Asus RT-BE96U Review: Powerful Performance in a Compact Router

(Image: © Asus )

The RT-BE96U from Asus checks all the boxes for a router: it has two USB ports, Wi-Fi 7, high speeds, and a superior range. Regrettably, the cost of all those features comes at $700.

Purchase Options:


  • + Excellent range
  • + Top throughput
  • + Built-in security software
  • + Can act as VPN server or client


  • - Bulky
  • - Expensive

Today's best Asus RT-BE96U deals

ASUS RT-BE96U: Specifications

Wi-Fi Spec BE19000 (802.11be)
Number of Antennas/Removable 8/No
Ports One 10Gbps and one 1Gbps WAN, one 10Gbps and three 1Gbps LAN, two USB 3.0
Processor/Memory/Storage Quad-core 2.6GHz/2GB/256MB
Wi-Fi chip Broadcom BCM 6726/67263
Peak 802.11ac performance 1.948Gbps (at 15 feet)
Range 105 feet
Size 13.8 x 13.8 x 3.0 inches
Estimated Annual Electricity Cost $24.10

Should your primary concern is optimizing the networking speed of your Wi-Fi router, head straight to the market and get Asus's RT-BE96U. With a 6GHz high performance band, 320MHz ultra-wide data channels, and the most recent 802.11be adjustments for fast lane Wi-Fi, this tri-band router is among the fastest on the market. All in all, this makes for one of the fastest conventional Wi-Fi routers we've ever seen, with a range suitable for a middle-sized house.

With two USB ports that allow two drives to be shared among network users and a 10Gbps input for data-hungry users, the RT-BE96U has an amazing variety of ports. With additional protections and the capacity to function as a VPN client or server, it's a security winner that might one day save your bacon when you're online. Furthermore, Asus's AiProtection won't cost you a dime for the life of this router, in contrast to some rivals.

Even if you have to eat ramen for supper, the Asus RT-BE96U is worth it if you're craving maximum speed, even though it costs $700. You can determine if the Asus RT-BE96U is the best Wi-Fi router for you and among the top Wi-Fi 7 routers available right now by reading our evaluation of the device.

Asus RT-BE96U Review: Price & Availability

The Asus RT-BE96U is one of the priciest conventional routers on the market, costing $700. It costs the same as the $700 Netgear Nighthawk RS700S and costs $100 more than the aerial TP-Link Archer BE800, which comes with an inventive info screen. Together, they can cover an area of up to 5,400 square feet. The gadget is offered by several physical retailers as well as online retailers.

Asus RT-BE96U Review: Design & Configuration

Inspired by the classic design of coat racks, the all-black RT-BE96U boasts eight exterior antennas. They may be tilted and rotated to broadcast and receive the strongest signal, but they are not readily replaceable or removable.

The RT-BE96U is a large device, measuring 13.8 x 13.8 x 3.0 inches. Its height increases by 5.6 inches when the antennae are raised vertically. Throughout testing, the router's huge internal heat sinks and cooling vents on top and below kept the temperature below 104.3 degrees Fahrenheit.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Although the RT-BE96U does not have the data screen of the TP-Link Archer BE800, it does have a subtle artistic "Wi-Fi 7)" decoration with what seems to be circuits and arrowheads. Although it's all for show, the router's eight LEDs really indicate what's happening on the 2.4, 5 and 6GHz bands right now and if WPS is activated so you can add devices quickly. However, using a button on the front of the router or the app, you may quickly turn it off.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The triband router's internal 802.11be network is created using Broadcom's BCM 6726/67263 chips, which provide Multi-Link Operations (MLO) and 4K Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM). It contains a 2.6GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 256MB of flash storage for firmware and settings. It can access 320MHz data channels for optimal performance.

The router can transport data up to 1,376- and 5,764Mbps over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, as well as a maximum of 11,529Mbps via a 6GHz link. It can do this over 12 separate streams. With a BE19000 rating, it matches the specifications of the Archer BE800, while the RT-BE96U may be able to provide higher-end 6GHz band bandwidth.

The triband router's internal 802.11be network is created using Broadcom's BCM 6726/67263 chips, which provide Multi-Link Operations (MLO) and 4K Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM). It contains a 2.6GHz quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 256MB of flash storage for firmware and settings. It can access 320MHz data channels for optimal performance.

The router can transport data up to 1,376- and 5,764Mbps over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, as well as a maximum of 11,529Mbps via a 6GHz link. It can do this over 12 separate streams. With a BE19000 rating, it matches the specifications of the Archer BE800, while the RT-BE96U may be able to provide higher-end 6GHz band bandwidth.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In contrast to others, the Asus app displays the connected and active ports in addition to the current state. There are nine distinct protocols available for the RT-BE96U to utilize while functioning as a VPN server or client. Also, the RT-BE96U may function as a mesh network utilizing Asus's AiMesh protocol or as a conventional Wi-Fi router. To complete the mesh landscape, though, you will want additional Asus devices.

Finally, the most recent iteration of Asus's AiProtection puts security front and center on the gadget. It features the standard parental controls found in Trend Micro antivirus software, but it also blocks internet advertisements, viruses, and offensive content at the router level. Its ability to block harmful websites and prevent malicious programs from accessing the network and its clients is its strongest feature. AiProtection can isolate an infected machine in the event of a break-in, minimizing harm.

Updating the Asus AiProtection is complimentary, even while Netgear charges more than $100 annually to maintain the latest version of its Armor software. However, it does not have Armor's client level security software.

Asus RT-BE96U Review: Performance Analysis

With the exception of a few locations at the margins, the Asus RT-BE96U performed a fantastic job of nearly filling my 3,500-square-foot, 100-year-old home with wireless data. It was one of the quickest routers I've ever seen, using networking benchmark software from Keysight IxChariot to simulate 10 data-hungry users, iPerf3 to imitate 20 users, and the Wi-Fi 7-powered Acer Swift Edge 16 notebook.

Initially, the RT-BE96U used IxChariot to spew 2.685Gbps of data when the system and router were near to one other. The iPerf3 benchmark gave me a reading of 3.702Gbps, which confirmed this. Based on these tests, the RT-BE96U is now the conventional router with the highest throughput, surpassing the TP-Link BE800's results of 2.531Gbps and 3.364Gbps.

Just as interesting were the results obtained under more realistic settings, such as putting the test system 15 feet away from the router, where the RT-BE96U used the IxChariot networking benchmark to move at 1.948Gbps over its 6GHz range. This is somewhat faster than the 1.824Gbps of the Archer BE800, but both were surpassed by Netgear's Orbi RBE973 mesh router, which set the benchmark at 2.002Gbps. In any case, there are no wires needed and about 2Gbps of useable capacity.

The best-performing 6GHz band has petered out at 50 feet, where the RT-BE96U has a 5GHz edge. It was the best performance, with 392.7Mbps of throughput, but only just, with the Linksys Atlas Max 6E, which is based on Wi-Fi 6E, producing 382.2Mbps. With 335.6 Mbps, the Archer BE800 came in third.

Wi-Fi Performance Comparison

Asus RT-BE96U TP-Link Archer BE800 Linksys Atlas Max 6E
15 feet 1.948Gbps 1.824Gbps 1.189Gbps
50 feet 392.7Mbps 335.6Mbps 382.2Mbps
75 feet 402.1Mbps 91.5Mbps 50.6Mbps
90 feet 31.4Mbps 19.8Mbps 6.5Mbps

Having said that, the RT-BE96U found its Wi-Fi sweet spot at 75 feet. The data flow reached 402.1 Mbps, indicating a marginal rise in comparison to the 50-foot throughput measurement. This is significantly higher than the 50.6Mbps for the Atlas Max 6E and 91.5Mbps for the Archer BE800.

The router could send data at 31.4 Mbps at a distance of 90 feet, and its range was 105 feet. Although it might not seem like much, this Wi-Fi 7 router is superior than others.

With a wall and a 25-foot room separating the router and test equipment, its throughput of 1.810Gbps was nothing short of remarkable. That comes in just under 1.948 Gbps, which is the speed at which it traveled 15 feet across an open space. Because of this, the RT-BE96U is the best option for people with large houses.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I played games and streamed 4K video for more than a month, and I also used the RT-BE96U for regular duties like email and news reading on the internet. Along the way, a MacBook Air playing the BBC World Service radio feed, a ThinkPad T470 playing YouTube videos, a OnePlus 11 phone playing music online, and an HP Envy desktop moving data onto and off of a networked RAID server were all examples of how the router passed the saturation test. The audio and video streams were playing without any hiccups, freeze-ups, or oddities.

Due to the lack of a power-saving idle mode, the RT-BE96U used 20.1 watts while data was being sent back and forth. It should cost somewhat more than $24 to run if it is left on all the time and you pay the average of 15 cents per kilowatt-hour for power in the country. Compared to the $29 annual cost of the TP-Link Archer BE800, there is a minor savings.

Asus RT-BE96U Setup: Quick Guide

During the Asus RT-BE96U installation process, users have the option to utilize the router's integrated web server and UI as well as the iOS and Android phone and tablet apps. Before I could begin, I had to connect everything in and remove the three pieces of plastic that covered the eight antennas on the RT-BE96U. On my ThinkPad T470, I opened the browser and typed "" to get the router's Quick Internet Setup (QIS) displays.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I then gave the 2.4/5 and 6GHz networks names, as well as the router's name and administrator password. I accepted the license.

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It took ten minutes to get up and running after a brief restart. Looking back, I think the hardest thing was taking the antennae off.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Configuring the Asus RT-BE96U: Quick Overview

As I was able to do when configuring the RT-BE96U, I could modify, adjust, and examine the router's features using the app or a browser that was connected. The app's Home page displays a number of data at a glance, including the IP address, network map, and online status.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Six pre-configured lifestyle options are available to prioritize the data flow for various purposes, ranging from gaming to learning from home. Current data traffic may be viewed on the main screen.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Links to see the connected devices and the current state of the AiProtection security software are located at the bottom of the screen. In the meanwhile, employing the more secure HTTPS protocol and configuring remote access are handled by the Insight section.

Press to view the behind-the-scenes features, such as the parental controls and the router's capability to filter out harmful and inappropriate websites.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

A router's settings are its core. I could run diagnostics or construct an AiMesh network with a click beneath the surface. A bandwidth limiter and other Quality of Service options are available.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The three-line hamburger emblem in the upper left corner also has a back door. It opens the door to using an Asus account, customizing the app's theme, and contacting the company's support staff.

Nevertheless, I think that utilizing a linked browser is the most comprehensive setup approach. With an HD screen zoomed to 67%, the primary panel is simple to see and includes links to view connected devices, IP address, and Internet status. The firmware version is displayed at the top, along with options to reboot or log out of the router.

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An extensive range of configuration options, including changing the Guest network, is located along the left. Access to a SAMBA media server, the QOS system, and USB port information are also included.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I was able to toggle the security measures on and off using the Ai-Protection link. Additionally, a network scan provides options to strengthen LAN security, such as password changes and disabling WPS fast setup routine.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The router features a shortcut for configuring port forwarding, a traffic analyzer, and the ability to enhance mobile gaming through the use of iOS and Android apps.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Unsurprisingly, I was able to configure the router as a Virtual Private Network server using the PPTP, OpenVPN, IPSec, or WireGuard VPN protocols under the VPN area. It is able to function as an Instant Guard client.

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

In terms of warranty and lifetime product support, TP-Link and the RT-BE96U are comparable. It completely outperforms Netgear's 90-day service period and one-year guarantee. It takes at least $100 to receive comparable coverage.

The RTY-BE96U comes with a very detailed handbook, however it does not include the router's default Wi-Fi password. It can make going online easier and is printed as a QR code beneath.

Asus RT-BE96U: Final Thoughts

The new top dog in conventional Wi-Fi routers, the Asus RT-BE96U, brings it all together with maximum speeds that approach 2Gbps, a range that should cover most households, and the most recent Wi-Fi enhancements. The additional protective layers provided by the Asus AiProtection security software, as well as the device's capacity to function as a VPN client or server, ensure security. Lastly, it is a unique router with two USB ports for convenient network connectivity to data drives, in addition to having high-speed networking inputs and outputs.

For those who require speed, the $700 price tag of the RT-BE96U is justified. It's the perfect moment to update your home network to the newest Wi-Fi standard, with an anticipated wave of Wi-Fi 7 products on their way to market.

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