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Wireless Reviews

ROG Rapture Wireless-AC5300 Tri-band Gaming Router
At a glance
ProductASUS ROG Rapture Wireless-AC5300 Tri-band Gaming Router (GT-AC5300)   [Website]
SummaryBroadcom-based three-radio AC5300 4x4 router with MU-MIMO aimed at gaming buyers
Pros• Eight gigabit LAN ports, two supporting 802.3ad aggregation
• Two USB 3.0 ports
Cons• Product is mostly hype. Gaming features already supported in RT-AC5300
• Wi-Fi Radar is unfinished and misleading

Introduction

Way back when, D-Link came up with the idea of "gaming" routers, starting, I think, with the DGL-4300 back in 2005. The usual approach was to paint it black, throw in (or promote) a performance-based feature (it was a gigabit Ethernet switch in the DGL-4300) and re-skin the admin GUI, preferably also in black (and red).

ASUS has pretty much stuck to this playbook with its gaming routers. The first grab for gamers' wallets was the RT-AC88U, a gamerized version of the RT-AC3100. Its chief claims to gamer fame were four extra ports, some red physical accents—antennas and heatsinks(!)—and the addition of support for AAA Internet Publishing's WTFast.

The ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 Wireless-AC5300 Tri-Band Gaming Router amps things up a bit more. The GT is part of ASUS' Republic of Gamers brand that includes laptops, desktops and computing accessories for those who like their gear to imply badass skilz. For about 40 bucks more than the RT-AC5300, the GT doubles flash and RAM size, doubles the number of gigabit LAN ports—adding 802.3ad link aggregation on two of them—and moves up to a quad-core processor from dual-core vs. the RT. The GT's admin GUI also has a gamer motif and throws in a few more gamer-bait features.

Aside from the different logos on the top grille and connectors on rear panels, you'd have to look carefully to tell the GT and RT apart. Top and bottom venting for cooling is the same and the GT also lacks mounting screw slots.

ASUS GT-AC5300 and RT-AC5300

ASUS GT-AC5300 and RT-AC5300

Gamers must not like indicator lights because the RT's set of tiny lights is carried forward to the GT. There is still only one indicator for all LAN ports. For the price and target audience, I'd expect link/activity lights on each port.

ASUS GT-AC5300 callouts

ASUS GT-AC5300 callouts

Comparing to the RT's callout diagram below, we see the second USB port has been moved to the rear panel and it's USB 3.0, not 2.0. Note the GT's eight gigabit Ethernet ports include two ports marked Link aggregation and two marked Gaming. The information you see above is all the User Manual has to say about either.

ASUS RT-AC5300 callouts

ASUS RT-AC5300 callouts

ASUS has added ridged rubber grommets around each antenna connector in an attempt, I suppose, to cure the RT's floppy antenna curse. These do no good, since the antenna body doesn't touch them. But the GT's antennas, which are taller and slimmer than the RT's, seem to have more rotation friction and didn't flop once during my time with the product.

Inside

I was surprised to find the GT and RT have the same FCC ID (MSQ-RTGZ00), although they have significant differences on the inside. The FCC now apparently allows multiple hardware revisions to be registered under the same ID. The Class II change letter calls out three versions and references a test report. The table below, taken from page 5 of that report, shows four revisions, however. But the only version number marked on the product box or product serial number label is the Hardware revision, which is A. So I opened up the review sample to investigate, after testing was completed.

ASUS FCC ID MSQ-RTGZ00 model differences

ASUS FCC ID MSQ-RTGZ00 model differences

Since ASUS advertises the GT as having a quad-core processor, that would mean it's either Rev 1.311 or Rev 1.411. The photo below clearly shows the GT board is marked 1.41. Heatsinks and RF can tops have been removed.

GT-AC5300 board

GT-AC5300 board

The view below with the bottom cover removed shows more heatsinks. The general layout and construction is fairly close to that shown in the old FCC internal photos. The ASM1182e PCIe switch is no longer needed since the BCM4908 has enough PCIe ports built in to handle the three radios.

GT-AC5300 inside bottom view

GT-AC5300 inside bottom view

All key components are summarized in Table 1 and compared to the RT-AC530. It looks like the Gaming (ports 1 & 2) and Link Aggregation (ports 5&6) connect to the BCM4908 and the others to the BCM53134 switch. The four antennas at the front of the box are shared between the 2.4 and 5 GHz low-band radios; the rear four connect only to the 5 GHz high-band radio. Note the BCM4366 is the "E" version. This is allegedly one of the revisions required to produce decent MU-MIMO.

  ASUS GT-AC5300 ASUS RT-AC5300
CPU Broadcom BCM4908 64 bit quad-core @ 1.8 GHz Broadcom BCM4709C0KFEBG dual-core @ 1.4 GHz
Switch Broadcom BCM53134 Realtek RTL8365MB or in BCM4709C0KFEBG
RAM 1024 MB 512 MB
Flash 256 MB 128 MB
2.4 GHz Radio - BCM4366E 4x4 2.4/5G single chip 802.11ac SoC
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz power amp (x4)
- BCM4366 4x4 2.4/5G single chip 802.11ac SoC
- Skyworks SE2623L 2.4 GHz power amp (x4)
5 GHz radio 1 - BCM4366E 4x4 2.4/5G single chip 802.11ac SoC
- RFMD RFPA5542 5 GHz PA module (x4)
- BCM4366 4x4 2.4/5G single chip 802.11ac SoC
- RFMD RFPA5542 5 GHz PA module (x4)
5 GHz radio 2 - BCM4366E 4x4 2.4/5G single chip 802.11ac SoC
- RFMD RFPA5542 5 GHz PA module (x4)
- BCM4366 4x4 2.4/5G single chip 802.11ac SoC
- RFMD RFPA5542 5 GHz PA module (x4)
PCIe None ASMedia ASM1182e
Table 1: Component summary and comparison

The radio test report in the 1/30/17 Class 2 change filings makes for interesting, although confusing, reading. It calls out seven different antenna sets, some of which have lower gain, according the the Class 2 letter. The antenna key diagram below from page 11 of the radio test report shows the 5 GHz high band (Channels 149-165), identified as "Band4", gets the rear four antennas to itself in the GT ("Version 2"), but shares the front four with the 2.4 GHz radio in the RT ("Version 1").

GT-AC5300 antenna key

GT-AC5300 antenna key

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