I was using my tablet on a public wifi network the other day and noticed the internets seemed a little snappier. So I decided to look in to replacing my NetGear WAP WN802T, which had been a little flaky anyway.
I surfed around the geek chat forums and read good stuff about the ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router and decided to give it a try. I got it from NewEgg with free two day shipping and UPS delivered it yesterday. It took about five minutes to set it up, and another 10 minutes or so to install it in its permanent home in the rat's nest behind our entertainment center. Performance so far is pretty excellent.
Out of the box it's configured as a wifi internet gateway/router with four gigabit ethernet ports for wired LAN connections. In this mode, most folks can hook it up to their cable/DSL modem, answer a couple of prompts and be good to go.
I use ours as a WAP, and once you finish the setup wizard you can click an option to automatically reconfigure it for that. The only thing I did was assign a static IP address so I can easily get in to the configuration pages from our network. Turning off automatic IP also means you have to assign the default gateway which is no big deal. I also assigned permanent DNS IPs because Microsft AD domain servers are picky about that. Most folks using it as a WAP would skip all that and just use the defaults and let their cable/DSL modem assign all that stuff automatically over their network.
Anyway, after all that gobbledygook it was up an running with just a few clicks on the admin pages. Note: be sure to hook up a PC or notebook directly to one of the ethernet ports and hook the WAN port to your cable/DSL modem (using the supplied CAT5E cable, thanks ASUS!) to run the first configuration. That way you can just launch a browser and navigate to 126.96.36.199 for the admin pages. No need to install the configuration software from the CD.
It has all the latest wireless protocols, speeds, radio frequencies, security protocols, features for guest networks, bridging, firewall, DDOS protection, VPN etc. etc. I kept the default settings for all that stuff and just entered a WPA access key. It seems reasonably secure.
If all that's not good enough, you can totally replace the ASUS firmware (which is actually pretty nice and the easiest I've ever used) with open source versions. (NOTE: Early shipping versions apparently had buggy to broken firmware. Mine came with version 188.8.131.52.112 which seems solid. If you get one with older firmware you might want to google up on how to download the latest and sideload install it before you get started.)
I also like that it has gigabit ethernet ports. This let me replace the NetGear WAP and an old hub/switch I had used to hook up wired ethernet connections to various internet enabled entertainment devices. Judging from the performance of the ASUS RT-N66U, though, I could probably just eliminate all the wired connections and go completely wireless. People in the geek chat forums claim it can handle as many clients streaming as much junk as anyone could reasonably expect to have in one household.
As for speed, I ran a wifi internet speed test on my tablet and got speeds similar to my wired desktop. (Tablet: 34ms ping, 28.60Mbps download, 4.48Mbps upload. PC: 22ms ping, 31.27Mbps download, 4.20MBps upload.)
Range seems pretty good. Even without the antennas attached I could get a couple of bars in another room. Once I attached the three external antennas I got four or five bars most places in the house, four on the patio and at least two or three all over the property and two out in the street. It seems much more powerful than the NetGear WAP it replaced.
It also has a radio power adjustment. I got the above results using the default 80mW setting. It looks like you can juice it up to 500mW (the FCC limit according to the admin page), but I don't want neighbors complaining or any more brain cells microwaved.
It has a bunch of other features that I will never use such as a DLNA media server, USB file/print sharing etc., which likely make it more expensive (approx. $180) than a typical wifi router, but it appears you get what your pay for in terms of performance. The build quality seems pretty solid, too.
So far so good. I'll update if any major problems surface or it turns out to be a dud. At this point I would recommend it as an upgrade/replacement wifi router or WAP with all the latest specs.
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