ASUS RT-AC5300 router - a delight not only for Gamers

Ben B

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Jan 14, 2016
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ASUS RT- AC5300, irresistible power, speed and features

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The Looks
Like or hate it, the ASUS RT-AC5300 makes a very bold statement when first viewed, with surface contours reminiscent of a stealth plane and 8 chunky antennas looking like it is ready to devour something, it could even be described as scary. It will be available at local retailers from 4 March 2016 at a recommended retail price of R6999. Appearances aside, it is impossible not to be thrilled by what it delivers once you switch it on. It can of course function as a Wireless 802.11ac router, an Access Point, or a Media Bridge and I will cover each of these in some detail below, but first a summary of the main features

Features
• Ultra-fast 802.11ac Wi-Fi router with a combined tri-band data rate of 5334 Mbps for low latency online gaming, smooth 4K streaming and extremely fast file-sharing.
• Broadcom® NitroQAMTM technology boosts two 5 GHz data rates up to 4334 Mbps and 2.4 GHz up to 1000 Mbps.
• Tri-Band with multiple devices connected at the same time.
• Tri-Band Smart Connect automatically selects the fastest of the three available frequency bands for each device, based on the device’s speed, signal strength and how busy each band is.
• 4x4 antenna design with AiRadar universal beamforming for unbeatable wireless signal coverage
• Link aggregation supports close to 2 Gbps wired transmission for more devices to enjoy faster access speed.
• Multiple capacity Wi-Fi with revolutionary MU-MIMO technology.
• AiProtection with Trend MicroTM with triple-strength total network security, plus robust parental controls and privacy protection

The Good
The best part of the ASUS RT-AC5300 is that it has something for everyone. Yes, it offers a superior gaming experience and can concurrently stream multiple instances of 4K content around the home, but it is just as well suited for deployment in an office, restaurant or other location with many mobile users. It is certainly not only for play - it is an equally good workhorse in the business environment. Configuring it is just as versatile - you can leave it at default settings, or assign application priorities and quality of service levels to your heart's content while living in the knowledge your network is protected by a Trend Micro firewall being updated in real time. Those 8 antennas aren't just for show either - the combination of the latest Broadcom chip inside and improved external antenna design results in an impressive signal on all three Wi-Fi bands

The Bad
It only has 4 wired Gigabit Ethernet ports and is expensive. You are unlikely to achieve the advertised speeds since those tests were done in ideal laboratory conditions. Have solace in the saying that the joy of a good product lasts much longer than the pleasure of a cheap price

As a Wireless Router
A device with this much power ideally needs a fast internet connection - VDSL or FTTH. But do not despair if you are still using ADSL like the majority of us. You can retain your ADSL modem for establishing the DSL connection and use the ASUS RT-AC5300 for all the routing functions and other LAN/WAN options. In such a configuration you gain OpenVPN server functionality, multiple usage options for the two USB ports, cloud services, traffic analysis, adaptive quality of service, Game Boost, a superior Wi-Fi signal and 3G/4G failover. If you had to endure internet outages due to Telkom line faults, the actions of cable thieves, disruption of service at your ISP or lightning frying your DSL modem, you will welcome the option to switch over to a 3G/4G connection, be it as an automatic failover or by manually inserting a 3G/4G dongle into one of the USB ports.
If I were to elaborate on all of the router functions in the ASUS RT-AC5300, you will soon get bored by it all. Not mentioning some of the outstanding features would be an injustice, so please allow me to explain the advantage for Gamers. Ping time and variance are critical technical parameters that affect responsiveness in online gaming, and their values depend heavily on the route game packets take to and from their destination. The Gamers Private Network® (GPN®) from WTFast® automatically performs route optimization, choosing the most efficient route for game packets, resulting in consistently-lower ping time and minimal packet loss. With the RT-AC5300 this optimization is free for accelerating one selectable device at a time, so you can enjoy the results on supported competitive multi-player online games

As a Wi-Fi Access Point
If you already have another router on your LAN, you may decide to use the ASUS RT-AC5300 in Access Point only mode. While it is not the most effective application of such a high end device, you will at least enjoy a strong Wi-Fi signal and some options to schedule, prioritize and monitor your Wi-Fi clients. A design that improves 802.11ac performance has also benefitted 802.11n clients on the 2.4Ghz band. There are different opinions on the idea to give the same SSID name to the 2.4Ghz band and the two 5Ghz bands and letting the device decide when to choose which one, depending on signal strength. I quite like the idea since it avoids the need to know which signal to use in a given part of the house

As a Media Bridge
In Media Bridge mode the device expands the LAN by using one of the Wi-Fi bands to link to another point on the LAN, and passing that signal through the Ethernet ports to wired devices. Wi-Fi access by client devices is not possible - it is essentially a high speed (2167 Mbps maximum) wireless connection to your LAN for situations where a wired connection is impractical. Please see the graph further down for a comparison how such a link would compare to a Gigabit Ethernet connection or a 802.11ac client making a 867Mbps connection to a wired Access Point

Ease of use
The product comes with a printed quick setup guide and a CD containing ASUS utilities and a user manual in Adobe Acrobat format. The usual ASUS web GUI is easy to use, whether you are a novice or an experienced user. Being a fairly bulky device, placement needs careful consideration to end up with a location that is both functional and out of the way

Performance
The ASUS RT-AC5300 is powerful and fast with headroom to spare, the average user will not saturate it's processing power.
• Wi-Fi signal measurements at different locations in the house of all available SSID's make it the best performer in both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands by a clear margin, beating a mixture of ASUS products and other manufacturers' equipment.
• Streaming of a 4K video sample with a bit rate of 95Mbps over the network was handled with ease, on wired, as well as, wireless links
• Using two RT-AC5300's to create a Media Bridge produced a mixed bag of results. The first conclusion is that link speed over Wi-Fi connections is no indication of the transfer rate that can be achieved, since distance and obstacles in the signal path can adversely affect the transfer rate of an already low link speed. This was demonstrated by a comparison between a RT-AC87U close by, but at the same link speed as a RT-AC5300 further away - the closer unit delivered a slightly higher transfer rate over a similar link speed, despite being a less powerful device. Distance remains a WiFi killer, especially in the 5Ghz band. The obvious other conclusion is that a Wi-Fi link of more than double the link speed of Gigabit Ethernet, does not match the transfer rate of Gigabit Ethernet since Wi-Fi remains half-duplex and Ethernet is full-duplex. Lastly, do not discount the transfer rate that can be achieved by a good 802.11ac client connecting to a wired access point

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(SR means "Same Room" - 2M means a distance of 2 Meters away and so forth)

Value for Money
There is no denying, this is an expensive piece of equipment. However, if any of the multitude of features offered here is what you need, then it will still be money well spent. It is an unfortunate fact that prices in our country reflect the deterioration in our rate of exchange. Our experience of what constitutes value for money is being challenged on a daily basis in many different spheres of our lives

Ratings
Overall 8.0/10
Ease of Use 8.5/10
Performance 8.0/10
Support 8.0/10
Value for Money 7.5/10

The Bottom Line
Advertising claims by manufacturers of just about everything we buy are known to have been produced under optimum conditions. Maximum speed claims on networking equipment is no exception to that rule. I do caution users not to make their buying decisions based solely on the speed claims of a router by any manufacturer, because you will in all likelihood be disappointed. On the other hand, if you are a serious gamer, you will not be disappointed by the inherent speed and access to the Gamers Private Network, get your hands on this one before others do

In Summary
Router functionality is forever expanding into new areas that end users can exploit - it is no longer just a necessary part of our internet connectivity that we don't pay any attention to. The ASUS RT-AC5300 invites one to explore those options with ease of use, clear guidance and solid performance. If you have a need for any of the many features included in the RT-AC5300, it should be on your short list.
 
Last edited:

Werfetter

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 29, 2010
Messages
972
I wonder if this thing will also teleport me back to the mother-ship as soon as my work here is done?
 
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