TP-Link Archer AX11000 vs Asus RT-AC86U: which wireless router is better?

We compare the excellent TP-Link Archer AX11000 and Asus RT-AC86U wireless routers

TP-Link Archer AX11000 vs Asus RT-AC86U
(Image credit: TP-Link | Asus)

There's nothing more frustrating than slow internet, at least in our book, and choosing the best wireless router can be a good way to improve your connectivity. To help make the decision, we're comparing two excellent options: the TP-Link Archer AX11000 and Asus RT-AC86U.

Both of these routers have been thoroughly tested by T3 and offer pretty much everything you could possibly want from a router, besides perhaps a minimal aesthetic. But setting that aside, if you're in the market for a high-powered router to beef up your setup, look no further.

In TP-Link's corner is the Archer AX11000, the top end of their mighty range, which has been rated as the best wireless router for most people. In Asus' corner, the very affordable RT-AC86U, which offers slightly less but at a significantly lower price.

Want to complete the setup? We've got tonnes of guides to help you make smart, informed buying choices, including the best mesh networks, the best SSDs, and best webcams.

So, let's jump into the comparison between the TP-Link Archer AX11000 and Asus RT-AC86U.

ASUS RT-AC86U

(Image credit: ASUS )

The differences between these two routers are fairly pronounced and for good reason: TP-Link's is aimed at the very top of the market, including pretty much everything you could possibly need, while Asus' is firmly focused on being the best budget router going. 

And they both succeed at their respective jobs, which could well make your decision a lot easier. Unless you need the very best, the Asus RT-AC86U will do the job. 

In terms of raw specs, TP-Link has really pulled out all the stops. Off the bat, you get a maximum bandwidth of 11 Gbps, a quad-core 1.8GHz processor, and eight Ethernet ports, so pretty much everything you need. 

Asus has been a bit more reserved, offering a 2.9 Gbps maximum bandwidth, a dual-core 1.8GHz processor, and four Ethernet ports. As we say, the biggest thing with the RT-AC86U isn't the specs – which are very respectable – but the fact that you get such high-end features in a low-cost router.  

Both of these are very capable routers and for most people, the difference between 2.9 Gbps and 11 Gbps is fairly small, especially if your internet provider isn't the best. But for some, there is a difference and to them we recommend going for the TP-Link.

TP-Link Archer AX11000

(Image credit: TP-Link)

When it comes to the physical designs of these two, you get the sense that the designers at TP-Link were huge Star Wars fans who decided to go wild. And it works, in our view: the design of the AX11000 is so out there that we don't mind it. 

The AX11000 unlikely to fit in too well with a really minimalist house, but alongside a big PC case and Alienware keyboard, we think it fits. (And, let's be honest, that's the most likely place it'll be.) 

Asus has gone for a slightly more subtle look but not by much. In some ways, the RT-AC86U looks like the little brother of the AX11000, carrying over the same red and black design and antennas that broadcast Wi-Fi around the place. 

We personally quite like both of these designs and because they're so similar, the choice becomes a little bit easier. For most people, the AX11000 is likely too much, though, and the Asus is therefore a safer choice.  

In use, both the TP-Link and Asus performed exceptionally well. On the top end, the TP-Link was faster and could handle more devices simultaneously, which is exactly what it was designed to do, but for the vast majority of tasks, the RT-AC86U was excellent, sending fast broadband into the depths of our testing facility. 

Perhaps the only downside was that Asus doesn't include a wall mount as an option, meaning you have to stand the device on a surface. 

Asus RT-AC86U

(Image credit: Asus)

By now, you can likely guess what we're going to say here: for most people, the Asus RT-AC86U is more than enough, providing heaps of speed, four Ethernet ports, and – perhaps most importantly – not costing the earth. 

For the select few that need everything, TP-Link Archer AX11000 will do it and then some. There is pretty much nothing this router can't (or won't) do and we love it for that. If you can take the looks, and the price, you won't get a better wireless router. 

Max Slater-Robins
Max Slater-Robins

Max Slater-Robins has written for T3 now on and off for over half a decade, with him fitting in serious study at university in between. Max is a tech expert and as such you'll find his words throughout T3.com, appearing in everything from reviews and features, to news and deals. Max is specifically a veteran when it comes round to deal hunting, with him seeing out multiple Black Friday campaigns to date.