ASUS RT-N66U Review – “Dark Knight” Router – What a Cool Name


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ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router


Features: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Concurrent Dual-Band Transmissions for Strong Signal Strength and Ultra-Fast Connection Rates up to 900Mbps, Gigabit Ethernet Ports for the Fastest, Most Reliable Internet Performance, Download Master for Wireless Data Storage and Access to Router-Connected USB Storage Devices, Expanded Wireless Coverage with 3 Detachable High-Powered Antennas, File Sharing, Printer Sharing, and 3G Sharing via Two Multi-Functional Built-in USB Ports, ASUSWRT Dashboard UI for Easy Setup, Signal Monitoring, and Network Application Control, WAN Ports - 1 x 10/100/1000M, LAN Ports - 4 x 10/100/1000M

Introducing the ASUS RT-N66U Dual Band N900 Ultra Fast Wireless Router. With 3 x detachable R-SMA type antenna, 50% wider coverage than standard N SPEC, VPN Server function enable and IPv6 support ASUS RT-N66U is a true Business class router yet affordable from regular consumers.Support IPv6.2 years parts and labor warranty.
List Price: $84.99 USD
New From: $84.99 USD In Stock

ASUS RT-N66U Review - Dark like Gotham City imageThe "Dark Knight" Router

That has got to be the coolest name I have ever heard for a wireless home router. The Asus RT-N66U is the first 802.11n (N900 standard) router ever produced by Asus and with a name like that it better be damn good... and IT IS!

In this ASUS RT-N66U Review we dig and pull back the cape (so to speak) on this new 802.11n router from ASUS.

First Impressions

The ASUS RT-N66U router is a double 450Mbps wireless router using the 802.11n (N900) standard which theoretically doubles that speed.  Now that's theoretical throughput mind you yet the actual data rates are still better than other home routers in this class.  With a ton of features such as an on board gigabit ethernet switch and a couple USB ports thrown in for good measure, this is perfect so any home or small office network.

All of this coolness however isn't without flaw.  The weakest part of the RT-N66U is probably the 2.4GHz performance.  Per tests by CNET on the ASUS RT-N66U, compared to the 5GHx performance the 2.4GHz radio was far from amazing.   Another drawback is the two on board USB ports, though perfect for a printer or external hard drive, are only USB 2.0 standard and not the faster USB 3.0.

Finally one last issue was with the firmware itself that was pretty buggy at first, however after recent firmware update seems to have made a vast improvement.
Even with these minor issues, this is a great router and though it's not an inexpensive router costing around $170, it is cheaper than the newer AC5300 routers or our other reigning champ, the Cisco Linksys E4200v2.

On the Back
The design of the RT-N66U is similar to other "Black Diamond" series routers from ASUS, such as the RT-N56U, which has the same case design, however the RT-N66U is easily differentiated by the three removable external anttenaes on the back. Basically everything is on the back. The 4 gigabit ethernet switch ports, along with the WAN interface, power connection, power button, reset button, WPS (wi-fi protected setup) button, and two USB ports are all nicely aligned across the back. This looks nice with everything unplugged, however it also looks like it could be a wiring nightmare if you had all of these connections plugged in at the same time.

On the Front
The RT-N66U has a very clean design. With no other connections on either side or on the front. The only thing it does have is a row of 9 cool looking blue status LED's across the front top of the router to indicate connections on the back. From left to right the status LED's are for the power, one for each of the 4 gigabit ethernet ports, a WAN connection indicator, 2.4Ghz radio, 5Ghz radio, and USB indicators.

ASUS RT-N66U ReviewThe "Dark Knight" can be wall mounted or simply placed on a desk, either flat or in an included stand which sits the router up vertically.

The Asus RT-N66U comes with all of the other standard stuff, i.e., power cord, ethernet cable, manuals, and an installation CD which allows for easy installation. Most network savvy folks will forego the CD and just use the web browser to configure the router. The ip address is 192.168.1.1, simply point your browser to that (assuming you have an ip address on the 192.168.1.1 network) and you are off and running.

The Features
All of these speeds, feeds, and hardware stuff is fine, but some of the real power of this router comes from the internal features. Though the RT-N66U is supported by DD-WRT and Tomato, you really don't need them. It has really nice built-in configuration interface allowing easy configuration of all of its many features. And it's laid out in a intuitive way that looks very polished.

The main menu runs along the left hand side of the screen and has three major sections. The top section id just a single button allowing you to run the configuration Wizard. The next two sections are the General Settings and Advanced Settings.

Under General settings you can configure:

  • Network Map - gives a graphical display of connected devices and allows for the configuration of the wireless radios.
  • Guest Network - is a great business feature allowing guests to have access to the internet but are restrcted from your internal network. Three separate guest profile can be configured
  • Traffic Manager - This is your basic Quality of Service (QoS) settings which normally are used to prioritize VoIP traffic. However with the RT-N66U this gives priority to web and game traffic of over Peer to Peer applications like bit-torrent.
  • Parental Controls - This lack luster feature restricts connected devices by mac address based on time. No Net Nanny here.
  • USB application - This is one of the coolest feature for the Asus RT-N66U "Dark Knight". This is where you can configure various USB connected devices.
    • -These include a USB thumb drive for file sharing over the internet,
    • -an external server storage, network printer,
    • -3G/WiMax dongle making this router and instant Wi-Fi hotspot or allows you to use 3G as a backup if your WAN service goes down!
    • -Download master - Allows for continuous downloads of bit-torrent, USENET NZB, eMule and http/ftp file transfers for you automatically. The only drawback to this is it does not support authentication.

ASUS RT-N66U Review - configuration screen image

Under Advanced Setting you can configure... well, the advanced settings:

  • Wireless - Advanced wireless configuration for each of the wireless radios. Configuring SSID, security and wireless mode.
  • LAN - IP, DHCP and other standard LAN confifurations
  • WAN - Connectivity to your internet service provider, PPP, PPPoE, etc.
  • IPv6 - Configuration of IPv6 (If you dare!) This is great is your ISP supports IPv6 or if you want to future proof your home router. The RT-N66U can be configured with a static IPv6 address, DHCPv6, 6-to-4 or IPv6 in IPv4 tunnelling.
  • VPN server - This ia nice to have feature allowing built in vpn connectivity. This also allow you to connect remotely to a USB attached hard drive whihc is very convenient.
  • Firewall - Simple port based firewall but very nice.
  • Administration - Includes some nice graphing of traffic, power adjustments of the radios, and setting NAT versus AP modes
  • System Log - standard logging

asus rt-n66uPerformance
As per test performed by CNET, the RT-N66U has exceptional wireless performance on the 5GHz band. Throughput tests at 15 feet, 100 feet, and 300 feet all we extremely stable acheiving well over 150Mps for N900 clients and over 100Mps for 2x2 clients. ,

The 2.4Ghs radio as stated earlier were less than impressive, though considering how crowded this radio band is performed better than most routers in this class achieving 45Mps at long distances.

Stability in both bands was outstanding passing 48hours without issue.

Also tested was the USB performance for attached storage devices. Though not USB 3.0, the performance was still 132Mbps for writes and 88Mbps for reads over one of the wired gigabit ethernet connections. this is great considering the only other router better than this is the higher priced Cisco Linksys E4200v2 which has fewer features.

Summary Of The Asus RT-N66U Review

Pros: The Asus RT-N66U “Dark Knight” N Router offers the best 802.11n (N900 standard true dual-band double 450Mbps performance: READ= 900Mbps!) with excellent coverage, stable wireless reception, and incredible throughput within the 5GHz band. This home router also comes with an abundant feature set, supports DD-WRT or Tomato, and is great standalone VPN router.

Cons: The firmware in the Asus RT-N66U's can be a bit buggy and the throughput on the 2.4GHz band could use some improvement. The router's USB ports don't support the USB 3.0 standard.

Overall: The best home router available to date. Yes it has a few issues, but no device is perfect. The Asus RT-N66U “Dark Knight” delivers amazing features, with outstanding throughput at exceptional distances. This is currently the perfect home wireless router for any home network or small office network.

ASUS RT-N66U Dark Knight Specifications

BrandASUS
Tomato SupportYES
Product NameRT-N66U Dark Kinght Double 450Mbps N Router
Ethernet WAN Port
Integrated ADSL ModemNO
PPPoE capableYES
Install WizardYES
LAN Ports4
Speed1,000Mb/s
Wireless802.11n (N900)
Throughput (theoretical)900Mb/s
Antennae3 (detachable)
64 bit WEPYES
128 bit WEPYES
256 bit WEPNO
WPAYES
WPA2YES
802.1x authenticationYES
WLAN MAC filteringYES
2.4GHz supportYES
5 GHz supportYES
WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup)YES
Remote ManagementYES
Remote Management by IPYES
DHCPYES
Port ForwardingYES
FirewallYES
Port access controlYES
URL blockingYES
Parental ControlYES
Net NannyNO
Disable Ping from WANYES
Email Alerts/LogsNO
Dynamic DNS clientYES
DMZYES
UPnPYES
VPN pass throughYES
Port TriggeringYES
QoSYES (not for VoIP)
Auto firmware updateNO
USB printer supportYES
USB server supportYES
USB webcam serverNO
DD-WRT SupportYES

Have you checked out the Dark Knight?  Leave a comment below let us know what you think of the ASUS RT-N66U.

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