As we mentioned, once the hard drive is connected to the router you can choose to share its entire existing content as public (simple share), meaning everyone can have full access to it; or you can share it with accounts. With the latter, you can create multiple user accounts and assign access privileges, (read only, read/write, no access), for each account to each of the share folders. We tried this and it worked as intended.
You don't need to install software on any computer on the network to access the router's storage. You can just browse for it using a network browser, such as Windows Explorer, the way you want to access another computer in the network. The RT-N16 also support media streaming and can stream digital content stored on the external hard drive to UPnP-compliant network media streamers.
What we liked the most about the RT-N16 router is its great compatibility with third-party, open-source firmware. Most routers only work with the proprietary firmware provided by their respective vendors. Other routers can work with open-source firmware, but you often have to do a little bit of hacking to set it up.
However, with the RT-N16 all you have to do to use an open-source firmware is to follow the process you would normally use to upgrade Asus' firmware. This might be the way Asus intends to compensate for its buggy homegrown firmware it loaded on the router.
In our anecdotal tests, we tried the router with the popular DD-WRT open-source firmware and were impressed with what the router now had to offer. While there are features we like about its stock firmware, the open-source firmware turns the RT-N16 into a serious router that is capable and handling sophisticated network setups and features normally found in enterprise-level equipment. We also found that the router seemed to perform better and had better signal stability when it was running DD-WRT firmware.
We tested the Asus RT-N16 with Asus' firmware and found the router's performance about the average among single-band N routers.
In throughput tests, where the router was located 15 feet from the wireless client, it transferred data at 43.8Mbps. At this speed, it can finish transmitting 500MB of data in about 90 seconds. In range tests, where we placed the router 100 feet away from the client, its speed reduced to 36.8Mbps, being the top three in our charts.
In our mixed-mode tests, where the router is set to work with multiple clients including those using older Wi-Fi protocols, the router registered 31.5Mbps, which is among the four slowest speeds we've seen from routers we've reviewed.
The router has RT-N16 decent broadcast range. In our testing facility, its signal could reach up to 270 feet away.
Overall, the router's scores met our expectation. However, the RT-N16 failed our 48-hour stress test, which is where it was set to transfer large data back and forth between multiple wireless clients. The router reset its signal after just a couple of hours.
We noticed that the router performed better using the DD-WRT firmware both in terms of throughput speed and signal stability.
We also tested the RT-N16 as a NAS server and used a high-speed a USB external hard drive with it. We performed the test via its wired Gigabit connection and its throughput speed didn't impress us, despite its impressive hardware specs. In write tests, the router transferred data at 46Mbps and 48.8Mbps in read test. These speeds are about the same as most routers that have a NAS function, but they are many times slower than dedicated NAS servers. This means you can use the router's network storage feature for occasional document sharing, but we don't recommend you use it for heavy file sharing and media streaming needs.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
Asus backs the RT-N16 with a two-year warranty. At the company's Web site, you'll find downloads, FAQs, the manual, and other support-related materials. If you want to contact the company's tech support, you'll have to do it via e-mail as Asus didn't list a technical support phone number on its site.