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Wireless Reviews

Features

As noted earlier, the RT-AC68P is functionally equivalent to the AC68U. So, all the goodies like Quick Internet Setup (QIS), Bandwidth Monitor, Adaptive QoS, AiProtection and AiCloud are there.

IPV6 is also supported for both WAN connection and firewall. VPN support is flexible with both PPTP and OpenVPN servers. And dual WAN support is included for both select 3G / 4G WWAN USB dongles or by repurposing one of the LAN ports to connect to a second cable or DSL modem. If you want a little more feature detail, the RT-AC87U review has some.

ASUS RT-AC68P Network Map

ASUS RT-AC68P Network Map

Storage Performance

A key weakness of the RT-AC68U has been its inability to make full use of its USB 3.0 port. The most I've gotten is 24 MB/s, despite repeated attempts with different firmware and both enabling and disabling its Reducing USB 3.0 interference setting. So I was happy to find that the 68P seems to have solved the problem.

I tested using our standard Startech USB 3.0 eSATA to SATA Hard Drive Docking Station [SATDOCKU3SEF] with a WD Velociraptor WD3000HLFS 300 GB drive, using Windows Robocopy to run the same Windows Filecopy test that's part of our NAS test suite. Tests were run on both FAT32 and NTFS volumes with USB 2.0 and 3.0 connections and 3.0.0.4.376_3626 firmware installed on the router. I also disabled the router's media server, to ensure no automatic file indexing affected results. All tests were also run with the Reducing USB 3.0 interference setting disabled, which should enable full USB 3.0 throughput.

Table 2 summarizes USB 2.0 storage performance for the 68P, top-performing Linksys WRT1900AC and runner-up NETGEAR R7000. While there are some minor differences in the numbers, you wouldn't find any practical difference in everyday performance.

  ASUS RT-AC68P Linksys WRT1900AC NETGEAR R7000
Processor Broadcom BCM4709A Marvell MV78230 Broadcom BCM4709A
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 28.4 28.7 24.8
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 31.1 31.0 27.8
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 29.7 30.1 27.9
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 31.6 30.8 27.9
Table 2: File copy throughput - USB 2.0 (MBytes/sec)

To check whether newer firmware was the key to improved USB 3.0 performance, I hauled out my RT-AC68U review sample, installed the same firmware and ran a USB 3.0 connected, NTFS formatted test. So Table 3 includes both 68P and 68U results. I had to run the 68U's test a few times because I got drive disconnects at first and some unusually high results in another test run. But after I rechecked settings and reformatted the USB test drive, the 68U settled down and produced the USB 2.0-like results shown in Table 3.

The results show the Marvell-powered Linksys WRT1900AC is still the router storage performance champ. But the AC68P makes a strong showing, beating out NETGEAR's R7000 Nighthawk in all but FAT32 writes—a weakness common to both products.

  ASUS RT-AC68P ASUS RT-AC68U Linksys WRT1900AC NETGEAR R7000
Processor Broadcom BCM4709A Broadcom BCM4708A Marvell MV78230 Broadcom BCM4709A
FAT32 Write (MBytes/s) 28.4 12.9 61.1 33.4
FAT32 Read (MBytes/s) 65.0 27.8 76.5 57.4
NTFS Write (MBytes/s) 49.7 27.3 66.7 36.8
NTFS Read (MBytes/s) 70.1 28.7 75.1 57.7
Table 3: File copy throughput - USB 3.0 (MBytes/sec)

So, congratulations, ASUS. You've finally produced an AC1900 router with decent USB 3.0 connected storage performance!

Routing Performance

Routing performance for the 68P loaded with 3.0.0.4.376_3626 firmware using our standard test method is summarized in Table 4 beside the 68U's results. Tests with both NAT Acceleration / Cut Through Forwarding enabled (the default) and disabled were run.

Test Description ASUS RT-AC68P ASUS RT-AC68U ASUS RT-AC68P
(NAT Accel. off)
WAN - LAN (Mbps) 778 754 406
LAN - WAN (Mbps) 780 825 441
Total Simultaneous (Mbps) 1369 1227 446
Maximum Simultaneous Connections 37,399 33,263 -
Firmware Version 3.0.0.4.376_3626 3.0.0.4.374_205 3.0.0.4.376_3626
Table 4: Routing throughput

As observed in other products, disabling NAT acceleration significantly reduces throughput, around 45% for unidirectional tests. I asked RMerlin about the effect disabling NAT acceleration has on features and got this response:

Traditional QoS, as supported by FW 376_3626, will force NAT acceleration (CTF) to be disabled at boot time. However, the newer Adaptive QoS is compatible with CTF. Adaptive QoS is only available with FW 378_xxxx.

The LAN setting can now be set to either Disabled (meaning always disabled) or Auto (meaning disabled automatically if an incompatible feature is enabled - like Traditional QoS). This is more accurate than the old setting that let you select "Enabled", but the end-user might not realize that it was still being forced disabled by an incompatible feature being enabled.

The IxChariot composite plot for unidirectional up and downlink tests shows periodic peak throughput above 900 Mbps in both directions.

ASUS RT-AC68P routing unidirectional throughput

ASUS RT-AC68P routing unidirectional throughput

Simultaneous up/downlink throughput is pretty good at 1369 Mbps, but doesn't set a new Chart high. Upload traffic seems to get priority when both directions are fully loaded. However, this could be a quirk of our test method, since this behavior is pretty consistently seen.

ASUS RT-AC68P routing bidirectional throughput

ASUS RT-AC68P routing bidirectional throughput

Here's the unidirectional plot with NAT Acceleration disabled.

ASUS RT-AC68P routing unidirectional throughput - NAT Acceleration disabled

ASUS RT-AC68P routing unidirectional throughput - NAT Acceleration disabled

And the bidirectional plot.

ASUS RT-AC68P routing bidirectional throughput - NAT Acceleration disabled

ASUS RT-AC68P routing bidirectional throughput - NAT Boost disabled

Bottom line is there is no significant difference in routing throughput between the 68U and 68P.

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Over In The Forums

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