Reviewing ASUS RP-AC68U - The range extender that you can't ignore!

Rating

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. Our router is ASUS RT-AC88U.

With most wireless routers, the signal strength is not that great in rooms like the kitchen. That's why we placed the range extender in the lobby, close to the kitchen and close enough to the router so that it receives good signal from it. During our testing we used a very fast internet connection capable of downloads of 1 Gbps and of uploads up to 200 Mbps.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

We used a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 for all our measurements and several software tools. To get a better perspective on the performance offered by the ASUS RP-AC68U, we compared it with TP-LINK RE450 (an AC1750 range extender) and ASUS RP-AC56 (the former high-end range extender from ASUS, from its previous generation of devices).

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 RP-AC68U was good but not as good as the one delivered by TP-LINK RE450.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

Next, we measured the speed of the internet connection that is offered by ASUS RP-AC68U, on the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency, using SpeedTest. In the download test, its performance was uneven. In two rooms, ASUS RP-AC68U managed to be the fastest range extender. However, in other rooms it was beaten by its predecessor ASUS RP-AC56, which offered steadier performance across the whole apartment.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

When it comes to the upload speed, ASUS RP-AC68U was the uncontested speed king on SpeedTest.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

For our last measurement on the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency, 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 worse than those measured with SpeedTest, which is something that we did not expect.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

Results got better though, when measuring the upload speed with LAN Speed Test Lite. Here, in some rooms, ASUS RP-AC68U was the fastest repeater.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

In our measurements, the performance offered by ASUS RP-AC68U on the 2.4 GHz wireless frequency was fast in some tests and rather inconsistent in others. This device may benefit from some firmware updates that will improve the steadiness of its performance on this frequency. On the plus side, its upload speed is better than its download speed.

Next, we analyzed the performance offered by the 5GHz wireless network. First, we looked at the signal strength. ASUS RP-AC68U managed to be the best option in most rooms.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

Next, we measured the speed of the internet connection that is offered by ASUS RP-AC68U on the 5 GHz frequency, with SpeedTest. When evaluating the download speed, ASUS RP-AC68U was easily the fastest range extender that we have tested so far.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

The same was true when measuring the upload speed with SpeedTest: ASUS RP-AC68U was the uncontested performance leader.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

Lastly, we used LAN Speed Test Lite to measure the wireless download and upload speeds when transferring a 350MB file through the network. ASUS RP-AC68U confirmed one more time that it is able to deliver very fast downloads on the 5 GHz wireless network.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

The uploads that were measure with LAN Speed Test Lite were fast too.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

ASUS RP-AC68U is a beast when it comes to the speed of the 5 GHz wireless network that it broadcasts.

Wired network performance

ASUS RP-AC68U offers five Ethernet ports so that you can connect up to five devices to it, using network cables. 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 RP-AC68U and the desktop PC to the router.

First, we measured the download and upload speeds on the internet, using SpeedTest. The results were impressive: 329.98 Mbps for the download speed and 206.03 Mbps for the upload speed.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

Then, we used LAN Speed Test Lite to measure the wireless download and upload speeds when transferring a 350MB file through the network. Our results were very similar and just as impressive.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

ASUS RP-AC68U surprised us by offering very fast wired network connections through its five Gigabit ports.

Extra features

As always with ASUS networking devices, this one too offers several extra features that you might find useful:

  • Multiple operation modes - ASUS RP-AC68U can function as a repeater, an access point, media bridge or express way for one wireless frequency (2.4 GHz or 5 GHz).

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review
  • USB applications for working with external hard drives and network printers. You can set the ASUS RP-AC68U to download torrents for you on an external hard drive, share that drive with the network or the AiCloud online storage service, and share a printer with the network.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review
  • Troubleshooting tools - command line tools that you can use to troubleshoot problems with your repeater or its network connection.

ASUS RP-AC68U, range extender, repeater, media bridge, review

Pros and cons

The ASUS RP-AC68U repeater is an impressive device that has quite a few strong points:

  • Impressive performance on the 5 GHz wireless network
  • Impressive performance on the 5 Ethernet ports that are available
  • It has a USB 3.0 port for connecting external devices
  • Great multilingual support for the administration user interface
  • Easy to use and set up

There are also a few downsides to consider:

  • It has some issues with the steadiness of its performance on the 2.4 GHz wireless network which can be fixed through a firmware update
  • Some people will find it quite large
Product rating 4/5

Verdict

The ASUS RP-AC68U range extender is a premium device which aims to offer the ultimate performance in an attractive package. This device manages to impress with its looks, its size and its performance on the 5 GHz wireless network and on the five Ethernet ports that it has to offer. Also, the fact that it has a USB 3.0 port available is something rather unique in the world of range extenders. Its only weakness is the instability of its performance on the 2.4 GHz wireless network. If you have the budget for it and you want to extend a fast wireless network which needs to deal with many devices, ASUS RP-AC68U is a great choice, that you should definitely take into consideration.

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