Asus leads the charge to 802.11ax networking with new routers

We’ve been hearing murmurs of coming 802.11ax gear since last fall. This latest iteration of the 802.11 wireless networking standard, also known as ‘High Efficiency Wireless,’ promises faster throughput, with extended range compared to the current 802.11ac standard, and is specifically targeting congested wireless environments that can bring current gear to its knees. At Computex today, Asus announced new router gear that supports the current iteration of 802.11ax, which is a draft version expected to be finalized next year.

While the current 802.11ac standard tops out at 1.3 Gbps, this next generation of wireless, 802.11ax, is promising a significant jump of throughput to 3.5 Gbps. Kicking it up even a notch further, 802.11ax can also bond up to four streams together via multiplexing technology similar to cellular LTE tech, to top out at an amazing 14 Gbps in the final standard. 

All of the new gear introduced will support Asus' current AiMesh extender technology, although only the AX1600 model will do this out of the box, while the others will require a later firmware upgrade to enable AiMesh support.

Asus’ new flagship router is the Republic of Gamer’s Rapture GT-AX11000, which Asus calls the “world’s first tri-band 802.11ax router.” You'll find it in our guide to the best gaming router options for 2018. Similar to the current flagship router, the GT-AX11000 has three bands, with the 2.4 GHz having throughput of 1148 Mbps, and dual 5 GHz bands having a throughput of 4804 Gbps each (total router throughput of nearly 11,000 Mbps), with one 5 GHz band available to be solely dedicated for gaming network traffic.

Asus is also upgrading the wired port from the current 1 Gig Ethernet to 2.5 Gbps port for a faster wired connection. Finally, it will also feature Game Boost adaptive QoS to be able to prioritize gaming traffic.

Another product, the AX6100 WiFi System, also features 802.11ax technology. This is a two part kit that includes a router, as well as an extender in the box. The router is also a tri-band solution, albeit with less total throughput of 6100 Mbps than their ROG flagship router above. It will also be compatible to further extend the network with other AiMesh gear.

The final piece of 802.11ax gear Asus showed off is the RT-AX88U router, which is dual band, with 2.4 GHz throughput of 1148 Mbps, and a single 5 GHz band throughput of 4804 Mbps. It includes an integrated Ethernet switch with eight 1 Gbps Ethernet ports for attaching peripherals like shared storage or printers. This router will also have dual USB 3.1 ports, and a quad-core processor.

Pricing for this gear isn't available yet, but it shouldn't take too long. It should be out in Q3. 802.11ax laptops, smartphones, and other peripherals are likely not going to start arriving until 2019 or even later, but it'll be interesting to see how much 802.11ax's increased power improves range and speed for our existing wireless hardware.