Wireless network performance
First, let's take a look at the apartment that was used in our testing and how it is set up (the apartment has 753 square feet or 70 square meters). You can see that the router is placed in the living room. With most wireless routers, the signal strength is not that great in rooms like the kitchen. That's why we placed the powerline extender in the kitchen and this is where we made all our measurements. During our testing we used a very fast internet connection capable of downloads of 1 Gbps and of uploads up to 200 Mbps. Our router is ASUS RT-AC88U.
We used a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for all our measurements and several software tools. To get a better perspective of the performance offered by the ASUS PL-AC56, we compared it with the only other powerline kit that we've tested so far: ASUS PL-N12. That device is much cheaper and it is a single-band device, that's working only using the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency. Therefore, in our measurements on the 5 GHz frequency, this device won't show up for comparison.
We started by evaluating the 2.4 GHz wireless network and measured the signal strength offered, using a tool named inSSIDer. As you can see below, the signal strength that was delivered by ASUS PL-AC56 was very good.
Then, we measured the speed of the internet connection that is offered by ASUS PL-AC56, on the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency, using SpeedTest. In this test ASUS PL-AC56 managed to offer good download and upload speeds, better than our router and the ASUS PL-N12 kit.
Then, we used LAN Speed Test Lite to measure the wireless download and upload speeds when transferring a 350MB file through the network. The results were good, in line with what we measured with SpeedTest.
When it comes to the 2.4 GHz wireless network, our conclusion is that the ASUS PL-AC56 kit can deliver a solid connection, that's faster than that of cheaper models.
Next, we analyzed the performance offered by the 5GHz wireless network. First, we looked at the signal strength. Again, ASUS PL-AC56 delivered what we expected: solid signal strength.
When we measured the speed of the internet connection that is offered by ASUS PL-AC56 on the 5 GHz frequency, we were very pleased. As you can see below, we had no issues in reaching 200 Mbps in download speed.
Lastly, we used LAN Speed Test Lite to measure the wireless download and upload speeds when transferring a 350MB file through the network. While the results were not as great as in the previous measurement, the speed offered by ASUS PL-AC56 was solid, better than what our router could deliver in the same room.
The wireless network that is broadcast by the ASUS PL-AC56 kit on the 5 GHz frequency is one of the strengths of this kit.
Wired network performance
We mentioned earlier in this review that the ASUS PL-AC56 powerline adapter kit offers three Ethernet ports so that you can connect up to three devices. In order to test the quality of the wired Ethernet connection, we used a desktop PC, equipped with an Intel Core i5 4460 processor, running at 3.20GHz, 16GB of RAM and a very fast Samsung 850 Pro 512GB SSD and a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 with an Intel Core i5-4300U processor, running at 1.9 GHz, 8 GB of RAM and a fast 256 GB SSD drive from Samsung. We connected the Surface Pro 3 to the ASUS PL-AC56 kit and the desktop PC to the router.
First, we measured the download and upload speeds using SpeedTest. The ASUS PL-AC56 kit delivered an average download speed of 235.23 Mbps, which is a great result.
Then, we used LAN Speed Test Lite to measure the wireless download and upload speeds when transferring a 350MB file through the network. Here, ASUS PL-AC56 kit delivered an average download speed of 241,90 Mbps. We were impressed!
The ASUS PL-AC56 kit delivers Ethernet connections of up to 250 Mbps, which is great for a powerline adapter.
The ASUS PL-AC56 kit includes several extra features that you don't generally expect from this devices of this type:
Guest network - you can set the ASUS PL-AC56 kit to broadcast up to two guest wireless networks for each band: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. It is possible to enable a maximum of four guest networks.
WDS (Wireless Distribution System) - you can set the kit to work not only as an access point that connects to the network through the powerline but also as a repeater that takes the wireless signal of your router and repeats it in your home.
Network tools - allows you to troubleshoot network problems using commands like ping or netstat.
The extra tools that are offered by the ASUS PL-AC56 kit are not many but they sure are useful. Other devices of this type offer even less in this regard.
Pros and cons
Here are the pros of the ASUS PL-AC56 powerline adapter kit:
- Very good performance on the 5 GHz wireless frequency
- Very good performance when using Ethernet connections
- The user interface for administering the kit is easy to use
- Lots of manual controls and settings
- Great multilingual support
- Useful extra features that you don't tend to get from other manufacturers
There are also some downsides to this kit:
- It's rather expensive
- Both devices that make up the kit are very large and this may be an inconvenience to some users
- You need to pay attention when setting it up for the first time, if you want things to work correctly
If we were to sum up the ASUS PL-AC56 powerline adapter kit into one sentence, this would be it: it's a great choice for people who want very solid performance, especially on the 5 GHz wireless frequency and don't mind the premium price. This kit is big, made out of two large devices, with two external antennas on the extender, it's heavy and it delivers! It's also easy to use both by beginners as well as experts and it has great multilingual support.
The only other downside except the price, is that you need to pay a bit of attention during its initial setup, so that you do get everything right on the first try.