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Wireless Reviews


Since I couldn't get the PPTP server to work on the N66, I thought it fair to try it again on the AC66. ASUS has improved (and fixed) this feature, adding more settings and a summary of the steps required to get up and running right on the settings page (see screenshot below).

ASUS RT-AC66U PPTP server settings

ASUS RT-AC66U PPTP server settings

I just enabled the VPN Server, added a test/test user and left the other defaults alone. I then created a VPN connection in a Win 7 Home Premium system, using the new connection wizard in the Network and Sharing Center. I followed the prompts, entering the AC66's WAN IP address and test username and password I had set in the router. Windows created a VPN with Automatic connection method that successfully connected on the first try.

My only complaint about this feature at this point is that the only way you can tell in the admin GUI that a PPTP connection is active is to check the system log.

Routing Performance

Routing performance for the AC66 using our standard test method is summarized in Table 3. Note that these results are with Hardware acceleration enabled (default). Disabling this acceleration knocked the simultaneous up/down routing test down to around 240 Mbps.

The Maximum Simultaneous Connections test result is lower than measured for the N66. After some checking I found this is the new maximum test limit due to our recent changeover to using all Win 7 systems for testing. Win 7 uses some high numbered ports that Win XP didn't, which causes the test to quit at a lower port number when it detects an in-use port.

Test Description RT-AC66U
WAN - LAN 836 Mbps
LAN - WAN 839 Mbps
Total Simultaneous 819 Mbps
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 30,069
Firmware Version
Table 3: Routing throughput

The IxChariot plot for the routing tests shows very stable throughput.

RT-AC66U Routing throughput IxChariot plot summary

RT-AC66U Routing throughput IxChariot plot summary

Storage Performance

I ran quick Windows filecopy tests using the standard NAS testbed to the AC66 with our standard Iomega UltraMax Pro drive configured in RAID 0 and formatted in FAT32 and NTFS. The results are summarized in Table 4, along with other draft AC routers and two others.

FAT32 Write 9.0 7.3 8.6 10 9.8
FAT32 Read 9.9 11.8 10.2 12 21.6
NTFS Write 13.5 8.4 11.3 17 20.1
NTFS Read 9.4 8.7 10.3 11 22.2
Table 4: Router filecopy performance comparison - MB/s

Results show that the storage sharing throughput champ is still the Cisco Linksys E4200V2/EA4500 with 20+ MB/s reads and writes using an NTFS formatted drive. The AC66 turns in its best performance doing NTFS writes—the only test to exceed the 12.5 MB/s limit of a 100 Mbps connection.

Wireless Performance - Overview

This product has been retested. See this article for the results.

The RT-AC66U is not Wi-Fi Certified. It defaulted to Auto 20/40 mode on both bands on power-up. The 2.4 GHz radio's default SSID is ASUS and the 5 GHz radio is set to ASUS_5G. If you don't run the setup wizard, the 5 GHz radio is unsecured. But you can't use the internet without running the wizard first, which prompts you to set up wireless security.

The 2.4 GHz radio is secured by default and prompted for a WPS PIN code to be entered by the Win 7 test client. Entering the code resulted in a WPA2/AES secured connection.

I ran 40 MHz Coexistence and Fat channel intolerant tests to see if the AC66 properly refrained from switching into 40 MHz bandwidth mode. The router properly stayed in 20 MHz bandwidth mode when the client had its Fat Channel Intolerant bit set. But when I deliberately parked a neighboring wireless network on an interfering channel for the 40 MHz Coexistence test, the AC66 ignored it and ran in 40 MHz bandwidth mode. I ran the 40 MHz Coexistence test both in Auto and 40 MHz Channel bandwidth modes and it failed in both cases.

Note that the 802.11n standard does not specify how fast an AP must switch from 40 to 20 MHz bandwidth when another network is detected. I monitored the AC66 for three minutes and it did not switch during that time.

I conducted wireless testing using two methods. The first measured 5 GHz, 80 MHz bandwidth mode (draft 802.11ac) with pair of AC66's. One was configured in its normal router mode, while the test "client" was configured in "media bridge" mode.

The second test method used an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 in a Acer Aspire 1810T notebook running Win 7 Home Premium SP1 (64 bit) for the two-stream N tests and an Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 in a Lenovo X220i notebook running Win 7 Home Premium SP1 (64 bit) for three-stream testing. firmware was loaded in both routers for all testing.

As is our standard practice, all tests were run using WPA2/AES encrypted connections with Channel 1 used for 2.4 GHz tests and Channel 36 for 5 GHz.

Each entry in the Benchmark Summary below shows the average of throughput measurements made in all test locations.

ASUS RT-AC66U benchmark summary

ASUS RT-AC66U Benchmark Summary

Table 5 summarizes the highest wireless throughput measured out of all locations in the 20 MHz mode test runs. In most cases, highest throughput was measured in Location A. Note that the Dn/Up result is for simultaneous up and downlink tests in Location A. This table shows significant throughput gain between two and three stream operation, except for 5 GHz downlink. The largest gain was measured running uplink in 2.4 GHz and just shy of 2X!

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
2.4 GHz, 2 stream, 20 MHz 70 60 86
2.4 GHz, 3 stream, 20 MHz 90 118 120
5 GHz, 2 stream, 20 MHz 62 55 83
5 GHz, 3 stream, 20 MHz 67 97 109
Table 5: Highest Throughput, 20 MHz mode

Table 6 summarizes highest 40 MHz mode throughput. Some of the gains here are extrodinarily large, with 2.4 GHz uplink again showing the largest gains, this time approaching 300%, i.e. 3X! I reran the test multiple times and achieved similar results each time. That 231 Mbps result is real and the highest I've measured to date in a three-stream N product. Nonetheless, I think this result is a fluke that may not be reproduceable with other clients and with future firmware releases.

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
2.4 GHz, 2 stream, 40 MHz 84 81 110
2.4 GHz, 3 stream, 40 MHz 105 231 214
5 GHz, 2 stream, 40 MHz 70 74 104
5 GHz, 3 stream, 40 MHz 94 70 194
Table 6: Highest Throughput, 40 MHz mode

Table 7 calls out the draft 11ac mode best case throughputs. % gains from the 5 GHz, 3 stream 40 MHz benchmarks are 166%, 516% and 231% for downlink, uplink and up/down, respectively.

Test Group Max Dn (Mbps) Max Up (Mbps) Dn/Up (Mbps)
5 GHz, 3 stream, 80 MHz 156 361 449
Table 7: Highest Throughput, 80 MHz mode

A general observation is that the AC66 seems to significantly favor upstream vs. downstream when allocating bandwidth. The imbalance was so great in simultaneous up/downlink tests, that I conducted many additional tests and experiments, trying to see if the inequality was due to something in Win 7.

The upshot is that I think most of the imbalance is largely due to the way the AC66 actually works, with a some contribution from Windows 7. If anyone cares to shed light on this or share his/her findings, please get in touch or post in the Forums.

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