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ASUS RT-N56U "Black Diamond" Wireless Router Review

Subject: Networking
Manufacturer: ASUS

Wireless Performance – Lab Test – Intel Centrino Ultimate N

As we’ve discussed previously, wireless testing here on PC Perspective or anywhere else should always be looked at with the understanding that every location offers unique challenges to Wi-Fi connectivity and your mileage will likely vary from what we saw in our tests.  With our Lab Tests, we will have the router and wireless adapter sitting in the same room about three feet from each other.  Since we are looking at a single router in this review, we will test use both the Intel Centrino Ultimate N and the ASUS USB-N66 (at High Power setting) wireless adapters and compare their performance when connected to the ASUS RT-N56U, the Apple Airport Extreme and the ASUS RT-N66U that we’ve previously tested and reviewed.

The ASUS RT-N56U is a bit of a strange bird when you look at it from the wireless perspective.  Being that it has 3 internal antennas for 5 GHz and 2 internal antennas for 2.4 GHz; it’s both a 2x3:2 and a 2x2:2 router.  ASUS has speed claims of up to 300 Mbps on both the 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz spectrums simultaneously.

Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 Wi-Fi Adapter (633ANHMW) Testing

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We’ll run our first wireless tests using the Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 Wi-Fi Adapter (633ANHMW) in the MSI Laptop to see how the ASUS RT-N56U stacks up against the Apple Airport Extreme and ASUS RT-N66U routers.  The Ultimate-N adapter is 3x3:3 and can theoretically get up to 450 Mbps maximum speeds.  If your laptop came with an integrated wireless adapter in the last few years, there’s a good chance it contains some version of an Intel Centrino Wireless adapter.  Let’s get things rolling with the 5 GHz tests.

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Ping testing show the Intel Centrino Ultimate-N 6300 performing the best when connected to the ASUS RT-N56U at 5 GHz.  The pings through the ASUS RT-N56U clearly beat the Airport Extreme in both Average, Maximum and Minimum ping times, and edge out the ASUS RT-N66U in both Average and Maximum ping times.

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Again, the ASUS RT-N56U outperforms the more expensive Apple and ASUS RT-N66U routers across the board, but this time in download tests.  With Average downloads 33.2% faster, Maximum downloads 30.3% faster and Minimum downloads 43.1% faster than its closest competitor, the ASUS RT-N56U does great in 5GHz download speed tests.

 

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In upload speeds we see a reversal of fortunes, with the RT-N56U only winning the Minimum upload speed tests.  While it comes close in Average Upload speeds it has the slowest speed at 116.9 Mbps.  In Maximum upload speeds, it also comes in last place, but is 28.2% slower than the Apple Airport and 37.6% slower than the ASUS RT-N66U.  Next up, the 2.4 GHz spectrum.

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Like the 5 GHz tests, the ASUS RT-N56U clearly beats both the Apple Airport and ASUS RT-N66U in just about every ping test.

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During the 2.4 GHz Download tests we see the ASUS RT-N66U actually pull ahead, beating out both the Apple Airport and the RT-N56U in every test.  The RT-N56U takes 2 of the three tests over the Apple, leading in Average and Minimum download speeds, only falling behind the Apple in Maximum download speeds.

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In our last set of tests for the Intel Centrino in our “Lab Test” setup, the ASUS RT-N56U at 2.4 GHz does well in the Upload speed tests.  Of all the tests, it only falls behind in the Maximum upload speed test against the ASUS RT-N66U with a speed of 72.1 Mbps versus 109.3 Mbps for the N66U.

December 2, 2012 | 01:11 PM - Posted by razor512

Seems pretty good, especially with the VPN server. I wish more companies would do that. I have only experienced unstable implementations of routers functioning as a VPN server using pptp and openvpn was more trouble than it was worth because of all of the command line needed and also there being no decent tutorial that did not require you to read like 20 pages and still not get it working.

I like having a VPN that is easy to use so I can quickly login from my laptop, or from a Linux live USB if on a public computer.

While openVPN is more secure than the older PPTP, no one has made a GUI front end where you can do a few clicks and then if gives you all of the various config texts to turn the router setup part into a copy and pasture job, and automate the client setup process as much as possible.

Also liked the router performance improvements, it seems that they optimized the firmware a bit better, hopefully those optimization make their way to the N66U

December 3, 2012 | 08:06 AM - Posted by Dave (not verified)

I've been using one of these for almost 2 years now (ever since my old D-Link DI-624 died) and have been extremely pleased with the performance of the router.

I've not had a single dropped WiFi connection (and I generally have at least an iPad and 2 iPhones connected any time I'm home, and occasionally a laptop or 2) and the LAN speeds have always been solid.

In most cases, I take an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach to my routers. But seeing that they've done a complete UI overhaul with the newest firmware, I just have to go and upgrade it now.

That was really the only downside I found with the router. I couldn't stand having to work through that old UI.

Great review and I also would highly recommend this router. I don't think you can do any better for under ~$100.

December 3, 2012 | 09:08 AM - Posted by Lord Binky (not verified)

I had a D-link gamerlounge (DGL-4500), it had good specs to go along with the marketing ;) , that I replaced with this when it had started to act up. I think it was running a Terraria server that pushed the D-Link over the edge.

This has held up much better than my D-link did, and was really impressed how well this performed without a myriad of antennas sticking out (my d-link had 3).

December 3, 2012 | 10:59 AM - Posted by Justin 150 (not verified)

I have this router - I must upgrade the firmware as pcper did - and it just works. Plug it in and off you go. It is fast, reliable has good wireless range what more could you ask for

Only one problem with the design is that the Cat cables stick out so you will need to invest in a set of right angle connectors to preserve the clean look - if that is important to you.

Highly recommended

December 3, 2012 | 12:23 PM - Posted by Serwei (not verified)

Have you tried the Padavan firmware? Google for it.

December 3, 2012 | 12:30 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

There is a RT-N65U at the egg for the same price. Looks like an updated version with USB 3.0 and more range being the big difference.

December 24, 2012 | 03:57 AM - Posted by BADMINTON (not verified)

Have lost my installation disc. Can anyone tell me have to get it on line ?

December 24, 2012 | 11:36 AM - Posted by David Henderson (not verified)

I have tried the new firmware and despit resetting/ rebooting etc, find it keeps dropping wireless connections. Have tried lots of different firmware for this over the last 16 months or so that alive owned it, including the Panamanian firmware, the only version to date that I've found reliable is 1.0.1.8f . All the rest are hopeless

December 24, 2012 | 11:39 AM - Posted by David Henderson (not verified)

Sorry about the typos. My ipad autocorrects everything incorrectly. Meant Padavan firmware

December 24, 2012 | 11:41 AM - Posted by David Henderson (not verified)

Don't need installation disc for asus router - just access via web browser at address 192.168.1.1. Can update firmware from here.

December 24, 2012 | 04:43 PM - Posted by David Henderson (not verified)

Also meant firmware version 1.0.1.7f. Not 8f!

January 6, 2013 | 10:46 PM - Posted by gclyn (not verified)

Currently using the firmware that shipped with my router - V1.0.1.8j and working solidly so far. This is a replacement router as the first one I got kept spontaneously rebooting and intermittently unable to connect to internet via wifi. I had upgraded the first one with the latest f/w xxxx.318...don't know if the upgraded firmware caused the problems, but I just returned for a new one through amazon.

January 6, 2013 | 10:47 PM - Posted by gclyn (not verified)

Currently using the firmware that shipped with my router - V1.0.1.8j and working solidly so far. This is a replacement router as the first one I got kept spontaneously rebooting and intermittently unable to connect to internet via wifi. I had upgraded the first one with the latest f/w xxxx.318...don't know if the upgraded firmware caused the problems, but I just returned for a new one through amazon.

January 23, 2013 | 02:36 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Had this router for about 2 weeks now. Updated to latest firmware and experienced the dropped connections I have read about. Just now downgrading to .7f. Haven't put it back online yet (using old router currently), but I do not see the Parental Controls. Is this only in the latest firmware?

February 10, 2013 | 07:32 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

One thing, does it support more than one printer at the same time?
I would like to connect 2 or 3 printers (with a usb hub)?

February 20, 2013 | 09:03 PM - Posted by Dirty (not verified)

I've been using it 2 weeks. It arrived with the 1.0.1.8j I updated the firmware to 3.0.0.4.342 while I was setting it up. I'm running the media server, two wireless g 2.47 subnets through it as well as the n on 5. Plus using the VPN, usb for a hard drive share and a printer. No dropped wireless connections and the VPN has been solid.

March 3, 2013 | 09:44 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Would you please share how to setup your vpn? I tried to setup VPN with my iphone 5, but unfortunately I always got the error " A connection could not be established to the ppp server" no matter I am at home or office.

thanks,

March 20, 2013 | 02:39 PM - Posted by Fakrul Alam (not verified)

Does any one have experience of using IPv6 in this router? I am planning to have one for IPv4 & IPv6 dual stack.

April 25, 2013 | 07:49 PM - Posted by Daveypoo (not verified)

hey i just updated my firmware to the most recent 3.0.0.4.342. Love this router, but with the old firmware u were able to block mac address, i cant seem to figure out how to do it on the latest firmware... i have neighbours whos kid is living with us... ftw... n they mysteriously obtained our network key, its easier just to block them rather than have to go thru the whole proccess on setting everything back up with the new network key... someone please show me the light, much appreciated

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