Speedy throughput performance. Lots of gamer-friendly features. Eight LAN ports. Works with Alexa voice commands and IFTTT applets. Slick user interface.
Expensive. Huge footprint. Middling file-transfer speeds.
- Bottom Line
One of the fastest routers we've tested, the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 offers lots of gamer-friendly features, copious I/O ports, and a slick management console that lets you optimize your network for lag-free gaming.
Hardcore gamers rely on fast systems with blazing graphics cards to gain an edge while competing online, but all of that speedy hardware means nothing if your router can't deliver the throughput needed to overcome network lag. Enter the Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 ($399.99), a high-end tri-band router designed for gamers. This beast of a router looks the part and offers hardware- and software-based gaming acceleration and prioritization, a whole heap of LAN ports, robust protection against malware and viruses, and a powerful quad-core processor. It's expensive and it's big, but its speedy performance and robust features make it a must-have whether you're a serious online gamer or manage a high-traffic home network.
Large and in Charge
At 2.5 by 9.6 by 9.6 inches (HWD), the ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is one big router. The black enclosure with copper trim sports the familiar black and red Asus Republic of Gamers (ROG) logo and boasts a whopping eight removable, adjustable antenna stalks. (That's twice the amount that you get with the Netgear Nighthawk Pro Gaming XR500.) It looks like a giant spider on its back.
Six tiny LED indicators on the front edge illuminate statuses for power, 2.4GHz activity, 5GHz activity, WAN and LAN connectivity, and WPS activity. The left side holds buttons for enabling/disabling Wi-Fi, turning the LED on and off, and initiating WPS. Around back are a staggering eight gigabit LAN ports, two USB 3.0 ports, a WAN port, and power and reset buttons. Two of the LAN ports can be paired for link aggregation, providing 2Gbps speeds for aggregation-compatible NAS devices wired into the router.
The ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is a 4×4 tri-band 802.11ac router powered by a 1.8GHz quad-core CPU, 1GB of RAM, and 256MB of flash memory. It uses 1024QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) technology to achieve maximum speeds of up to 1,000Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 2,167Mbps on each of the 5GHz bands. Also, it supports all of the latest 802.11ac technologies, including Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) simultaneous data streaming and beamforming. The latter helps improve performance by sending data in a focused signal more directly at connected clients, rather than over a broad spectrum.
What sets the ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 apart from other high-end routers is its game-enhancing features. One of these features is a pair of LAN ports that automatically gets network priority to make sure your gaming rig or console is favored with the lion's share of bandwidth. Another is GameBoost, which analyzes your network and gives priority to gaming traffic on Sony PlayStation, Nintendo Wii and 3Ds, and Microsoft XBox One gaming consoles.
This router also offers native support for the Gamer's Private Network (GPN). Powered by WTFast, GPN provides a private, secure connection to gaming servers and offers low latency and optimized performance for more than 1,000 compatible gaming titles. And for users who run a VPN that may degrade gaming performance, the VPN Fusion feature allows you to use a VPN connection alongside an ordinary internet connection to keep your games running at top speed.
The ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 also features the Trend Micro-powered Game Intrusion Protection System (IPS), which analyzes your network and protects it from online threats such as malware-infested sites, virus-infected client devices, denial-of-service attacks, ransomware attacks, and outside hacking attempts. It also blocks sites known for phishing and spam attacks, and it provides robust parental controls that allow you to block access to sites with adult content, sites that deal with streaming content and large file transfers (such as torrent downloads), and sites that provide social-networking services. You can also limit network access times for specific clients.
A Well-Dressed Manager
You configure and manage all of these gamer-centric features using the slick-looking ROG Gaming Center web console and mobile app. It opens to a Dashboard screen with a long menu of General and Advanced settings on the left. On the right is a Network Traffic graph that shows real-time transmissions, as well as upload and download activity, and an Internet Status graph that shows which bands are connected. You can also see a display of network ping activity and ping deviations.
In the General settings menu, you'll find tabs for the above-mentioned Game IPS, Game Boost, and GPN features, as well as a Game Radar feature that lets you see the worldwide servers for specific games, their country location, and their ping status. Also, in the Game Profile section, you can optimize packet distribution for specific game titles to help improve performance. And a Traffic analyzer lets you view network usage by client or application, along with a Wi-Fi Radar feature that allows you to perform a site survey, view Wi-Fi statistics (such as signal interference and channel usage), and troubleshoot wireless issues.
In the Advanced settings menu, you'll find a network map, along with basic and professional wireless settings. The latter include RADIUS settings and Professional settings for tweaking things like Beacon Intervals, enabling and disabling beamforming and MU-MIMO, and adjusting the RTS Threshold. Here, you can also set up Guest Networking, configure LAN and WAN settings, configure the "AiCloud" setting (so you can connect to your data from anywhere), view system logs, and even configure the router to work with Alexa voice commands and IFTTT applets.
Other Advanced settings include USB applications, IPv6 and firewall settings, admin settings, and tools for analyzing and configuring bandwidth utilization, as well as configuring Wake on LAN settings.
The Alexa and IFTTT functionality is especially noteworthy. You can use Amazon Alexa voice commands to turn on the router's guest network, update the firmware, and pause the internet. You can also use IFTTT applets to have the router react to other IFTTT-enabled devices such as door locks and cameras, and have specific events trigger router behavior. For example, you can have the router turn off Wi-Fi at sunset or when you go to bed, and turn on Wi-Fi when you arrive home. You can also have IFTTT send an email when your child logs in to the network.
Setting It Up and Speed-Testing…
Installing the ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is easy using the web console or the mobile app. I typed http://router.asus.com into my desktop browser's address bar, which launched a setup wizard. I chose Wireless Router mode from the menu, which also includes Repeater mode, AP mode, Media Bridge mode, and AiMesh mode. (The last choice lets you use other Asus routers as nodes to create a seamless mesh network.) You can opt to have the router chose the best band, or separate the three bands; I did the latter for testing purposes. I selected DHCP for my Internet connection, created a username and password, and updated the firmware. The entire process took less than five minutes.
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The ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 performed in very solid fashion in our throughput-speed tests. On our SU-MIMO tests on the 2.4GHz band, its score of 128Mbps was about 30Mbps faster than the D-Link AC5300 Ultra DIR895L/R and the Netgear Nighthawk X10 R9000, even though it trailed the Linksys WRT32X by 20Mbps. At a distance of 30 feet, it garnered 75Mbps, just edging past the D-Link and Netgear models. Once again, the Linksys WRT32X led the pack.
The ROG Rapture GT-AC5300's score of 601Mbps on our 5GHz close-proximity test was the highest we've seen to date from any router, as well as the first to break the 600Mbps mark. The Netgear R9000 managed 558Mbps, and the D-Link DIR-895L/R scored 515Mbps. The Linksys WRT32X trailed the pack with a score of 464Mbps. At a distance of 30 feet, the GT-AC5300 scored 330Mbps, beating the Linksys and D-Link but not the Netgear.
Our MU-MIMO simultaneous-data-streaming tests employ three identical Acer Aspire R13 laptops equipped with Qualcomm's QCA61x4A MU-MIMO circuitry. Here, the ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 scored 225Mbps on our close-proximity test, beating the Netgear and Linksys models but not the D-Link. At 30 feet, its score of 135Mbps led the pack.
Next up: Our file-transfer tests, in which we use a 1.5GB folder containing a mix of photo, video, music, and document files on a connected USB drive to measure read and write speeds. Here, alas, the ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 couldn't quite keep pace with our leaders. Its score of 39MBps on the write test was identical to the score from the D-Link DIR-895L/R but significantly slower than the Linksys WRT32X and the Netgear Nighthawk R9000. Its read speed of 42MBps was a bit slower than the Linksys and was 47MBps slower than the Netgear.
Verdict: All the Router You Can Handle
The Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 is overkill for most home users, but if you take your gaming seriously and want to ensure that your network is providing maximum throughput for all of your play and streaming needs, this router is as good as it gets. It delivered the fastest 5GHz close-proximity throughput performance of any router we've tested, and its 2.4GHz and MU-MIMO performance numbers were also solid. It offers a bomber-load of gigabit LAN ports with built-in acceleration for gaming applications and a wealth of other gamer-friendly optimization features, all of which are controlled using a well-designed interface.
This router doesn't come cheap, and its file-transfer performance could be a smidge better, but neither gripe prevents it from earning our Editors' Choice high-five for high-end routers.
About the Author
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 t… See Full Bio
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