June 27, 2022

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Epicurean computer & technology

Asus GT-AXE16000: Most Powerful Router Yet


After six long months, Asus’s most potent Wi-Fi 6E router, the Quad-band GT-AXE16000, is now here. You’ll be able to get it in a matter of days, if not already, for the suggested retail price of $699.

You can expect my full review of it before this month is out. For now, this post includes my first impression, after almost a day of use, and real-world photos of the beast.

Part of the ROG Gaming family, the new GT-AXE16000 joins Asus’s long list of gaming routers, sharing most features collectively available in others.

But from the design, it seems the new router is basically the GT-AXE11000, which some of you already bought out of impatience, plus another 5GHz band.

But is it, though?

Dong’s note: I first published this piece on January 6, 2022, as a new piece when Asus first announced the GT-AXE16000 and updated it on June 16, 2022, with the latest information while doing hands-on testing on it. Bookmark this link and check back soon for the full review!

The Asus GT AXE16000 Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E has a shiny mirror top
The Asus GT AXE16000 Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E has a shiny mirror top

Asus GT-AXE16000: Possibly the ultimate Wi-Fi 6E (gaming) router

The biggest thing you might have heard about the GT-AXE16000 is that it’s a Quad-band router. But Quad-band is not a novelty.

Late last year, I published the review of the Netgear Orbi RBKE960 series, and TP-Link announced its Archer AXE300 earlier this year. Both are Quad-band. (Knowing TP-Link, I’d say the latter might not be a real thing.)

But as a flagship Quad-band gaming router, the GT-AXE16000 is the first. And at the core, like most Asus routers, it has much more than just Wi-Fi galore.

The point is, taking the Quad-band notion aside, the GT-AXE16000 still gives you a lot to brag about.

Asus’s the most powerful Wi-Fi machine of an all-familiar design

For one, it’s the first Wi-Fi router with three Multi-Gig ports, including one 2.5Gbps and two 10Gbps BASE-T ports.

On top of that, the GT-AXE16000 also has a powerful quad-core 2.0GHz CPU and now comes with 2GB of RAM, the most among the majority of home routers.

You can literally stack the Asus GT-AXE16000 perfectly on top of the GT-AXE11000. The two share the same design.
The Asus GT-AXE16000 sits perfectly atop the GT-AXE11000. The two share the same design.

From the look, though, the GT-AXE16000 shares a similarly bulky hardware design to the GT-AXE11000. It also has eight non-removable antennas around its sides, with another four on the inside.

On top, the new router also houses an ample programmable ROG Aura gaming light. However, the top itself is now a mirror with more lights around its edges.

So, the GT-AXE16000 is much more than the GT-AX11000 plus an additional 5GHz-2 band. Still, the two share lots of similarities, as you will see in the data sheets below.

Hardware specifications: Asus GT-AXE16000 vs GT-AXE11000

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000 Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000
Model GT-AXE16000 GT-AXE11000
Wi-Fi Technology Quad-band AX1116000 Tri-Band AXE11000
1st Band
(2.4GHz)
4×4 Wi-Fi 6 
Up to 1148Mbps
4×4 Wi-Fi 6 
Up to 1148Mbps
2nd Band
(5GHz-1)
4×4 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 4804Mbps
4×4 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 4804Mbps
3rd Band
(6GHz)
4×4 Wi-Fi 6E
Up to 4804Mbps
4×4 Wi-Fi 6E
Up to 4804Mbps
4th Band
(5GHz-2)
4×4 Wi-Fi 6
Up to 4804Mbps
None
Backward Compatibility 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 802.11a/b/g/n/ac
Wi-Fi 6E (6GHz) Support Yes Yes
AP Mode Yes Yes
Mesh-ready
(AiMesh)
Yes  Yes 
160MHz Channel Support Yes Yes
Number of 160MHz 
Channels
7x on one 6GHz band
2x on two 5GHz bands
7x on one 6GHz band
2x on one 5GHz band
Gigabit Network Port 4x LAN 4x LAN, 1x WAN/LAN
Multi-Gig Network Port 1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN
2x 10Gbps LAN/WAN
1x 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN
LAN Link Aggregation Yes 
(LAN ports 1 and 2)
Yes 
(LAN ports 1 and 2)
WAN Link Aggregation Yes (WAN + LAN4) Yes (WAN + LAN4)
Dual-WAN Yes (WAN + USB 
or any other LAN port)
Yes (WAN + USB 
or LAN4 or 2.5Gbps)
USB 1x USB 3.0
1x USB 2.0
2x USB 3.0
Mobile App Asus Router Asus Router
Processing Power 2.0 GHz quad-core CPU, 
256MB Flash, 2GB RAM
1.8 GHz quad-core CPU, 
256MB Flash, 1GB RAM
Antennas 8x External
4x Internal
8x External
Dimensions (no antennas) 10.4 x 10.4 x 2.9 in 
(26.4 x 26.4x 7.4 cm)
10.4 x 10.4 x 2.9 in 
(26.4 x 26.4x 7.4 cm)
Weight TBD 3.94 lbs (1.79 kg)
GT-AXE16000 vs. GT-AXE11000: Hardware specifications

Wi-Fi aside, the most exciting part about the GT-AXE16000 is its support for Multi-Gig.

As the world is moving towards faster-than-Gigabit, these ports are the feature that makes the GT-AXE16000 the ultimate home router. In fact, it’s one of the must-haves for those with 10Gbps broadband.

The Asus GT AXE16000's extra ports are among a few things that set it apart from the GT-AXE11000.
The Asus GT AXE16000’s extra ports are among a few things that set it apart from the GT-AXE11000.

Considering the Quad-band support, you can’t look at the GT-AXE16000 without thinking of the other elephant in the room, namely the Netgear Orbi RBRE 960, which is the router unit of the RBKE 960 series. But that will be the topic of a separate post.

Asus GT-AXE16000: Detail photos

Asus GT AXE16000 Quad band Wi Fi 6E Router 2
Out of the box, Asus GT AXE16000 includes an oversized power adapter — the same as the GT-AXE11000 — and a CAT6A cable.

Asus GT AXE16000 Quad band Wi Fi 6E Router 5
The Asus GT-AXE16000 is a massive router — that’s my hand. Its top, where you can vaguely notice the ROG status light is a shiny mirror.

Asus GT AXE16000 Quad band Wi Fi 6E Router 7
Here’s a closeup of the Asus GT-AXE16000’s network port. Note the two 10Gbps ports (right) and the 2.5Gbps WAN port.

Asus GT AXE16000 Quad band Wi Fi 6E Router 6
Like the case of the GT-AXE11000, the Asus GT AXE16000 comes with two USB ports. However, they are now placed at one corner instead of the side. Also, only one of them is a USB 3.0.

Asus GT AXE16000 Quad band Wi Fi 6E Router 17
The underside of the Asus GT-AXE16000 — the router is not wall-mount-ready.

Asus GT AXE16000 vs GT AXE11000 Top
From above, the Asus GT-AXE16000’s mirror top separates it from the GT-AXE11000.

Asus GT AXE16000 Quad band Wi Fi 6E Router 16
The Asus GT-AXE16000 can produce quite a light show when its programmable ROG Aura is lit up.

Asus GT-AXE16000: Familiar features plus some extra

The new GT-AXE16000 will share the bulk of core features found in most Asus routers.

If you have used an Asus router, you’re already familiar with them. In any case, hit the button below will highlight what the new router has.

Asus GT-AXE16000’s feature highlights

Robust firmware with a responsive web interface

Asus GT AX16000 Web interface
The GT-AX16000 shares the same interface theme as other Asus ROG gaming routers.

The GT-AXE16000 shares the same open-source Asuswrt firmware as the rest of Asus routers with a similar web interface. Most importantly, it doesn’t coerce users into a cloud-based web portal, which is excellent for privacy.

(All Asus routers allow remote management, which is turned off by default, via Dynamic DNS.)

The interface allows access to a router’s tons of settings and features — some are listed below. Savvy networking enthusiasts will love that though it can be overwhelming for novice users.

Standard setup process

Thanks to the web interface, the GT-AXE16000 shares the same standard setup process, as I detailed in this post on building a home network from scratch.

Specifically, here are the general steps:

  1. Connect the router’s default 2.5Gbps WAN port Internet source, be it a modem, an existing gateway, or the Fiberoptic ONT. Turn it on.
  2. Connect a computer to the router, either via a network cable to one of its LAN ports, or the default open Wi-Fi network, generally named “Asus xx”.
  3. Open a browser and navigate to the router’s default IP address which is 192.168.50.1 or router.asus.com.

The rest is self-explanatory. The first time you get to the web interface, you’ll run into a wizard that walks you through a few steps. Alternatively, you can use the Asus mobile app in step #3.

Helpful mobile app, no login account required

Other than the web user interface, which I recommend, you can also use the Asus mobile app for the GT-AXE16000’s setup process and ongoing management.

This app is common for all Asus routers and is comprehensive. In fact, it’s one of the best mobile apps for routers you can find on the market. Still, it’s not as in-depth as the web interface.

Asus Router App AiMesh
Asus Wi-Fi routers: The Router mobile app is an excellent tool to manage an Asus router.

The best thing about it is that you can use it to manage the router remotely without a login account. Instead, just like the web interface, it operates the remote management via the router’s built-in support for the Dynamic DNS feature that includes a free SSL certificate.

AiProtection

The GT-AXE16000 comes with full support for AiProtection, part of which is the handy and free-for-life real-time Network Protection powered by Trend Micro.

The feature is designed to keep the entire local network safe. In many ways, it’s a strip-down version of an add-on firewall, like the Firewalla or the subscription-based Armor from Netgear.

Asus GT AX16000 Network Protection
The Asus GT-AX16000’s Network Protection portion of its AiProtection feature.

And for a free product, AiProtection is great and adds more value to the router.

Generic Parental Controls

The GT-AXE16000’s Parental Controls feature has its own section on the web user interface. Nonetheless, it’s the same as that found in previous Asus routers: it’s quite generic and rigid. Specifically:

The filters are based on pre-determined categories, which are vaguely defined.

There’s no blocking via domain or keywords.

So this feature will get things done to a certain level. However, it’s based on a client’s MAC address so its effectiveness will be hit or miss.

Asus GT AX16000 Parental Control
The Asus GT-AX16000 has the same generic Parental Controls feature.

Adaptive QoS

The GT-AXE16000 comes with the familiar Adaptive QoS, which is now part of its gaming section. It’s one of the easiest-to-use implementations of QoS among home routers.

“QoS” stands for the quality of service, and it enables users to prioritize Internet traffic to support different applications or services.

Adaptive QoS requires minimum work from the user and is quite effective. It’s the generic prioritization in addition to the router’s gaming-related features.

Asus GT AX16000 QoS Settings
The Asus GT AX16000’s QoS setting page

Versatile VPN support

The GT-AXE16000 features all VPN options collectively available in Asus routers.

Specifically, it can work as a VPN server or a client. I also support VPN Fusion and Instant Guard, a new feature added in mid-2021 for mobile users.

Asus GT AX16000 VPN
The Asus GT AX16000’s VPN section

AiMesh

AiMesh is by far the biggest feature among Asus routers. It’s significant, I detailed it in this separate post.

And as the first Quad-stream router, the GT-AXE16000 is suited for this in any scenario. On top of that, as a router with three Multi-Gig ports, it’s a new best remember of a mesh with Multi-Gig wired backhaul.

I’ll cover how the new router pans as a Mult-Gig mesh member in this separate post on the subject.

Flexible port configuration: WAN vs LAN

The GT-AXE16000 comes with seven network ports that can work with extreme flexibility.

Asus GT-AX16000 WAN Port Asus GT AX16000 Dual WAN

Asus GT-AXE16000’s WAN configuration: The router is exceptionally flexible in WAN configurations.

Specifically:

  • Single WAN: By default, the 2.5Gbps WAN works as the designated WAN. However, when the router is up and running, you can use its interface to change any other ports, including its four Gigabit ports and two 10Gbps ports into the main WAN port. In this case, the default WAN will work as a LAN port.
  • Dual-WAN: You can combine the main WAN port, whichever it is, with any other port in a Dual-WAN setup.
  • LAN Link Aggregation: You can combine LAN1 and LAN2 into a 2Gbps connection.
  • WAN Link Aggregation: You can combine the main WAN port, whichever it is, and the LAN4 ports. In this case, you’d also get a 2Gbps connection.

With this type of flexibility, the GT-AXE16000 will meet the port requirements of any home network.

Universal setting restoration

Like the case of most Asus routers — with the exceptions of the RT-AX89X and Blue Cave — the GT-AXE16000 supports setting backup files of other Asus routers.

I tried it with a few that worked. Clearly, as a Quad-band only applicable settings will be ported over. For example, if you use a backup file of a Dual-band router with two separate SSIDs, the setting will be applied to only two of the GT-AXE16000’s bands, and the other two will take its default settings.

While it’s best to set up your router from scratch, this feature can be a big time-saving method when you upgrade from a router with lots of IP reservations or perforating entries.

Other useful features

Other than the above, The GT-AXE16000 also includes a long list of handy tools and settings:

  • Networking tools: Wake on LAN, Ping, Netstat, and Smart Connect Rule can come in handy for advanced users.
  • Auto-reboot: You can set your router to restart by itself on a schedule.
  • Traffic Analyzer: A set of tools and statistics for those wanting to find out what’s happening in the network.
  • USB-related features galore: When hosting a storage device, the router has all the features you can imagine — from data sharing (locally and over the Internet) to backup (including the support for Time Machine) to a personal cloud. You can even make the router handle PC-less downloading and use the router’s USB ports to host printers or select USB cellular modems.
  • The standard set of network settings and features: These include IP reservation, Port-forwarding, so on and so far, and even some Alexa Skills.
  • Easy firmware update: Asus pushes out firmware updates regularly to fix issues and improve its routers’ performance and function. You can choose to update manually or turn on auto-update.

And as a gaming router, the GT-AXE16000 has “Triple-level game acceleration,” similar to the case of the GT-AXE11000. In fact, it has all gaming-related features shown on this list, including the rare support for WTFast gamer VPN.

Asus routers and privacy

Upon turning on some features on an Asus router, you will run into this scary warning:

“By using AiProtection, Traffic analyzer, Apps analyzer, Adaptive QoS/Game boost, Web history, you agree to the Trend Micro End User License Agreement. Please note that your information will be collected by Trend Micro through AiProtection, Traffic analyzer, Apps analyzer, Adaptive QoS, and web history.”

Asus Privacy Message
That ominous privacy warning

If you read the entire EULA, you’d understand what it entails. But since nobody wants to read that boring, yet important, document, and some might not appreciate its wording, let me put this in simple terms:

These features only work because their provider scans the router’s traffic. That’s like if you want to be protected in real life, you will need to have somebody, like a bodyguard, to watch over you. In networking, protection requires extra connections — there’s no way around that.

I won’t pretend I know what TrendMicro or Asus does with the information it might have access to — I don’t — but I’d be more worried about how and what Facebook, Google, or Amazon would do with my data, which is being collected the moment I turn a device on.

But yes, using these features will inherently cause privacy risks. The good news is that they are turned off by default, and you’re never coerced into turning them on.

So, use them or not use them, it’s your call. Just remember, you can’t have them both ways.

And finally, according to Asus, the new router also has a unique feature called RangeBoost Plus technology designed to improve signal range and overall coverage. How this feature pans out remains to be seen via testing.

Asus GT AXE16000 Fancy Light
Here’s the Asus GT AXE-16000’s fancy ROG Aura gaming light in action.

The quick takeaway

So far, I’m impressed with the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE16000’s hardware specs and what it has in terms of ports and Wi-Fi specs. I’ll put it through its paces and update this post when I’m ready.

In the meantime, keep in mind that this is a new router, and the way Asus goes, it will have bugs — I’ve already run into a few. It probably doesn’t hurt if you feel super antsy and get one as soon as it’s available. But generally, it’s wise to wait for one to two rounds of firmware updates before counting on it.

Check back for more.



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