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Asus RT-AC52U review

Richard Easton
6 Dec 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
51
inc VAT

The RT-AC52U is a respectable inexpensive router that comes with a USB 802.11ac adaptor

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Specifications

Modem: None, Wi-Fi standard: 802.11ac, Stated speed: 433Mbit/s, USB ports: 1x USB, Wall mountable: Yes

The ASUS RT-AC52U is an eye-catching router. It has a carbon fibre-like crosshatch patterning that catches the light in such a way that it sparkles as you walk past it. There are numerous blue LEDs that shine through the crosshatch intersections, appearing as little glowing crosses. 

The router's black and grey colour scheme is understated and smart. It comes with a removable stand so you can position it upright, which has the positive effect of positioning its three internal antennas vertically and should help with wireless reception. You can otherwise opt to lay the router flat or mount it to a wall. 

When you initially set up the router, you have the option of configuring it as a wireless router, a wireless repeater or as an access point. The setup process is straightforward but you’ll need to enable wireless security straight away as it's turned off by default. 

The RT-AC52U only has a 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet WAN port and its four Ethernet ports’ speeds are similarly rated. This might be a problem if you have super-fast broadband, as the router's ports may be the limiting factor in your internet speed. Interestingly, it’s possible to configure the router in Dual WAN mode, where a second modem can be attached to either one of the LAN ports or to the router’s USB port. If you have two ISPs you can also put the router in Load Balancing dual WAN mode to help maximise throughput, or in Fail Over mode, so one connection kicks in if the other fails. Few homes will have the luxury of two internet connections, but for anyone who needs uninterrupted internet access, this could be a useful feature. 

There's a USB port, which can be used for a 3G/4G USB dongle, so it’s useful as a backup internet connection should your main service be interrupted. You can also share your external storage over your local network through the USB port; the router supports both SMB and FTP file sharing. 

You can also create an iTunes server in addition to the more usual DLNA media server, but we had no luck getting this to work with iTunes on a PC or with an iPad. Using the Asus AiCloud app on iOS and Android, you can also access your network attached storage on your smartphone or tablet. It’s also possible to access your attached storage remotely over the internet by setting up AiDisk in the router’s web interface. You can share a print server across the network as well, although you’ll need to install the Asus printer utility on each computer you want to print from.

The web interface is comprehensive, and provides features such as Wake On LAN, where you click a button in the web interface to wake up various attached devices. We found the Parental Controls were easy to use but a little limiting. You’re able to easily select the client you want to control but you’re only able to restrict or allow internet access at certain times, and not restrict access to certain sites.

The RT-AC52U has a theoretical throughput of 300Mbit/s on its 2.4GHz band and 433Mbit/s on the 5GHz band. The router has impressive performance for the price. With our laptop’s integrated 802.11n adaptor, we saw speeds of 39.5Mbit/s at 10m and 26.2Mbit/s using the 2.4GHz band - above-average results, especially at the longer range. On the 5GHz band we saw a less-impressive 90.1Mbit/s at 10m, but 60.5Mbit/s at 25m is a good result for an inexpensive router. 

The router comes with a USB-AC50 wireless-AC USB adaptor, which led to mixed results in our tests. With the router broadcasting in legacy mode, which supports 802.11b/g/n devices, we only saw speeds of 31.8Mbit/s at 10m and 30.4Mbit/s at 25m. However, in wireless-AC mode we saw 88.1Mbit/s at 10m and 87.5Mbit/s at 25m, so it's worth using the adaptor to get the best possible speeds at range. 

Compared to other routers around this price, the RT-AC52U is a good choice thanks to its respectable speeds and extra features such as a print server and remote file sharing. It has some competition from the cheaper Edimax BR-6208AC, however, which has similar performance at 10m but can't match the Asus router at very long range.

HARDWARE
ModemNone
Wi-Fi standard802.11ac
Bands2.4GHz, 5GHz
Stated speed433Mbit/s
SecurityWEP, WPA2-AES, WPA-TKIP, WPA-Enterprise, WPA2-Enterprise, WPS
Upgradable antennaNo
WAN ports1
LAN ports4x 10/100Mbit/s
USB ports1x USB
Wall mountableYes
Size187x145x77mm
SOFTWARE
Guest networks6
Media serverSMB, FTP, DLNA, iTunes
USB services3G/4G data sharing, Print sharing, NAS
DDNS servicesAsus.com, DynDNS.org, TZO.com, ZoneEdit.com, DNSomatic.com, TunnelBroker.net, No-IP.com
BUYING INFORMATION
Price including VAT£51
WarrantyThree-year RTB
Supplierwww.ballicom.co.uk
Detailswww.asus.com
Part codeRT-AC52U