Gadget Review: Asus RT-AX56U Router

Last month, my AC87U started acting up. It was randomly disconnecting from my wireless clients, and was often failing to handover the connections to the AC5300U. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring a portion of my infrastructure up to Wifi 6 standards.

A little bit of a background – the 87u sits near the entrance of the house, and is mainly to service the living-room, balcony and kitchen. Due to the presence of 2 large aluminum backed mirrors, I had to place the 5300u in the study room, so that it could service the 4 bedrooms.

Since the 87u was no longer fit for purpose. I was on the lookout for a new router that could integrate with my existing hardware. I had heard about the Asus AIMesh functionality, but the reviews had been poor for the first couple of iterations. But the latest reviews were starting to sound good, so I knew this was an option.

I also researched other standalone mesh systems, but the price to feature ratio did not make sense for me. I didn’t want to be paying $400 for a device that had better Wifi 6 speed, but then loses out on the configurability (?!) that I can get from the Asus WRT software and especially from the Merlin firmware. Long time readers (all 2 of you) would know I love this firmware because of the OpenVPN integration and the general performance boost.

So a quick search online and I found that Asus had more than a few options:


The Asus RT-AX56U caught my eye for a couple of reasons:

  • Cheapest of the lot
  • AI Mesh compatible
  • Merlin firmware compatible
  • Dual band (Since this would be placed near the entrance of the house to serve only a few clients, it didn’t need to have mind-numbingly high throughput)
  • A quad-core broadcom 1.5Ghz CPU with 512MB of RAM (double the 87u)

A quick trip to the hardware shop, and here it:

A fresh Asus RT-AX56U

Out went the 87u and in its place went the 56u. The usual process through the Asus connection wizard and I was up and running. Of course, I had to import all the settings from the 87u, but that didn’t take me more than 30 minutes. I used my only Wifi 6 device (Samsung Galaxy S10) to connect to the router, and lo-and-behold, would you look at that Network Speed!

1.1 Gbps wireless connection speed – welcome to the future!

I’m obviously happy with that connection from 2 meters away, but what I was really keen to test out was the mesh network handover. Using the S10 I walked step-by-step towards my bedroom. As expected, the hand-off occured the moment I passed the 2 aforementioned mirrors. (Sidenote: The 5300u backhaul is connected using an ethernet cable for maximum stability. ) That is exactly how I wanted the router to perform, and I am happy that that’s what it does out-of-the box.

One caveat about Asus routers – they tend to run hot. After an hour, my 56u was hovering in the 70 C range. I put a USB fan under it, and the temperature went down to 50 C.

Router in DB Box with a USB fan for cooling

In summary, if you are looking for a cheap Wifi 6 router that can serve as an AI Mesh node, look no further than the Asus RT-AX56U. It is priced in the S$159 – S$199 range, and it’s good value for a simple but capable router. I’m happy with my purchase, but there’s that little voice that tells me I should have bought the RT-AX58U for the triple band connection. Let’s see how long we can ignore the upgrade bug!


So about that….

Well, that’s one promise I didn’t keep. How did 3 years just go by? I quit my job, joined another company, and quit THAT job after a year and a half. Its been 9 months since I left full-time employment – that went by is a flash!

So what have I been up to? Power-lifting 1000 pounds (453KG) between the squat, deadlift and bench-press. Working on my Marketo, SFDC and Google Analytics certifications. Reading exactly 29 fantasy fiction books. Oh, and applying for more than 400 jobs.

Job hunting during the COVID-19 pandemic has been anything but easy. There was a period in April where I didn’t get a single call or email for about 3 weeks. Of the 400 jobs, I’ve maybe received a call back from 50 companies, and of those I’ve had at least 1 interview with 20 different companies. From the 20, 5 made it to the next stages. And exactly 0 turned into actual offers.

It has been frustrating, but I am fortunate to have a wonderful family, and a large financial buffer to fall back on. Instead of wallowing in self pity, I’ve used this opportunity to focus on myself and my family, and I am thankful for the bonds I have formed with my daughter. Every cloud has a silver lining, and that would be mine.

Not to forget, the last 9 months have also brought us this:

A Champions League victory.

After 30 years, Liverpool have finally, finally won the English Premier League!!!