Modern technology has come a long way in recent years, changing the whole world and affecting almost every aspect of how we live. Just a few decades ago, the idea of finding internet-connected devices in every home was reserved to the realms of science-fiction, but nowadays, constant connectivity is an integral part of our lives.
Whether you’re connecting to the world wide web to send some social media updates to your pals on your smartphone, browse the internet on your tablet or laptop, play games on your connected video game console, or stream movies and shows on your smart TV, you need a router to tie the whole network together and provide you with easy, instant access to your online connections.
But not all routers are made equal. Router technology, just like other forms of technology, has progressed a lot recently, and modern, high-end routers are able to offer more settings, enhanced functions, faster speeds, wider ranges of connectivity, and more durable, detailed designs than their more basic, low-end counterparts.
One of the best-rated and most popular routers on the market right now is the Asus AC2900, also sometimes referred to as the Asus RT-AC86U. It’s a sleek and stylish device on the outside, with a fresh, gaming-oriented aesthetic and a lot of powerful technology under the hood, allowing it to boast of superior speeds and incredible range when compared to other makes and models.
A lot of people looking for a router upgrade might find themselves considering the Asus AC2900. So is it really worth it? Our in-depth, critical look at this modern router will help you make up your mind, looking closely at a range of key features and helping you learn more about this model before deciding whether or not you’d like to buy it.
Table of Contents
How We Started
The router market can be quite a complicated and complex one for many people, and a lot of customers crave stronger security and faster speeds, but aren’t quite sure how to read through all the technical jargon and complexities that typically come with shopping for a new router.
This review will break down some of those confusing technicalities and take a close look at how the Asus AC2900 actually performs in real life situations. We’ll look at everything, from its design and aesthetic qualities to its price, value, speed, gaming performance, security, customization options, features, functionality, and more.
We understand that people tend to have different preferences when looking for a new router. Some of the more advanced users out there might be looking for a high-end model with lots of settings and features they can adjust and alter to get the very best connections, while others simply want a router they can easily set up to enjoy better speeds and performance.
This review will cater to the widest possible audience, covering all of the different factors and features you might consider when wanting to make a router upgrade. Below, throughout the review, you’ll find sections dedicated to these individual aspects, followed by our overall impressions regarding who should get this router and whether or not it’s worth the money.
Before we take a closer look at how the Asus AC2900 stands up to the test in key areas like speed, security, performance, and design, let’s take a general look at what this product is, who it was made for, and what it has to offer, covering the key tech specs you need to know.
Asus has always been a leading light in the networking industry, with models like the RT-N66U and RT-AC5300 standing out as some of the brand’s best products in recent years. The RT-AC86U or AC2900 is another striking example of what the company is capable of.
The Asus AC2900 is a dual band gigabit Wi-Fi router, primarily designed for the gaming market, but appealing to others who crave fast speeds and broad coverage too, ideal for 4K streaming, fast downloads, and secure, reliable connections across a range of different devices from laptops and computers to phones, TVs, and gaming consoles too.
It’s built on the AiMesh firmware platform, allowing advanced users to essentially pair multiple routers across a ‘mesh’ network with total customization, and it can offer up to 750 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band or 2167 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, featuring three external antennas and an internal antenna too. It also comes with 512MB of memory, with an MSRP of $199.99.
Additional features provided with the AC2900 include AiProtection network security by Trend Micro, WTFast game acceleration for lightning fast, uninterrupted gaming performance, Adaptive QoS for lag-free streaming and connections, AiRadar and Range Boost features to offer wide, expansive coverage, and a PC-grade 1.8 GHz 64-bit dual-core processor on the inside.
Our Choice: ASUS AC2900
Designed to deliver jaw-dropping network performance, The ASUS RT-AC86U features a 1. 8GHz dual-core processor with the latest 802. 11AC MU-MIMO technology. Maximize your online experience with game-boosting Adaptive Qu’s, gamers private network by Waist, and built-in network security from Protection.
One of the first things you notice about any router is its design, including its colors, shape, form, and general aesthetic nature. While these features don’t necessarily have any real impact on performance or usage, they can still be important to take into account, and many modern users like to have routers with flashy, fancy designs.
Asus has developed something of a reputation for offering well-crafted, futuristic products, with its ROG series of gaming laptops standing out for their sharp edges and stylish LED lights. The Asus AC2900 continues this trend, almost looking like an extension of one of those laptops, with its style and design definitely inspired by recent trends in the gaming laptop and PC market.
It’s a really sleek and stylish router, with a mostly black body and two red streaks sliced across the front. Like Asus’ laptops, it features sleek edges and unique dimensions that help it stand out from the crowd, especially when placed alongside some of the boring black boxes that dominate much of the router market.
Unlike other routers, which can sit flat or horizontally, the Asus AC2900 is designed to stand upright, with the three detachable antennas jutting out of the top. It’s not really possible to lie this router down flat or mount it up on the wall, but it comes with its own base stand, so you won’t have to worry about it toppling over.
In terms of weights and dimensions, the Asus AC2900 tips the scales at 1.9 lbs and measures up at 8.6 x 6.3 x 3.3 inches overall, so it’s quite a compact and lightweight device, and if its unique aesthetic doesn’t quite fit with the theme of your home, it’s relatively simple to hide away.
Following on from our look at the overall design of the Asus AC2900, let’s now take a closer look at its general interface and what you’ll see when you inspect the front, sides, and back. As stated, the front is mostly dominated by the angular, black and red aesthetic, but it also features eight LED lights in a row along the bottom.
These lights are small and shouldn’t distract you if you keep the router in a bedroom, for example, and can be helpful for letting you know how the router is functioning, letting you know if the device is turned on or off, WPS status, Wi-Fi status, LAN status, and WAN activity too.
On the back of the device, you’ll see four gigabit LAN ports, a USB 2 port, a USB 3.1 port, and a WAN port, as well as the power button, LED on/off button, and reset button. Down the right side of the device, you’ll be able to locate the WPS button and Wi-Fi on/off button too.
The back of the unit also features lines of vents that allow excess heat to dissipate, although it’s worth noting that in our tests, and according to many user reviews, this router never seems to get too hot, even when users are in the middle of extended gaming sessions or 4K streaming.
Overall, it’s a really modern and well-made router with all of the standard ports, features, and buttons you’d expect from a mid to high-end model like this one. Everything is clearly marked and easy to identify, and it shouldn’t take you too long at all to get to grips with the AC2900 and understand how it all works.
Some routers can be quite complicated to set-up, with lengthy, drawn-out processes and lots of menus, but the Asus AC2900 is really simple in this regard. All you have to do is plug in the router, power it on, connect your device, set-up the login information, and you’ll be good to go.
There’s even a simple set-up wizard that can guide you through every single step of the process, or you can choose to configure the device manually. All in all, the process shouldn’t take much longer than a few minutes.
Usage and Menus
Once you’ve got the Asus RC2900 all set-up, you’ll be able to access the main user interface/dashboard, which follows the same ASUSWRT layout as other Asus routers, so if you’ve used Asus tech in the past, you should be able to adjust quite easily.
The menus have also been cleverly designed with handy explainers and pop-ups that tell you what each setting and option does, ideal for new users.
On the main device page, you’ll see your current internet status, connected clients, system status, and a range of settings and menus to choose from down the left side. You can do anything from here, whether it be setting up a new cloud server, adjusting your firewall or VPN settings, or configuring advanced wireless or LAN functions.
In general, getting around and adjusting settings is really easy with the Asus AC2900. You can browse through options and settings for Adaptive QoS, AiProtection for security, game performance acceleration, and so on very cleanly and seamlessly, without any real delay or issues to worry about.
You can also make use of the accompanying Asus router mobile app to handle control of your router’s functions and features with ease, right in the palm of your hand. This is another great feature that really helps to make the Asus AC2900 highly accessible to users of all experience and skill levels.
When it comes to routers, design and user experiences can be key factors, but the most important aspect for most people is how the router actually performs, including what kinds of speeds it has to offer and how much coverage it can provide to devices all around the home. So how does the Asus AC2900 stand up to these kinds of tests?
Well, with its strong processor and solid tech, it’s a very high-performing router for the most part, offering excellent throughput and range, in addition to its solid features and terrific gaming options too. It can reach really high speeds, and when compared to other leading routers on the market, it can certainly keep up with industry leaders, especially at larger distances.
It’s when you move further from the Asus AC2900 that its full power and potential really starts to shine through, proving that it’s absolutely one of the best possible routers you can buy for large homes.
For example, if you have a family of five spread out across a 3,000 square foot house, with mom and dad streaming some shows on the TV and the kids playing games and connecting to the internet on their own different devices elsewhere around the property, everyone should experience really solid, consistent connections when using this device.
Even though walls and floors, the Asus AC2900 suffers a little drop in speed but performs very impressively for the most part, making it a highly recommendable device for families, gamers, streamers, and those who rely on solid, stable internet connections to work, play, and enjoy their day to day lives.
The Asus AC2900 is marketed as one of the best router options for gamers, so it would be remiss for this review not to include a section focusing on how well it performs for intense, hardcore gaming action.
As stated earlier on, it certainly has the tech and speed levels to cope with online multiplayer games, but so do many other routers on the market. So what sets the Asus AC2900 apart? Well, it comes with the WTFast Game Accelerator, which can really give you the edge when battling other online opponents in titles like Overwatch and Fortnite.
Based on Asus’ very own Gamers Private Network technology, the WTFast Accelerator is able to automatically seek out the most efficient and secure internet route between you and the other players, helping to maximize bandwidth while reducing lag as much as possible.
This feature isn’t compatible with a lot of different games right now, but it covers the most popular titles and can help you enjoy more efficient, consistent connections for titles like Grand Theft Auto V, for example, helping to ensure that you enjoy seamless online experiences and have the edge in competitive clashes.
The AC2900 also offers Adaptive QoS, which is another useful feature to help gamers make the most of the bandwidth of their own home network, getting the absolute most out of every little bit of your connection to speed up your gaming performance and reduce the risk of long ping times or game-breaking lag.
Another important factor to take into account when assessing the overall quality and appeal of any router is what kind of security features and technology it has to offer. Especially at a time when more and more people are taking online security seriously and going to extra lengths to safeguard their connections and keep their devices and data safe, it’s vital to find a secure, reliable router.
The Asus AC2900 comes with AiProtection Pro, commercial-grade security for the whole family. You get lifelong coverage when buying this router, not just a temporary subscription, and it helps to protect you against a range of common internet attacks.
The intrusion prevention system works to stop hackers getting access to your router and devices, while AiProtection also links with Trend Micro’s databases to identify and alert you regarding malicious sites, helping to keep your devices safe from inadvertent infections.
Even if an infected device does connect to the router, the AiProtection system helps to prevent data on that device from getting compromised or the infection spreading to other connected devices and clients.
For parents, too, the Asus AC2900 comes with a great range of parental controls through AiProtection to help keep your little ones safe when using the internet. You can create custom profiles for your kids and block certain sites and types of online content, as well as setting up schedules, viewing internet activity information, and scheduling block times if you want to limit your kids’ access to online games and services when they should be doing their homework instead.
Overall, the security features on this particular router are very impressive, helping it stand out as one of the most secure options available for all kinds of users, from hardcore pro gamers to casual families with young children in the home.
The final factor we’ll focus on for this review is also one of the most important factors of them all for many people: price. The price tag of a router can be the difference-maker for a lot of shoppers, helping you decide whether or not you should buy it, and most people have a set budget in mind when looking for a new networking device, like a router.
So how much does the Asus AC2900 cost? Well, it has an MSRP of $199.99. The actual price you will pay for this product can be significantly lower than that, depending on where you shop, and the price tag will gradually decrease as time goes by and new routers are released with superior standards of technology and more advanced features.
When compared to other products on the market of similar technical specifications, the Asus AC2900 is in line with the industry standard. It’s not the cheapest high-end router around, but it’s not the most expensive either, and it offers quite a lot of value for money when you take into account its speeds, general performance, advanced features, and suitability for gamers too.
Ultimately the overall value of this product will depend on your own personal needs and preferences. If you don’t necessarily need the fastest speeds or the broadest range and won’t make much use of the mesh network features or AiProtection security, it might not be the best value option.
However, if you’re a gamer looking for the best performance, a streamer searching for a stable and reliable connection, a large family wanting to enjoy super fast speeds all over the home, or one of the many other people who can make the most of this product, it can be easily ranked among the best value routers around.
Who Should Get This?
Even though the Asus AC2900 is clearly marketed towards the gaming market, gamers aren’t the only ones who can really enjoy it.
The high speeds, broad coverage, excellent security, fun design, and advanced customization features give it a lot of appeal to a wide range of users, especially those who want the best networking set-up for their home or office.
As mentioned several times, it can also offer a lot of appeal to gamers and entertainment lovers, offering the stability and speed you need to play high-end online games and stream 4K content consistently without lag or delay.
So, is the Asus AC2900 worthy of your money and attention? In our view, it certainly is. It’s one of the best routers money can buy right now, powered up with some of the toughest techs on the market, offering a lot of great security and connectivity options, all wrapped up in a really classy, modern, stylish package that can last for years to come.
It has very few flaws overall, and even for total beginners or inexperienced users, it’s so simple to set up. In short, if you’re looking for a state of the art router to take your network to the next level, this is an option worth considering.