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 4×4 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.

Colton Westrate

I post Shortbread, I host BBQs, I tell stories, and I strive to keep folks happy.

Comments closed
    • psuedonymous
    • 2 years ago

    With ‘low end’ enterprise gear being cheap and surprisingly usable (they even have web GUIs now!) like the Ubiquiti and Mikrotik offerings, there’s no way I’m touching ‘high end’/’prosumer’ garbage with a bargepole again. Big numbers on the box that you may achieve in ideal conditions with a single client but that shit the bed if you have the temerity to have more than one user at the same time, and will get maybe one firmware update before you are left to fend off the wolves because the new Chunky Plastic V2 has now been released.

      • BurntMyBacon
      • 2 years ago

      Let’s call this one a request for Bandwidth and Latency numbers with multiple active clients. Also, a note on how long Asus traditionally supports its routers and how many updates they typically receive would be useful for comparison to other vendors.

        • drfish
        • 2 years ago

        Let’s just say that my testing environment is probably above average when it comes to the number of active clients.

    • Voldenuit
    • 2 years ago

    If it’s ROG-branded, does this mean nvidia is forcing Asus to use Tegra chips in its routers?

    • Sputnik7
    • 2 years ago

    it’s not TR, but I will recommend [url<]https://www.smallnetbuilder.com[/url<] for your more in-depth networking desires. They are wholly dedicated to networking

    • DPete27
    • 2 years ago

    Hmm:
    A66U = $100
    Blue Cave = $180
    GT-AC5300 = $390
    Lyra = $400
    Simply based on price, it’s pretty clear which option(s) [i<]should[/i<] come out on top. You get to keep all those? Nice perks of working for a hardware review site!!

      • drfish
      • 2 years ago

      Whether Asus wants them back or not will depend a lot on how they feel about cat hair and baby drool.

      [spoiler<]FWIW, I'm thinking of the Blue Cave as the modern equivalent of my RT-AC66U. The Lyra is a pretty different animal, but maybe similar in processing power? The ROG is just the beast, but sometimes you need a beast, we'll see...[/spoiler<]

    • davidbowser
    • 2 years ago

    I will not voluntarily allow the ROG [url=http://img00.deviantart.net/1ee9/i/2015/076/5/a/zwarrior_bug_by_dopepope-d7dy3tr.jpg<]space bug[/url<] in my house and neither should you. Would you like to know more?

      • drfish
      • 2 years ago

      You should read the top Amazon [url=https://smile.amazon.com/Tri-band-AiProtection-Accelerator-Compatible-GT-AC5300/dp/B071DPCKQ6/<]customer questions & answers for it[/url<], heh.

        • davidbowser
        • 2 years ago

        ROFL

        [quote<] I unpacked mine and it doesn't move. none of the 8 legs are working. i tried to scare it a little and no luck. what am i doing wrong? [/quote<] COMEDY GOLD!

    • Kretschmer
    • 2 years ago

    For the routers I’ve tried, the quality of firmware is more important than plastic detailing, RGB LEDs, and even the processing hardware. Especially interesting would be a quantification of network issues: the number of times you needed to reset the router, how seamless onboarding new devices is, if your four-year-old streaming Paw Patrol keeps your eight-year-old from a fluid Halo experience, etc.

    For the gamers that read TR, I would be very interested in an hour’s playthrough of a modern FPS (both as the only WiFi client and with other concurrent activity) with logging of “stutters,” dropped packets, etc.

    Over a longer time period it would also be great to know if you ever suffered from dropped connections. While a ten-second “hiccup” or five minute reboot might not matter when Streaming HBO Go, it can result in disqualification from a tournament match or a Thursday night raid wipe. My last router purchase involved several failed trial periods where my daily hour of gaming free time was “wasted” by needing to restart a router mid-match and getting dropped. I’m much more interested in reliability and fluidity than an extra 30 MB of transfer speeds.

      • drfish
      • 2 years ago

      Noted. The effectiveness of QoS features was already on my mind to test.

      [spoiler<]I can't use QoS on my RT-AC66U because that disables NAT acceleration which in turn pegs the poor 600-MHz CPU at 100%, killing the connection for everyone if just one person gets a Steam game update (and that's with Merlin firmware).[/spoiler<] Yes, I just used the spoiler tag for a router review, so what?

        • Kretschmer
        • 2 years ago

        That router was released in 2012; I think that we’ve all seen the series finale by now. 😉

          • stdRaichu
          • 2 years ago

          But routing packets shouldn’t take much in the way of CPU which I thought was your original point in that the hardware shouldn’t really matter – a mate of mine’s happily using a router I bought in 2007 (albeit now using an external VDSL modem (40/10 connection IIRC) rather than the internal ADSL) complete with QoS and the CPU never breaks a sweat.

            • Kretschmer
            • 2 years ago

            (I was joking about the spoiler tags.)

    • Anovoca
    • 2 years ago

    NV-Link or steam game stream performance. Test overall latency and packet loss between client and host over wifi.

    Edit: also make sure to remove signal strength as a variable in the test since this is likely to be a part of separate tests. More interested in, if all things are equal, which are up to the task for an operation generally recommended for cabled connectivity.

      • drfish
      • 2 years ago

      That’s a great idea! Also, I hate you now. 😉

        • Anovoca
        • 2 years ago

        :shrug: I have that effect on people

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