ASUS RT-AC56U & USB-AC56 802.11AC Review

Author: AkG
Date: January 16, 2014
Product Name: RT-AC56U / USB-AC56
Part Number: RT-AC56U / USB-AC56
Warranty: 2 Years / 1 Year
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Signal Strength Tests

A good strong signal is a prerequisite of high performance wireless networking. If a device can barely send or receive a signal, the speeds will be very low as both devices will opt for a slower connection speed to compensate. To test signal strength we use inSSIDer, a program which can graph signal strength of all wireless signals being received by the computerís wireless NIC.

To be perfectly candid we are surprised at how well ASUSí budget-friendly router did in this test. While there is a noticeable drop-off in signal strength as distance from the router increases, the overall results are still decent. Obviously AiRadar is working hard to mitigate any latent interference issues and for most consumers the AC56U will provide excellent levels of signal strength. Few will need a ĎLong Rangerí and fewer still will demand such performance from a mainstream priced router. Remember, the RT-AC56U is going up against some of the best the industry has to offer, making its positioning here all the more impressive.

Meanwhile, the USB-AC56 certainly benefits from its external antenna design and additional USB 3.0 bandwidth. While signal strength does quickly drop off at longer distances you would be hard pressed offer any criticism since this USB device is competing on a nearly level footing with much higher end internal PCI-E solutions.

Attached Storage Testing

As most consumers know, USB 3.0 brings numerous enhancements to the table including higher bandwidth potential and increased power over USB capabilities. As we have seen many times in the past reality can sometimes differ wildly from theory and there are numerous ĎUSB 3.0í devices which actually perform at the same levels as their previous USB 2.0 counterparts.

To see what USB 3.0 adds to the equation we devised a very simple test. Using an empty Seagate GoFlex Slim 320GB device, we connected it to the USB 3,0 port of the router. We then configured it as a network drive and using MS RichCopy measured the performance via wired, 2.4HGz wireless and 5GHz wireless. Once testing was complete, we repeat this process using the USB 2.0 port.

Unlike the recently tested RT-AC68Uís USB 3.0, the lower priced RT-AC56Uís USB 3.0 performance is actually impressive and is noticeably better. Obviously, ASUS learned from the AC68Uís shorcomings and were quickly able to translate this experience into real world performance for the 56U. Simply put, this router is able to achieve NAS throughput you will be hard-pressed to find in any consumer grade single bay NAS device. This truly makes USB 3.0 a value added feature and does help offset the slightly high asking price here.

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