Wi-Fi 6 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 and only a handful of devices support the standard. The Samsung Galaxy S10 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-generation Wi-Fi 5 routers. And, sure enough, a couple are on sale for Amazon Prime Day — 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 are 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 just aren’t here yet.
“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 will be able to take advantage of the faster connections.