It’s still early days for the next generation of Wi-Fi, but Asus is getting a head start. The company has announced three upcoming routers that all support the new standard — dubbed 802.11ax — for delivering faster Wi-Fi, and they’re all supposed to arrive sometime this fall.
The announcements are headlined by a Republic of Gamers-branded model, the ROG Rapture GT-AX11000, which looks like it came out of a Halo level and includes a literal “Turbo Key” you can press to speed things up. This router has some incredible theoretical speeds that speak to what 802.11ax is capable of: it has a single 2.4GHz band that’s supposed to reach speeds of 1148Mbps, and it has two 5GHz bands that are each supposed to reach 4804Mbps. There’s also a 2.5Gbps Ethernet port.
IT’LL BE A WHILE BEFORE WE CAN REALLY USE THESE SPEEDS
Those limits go well beyond modern internet speeds (1Gbps is considered remarkable right now), but that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to take advantage of them — at least to an extent. The major goal of 802.11ax is to let routers do a better job of handling the increasing number of devices on a single Wi-Fi network. So much of this router’s potential speed can be divided up between devices. Asus has also set it up so that one of the 5GHz bands can be dedicated to gaming devices so that other devices won’t interfere with them. It’s main purpose is to serve the gaming devices largely.
Asus’ other two 802.11ax routers should be a bit more mainstream, while still offering faster speeds than today’s units. The first is a tri-band mesh system, called the AX6100, which is capable of speeds up to 6100Mbps in total. One of its 5GHz bands will be dedicated to communications between router units; the other band will be for communicating with newer devices, while a 2.4GHz band will be used only for older Wi-Fi devices. The second router, RT-AX88U, is a dual-band model with total speeds that supposedly reach 6000Mbps.
One of the neat twists here is that all of these routers can be used in a mesh system. Only the AX6100 will support it at first — it’s also being sold in multipacks — but the others are supposed to receive a software update that allows them to work with other routers in Asus’ AiMesh system.
Pricing and specific release information haven’t been announced yet, and we’ll likely have to wait until the fall to hear more. That’s alright, though, as there’s no need to jump into 802.11ax just yet: the biggest benefits will only come once all of our other devices — our phones, computers, TVs, and so on — support 802.11ax as well. At this point, speed gains likely won’t be anywhere near as large as those numbers make them appear. Wider adoption of 802.11ax is expected to start next year.