If your head hasn’t stopped spinning by the case of Asus’s RT-AX86U Pro vs RT-AX86U, maybe you should skip this post. Or at least, pay good attention to the digits.
Unlike the RT-AX86U Pro, the “Pro” notion of the RT-AX88U Pro seems to make more sense. Despite the identical appearance, it’s almost an entirely new Wi-Fi 6 router.
This quick preview walks you through the differences in the RT-AX88U Pro vs RT-AX88U matchup and explains why it might be a significant upgrade. That is if you can still consider any Wi-Fi 6 router as an upgrade nowadays, considering the availability of Wi-Fi 6E and the upcoming Wi-Fi 7.
But at the end of the day, the new router seems to have enough to make the outgoing Wi-Fi 6 standard exciting again. For some.
Asus RT-AX88U Pro: Practically the non-gaming version of the GT-AX6000
I haven’t had my hands on the new RT-AX88U Pro, and Asus has been tight-lipped about it. Among other things, it’s unknown if or when the new router will make it to the US market. Currently, it’s not available anywhere.
However, judging from the specs, the new router is basically the RT-AX88U with a different set of network ports. Instead of one Gigabit WAN and eight Gigabit LANs, the RT-AX88U Pro has two 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig ports (one WAN and one LAN) and four Gigabit LANs. Other than that, it also has a faster CPU.
Needless to say, it’ll come with the latest Asuswrt firmware version — likely the 388 release — and will probably also get the Merlin treatment. (Both the RT-AX86U and RT-AX86U Pro get Merlin.)
Right off the bat, the new router reminds me of the GT-AX6000. In fact, the only difference is that it’s a non-gaming version with a different shape.
With that, let’s check the RT-AX88U Pro’s hardware specifications against those I mentioned.
Asus RT-AX88U Pro vs RT-AX88U vs GT-AX6000: Hardware specifications
Highly likely a familiar experience
Judging from the specs above, it’s highly likely that the RT-AX88U Pro will deliver a similar experience as the GT-AX6000 — the two share the same Wi-Fi grades, processing power, and network ports.
The new router is not part of the ROG Rapture gaming family — it doesn’t have Asus’s gaming features, so it will likely be a bit cheaper than the older cousin. We’d hope so, anyway.
Compared with the RT-AX88U, the new RT-AX88U Pro will likely be much faster, and its two Multi-Gig ports are enough for users to look past the fact it has three fewer LAN ports.
And I love the shared design of the two. It has that distinct look of a non-nonsense Wi-Fi router.
Other than that, it’s safe to say the RT-AX88U Pro will share the same feature set as other Wi-Fi 6 Asus routers.
Per Asus, it comes with the usual goodies, including a robust web interface, a helpful mobile app, support for AiMesh, and a ton of network settings/features — as I detailed in this primer post on Asus Wi-Fi routers.
Three years ago, the Asus RT-AX88U Pro would have been a tremendous Wi-Fi 6 router. While Wi-Fi 6 is no longer a hot commodity today, the dual 2.5Gbps ports still play a huge role for those wanting to truly enjoy Gigabit or faster Internet.
And if you’re thinking you’re missing out on Wi-Fi 6E, that can be quickly added via upgrade hardware. So yes, when available, the RT-AX88U Pro will still be a relevant, even exciting, Wi-Fi machine for the foreseeable future.
Check back for more on its availability and possibly a review if I see fit. In the meantime below is the rating of the similar-specced GT-AX6000 for reference.
Fast, reliable Wi-Fi with excellent coverage
Dual Multi-Gig ports with Dual-WAN, Link Aggregations, and more
Tons of helpful networking features and settings, including AiMesh 2.0 and gaming-related applications
Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app, no login account required
Multi-Gig, WAN/LAN Link Aggregation support
Excellent NAS performance when hosting a portable drive
Bold-looking design, no fan, runs cool
Lowest Multi-Gig grade (2.5Gbps), there could be more ports considering the router’s massive physical size
Impractical antenna design, bulky, not practically wall-mountable