ASUS is a router makers with a few decent models in their pipelines. Without going into exact price comparison of each of the models, we aim to explain the major differences between each of the ASUS router model to give you a broad understanding of these models and what they mean.
R or U
First off, the R and U versions in the ASUS router only offers really subtle differences in terms of network standards such as IEEE802.11…. In most cases, the R versions are sold only through certain “physical” retailers such as Best Buy or Walmart. However, as time passes most online retailers such as Ebay, Newegg, or Amazon will end up with refurbished or new versions of these routers, so you are likely to encounter one or another.
In general, the R versions offer a little broader network standards compared to U version. BUT, in most cases as a regular normal user, the two routers across the RT-ACXXR or RT-ACXXU (or RT-NXXR or RT-NXXU pairing) can be seen as identical routers typically with the exact same performance specs (outside of the network standards).
Which means that if you are considering to buy and research into ASUS brand routers, pick either the U or R version within the same spec tiers, which ever is at a lower price. As the U and R can be seen as identical.
Some of the marketing / branding pairs include the following:
ASUS RT-AC52U vs RT-AC52R (AC750)
ASUS RT-AC56R vs RT-AC56U (AC1200)
ASUS RT-AC66R vs RT-AC66U (AC1750)
ASUS RT-AC68R vs RT-AC68U vs RT-AC68W (AC1900)
ASUS RT-AC87R vs RT-AC87U (AC2400)
ASUS RT-N66R vs RT-N66U (N900)
So again, pick the cheaper version that you can find through all the major retailer is probably the best if you have already narrowed down the performance tier that you are going for.
If you want to know the major difference for each of the performance tier, continue to the next section.
Major Difference Between the different AC-Tiers
Without going into details on the exact specs of each of the current ASUS AC tiered models. We will simply go through the major differences and let you decide whether or not each of the upgrade is worth it. Please note that we will compare each “leg” of the different tiers to show you what each leg or tier of “upgrade” will get you.
This way it will be easier for you to decide whether or not the investment will worth it for your buy.
RT-AC56U vs RT-AC66U (or RT-AC66R vs RT-AC56R)
In a nutshell, RT-AC66U can run 3×3 mimo where the RT-AC56U can run 2×2 mimo. This is the main reason why AC66U can achieve much faster speed than the AC56U version.
If you do not have any walls and do have clean signals in your wireless environment, the AC66U may be faster for you. However, if you do not have clean signals, the ASUS RT-AC56U should be enough for your money since the upgrade will not buy you much if the cost difference is high.
RT-AC66U vs RT-AC68U (or RT-AC66R vs RT-AC68R)
RT-AC68U has better performances compared to the AC66 because the AC66 is using the older single core MIPS based CPU, the AC68 is using the newer duo core ARM based CPU.
However, in most cases you will not be able to enjoy the performance boost until you are running special things such as external HD, VPN, or torrents. If you are simply using your wireless network for the usual media streaming or gaming, the RT-AC66 version may suit your needs.
Special Note: If you are going for AC68U, you may want to consider Netgear R7000, which is a direct alternative to the AC68 with better price to performance.
RT-AC68U vs RT-AC87U (or RT-AC68R vs RT-AC87R)
With the AC87U being the latest model in the series with the AC2400 tier, you get the fastest speed with the best performance. It offers you with the power of 4×4 mimo. However, like the upgrade from AC56->AC66. Without the clean signal or closer range, you probably will not achieve faster or maximum speeds.
However, the price jump may not justify the amount of money that you put into the upgrade. But if you do have the money that you are willing to spend, RT-AC87 is the latest ASUS router that offers the best speed and performance.
RT-AC87U vs RT-AC3200 (or RT-AC87R)
The RT-AC3200 is the latest model in the line of wireless routers that ASUS has available. The only main improvement is that the ASUS RT-AC3200 is targeted toward users with lots of devices, the AC3200 is able to provide different tiers of speed instead of being dragged down by the slowest device in the network. Specifically, it can divide the signals from its two 5 GHz antennas.
However, the RT-AC87U still offers better in terms of highest possible performance and range.