ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC2900 Dual-Band Gaming Router Review
In all my years of setting up home networks, LAN networks and corporate networks, I have never experienced such a simple and seamless process when getting my game on. What can one say about a router? You would be surprised, and this is the perfect opportunity for me to tell you exactly why the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC2900 Dual Band Gaming Router is a “Game Changer” (See what I did there?).
Before I get into the technical side of the review, let me put the review scenario into perspective for you, so you can understand just how and why my experience was so mind-bendingly impressive. My home network runs through a Fibre-bypass, leading into two other network switches that split to the rest of the house in segments. This was done to ensure maximum connectivity no matter where you are on our property. Data is expensive these days. Wi-Fi FTW (For The Win), right. Right?
My home-based live streaming, gaming and content creation studio is in the garage, which is roughly 20 meters away from the main network hubs, but after laying a dedicated CAT-6 Ethernet line from there to my studio, the cable is roughly 40 meters long. This essentially means that the home network is triple segmented and not controlled via a MicroTik, and depending on the usage inside the house, I am only afforded what little bandwidth is left over in the segmented pipeline. In the studio, I have my Gaming Laptop, my Streaming RIG, a PlayStation 4 Pro Console, an Xbox One X Console and a Nintendo Switch, all of which, need to feed off of this single dedicated 40 meter LAN cable. Got the full picture? Great, let’s head into the official review then.
True Plug And Play Manifested
Opening up the GT-AC2900 box was without a doubt where I spent most of my time in the “setting up” process. Inside the neatly packaged box was the GT-AC2900 Wi-Fi Router, Three External Detachable Antenna, a Two-Prong Power Adapter, the Dual-Purpose Stand and Wall-Mount, Two 1 Meter RJ-45 Cables (LAN Cables), a Screwdriver and the Quick Start Guide. Not being sure what to expect once I turned on the device, I kept the Guide close, but in the end, I never opened it up once. Under any other circumstance, one usually directly plugs a single device into one of the available LAN (Local Area Network) ports on a router, and you open up your web browser, go to a specific URL (Uniform Resource Locator or Web Address) or IP (Internet Protocol) address and start setting the new router customization to fit within your existing network’s IP Ranges, DNS (Domain Name System) routes and any Port Forwarding requirements you have. Not today though!
I took my dedicated line connecting the studio to the hubs inside the house and plugged it into the Blue “Internet Port”, and then connected my Wired Devices to the router from Port 1 to Port 4, with my Gaming Laptop using Port 1, turned on the GT-AC2900 and sat back waiting for it to boot up.
The RGB AURA Lighting had me mesmerized. Never did I think there was a need to have RGB Lighting on a router, but this was classy and very quickly “told me” that the device had booted up and had detected an internet connection. Shocked that the internet light was on, I opened up my browser and without needing to type anything, I was greeted with the ASUS Setup Guide. I checked all my devices to see if they had received any IP addresses, but nothing had happened yet (which is normal). I opened up my CMD Console (Command Prompt or DOS) and did an /ipconfig test to see what the DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) had set my IP to and saw it was nowhere near my home IP Range, so I followed the on-screen guide, which first asked me to choose which mode I wanted to use the router in. The choices were Wireless Router Mode, Range Extender Mode, Access Point Mode and Media Bridge Mode, and for my situation, I decided to opt for AP Mode (Access Point).
Note that this was my first “Click” in the setting up process, and I had not pressed any keys on my keyboard yet. Next, I was asked what I would like to set the Wireless SSID (Service Set Identifier or Network Name) to, and then create my password. I clicked in the SSID field (Second “Click”) and typed my desired name, pressed the “Tab” key on my keyboard and input my desired password. The interface (on screen display) cloned my 2.4GHz settings keystrokes into the 5GHz fields, which I was happy with, but had the opportunity to change if I wanted to and then I clicked on “Continue” (Third “Click”). I was then greeted with a screen that said that the setup was complete and I should wait for the router to reboot.
I immediately thought to myself, “Ah this must be the first reboot of a few, as usual”. I have never been so excited to be proven wrong in my entire life! Within 5 seconds, my screen refreshed and I was given the new URL of the ASUS Network Management Portal, and then in my peripheral vision, I noticed my Network Icon in my Windows Task Bar change from “No Internet” to “Internet Available”. Shocked yet again, I ran the /ipconfig test and saw that everything was within my existing home network IP range and DNS settings, and that the GT-AC2900 had also picked up which internal IP’s had been excluded from the range inside the house, the patio and the garden and it had isolated the studio IP range to not conflict with or overlap with any other IP addresses.
I kid you not, I literally shouted, “What the fudge!”, jumped up and ran to my brother (Michael, the true network boffin in the CodeBro outfit) and told him that it took me less than 3 minutes, 3 clicks and a single reboot to be game and stream ready with the GT-AC2900.
Goodbye NAT. Hello Beast Mode.
With my mixed emotions and frustrated elation causing my heart to race at the speed of a galloping horse, I launched into Apex Legends, opened up Streamlabs OBS and hit the “Go Live” button. The game launched and found a Data Center (Server) quite quickly and the live stream monitor logs showed a healthy connection at 4Mbps (Megabits Per Second). This was all normal to me, but what I could never do was also open up Twitch to view a stream while I was streaming, so I did exactly that, and to my surprise, it worked, with minimal buffering. There was also no fluctuation in my stream logs, so I then decided to turn on my consoles and check for updates, which there were, but normally I would mentally prioritize what to leave running, to ensure that my Upload Bandwidth (Outgoing Internet Connection) remained unconstrained. Deciding to throw all caution to the wind, I allowed the updates to pull to the consoles while keeping an eye on the stream logs and the Twitch stream.
It was only natural that this then started showing Network Fatigue, and the stream logs began logging connection speed fluctuation. I looked over at the GT-AC2900 box and picked it up, flipped it over and saw that it guaranteed up to a 75% increase in network utilization once the “Boost Mode” button was activated, so I smirked with sarcastic intention, pressed the button and waited for “nothing special” to happen, because seriously, how could a single button make your internet faster?
Yet again, I could not have been more stumped had you hit me with a plank against my head. The RGB Cycle stopped on the GT-AC2900, it blinked Red and settled on a Solid Orange Glow. I glanced over to the stream log, and it stabilized, then I looked over at my Twitch stream and it was playing smoothly in HD. I looked back at the router and it was now settled on a solid Purple Glow, and I looked up at the console screens, to see that they were both downloading at a constant rate as well. Thinking it was just coincidence, I clicked on “Play Apex” and launched into a game, expecting it all to come crashing down in a glorious rain of chaos and disconnections, but again, stability ruled the moment, all while watching the router settle on a solid Blue Glow.
What is the big deal about the color of the AURA glow? The color of the glow will visually show you how much strain your network is under with Green being very little strain and Red being heavy strain. A flashing Red glow indicated that your network is currently under an attempted hack, but thanks to the built in security, you can keep playing without needing to do anything.
Just in-case I lost you along the way, I was now: Streaming live video at a constant 4Mbps; Watching a Twitch stream at full HD without buffer latency; Playing Apex Legends without Ghosting; Downloading console updates on both my PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X. I personally have never, ever witnessed or experienced what had just happened. It was honestly too much for me to handle, and I instantly fell head-over-heels in-love with the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC2900 Gaming Router.
What “Boost Mode” just did, was utilize it’s built-in GPN (Gamers Private Network) powered by wtfast®, actively compressing and pushing all data packets through the shortest possible connection points between my home network and the game/streaming servers for minimized ping times and the lowest latency, where they get decompressed again and vice-versa on receiving data packets, which is also known as Network QoS (Quality of Service).
Seriously More Than What Meets The Eye
Through the ASUS Network Monitor, you can also take advantage of Game Radar, which lets you check ping times to different game servers before you launch your game, allowing you to choose the best one and gain the competitive edge. Another impressive feature blending seamlessly together here, is VPN Fusion, which allows you to run a VPN (Virtual Private Network) and an ordinary internet connection simultaneously. Under normal circumstances, because of the security protocols involved in a VPN, “fast internet” cannot exist, as all packets being transmitted or received, need to be scanned first before seeing a visual response, which is not ideal for a gaming environment. This type technology, within reach of us consumers, is really next level stuff.
Having run out of LAN Ports, I still had my Nintendo Switch that needed internet connectivity, and with Super Smash Brothers Ultimate and Mario Kart™ 8 Deluxe having their competitive modes, I was curious whether the Wireless performance of the GT-AC2900 could compete with it’s Wired solution. That being said, I had already connected my Mobile Phone to the 5G Network, and I did run a Internet Speed Test (Via Google), but the true experiment always lies within practical application, which in this case, was either racing online or being beaten up by other Super Smash Bro. Veterans. I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I honestly cannot stress how impressed I am with the network speeds achieved both through wired and wireless applications on the GT-AC2900, as I was also able to log into The Elder Scrolls Online: Blades and take part in the Online Arena for the first time due to the low latency provided by Boost Mode (Beast Mode).
Having mentioned security in the paragraph leading up to this one, another truly special feature within the GT-AC2900 offering is AiProtection Pro, which is powered by Trend Micro™. AiProtection Pro also protects devices that cannot install Anti-Virus Software, like Game Consoles, Smartphones and other IoT devices (Internet of Things, such as Fridges and Smart TV’s) from within your NPN (Non Public Network) by defending your network from external attacks and threats by neutralizing them before they can reach your devices. These threats are very real, and in today’s trend commonly occur as either SIMjacking or IoT Identity Fraud.
The final features I want to highlight are the Parental Controls, Download Master and the Network Share Drive. You can access the Parental Control feature through the ASUS Network Monitor, where you can restrict internet access during specific times of the day and block specific categories of mobile apps or websites. As a gamer dad, this is a “heaven send” feature, because once I have determined which site or application could put my children at risk, I can quickly flag those threats and rest easy knowing my children will not be exposed to content or experiences that could harm them, with the main concern today being Location Phishing, where through “role-play games”, Pedophiles are trying to locate children closest to them as targets. Sadly, the internet is both a blessing and a curse, but the flexibility in the Parental Controls also allow you to create separate rules for individual family members (my children) and apply them to all of their devices (Tablets and Laptops), with the click of a single button.
The GT-AC2900 has two USB ports on the back next to the LAN Ports, with one being a USB 2.0 Port and the other being a USB 3.0 Port. You can plug in an External Hard Drive and have it accessed over the network through the Network Share Drive, where you can easily share Documents, Videos, Music or Photographs with friends and family that have access to your network.
Finally, with the Download Master, you can download directly to your Network Share Drive without turning or leaving a Laptop or Desktop on, which is ideal for when you would need to normally leave your system unattended overnight to complete downloads of multiple large files or torrents. The Download Master allows you to set custom upload and download speeds like most download clients and also permits Download Scheduling for advanced users to shape their bandwidth usage according to their Active Hours. Now for the Pièce de résistance. You can control every feature I have discussed in the above review, including your downloads, via the ASUS Router Mobile App, right from your Mobile Phone, no matter where you are through Roaming Assist.
Powered by a 1.8GHz 64-Bit Dual-Core Processor, and 512MB of RAM, ASUS have crammed a “Fully Loaded Box Meal” into a “Bite Sized Network Masterpiece”. I have not even discussed the fact that the ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC2900 Dual-Band Gaming Router is certified by Nvidia for the GeForce NOW program. If you are not up to speed yet, that means that through Cloud Gaming, you can turn a Non-Gaming-Spec Laptop or Desktop PC into a Powerful Gaming System, connecting you to over 400 top games, like Couter-Strike Global Offensive, PUBG, Apex Legends, Rainbow Six Siege and Fortnite on popular PC game stores like Steam and Uplay.
At the time of this review, you can order your very own ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AC2900 Dual Band Gaming Router from Evetech for R4,999.00 (Online Only Deal). The regular retail listing price is averaged at R6,000.00, so if you are in the market for a gaming router with all the bells and whistles that is below the R5,000.00 mark, then this is the one for you. I agree that the price is quite high when compared to other routers, that do offer you Tri-Band functionality, but those router do not have half of the security features or the gaming priority features offered by the GT-AC2900. In a single sentence, the GT-AC2900 is a true gaming router that truly gives you the edge.
Am I going to miss the review unit? Yes. Very much. Would I spend the money on upgrading the ASUS RT-AC1200G+ router I am currently using in my studio setup? Without hesitation.