Asus RT-N56U Dual-Band Gigabit Wireless-N Router review: Asus RT-N56U Dual-Band Gigabit Wireless-N Router

What we liked the most about the RT-N56U is its DiskAid feature that allows for quick access to the router over the Internet, using Asus' free Dynamic DNS. Normally, to use a DDNS service, you have to create an account and associate it with a router--a pretty hard job for the uninitiated. In the case of the RT-56U, however, all you have to do is pick a unique name and then after three mouse clicks the service is up and running. After that you can remotely access the router via the Web address xyz.asuscomm.com, where xyz is the unique name. For example, you can access the router's storage at ftp://xyz.asuscomm.com. Or, to access the router's Web interface via the Internet, you can turn this feature on and then point a browser from a remote computer to http://xyz.asuscomm.com:8080.

The router's Web interface also comes with a very handy context-based help feature: each time you click on a setting to change something, a small part on the right of the interface will automatically display the detailed information of that setting. This makes using the router a really pleasant experience.

Other than the above, the router also supports all the standard features and security measures found in other routers. These include, but are not limited to, DHCP server, port forwarding, virtual server, all variations of wireless encryption methods, and so on.

Performance
We were very happy with the router's performance both for its wireless networks and its built-in storage feature.

For the 5Ghz band, in a throughput test where the router was set up to be 15 feet from the client, it scored 112.6Mbps. At this speed, it can blast through 500MB of data in just around 30 seconds, which is the fastest we've seen for a wireless router. When we increased the range to 100 feet, the router still scored 76.1Mbps, which is the second best score on that test, just a tad slower than the 79.1Mbps of the Linksys E4200.

The RT-56U didn't do as impressively on the 2.4Ghz, but still managed to stay among the top three routers we've reviewed. In the throughput test, it scored 57.2Mbps and in the range test it offered 34.4Mbs. Finally, in the mixed-mode test where it was set to work with both N and legacy wireless clients, the router scored 52.6Mbps, which is a very good number.

The router offers a very good range with both bands: around 280 feet in our testing environment. It also passed our 48-hour stress test for both bands. During that time it didn't disconnect once.

We didn't have high expectations for the RT-56U's storage performance, but it surprised us by being the fastest of all reviewed routers that have USB ports. The router scored 95.4Mbps for writing and 104.2Mbps for reading. While these numbers, as expected, are much lower than those of a dedicated NAS server, they are fast enough for casual backing up, data sharing, and media streaming.

Despite its tiny size, the RT-56U has good ventilation and therefore managed to stay cool and quiet even during heavy operation. It went though our testing without any problem at all.

CNET Labs 2.4Ghz Wireless-N Performance Score (Megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Mixed Mode
Range
Throughput
Cisco Linksys E4200
57.6
46.9
61.4
D-Link DIR-825
55.04
40.4
57.44
Asus RT-N56U
52.6
34.4
57.2
Belkin Play N600N HD
33.6
12.6
57
Belkin N+ Wireless Router
36.16
29.44
55.44
Netgear WNDR3700
41.8
38.6
54.8
Belkin Play Max
47.5
44.8
52.2
Cisco Linksys E3000
35.3
32.8
43.5
Linksys WRT610n
27.04
28.8
35.76
Apple Time Capsule
20
20.8
32.2

CNET Labs 5Ghz Wireless-N Performance Score (Megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Range
Throughput
Asus RT-N56U
76.2
112.6
Cisco Linksys E4200
79.1
100.48
D-Link DIR-825
36.48
80.96
Linksys WRT610n
54.8
64.8
Belkin Play Max
56
57.6

CNET Labs NAS performance (Megabits per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Read
Write
Asus RT-56U router
104.2
95.4
Belkin Play Max
17.6
8.8

Service and support
Like with the RT-N16, Asus backs the RT-56U with a two-year warranty. At the company's Web site, you'll find downloads, FAQs, a manual, and other support-related materials. If you want to contact the company's tech support, however, it's better to do that via e-mail as there's no technical support phone number listed at the Web site.

Conclusions
Asus got it right with the RT-56U. This is an all-around great router for home users and it has a friendly price tag.

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