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Asus RT-AC56U review

Kat Orphanides
25 Jan 2014
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
112
inc VAT

Excellent 5GHz performance and lots of features, but we’d have liked better 2.4GHz performance

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Specifications

802.11n dual band, 4x 10/100/1000Mbit/s Ethernet ports

As one of the first manufacturers to make an 802.11ac device, we expect quite a lot from Asus. Its RT-AC56U is certainly off to a good start on paper. With a four-port Gigabit Ethernet port, Ethernet WAN port, USB and USB3 ports, it's got everything we'd want on a modern router.

The USB ports, in particular, could be useful, as you can connect a printer or external hard disk to share over your network. More impressively, you can even connect a 3G dongle to it, so you can share a mobile broadband connection, which could be useful if your regular internet connection goes down.

Asus RT-AC56U

As far as routers go, the RT-AC56U is rather stylish, standing upright with no external antennas to spoil its appearance. On the front is a bank of lights that keep you informed on the status of your connection and Wi-Fi. On the right-hand side are buttons for WPS, if you want to join a device with push-button security, and a Wi-Fi toggle, so you can quickly turn off wireless.

As you'd expect, most of the management and setup has to be done through the router's web interface. Asus's interface is clear and easy to use, with a quick setup wizard that helps you secure the open-by-default wireless networks. There are plenty of features, but some are hidden under non-standard names. For example, to enable QoS, you to have to click on a tab marked Traffic Manager. You can define your own QoS rules to control what type of traffic gets priority. By default, if you enable the feature, games and web surfing are prioritised, but you're given the option of adding a variety of specific games and general types of traffic that you wish to have the best possible data transfer rate, even when there's a lot of demand on your net connection.

Asus RT-AC56U interface

The interface is clear and it's easy to get going, but some more complex options are hidden under unusual names

Other features include the ability to configure a connected USB disk as a network share, FTP server or a web-accessible drive via the Asus AICloud service. You can also use it as target for the built in BitTorrent client. The wireless settings give you a fair bit of control over your networks, including a full set of instructions on how to put the router into bridge mode. You can only choose from four channels for 5GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi, but everything worked reasonably well.