Networking Guide

ASUS RT-AC68U Dual-band Wireless-AC1900 Gigabit Router review

ASUS RT-AC68U Dual-Band Wireless-AC Router - A New Flagship

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Overall rating 8.5/10
Design:
8
Features:
9
Performance:
9
Value:
8.5
THE GOOD
Blazing fast 5GHz band performance
Attractive design
Comprehensive networking features
THE BAD
Can only be positioned upright
Average 2.4GHz band performance
Pricey


Performance and Conclusion

Test Setup

Our routine test setup includes a desktop PC, the reviewed router, and a laptop to simulate a wireless home network. The desktop system takes on the role of a host machine, while the router acts as a gateway. And lastly, an external 802.11ac adapter attached to the notebook is used to fulfill the role of a wireless remote client. We'll be using Netgear's A6200 802.11ac USB adapter for our throughput tests to reduce the number of variables involved.

Here is a graphical representation of our network test setup.

The router is locked down in N-only mode for the 2.4GHz band, and 802.11ac for the 5GHz band, mainly to prevent the use of varying 802.11 standards. Typically, a channel bandwidth of 40MHz is selected where applicable, while 80MHz is used for the 5GHz AC band. The QCheck application measures wireless throughput (TCP) and streaming (UDP) speeds between the host and client endpoints based on a 1MB data packet. On the other hand, NetIQ's Chariot benchmark offers a more detailed account with average throughput and response time readings recorded over 30 seconds, based on a High Performance throughput script.

 

Performance

Looking at the results below, there is both good and bad news. The good news is that the RT-AC68U is generally quicker than its predecessor, especially on the 2.4GHz band. The bad news, however, is that despite the improvement, the RT-AC68U continues to trail behind its competitors on the 2.4GHz band. While it is appreciably faster than its predecessor, it still loses out to older routers like the Linksys EA6500, D-Link DIR-865L and Netgear R6300. That said, you would really not be maximizing the full potential of this high-end router if you were not on its 5GHz band.

Middling 2.4GHz band performance aside, we felt that it sufficiently redeemed itself with its performance on the 5GHz band. Uplink and downlink throughput speeds are among the highest we have seen and in our file transfer test, it managed to complete it for the first time under the 30 seconds mark. Not only was it fast, it was able to maintain its performance over range too. On top of that, its performance in our UDP streaming benchmark also showed that it was able to maintain a stable connection, crucial for intensive workloads like HD video streaming and gaming.

The graphs and charts for this performance overview is listed below.

Chariot and QCheck Performance Results - 2.4GHz Band


ASUS RT-AC68U Wireless Performance Results - 2.4GHz Band

Average Downlink Throughput (Mbps) - Chariot Average Uplink Throughput (Mbps) - Chariot Downlink TCP Throughput of 1MB (Mbps) Uplink TCP Throughput of 1MB (Mbps) UDP Streaming (kbps) Time to transfer 1GB Zip file
2m
60.543 59.331 63.678 50.633 1,043.206
(0.0% loss)
90 seconds
2m with WPA2-AES
53.221 52.217 57.510 51.432 1002.341
(0.0% loss)
N.A.
10m
39.876 40.923 36.745 33.372 1,061.406
(0.0% loss)
121 seconds
25m
30.123 36.531 29.654 30.556 992.224
(5.4 loss%)
N.A.

 

 

Chariot and QCheck Performance Results - 5GHz Band


ASUS RT-AC68U Wireless Performance Results - 5GHz Band
Average Downlink Throughput (Mbps) - Chariot Average Uplink Throughput (Mbps) - Chariot Downlink TCP Throughput of 1MB (Mbps) Uplink TCP Throughput of 1MB (Mbps) UDP Streaming (kbps) Time to transfer 1GB Zip file
2m
170.544 167.892 143.332 137.423 1001.751
(0.0% loss)
29 seconds 
2m with WPA2-AES
169.355 167.339 135.531 132.982 1012.422
(0.0% loss) 
N.A. 
10m
171.052 163.995 129.332 122.912 1,076.238 (0.0% loss) 30 seconds 
25m
166.243 154.338 115.309 125.673 1,032.115 (0.0% loss) N.A. 

 

 

A Decent Follow Up

ASUS has made significant leaps and strides in their router business in the past couple of years, rising from a newcomer to an industry veteran in just a short span of time. Past hits like the RT-N56U and the recent RT-AC66U have cemented ASUS as a serious player in the high-end consumer router space. The RT-AC66U is a hard act to follow up on, but we think ASUS has managed reasonably well.

However, we cannot help but feel that ASUS missed out on a chance to rectify some of the problems that plagued the RT-AC66U, the most pressing being its middling 2.4GHz band performance, which was its Achilles heel. Looking at our performance charts, the RT-AC68U did offer improved performance on the 2.4GHz band, but it was still some ways off its rivals.

As for design, the RT-AC68U can only be positioned upright, unlike its predecessors. Furthermore, it cannot be mounted to walls. Along with its massive antennae, this can make the router a bit difficult to position around the house and also makes it very conspicuous. Fortunately, it is quite a futuristic and good-looking router.

These gripes aside, the RT-AC68U has a number of pros going for it. For one and most crucially, its performance in AC mode on the 5GHz band is nothing short of blistering. If you thought that the older RT-AC66U was fast, this new router improves upon that appreciably. Of course, you would need a compatible device to be able to take advantage of this speed. On top of that, it was easy to setup and the ASUSWRT utility does offer lots of options, customizability and also ASUS AiCloud for setting up a personal cloud drive effortlessly.

In addition, we also like how ASUS continually improves upon its firmware. The latest firmware updates offers improved drive performance, HFS+ compatibility and Time Machine functionality with Mac systems, enhancing overall performance and usability.

ASUS products have typically commanded a premium and the RT-AC68U is, unfortunately, no different. Its list price of S$359 makes it one of the priciest routers in the market right now. But for the price, you do get a smart-looking router with blazing AC performance and rich features.