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Asus RT-AC87U review

Richard Easton
5 Nov 2014
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Asus RT-AC87U front angle
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
220
inc VAT

The RT-AC87U is an expensive router with cutting-edge features and great wireless performance

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Specifications

Modem: None, Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ac, Stated speed: 1,734Mbit/s, USB ports: 1x USB3, 1x USB, Wall mountable: Yes

The Asus RT-AC87U is a seriously advanced router. It has four external antennas supplemented by four internal antennas. Four of the antennas are dedicated to transmitting data and the other half to receiving. With Asus' TurboQAM technology, the theoretical throughput on the router’s 2.4GHz band is boosted to an impressive 600Mbit/s, while the 5GHz band has a huge theoretical 1,734Mbit/s - provided you have the right kit, as we explain below. 

The RT-AC87U is also the first router we've seen to support multiple-user MIMO (MU-MIMO) that allows the router to send data to up to four client radios at the same time, provided the client device also supports MU-MIMO. This is an improvement on current MIMO technology that communicates with each client one at a time. Once MU-MIMO is more widely adopted we should see big wireless networking improvements in multi-user environments. 

The router itself has a very large footprint but is nicely designed. It’s constructed from matt black plastic with carbon fibre-like patterning on the sides. It's a very angular design with a USB3 port tucked away below its front lip. The front of the router has a bank of status indicator LEDs but, in a thoughtful touch, there’s a button to turn these off if you find them distracting. 

The four external antennas protruding from the back of the router are user-replaceable. There’s a Gigabit Ethernet WAN and four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports for your wired devices. A second slower USB port is also on the back. You can mount the router to a wall thanks to mounting points on its base. 

Like many of Asus’ routers, the USB ports can be used to share external storage on your local network. Both FTP and SMB sharing are supported and you can create a DLNA or iTunes server for your media - we had no luck getting the iTunes component to work, but we find this is a common problem as Apple often changes the way iTunes sharing works. There is also the AiCloud app for Android and iOS for accessing your files on a smartphone or tablet, which is useful. AiDisk lets you access files remotely over the internet, but performance for streaming music or video will be dependent on your internet connection's upload speeds.

Printer sharing is another option, but this requires you to install the Asus printer utility on each computer you want to use with the feature, and you can connect a 3G/4G USB dongle or even an Android phone to share its data connection. The router has presets for common providers, or you can enter your SIM's APN settings manually. Our test Vodafone dongle worked perfectly after a router reboot. 

The RT-AC87U also has a new feature called AiProtection. This uses Trend Micro technology to detect malware and viruses in order to block them before they reach any devices on your network. You can set the feature up so it blocks access to known malicious sites, which is a useful second safeguard to supplement the site blocking available in browsers such as Google Chrome. AiProtection can also stop any infected devices from communicating personal information. A Router Security Scan clearly lists any vulnerabilities in your setup and makes it easy to fix any flaws. 

When testing the router’s speed with our 802.11n laptop, we saw 36.5Mbit/s at 10m and 16.4Mbit/s at 25m on the 2.4GHz network, which is inly average. On the 5GHz band this increased to an enormous 209.7Mbit/s and 135.2Mbit/s; incredible results at both ranges, and much quicker even than a wired 10/100 Ethernet connection. Asus couldn't send us a wired USB adaptor for testing, so we used our reference Trendnet TEW-805UB 802.11ac USB3 adaptor. With the router in 5GHz 802.11n mode, we saw speeds of 181.8Mbit/s at 10m and 109.9Mbit/s at 25m, which are reasonable if not spectacular speeds. In 802.11ac mode throughput leapt up to 279.6Mbit/s and 139.8Mbit/s; the 10m speed is up there with the best, and the 25m score is above average.

Neither our laptop nor the USB adaptor support TurboQAM, however, so we weren't seeing the router at its best. Until Asus releases its PCE-A87 PCI-E adaptor later in the year, the only way to take advantage of the RT-AC87U’s full speed is to use a second router in media bridge mode. With a second router set up, we saw astronomical speeds of 699Mbit/s at 10m and a still amazing 419Mbit/s at 25m. Having a second rourer is a hefty investment but if you need the speed it does pay dividends. With Asus’ PCE-AC68 wireless PCI card in a desktop PC, the router still managed a massive 699Mbit/s at 10m and 302Mbit/s at 25m. 

Even without the luxury of a second router, the speeds from the RT-AC87U were good across the board and its extra features like AiProtection are useful. It also has some of the fastest speeds we've ever seen in 5GHz 802.11n mode at 25m, so if you want the best possible speeds for your laptop it's a great buy - but at a price. 

HARDWARE
ModemNone
Wi-Fi standard802.11ac
Bands2.4GHz, 5GHz
Stated speed1,734Mbit/s
SecurityWEP, WPA2-AES, WPA-TKIP, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Enterprise, WPS
Upgradable antennaYes
WAN ports1
LAN ports4x 10/100/1000Mbit/s
USB ports1x USB3, 1x USB
Wall mountableYes
Size290x168x48mm
SOFTWARE
Guest networks6
Media serverSMB, FTP, DLNA, iTunes
USB services3G/4G data sharing, print sharing, NAS, Apple Time Machine
DDNS servicesAsus.com, DynDNS.org, TZO.com, ZoneEdit.com, DNSomatic.com, TunnelBroker.net, No-IP.com
BUYING INFORMATION
Price including VAT£220
WarrantyThree-year RTB
Supplierwww.kikatek.com
Detailswww.asus.com
Part codeRT-AC87U