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Routers - March 2014 (Part 2) - Asus RT-AC68U, Tenda W1800R

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Asus RT-AC68U

The Asus RT-AC68U has been crammed with the latest technology, including TurboQAM, which can boost the speed of your 2.4GHz network if you use a compatible adapter. While this goes some way to justifying its high price (it’s the most expensive router in this Group Test), you’ll have to spend even more updating your PCs' adapters if you want to benefit from the feature.

The router’s incoming internet port is Ethernet, so it should work straight out of the box for cable customers, but ADSL or VDSL customers will need an Ethernet modem or similar device to convert their connection. It also has four Gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB ports (one of which is USB 3.0 compatible).

The Wi-Fi networks are unsecured by default, so you have to log into the device to set passwords. Its interface isn’t the easiest to use but it does have some interesting features, including the ability to set up six guest networks and basic parental controls.

ASUS RT-AC68U

ASUS RT-AC68U

We first tested the RT-AC68U’s wireless speed with our laptop’s built-in Wi-Fi adapter. At 2.4GHz, we saw transfer speeds of 32.8Mbps at 10m (a surprising 11th place) and 9.7Mbps at 20m. However, using Asus’s own $100.18 USB-AC53 Wi-Fi adapter gave us speeds of 64.8Mbps at 10m (second fastest) and a top-ranking 23.6Mbps at 20m.

In our 5GHz test, the laptop performed a little better but still only managed eighth place with 63Mbps at 10m and 25.5Mbps at 20m.

Using its own dongle doubled that performance, maxing-out our USB 2.0 bottleneck at a blistering 158.5Mbps at 10m and 70.7Mbps at 20m.

USB 3.0 adapters aren’t available yet, but installing an Asus PCE-AC68 PCI-E adapter in a desktop PC provides phenomenal speeds of 149.9Mbps at 20m. However, that costs another $116.87.

ASUS RT-AC68U’s back

ASUS RT-AC68U’s back

Verdict

This is one of the most expensive routers around and it’s not easy to justify its price. But if you are prepared to pay (not only for the router but also to upgrade your adapters) then you’ll get the fastest router in this test. And if your home suffers from Wi-Fi dead spots, this device has the power and range to push your network’s limits a little further.

Specs

·         Model: RT-AC68U

·         Price: $300.49

·         Modem type: Ethernet

·         Wi-Fi: 802.11ac

·         Stated speed: 1,300Mbps

·         Antennas: 3 (external, upgradeable)

·         WAN ports: 1

·         LAN ports: 4 x 10/100/1,000Mbps

·         Other ports: 1 x USB, 1 x USB 3.0

·         Warranty: Three-year return to base

·         Dimensions: 220 x 160 x 83mm

Rating

·         Features: 5/5

·         Performance: 5/5

·         Ease of use: 4/5

·         Value for money: 4/5

·         Overall: 5/5

Tenda W1800R

The Tenda W1800R is the cheapest 802.11ac router in this test. It connects to the internet via Ethernet (so you’ll need an Ethernet modem if you use ADSL), and has four further Gigabit Ethernet ports and two USB ports. Its two networks (2.4GHz 802.11n and 5GHz 802.11ac) can operate simultaneously.

Neither network is secured by default and the interface suggests the numbers one through eight as a password, which simply isn’t safe enough. Annoyingly, the number of available channels is restricted because the set-up doesn’t have a UK option and we’re allowed to use more channels than most countries, but this doesn’t affect the performance.

Tenda W1800R

Tenda W1800R

Its connection to the laptop’s built-in Wi-Fi worked better than using its own adapter. It came fourth and third respectively in our 2.4GHz and 5GHz laptop tests, dropping to eighth place in the 2.4GHz adapter test, but climbing back to a respectable fourth in the 5GHz test.

Verdict

Corners have been cut in this router’s interface to keep the price low, but the impact on performance is minimal. It came in the top four in three of our tests, which is impressive considering it’s the cheapest 802.11ac model we tested.

Specs

·         Model: W1800R

·         Price: $135.15

·         Modem type: Ethernet

·         Wi-Fi: 802.11ac

·         Stated speed: 1,300Mbps

·         Antennas: 3 (external, upgradeable)

·         WAN ports: 1

·         LAN ports: 4 x 10/100/1,000Mbps

·         Other ports: 2x USB

·         Warranty: One-year return to base

·         Dimensions: 219 x 157 x 34mm

Rating

·         Features: 4/5

·         Performance: 5/5

·         Ease of use: 3/5

·         Value for money: 5/5

·         Overall: 4/5

 

 

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