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Wireless Reviews

Features - more

As noted earlier, many of the Dark Knight's features have been carried over from ASUS' other routers. And if your needs are basic, they will probably do you just fine.

But because of the new processor platform, some features are, uh, a work in progress. Folks in the SNB Forums have been complaining most about the non-functional DLNA server, which I verified does not work. Others would like NAT loopback to work so that they can access LAN-side servers, or even the built-in AiDisk function, via DDNS domain names or at least WAN IP addresses. Right now, you need to use the LAN IP when you are accessing a server from the LAN.

You will run across Enabled buttons in various spots in the 66U's GUI, like the Guest Network manager. But these buttons really mean Enable, a grammatical/translation error that ASUS really should have caught.

New features include IPv6 support with Native, Native w/DHCP, Tunnel 6to4, Tunnel 6in4 and Tunnel 6rd modes supported. If you don't know what these mean or how to deal with the settings, you're on your own, unfortunately. The User Guide, which you can download here, is mostly unhelpful on this and many other topics.

In addition to sharing USB drives and printers, you can also plug in a USB 3G modem to provide a backup Internet connection, should the main WAN port go down. Figure 8 shows an few interesting options for USA ISPs...

USB Modem page
Figure 8: USB Modem page

I looked at the page source code and put a shot of the supported modems from the selector list in the Gallery. The list is dominated by Huawei models, followed by ZTE, then other vendors. Figure 9 shows the complete list of things you can do with the USB ports, most of which you've seen on previous ASUS products.

USB applications
Figure 9: USB applications

That Parental Contol feature you see in the menu may disaapoint you if you're looking for web filtering. All it does is provide schedulable Internet access (all or nothing) for users you define.

The Automatic mode QoS feature under Traffic Manager is again misleading. The only "automatic" part of it is that it engages a default rule set that "sets online gaming and web surfing as the highest priority and are not influenced by P2P applications".

The QoS feature itself is a bit odd. It looks like a priority-based system, with five levels. But instead of each level having a relative priority to the other, you can set a max/min bandwidth limits both up and download for each level. I've never seen this approach and wonder how well it works.

The Traffic Monitor itself shows you pretty plots of bandwidth in real-time, last 24 hours and daily views. Unlike the Bandwidth monitor on NETGEAR routers, however, you can't set bandwidth limits or alarms. There's a screenshot in the Gallery if you want a look, along with more shots of the admin interface with commentary.

Image Gallery
Updated 2/9/2012

VPN

A reader pointed out that I didn't say anything about the built-in "VPN" server or try it when I first posted this review. So I first checked the User Guide, which had no information whatsoever about the router's VPN server settings. Then I enabled the VPN Server, set Force MPPE Encryption to Auto, set the client address range and added a test/test user.

I created a VPN connection in a Win 7 Home Premium system, setting the VPN Type to Automatic then to PPTP and tried all the encryption and authentication options. But no matter what I did, there was no connection. There is no separate VPN log, but I saw this message in the General Log around the time I tried to connect: kernel: protocol 0000 is buggy, dev eth0. 'Nuff said.

Routing Performance

Routing performance for the RT-N66U using our standard test method is summarized in Table 2. The product was loaded with the just-released 3.1.0.3.90 firmware for our testing. Unidirectional throughput is 10 - 15% lower than the chart-topping RT-N56U. But the thing that is sure to cause some people to think that the 66U's routing code is broken is that simultaneous bidirectional throughput is only ~ 800 Mbps. Nothing's broken, folks. It's more throughput than anyone will ever use.

Test Description RT-N66U RT-N56U
WAN - LAN 732 Mbps 802 Mbps
LAN - WAN 729 Mbps 862 Mbps
Total Simultaneous 810 Mbps 1269 Mbps
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 34,925 34,925
Firmware Version 3.1.0.3.90 1.0.1.2
Table 2: Routing throughput

Figure 10 shows the composite IxChariot plot for the three routing speed tests, with everything looking pretty stable. And there are plenty of simultaneous sessions to go around. Like the 56U, the 66U maxed out at our 34,925 test limit.

ASUS RT-N66U routing throughput
Figure 10: ASUS RT-N66U routing throughput

Storage Performance

I ran quick Windows filecopy tests using the standard NAS testbed to the RT-N66U with my standard Iomega UltraMax Pro drive configured in RAID 0 and formatted in FAT32 and NTFS. I pulled results from a few other interesting routers into Table 3.

  RT-N66U RT-N56U WNDR4500 E4200V2
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 10 7.6 9.2 9.8
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 12 13 11.6 21.6
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 17 9.5 6.7 20.1
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 11 13 6.5 22.2
Table 3: Router filecopy performance comparison

Results show that the current storage sharing throughput champ is the Cisco Linksys E4200V2 with 20+ MB/s reads and writes with an NTFS formatted drive. The RT-56U and 66U are about the same for FAT32 format, with the 66U able to write about 2X faster (17 MB/s vs. 11 MB/s) than the 56U to an NTFS formatted drive.

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Over In The Forums

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