Reviewing the ASUS RT-AC56U - A Reasonably Priced AC Router
ASUS RT-AC56U is the successor of the highly popular ASUS RT-N56U - which was both a great performer and a best seller. We were very curious to learn what the new model had offer, if it delivered better performance and more features. Is the new model a worthy replacement for ASUS RT-N56U? We have used and tested the ASUS RT-N56U Wireless-AC1200 router for 10 days and here's what we have learned:
Unboxing the ASUS RT-AC56U Router
The packaging of the ASUS RT-AC56U is the same as that of other routers from ASUS. The box uses the same design and does a good job of advertising the main characteristics of the router.
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Inside the box you will find the router itself, the power adapter, the warranty, a quick setup guide, an Ethernet network cable, plus a support disc with the user manual and several utilities.
As you can see from the picture above, the ASUS RT-AC56U doesn't have any external antennas like most recent routers from ASUS. Does this impact its performance in any way? We were very curious to learn but for the time being, let's take a look at this router's hardware specifications.
As its name implies, ASUS RT-AC56U Wireless-AC1200 offers support for the modern 802.11ac wireless networking standard, this being the first feature that makes it stand out from its predecessor. Its maximum theoretical throughput of 300 Mbps on the 2.4GHz wireless network and a maximum of 867 Mbps on the 5 GHz wireless network.
The router has 4 internal antennas (2 for each band), a Broadcom BCM4708A0 dual-core processor running at 800MHz (the same as its more expensive brother - ASUS RT-AC68U), 256 MB of RAM and 128MB of storage space.
On the back of the router you will find two USB ports: one USB 3.0 and one USB 2.0.
The router has support for all the modern types of Internet connections, all the types of encryption, VPN support, WPS support and all the other features you would expect from a modern router.
You can read the details specifications here: ASUS RT-AC56U specifications.
Setting Up & Using the ASUS RT-AC56U Router
Setting up the ASUS RT-AC56U router is just as easy as setting up other ASUS routers. Plug in its power adapter, then the Internet connection cable from your Internet provider, turn on the router, connect the router to your computer using the bundled Ethernet cable and start your favorite browser.
Go to 192.168.1.1 or http://router.asus.com and follow the setup wizard.
The wizard will automatically detect the type of Internet connection you are using and ask for the necessary connection details. During the setup you are asked to set a password for the router and also to set the wireless connections that will be made available. When done, you will be given the chance to review your configuration and see how you have set everything.
Since the firmware is the same as the one used on other modern ASUS routers, the interface used for the ASUS RT-AC56U router isn't any different. We find it well organized and easy to use, even for those who are not that familiar with ASUS routers. If you have used an ASUS router in the past you have the added bonus that you can import your old router's settings into the new one, so that you don't start the whole setup from scratch. Only the settings for the features that still exist in the new router are imported so there's little chance for you to screw things up.
When testing this router, we have used the latest firmware version that was available - 126.96.36.199.374_5656. The firmware offers very detailed controls for just about everything that's related to this router's functioning, so geeks and IT professionals will have no issues in making it work as they want to. Also, the defaults are generally set well and most users won't need to change its settings in order to get good performance. Only those that want the maximum possible performance will need to tweak this router's settings in more detail.
While fiddling with its settings, we discovered that this router has a Roaming assistant that you can enable. This helps when you have a range extender and other devices of this type that extend the range of your network. With this feature you can set wireless clients to disconnect from the router and allow them to connect to the range extender instead, when their wireless signal strength goes below a certain value.
Another interesting feature that we discovered is the Tx power adjustment which allows you to increase the transmission power so that you get a better signal if you are encountering problems with the signal strength.
In terms of language support, things are looking great as ASUS offers the firmware in 22 languages, from English to Romanian or Malay.
We were satisfied by the quick setup process and with the way this router worked. We did not encounter any pesky bugs or issues so we went on to our performance testing. Let's see what we have learned.