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ASUS AiMesh Whole-Home Mesh Wi-Fi System Review

The ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 shows its premium status over the RT-AC86U by coming in a much larger box, although it is a much larger router too.

There’s not much difference in box contents. The RT-AC86U has its plug and power adapter integrated together, and the GT-AC5300 keeps the cable and adapter separate, coming with UK and European cables. Both include the obligatory Ethernet cable.

The two routers look very different. The GT-AC5300 resembles a kind of predatory biomechanical outgrowth or alien crown, with a horizontal configuration and eight huge antennas, two per side. The RT-AC86U sits vertically instead, and its three antennas stick out the top like the ears of a mutant bunny, although they are hinged, so you could fold one forward for a more quizzical posture. The flashes of colour on both give them a bit of style and purpose.

Both routers have buttons for turning the WiFi off and on and enabling WPS. The GT-AC5300 also puts its button for turning the LEDs off and on in the same place.

The RT-AC86U, on the other hand, puts its LED button on the rear, in between the line of ports. With the latter router, the USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports are clearly differentiated, and the WAN Gigabit Ethernet port sits on the same side. The other side hosts the four Gigabit Ethernet ports for client devices.

Although the GT-AC5300 has more ports than its more modest sibling, these are all still in the same place, shoehorned between two antennas. This could be an issue if you try to plug a fat USB thumbdrive into one of the two USB 3.0 ports, as these are pretty close to the antenna on the left and WAN Gigabit Ethernet port on the right.

Next along are the eight Gigabit Ethernet ports for client devices. Interestingly, if you look closely at the diagram above these ports, you will see that 1 and 2 are marked for gaming whilst 5 and 6 support link aggregation, which we will discuss later in this article.

Both routers have a comprehensive array of LEDs. On the RT-AC86U these are on the front. Technically they’re on the front of the GT-AC5300 as well, but it’s a bit harder to be sure which is the front with this unit.

Overall, both units have physical characteristics fitting their price brackets and market segments. The RT-AC86U is relatively compact, but still has the usual features for a general-purpose router, although it would have been nice to have two USB 3.0 ports rather than having one just offering USB 2.0. The GT-AC5300 lives up to its crown-like appearance with a regal army of ports. These might be a little cramped all in one place, but assuming this isn’t a problem for you, having eight wired Ethernet ports will be great for a gaming LAN or small office.

Next, we will turn to the setup, looking at the interface similarities and differences between the two routers.

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