Welcome to the 802.11ax router era. The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 ($445) is the first of the new Wi-Fi 6 class of router, and it doesn't disappoint. Its performance is good at close range, but it improves with distance to set a new standard for those who want to fill a large home with high-speed Wi-Fi. Sure, the router is big and expensive but if you have the need for speed, the GT-AX11000 should be on your wish list.
As the first 802.11ax router, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 sets the pace for others to follow. Aggressive angular and with Asus' Republic of Gaming (ROG) logo lit in LEDs, the GT-AX11000 is a router to show off, not hide.
At 9.4 x 9.4 x 2.8 inches, it is gargantuan compared with the 8.5 x 7.5 x 1.5-inch TP-Link Archer C2300, but is about the size of the company's Archer C5400X. The router's eight screw-on antennas can swivel and rotate to best aim the GT-AX11000's signal but it runs the risk of looking like a coat rack.
It has soft rubber feet to avoid scratching your furniture. On the other hand, Asus engineers left out any provision for mounting the GT-AX11000 on a wall. It fit nicely on a bookshelf.
Powered by Broadcom's BCM43684 Wi-Fi chip, it creates a tri-band 802.11ax network that is also known as WiFi 6. It can tap into the latest wireless techniques, including Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA), dynamic frequency selection and the ability to use any of 15 5GHz bands for the clearest signal.
Inside, the chip has a quad-core 1.8GHz processor, 1GB of RAM and 256MB of space for firmware and settings. It is one fast router, with the ability to theoretically push 4.8Gbps on each of its two 5GHz transmission bands and 1.2Gbps on its 2.4GHz channel. It's rated at having a maximum of 10.8Gbps to wireless devices with 802.11ax hardware. On the other hand, there're only a handful of 802.11ax devices available, so it will be sometime before the GT-AX11000 – and other similar routers – reach its full potential.
The GT-AX11000 router is like a gamer's dream come true with a low-latency design to help blow away the competition in alien attacks, medieval sword duels and urban car chases. Alongside the device's four downstream gigabit Ethernet ports is a single 2.5G Base T Ethernet connection for those who prefer wired connections. Rated at a maximum throughput of 2.5Gbps, few gaming computers support this standard, but several chips that can take advantage of this speed boost are in the works.
There is a row of LED indicators on the front of the boxy router. They show what's happening inside, with small lights for power, which bands are active, WAN connection, LAN data movement, the Wireless Protected Setup (WPS) and whether its 2.5G connection is being used. In addition, there are switches for powering it up, Wi-Fi transmissions, WPS and the Boost feature. The system has a recessed rest button to return it to its factory specs and software.
Along with its WAN broadband connection and 2.5G fast wired connection, the GT-AX11000 has the expected complement of four downstream gigabit LAN ports. There's also a pair of USB 3.0 connectors for attaching a data drive or printer to the router for network use.
Software and Security
The software elements of the router open up even more optimizations, and it starts with gaming. Avid gamers can register their favorite games with the router for boosted performance. These include League of Legends, Hearthstone and World of Tanks but more should be added in the coming months.
Asus' Gamers Private Network seeks to lower latency and eliminate lost packets. After registering, click Game Boost on the interface and gamers around the world can interact on their favorite platform. While the GT-AX11000 shows a map of the world, it lacks the geo-filtering feature on the Netgear Nighthawk XR500 and XR700 that allows gamers to lock out geographic areas to reduce lag.
Like several other Asus routers, the GT-AX 11000 can create a mesh network from other Asus routers. Called AiMesh, the system takes about 2 minutes to set up and is compatible with a dozen routers. But it might need a firmware update to use.
Focused on gaming, the GT-AX11000 can be a good home router as well with Quality of Service (QOS), security and parental controls. It not only lets you set up adaptive QOS to prioritize the available bandwidth but the router's time-scheduling feature can set limits on when users can log on. Setting it up took all of 2 minutes.
It may lack its competitors' heavy-duty security app, but the GT-AX11000's Security Scan can sniff out vulnerabilities. Based on Trend Micro software, it looks for everything from password strength to use of encryption to the DMZ function. It can block malicious websites but it is not as thorough as the security extras provided with the Norton Core and F-Secure Sense routers.
The router's parental controls can help promote good online health for all family members. It can block objectionable material and schedule times when using the web is off-limits.
Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Key Specs
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Tri Band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 8/Yes
Ports: 1 WAN/4 LAN gigabit per second, 1 2.5Gbps LAN, 2 USB 3.0
Processor/Memory/Storage: 1.8GHz quad-core/ 1GB/ 256MB
Wi-Fi chip: Broadcom BCM 43684
Peak 802.11ac performance: 731.4Mbps (at 50 feet)
Range: 95 feet
Size: 9.4 x 9.4 x 2.8 inches
The GT-AX11000 uses the latest Wi-Fi 6 spec to broadcast on two 5GHz bands and one 2.4GHz band. All told, it is rated to deliver up to a maximum of 10.8Gbps to wireless devices, making it one of the hottest routers available.
Using 802.11ac devices and Ixia's ixChariot software to simulate a busy network in our Utah test facility, the GT-AX11000 proved to be a potent gaming router, but not the fastest available. That accolade still goes to TP-Link's Archer C5400X, which was able to deliver up to 859.5Mbps at 15 feet versus 615.7Mbps for the GT-AX11000, a 40 percent performance gap.
By contrast, the GT-AX11000 delivered 642.3Mbps at 5 feet, 14 percent below the C5400X's 733.9Mbps. Neither, however, could keep up with the Archer C2300, which continues to lead the pack with the ability to move up to 939.6Mbps at 5 feet.
Like a marathon runner, the GT-AX11000 hit its stride far from the starting line with 733.4Mbps of throughput at 100 feet. This leads the Archer C5400X (at 622.9Mbps) and Netgear Nighthawk XR500 (at 514.5Mbps). At the terminal distance of 150 feet, the GT-AX11000 still topped all others with 501.8Mbps available for gaming, movies and 4K movies, while the Archer C5400X and the Nighthawk XR500 could move only 383.3Mbps and 342.2Mbps, respectively.
In the real world, however, the GT-AX11000 had trouble getting its signal through a metal wall barrier, pushing 444.3Mbps through to the other side. That's slightly less than half of the 853.7Mbps that the Archer C5400X delivered. On the other hand, it handled the soundboard and ceiling barriers better with 807.2Mbps and 620.2Mbps available for devices; still it trailed the Archer C5400X's 832.3Mbps and 786.2Mbps.
With a 95-foot range in my older 3,500-square-foot home, the GT-AX11000 fell just short of filling the house with Wi-Fi. While the router covered an exterior porch, a corner of the basement was left without wireless data. By contrast, the Netgear Nighthawk XR500 Pro Gaming Router had a 115-foot range.
I used the GT-AX11000 every day to play games, watch movies and the more mundane family work of distributing emails and web surfing. Its response was excellent, it never let me down and it passed my informal saturation test. The router successfully played an internet radio station on my Macbook as I watched HD and 4K videos on a Surface Pro 3 and an iPad Pro, and a Samsung Tab Pro S moved files on and off a network-attached storage system. It worked like a charm with neither skips nor dropouts.
When it is doing its heavy data lifting, the GT-AX11000 never got more than warm to the touch and used 13.2 watts of power. That put it on a par with the TP-Link C5400X's 13.4-watts of power consumption, but nearly a third more than the Linksys WRT32X's 10.1watts. All told, it should cost about $15 a year in extra electricity bills if you pay the national average (13.3 cents per kilowatt-hour) for power.
Turning the GT-AX11000 into the center of an operating tri-band network was a snap. It started with plugging it into my modem and powering up the device. At this point, the router's central logo goes through the rainbow and ends up glowing red. Happily, the color can be adjusted.
After downloading and installing the Asus Router app onto my iPad Pro and changing its Wi-Fi setting to the router's default network ("Asus_90_2G"), I connected with the router. I let the router set itself up automatically, but there is a manual method for DIYers.
I entered that I wanted to use a single network name for all three data bands and use 802.11ax's HE frame support. I also gave the system a new password. All told, it took about 5 minutes to set up the GT-AX11000 router. It yielded a 192Mbps connection of my 200Mbps bandwidth.
Asus' GT-AX11000 allows for a good amount of customization and lets you use the app or connect directly via a web browser. Along the bottom of the interface are links for Home (showing the IP address and how many clients are connected), Devices (for the router and any AiMesh connected devices), Insight (for alerts) and Family (for parental controls).
The More section is a confusing cornucopia of settings as well as third-party add-ons. They range from Game Boost to Wireless Settings.
The router lets you do everything from the basics – setting the network name and encryption – to the advanced – limiting bandwidth for some devices, blacklisting others and forwarding ports. By default, it runs with an ultra-wide 160MHz channel width. It shows useful data traffic statistics and can back up the router's settings.
If the network seems a bit wonky, the GT-AX11000 has a Network Diagnosis routine that looks for common faults, like the internet connection, the modem, individual devices and the router's settings. It can help fix minor problems before they become headaches
On the downside, unlike the Nighthawk XR family, the GT-AX11000 lacks the ability to operate as a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or adjust its transmission signal strength. It does have Quality of Service (QOS) software to designate which devices get top priority of your bandwidth.
With the introduction of Asus' ROG Rapture GT-AX11000, all other gaming routers may not be obsolete but they are now second best. Big and with eight antennas, it's a router that you might want to show off. But at $450 it is one of the most expensive routers on the market and a must-have for every serious gamer.
But even with the added edge of Wi-Fi 6, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 doesn't replace the TP-Link Archer C5400X as our top pick for gaming. The TP-Link Archer C5400X offers greater throughput, longer reach and better handling of common obstructions – and all for less money. There will be other Wi-Fi 6 routers in the coming months that will offer a lot more performance than we've seen here, but for now, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is an unfulfilled promise.