to host a printer and an external hard drive. You can also use these ports to host a cellular dongle in case you want to share a 3G or 4G connection with the rest of the local network. Though the router is quite big, it still has the usual four Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port.
Similar to recent Asus routers, such as the RT-AC3200 and the RT-AC87U, the new RT-AC5300 will feature an easy-to-use interface and will support Asus' AiProtection network security services designed to keep the local network safe from online threats.
In all, this is a monster of a router that's overkill for most homes. But if you're on the market for a top-notch router, or if you have lots of 5Ghz Wi-Fi clients that need to perform intensive networking applications on wireless, the RT-AC5300 is actually worth its hefty cost of $400 (converts roughly to £270 in the UK and AU$550 in Australia).