Gaming routers have become a bit of a meme with huge antennas and more power than you could ever use, but that doesn't mean they have to be that way. The ROG Strix GS-AX5400 from Asus makes no apologies for its gaming credentials but shows restraint in enough places to easily pass the spouse test. Beyond that, it's compact despite having plenty of speed to support a gigabit connection with ease with dozens of devices.
The bigger question is whether it can hold its own in this very crowded category that includes several Asus models. The price is on the high side, but with so many software features packed in, an attractive design, and materials befitting a premium piece of consumer hardware, it gets very close to being one of the best gaming routers you can buy. Whether this is this router you choose will come down mostly to personal taste.
ROG Strix GS-AX5400
Bottom line: The ROG Strix joins the respected Strix gaming lineup offering great Wi-Fi speeds thanks to its AX5400 Wi-Fi 6 connection with 160MHz support. It also comes with a dedicated gaming Ethernet port to give your gaming packets VIP treatment and to keep your ping times not only low but consistent.
- Subtle matte black design looks great (even the RGB)
- Fast speeds at every test location
- Strong software package with parental controls
- AiProtection Pro makes it easy to stay secure
- Limited store availability
- More expensive than other AX5400 routers
ROG Strix GS-AX5400: Price and availability
The ROG Strix GS-AX5400 is available primarily from Walmart and Newegg in the U.S., with a suggested retail price of $249.99. This price is right in line with other gaming-focused AX5400 Wi-Fi 6 routers. The ROG line is from Taiwan-based computer company Asus which is known for creating high-quality computer components and accessories like monitors, routers, and even phones like the ROG Phone 5.
ROG Strix GS-AX5400: What's good
The ROG Strix GS-AX5400 is a fast Wi-Fi 6 router with a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 connection delivering up to 4804Mbps at 5GHz and 574Mbps at 2.4GHz. This router supports up to 160MHz wide bands at 5GHz, allowing for fast desktops and laptops to connect at up to 2402Mbps up and down. Some fast phones with 160MHz support can also take advantage of this speed, including the ROG Phone 5, Asus Zenfone 8, and Galaxy S21 Ultra.
While most of our connections max out at 1Gbps, some ISPs are dabbling in bringing higher speeds to the home with fiber or even cable. Xfinity, for example, is now offering up to 1.2Gbps download speeds in some areas over cable. While the WAN port on this model only supports gigabit, you can enable WAN aggregation to use two ports for up to 2Gbps.
Speaking of ports, this router comes with four gigabit LAN ports and a gigabit WAN port. One port is specifically labeled as a gaming port with immediate priority given to devices connected to it. There's also a USB 3.0 port for network storage or even a phone as modem support. Sharing the back of the router, there are four adjustable antennas.
The antennas are not removable. Luckily, they are pretty short, with the entire unit only needing slightly over 6.5 inches off of the surface, making it easy to fit on a shelf or in with other wall-mounted network equipment. And yes, there are wall-mounting points on the bottom of the router.
The main housing is a textured matte black plastic with a cutout for the ROG logo. The ROG logo is not lit but has iridescent dots that help it stand out. The front of the router has a recessed grill with RGB lighting that manages to carry its gaming heritage without lighting up the room in rainbow colors. The RGB lighting is customizable with basic animation and color combinations. I decided to stick with a single color (Android Central green), and I think it looks pretty mean.
RGB means nothing if the speed isn't there, and luckily for us, it is. I tested the ROG Strix GS-AX5400 with my gigabit connection from Cox, which has a maximum download speed of 940Mbps. Band steering was disabled so 2.4GHz and 5GHz could be tested individually, and the 5GHz band was set to 160MHz. The default setting had very similar speed results.
ROG Strix GS-AX5400 5GHz:
|Phone performance||Living room
Wi-Fi 6 160MHz
Performance was strong for this class of routers, with the fast Zenfone 8 keeping up close to full speed in all test locations. This test does show the impact the faster Wi-Fi standards can have on performance. Still, all three phones had plenty of speed for 4K streaming and large downloads.
ROG Strix GS-AX5400 2.4GHz:
|Phone performance||Living room
Wi-Fi 6 160MHz
The Zenfone 8 supports 160MHz Wi-Fi connections, giving it a maximum Wi-Fi 6 link speed of 2402Mbps with perfect signal. This is compared to 1201Mbps on the Galaxy S20+. The extra overhead on the Zenfone 8 allowed it to keep speeds higher even as signal quality started to degrade. However, keep in mind that a 160MHz band will be subject to a bit more interference in highly congested areas and may not be ideal for everyone.
Like the other Asus routers I've reviewed, the software experience for the ROG Strix GS-AX5400 is solid, and nearly everything the average user would want to adjust is available in the app available for Android and iOS. The Asus Router app is generally quick and responsive and is the fastest way to enable gaming mode as the router has no hardware buttons.
Parental controls are available with easy settings thanks to user profiles and pre-made filters for a variety of age ranges. Alexa support is also included for those that want to control their router with voice commands. Guest networks can also be configured if you have visitors that need to be online but don't need access to your local network devices.
AiMesh can also be configured from the app. AiMesh allows you to use other Asus routers to build a custom mesh network in your home. You can also use ZenWiFi nodes in the mesh. This allows you to combine the features of a gaming router with the compact nodes of a mesh system. If you're sharing your Wi-Fi with others, this is a great way to keep priority access to the gaming LAN port without compromising Wi-Fi coverage in the rest of your home.
Asus also includes its AiProtection Pro security software powered by Trend Micro. This software is free for the life of the product and allows you to secure your network from your router. There's no need to install additional Trend Micro software on your gaming PC. VPN Fusion is also included, allowing you to run your internet connection through a VPN as well as just connected directly to the internet for your gaming connections.
Finally, Instant Guard can be enabled to allow for an easy VPN connection to your router at home. This is great if you want to make sure your connection is secure when using public Wi-Fi as it creates a secure tunnel directly to your router. This can be set up via an app for Android and iOS, though you will need to be connected to your home Wi-Fi to set it up, so be sure to get it configured before leaving for a trip.
ROG Strix GS-AX5400: What's not good
There really isn't anything significant I've found that doesn't work on this router and the user reviews I've read seem to agree. One thing for potential buyers to consider is the price, however. While its $249.99 recommended price is right in line with other mid-range gaming routers, it is more expensive than other AX5400 routers from companies like TP-Link. That being said, the quality of the materials makes it feel like a high-quality product and when you've paid for something like this, you want to like it from the moment you open it. I think Asus nails this aspect.
One other thing to keep in mind is the somewhat confusing availability. This router is sold at Walmart and Newegg, and while nearly everyone in the U.S. will have access to these retailers, if you've received a gift card to another store for the holidays, you may not have the ability to choose this model. That being said, there are other routers that fit the bill, even from Asus.
ROG Strix GS-AX5400: Competition
Asus makes a few lines of routers marketed under the Asus brand, ROG, and TUF gaming. Each of these brands has a gaming-focused AX5400 router that looks quite a lot like the Rog Strix, including the Asus RT-AX82U. This router has a more extravagant design with large front grills that look like air intakes stolen from a supercar. The dual-band AX5400 connection offers plenty of speed and it's available at a few more retailers like Amazon and Best Buy.
Netgear has its Nighthawk XR1000 with a lot of great gaming features based on its DumaOS 3.0 software. With a bright red grill on the front for cooling, it wears its gaming focus with pride and delivers great speeds with its dual-band AX5400 connection. It also has a couple of gaming-specific software advantages like geofencing support, which can help you to be sure you're connected to the best possible server in supported games.
Finally, it's worth considering if you even need a gaming router. The TP-Link Archer AX73 is a fast AX5400 router with a compact housing and plenty of solid software features. This router, like most others, has a gaming QoS setting that can be enabled to keep the packets flowing. The price is much lower, too, with a starting price of $50 less than the ROG and frequent sales putting it well under.
ROG Strix GS-AX5400: Should you buy it?
You should buy this if ...
- You need gaming optimization.
- You have Wi-Fi 6 devices in your home.
- You want strong security features included with your router.
You shouldn't buy this if...
- You don't do any gaming.
- You're looking for the best price on a Wi-Fi 6 router.
Asus has been clever in designing a router that fits the needs of gamers without going over the top on the design. It has plenty of speed for Wi-Fi 6 devices, especially those with 160MHz support and the capacity to handle many devices throughout the home. Many people will also be happy to see the inclusion of robust and free security software powered by Trend Micro, especially as so many people try to work and learn from home.
Even if you ignore every gaming feature Asus has packed into the chassis, this is a really solid router for everyday use. There's plenty of speed for working from home, video conferencing, and large downloads. If you have kids that have online workdays or are learning full-time from home, there's plenty of speed for their schoolwork as well as the parental controls a parent needs to make sure they're on task.
If you are a gamer, this router comes with everything you need to make sure your local network isn't standing between you and your headshots. Software optimizations and a dedicated gaming port make it easy to get set up for optimal gaming performance. This router also has plenty of raw speed to keep up with streaming and stands toe-to-toe with the best Wi-Fi 6 routers you can buy. The only problem is you won't be able to blame the router if your KDA goes negative anymore.
Asus ROG Strix GS-AX5400
Bottom line: This gaming-focused AX5400 router delivers plenty of speed for large downloads with software to keep your ping times in check while gaming. You also get a dedicated gaming Ethernet port so you can be sure you're getting the best performance every time you log on.
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