Asus RT-AX59U review: an extendable Wi-Fi 6 router with a great price-to-performance ratio

A compact design and good performance at a highly competitive price

Asus RT-AX59U on a table
(Image: © Future / Cliff Joseph)

TechRadar Verdict

Despite its low price, the Asus RT-AX59U gets all the basics right. Its compact design will appeal to many home users, and its 4.2Gbps dual-band Wi-Fi 6 can take streaming video and online entertainment in its stride. Throw in an easy-to-use app with good parental controls, and the RT-AX59U doesn’t put a foot wrong.

Pros

  • +

    Great price

  • +

    Slim, compact design

  • +

    4.2Gbps Wi-Fi 6 performance

  • +

    Easy-to-use app

Cons

  • -

    Dual-band only

  • -

    No 2.5G Ethernet

  • -

    Poor documentation

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Asus RT-AX59U: Two-minute review

The best routers that support the latest Wi-Fi 6E technology are still relatively expensive, but that does mean that the current generation of Wi-Fi 6 routers is coming down in price, with models such as Asus’ new RT-AX59U Extendable router being one of the most affordable that I've seen so far. 

You’re not going to get top-of-the-range performance from a router that comes in at around $150, but the Asus RT-AX59U provides good mid-range performance at a very competitive price. And, like all of the latest Asus routers, it is now described as an ‘extendable’ router – meaning that it can be used with any other Asus router that supports the company’s AiMesh technology to create a more extensive mesh network in the future.

Asus RT-AX59U on a table

(Image credit: Future / Cliff Joseph)

Most Wi-Fi 6 routers are festooned with antennae that are designed to improve the reach of the Wi-Fi signal, but the Asus RT-AX59U has an unusually svelte design, consisting of a slim, upright tower that takes up very little space. It stands just 200mm 131mm wide and only 37.5mm thick and weighs a mere 460g, so you can easily sit it on any convenient shelf when connecting it to your existing broadband modem or router. 

Despite that slimline design, the RT-AX59U manages to squeeze in five internal antennae to help transmit the Wi-Fi signal far and wide. The router’s compact and lightweight design also means that you can easily fix it to a wall if you want - the higher the better to help the signal reach as far as possible - and there’s a wall-mount kit included in the box as well. 

The Asus RT-AX59U is a good mid-range router that offers dual-band Wi-Fi 6 - using the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz frequency bands - with a top speed of 4.2Gbps (although, strictly speaking, it’s 4.177Gbps). And, as mentioned, it also supports Asus’ AiMesh technology, which allows it to work with other Asus routers as part of a wider mesh networking system if you need to upgrade your network in the future.

Asus RT-AX59U on a table

(Image credit: Future / Cliff Joseph)

The router also includes four Gigabit Ethernet interfaces as well - one of which is used to connect it to your existing broadband modem or router, while the other three provide wired networking for devices such as a games console or smart TV that may work better with a wired connection. There are also two USB ports, which will allow you to connect USB storage devices that you can share on your network - although it’s odd that only one of these uses USB 3.2, while the other opts for the aging USB 2.0.

Asus RT-AX59U app

(Image credit: Future / Cliff Joseph)

Asus’ Router app makes it easy to get started, as you can simply use the app to scan a QR code on the base of the router and automatically connect to the router’s new network. You’re then prompted to create a new name and password for the network, and I was pleased to see that the app also asks if you want to merge the two 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz frequency bands to create a single network, or if you prefer to create two separate networks instead. 

The app has plenty of other useful features too, including a QoS option - quality of service - that allows you to prioritise specific tasks, such as gaming, so that they get maximum performance. And, unlike many of its rivals, Asus provides free parental controls, with content filters that can protect children by blocking unsuitable online material (whereas some companies require an additional monthly subscription for parental controls). 

My only complaint is that I was unable to find a proper manual on Asus’ website, which might be useful for more advanced users who want greater fine control over their network settings.

Asus RT-AX59U on a table

(Image credit: Future / Cliff Joseph)
Asus RT-AX59U: Benchmark

Ookla Speed Test - 2.4GHz (download/upload)
Within 5ft, no obstructions: 150/150Mbps
Within 30ft, three partition walls: 150/150Mbps

Ookla Speed Test - 5.0GHz (download/upload)
Within 5ft, no obstructions: 150/150Mbps
Within 30ft, three partition walls: 150/150Mbps

20GB Steam download  - 2.4GHz
Within 5ft, no obstructions: 19MB/s
Within 30ft, three partition walls: 19MB/s

20GB Steam 20GB download  - 5.0GHz
Within 5ft, no obstructions: 19MB/s
Within 30ft, three partition walls: 19MB/s

You’re not going to get top-of-the-range speed from a low-cost router such as this, but the Asus RT-AX59U proves more than capable of handling anything that our 150Mbps office broadband can throw at it. As I expected, devices in the same room as the RT-AX59U don’t show any major speed improvements, recording 150Mbps on the Ookla speed test and 19MB/s for Steam downloads on both the 2.4GHz and 5.0Ghz bands. 

The real test is our back office at the rear of the building, where I normally rely on PowerLine adaptors to provide a wired connection, as our normal Wi-Fi router can’t quite get a reliable signal into that room. And the RT-AX59U didn’t falter as I wandered along the corridor to the back office with our laptop, and maintained top speeds of 150Mbps for Ookla and 19MB/s for Steam on both frequency bands. 

Dedicated gamers might prefer a more expensive tri-band router that would allow them to devote one of the frequency bands to their gaming rig. But the RT-AX59U will provide a good, affordable upgrade for web browsing, streaming video and other forms of online entertainment.

Asus RT-AX59U: Price & availability

  • How much does it cost? £124.99 (approximately US$150/AU$225) 
  • When is it available? Available now
  • Where can you get it? Available in the US, UK, and Australia

The Asus RT-AX59U has only recently been launched, and it can’t be bought directly from Asus in the US or Australia, so customers in those regions will need to shop around to buy online. However, Asus’ website in the UK lists the RT-AX59U at a very competitive £124.99 (approximately US$150/AU$225). 

It’s about the same price as the Linksys Hydra 6, but the Hydra 6 isn’t as fast, offering 3.0Gbps compared to 4.2Gbps for the RT-AX59U. Alternatively, if you want something even faster, then Asus’ TUF Gaming router steps up to 5.4Gbps but is quite a bit more expensive at $199.99 / £170 / AU$369. 

That combination of strong performance and competitive price makes the Asus RT-AX59U a good all-around upgrade for anyone that’s still plodding away with an ageing Wi-Fi 5 router.

  •  Value: 5 / 5 

Asus RT-AX59U: Specs

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Wi-Fi:Dual-band Wi-Fi 6
Speed:4.2Gbps
Connectivity:1x Gigabit Ethernet (WAN), 3x Gigabit Ethernet (LAN), 1x USB 3.2, 1x USB 2.0
Processor:Quad-core ARM @ 2.0GHz
Memory512MB
Storage:128MB
Dimensions: 200 x 131 x 37.5mm, 0.46kg

Asus RT-AX59U on a table

(Image credit: Future / Cliff Joseph)

Should you buy the Asus RT-AX59U?

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ValueThe Asus RT-AX59U is a good mid-range router with a competitive, entry-level price.5 / 5
DesignIt’s slim, light and easy to use.4 / 5
PerformanceIt’s a good option for web browsing, streaming video and online entertainment.4 / 5
Average ratingRow 3 - Cell 1 4.5 / 5

Buy it if...

You need a Wi-Fi upgrade
If your old Wi-Fi 5 router is struggling to cope then the RT-AX59U is a really good upgrade and introduction to Wi-Fi 6.

You’re on a budget
The latest Wi-Fi 6E routers are still very expensive, but the RT-AX59U provides good Wi-Fi 6 performance at a bargain price.

You’re a parent
Unlike most of its rivals, Asus doesn’t charge extra for parental controls that help to keep your kids safe online.

Don't buy it if...

You’re a serious gamer
The RT-AX59U is fast enough for gaming, but its dual-band networking can easily get congested. A tri-band router will be a better option for competitive gaming.

You have lots of bedrooms
The compact design of the RT-AX59U is ideal for smaller homes, but larger homes with lots of bedrooms might need a more powerful router or mesh networking system.

Asus RT-AX59U: Also consider

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Asus RT-AX59ULinksys Hydra 6Asus TUG Gaming AX5400
Price: £124.99 (approximately US$150/AU$225)Row 0 - Cell 2 Row 0 - Cell 3
Wi-Fi:Dual-band Wi-Fi 6Dual-band Wi-Fi 6Dual-band Wi-Fi 6
Speed:4.2Gbps3.0Gbps 5.4Gbps
Connectivity:1x Gigabit Ethernet (WAN), 3x Gigabit Ethernet (LAN), 1x USB 3.2, 1x USB 2.01x Gigabit Ethernet (WAN), 4x Gigabit Ethernet (LAN), 1x USB-A (3.0)1x Gigabit Ethernet (WAN), 4x Gigabit Ethernet (LAN)
Processor:Quad-core ARM @ 2.0GHzQualcomm 214, 1.0GHz, dual-core Broadcom 1.5GHz tri-core
Memory:512MB unspecified512MB
Storage:128MB unspecified256GB
Dimensions:200 x 131 x 37.5mm, 0.46kg158 x 215 x 155mm, 0.69kg215 x 260 x 170mm
Image

Linksys Hydra 6
The Hydra 6 isn’t quite as fast as the RT-AX59U, only offering a top speed of 3.2Gbps, but you can pick it up quite cheaply if you shop around.

Read our full Linksys Hydra 6 review

Image

Asus TUG Gaming AX5400
If you want a bit more speed for some serious gaming action, then the TUF provides 5.4Gbps Wi-Fi 6 - and lots of scary antennae - at a competitive price.

Read our full Asus TUG Gaming AX5400 review

How I tested the Asus RT-AX59U

  • Tested it for 3-4 days
  • Used it as our main office router
  • Used the Ookla Speed Test app

I set up the RT-AX59U and used it as our main office router, full-time for 3-4 days. For general wi-fi performance, I used the Ookla Speed Test app. I also tested real-world download speed by downloading large game files from Steam.

We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.

Read more about how we test

First reviewed March 2023

Contributor

Cliff Joseph is a former Editor of MacUser magazine, and a freelance technology writer with 30 year’s experience in the industry (and old enough to remember when Apple was close to going bust…).


His first job involved using Macs for magazine sub-editing and typesetting, which led to the realisation that these computer-thingies might actually turn out to be useful after all. After a few years specialising in the Mac side of the market, he went freelance and embraced the wide world of digital technology, including Windows PCs, digital audio and hi-fi, and networking. Somewhere along the line he also developed a bit of a gaming habit and has stubbornly waved the flag for Mac gaming for far too many years.