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ASUS GT-AXE11000

Introduction

Router geeks have been champing at the bit to get their hands on the first Wi-Fi 6E router, ASUS' GT-AXE11000 ROG Rapture, which I'll be referring to as AXE for the remainder of this review. It's been tough to get, popping up occasionally on Amazon, only to be quickly sold out. Seems first-adopters can't wait to be parted from the $550 or so it takes to snag one of these. So is it worth it to be the first on the block to beta test the latest the Wi-Fi industry has to offer?

The Product

The AXE shares a similar dead-spider design with its GT-AX11000 sibling. Both have eight antennas, two on each of its four sides. Like the AX, four of the AXE's antennas are dual-band, covering 2.4 and 5 GHz. Unlike the AX, the AXE's other four antennas are 6 GHz designs vs. 5 GHz for the AX's "tri-band" (split 5 GHz band) design. I'm surprised the Wi-Fi marketeers have missed the opportunity to slap a bigger number on the box and are sticking with "tri-band" to describe 6E routers. But I suppose because you can choose only one 5 GHz channel, "tri-band" will have to do.

The callout diagram below shows the AXE's ports, switches and indicators. The 2.5 GbE port defaults to being a fifth LAN port, but can be switched to function as a WAN port. Not shown are the two USB 3.0 ports for sharing a drive.

ASUS GT-AXE11000 callouts

ASUS GT-AXE11000 callouts

Inside

Die-hard router geeks like to focus on increased processing power to justify spending top dollar for new routers. But that's not going to fly as a reason to buy the AXE. As the table below shows, it's basically a GT-AX11000, with a d ifferent, 2.5 GbE capable, Broadcom BCM54991E gigabit switch, third 6 GHz radio and new antennas to support the 6 GHz band.

The table also shows the ASUS RT-AX88U with a very similar design, minus the third radio. The AX88U also has eight switched gigabit LAN ports, four built into the BCM49408 and four from the BCM53134 switch. Both the BCM4908 and BCM49408 have a 2.5 GbE port (but need an external PHY) and share the same compute core.

All three routers use the same BCM43684 a/b/g/n/ac/ax radio SoC for all radios. The AXE and AX88U use the same Skyworks 2.4 GHz power amp and LNA and 5 GHz front end. I think the AX11000 does, too, but the FCC photos aren't clear enough to say for sure. The AXE has its 6 GHz BCM43684 paired with four brandy-new Skyworks SKY85780 6 GHz front ends, one for each of its TX/RX chains.

  ASUS GT-AXE11000 ASUS GT-AX11000 ASUS RT-AX88U
CPU Broadcom BCM4908 64 bit quad-core @ 1.8 GHz Broadcom BCM4908 64 bit quad-core @ 1.8 GHz Broadcom BCM49408 64 bit quad-core @ 1.8 GHz
Switch Broadcom BCM54991E BCM53134
BCM84880 2.5 GbE transceiver
In CPU + BCM53134
RAM 1024 MB 1024 MB 1024 MB
Flash 256 MB 256 MB 256 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - Broadcom BCM43684 4-stream an/ac/ax radio
- Skyworks SKY85216-11 2.4 GHz LNA (x4) ?
- Skyworks SKY85006-11 2.4 GHz PA (x4)
- Broadcom BCM43684 4-stream an/ac/ax radio
- Skyworks ? 2.4 GHz LNA (x4)
- Skyworks ? 2.4 GHz PA (x4)
- Broadcom BCM43684 4-stream an/ac/ax radio
- Skyworks SKY85216-11 2.4 GHz LNA (x4)
- Skyworks SKY85006-11 2.4 GHz PA (x4)
5 GHz radio - Broadcom BCM43684 4 stream an/ac/ax radio
- Skyworks SKY85743-21 5 GHz front end (x4)
- Broadcom BCM43684 4 stream an/ac/ax radio
- Skyworks ? 5 GHz front end (x4)
- Broadcom BCM43684 4 stream an/ac/ax radio
- Skyworks SKY85743-21 5 GHz front end (x4)
5 GHz radio #2 - Broadcom BCM43684 4 stream an/ac/ax radio
- Skyworks SKY85780 6 GHz front end (x4)
- Broadcom BCM43684 4 stream an/ac/ax radio
- Skyworks ? 5 GHz front end (x4)
N/A
Price $550 $450 $300
Table 1: Component summary

I didn't have to open up the AXE to get a peek inside. The FCC short-term confidentiality term had expired, so I was able to use the internal photos for component identification. Here's the top view, with heatsinking in place. There is no sign of a fan.

ASUS GT-AXE11000 top view with heatsinks

ASUS GT-AXE11000 top view with heatsinks

With the heatsinks and RF can tops removed, you can see the CPU at upper left, one of the radios for the 2.4/5 GHz section with its associated 2.4 GHz power amps and LNAs and 5 GHz front ends. The 6 GHz front ends are at the lower right of the photo. You can also see the two USB 3.0 ports up in the right corner near the WAN and 2.5 GbE ports.

ASUS GT-AXE11000 top view stripped

ASUS GT-AXE11000 top view stripped

Here are the other two BCM43684 SoCs on the bottom of the board, along with the flash memory.

ASUS GT-AXE11000 bottom view stripped

ASUS GT-AXE11000 bottom view stripped

For comparison, here's the AX11000 board. It obviously has a very different layout from the AXE's. It also sports antenna connectors; the AXE can't have those under the FCC rules for indoor 6 GHz designs.

ASUS GT-AX11000 top view stripped

ASUS GT-AX11000 top view stripped

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