ASUS RT-N66U N900 wireless router

This wireless router will handle anything you throw at it

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ASUS RT-N66U
  • ASUS RT-N66U
  • ASUS RT-N66U
  • ASUS RT-N66U

Pros

  • Excellent Wi-Fi range and speeds
  • Comprehensive Web interface
  • Great design

Cons

  • Steep price tag
  • 3G and 4G stick compatibility is murky

Bottom Line

ASUS’s RT-N66U N900 is about as fully-featured as a consumer Wi-Fi router could get. It’s got a great Web interface that makes it one of the easiest to use, most versatile routers we’ve tried out. It’s expensive, and there are a few extras that are imperfect, but we think it’s worth its asking price.

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Wi-Fi routers aren’t usually the most impressive products in any company’s arsenal, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re just beige boxes hiding underneath your desk. But this one is different — Asus’s RT-N66U is a Wireless-N Wi-Fi router the the company claims is capable of transfer speeds up to 900Mbps, with every feature under the sun built-in.

ASUS RT-N66U: Design, setup, and specifications

The RT-N66U is, for a wireless router, a very impressive-looking device. ASUS occasionally refers to the unit as the ‘Dark Knight’, and it’s not beyond the scope of our imagination to see Bruce Wayne hooking up his Gotham mansion with two or three of these squat, black, shiny boxes.

The top of the RT-N66U is finished in shiny black, cross-hatched pattern that curves down towards the front of the device. The front has various status lights, for wireless and wired connections and activity. Around the back, the router has four Gigabit Ethernet wired networking ports, another Ethernet port for connecting your ADSL or cable modem, and two USB ports for hooking up an external storage device, printer, or 3G/4G mobile broadband stick.

There’s a reset button and a WPS push-button-setup button in between all of these. You can set the RT-N66U up sitting flat, but it also comes with a stand — albeit slightly fiddly — that lets it sit upright. You can also mount the RT-N66U to a wall.

As you might have guessed, the RT-N66U doesn’t have an internal ADSL2+ modem, so you’ll need to purchase one of those for your home Internet connection if you don’t already have one.

The Web interface of the RT-N66U has an absolute treasure trove of options, which should keep even the most number- and stat-hungry tech guru happy. But for most users, the first port of call will be ASUS’s simple, easy-to-follow Quick Internet Setup wizard, which asks you a few questions about your Internet connection, and gets you up and running wirelessly within just a few minutes. The process is largely painless, and ASUS’s included documentation has explanations of each step that help out if you’re stuck at any point.

After that initial setup process, the router is installed and ready to go. It’s possible to just do this step and leave the rest of the router’s options in their default configuration, although we’re guessing if you’ve shelled out for this fully-featured a router, you’ll want to change a thing or two.

ASUS RT-N66U: Wireless performance, and configuration

We found that the RT-N66U performed generally excellently in our Wi-Fi transfer speed measurements, where we transfer files from a wired desktop PC to a notebook (with an ASUS USB-AC53 Wi-Fi adapter, to avoid any bottle-necking) at different distances from the router. The ASUS RT-N66U is a simultaneous dual-band router, capable of handling 450Mbps streams over both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands at the same time. This is what gives it its ‘N900’ rating.

From a short-range distance, where we set our notebook up 2m from the router, the RT-N66U averaged a transfer rate of 12.97MBps using the 2.4GHz frequency, and a slightly higher 15.12MBps using 5GHz. It strangely performed better at longer distances, with our notebook averaging 2.4GHz and 5GHz transfer rates of 13.80MBps and 17.12MBps — making it our speed champion over longer distances. These results are excellent and reflect the high quality of the ASUS RT-N66U’s internals.

The RT-N66U’s feature-set largely mirrors that of the ASUS DSL-N55U that we looked at recently; we’d recommend you read that review for an in-depth explanation. We love the graphical design of the N66U’s user interface, and the design and layout of its various Web pages. In terms of the most user-friendly and useful features, though, we’d be looking at the RT-N66U’s twin USB 2.0 ports, which can host a printer, USB hard drive or flash drive, or mobile broadband dongle.

Take the storage option, and you can share it locally to any Windows PC, or any mobile device through the Web interface. Added value comes from ASUS’s AiCloud feature, which lets you share not only the network-attached storage, but any shared folders on any PC on your home network, to any device anywhere you have Internet access. You can also sign up for ASUS Web Storage, and sync your USB-shared storage into the cloud and to any number of devices you want.

We did find out that the RT-N66U’s 3G and 4G mobile broadband dongle compatibility is diverse, but there’s no list of supported devices on the router itself, so you might end up playing a guessing game as to whether your 3G modem is supported or not.

All the usual features of other high-end routers are available in the RT-N66U. A FTP server, UPnP, DLNA, iTunes support and a VPN entrance make for a router that is perfectly targeted at the power user that might want to do one, two, or all of these things. BitTorrent support is excellent for those that want to use the service, although downloading is limited only to connected USB drives.

ASUS RT-N66U: Conclusion

ASUS’s current top router will soon be superseded by the RT-AC66U, which offers an even faster Wi-Fi speed thanks to the nascent 802.11AC standard, but until that’s out and available everywhere, we have no reservations about the RT-N66U. It’s expensive, but that is about our only concern.

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Bill Pratt

1

I've been reading numerous user comments on several retail web sites which don't speak well of the ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router. There are cases of poor quality hardware issues wherein the router works well for a short period of time, then goes "south" for both hardware and software issues. When users subsequently contact ASUS for support, many comment on several issues running the gamut of from lack the of technical competence all the way to downright rudeness. Based on comments on Amazon.com, nearly 10% of customers give the router and ASUS a mere 1 star, which is the lowest possible rating. Repair turn-around times significantly long, RMA histories get "lost", service reps quote outrageously incorrect repair times or provide incorrect technical advice, etc. The number of satisfied buyers is not as high as you would expect from a router at the ASUS RT-N66U Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit Router's price. The comments have led me to change my mind about even trying one of these routers in spite of the glowing accounts provided by reviewers, and I can only assume others would also be put off by the seemingly lack of quality along with the poor customer service related to this item. So, actually your conclusion "we have no reservations about the RT-N66U. It’s expensive, but that is about our only concern" seems to be somewhat overly optimistic..

Elias Plastiras

2

Hi Bill,

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of holding onto products for long-term reviews and can only give our opinion of the product based on the time that we spend with it, which is why we were optimistic about this product.

Lot of products have been known to fail after a certain amount of time, but we simply can't test for that. Logistical reasons (having multiple routers set up for months at a time) in addition to not keeping the products prohibit us and many other reviews sites from knowing how a product will hold up in the long term.

This is why we offer the user reviews and user comments features on our reviews, so that users who have actually experienced the issues you speak of can let them be known (though you are speaking of what others have supposedly experienced, not your own experience with this product and company).

Our reviews are merely one voice of many (just like Amazon's user reviews) that users like you can read to make up your mind on whether you should buy a product or give it a miss.

Cheers
Elias

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