We’ve been experiencing frequent lockups, freezes, and error messages reporting, “an unknown error,” while streaming HD video from our Tivo DVR (digital video recorder) to an iPad Air tablet computer. So, to improve the reliability and stream ability of our wireless network, we’ve upgraded our Wifi access point to the Asus RT-AC87 Wireless Gigabit Router. We only need the Wifi access point (WAP) functionality, as the gigabit routing function is already covered by other equipment; hardware that we cannot swap out, as it is supplied by our Internet service provider.
The home Wifi network had ben rock solid, until adding the extra heavy wireless network demand that streaming video and gaming generates. And, since the newest WAP, here in-house, is somewhat older (2011 technology), suffers from very small internal antennas, supports only single-band wifi, and was probably not intended for the higher levels of network usage we’ve placed on it in recent months with the Tivo, this now seemed the right time for a major router upgrade.
The RT-AC87R conforms to AC2400 standards, features four external and detachable antennas, as pictured below, that you can swivel around to numerous positions, to get the best Wifi reception in your particular environment. More antennas, hopefully, means better wireless performance. It also has much faster dual-core processors as well as adaptive quality-of-service (QoS), which should help immensely with video streaming performance. Further, this gem provides way-adequate wireless coverage in areas as large as 5000 square feet; more than enough to completely envelop our 2000 square foot apartment.
We’ll post a review of this Extreme Series Asus router, once we’ve tested it a bit and verified that the intermittent and erratic streaming has either disappeared completely, or at least, has been seriously reduced with this hardware upgrade.
In the meantime, however installation is complete. Below is a picture of the router / access point combo, unpackaged, set up, and hosting several wireless devices.
Wireless Reliability Problems and Issues The RT-AC87R Fixed
- Reduced connection times. Wifi connections that previously took several to many seconds to make, now occur in less than three seconds. The AC2400 responds with noted rapidity to new wifi sign in requests, from any wireless client. This improvement occurred on ALL of our wireless tablets, Internet radios, thermostats, and smart phones that feature wifi. Definitely faster than 3g or even 4g speeds.
- Lower failed connections rates. Way reduced failed connection attempts. Several of our wifi client devices had been a bit finicky about establishing connections on the old WAP, even when placed within two feet of it. But now, they connect flawlessly every time, even from way across the apartment, through two or three walls.
- More robust wifi signal coverage. All wireless network dead spots round the fringes of our apartment have disappeared since this upgrade. Our wifi devices quickly get connected, and STAY connected now. We can now find no spot in this two-bedroom abode, where the wifi does not work. Videos and Internet streamed music can now be played everywhere around here without fear of signal fading, freezing, or dropped connections.
- Device positioning no longer very important. Before, our portable Internet radios would disconnect from the currently playing station if moved around on the table or picked up and carried to a new location. Have not seen this happen yet, with this Asus router.
- Smoother video and audio stream playback. With the Asus AC2400 class of router, like the RT-AC87R, our Tivo recordings play perfectly now throughout our home wifi network. No freezes, jitters, “unknown error” messages, or corrupted stream sessions, whether viewing in the bedroom, bathroom, office, kitchen, or living room. The adaptive quality of service included, greatly boosts video streaming enjoyment.
- Less interference from other devices. Not Bluetooth mice, not microwave ovens, not even another wifi access point sitting right beside the RT-AC87R, interrupts or degrades wireless communications. Even near to notoriously noisy (radio noise) appliances like electronically ballasted fluorescent lights, cordless telephones, cell phones, switching power supply adapters, and computers, wireless performance remained very high; almost as reliable as a wired Ethernet cable connection.
- Faster overall link speed. We’ve observed a nearly two-fold increase in link data rates, as reported on our Android tablets, and overall data throughput has increased as well. Certainly, the 5 Ghz. second band in which this access point operates is largely responsible, along with the universal beamforming technology in the RT-AC87R. This router focuses its signals right at each wifi client, instead of simply blanketing a large living space. This improves signal strength and clarity at each client device, and seems to present a higher quality network service.
- Less interference from this router with other devices. Even at full power, this WAP does not appear to disturb our other wifi network. It has no observable impact on phones or Bluetooth headsets and speakers playing music nearby. The beamforming qualifies this router as a more precision device, that directs more of the wifi transmission where actually needed, and away from where it’s not wanted.
- More efficient gigabit switching. Even our wired devices, hooked up via the Ethernet ports on this router, appear to download and upload files to other computers more quickly. The two dual-core processors in the RT-AC87R create a virtually transparent data conduit between computers. Blazingly high speeds with infinitesimally low error rates. We thought we were getting this already on previous routers, at least on the Ethernet ports. But this router seems to pass data between these ports with notably higher efficiency than older gigabit switches.
- Configurable as a straight wifi access point. Thus, we could continue using the cable modem to provide things like NAT translation, DHCP-based IP address assigning, and device specific routing functions, et al. True, we’re not using the routing features in this quality Asus router. But the improvements made to the wireless technologies alone made spending the ~$292 total for this WAP well worth the money.
We’re quite pleased with this upgrade, because it accomplished everything we had hoped, and provided some other network enhancements that we’d never dreamed of prior, but are thankful to have now. Setup was a cinch with the included Quick Start Guide as well as the web-based interface (router.asus.com) Quick Internet Setup (QIS) interface.
- 2015-11-24: Added appropriate tags.
- 2014-11-22: Initially published this article.