The RGB lighting trend arguably reached its peak in May last year. That was when Razer said that it would develop an RGB toaster, adding to the multitude of tech gadgets that sport these multi-coloured LED lights.
Hence, I am quite blase about the RGB lighting in Asus's new RT-AX82U router (available on Lazada and Shopee), though I must admit that the gently-pulsing multi-coloured lights at the front of this router are mesmerising.
Dubbed the Aura RGB lighting system, these LEDs are controlled using the Asus Router mobile app (available for iOS and Android). Seven different LED lighting schemes are available in the app.
While I do not mind having these LEDs turned on all the time, some may prefer them to be off at night. The router lacks a setting to automatically turn the LEDs on or off at a specific time daily.
The AX82U has a fairly futuristic looking design with four upright, non-removable antennas. Its plastic chassis is light (740g) and can be wall mounted.
It has a standard configuration of four Gigabit LAN ports and a USB 3.0 port to connect to an external storage drive or a printer.
Marketed as a gaming router, the AX82U touts several features that are geared towards its core audience. First, it has a dedicated gaming LAN port that automatically prioritises network traffic from the device connected to this port - without requiring the user to manually change the setting in the app or router's Web interface.
For smartphones and tablets that cannot use the dedicated gaming port, the AX82U has a one-tap Mobile Game Mode that will prioritise the wireless connection of the mobile device that is currently running the Asus Router app.
Of course, the AX82U also has a standard adaptive Quality of Service (QoS) feature that lets users prioritise network traffic according to type, such as media streaming or file transfer.
Other features that can be accessed via the Asus Router app include parental controls, the bundled AiProtection Pro security suite and a host of wireless settings, from changing the DNS server to port forwarding. The app displays these settings clearly in a list.
The router supports the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, also known as 802.11ax. In my usual speed test, which has my Wi-Fi 6 test laptop placed in the same room - my living room - as the AX82U, the average download speed recorded was a whopping 925Mbps. This is the fastest speed that I have tested with a Wi-Fi 6 router - beating the previous record of 873Mbps set by the TP-Link Deco X20. In fact, the Asus even exceeded 1Gbps occasionally during my test.
But there was a drastic drop in speed to around 28Mbps when my test laptop was moved to a distant bedroom with the door closed. This was far lower than the 100Mbps to 200Mbps speeds that I was expecting.
Thus, it would seem that the AX82U's radio waves lack the range - especially with a solid wooden door in the way - to reach the furthest part of my home. However, this issue can be tackled with the Asus AiMesh feature, which pairs the AX82U with multiple Asus AiMesh-compatible routers to extend the range of the wireless network and eliminate Wi-Fi dead zones.
Asus has been adding this AiMesh feature to its latest, as well as older routers. If you already own an Asus router, chances are high that it will support AiMesh.
At $359, the AX82U is a mid-priced Wi-Fi 6 router with the style and the substance to appeal to gamers, though it may need the help of an additional router or extender if you live in a large or multi-storey home.
Fast Wi-Fi 6 speeds
Easy to prioritise devices for gaming
Full-featured mobile app
Mediocre Wi-Fi range
Ethernet Interface: 4 x Gigabit LAN ports, 1 x Gigabit WAN port
Security: WPA3-Personal, WPA2-Personal, WPA-Personal, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Enterprise
Advanced Firewall Features: NAT and SPI
Value for money: 4/5