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It’s a router, not a spider-like UFO. ASUS RT-AX89X Review

ASUS has clearly once again released the most futuristic and unusual router in the user segment. Following the monsters, RT-AC5300 and GT-AX11000 on the shelves get a fresh model – RT-AX89X. It surpasses its predecessor in the number of ports, radio modules, and external antennas, although, it would seem, much more. The capabilities of their predecessors were more than enough to meet all the basic needs of a small office or a large family. What did this “spider” bring us, how does it differ from its predecessors? Let’s find out.

ASUS RT-AX89X Review

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ASUS RT-AX89X: Specifications

  • Connectors: 1× 10Gb Ethernet, 9× 1Gb Ethernet, 2× USB 3.1 Gen 1, 1× SFP+.
  • Power supply: 19 V (max. 3.42 A).
  • Supported Wi-Fi standards are 802.11a/b/g/n/ax.
  • Antennas: 8 pcs, external.
  • MIMO support: 4 × 4 (2.4GHz), 8×8 (5GHz).
  • Process: quad-core 2 GHz (Qualcomm IPQ8074).
  • RAM: 1024 MB.
  • Storage: 256 MB.
  • Internet connection: PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP, Automatic IP, Static IP, Dual WAN, WAN Aggregation, 3G/4G LTE dongle, Android tethering, Port forwarding, Maximum port forwarding rule, Port triggering, DMZ, DDNS, NAT Passthrough (PPTP, L2TP, IPSec, RTSP, H.323, SIP Passthrough, PPPoE relay).
  • VPN support: VPN Client (L2PT, OVPN, PPTP), VPN Server (IPSec, OVPN, PPTP), VPN Fusion.
  • Encryption support: 64/128 bit WEP, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Enterprise, WPS.
  • USB device support: 3G/4G LTE dongle, AiCloud, Download master, AiDisk, Media Server, Time Machine, Samba Server, FTP Server, file systems (FS_Tuxera_HFS+, FS_Tuxera_NTFS, FS_Tuxera_vFAT, FS_ext2, FS_ext3, FS_ext4).
  • Dimensions: 344 × 344 × 80 mm.

The price at the time of publication of the review is $410.

Packaging, Equipment, Appearance

Box at the router… Huge. More than many top-of-the-box motherboards.

Instructions to the router apply a standard quantity, plus a warranty card.

Of the accessories – only the most necessary: a power supply with two types of cables and an Ethernet cord. In this case, not enough. It would be nice to attach the router to different surfaces to report to the kit.

The router itself is supplied in “marching” mode – with folded antennas. In this form, most of all resemble a flying saucer.

Eight antennas are opened by light movements of a pair of fingers, and… now it is clear why he was dubbed a “spider.” It is a pity that this procedure is not mechanized. Cyberpunk fans would likely love it.

Almost the entire body is dotted with ventilation slots. There are no them except at the ends with connectors and under three rubber legs. A hint of a powerful filling?

About connectors. Ethernet ports in total ten pieces are distributed non-standard: two WAN (1 and 10 Gb), eight LAN in two blocks of four. In addition, the AX89X mounted an SFP+ slot for the installation of an additional module (for example, to connect an optical communication line). A rarity even in those routers positioned for small offices’ needs (from non-professional series). To the right of the SFP+ port is a barely noticeable recessed factory reset button.

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To connect drives, printers, 3G/4G dongles, there are two USB 3.1 Gen 1. Even somehow strange that they did without Type-C, with such and such wide lines of wired communication. Next to the USB socket for the power supply and the power button. The power of the unit is 65 watts.

There are seven indicators, all placed in a row. In addition to the basic functions, they show the status of connections via WAN, the activity of access points at 2.4 and 5 GHz, the activity of modules on the SFP+ port.

To control the router’s functions, there are three buttons: WPS, disabling indicators, and Wi-Fi modules. Useful functions, and it is good that they are performed by “hardware shortcuts

N.”ow you can estimate the number of cables that can be connected to the router and the fact that the connectors are evenly scattered on four sides. Only a horizontal installation is provided for the router, which does not allow you to fix it, for example, on the ceiling. When placed on the table, it will take up a lot of space, and it will be difficult to compactly lay the cables (if there are more than five or seven pieces). This should be taken into account when buying the AX89X. Let’s see what electronic stuffing the “spider” has.

Internal structure

All controllers and strapping are assembled on one PCB. To see them, you will need to dismantle a pair of aluminum radiator plates and open the lids of the shielding “boxes.”

For forced convection, a 70 mm Delta AFB0712VHB fan is installed on the upper radiator. Accordingly, the filling can be heated so that natural convection to maintain safe temperatures controllers is clearly not enough.

The basis of computing power is a quad-core ARM-processor Qualcomm IPQ8074. This is a specialized SoC designed for routers. Its specifications almost completely repeat those indicated on the ASUS website: support for MIMO 12×12 (8×8 at 5 GHz and 4×4 at 2.4 GHz), peak speed at 5 GHz – up to 4.8 Gbps. Nearby soldered a gigabyte of RAM and 256 MB of flash memory.

With gigabit ports, it is connected by the QCA8075 controller to five Ethernet. One of the gigabit ports goes to the seven-port switch QCA8337, thanks to which LAN ports 3 to 8 work. The QCA8075 has only gigabit WAN and LAN1, LAN2 ports. The Aquantia AQR107-B0-EG controller provides Ten-gigabit Ethernet.

Wireless networks are monitored by the QCN5024 controller (2.4 GHz) and the QCN5054 (5 GHz) pair. Each of them is connected to four front ends, QPF4288 and QPF4588 (2.4 and 5 GHz, respectively).

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The architecture of the router turned out to be a little confusing. Still, the main trump card of the device, judging by the controllers, is the ability to work with many clients at a frequency of 5 GHz without losing speed characteristics.

Web Interface

On the AX89X, ASUS decided not to reinvent the wheel and install a standard web interface. It is easily recognizable by the first introductory screen.

The title screen reflects basic information: CPU utilization, number of clients, the status of wireless networks, connected USB devices.

Of course, the AX89X can be combined into MESH systems to increase coverage areas. A separate section is allocated for this technology.

Below is the “Guest network” section, which allows you to allocate a separate subnet for “guest” devices with Internet access but isolated from the “internal network” (located behind the NAT).

The next section is devoted to the proprietary utility AiProtect, which allows you to block malicious objects and monitor incoming traffic. As basic protection, the tool is not bad, especially for unsophisticated users.

The technology for prioritizing QoS traffic is allocated in a separate subsection. A rarely used technology that can be found in many end-user routers.

The traffic analyzer allows you to view the statistics of its use conveniently.

The Game section is designed to optimize the network connection to improve the stability and speed of the connection. The category of game utilities can be attributed to Open NAT, which allows you to quickly “throw” the ports for the correct operation of a particular game.

You can configure the operation of USB drives and peripherals connected in the appropriate section. For example, you can spread the carrier’s contents and configure the WAN through the 3G/4G dongle (in case of interruptions with the main channel). In the same section, it was possible to include AiCloud, which allows you to create your own cloud storage, but they decided to allocate it to a separate item.

A large section is devoted to setting up a wireless network. Everything works without problems with the default settings, but if necessary, you can configure almost all the settings yourself. And raise the RADIUS server, which will positively impact the security of the wireless connection.

The wired internal network configuration section is simpler and clearer.

The WAN partition is large, as the AX89X allows you to flexibly configure the “receiving” of the Internet, including dual WAN. DDNS and NAT management was also brought here, although there is a separate section for this.

Voice control of the router and work on scripts is configured in the Alexa & IFTTT section.

With VPN full order: you can raise the server or configure the router as a client. IPSec, OpenVPN, and PPTP are supported.

In the Firewall section, restrictions on access to certain resources are configured. You can set the time interval in which the ban will apply.

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The “administration” section contains basic settings: operating mode, SSH access, access to the web interface from the Internet, firmware update, configuration saving, etc.

To track the router’s behavior, there is a section with logs, according to which, in case of any problems, you can see the cause of the failure.

Test results

Testing the Wi-Fi channel bandwidth was carried out in a typical apartment with capital brick walls and interior partitions made of wood and orgalite. The client was a laptop with a Wi-Fi adapter based on the AX200 controller. The iPerf program measured the data transfer rate into one, two, four, and eight streams. The server was alternately raised on a PC connected via gigabit Ethernet to the router and laptop. 3 and 5 meters from the router – line of sight, 7 – already behind a non-capital partition, 10 – behind the main wall. Measurements were carried out five times. The average value was taken, abnormally low results were discarded.

As can be seen from the two graphs, the speed characteristics of the router for the 2×2 mode are quite adequate. The bottleneck is the laptop itself (antennas and the number of “parallel channels”). This test does not reveal all the abilities of the AX89X because its horse is the simultaneous work with many customers without drawdown of speed characteristics. Here you can also assess the impact of removing the client from the router on speed indicators.

It is worth noting that thanks to the constantly running fan, the AX89X practically did not heat up during the test. Yes, there was no question of any “full load,” but many routers already with such a modest load are decently heated. Any noticeable discomfort fan, rotating at minimum speeds, did not bring.

Conclusion: Should you buy ASUS RT-AX89X Router?

ASUS RT-AX89X is an interesting, high-quality product but niche. It is not even in every office that can be recommended, except that it has an abundance of customers who drive huge amounts of data over a wireless network. The possibilities for a wired connection (10-Gbit Ethernet, SFP+) look solid, but the benefit of their use will only be in large networks. In my opinion, this product should have focused more on the corporate sector in terms of external execution and tools. Given that such a powerful and expensive router has survived retail sales, ASUS sees potential customers ready to pay about 30 thousand rubles for it. It is interesting to see his face.

PROS

  • Powerful hardware platform.
  • Intuitive web interface.
  • An abundance of settings and additional features.
  • Support MIMO 8 × 8 in the 5 GHz band.

ASUS RT-AX89X Review

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