Solid throughput in testing. MU-MIMO support. Free lifetime malware protection. Robust parental controls. Easy to install.
Lacks individual band control. No USB ports.
- Bottom Line
The Asus Lyra Home Wi-Fi System uses mesh technology to deliver solid throughput to all areas of your home. It's feature-rich, but you can't separate the radio bands or connect to USB devices.
The Lyra Home Wi-Fi System ($399.99) marks Asus's entry into the mesh network arena, joining companies such as Eero, Linksys, Netgear, and TP-Link. It's a three-piece AC2200 system that delivers good throughput performance and offers easy-to-use parental controls and other management settings, and it comes with free lifetime malware and virus protection powered by Trend Micro. Like the Linksys Velop, Lyra is a breeze to install and covers homes of up to 6,000 square feet, but the Velop, our top pick, offers better overall performance.
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Simple-Looking and Easy to Use
The Lyra system consists of three identical round white routers that look similar to the TP-Link Deco M5 components but lack the Deco's swirly pattern. One router acts as the main connection to your home gateway while the other two act as satellites. For really large homes you'll be able to add two more Lyras (for a total of five), but pricing and a release date for single routers were not available at the time of this review.
The routers measure 5.5 inches in diameter and are 1.5 inches high. They have LED lighting embedded in the top that pulse various colors when the router is booting up, glow white during setup, glow red and orange when there's a connection error, and glow cyan when everything is working correctly. Each router has two gigabit LAN ports and a power jack, but one of the LAN ports for the main router (the one that connects to your home gateway/router) is used as a WAN port. There's a reset button on the bottom and a pairing button on the side, but USB connectivity is not supported.
Each 2×2 router is equipped with a 700MHz quad-core CPU, 256MB of RAM, seven internal antennas, and 802.11ac circuitry that supports three radio bands (one 2.4GHz band and two 5GHz bands). As with the Netgear Orbi RBK30, one of the 5GHz bands is a backhaul band dedicated to communications between the three routers.
The AC2200 routers can cover up to 2,000 square feet each and are capable of throughput speeds of up to 867Mbps on each 5GHz band and 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. They also support MU-MIMO data streaming, which sends data to compatible clients simultaneously rather than sequentially, and automatic band steering, which selects the least crowded radio band for enhanced performance. The Lyra system comes with built-in internet security powered by Trend Micro, dubbed AiProtection. It protects all connected clients from malware, viruses, and system vulnerabilities, and it's free, unlike the Eero Gen 2 system which requires a subscription.
The Lyra can be managed and installed with a user-friendly mobile app (iOS or Android) or a web console. The app opens to a Home screen with a network map that shows each router by name and how many clients are currently connected to them. Below the map is a Connected Devices icon; tapping the icon takes you to a screen that lists each client and shows its signal strength and current upload and download network speeds. Tapping a specific client takes you to another screen where you can block internet access, check the IP address, and set bandwidth limitations. Swiping down from the network map reveals security alerts including password strength alerts, the number of malicious sites that have been blocked, infected devices, and IPS (Intrusion Protection System) hits.
Tapping the three-bar icon in the upper left corner of the Home screen takes you to a menu with tabs for Traffic Manager, Guest Access, Family Members, and Settings. The Traffic Manager is a handy tool for enabling bandwidth priority based on application and has settings for Gaming, Media Streaming, VoIP, Web Surfing, File Transferring, and Others. Guest Access lets you set up guest networking and share settings via email. In Family Members you can create a profile for each family member and assign specific rights. When you create a profile you can check the Less Than 18 Years Old box to automatically block inappropriate content.
Next, select which devices the member uses so that the restrictions apply across each connected client. Tapping the member's name brings you to a screen where you can customize content blocking by restricting access to sites with adult content, violence, gambling, games, social media, streaming media, and Internet radio and TV. You can also block access to blogs, community forums, instant messaging, and file downloads. You can schedule the selected blocks for specific days and times, check online usage statistics, and see what are the most frequently used apps for each member. The Settings menu is where you go to edit the Wi-Fi name and password, configure WAN and DNS settings, create port forwarding rules, and update the router's firmware.
Installation Is a Cinch
Wi-Fi systems are designed for easy installation and Lyra is no different. I started by downloading the mobile app and following the instructions in the app to connect a Lyra component to my home router. When Lyra displayed a solid white light I clicked Search Lyra in the app and was connected within 10 seconds, at which point the light began flashing white. I was prompted to create a user name and password, select a location (Living Room, Kitchen, Bedroom, Meeting Room, Party Room, Upstairs, Custom), and then click WAN detection to connect to the internet, which took all of seven seconds. Next, I gave the network a name, assigned a network key, and waited about one minute for the app to apply the settings. The LED glowed solid cyan, indicating a successful connection. Using my phone's Wi-Fi settings I connected to the Lyra, returned to the app, and followed the instructions to add another Lyra. I placed the second Lyra in my living room, plugged it in, waited about a minute-and-a-half for it to glow solid white, and hit Connect. After another minute the living room Lyra was connected to the main Lyra. I repeated this process when installing the third Lyra in my basement and was ready to test throughput performance.
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Overall, the Lyra system does well in performance testing, but it doesn't lead the pack. Lyra uses automatic band steering, my throughput test results are based on the system's ability to select the best radio band for optimal performance, which in this case was the 5GHz band. The system performed well in our throughput tests, but was not as fast as the competition. The main router's score of 338Mbps in our close-proximity (same room) SU-MIMO test trailed the Eero Gen 2 router and the TP-Link Deco M5 router, and the Linksys Velop router led the pack.
The Lyra satellites scored 266Mbps and 220Mbps, beating both of the Eero Gen 2 satellites and both of the TP-Link satellites, but not the Linksys Velop satellites. At a distance of 30 feet, the Lyra router managed 153Mbps, outlasting the Eero router but not the TP-Link Deco or the Linksys Velop. In this test AGAIN, WHICH TEST?, the Linksys Velop satellites showed the best overall range performance.
We test MU-MIMO performance using three identical Acer Aspire R13 laptops equipped with Qualcomm's QCA61x4A MU-MIMO circuitry. The main Lyra router's score of 268Mbps on the close-proximity test was a hair faster than the Linksys Velop and a good deal faster than the TP-Link Deco and the Eero. The Lyra satellites scored 95Mbps and 51Mbps.
At 30 feet the Lyra router managed 85Mbps, but the Linksys Velop's score of 116.2Mbps topped them all. The Lyra satellites delivered scores of 59Mbps and 46Mbps, but the Eero satellites led the pack with scores of 64.1Mbps and 63Mbps.
The Asus Lyra Home Wi-Fi System makes it easy to blanket your home with wireless networking coverage and offers free lifetime protection against malware, viruses, and phishing schemes. It is very easy to install and uses a mobile app that lets you configure QoS settings, set up guest networking, and enable parental controls, and it has a dedicated 5GHz band for backhaul. On the other hand, you don't get any USB ports and you can't separate the 2.4Gz and 5GHz bands like you can with systems such as the Amped Wireless Ally Plus Whole Home Smart Wi-Fi System and the Portal Smart Gigabit WiFi Router. The Lyra system performs well on our throughput tests, but it can't keep pace with the Linksys Velop, which remains our Editors' Choice for home Wi-Fi systems.
By John R. Delaney Contributing Editor
As a Contributing Editor for PCMag, John Delaney has been testing and reviewing monitors, TVs, PCs, networking and smart home gear, and other assorted hardware and peripherals for almost 20 years. A 13-year veteran of PC Magazine's Labs (most recently as Director of Operations), John was responsible for the recruitment, training and management of the Labs technical staff, as well as evaluating and maintaining the integrity of the Labs testing machines and procedures. Prior to joining Ziff Davis, John spent six years in retail operations for… More »
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