Another significant improvement over the last gen is the Target Wake Time (TWT) feature which has the role of creating a scheduled wake time for each client based on the expected traffic, therefore conserving the battery life for 802.11ax IoT client devices (this is going to be useful only if the manufacturers aren’t requesting tons of info continuously from their devices, as they usually do) – one issue with the implementation of this feature on the RT-AX58U is that a laptop that’s not connected to a power source, will have its bandwidth severely limited (even if you disable this feature in the interface). Lastly, I have to mention the support for AiMesh, a technology that allows multiple compatible ASUS routers to interconnect and create a mesh network (just like the Google WiFi, Eero WiFi or Netgear Orbi). I have tested AiMesh using an Asus RT-AC68U and an Asus RT-AC86U and the results weren’t that great (I also had some problems getting the two device to work together), but the RT-AC68U is old hardware and I assume that the RT-AX58U will work a lot better with the RT-AC86U (I will test this config soon).
That being said, the AiMesh does function in a similar manner to the other proprietary implementations, allowing the creation of optimized paths between multiple nodes (the routers) and one of the most important characteristics is the self-healing ability, which, in case a node fails, re-routes the data through the closest and least congested node available (this property can be seen in action when there are more than two nodes connected). There is also the Ethernet Backhaul which can make a difference for a dual-band mesh system – the bandwidth is less affected than when it has to handle both the inter-node communication and the client connection. It’s worth mentioning that the router makes use of Roaming Assist to drop the connection in case the RSSI falls below a certain threshold and there’s support for Smart Connect.
UPDATE 03.22.2020: This is the second time I fully test the Asus RT-AX58U and the first time I tested it, I used a client equipped with an Asus PCE-AC88 and the throughput was not stable – it would run up to 800+ Mbps and then I noticed that it would sometimes fall underneath 100 Mbps and then back up (5GHz, on either 80 or 160MHz). For this reason, I decided to run this test for multiple hours throughout the last week and indeed, the router struggles keeping a constant throughput, delivering a pathetic average of about 200 Mbps when it was positioned near the antenna (if I increase the distance, the speed falls even lower). This results have been replicated using a PCE-AC68.
Note: What’s interesting is that I have also tested the Netgear AX3000 and saw a similar performance dip when using the Asus PCE-AC88 or the PCE-AC68, but the strange thing is that I tried the same test with a Lenovo Y520 as the client (which is equipped with an Intel 8265 WiFi card) and a MacBook Pro which has the same Broadcom 4360 as the aforementioned Asus WiFi adapters, so I suspect that the issue is Asus RT-AX58U which needs a compatibility patch for its own PCI-e AC WiFi cards.
The testing methodology for the Asus RT-AX58U is a bit difficult due to the OFDMA which increases the available bandwidth but, since I have a TP-Link TX3000E AX3000 adapter, it should be able to push this router to its limits, well, kind off, since the limit is the Gigabit port. I know that the AX-compatible devices are far from already being widespread (there are barely any – mainly some new flagship smartphones and some expensive laptops), so you’re most likely going to use the router with an AC (or even N) wireless client anyway – at least for a while. That being said, I have used one computer with a Gigabit port which is connected directly to the RT-AX58U via a CAT6 cable (this is the server device – so, from the get-go, it’s impossible for it to go over 1Gbps) and another computer equipped with the TP-Link TX3000E WiFi adapter (the client).
The PCE-AC88 is not the best available adapter anymore, since ASUS has released the PCE-AX58BT (includes Bluetooth 5.0!), but TP-Link went ahead and released its own AX3000 WiFi adapter having all the features of the Asus AX3000, but, for now, at a better price. That being said, I connected the two devices to the router (5GHz band, 80MHz, OFDMA enabled) and, from the client to the server, at 5 feet, I measured an average of 820 Mbps and moving the client at about 15 feet, I got around 711 Mbps; at 30 feet, the speed decreased to 330 Mbps, which confirms that the high throughput can be achieved only if the router is close to the client device. From the server to the client, I measured an average of 373 Mbps at 5 feet and an average of 339 Mbps at approx 15 feet; at 30 feet, the speed decreased to 211 Mbps.
Afterwards, I switched to the 160MHz channel bandwidth (kept everything else unchanged) and again tried to run the same test, but, from the client to the server, at 5 feet, I noticed that the signal was only two bars and the throughput would fluctuate and, despite having a pretty much sustained speed at 950Mbps (the maximum it can be achieved in my current setup), after a few second (10-20), it would fall to sub-100 and then back up (the average was at about 665 Mbps) – I did try to change the channel, but the behavior remained the same. Things got a lot better at 15 feet, where the average was at 906 Mbps and I didn’t see any of those fluctuations, which means that the antenna gets overwhelmed at less than 10-15 feet; at 30 feet, I managed to measure an average of 258 Mbps which again looks strange.
One of the first devices that I tested on the 160MHz channel bandwidth was the the WRT3200ACM and the throughput was a lot more stable and it’s clear that the Asus RT-AX58U needs more firmware updates to get to a stable point on the 160MHz. From the server to the client, I saw an average of 424 Mbps at 5 feet and an average of 278 Mbps at 30 feet (a slight advantage than on the 80MHz).
On the next step, I connected the wireless client to the 2.4GHz network (40MHz) and, from the client to the server, I measured an average of 275 Mbps, when the device was close to the router (about 5 feet away) and, after increasing the distance for a bit (15 feet), I measured an average of 148 Mbps; at 30 feet, I got around 105 Mbps. From the server to the client, I managed to measure an average of 255 Mbps at 5 feet and an average of 189 Mbps at 15 feet; at 30 feet, the speed decreased to about 113 Mbps.
Lastly, I decided to add the results that I got when I tested the Asus RT-AX58U with the Intel 8265 WiFi client in order to show what you can expect when using a ‘more regular’ AC WiFi adapter.
This is about it for the wireless performance, so let’s move on to the wired (LAN to LAN) performance: I used the same two computers, but both connected via cables so, from the client to the server, I got an average of 949 Mbps and, from the server to the client, I measured an average of 890 Mbps. Lastly, considering that the Asus RT-AX58U is equipped with a USB port, I decided to connect an external storage device (a 250GB Samsung T5 SSD) and run some read/write tests: this way, by moving a 3GB folder containing several videos, I saw an average of 53.2 MBps while reading the folder and an average of 37.1 MBps while writing it.
Installation and Software
The hardware installation doesn’t differ in any way from any other wireless router, so you need to power it on (connect the provided cord to the back of the router) and use the Ethernet cable to connect your modem to the WAN port from the back of the RT-AX58U. Afterwards, you can either use the app or the web-based interface to run the configuration wizard and continue monitoring the network. I chose the former, so I installed the ASUS router app and after running it, I was asked whether I want to Set up a new router; the second window will let you choose between three groups of devices (I chose the first) and then I had to wait until the app discovered the Asus router.
Next, I selected the router and I had to choose on whether I should Start the automatic setup process or if I should Set it up manually. I selected the first so I was immediately asked to configure the WAN Type (doesn’t seem very automatic ..) and, after inserting the ISP user name and password, I could enter the SSID and password (you can separate the two radio bands), followed by the Login Name and Password (it’s best to not leave it admin). After this is done, you get the option to Enable the Remote Connection (if you want to access the UI from outside the local network) and then you get full access to the mobile app.
The interface looks very different than when I tested the Asus RT-AC86U and it’s clear that the manufacturer is now pushing the user more towards a multi-node system than before, since half of the Home window is immediately occupied by the AiMesh (you can also add nodes more easily by tapping the small icon). This section can change if you tap on the Internet Status icon (reverts to the familiar look from the RT-AC86U, displaying various network info if you swipe left or right) or the WiFi Setting icon. If you tap on the router name (from the top left), it will open a new window where you can see some important info about the device – there is also the possibility to upgrade the firmware and, since the RT-AX58U software is a work in progress, it’s advisable to constantly check for new firmware updates (I used the firmware v.22.214.171.124.384.8563).
The next main section is Devices (you can access from the menu on the bottom of the page), where you can see a list of all the currently connected devices (as well as those that are offline) and, if you tap on any client, it will open a dedicated window which displays some info about the device: IP and MAC addresses, the Interface, the Connection Quality, the Real-Time Traffic and there’s also the possibility to Block the Internet Access or enable the Bandwidth Limiter. Under Insight, you can get a more secure connection switching to the https protocol, configure the Family feature (Parental Controls), where you can create Profiles and associate some devices in order to either quickly Block the Internet Access or set a Schedule Block (I like that there is a way to filter the content and that you can see some Usage Statistics); under Insight, you can also quickly see the Security Insight (the Malicious Sites Blocking stats, the Two-Way IPS and the Infected device prevention and blocking in action).
Lastly, there’s the Settings area, where you can configure the AiMesh, enable the AiProtection, run some Diagnostics, set up the QoS system (automatically prioritizes some apps over other tasks or adjust the Bandwidth Limiter), configure the external storage related options (FTP and Samba), configure the Wi-Fi settings (offers a comprehensive list of options to adjust, such as the possibility to enable the Smart Connect, the 802.11ax Mode, the Control Channel, the 160MHz bandwidth and more; there’s also the Guest Network, the Wi-Fi Black List and the ECO Mode), create an IP Binding List and modify the WAN settings (includes Port Forwarding and DNS Setting). Further down, you can also Upgrade the Firmware, adjust some System Settings (includes the Operation Mode), enable the ASUS Notice, the Wake-On-LAN and view other Related Apps.
Just like with other ASUS routers, the app does provide a healthy amount of features, but to truly configure every aspect of the RT-AX58U, you need to access the web-based interface – this can be done by going to the default IP address (it’s usually 192.168.1.1). The graphics remain the same, so you get the features divided into General and Advanced Settings on a menu on the left, each opening a personalized window in the middle right. Since most of the options can be found on the app, the novelty will be in the AiProtection section, where you can choose the type of Network Protection you want to be enabled and in the Parental Controls which gets more in-depth with the type of content that will be blocked; the Traffic Analyzer also shows more statistics, the USB Application allows you to use a 3G/4G wireless dongle or an Android phone as a USB modem, there’s the Time Machine functionality, as well as AiDisk.
Under Advanced Settings, the Wireless section is offering a lot more options as well (includes TX power adjustment, 802.11ax/ac BeamForming, WMM APSD and more – there’s also the RADIUS Setting and WDS) and it’s worth noting the WAN section, where you can configure the Dual WAN feature (FailOver and Load Balance mode) and the Port Trigger. I noticed that Asus has included Alexa and IFTTT and it’s an interesting step towards integrating the router with not only the smart assistant, but to also make it alter its behavior depending on preset conditions (the type of app that’s running, the time and so on).
Other options are the VPN Server and Client (PPTP, OpenVPN and IPSec VPN) and the Firewall, which includes DoS protection, IPv6 Firewall, WPA3-Enterprise, as well as a URL Filer, a Keyword Filter and a Network Service Filter.
The Asus RT-AX58U (also known as RT-AX3000) is the first WiFi6 wireless router that I have tested, so I was quite excited to see how it would perform, especially considering the hype around this new WiFi standard. After testing it, I can say that it’s a great router but only if certain conditions are met – it does have some stability issues on the 160MHz mode. At this point, I doubt many of you have any devices that support the 160MHz channel bandwidth or the 1024-QAM modulation (even 2×2 MU-MIMO is a rarity), so, in most cases, you’re not going to see any crazy close-to-Gigabit wireless speeds, but price-wise, it seems to be positioned very close to the RT-AC86U which means that Asus may intend to replace it with this router.
And it surely can at some point in the future (when Merlin supports it), but, for now, it’s just an entry-level WiFi6 router – I have to mention that I have seen some weird (recurring) behavior with two WiFi6 adapters (the PCE-AC88 and the PCE-AC68) and, since I also saw it with the Netgear AX3000, it may be something about the AX technology not playing nice with PCIe connected WiFi adapters, so if you intend to use the router with any of these two adapters, I would suggest against it, at least for now, until either I understand whether there’s an issue on my end (possible, but unlikely) or until Asus releases a fix (if it’s truly generalized).
Check the product here:
EASE OF USE9.2/10
- WiFi 6 certified
- OFDMA, 160MHz and 1024-QAM
- Supports AiMesh
- Great wireless performance when everything is compatible
- Both the app and the web-based interface offer a good user experience
- The antennas can't be removed
- The router won't play nice with either Asus PCE-AC88 or PCE-AC68
- It has some stability issues on the 160MHz