ASUS RT-AC86U Review

Introduction
A surprise gift from GearBest. I was not expecting ASUS RT-AC86U AC2900 Dual-Band Gigabit Wi-Fi Router with MU-MIMO at all. In short, ASUS RT-AC86U is the replacement for the popular ASUS RT-AC68U that serve me well for past 3 years. Loaded with built-in WTFast, faster AC2900 speeds boosted with NitroQAM, MU-MIMO, 256MB flash, 512MB RAM and newer PC-grade 1.8GHz dual-core processor. How does it perform compare to older RT-AC68U? Let’s find out…

Special Thanks
This review is possible thanks to below companies. Be sure to check them out…

Package Content
My ASUS RT-AC86U is China version as you can see. Well protected as well. In short, it shares the same packaging as my existing RT-AC68U. Once taken out RT-AC86U, you can find 3 detachable antennas, 19 V with max. 1.75 A power adaptor (US plug), RJ-45 cable, warranty info and quick start guide (in Chinese). No worry, you can download both English quick start guide and user manual at ASUS Website.

Build quality & Design
If you own / seen ASUS RT-AC68U previously, then you will familiar with RT-AC86U too. Basically, they are the same in shape and design. RT-AC86U has cooler and simpler cyber design at front while RT-AC68U has stylish diamond pattern design. By the way, RT-AC86U is a bit heavier at 872g. Having LED light indicators for 4 LAN ports, Internet WAN, 2.4GHz & 5GHz Wi-Fi and power status. Missing USB ports status from RT-AC68U. That’s the major different. The rest are the same.

At back, there are reset button, power button, DC input, USB 2.0, USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, WAN port, LED on/off switch and 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports. By the way, the back ASUS panel does not lit up anymore too (if you care about lighting effect).

Wi-Fi on/off and WPS buttons are located at the right as usual.

3 antenna jacks on top for detachable antennas. And another internal 3dBi antenna hidden inside for 5 GHz 4 x 4 connection.

Finally, there are 2 long anti-skid pads at bottom to provide stability.

Installation
Mine is China version as you know. Therefore, the web interface is in Chinese by default. No worry, you can select the language that you prefer. ASUS Router firmware is loaded with multiple languages for all the users in the world. There are English, Japanese, and a lot more Europe countries’ languages that I don’t know. As for installation, it is pretty straight forward. Basically, you need to connect cable/DSL modem Internet cable to WAN port. Setup router login name and password. Then Internet setup. Follow by router configuration – network name (SSID) and password for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz. That’s it. You can start using ASUS RT-AC86U wireless router to access Internet now.

Software
ASUS wireless router’s web and mobile interfaces are the same among these 2 routers. Yup, not a stranger to me since I am using it for the past 3 years. Not an IT expert, no worry, you can start using ASUS RT-AC86U after completed installation setup. However, if you want to get all the features out of it, this is the place that you need to spend time on. By the way, do download and read the online user manual in order to know all of the functions. As usual, ASUSWRT user interface has more stuffs and details than the mobile app – ASUS Router. In short, mobile app covers the essential stuffs while web interface has all including the advanced stuffs.

ASUS RT-AC86U Wi-Fi Router is loaded with lot of goodies and useful features. There are AiProtection with Trend Micro, Adaptive QoS, Traffic Analyzer, Game Boost (WTFast – Gamers Private Network_, USB applications like AiDisk, UPnP, iTunes, FTP, Samba, 4G modem, Android phone as a USB modem, Apple Time Machine, Download Master for BT torrent files and AiCloud 2.0. Advanced settings like IPv6, VPN and firewall can be setup as well. Can’t cover all of them one by one in details here. So do check them out at ASUS Website. By the way, IPTV is supported. A great news for Malaysia users’ with Maxis, UniFi and Singaporeans with Singtel and M1.

Performance Result
Err… Wireless range is not better / on par than existing ASUS RT-AC68U? Yes, that’s the case for the new ASUS RT-AC86U Wi-Fi Router. Run lot of tests on different locations, both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless range does a bit shorter than previous one. Little bit disappointed no doubt with 4 dBm shorter. As usual, both of them are placed at the same spot on 1st floor. And screenshots below were taken while I was on ground floor. Note – Jayce-ASUS == RT-AC68U. Anyhow, it still can cover whole double storey house easily with 2.4GHz. 5GHz good for half the coverage as usual.

On the bright side, ASUS RT-AC86U has better wireless transfer rate ~ around 20 Mbit/s more than RT-AC68U based on iPerf3 tests. Yes even with shorter range, RT-AC86U has more throughput at the same location. That’s great as long as it is within wireless coverage range. Therefore, on actual usage, RT-AC86U does perform slightly better no doubt. As for LAN, it performs at maximum speed that my devices support @ 960 Mbit/s.

You can throw away your network-attached storage (NAS) now. Yes, just plug in a normal USB 3.0 hard drive will do. You will get NAS alike performance with ASUS RT-AC86U. Constant reading at 110MB/s and more than 100MB/s while writing. A huge improvement when compere to RT-AC68U with around 40MB/s only. Of course, that’s the result from LAN connection. Wireless transfer will be limited by wireless devices themselves.

ASUS RT-AC86U supports Wireless router, repeater, Access Point (AP) and media bridge modes. And lot of other useful features that I mentioned previously. Overall, RT-AC86U does performs faster with new 1.8 GHz dual-core processor, more RAM and storage. I hate to reboot previous RT-AC68U router when applying settings as it needs take around 2 minutes plus to do so. Guess what? RT-AC86U does it within 40 seconds. Serving 10+ devices smoothly with MU-MIMO support are piece of cake for it. Does not slow down at all when someone is transferring file to/fro USB hard drive. Yes, I am getting the lowest latency on online games like Mobile Legend thanks to Adaptive QoS. WTFast will improve more when your games are supported.

Complaints? Yes, the current firmware is not 100% stable (as expected). ASUS RT-AC86U performs well daily without the need of rebooting. However, it started to act weird when you touch on the USB drive’s functions especially Download Manager. File failed to download by itself by went missing. You can’t load Download Manager then. Can’t access SAMBA drive and main RT-AC86U interface sometime too. Anyway, all of these issues will be fixed ASUS for sure. Why? RT-AC68U is still getting firmware upgrade on improvements until now. RT-AC86U will get the same treatment as well. Furthermore, it will be getting Asuswrt-merlin custom firmware anytime soon too.

Update – Above issue had been solved on ASUS RT-AC86U Firmware version 3.0.0.4.382.16466. Stable for everyday use as I am using it now. Sometime, its wireless range performance is slightly better than RT-AC68U.

Advantages

  • 4Γ—4 MU-MIMO 802.11ac
  • Support up to 2900Mbps & Gigabit Ethernet
  • 110MB/s USB 3.0 HDD transfer speed
  • Packed with lot features
  • Built-in download manager
  • Top-notch build quality
  • Multiple languages support
  • 3 years warranty

Limitations

  • Firmware needs improvements

Conclusion
ASUS RT-AC86U is a feature-packed advanced wireless router with excellent performance no doubt. Enjoy 4Γ—4 MU-MIMO 802.11ac and NAS alike 110MB/s transfer rate. Great wireless range that suitable for both home and office. Don’t forget that it is loaded with lot of useful features too. Worry free with 3 years warranty. Interested? More information can be found at ASUS Website. And get yours at GearBest Website @ $179.99 with GBA86U discount code.

P/S – ASUS RT-AC86U is my current wireless router at home now. Highly recommended!

  • KH Tan

    How do you find ASUS DSL-AC52U?
    In your opinion, TP-Link, DLink and ASUS, which one better?
    Thanks!

    • Didn’t try DSL-AC52U before. No idea.

      Personally, I prefer ASUS due to its features. Download Master to download BT files is a must for me. Pick the one where features suit you most. πŸ™‚

      • KH Tan

        Looking for dual band and capable for both streamyx and Unifi (or equivalent). Now using streamyx. Mainly on streaming with TVBOX, Web browsing, email, etc and connect to at least 10 devices at peak hours.
        Was recommended DSL-AC52U but a bit expensive to me. However base on want I mentioned above, this is the price to pay I guess. The shop said TPLINK and DLINK not as good as Asus.
        Your opinion?

        • Keep your existing Streamyx modem. Add another router like RT-AC1200 with 2T2R instead of DSL-AC52U with modem. You don’t need DSL modem anymore when use UniFi (or other for future upgrade). Better performance at same price range.

          Personally, I prefer ASUS > TP-Link > D-Link.

          • KH Tan

            Oh! So Unifi or Maxis can’t use same modem? They claim AC52U supports both Streamyx and Unifi/Maxis Fiber.
            You suggest is to use router on top of Streamyx ADSL WiFi to enhance the performance?
            What’s 2T2R?
            Any idea if the price of RT-AC1200?
            Thanks!

            • Streamyx uses ADSL modem. UniFi / Maxis uses BTU. DSL-AC52U can be used with UniFi but only router function is working. DSL part is not. No point to invest on that.

              Yes, TM bundled wireless router performance is poor as known. Buy own better one.

              2T2R – 300Mbps for 2.4GHz and 867Mbps for 5GHz

              Gearbest is selling ASUS RT-AC1200 @ $45.99. Asus Malaysia always sell much more expensive. πŸ˜›
              https://goo.gl/ND1j8M

              • KH Tan

                Thanks for prompt respond.
                Just to recap my understanding. You recommend to use RT-AC1200 as router and original streamy ADSL as modem.
                However need guidance on how to do so!
                If buy from Gearbest, how about warranty claim?
                Interface in Chinese?
                Also, mine to share you contact so that I can chat with you on WhatsApp or Line?

                • KH Tan

                  Notice also RT-AC1200G and RT-AC1200G+. Do you know what’s the difference with RT-AC1200? Which one is latest? Can’t find it from Asus website.

                • Sorry for late reply. Was out today. πŸ™‚

                  Yes, that’s is correct. Use modem to dial Streamyx. Connect cable from modem LAN port to router WAN port. Setup router as above guide.

                  https://www.gearbest.com/about/warranty-and-return.html

                  ASUS router firmware is global version with multi languages.

                  Prefer to guide you here. So that others can learn as well. πŸ˜€

  • LukΓ‘Ε‘ Kos

    Hi, HDD was formatted with FAT32 or NTFS?
    Moving files to the SSD (plugged into usb 3.0 in router) can be faster with WiFi
    (WiFi max.362,5MB/s or 2900Mbps/s,SSD over 500MB/s) than over LAN (max. 125MB/s) connection?
    Transfer over WiFi to SSD in real world be about 300MB/s or lower?
    Thanks

    • Tested SSD and HDD on NTFS and EXT4. File transfer rate is limited by LAN and Wi-Fi. Wireless transfer rate will depend on your mobile devices.

      • LukΓ‘Ε‘ Kos

        Okay, I’m choosing between ASUS RT-AC86U and Linksys EA9300 AC4000.
        Linksys has better WiFi,2x usb3 ports but cost 100$ more.
        My phone is Sony XZ Premium.

        • Personally, I prefer 4×4 AC than tri-band. πŸ™‚

  • Zulkifly Muhd Nor

    Hi Jayce, I’ve been reading that Asus AC68U and AC88U

    • Hi Zulkifly, this is the first time I heard 5 GHz issue on ASUS router. Both of my AC68U and AC86U do not have this issue. In fact, I use 5 GHz on my WiFi AC devices (PC, smartphone, TV Box) daily basis. All of them perform flawlessly…

      As for warranty, please refer this guide – http://www.jayceooi.com/buy-gearbest-products-malaysia/

      P/S – if you plan to buy, do use this my affiliate link – https://goo.gl/oAqKGi. $175.99 with free shipping now. Thanks. πŸ™‚

      • Zulkifly Muhd Nor

        Regarding the 5ghz band issues, yes it has been dicussed on many router forums but prominently on AC88U, but again I believe it must have been bad manufacturing batch.

        Anyway, I’ve already place my order on GearBest as they are currently on flash sales. Too bad I read your reply a bit late though and didn’t use your link. Can’t wait to receive it hopefully by next week. Thanks for the tips on warranty guide πŸ˜‰

        • Arr… Too bad. Can’t earn some commission here. Remember to use my link on next purchase. TQ πŸ˜‰

          Anyway, you are most welcome. And enjoy your AC86U. πŸ™‚

  • yc

    Hi, is it worth to invest from Asus Ac55UHP to Asus Ac86u ?

    • That will depend on your needs. AC86U provides 4×4 802.11ac, crazy fast USB 110MB/s transfer rate… And I believe AC86U will have better transfer throughput on the same range with much powerful CPU.

      If got budget == go for it. πŸ™‚