Should You Buy the Asus RT-AC5300?
Why are you looking at the Asus RT-AC5300 wireless router?
Are you a gamer? Do you have a lot of devices that need to be connected to the internet? Is your current wireless router speed too slow? Want to future proof your investment?
If you have one or more of the questions mentioned above and don’t want to read all those technical gobeddy gook especially on a technical subject like a wireless router, then you are absolutely on the right track to check out the latest tri-band wireless router, the Asus RT-AC3500 on this hub.
I am sharing this information here because I have seen over and over that sometimes people bought good equipment but unfortunately through the lack of knowledge, they later complained that the equipment was bad due to a mismatch of expectations.
In this hub, I will share with you all I know about this router in a manner as if you are talking to your friend. I will try to put as little technical jargon as possible into this conversation with the hope that you can use the information here to decide whether this latest Asus RT-5300 tri-band wireless router is the right wireless router for you or not.
So for those of you who are more technical, please bear with me as I may appear to explain something that may seems so simple to you. This is because I do not want to make any assumptions that everyone knows what we are talking about; especially on things that we techies tend to take for granted.
What are you looking for in a tri-band wireless router like the Asus RT-AC5300?
So why are you are looking at the RT-AC5300?
The main reasons I found are the proliferation of online games and gadgets requiring fast internet access such as smart phones, laptops, smart TV, tablets, smart thermometers and any other gadget that has got a "smart" tag to it.
I fully agree with a friend who summed it up: “everything today works through the internet”.
Anyway, whatever your reason is, let’s find out whether you should buy the Asus RT-AC5300 or some other alternatives.
Here is a brief summary of the Asus RT-AC5300:
What comes with the Asus RT-AC5300?
BCM4709+BCM4366 (2.4GHz) + 2 x BCM4366 (5GHz)
128MB of flash and 256MB of DDR 3 RAM
8 x external dual-band detachable antennas
2.4GHz and 5GHz (concurrent)
802.11b: up to 11Mbps | 802.11a/g: up to 54Mbps | 802.11n: up to 600Mbps | NitroQAM (2.4GHz): up to 1,000Mbps | 802.11ac (5GHz): up to 2,167Mbps.
1 x Gigabit WAN port, 4 x Gigabit LAN ports, 1 x USB 3.0 port, 1 x USB 2.0 port
ASUS WRT firmware, AiCloud, AiProtection, WTFast client, High-power mode, Download master application, Dual-WAN, Port Aggregation, VPN server, Guest network, DLNA server, Automatic IP, Static IP, PPPoE (MPPE support), PPTP, L2TP, IPv4, IPv6.
Talking about the box, let us understand the major points on the box that the manufacturer is trying to tell us:
- 2.4 Ghz and dual 5 Ghz
Firstly, what is tri-band and why the number 5300?
Tri-band means the router has three bands.
In this case, the Asus RT-AC5300 has three bands in the following configurations:
- 2.4 GHZ NitroQAM 1000 Mbps
- 5.00 GHz - 1 NitroQAM 2167 Mbps
- 5.00 GHz - 2 NitroQAM 2167 Mbps
If you add up the numbers of the bands and round it to the nearest hundred, you get 5300; that's how the 5300 number comes about. "AC" tells you that the router is a 802.11 AC class router.
By the way, those numbers are only the maximum theoretical numbers. In the real world with all the interference and other factors degrading its performance, it would be next to impossible to achieve those maximum numbers.
However we still need some numbers for comparison and reference purposes and these are the numbers that are usually stated by the manufacturers for all their routers.
What about the 2.4 and 5 GHz?
Those are the spectrum through which the wireless router tramits.
Between the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz spectrums, there are also some differences. Right now, the 2.4 Ghz spectrum is more popular (i.e. many devices are using that spectrum). As such it is more cluttered and slower than the 5 GHz spectrum.
Many people look at the 2.4GHz band to be legacy as new hardware tends to adopt the 5GHz bands for faster speed.
What about this QAM thingy?
QAM stands for Quadrature Amplitude Modulation and is a method used to double the effective bandwidth by combining two amplitude-modulated (AM) signals into a single channel.
NitroQAM is the technology in the RT-AC5300 tri-band wireless router to boost the usual 1,734 Mbps for 5 GHz and 600 Mbps for 2.4 GHz wireless bandwidth numbers respectively to 2,167 Mbps and 1,000 Mbps.
NitroQAM is a 1024-QAM technology that is actually the extension of the industry standard 256-QAM technology in 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Its aim is to increase the data rates for the same frequency as you can see from the numbers.
A a casual glance, the move from 256 to 1024 appears to be substantial but if you calculate the actual increase, it is only around 25% i.e. the theoretical increase from 1,734 Mbps to 2,167 Mbps.
Still... at the time of writing, the RT-AC5300 has one of the best maximum Wi-Fi bandwidth that is available for the consumer market.
Asus also used the latest Broadcomm BCM43465 chips to power this router. Each of those chips can handle four of the antennae as well as the 1024-QAM technology that gives this router such awesome speed.
What are the benefits of a tri-band
As the description implies, a tri-band router broadcast three different signals. You can look at the tri-band wireless router as having three different Wi-Fi networks at the same time from the same box or device.
However unlike the dual band router which broadcast two different signals, the tri-band router does not broadcast three different signals but a combination of a 2.4 GHz signal and two separate 5 GHz signals.
The question that comes to mind is why do you need two separate 5 GHz Wi-Fi signals? The two channels helps because frequently Wi-Fi networks suffers congestion. Instead of congestion which slows down the speed, we split the theoretical maximum Wi-Fi speeds and share them between all the devices on the network so that they are faster.
A good example that many can relate to on a dual band router is when someone starts streaming a high resolution TV movie from the internet; suddenly other people on the same network will notice that the Wi-Fi speed available to their devices are reduced.
This is because the clients share the same 5 Ghz band.
On the other hand, on a tri-band router with its two separate 5 GHz networks, the router can automatically sort the different devices at its two different networks; ensuring that that neither would interfere with each other. As a result, it offers more speed to share between those devices because they don't have to fight for the same resources within the same channel.
The RT-AC5300 is also capable of automatically figuring out and using the optimal band to communicate with each device based on its capabilities and signal strength via the use of the beam forming technology. With all its three bands simultaneously focusing the signals at the clients through beam forming, you get very strong and stable signals.
Do note however that if you have only a single device connected to a tri-band wireless router, you will not get more speed - this is because there is nothing to be shared. You will only get the benefit of the speed for additional devices that you add to your network.
A good case for using a tri-band router is when you have two (or more) devices in your home and both are using a lot of bandwidth concurrently; like my example above regarding the streaming video from Netflix to your smart TV and someone simultaneously playing online game on the computer.
In essence, having two 5GHz bands should make for greater throughput when many devices are connected simultaneously since it essentially splits the load. On top of that having the AiRadar beamforming definitely helps. I will not repeat myself but you can read how beamforming helps here.
So if you ask me how I would rate the RT-AC5300? Here is how I would rate it:
However, does that mean that I would recommend you to buy it?
Well that depends as whether you should buy it or not depends upon whether it matches your current and future needs.
Here are some reasons why you may want to consider other routers:
Situations where you may want to look for an alternative instead of the Asus RT-AC5300
There are many reasons for buying or not buying something based on each person's preferences.
As the saying goes, one man's meat may be another's poison. So what I have below are points to highlight what I feel is negative but which could be a positive for others.
As such, just use it as a guide.
- Have a slow internet connection. You will not get obvious benefits unless you have a very fast internet connection. Your router will only distribute what you feed it. By the way, adding more Wi-Fi speed will not speed anything up unless you are performing local file transfers and other things that utilizes only a local network connection. Most of the time you will find that you don't do much of local file transfers inside your home network
- You don't have many devices. A tri-band router will give you benefits when you need to have many devices accessing it
- If you really need more than four Gigabit Ethernet ports. The reason I say "really" is because most of the time many people would not need more than four as the purpose of a wireless router is to be able to be connected wirelessly!
- If you need more than one USB 3.0 port. The router has two USB ports - one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0
- Some people don't like the fact that it only has a single light to indicate the status of the Ethernet ports. However through experience, most of the time you don't need each light for each port because they are seldom used in the first place and the ports also seldom break down! (It is easier to do fault detection if each light represents each port)
- You find the RT-AC5300 ugly. Again beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Some people absolutely loves the look of the 5300 while others absolutely hate it!
- If you find the price at less than $400 too steep, then you might want to wait. I believe the prices of tri-band routers may drop in the next twelve month's time when more of such routers becomes commercially available. That will also make the model a little dated and you may not want a dated model when the time comes!
Whatever your reason. if you find that this may not be the right time to get a tri-band wireless router but still need a wireless router, then you may want to look at a dual band wireless router instead. Check out the TP-Link dual band routers as they are pretty good and are now very reasonably priced as well.
On the other hand, if you also need a modem and would like to have both the modem and wireless router combined together in the same box, then I would highly suggest that you check out both the Arris Motorola SBG6782 or SBG6580.
What are the pros of the Asus RT-AC5300.
Ok. If you have determined fact that you want the RT-AC5300, I want you to make sure that you have made the right choice and have covered as many aspects as possible.
Here are some of the positive points that I felt the router had, in no particular order:
- I particularly like its setup routine which is very comprehensive. The setup routine guides you through setting up the router as a router, or an access point or a wireless bridge. However you will need to know what you want to set it up properly
- You get consistent bandwidth delivery through the dynamic switching of devices between the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands based on speed, load and signal strength via the ASUS Smart Connect technology
- It is MU-MIMO ready. However right now there are not many MU-MIMO clients in the market. As such you can immediately use the MU-MIMO features the moment you get your first MU-MIMO client
- It has the ability for link aggregation using the Ethernet ports. Link aggregation via the AC5300's Ethernet ports can give you up to 2Gbps throughput
Situations when it warrants buying the Asus RT-AC5300
Here are some of the reasons and positive points for getting the RT-AC5300:
- You are a technology pioneer. As someone who loves technology, I have no hesitation to buy the RT-AC5300 as it packs in a lot of new and powerful features
- You have plenty of devices using Wi-Fi. The AC5300 router could speed things up by preventing all those devices from interfering with each other
- You want to future proof your investment. Unless you like to keep changing hardware to experiment with new technologies like me, this router could last you for years from now
- You like to have a super fast Wi-Fi. However do note that the real benefit of a triple-band router like the AC5300 is to efficiently handle multiple devices connected to your wireless network but not to significantly boost the throughput at 5GHz channel
- You are a gamer. The RT-AC5300's in built access to WTFast Gamers Private Network (GPN) of route-optimized servers to give low and stable ping times for you to enjoy gaming to the max
- Strong security and extensive parental controls
- Many owners find it easy to setup. However note that the ease of setting up of anything especially something like a wireless router is very subjective!
10 Commonly asked questions regarding the Ausus RT-AC5300
Before you take out that credit card, you may want to quickly go through 10 very commonly asked questions on the Asus RT-AC5300.
How many years of warranty is provided?
3 years manufacturer's limited warranty and if you buy from Amazon, you will also be covered by Amazon's 30 days return policy
What is the range?
The specs says that that it can cover up to 5,000 sq ft. However I have not had the opportunity to check this out. The RT-AC500 worked with no problems in my friend's double story house that is approximately 3,000 sq ft. However the range is subjected to interference, type of building material, age of building, wiring etc
How many USB ports are there?
2 USB ports - 1x USB 3.0 and 1x USB 2.0
Can I mount it on my wall?
No. Actually, it is quite heavy at around 3 lbs
Do you need to subscribe to Trend Micro for the AiProtection?
No. The price is inclusive of the AiProtection
What are the maximum number of wireless devices that can be connected to the AC5300?
I am not sure but recently at a gathering at my friend's place, we had simultaneously connected to it the following devices: 3 notebooks, 2 Macs, 1 tablets, 6 mobile phones a smart TV and a smart thermostat without any noticable slack.
What is the voltage adapter?
You can use it with both 110V and 240V AC input
Does it support DD-WRT?
Does it have MAC address filtering?
Can I separate 2.4 and 5 ghz clients?
Yes. Just give them different names and assign them different passwords.
A frequent complaint that I always hear is that this router is expensive. However compared with the monthly fees that you have to pay your service providers; I think paying a one time cost of less than $400 is a good deal especially if you can make use of the features, security, stability, power, range and speed of the RT-AC5300. What is the point of paying so much to your provider when you don't make maximum use of what you are paying? On top of that, you are definitely future proofing your investment with this router.
Ok. Assuming that you have decided that the Asus RT-AC5300 is for you, what about your cable modem? You wireless router can only distribute, what it has received from the outside world via the modem.
If you are looking for a cable modem to compliment this tri-band router, then I suggest you check out Motorola Arris cable modems like the SB6190 or SB6183. They are solid cable modems that are truly tried and tested.
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