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You are here: Wireless Wireless Reviews ASUS RT-AC66U 802.11ac Dual-Band Wireless-AC1750 Gigabit Router Reviewed - WLAN Perf-2.4GHz/2&3 strm, 5GHz/2&3 strm, Closing

ASUS RT-AC66U 802.11ac Dual-Band Wireless-AC1750 Gigabit Router Reviewed - WLAN Perf-2.4GHz/2&3 strm, 5GHz/2&3 strm, Closing

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Wireless Performance - 2.4 GHz 2 Stream

I used our standard test method to test the the AC66's two-stream N wireless performance using our standard two-stream client, an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 in a Acer Aspire 1810T notebook running Win 7 Home Premium SP1 (64 bit). 2.4 GHz tests were run on Channel 1 and 5 GHz band tests on Channel 36. As noted earlier, data was taken with 3.0.0.4.164 firmware.

For performance comparison, I chose the other two draft 11ac routers tested so far, the Buffalo WZR-D1800H and NETGEAR R6300 and threw in the ASUS RT-N66U for those of you wavering between the AC and it.

The comparison tables are large, so I'm going to provide links that will open them in a new window/tab to make things easier. Let's start with the Performance Table for Two-stream 2.4 GHz.

Like the N66, the A66's performance with two-stream clients is in the same ballpark as the other Broadcom-based draft 11ac routers. The AC66's main strength is Location D throughput, which tends to indicate superior range. This is reinforced by the 30 Mbps Location F downlink result in 20 MHz mode. But other Location F results aren't as good.

The IxChariot plot summary below for 20 MHz mode downlink shows fairly large variation in Locations A, C and D and a lot more in Location F.

ASUS RT-AC66U IxChariot plot summary - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 2 stream
ASUS RT-AC66U IxChariot plot summary - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 2 stream

Throughput is a bit more stable, although with frequent downward spikes on many of the other plots linked below:

Wireless Performance - 2.4 GHz 3 Stream

Next, we'll look at the Performance Table for three-stream 2.4 GHz.

Although the AC66 and N66 use the same Broadcom SoC, performance is a bit different, perhaps due to the different external components used. But the performance table still shows many similarities between the two. Location D and F throughput is again pretty good, especially in 40 MHz downlink. But 40 MHz mode uplink results are, as mentioned earlier, higher than I've ever seen for strong signal test locations A and C.

The IxChariot plot summary below for 20 MHz mode downlink once again shows sizeable periodic downward throughput spikes.

ASUS RT-AC66U IxChariot plot summary - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 3 stream
ASUS RT-AC66U IxChariot plot summary - 2.4 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 3 stream

You will see similar effects on these other plots:

Wireless Performance - 5 GHz 2 Stream

Next, we'll look at the Performance Table for two-stream 5 GHz.

The AC66 isn't that impressive in this group of tests. I suspect, however, that there could be overload issues causing the unusually low result in Location A downlink, 20 MHz mode. The takeaway for this group of tests is that all products are about equal.

The IxChariot plot summary below for 20 MHz mode downlink shows some rate-shifting behavior in the location A run. As is my custom, I reran the test a few times and got similar results.

ASUS RT-AC66U IxChariot plot summary - 5 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 2 stream
ASUS RT-AC66U IxChariot plot summary - 5 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 2 stream

Throughput stability is generally good in the other plots linked below:

Wireless Performance - 5 GHz 3 Stream

Finally, we'll look at the Performance Table for three-stream 5 GHz.

This group of results shows the N66 winning more comparisons than the AC66. The AC66's speeds in this mode are not knock-your-socks-off good, with only two Location A results coming within spittin' distance of 100 Mbps.

The IxChariot plot summary below for 20 MHz mode downlink shows some pretty long and big dropouts.

ASUS RT-AC66U IxChariot plot summary - 5 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 3 stream
ASUS RT-AC66U IxChariot plot summary - 5 GHz, 20 MHz mode, downlink, 3 stream

The other plots linked below show more of the same and some rate-shifting at the start of 40 MHz mode uplink tests:

Closing Thoughts

Buyers in search of a high performance wireless router should stick with the RT-N66U Dark Knight vs. the RT-AC66U, at least for now. Given the reports in the SNB Forums, it looks like the AC66's firmware is not yet stable, with some features disappearing to be worked on and others partially functioning. So if you are expecting smooth sailing with the AC66U, you may be unpleasantly surprised.

Even if you're willing to pay for the privilege of helping ASUS debug its product, you are unlikely to be rewarded with higher performance. For most uses, i.e. with two-stream clients, you'll get essentially the same performance in the 2.4 GHz band and, at least with the firmware used, better results in 5 GHz with the Dark Knight.

If you are one of the few folks with three-stream N devices, I wouldn't let the high 40MHz mode 2.4 GHz uplink results influence your choice. First, you shouldn't be using 40 MHz mode in the overcrowded 2.4 GHz band anyway and second, I think the abnormally high 40 MHz mode uplink results are a fluke.

As I've said before, there is no reason to jump on the draft 11ac bandwagon at this point in hope of improving speed or range for two or three-stream N devices, because 11ac brings nothing to the table for them. 11ac should (at least that's the plan) improve throughput for single-stream N devices. But new chipsets supporting draft 11ac need to be baked into smart phones, tablets and other mobile thingies before that dream becomes reality.

If you're looking to "future proof" your wireless router choice, the current crop of draft 11ac routers isn't a good choice given their first-generation draft 11ac chipset. Router-side devices will probably benefit from a move to second (or third) generation 11ac chipsets, which hopefully will be designed to the final standard and include multi-user MIMO support.

The only viable argument for buying the RT-AC66U, or any other draft 11ac router, is to buy two and use one as a bridge to form a high-bandwidth 5 GHz link to a HD media player. But even there, I think using a three-stream N router and less-expensive bridge like the ASUS EA-N66 or TRENDnet TEW-640MB will get you to the same place and let you save your money for the inevitable move to an 11ac router, once the standard is released and the dust settles.




Related Items:

ASUS RT-AC66U Wireless Retest
Cisco Linksys EA6500 Review - Part 2
ASUS RT-N66U and Linksys EA4500 / EA4200v2 Wireless Retest
NETGEAR R6300 Wireless Retest
Slideshow: Netgear WNDR3300 RangeMax Dual-Band Wireless N Router

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Great router with Merlin FW

Overall rating: 
 
5.0
Features:
 
5.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Jerry
April 15, 2014
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Steady as a rock , reaches every corner of the house including basement . Merlin fw works really well . Updates are a breeze , I do them over wireless network , not 1 problem yet in over 1 year of use and lots of updates . Great throughput over 5 ghz steady 7-9 MBPS transferring files from laptop to NAS . AC works well but I think the client is flaky ,an Edimax usb 3.0 .
Overall good router , not sure the AC router offers much over the N-66 , yet .

 

Merlin firmware

Overall rating: 
 
5.0
Features:
 
5.0
Performance:
 
5.0
Reliability:
 
5.0
Reviewed by Håkan
January 29, 2014
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I try many different wifi routers and this is the best i tester, I use the merlin build firnmware.

 

Asus Network products s*cks

Overall rating: 
 
1.0
Features:
 
1.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Bharath
October 08, 2013
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I had this product for atleast 5 months now having issues. I did contact Asus for help on transfer rate and buggy firmware, transfering a file of 1GB used to take approx 1hour from the storage attached to the router, signals on 5GHZ is not that great. Asus took over remote access to the router and were not able to find out what was the problem as well. I did move the router to the service center and there they could not as well fix it, but a refund was offered on the product exclusive of tax that was paid.

Anyone who wants to buy this product please think twice it is not worth the price.

 

Cannot seem to get dual-band working

Overall rating: 
 
2.3
Features:
 
3.0
Performance:
 
1.0
Reliability:
 
3.0
Reviewed by Bob
May 31, 2013
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I only get ~11MB/s bandwidth shared between both the 5GHz and 2.4GHz frequencies.

With two separate wireless n devices, I would expect to get about 10MB/s on each channel. However, very disappointingly, I only get 5MB/s for each device on each of the two frequency ranges.

Is my device broken or is this to be expected?

N.B. I have the device in access point mode.

 

NOT STABLE !!

Overall rating: 
 
2.3
Features:
 
4.0
Performance:
 
2.0
Reliability:
 
1.0
Reviewed by Claus Christiansen
February 21, 2013
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It's was a great router, but and there are a BIG but. It is not very stable. The first couple of weeks the range and speed are excellent. Then it suddenly begin to loose both range and speed, especially on the 5 GHz band, but there are also loads of examples that it has the same problem on the 2.4 GHz band.
One solution, for me at least, has been to restart the router every day.

 
 
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