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Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 review: A fast and powerful 802.11ax router for gamers

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
404
Inc VAT

The ROG is a capable router with next-gen wireless, but we’re not blown away by the gaming features

Pros 
802.11ax for future-proof networking
Lots of high-end features
Cons 
Gaming-specific tools are limited
Only five Ethernet ports
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The basic idea of a gaming router is to help you attain the fastest possible connection to gaming servers, even if other people are inconsiderately sharing your home network. That’s what the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 promises and, while the price is steep, I can certainly see dedicated gamers going for it. Here’s the lowdown on Asus’ new flagship gaming router.

READ NEXT: Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 review

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 review: What you need to know

The Rapture GT-AX11000 is a tri-band wireless router with 4x4 MU-MIMO and several features aimed at optimising your gaming experience. Those include bandwidth management, traffic prioritisation and integration with the wtfast gaming network service, which promises a consistent connection with minimal lag.

It also offers some impressive general networking features. It’s the first router we’ve seen to support next-generation 802.11ax wireless connections (also known as Wi-Fi 6), and it has a high-speed 2.5GbE socket at the back, too. Twin USB 3.1 sockets support external drives, printers and even 4G mobile data adaptors. The company’s proprietary AiMesh protocol is also supported, so if you have one or more compatible Asus routers knocking around, you can effortlessly use them to extend the reach of your network.

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 review: Price and competition

The ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 costs £404, including VAT. That’s a lot of money for a router, but it’s slightly cheaper than the Rapture’s main competitor, the £438 Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700 router. That router offers a lot to justify its price, though: it’s one of the fastest routers we’ve seen and it runs the custom DumaOS firmware, which is built from the bottom up as a gaming router platform.

If your budget won’t stretch into the £400-plus range, another option is the older Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500, which can now be had for around £200. This model doesn’t have such impressive wireless performance as the XR700, but it also runs DumaOS, with all the same gaming features, making it a cost-effective option for those with wired gaming stations.

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 review: Performance

The Rapture GT-AX11000’s spec sheet makes some remarkable claims about its wireless capabilities. Its twin 5GHz radios have a quoted maximum transfer rate of 4,804Mbits/sec apiece, while the 2.4GHz radio claims 1,148Mbits/sec. That adds up to a theoretical total throughput of 10,756Mbits/sec, which presumably explains the name.

Those speeds are far higher than anything we’re accustomed to seeing from 802.11ac routers, and that’s because they refer to connections over next-generation 802.11ax Wi-Fi. We expect that, by the end of 2019, most new laptops and tablets will support the new standard, so its inclusion here is a great bit of future-proofing.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to test the GT-AX11000’s performance over 802.11ax for ourselves, simply because the technology is so new that we don’t yet have access to any client hardware that supports it. On paper, though, 802.11ax should be at least four times as fast as 802.11ac, so you’d better believe we’re eager to try it out as soon as possible.

In the meantime, the Rapture GT-AX11000’s eight unworldly antennae perform very creditably over a current-generation connection. In our domestic file-copy tests, it gave us same-room download speeds of a phenomenal 42.3MB/sec – the highest speed I’ve ever seen over regular wireless. Speeds did drop off once I started carting the test laptop into different rooms, and overall 802.11ac performance was a step behind the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR700. Even so, the signal remained solid and swift in all areas of the house.

Write speed (MB/sec)Read speed (MB/sec)
Bedroom14.414.2
Utility room7.710.4
Bathroom8.88.7
Rear terrace7.88.4

To be clear, these speeds are in megabytes per second, so even the slowest download we saw – 8.4MB/sec out on the rear terrace – was fast enough to get the full benefit of a 67Mbits/sec fibre broadband connection.

It’s also impressive to observe that read and write performance was more or less symmetrical. We’re accustomed to seeing upload speeds that are much slower than downloads and that was certainly the case with the Netgear Nighthawk XR700. But the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is a great listener, providing a speedy upstream connection that will certainly appeal to gamers for whom every millisecond counts.

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Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 review: Connections and controls

At the rear of the Rapture GT-AX11000, you’ll find all the physical features you’d expect from a high-end router. It’s disappointing to note that there are only four Gigabit Ethernet ports, but the rise of 802.11ax will probably diminish the relevance of wired connections over the lifetime of this router.

For those who value speed over quantity, 803.2ad link aggregation is supported, enabling you to combine the first two GbE ports into a single 2GbE connection. There’s also a separate 2.5GbE socket, which could be useful for ultra-fast local gaming but you’ll need compatible network cards and a suitable switch, which will likely cost more than the router. I suspect most people will simply use this as a fifth Gigabit Ethernet socket.

Over by the power switch you’ll find a pair of USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports – that is, USB Type-A connectors supporting transfer speeds of up to 5Gbits/sec (or USB 3.0, in other words). USB flash drives and external hard disks can be shared over the local network, and Mac users can use them as Time Machine destinations. You can also share a USB printer, or insert a 4G mobile data stick as a failover if your main connection goes down. Just be aware that the two ports are tightly stacked together, so if you want to plug in two chunky devices at once, you may need to invest in a USB extension cable.

There are no connectors at the front but seven LEDs show the status of your internet connection, wireless networks and so forth. Frankly, the lights and their labels are all unhelpfully small – you really have to peer at them to be certain what they’re showing but you can program the RGB LED on the top to change colour to reflect internet usage, enabling you to see at a glance if your network is clogged or down.

Finally, tucked away at the side, three buttons let you instantly suspend the wireless network, enable WPS pairing and activate the “Game Boost” mode – which I’ll get to below.

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 review: Networking features

The Rapture’s web console is a souped-up version of the standard Asus router firmware. It certainly looks very gamey, with flashy graphics, a sci-fi font and a picture of the router itself seemingly zooming down a futuristic highway. Browse down the side, though, and you’ll find the same features as on more businesslike routers.

Alongside advanced configuration settings, these include malicious website blocking and protection against malicious connections and botnet packets, powered by Trend Micro. A built-in VPN server lets you securely connect to your home network from anywhere on the internet. Parental controls let you prevent specific clients from connecting to the network between certain times, and you can also configure up to nine guest networks (three on each radio band), each with its own SSID, authentication system, bandwidth limits and optional isolation from LAN clients.

There are also a few tools included to help you keep your home network running smoothly. The traffic analyser lets you monitor how much bandwidth each client on your LAN is consuming, while the Wi-Fi Radar feature displays details of nearby wireless networks, so you can switch to an unused channel to avoid interference. That’s the idea, at least: I found that it showed me all the 2.4GHz networks in range, but failed to detect 5GHz ones, even from a second router located in the same room. Never mind, there are plenty of free smartphone apps that can do the same thing.

As a bonus, there’s integration with both Alexa and IFTTT, so you can use your voice or external events to trigger settings such as turning your guest network on and off, or suspending all internet access. You can also activate WPS pairing via Alexa, which is very convenient but could be a security risk as it means anyone can connect anything to your network with a simple voice command.

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 review: Gaming features

It is, of course, the gaming features that make this router special, and Asus places these front and centre. The web portal’s homepage shows live graphs of network traffic, ping speed and ping deviation; scroll down and you can view a live map showing servers for a selection of popular games, with colour-coding to indicate high, medium and low ping times.

More gaming features nestle among the buttons at the left-hand side of the web portal. The first you’ll see is the Game Boost feature, a switchable quality of service (QoS) feature for prioritising specific clients and network traffic types. The top half of the display lets you monitor the network usage of each connected client and breaks down traffic into specific protocols and applications, so you can see exactly where all your bandwidth is going. Below, you can drag clients up and down a list to give your gaming rig priority over other devices when Boost mode is active, and you can even choose which sort of traffic gets precedence – the default is gaming, but you can change this to prioritise media streaming, web browsing, VoIP applications or BitTorrent.

Next you come to the Gaming Private Network (GPN) service. This automatically routes the traffic from certain recognised games over the third-party wtfast proxy (wtfast.com), which is optimised for consistent speeds and low latency. wtfast itself is generally agreed to be a decent service but the free subscription that’s bundled with the router is a) limited to a single device and b) ominously subject to undefined “traffic limits”, which neither Asus nor wtfast was able to quantify for me. Under the circumstances, it’s best to assume that if you want to use this feature, you’ll need to cough up for a paid account, which starts at $10 a month for a single device. I should also mention that, while it’s convenient to let the router handle the VPN side of things, it only recognises around 60 games, while the regular wtfast desktop client works with over 1,000 titles.

Then there’s the Game Profile tool, which simplifies the process of opening and forwarding ports for gaming services. Similar to GPN, it offers a convenient preset list of games but this one’s much shorter, covering just 16 titles across both PC and console platforms. It’s also distinctly behind the times. Fortnite isn’t on the list, but FIFA 17 for the PlayStation 3 is. If your game isn’t supported, you can enter its port forwarding rules by hand, but that rather defeats the point of buying a special gaming router.

The final feature is the Game Radar tool, which gives you a larger view of the live ping-time map from the main dashboard. The visual presentation is neat but a mere ten games are supported, namely Diablo 3, Dota 2, League of Legends, Hero of the Storm, Overwatch, Starcraft 2, World of Warcraft, Hearthstone, World of Tanks or World of Warplanes and, this time, you can’t add your own, which somewhat undermines the usefulness of the feature.

It’s also a bit deflating that, once the router tells you the fastest server, you still have to configure the connection yourself. DumaOS is much smarter here, actively blocking faraway servers to make sure you only connect to fast local ones.

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 review: Verdict

As a specialised gaming router, the GT-AX11000 is a little disappointing. Its bandwidth management features are solid, but the port-forwarding and ping map features aren’t exactly life-changing, and they only work for a handful of games. The GPN feature ought to be a highlight, but it’s undermined by restrictions and uncertainty over traffic limits. In all, we find Netgear’s DumaOS a more persuasive platform.

The ROG Rapture GT-AX1000 has one big advantage over the Nighthawk, though, and that’s 802.11ax. This ensures you’ll be getting next-generation performance from your wireless devices well into the next decade, while the Netgear remains forever stuck at 802.11ac speeds. No doubt, an 802.11ax DumaOS router will come along sooner or later but with the XR700 barely a few months old, we’re not holding our breath.

For that reason, if you want to buy a high-end gaming router right now, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 is the one we’d choose. Its gaming features aren’t as extensive or powerful as they might at first appear, but it has the key bandwidth management tools you need to keep your games running smoothly, plus a good set of advanced networking features that will please gamers and non-gamers alike.

Perhaps more to the point, it won’t start to feel outdated in a year’s time and, when you’re spending more than £400 on a router, that seems like a pretty major plus point.