is the newest version of the 802.11 standard for wireless networking — the language that devices use to send signals back and forth with your router. It’s still very early for the standard, with only a handful of devices that support it (the is the most notable example).
That hasn’t stopped router manufacturers from jumping in with new Wi-Fi 6 routers that cost hundreds of dollars more than current-gen Wi-Fi 5 routers. And, sure enough, a couple are on sale for— namely, a few new top-of-the-line models from Asus:
First teased at CES 2018, the AX88U went on sale in October of last year. It usually costs around $350, but you’ll find it marked down by $25 for Prime Day. It looks just like the AC88U that came before it, albeit with gold accents instead of red this time around.
More important than how it looks: the next-gen specs. Like the “AX” in the name suggests, this is a Wi-Fi 6 router, and that means it supports key Wi-Fi 6 upgrades like OFDMA, which lets it transmit data to multiple devices at once on a single channel, as well as 1024-QAM, which lets it pack about 25% more data into each of those transmissions than previous-gen, 256-QAM routers (click here for more on how all of that actually works).
Specifically, the AX88U and its four antennas promise wireless speeds of up to 6,000 Mbps — up from 2,600 Mbps with the previous generation — and it’s compatible with the Asus AiMesh system if you want to add some extenders throughout your home to maximize coverage. Like with other Wi-Fi 6 routers, your existing Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 4 devices will still be able to connect just fine, but don’t expect them to be much faster, if at all. You’ll need Wi-Fi 6 devices in order to take advantage of everything that a Wi-Fi 6 router like this one has to offer.
For even speedier top speeds, Asus offers the ROG Rapture GT-AX11000, which uses a 1.8 GHz quad-core CPU to promise wireless connections as fast as 11,000 Mbps.
The target demographic: die-hard gamers who require the best connection possible in order to stay competitive during online play. To deliver it, the GT-AX11000 supports Asus’ GameFirst V feature, which prioritizes gaming traffic from ROG devices. The router also features a second 5GHz frequency band that you can dedicate to gaming only — that way, your gaming setup won’t have to compete with traffic from any of the other Wi-Fi devices in your home.
The GT-AX11000 usually sells for $450, but Amazon’s selling it at a $50 discount for Prime Day, bringing the price down below $400 for the first time I’ve seen.
Just remember that there isn’t a whole lot that these routers can actually do yet. Wi-Fi 6 is backwards compatible, so your old devices will work just fine, but you’ll need new, Wi-Fi 6 devices that support all of the new AX tricks in order to notice much of a difference. Those devices.
“Although the Wi-Fi 6 enabled device shipment is expected to remain small in 2019, once the two critical milestones — Wi-Fi Alliance certification and standard ratification — are reached, we expect a strong market adoption of Wi-Fi 6,” said Yogita Kanesin, a senior research analyst who studies Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the Internet of Things for IHS Markit. “Beginning early 2020, major global device manufacturers will begin to embrace the technology and Wi-Fi 6 will start to establish itself as a standard feature for high-end WLAN enabled products.”
I’ll keep this post updated if I see any others on sale. And hey, future-proof away if that’s your thing — but the better time to buy a new Wi-Fi 6 router will almost certainly be Prime Day next year, when you’ll have more options and more devices that can take advantage of the faster connections.