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Asus EA-AC87 Wireless-AC 1800 Media Bridge review

Tom Morgan
12 Jul 2015
Expert Reviews Recommended Logo
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
116
inc VAT

Incredibly fast, whether you have the router to match or not, but the EA-AC87 is undeniably expensive

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Specifications

Modem: N/A, Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ac, Stated speed: 1,734Mbps, USB ports: 0, Wall mountable: Yes

If you're investing in an 802.11ac wireless router you should make sure the rest of your networking setup is able to match its Wi-Fi speed, or you won’t be able to make the most of all that bandwidth. The Asus EA-AC87 wireless bridge/access point has a maximum theoretical data rate of 1,734Mbps, so should be one of the fastest range extenders we've seen when paired with a router that can match such a high 802.11ac throughput.

With four detachable antennas, arranged in a 4x4 MIMO configuration, coupled with universal beamforming to help direct the Wi-Fi signal to where it's needed, the EA-AC87 should be able to eliminate Wi-Fi black spots in all but the largest of homes. We could get over 20m away from the signal before it dropped below an indicated three bars on our reference laptop.

By default the EA-AC87 works in Media Bridge mode, to let you connect wired devices to your wireless network. There are a whopping five Gigabit Ethernet ports, meaning you could connect several games consoles, a PC and a set-top box – essentially that's enough to turn a wireless home cinema setup into a wired one.

In this mode, the EA-AC87 connects to your router wirelessly. Setup was a breeze using WPS push-button security, but you can also configure the extender manually through the comprehensive web interface. It automatically takes the names of your existing 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi networks, appending a suffix to make it obvious which is the extended network, although you can change the SSIDs or hide them altogether if you prefer.

As we expected, the EA-AC87 is blisteringly fast when paired with an 802.11ac router capable of matching its wireless speeds. First, we paired it with an Asus RT-AC87U 802.11ac router. At a distance of 25m, we were still able to get a maximum throughput of 349Mbit/s over 802.11ac; a huge speed, and quicker than we saw from any of the 802.11ac USB adaptors in our router group test on page XXX. We also tested the bridge with the fastest-rated router from that group test, the Netgear X4 R7500, and saw 279.6Mbit/s at 25m; identical to the speed we saw when using a second Netgear R7500 in bridge mode, showing the Asus bridge can also provide a speed boost when used with other manufacturers' top-spec routers.

Even after dropping down to 802.11n, the EA-AC87 still came out on top; we saw 101Mbit/s when connected to the extender, compared to just 72Mbit/s using the router's network and our laptop's built-in Wi-Fi card.

An 802.11ac router isn't required to improve your Wi-Fi speeds and range, either. Flipping a switch on the side turns on Access Point mode, and once you've plugged the EA-AC87 into your current router with an Ethernet cable you'll have a brand-new super-fast 802.11ac network without having to upgrade your current router.

The EA-AC87 is incredibly flexible and stupendously fast, whether you pair it with an existing 802.11ac router or enable Access Point mode to replace your older router's ageing Wi-Fi. That being said, it's undeniably expensive; unless you have a router capable of matching its speeds, or plan on using it to connect multiple wired devices to your Wi-Fi network, it's almost overkill. For anyone with less demanding wireless needs, the £60 BT Dual-Band Wi-Fi Extender 1200, which has a single Ethernet port so can act as a bridge for one device, is an inexpensive alternative.

HARDWARE
ModemN/A
Wi-Fi standard802.11ac
Bands2.4GHz, 5GHz
Stated speed1,734Mbps
SecurityWEP, WPA-PSK, WPA2-PSK
Upgradable antennaYes
LAN ports5x 10/100/1000Mbit/s
USB ports0
Wall mountableYes
Size160x160x40mm