Back at CES earlier this year, I had visited Quantenna and covered the announcement of their QSR1000 4x4 802.11ac MIMO chipset. It was announced that the Asus RT-AC87U would be the first QSR1000 enabled router to hit retail. Despite the announcement at CES, no availability date or price was announced.

Things are getting together now, and Asus and Quantenna have announced that the RT-AC87U is all set to ship (Best Buy actually has it for purchase right now). The router will retail for $270, an admittedly steep price, but one that should be seen in context with the Broadcom-XStream enabled Netgear R8000 that is shipping for $300. The router also seems to be a bit lacking in the I/O front, with only one USB 2.0 port apparently. [ Update: Some readers have mentioned that a USB 3.0 port is hidden beneath a flap in the front. ] That said, it is like that most of the power users who are going to purchase this already have a dedicated NAS device (and don't need USB 3.0 or eSATA ports in their routers).

The RT-AC87U is a bit more future-proof with respect to Wi-Fi standards, thanks to it being the first shipping 802.11ac Wave 2 router. As part of the Wave 2 features, we get four spatial streams and support for MU-MIMO (we do need clients supporting it to get the full benefits). One of the most obvious benefits of going to Wave 2 is the 160 MHz-wide channel support, but, that is not part of the Quantenna QSR1000 chipset that is being used in the Asus RT-AC87U.

Obviously, technology moves at a rapid pace, and one can always wait for the next big thing. There is also talk online of Netgear releasing a Wave 2 router (Nighthawk X4) soon (the FCC details are already out), but official details are scarce. In effect, if readers are interested in hopping on to the Wave 2 bandwagon, the Asus RT-AC87U will be the first opportunity.

Source: Quantenna

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  • sweetca - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    Uhh, I just bought the Netgear R7000. Someone explain to me (Assume I am a Mongoloid) the benefit of this over my current router?
  • DarkXale - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    Higher throughput. But it has a couple of requirements on the client hardware as well to work.

    Some will depend on whether or not I've correctly understood MU-MIMO versus SU-MIMO.

    1) MU-MIMO. As I understand it, the current implementation of MIMO only allows one device at a time to retrieve multiple streams. The remaining streams (that the device cannot receive) effectively 'idle'. This wastes a lot of throughput, since phones and tables are generally 1x1, and laptops and desktops generally 2x2 (very few go to 3x3).

    MU-MIMO allows another device to start receiving data during that 'idle' stream. Net effect, should be a significant speed improvement when there are multiple active devices. Especially if theres a lot of phones and tablets.

    2) 4x4 antenna configuration. Allows up to 4 streams. Bear in mind though that I'd be very surprised if we see any client hardware sporting that many antennas. N technically supports it, but I cannot name any client devices with it. Its prime benefit comes into play when combined with point number 1. Aside from that, 4 antennas does permit for a higher diversity, slightly improving range.

    Consequently; I doubt you'll see very little 'real' improvements from this router. You have to use a 5GHz network, and possess up-to-date client devices for them to come to play. Devices I'm not sure exist yet.
  • jeffkibuule - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    Nicely summed up. Most of these features I see being more useful in an enterprise deployment where there are lots of devices needing high-bandwidth network access.
  • PEJUman - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    this is my understanding as well. but considering I still have problem with a few 2x2 N mPCI-e connecting to the 3x3 N router, I kinda wonder how well this mu-mimo thing will actually pans out.

    my current artheros AC (gen 2) can initially connect as 2x2 on both 2.4 and 5 N, but after a few sleep & wake cycles it would ends up at 1x1. The Broadcom last gen 2x2 N can connect as 2x2 reliably, but only get the 300 mbps link speed at LoS, it would quickly drop to 270 and mostly stayed at 144 around the house.

    If you consider the N have about 3+ years to improve, I lost hope on being able to get functioning mu-mimo (at least the ones that reliable and fire-and-forget kind) this year. check back on 2015 christmas.
  • sweetca - Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - link

    Thank you for the concise and helpful explanation. But, won't other devices require the same type of functionality to truly benefit from the router? It seems like this would be a very early adopter type thing, or for someone looking to make large scale changes.
  • drac17 - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    There is a usb 3.0 port on the front under a flap. It was probably moved to help reduce the interference that slowed down transfers while using the 3.0 port on the RT-AC68U.

    The router also seems to be a bit lacking in the I/O front, with only one USB 2.0 port apparently. That said, it is like that most of the power users who are going to purchase this already have a dedicated NAS device (and don't need USB 3.0 or eSATA ports in their routers).
  • beardsquad - Tuesday, July 22, 2014 - link

    I bought this router today. It does have a USB 3.0 port in the front on the right under a flap.
  • MikhailT - Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - link

    How is it so far? Any improvements compared to the previous router you have (which is?)?
  • beardsquad - Wednesday, July 23, 2014 - link

    I upgraded from a Netgear WNDR3800 so the upgrade was quite welcome. I see notable performance improvements when streaming things from my Synology NAS. Buffer free streaming video and instantaneous loading for other files like ~30MB RAW images. Transfer of files to and from the server is much faster as well, though I do have a 3x3 PCE-AC68 card in my personal desktop which contributes to the strong link. All PCs in the household (6 total) back up to the server wirelessly. Even the wireless-N capable Macs seem to have gotten a speed boost in that regard. There are 21 devices connected to this router, and overall there seems to be less of a bottleneck especially when it comes to server access and functions. None of my devices are MIMO capable so I can't comment on that.
  • RouterKing - Friday, February 3, 2017 - link

    My Netgear R7000 is fantastic albeit only used as an AP, and my DSL-AC68U doing a wonderful job. For more information about these routers check:

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