Asus has announced their latest beast of an AC Router, the AC-5300. This titan is absolutely no joke on paper. Of course, real world practical use cases are almost always different. We were afraid this would be another case of Asus manufacturing a Tri-Band router that just doesn't hold up to speeds of the still exceptional and class leading, mid-range RT-AC68 that we still love and use here. However, ITWire got their hands on this monster and tested it out, and found it to be the new gold standard in gaming/streaming media router.
So what do you get for your $460? (Yes, I said $460) Ouch!
- Ultra-fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi router with a combined tri-band data rate of 5334 Mbps for low latency online gaming, smooth 4K streaming and extremely fast file-sharing.
- Broadcom® NitroQAMTMtechnology boosts two 5 GHz data rates up to 4334 Mbps and2.4 GHzup to 1000 Mbps.
- Tri-Band with multiple devices connected at the same time.
- Tri-Band Smart Connect automatically selects the fastest of the three available frequency bands for each device, based on the device’s speed, signal strength and how busy each band is.
- 4x4 antenna design with AiRadar universal beamforming for unbeatable wireless signal coverage
- Link aggregation supports close to 2 Gbps wired transmission for more devices to enjoy faster access speed.
- Multiple capacity Wi-Fi with revolutionary MU-MIMO technology.
- AiProtection with Trend MicroTMwith triple-strength total network security, plus robust parental controls and privacy protection.
AC routers have two bands – 2.4GHz and 5GHz. The former has three non-overlapping channelsand the later 23, so it is faster but contrary to belief has a shorter range and cannot easily penetrate solid objects like walls and floors.
This router has an extra 5GHz band - a ‘spare’ that you can chose to separate out bandwidth intensive hogs like games consoles or streaming video. With the number of connected devices on the increase, this alone could make a significant difference in the quality of your Wi-Fi signal.
The AC-5300 ‘speed’ comes from having three separate bands and while it can claim a speed record few end point devices support the newer proprietary Broadcom Nitro- QAM (1024-QAM Quadrature amplitude modulation) – in other words is it is a theoretical speed comprising:
- 2.4GHZ QAM 1000 Mbps (Wi-Fi N 600 Mbps)
- 5.00GHz - 1 QAM 2167 (Wi-Fi AC 1734Mbps)
- 5.00 GHz - 2QAM 2167 (ditto)
If you have an older single band 2.4GHz endpoint, then the best you will get is 600Mbps. If you have a dual-band you may get 600-1734Mbps. And to be clear – there is no Wi-Fi Link aggregation (yet) that can give you 5300Mbps speeds from an end-point to the router.
Out of the box
You get a largish black router – 245 x 245 x 65mm weighing about 2kg, eight screw-in antennas, a 19V, 3.42A power pack and a short Ethernet cable.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – it is big and Star Wars Tie Interceptor shaped. Unless you are Darth Vader it is probably not a good lounge centrepiece. It is wall mountable but I suggest not – find a flat surface close to the centre of all your major computing needs and near the existing gateway/modem. The antennas need to be vertical – during the test laying them out like a starfish reduced performance.
The eight antennas allow for four to transmit and four to receive. This also allows multi-user, multiple input, multiple output (MU-MIMO) that gives compatible MI-MIMO devices thier own dedicated full-speed Wi-Fi connection – they can connect at the same time without slowing down the Wi-Fi network unlike standard MIMO where only one device at a time can connect via a time share/splice system. There are not a lot of MU-MIMO endpoints yet to use this feature.
The router has four Gigabit Ethernet ports (1000Gbps), a USB 3.0 port, a USB 2.0 port and an Ethernet WAN port as it does not have an inbuilt modem. This is important as you must already have a cable gateway, NBN or ADSL modem.
It is not cheap but it is very good with maximum future-proof features. It offers that extra 5GHz band that in large homes with large families and lots of devices will make a difference – if you have the internet speed to support it. But in any case if you don’t have a Wi-Fi AC router then get one!
Its gets my recommendation for gamers, video/audio streamers, and those who know how to use all its features – as long as money is not the object.