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ASUS RT-N66U - wireless router - 802.11a/b/g/n - desktop
ASUS RT-N56U - wireless router - 802.11a/b/g/n - desktop
Asus calls the RT-N66U "The Dark Knight", although not officially, no doubt to avoid the scrutiny of DC's lawyers.
You can see why, from the angled, aggressive, all-black design, along with the diamond-plated pattern across the front. It has three removable, repositionable antennas (bat ears?), and can be laid flat, vertical with a stand or wall mounted, and it comes with quite the reputation.
We discovered that it ran quite warm during operation, with the metal around the ports becoming hot to the touch. In saying this, we didn't have any problems arising as a result of the heat.
We do have one thing to say for the RT-N66U: while setting up and testing, most routers can be arduous, as things may become flaky or some setting doesn't work with your local network, but the RT-N66U just worked first time.
Specs at a glance
|3G modem||Supported via USB|
|Highest wireless security||WPA2|
|Ethernet ports||4x gigabit, 1x gigabit WAN|
|USB print sharing/storage||Storage, printer|
|Accessories||Ethernet cable, installation CD|
Power button, 2x USB 2.0 ports, gigabit WAN, 4x gigabit Ethernet ports, WPS button.
(Credit: Western Digital)
UI and features
Frustratingly for experienced users, you'll have to go through an easy set-up wizard on first accessing the web UI, with no way to skip straight to manual settings.
Asus has kicked up its game hugely in the UI department, presenting something that is not only above its previous efforts, but also surpasses many of its competitors' efforts, too. It's easy to use, but hit the advanced section and you'll get more LAN and WAN options than most router vendors offer.
The default home screen is split into three — menu on the left, quick overview in the middle and quick settings on the right. Click something in the overview section, and the right-hand side will change its options contextually. It's a great way to get all of the basic settings you need in one place. There are even status icons and links above the interface, each giving you useful information, and, where appropriate, can take you to the relevant config page.
Asus' new router interface is worlds ahead of where it used to be.
(Screenshot by Craig Simms/CNET)
While most routers will offer a guest SSID to allow internet access for friends, Asus allows three different SSIDs on both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, allowing you to set different authentication methods, time limits and intranet permissions for each.
A real-time traffic monitor is built in that can differentiate between internet, wired and the two wireless bands, the graph giving useful time-specific data. Sadly, it's unable to bury down to the client level, so you can't find out who it is taking up all of your bandwidth.
Parental control functions are in there, but it's simply a schedule-based internet access — to access URL or keyword filters, you'll have to head to the firewall section.