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Wireless Reviews

Routing Performance

Testing and analysis by Tim Higgins

Table 1 summarizes the results of the N16's routing tests, which show it to deliver slightly over 140 Mbps in each direction. Maximum simultaneous sessions hit our test limit of 200 on the first try.

Test Description Throughput - (Mbps)
WAN - LAN 141.1
LAN - WAN 143.3
Total Simultaneous 155.9
Max. Connections 200
Firmware Version 1.0.0.6
Table 1: Routing throughput

Figure 17 shows the IxChariot aggregate plots for WAN to LAN, LAN to WAN and simultaneous routing throughput tests, which have a bit more variation than we've seen in current-generation N routers. Still the N16 should have enough routing power to keep up with fast cable, DSL and even fiber connections.

ASUS RT-N16 routing throughput
Click to enlarge image

Figure 17: ASUS RT-N16 routing throughput

Wireless Performance

Testing and analysis by Tim Higgins

I used the open air test method described here to test the N16's wireless performance. Testing was done using our standard wireless test client, an Intel Wi-Fi Link 5300 AGN mini-PCIe card in a Dell Mini 12 running WinXP Home SP3 and version 12.4.3.9 of the Intel drivers. I left all client-side defaults in place except for enabling throughput enhancement (packet bursting).

I tested the N16 back in October using 1.0.0.6 firmware. All factory default settings were left in place, except setting channel 1 for the 2.4 GHz band.

Figure 18 shows the IxChariot aggregate plot for all downlink tests using 20 MHz channel width. Throughput variation is relatively high, even in the stronger signal test locations. The other plots can be viewed via these links: uplink- 20 MHz BW; downlink 40 MHz BW; uplink 40 MHz BW.

ASUS RT-N16 routing throughput
Click to enlarge image

Figure 17: ASUS RT-N16 routing throughput

Wireless performance from the Broadcom-based radio wasn't particularly impressive for speed, although it did reach all six of our test locations in both 20 MHz and 40 MHz bandwidth modes. Average throughput across all six test locations was only 29.5 Mbps and 37.2 Mbps running downlink in 20 MHz and 40 MHz bandwidth modes and 27.4 and 42.3 Mbps uplink. Maximum throughput was 84 Mbps running uplink in Location A in 40 MHz bandwidth mode.

But our Wireless Location Performance Table provides a much better look at comparative performance. I chose two other popular single-band N routers, the D-Link DIR-655 [A4] and Cisco / Linksys WRT310N and the RT-N16's less-expensive (but much better performing) sibling, the RT-N13U.

The Performance Table gathers all the average throughput test results for the selected adapters into a single table. It then highlights the highest throughput value in each Test location for each benchmark test. If results are within 1.0 Mbps of each other then both products' results are highlighted. Finally, the number of highlighted results are tallied for each test group and the product name with the most highlighted values is then highlighted.

It's easy to see that the N16 lost to its less-expensive sibling, except running uplink in 40 MHz bandwidth mode, where it tied.

Wireless Performance Comparison Table

Figure 18: Wireless Performance Comparison Table

These results don't show that the N16 is a particularly bad 2.4 GHz N router. Just not a particularly outstanding one.

Closing Thoughts

With a list price of $99.99, the RT-N16 finds itself right in the thick of the competition for single band, Gigabit-port 802.11N routers. It's a fairly full-featured router that can also double as a WDS bridge / repeater or an AP. And I like that I can attach USB storage and share it via SMB on my local network. If I didn't already have several NASes on my network, the RT-N16 could be a viable, albeit slow, option for network storage.

But I found the virtual server and port triggering features lacking in comparison to the venerable DIR-655. And from a performance standpoint, it features middle-of-the-pack routing joined with middle-of-the-pack wireless performance.

In reading the message boards, there seems to be a lot of excitement about the RT-N16 as a hardware platform. Apparently, there's a fairly good DD-WRT implementation for it. So for devotees of alternative router firmware, that fact alone might push you toward the N16.

The N16 tends to be in short supply at many stores, so its price tends to stay up near its suggested list. If you're strapped for cash, this could push you toward a Cisco WRT310N, which can be had for around $45 if you're ok with a refurbed unit.

In the end, the RT-N16 is worth a look if you're looking for an alternative to D-Link's DIR-655, which used to be our go-to single-band N router. But until D-Link gets its firmware troubles sorted out, you might want to see what ASUS has to offer.

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