on March 24, 2011
We are a heavy intenet using famiily. If we aren't streaming Netflix or Roku, we have phones and computers all competing for bandwidth. I tried the new Linksys e4200, it was OK until too many people logged on wirelessly and started hogging bandwidth. The e4200 would really drop down in speed while it tried to deal with all of the wireless activity. So, I tried the WNDR3700 (v.98 firmware) The WNDR3700 has a fast processor and can handle a lot of wired and wireless users simultaneously. But, the WNDR3700 seemed to "hang" about once an hour for reasons unknown. When I say "hang", it might take 5 seconds to load a web page instead of the usually instantaneous load speed. It got a little annoying.
So, I picked up the ASUS RT-N56U router after reading all the reviews and tests on smallnetbuilder dot com. I have to say that this router is ridiculously fast (at least twice as fast as the WNDR3700) and has better reception throughout my entire house. In a location that I used to max out at about 7MB/s with the WNDR3700. I can now sustain 31MB/s in the same location. I have pretty much- 5 bars of wireless reception where I used to have 2 or 3 bars.
The ASUS RT-N56U is pretty easy to set up and I like the physical appearance too. Throw in the fact that it is smokin' fast and has great coverage and I think I got a heck of a deal for $127.
by the way, I just noticed that another reviewer was having problems with iPhones not connecting. Our iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, and Android phones are logging on fine, no issues.
*** UPDATE 3/28/11 So far, the RT-N56U is performing perfectly and all DD-WRT bridges are connecting at highest rate. I am running firmware 220.127.116.11
I tried to update to the beta 18.104.22.168 as well as the 22.214.171.124 firmware and all of a sudden some laptops had very laggy connections. Instead of instantaneous webpage loads, it would take literally 5 seconds to load??? So, I reverted back to 126.96.36.199 and all devices are running wide open again.
+++ UPDATE 4/30/11 Still running perfectly since new with no reboots. Simply awesome.
on April 4, 2011
I have been in the market for an 802.11n router, and after having done some extensive research (as of April 1, 2011), I decided to go with Asus RT-N56U.
I can attest to the Asus RT-N56U being an excellent consumer-grade router even though it obviously falls short when it comes to more advanced enterprise-level features (where Cisco shines), which 99.9% of all users will never need or even know about. One of the excellent features of the Asus RT-N56U router (not often mentioned) is the fact that you can switch it to the AP (Access Point) mode. When Asus RT-N56U is switched to the AP mode, its WAN port becomes a switch port just like the other 4 LAN ports. You can utilize the WAN port to connect Asus RT-N56U to an external router, and thus not lose one LAN port for this. Therefore, when switching the Asus RT-N56U router to the AP mode, you retain all four LAN ports for the wired connectivity to other non-Wi-Fi devices at 1 Gbps each.
Asus RT-N56U supports concurrent 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radios and the combined throughput via the back plane close to 800 Mbps (per the review by smallnetbuilder.com). In my personal test comparing Asus RT-N56U (in the AP mode) with the Cisco 1131 a/g Access Point, Asus provides nearly the same range in the 5 GHz band that the Cisco 1131 provides in the 2.4 GHz band. Asus RT-N56U 2.4GHz-band range extends beyond the Cisco 1131's range in the 2.4 GHz band. The Asus RT-N56U 5GHz-band range extends far beyond the Cisco 1131's 5GHz-band range.
As for the connection download speed, I was able to get almost twice the download speed when connecting wirelessly via the Asus RT-N56U (in the AP mode) vs connecting wirelessly via the Cisco 1131a/g AP. The numbers were as follows: 11.8 Mbps via Cisco 1131 vs 19.6 Mbps via Asus RT-N56U. In both tests, I used the same Internet router (Cisco 871) and the same Time Warner internet connection. I never knew that my Time Warner internet connection supported 20 Mbps until I tried using Asus RT-N56U. Now I know that my Cisco 1131 - and not my Internet connection - was the bottleneck to the Internet.
Asus RT-N56U can also be used as a NAS by utilizing one or two of its USB ports to connect an external USB drive. I tried USB flash sticks on both ports, and was able to transfer files to and from those USB drives. Additionally, you can create local users on the Asus RT-N56U and provide different levels of access (r/w, r, none) to different shares for different users. This is normally called user-based access, but Asus calls this "user with account" access. Otherwise, you can enable access to the entire drive for everyone if you do not want to deal with user-based access permissions; Asus calls this "user without account" access. I am sure most home users will choose the latter access method to avoid complexities that come with having to provision local users on the Asus RT-N56U router. I confirmed both methods of access to work when a share is mounted in Mac OS X as well as in Apple iOS (iPad2). I have run into a problem accessing a 32GB flash drive that had about 16GB of space taken by various files and directories via the the "user with account" access method from both Mac OS X and iOS, but had no such problem accessing a 1GB flash drive with almost all space taken by various files and directories; neither did I have any problem using the "user with account" access method when I tried a blank 16GB drive after moving a few files to it and then creating a few directories(see below on creating directories in the root of a USB drive). I believe that if I were to reformat the 32GB flash drive and then move all of the current files it has on it back to it, the "user with account" access method would start working properly on it. As for the file system on the USB drive, so far I have only tried FAT32, which works fine, but imposes a limitation on the size of each file to be a maximum of 4GB. If you need to go above this limitation, you will have to go with NTFS, HFS (for Mac), or ext3. I know for a fact that the Asus RT-N56U is compatible with ext3, but I am not sure if it can work with NTFS or HFS. If you have found one of these three file systems to be compatible with the Asus RT-N56U, please add a comment to this review. However, even if they are, the only file system that is compatible with Windows, Mac, and Linux is FAT32. So, if you are planning on running the Asus RT-N56U in a mixed environment and are planning to be able to read from and write to your USB drive directly from your computers as well as across the network, your common-denominator file system for the USB drive should be FAT32. If you are only planning on working with your files over the network, any file system that the Asus RT-N56U is compatible with would work for you as long as you can format your USB drive in that file system. As of this writing, the Asus RT-N56U cannot format a USB drive attached to it, so you would have to perform the formatting on one of your computers or use the default file system that your USB flash drive is formatted in, which is most likely FAT32.
It appears that even though you can manually mount USB devices connected to the Asus RT-N56U in Mac OS X (via Cmd+K in Finder), you cannot mount those drives by double-clicking the RT-N56U entry that pops up in Finder under Shared. I used the app called "Files Connect" on my iPad2 in order to enable Finder-like (or Windows-Explorer-like) file browsing capability. I was able to mount the USB drives by tapping on the Asus RT-N56U entry that Files Connect auto-discovers. I am not sure if Windows Network Neighborhood can auto-mount the USB drives connected to Asus RT-N56U because the manual says that you should enter the network path manually. If this is in fact the only way to mount an Asus RT-N56U share in Windows, you can always map a drive to the network path for the Asus RT-N56U in Windows.
Please note that you cannot create or delete any directory in the root directory of a USB drive connected to a USB port on the Asus RT-N56U while accessing the USB drive over the network. This is because the Asus RT-N56U considers the directories in the root of a USB drive to be network shares, and hence, it disallows the addition and removal of a share via the network. You will have to plug the USB drive directly in to a USB port on your computer (Mac, PC, or Linux) in order to create a directory in the root of the USB drive. Once you have done so, you can plug the USB drive back in to the Asus RT-N56U's port and assign the access permissions to this directory/share. You can, however, create and delete sub-directories of an existing share while the USB drive is plugged in to a port of the Asus RT-N56U, and the share is mounted via the network in Windows, Mac, or Linux. All sub-directories of an existing share inherit the access permissions specified on the share via the Asus RT-N56U's web GUI. The fact that you cannot specify a more granular access permissions to the sub-directories of a share is definitely a limitation for the enterprise, but should be no problem for a home or even a small-business user.
When you insert a blank USB flash drive in one of Asus RT-N56U's two USB ports, the Asus RT-N56U automatically creates a share (named "share") in the root of the drive and creates three sub-directories in that share (music, pictures, video). This is done in order to prepare the flash drive for the UPnP server that can be enabled in this router. I have tested the UPnP server, using Xbox 360 as the streaming client, and can confirm that the UPnP server works just fine in the Asus RT-N56U router. If, on the other hand, you insert a non-blank USB flash drive in to a port on Asus RT-N56U, no additional shares are created, and the access to all directories/shares in the root of the USB drive is provided as read/write. You can, however, modify the access permissions on a share-to-share basis and assign different types of access (r/w, r, or none) for different local users specified in the Asus RT-N56U.
Asus RT-N56U can be a print server, but this feature is of no use to me because for this feature to work, a Windows based program supplied by Asus is required. Because I use mostly Macs and Apple iOS devices, I cannot utilize the print-server feature of this router.
Last but not least, Asus RT-N56U can utilize one of its two USB ports to connect to a 3G or 3.5G cellular USB modem and share that connection among the Wi-Fi (and probably wired) LAN clients. I have not tested this feature, so I cannot comment on its usability and stability.
Overall, I don't think you can find a better consumer-grade 802.11n Gigabit Ethernet router as of this writing. Judging by the frequency of firmware releases for the Asus RT-N56U router, the bugs remaining in the firmware will soon be worked out, and hopefully, Asus will add additional features to this router, such as direct IP-based (or even Bonjour-based) print server so that Mac users can utilize the print-server feature of this router. Also, it appears that the "dd-wrt" team is working on porting their firmware on this router, so in the future, you may have a choice of replacing the stock firmware with "dd-wrt".
on November 4, 2011
I have been through 3 different routers, each one plagued with their own problems. This one seems to be well rounded and perfect for what i need it for.
My home network is larger than most and this Router handles them wonderfully. I have a 2TB external hooked up to it that handles backups and steaming to the Xbox and other computers. It built in media sever works great after it finds all the files it can stream( takes awhile for everything to show up on the xbox after first plugged in) but after that is smooth. There are some files that the xbox can not see but that a limitation of the xbox. And when uploading to the External at full speed (around 12 to 13 MB/s, better than most routers with USB storage) the internet is not bogged down and is still able to handle everything.
It is really good about handling network traffic and giving each device its share of bandwidth, While streaming to the xbox from the external, Roommate playing wow, And downloading a game on Steam i was still able to get my max download speed. without my roommate noticing any lag with his game.
Wifi range is excellent on the 2.4 GHZ band. I am unable to test the 5GHZ because i don't own anything that supports that or have a need to get one. If something i buy has it than it will be there for me. In my room i get around 90% and with the old router i would get half that.
It has a network monitor that shows you how much you data is going through your network at any given time and also bandwidth controls and priory for devices if you want to use that.
I am not getting any dropped connections anymore like i use to with my old router.
The download manager sucks. It works however when using it to its fullest it will greatly bog down the network and bring it to a crawl. The router is just not able to handle it properly. But it does work... just i recommend using a low power laptop or your desktop if you plan on downloading anything.
When the Media server is finding the files on a External things will show up slowly to any player you are using (xbox) and if you try to write anything to the drive while it is finding the files it will also slow down the network, Their is no way to tell when it is doing it or how long it will take.
Remember to Disable TKIP for max Wifi performance. It comes with it enabled for backwards compatibility but it limits Wifi Speed to 54Mbps. and is also a weaker encryption. AES without TKIP is the best way to go. most devices support it now a days.
Its also a good idea to set static IP address for the devices you use the most if you plan on setting priority for them. It does use a DCHP server so IP address can hop around and change priority after the lease is up.
After plugging in a external let it sit for a hour or two so the media server can find the files it needs to stream. Than you can use it to its fullest.
My home network currently has 3 desktops, 3 laptops, 2 Xbox360s, 2 Blu Ray players, 1 Wii, 3 Phones and 1 Ipod connected to it. 4 Devices are hard wired Via A 8 port Gigabit switch that takes 2 ports to the computer room, living room. and the other rooms have a single port. Everything else is in Wifi. The ports on the router go directly to 2 of the desktops, 1 laptop (handles downloads, monitoring, and other things on the network) And to the switch.
on May 3, 2011
This product would be five stars if it supported VPN (virtual private network). I use VPN to work from home when needed, and this product (with the current firmware) does not support the use of VPN.
We have not changed our cable internet connection plan but have seen a dramatic increase in performance since installing this router.
Followed the enclosed set up sheet, ended up loading the utilities via the enclosed CD and was up and running in less than 10 minutes.
We connect multiple devices to this router: Kindles(3), Rokus(3), laptops (4), dektops(2), iPhones(4), iTouch(1) and despite the demands on the device it has performed beautifully. The picture quality from the Roku has improved markedly and we no longer get that dropped signal where it reloads the show or reduces video quality to improve streaming. My web browsing (non-VPN)is likewise very fast and the improvement in on line gaming is amazing. Used to be if we were uploading large files or gaming the system would slow to a crawl, but no longer.
If you do not need VPN, this is a great router to own (if you use a cable modem and it is older consider upgrading this as well to one that supports DOCSIS 3.0 to ensure no performance bottle necks at the cable modem).
on August 9, 2011
This may be the best wireless router that's ever been sold, but I have no way of knowing. I've had the router(s) for over two weeks now and have yet to be able to successfully access the internet. I have twice had the opportunity to speak to someone at ASUS about the problem. Once the tech said the router was faulty, the other time, the tech said he would call back (never happened). The ASUS help number is a toll number, but I've no problem if I got something from the call(s) - My wife and I have made 9 separate calls to ASUS. The normal occurence is 1) place a call 2) go through the menu 3) get a tech on the line 4) have the tech say that routers aren't their area 5) have them say that they'll send an e-mail to the router support manager 6) Drop $10.00 in quarters in our "cuss cup".
Update as of 8/12: ASUS support contacted me to try to determine what went wrong as none of my experiences were supposed to have happened. I shared my total experience but had to turn down their offer of assistance as I had returned the second router. BTW, AMAZON was, as typical, extremely efficient and a pleasure for the ease of both returns. I was amazed that the ASUS tech did offer to help me set up the Cisco router that I purchased as a replacement, but I didn't need it - the Cisco router went in without a hitch in about ten minutes.