ASUS has long been known as a solid electronics manufacturers before establishing itself as a benchmark wireless routers manufacturer. The Asus RT-AC66U is the company’s first AC router offering and, as we are about to see, one of the best dual-band routers on the market today. The RT-AC66U is a perfect blend of reasonable pricing and superb performance. So let’s dig into the review.
Asus RT-AC66U Review
With a dual-band wireless, cutting-edge 802.11ac 3×3 technology for a combined speed of up to 1750 Mbps the RT-AC66U is a router not to be messed with. It has an AiRadar system that automatically strengthens wireless connections through high-powered amplification and beamforming. The router has a four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports for fast wired productivity.
It sports two USB 2.0 ports for extended connectivity. It is a bit strange not to see a USB 3.0 in a device of such class, but honestly, USB performance from other offerings from D-Link or TP-Link, for example, left us questioning whether the 3.0 ports are fully utilized. For most case 2.0 should be more than enough, even for media streaming.
The design is classic and you can’t easily distinguish the ASUS from any other router on the market today. It’s nothing like the aggressive alien look of the D-Link DIR-895L, for example. Flat black box with a bit of shine to it. It is OK at best and it looks like just about any other router out there. Three removable, high powered antennas are sticking out of the back.
On the inside, the ASUS check all the marks, at least the important ones – strong WPA security, traffic control and QoS, guest networking, IP v6 support, UPnP and more. The WPS connection might be a bit tricky to connect since there are no lights to guide to through the process. It will leave you guessing all the way to the end whether you managed to connect or not. Maybe they’ll fix the issue one day with a software update.
Let’s start with the 2.4GHz band where most older devices are. The ASUS RT-AC66U managed to reach the impressive 170Mbps download speed at short distance and the average around the 156Mbps mark. As we always say, your mileage might and most likely will vary but nevertheless, that is an impressive result.
On the 5GHz band, the ASUS AC router managed to reach the staggering 312Mbps at short distance and around the 250Mbps mark at longer distances. That should be plenty for most home users gaming and streaming needs. Internet browsing is not even mentioned – rarely households have internet connections faster than 100Mbit per second. That should be plenty for 4K gaming and streaming 4K content to an Android TV Box.
Wired performance is still important these days with the growing popularity of wired NAS devices, smart TV boxes and other devices. The RT-AC66U comes with four-gigabit ethernet ports so let’s see how they perform.
The LAN to LAN performance we managed to achieve is around the 845Mbit per second which seems a bit off. Most routers we tested so far have managed to stay above the 900Mbit line but not the ASUS. We tried it with four different devices and the result was all the same – never reaching above 845. The ASRock G10, for example, is a way better performer with almost 100Mbps faster LAN to LAN connection.
WAN to LAN speed is within the acceptable with an average speed of 840Mbps – way faster than most people broadband connections.
USB leaves much to be desired. All we managed to get was 26Mbps – slower than most. We don’t know whether it is due to the USB 2.0 or software shortcomings, but it is way off other routers, like the Netgear R7000, for example.
Verdict –The ASUS AC wireless router offers fast performance with lots of features. The design is just like any other router out there, but most people don’t buy wi-fi routers based on design but rather based on wireless performance. The AC66U doesn’t disappoint in that aspect – it delivers excellent 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz performance and it is on par with the best offerings on the market today. Yes, it lacks USB 3.0 port but as we often see, most router USB ports don’t really perform like proper USB ports anyway, so we’re not losing too much in that department. The wired performance could be better, but it is not terrible in any way, just a bit slower than some other dual-band routers. You just have to weigh your priorities at the end and go with the router that best fits your needs. The big brother, the ROG GT version, for example, is the clear winner of our best gaming router of 2018 buyer’s guide.