Whether you’re into online gaming, 4K video streaming, or perhaps want a robust MU-MIMO-enabled router which will keep your network and clients safe, the Asus RT-AC86U ($199.99) will suit you perfectly. This AC2900 dual band router delivered solid throughput inside our performance tests and will be offering embedded network protection against malware and questionable content. In addition, it gives you multiple methods to make sure that your web games get the network priority necessary for a smooth gaming experience, and it offers robust parental controls in a user-friendly management console. It’s our new Editors’ Choice for midrange routers.

Refreshing Design
Without quite as flashy as the pyramid-shaped D-Link AC3150 Ultra Wi-Fi Router DIR-885L/R, the RT-AC86U’s black and red colorization scheme and angular design give you a refreshing change from the normal uninspired black box design that you will get with most routers. My only gripe with this design is due to physical placement: The router is permanently mounted on a wedge-shaped stand that will require that the router operate vertically, this means it can’t be wall mounted or located in a rack configuration. Three removable adjustable antennas protrude from the most notable of these devices and there are eight LED indicators on leading for power, WPS, Wi-Fi (both bands), LAN (four ports), and WAN activity. Around back are four gigabit LAN ports, a WAN port, a USB 2 port, a USB 3.1 port, and power, LED On/Off, and Reset buttons. On the proper side of the router you’ll discover a WPS button and a Wi-Fi On/Off button.

The RT-AC86U is a 4×4 AC2900 router powered by a 1.8GHz dual-core CPU and 512MB of RAM. It uses NitroQAM (1024-QAM) modulation technology to provide potential throughput speeds as high as 750Mbps on the two 2.4GHz band and 2167Mbps on the 5GHz band and supports Multi User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) data streaming, which offers data to compatible clients simultaneously instead of sequentially, and Beamforming, which sends data right to clients instead of over a wide spectrum.

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The RT-AC86U uses the same web-based management console and mobile software used to regulate the RT-AC88U that people reviewed some time back. The net console opens to a network map that presents all linked clients, your web and security status, and Wi-Fi information for each and every band.

On the left is a menu containing General and Advanced settings. General settings include Guest networking, a Traffic Analyzer, USB storage settings, AiCloud settings that enable you to setup your own cloud server, Adaptive QoS with manual and computerized bandwidth limiting and application-specific prioritization, and Game Boost, gives you usage of WTFast routing technology and the Gamers Private Network to supply optimal bandwidth for WTFast-enabled games. The RT-AC86U uses Trend Micro’s AiProtection software to block usage of malicious sites, find viruses, and apply Parental Controls such as for example blocking adult-oriented sites, restricting usage of social media sites, and blocking streaming media and entertainment content.

In the Advanced settings menu you can adapt wireless security, channel width, and SSID settings together with professional settings such as for example Beacon Intervals, RTS Thresholds, Airtime Fairness, and Multicast rates. Here you may also permit or disable MU-MIMO and Beamforming. Other Advanced settings include LAN, WAN, and Firewall controls along with VPN Server and VPN Client settings. In the Administration controls menu you can configure the RT-AC86U to do something as a router, a media bridge, an access point, or a repeater, and update the firmware.

Easy Installation, Solid Performance
Installing the RT-AC86U is fast and simple. I linked the router to my cable modem also to my desktop computer, opened a browser, and typed http://router.asus.com in the address bar. This launched the Setup wizard, which walked me through the web and wireless process. Also you can miss the wizard and configure these settings manually if you like. I then waited a couple of minutes as the router updated its firmware.

OBSERVE HOW We Test Wireless Routers

The RT-AC86U turned in impressive scores on our throughput performance tests. Its score of 104Mbps on the two 2.4GHz close-proximity (same room) test was slightly faster compared to the D-Link DIR-885L/R and the Synology RT2600ac, however, not quite as fast as the Linksys WRT32X. At 30 feet, the RT-AC86U managed 86Mbps, tying the Linksys WRT32X and beating the D-Link DIR-885L/R and Synology RT2600ac, only if by a hair.

The RT-AC86U’s 5GHz performance was also solid. Its score of 550Mbps on the close-proximity test beat the Linkys WRT32X and the Synology RT2600ac, but came up a lttle bit short against the D-Link DIR-885L/R. Results were similar on the 30-foot test: Its score of 300Mbps beat the Linksys WRT32X and the Synology RT2600ac, however, not the D-Link DIR-885L/R.

To check MU-MIMO throughput performance, we use three identical Acer Aspire R13 laptops built with Qualcomm’s QCA61x4A MU-MIMO circuitry. The Asus RT-AC86U delivered 178Mbps on the close-proximity test, edging at night Linksys WRT32X and the Synology RT2600ac, however, not the D-Link DIR-885L/R. At 30 feet, the RT-AC86U garnered 150Mbps, once more besting the Linksys WRT32X and the Synology RT2600ac, but trailing the D-Link DIR-885L/R.

File-transfer performance, where we move a 1.5GB folder containing a variety of music, video, photo, and document files, was middling. The RT-AC86U’s read speed of 38.4MBps trailed the Linksys WRT32X (48MBps) and the D-Link Dir-885L/R (44.1MBps), but was somewhat faster compared to the Synology RT2600ac (34.2MBps). The RT-AC86U’s write speed of 30.7MBps trailed the D-Link DIR-885L/R (33.2MBps) and the Synology RT2600ac (32.6MBps) by a tiny margin and was substantially slower compared to the Linksys WRT32X (76.8MBps).

Feature-Packed and High-Performing
There’s too much to like about the Asus RT-AC86U. Not only is it simple to install and configure, it delivered good all-around throughput performance inside our tests and comes bundled with a small number of useful tools for optimized performance, including embedded support for WTFast game acceleration and Adaptive QoS bandwidth prioritization. Built-in Trend Micro protection against malicious intrusions, viruses, and infected clients could keep your network in top working order, and robust parental controls will prevent family and guests from accessing undesirable sites and content. The router’s vertical mounting stand limits where one can locate it, and its own file transfer speeds were merely average, but neither gripe prevents the RT-AC86U from garnering our Editors’ Choice for midrange routers.

If you execute a large amount of online gaming with a Killer Network-enabled gaming rig, the Linksys WRT32X can be a good choice, since it offers computerized prioritization for Killer Network systems, nonetheless it can cost you about $100 more and lacks the built-in Trend Micro network protection that you will get with the RT-AC86U. The D-Link AC3150 Ultra Wi-Fi Router DIR-885L/R (also an Editors’ Choice winner) offers class-leading 5GHz and MU-MIMO performance together with drag-and-drop QoS settings, nonetheless it too lacks the RT-AC86U’s built-in network protection and costs about $80 more.