The RT-AC68U is the new flagship router from Asus, a company that’s extended its coverage from graphics cards and displays to designing Google’s Nexus 7 tablet. Previous routers from Asus have delivered good performance, so we expected nothing less than excellence from this new high-end 802.11ac model. See Group test: what's the best wireless router?
?An attractive black-and-grey chequered design covers the front of the chassis, sprucing up what would otherwise be a monolithic black plastic box. It’s sturdy, but hardly low profile, with a vertical 160 mm-high case, and three giant antennae protruding further from it. At the back is a grooved texture which could easily attract dust. See all Wi-Fi and networking reviews.
There are ten bright blue LEDs at the front, which can be highly distracting, although Asus’ designers sensibly included a button to let you turn these off, since not everyone wants a disco lightshow from their lounge router.
There are two more buttons at the side, one to shut off the wireless and another to connect via WPS. At the back are four gigabit ethernet ports, a WAN port and two USB, one of which is USB 3.0.
The software is particularly good. The front page takes you to a network map, showing an incredible amount of information. Although this could be overwhelming for novices, it’s superbly laid out with strong use of neatly designed icons to indicate when features are turned on or off. You can quickly see the status of each wireless SSD, the USB ports, WAN IP, firmware version, and so on.
A clearly labelled menu running down the side leads to different pages with more settings for each router function. Asus has done an impressive job of reducing the chance of getting lost in obscurely named menus to find a specific setting.
A technology Asus calls TurboQAM means the RT-AC68U is designed to handle 600Mb/s link rate via 802.11n. TurboQAM is actually a performance-boosting feature from Broadcom, the maker of most wireless chipsets like those found in the RT-AC68U. It kicks in only when a certain other Broadcom device connects to it, so isn’t available to all wireless clients.??And we’re not sure it made a difference during our testing, since the 802.11n speeds on 2.4 GHz were at the lower end of results in this group – just 98 Mb/s at short range and then 69 Mb/s at 10m.
However, average performance via 802.11ac on 5GHz was far from average – outstanding in fact, by the standards of these 11ac routers. The 610 Mb/s figure eclipsed every other router we tested.?
Asus also offers its AiCloud suite of online tools, including a mobile configuration app, and Smart Sync which uploads files from connected storage to a Dropbox-like WebStorage account.