In the lab: Asus' Lyra, Blue Cave, and ROG Rapture routers

Who knew kids loved Wi-Fi so much? That's all I'm going to say about the plot that will unfold in my upcoming review. For now, I'm excited just to offer a peek at the pile of hardware that recently arrived at my house. Astute gerbils may recall that ever since Asus hooked up up the TR BBQ with some high-end networking gear, I've occasionally mused about replacing my own aging Asus RT-AC66U router. That time has come.

Long story short, I couldn't decide which of the many options would suit my needs the best. So, Asus stepped up by sending three different solutions my way to test in a massive multi-device roundup. We'll be pitting my five-year old router against a trifecta of modern units: the Lyra mesh networking system, the Blue Cave AC2600 router, and the beastly ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 router. Each model is quite distinct, to say the least.

The Asus Lyra is a tri-band, three-piece mesh networking kit. Its mesh nature is unique in this roundup. It has dedicated channels for backhaul as well as all kinds of newfangled features that are controlled by an app. It's all very intriguing.

The Blue Cave is a more traditional (dare I say) mainstream router. It sports a dual-core Intel processor and 4x4 dual-band wireless. In addition to what appear to be security and parental control features similar to the Lyra, the Blue Cave also supports integration with Amazon's Alexa digital assistant. I'll definitely be checking that feature out.

The ROG Rapture, well, nearly speaks for itself. From the colors on the box, to the physical design, to the ROG name, this appears to be the John Hammond, spared-no-expense version of a consumer router. The Rapture packs a 1.8-GHz quad-core CPU, tri-band wireless, eight Gigabit Ethernet ports, two USB 3.0 ports, and frankly, a slightly intimidating number of software features to try out.

I'm certainly not lacking when it comes to ideas for how to test these routers. If anything, I could use some help focusing the scope of the review to what gerbils really want to see. With that in mind, I'm soliciting your advice on must-haves and don't-bothers for the writeup. Post your suggestions below—I'll be taking notes.

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