If you’ve been looking for that perfect router to carry on the go and can’t justify the Netgear M6 Pro‘s agonizing $1000 price tag, there will soon be some relief.
Earlier this week, Asus told me that its first travel router, the RT-AX57 Go, would be available in a matter of days, sometime in January 2024. Among other things, this router won’t mercilessly poke a giant hole in your wallet. Here’s a bit of math: you can literally buy seven units with the amount of cash you’ve repeatedly failed to budget for the M6 Pro and still have some change. And chances are you only need one.
So what’s the catch? For a travel router, there seems to be nothing I can think of. But the new Asus RT-AX57 Go is not perfect, either. Or is it?
RT-AX57 Go: Honey, I shrunk our Wi-Fi router!
The heading says it all. Take an Asus AX3000 router, such as the RT-AX58U or the probably more accurately comparable RT-AX57, and shrink it into a square box that is less than 5-inch wide and three-quarter inch thick, and you get yourself the RT-AX57 Go.
That’s to say, if you have used an Asus router before, you’ll feel right at home with this new travel option. Its most significant difference compared with the rest of Asus’s RT series is the miniature physical size.
Asus’s Wi-Fi hardware
Asus has a vast collection of Wi-Fi hardware options available in the following series:
- The RT series: General consumer-grade standalone routers ranging from entry-level, mid-range, and high-end models. Improved variants might carry the “Pro” suffix, such as the RT-AX88U Pro. Some models include gaming-related features, such as the RT-AX82U. Most feature AiMesh as an option.
- The TUF and ROG series: Gaming-related Wi-Fi routers of different tiers, including the highest-end flagship routers. Improved variants might carry the “Pro” suffix, such as the GT-AX11000 Pro.
- The ZenWiFi series: Consumer-grade purpose-built mesh systems. These are AiMesh-based Wi-Fi systems with a broad range of configurations. Some variants have built-in MOCA or Powerline support.
- The ExpertWiFi series: Hardware for networking enthusiasts and office environments. These are AiMesh-enabled business-oriented solutions with more advanced options in network customization and hardware design, available as purpose-built mesh systems, single (Wi-Fi) routers, APs, and switches.
Generally, all AiMesh-enabled hardware — the case of most, if not all, Asus Wi-Fi 6 or newer routers — can work together to form a system.
Compared to the Netgear M6 Pro, the new Asus travel router is a tad larger but slightly lighter. The table below shows the hardware specs of these two similar-looking but vastly different travel Wi-Fi solutions.
Asus RT-AX57 Go vs Netgear Nighthawk M6 Pro: Hardware specifications
|Asus RT-AX57 Go AX3000 Dual Band WiFi 6 (802.11ax) Travel Router
MR6110 Nighthawk M6 Pro Mobile Router
|4.72 x 4.72 x .85 in
(120 x 120x 21.5 mm)
|4.14 x 4.14 x .85 in
(105 x 105 x 21.5 mm)
|7.1 oz (200 g)
|8.9 oz (252 g)
|Dual-core 1.3GHz SoC,
256 MB Flash, 512 MB RAM
|2.4GHz 2×2 AX: Up to 600Mbps
|5GHz 2×2 AX: Up to 2.4 Gbps
|5GHz 2×2 AX: Up to 2.4 Gbps
6GHz 2×2 AXE: Up to 2.9 Gbps
|WPA, WPA2, WPA3
|Built-in Cellular Modem
|Web User Interface
|All Asus Routers’ Core Features, for example:
(WireGuard and OpenVPN server or client supported)
|Mobile hotspot (via a tether cellular mode/phone)
Wi-Fi (AiMesh) router/(AiMesh node)
Wi-Fi repeater (WISP mode),
Wi-Fi access point
|Mobile hotspot/USB cellular modem,
Wi-Fi repeater (WISP mode),
|1x USB-C (charging)
1x USB 3.0 (all USB-related features)
|1x USB-C (charging/data) USB 3.0
|1x LAN, 1x WAN
|1x 2.5Gbps WAN/LAN
A flexible broadband/Wi-Fi solution for travelers or those in a small home
As shown in the table above, the RT-AX57 Go is not a mobile hotspot since it has no built-in cellular modem — it has no SIM slot.
While this seems a shortcoming, that can be a good thing since most of us have a phone anyway. Plug a smartphone into its USB port, and, per Asus, the router will automatically use the cellular connection as the Internet source — and it can charge the phone simultaneously.
So, for cellular connection, you can think of the RT-AX57 Go as the magnifier of a phone’s personal hotspot feature. On the upside, you won’t need a separate data plan for it. In return, if you want to use the phone at the same time, such as for calling, then this router is not for you — you’d need to go with M6 Pro or a similar hotspot.
To make up for this lack of an internal cellular modem, the new travel router can work as a traditional router — connect its WAN port to an Internet source, such as a Fiber-optic ONT, a cable modem, or a wired port at a hotel and you’re ready.
For travelers, the RT-AX57 Go has another fitting trick: It can handle a public Wi-Fi connection and use it as the Internet source for its network via the WISP mode.
That said, the RT-AX57 Go can handle the Internet from three separate sources: its default WAN port, via USB tethering with a smartphone, or using a WISP connection. And it can handle the first two simultaneously in a Dual-WAN setup.
Additionally, when the USB port is not used for tethering, it supports all other USB-related futures. And that means you can plug a portable drive into it and turn the whole thing into a mini NAS server for data sharing or media streaming.
Last but not least, the travel router is part of Asus’s AiMesh ecosystem. It can be used as the primary node for a mesh system or a satellite to extend the Wi-Fi coverage of an existing one.
It’s worth noting that most, if not all, other Asus routers can do all the above. What makes the RT-AX57 Go special is the fact it’s tiny. So yes, it’s not without merit to say that it’s the result of getting standard Asus home routers shrunk down significantly.
Modest but sensible Wi-Fi specs
As an AX3000 router, the RT-AX57 Go isn’t a high-end router, and it doesn’t even support Wi-Fi 6E. But with the mid-range Wi-Fi 6 specs, it’s fast enough for any sub-Gigabit broadband connection. And for travelers, its Wi-Fi performance is comparable to that of the M6 Pro, if not better.
And considering the Wi-Fi specs, the lack of a Multi-Gig port is not a huge deal. Gigabit is plenty fast for anyone needing Wi-Fi on the go. In terms of coverage, Asus says the RT-AX57 Go can handle a small studio of 1000 ft2 (93 m2) or smaller — or any small home without lots of walls. That’s larger than most hotel rooms.
Compact design with versatile broadband support
Identical features and network settings as full-size routers; advanced features available free-for-life
Full web interface with helpful optional mobile app
No 6GHz band support; mid-range Wi-Fi 6 specs
No built-in cellular modem or SIM slot
Availability and pricing
Asus says the RT-AX57 Go will start shipping in January 2024 with the suggested retail price of $129.99. While that’s not the most affordable AX3000 router you can find — the RT-AX58U currently costs the same, and the RT-AX57 is $50 lower — it’s still an outstanding deal compared with the Netgear M6 Pro. In fact, there’s no comparison.
I might take it out for a spin someday, but if you’re in the market for a robust travel router, it’s safe to consider the RT-AX57 Go today.