Embrace your inner geek with the Asus RT-AX86U Zaku II Edition router. Part of a massive collaboration with mecha franchise Gundam, this router is basically the RT-AX86U, a Wi-Fi 6 gaming router. But with a red paint job instead of the original black finish.
- Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (AX5700)
- 4x Gigabit LAN, 1x Gigabit WAN, 1x 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN port
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports
- Dual WAN and Link Aggregation features
Despite not being a Gundam fan, the Zaku II's striking matte red finish is attractive. The upright design means a smaller footprint, though it cannot be wall mounted as a result. The status LEDs can be turned off via a button on the side. You can also easily connect client devices via WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) by pressing the button on the opposite side.
While the dual-band AX86U is a tier below Asus' tri-band GT-AX11000, the former offers plenty of enthusiast-class features. For starters, it has a total of six Gigabit LAN/WAN ports, including a 2.5Gbps port. More importantly, these ports are very versatile. A Dual WAN feature lets users with two ISPs use two ports (WAN and a LAN port) to ensure near-zero Internet downtime. Those with a NAS can enjoy faster transfer speeds by combining LAN ports 1 and 2 via a link aggregation feature. LAN port 1 is also a “gaming port”, which means a connected wired device will automatically be given top priority in terms of bandwidth — no need to muck around the settings.
Setting up the router is simple using the Asus Router app (available for iOS and Android). The app probably has too many options for casual users, though enthusiasts will disagree. The latter will point to the advanced settings that are available only via the browser. Exclusive to the app, though, is Mobile Game Mode. With a single tap, this feature will prioritise the smartphone that has the app installed for mobile games. But I didn't feel anything different in the games I tried. Ookla's Speedtest also showed no significant speed boost in this mode. Perhaps, my Internet connection was already fast enough that the router couldn't improve further.
When tested with a Wi-Fi 6 notebook, the AX86U produced an average download speed of 782Mbps at close range (around 5 metres). This is in line with my experience with Wi-Fi 6 routers such as the TP-Link Archer AX90. However, the AX86U did not impress at longer distances. It managed a middling 107Mbps in average download speeds for a distant bedroom. To be fair, a mesh network is probably the best solution for this bedroom's poor Wi-Fi coverage. Which can be done with the AX86U and a second Asus AiMesh-compatible router. In fact, if money is no object, you can even buy two AX86U (S$469 each from Lazada and Shopee) routers for your mesh network (or add the RT-AX82U Gundam Edition to complete your mecha-themed routers setup).
Note: Review unit provided by Asus.
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