NICs and access points
Power Line Communications
ASUS XG-U2008 is a switch with ten copper ports two of which are 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Today we have an unusual guest in our testing laboratory. Traditionally we are testing devices with web-interface or command line for configuring. ASUS XG-U2008 doesn’t require any special configuration, the switch works right out of the box and ideally suits for small working groups that need connection on maximum speed for reasonable price.
10 GE interfaces of ASUS XG-U2008 can be used both as uplinks and for connection of high speed hosts such as powerful servers and workstations, or modern network storages.
ASUS XG-U2008 unmanaged level 2 switch comes in a thin metal case with the plastic elements and the dimensions of 240х125х27 mm and mass of 630 g. To work properly the model under review needs an external power adapter (included in the box) with the following characteristics: 12V and 1,5A, so its power consumption does not exceed 18W.
The upper panel of the switch is metal, the name of the vendor’s company together with the model name are placed here.
There are LEDs indicating operating of the whole device and each of its wired interfaces on the front panel. LEDs indication allows one to identify not only speed on which a device connected to a switch port is working but also a problem in cable infrastructure if any.
The most part of both sides is covered with the ventilation grate.
The ventilation grate is also placed on the bottom panel of the case. In addition to it, there are four rubber legs and a small sticker with brief information about the switch here. ASUS XG-U2008 is intended for desktop placing, for mounting on the rack special holders are needed.
There are three groups of network interfaces on the rare panel of the switch case. In addition, ON/OFF button and a plug for connecting of external adapter are located here.
ASUS XG-U2008 doesn’t have fans and its cooling is performed with the help of metal case inside of which a remarkable heat sink rejecting heat from two main chips is placed.
The hardware platform of the switch consists of the only green textolite plate, which main elements are placed on its one side.
That's where we proceed to completion of the review about the hardware of ASUS XG-U2008 switch and pass directly on to testing it.
As ASUS XG-U2008 is an unmanaged switch, many our standard tests are not applicable to it. The only thing that we could measure was switching speed and latency of forwarding frames. Let’s review it step by step.
According to ASUS, XG-U2008 switch fabric performance is 56 Gbps that is an incredible value for such a small device. Such throughput means that the switch is able to pass data from all its interfaces on the wire speed. So, for example, using GE interface the user is able to send data at 1488000 fps. On the graph below one can see the dependency between throughput and the frame size. Naturally, the larger the frame size is, the higher efficiency of transmission is, because of change in proportion between user data and overheads (encapsulation headers of the corresponding layer).
In parallel with measuring of throughput, we decided to discover which latency the switch adds.
As one can see from the diagram above, switching latency almost linearly depends on the frame size. Such dependency occurs due to store-and-forward switching mode used for ASUS XG-U2008. Overall, there are three switching modes: store-and-forward, cut-through and fragment-free. In the first mode the switch stores the whole frame and checks the FCS (frame check sequence), and after that the switching procedure is performed. In cut-through mode sending of the frame starts right after the part of Ethernet-frame header that contains destination address is received. Fragment-free mode is a kind of hybrid of the first ones: at the beginning, first 64 bytes of the frame are received and after that its transmission is started (without waiting till the whole frame is received by the switch). The value of received data (64 bytes) was not chosen occasionally: in the first networks using Ethernet standard collision could occur exactly at the moment of transmission of the first 64 bytes. Certainly, networks with hubs and half-duplex modes are not used for a long time. Naturally, in two last modes checking of FCS is not performed that can cause transmission of broken frames (frames with wrong FCS value) in the network.
It’s worth noting here that for all measurements in this review we used traffic-generator IXIA because our testing platform was not able to measure latency with the needed accuracy.
Except the latency itself we also measured jitter that is displayed in the diagram below. We would like to take readers attention to the jitter measurement unit for ASUS XG-U2008: it is measured in nanoseconds.
The next step was repeating of the same measurements using 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. As our testing traffic-generator didn’t have copper ports working at such speed we decided to use Cisco WS-C3560CX-8XPD-S switch as a media converter (between optical interfaces of the traffic-generator and copper ports of the tested switch ASUS XG-U2008). We already mentioned this model earlier in the article about multigigabit interfaces. The ninth and tenth interfaces of ASUS XG-U2008 switch don’t support NBASE-T technology so when we manually set 2,5 or 5 Gbps speed on connected devices the interface didn’t come up indicating with orange LED about the problems with connection. It’s worth to mention here that there are devices with the support of NBASE-T technology in ASUS products line, for example, wired network card XG-C100C with RJ-45 port. However, let’s go back to the testing. In the diagram below one can see user data transmission speed using connection to 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces.
We also measured the delay added by ASUS XG-U2008 switch. In all fairness, it’s worth to mention that we don’t know how to explain such an increase of latency depending on the frame size on Gigabit Ethernet interface. Probably, it occurs due to some internal procedures of traffic processing. On calculation of latency added by the testing switch, we, naturally, considered that the traffic two times passed through our laboratory media converter.
The dependency of the jitter on the frame size is shown in the diagram below.
During all passed tests we also measured the number of lost frames. Based on our measurements, the number of lost frames was equal to 0 percent so ASUS XG-U2008 switch is a non-blocking one.
Finally, we’d like to mention that we are a bit surprised with the absence of 10 Mbps speed support, however, in all fairness, we haven’t seen such network cards throughout the past few tens of years.
That's where we draw the testing part to a close and move on to summing it all up.
On the whole, we are pleased with tested ASUS XG-U2008 unmanaged level 2 switch. Certainly, we didn’t perform as many measurements as during testing of manageable models, however, in most cases for houses and small offices availability of managing the switch is not needed.
ASUS XG-U2008 model has eight Gigabit and two 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces and is able to transmit traffic on the wire speed.
Stylish case and fanless design allow placing the device in any place of the interior not deteriorating it.
The strength areas of the switch are listed below.
- Stylish case without fans
- Support of 10GBASE-T
- Switching on the wire speed
- Compact dimensions
- Availability of desk mounting and mounting on the rack
- Support of jumbo-frames
- Reasonable power consumption
We cannot forget about the requirements raised for cable infrastructure on using the devices with the support of 10GBASE-T standard. So if it is needed to provide connection on 10 Gbps speed at a distance till 100 m, one should use cable of 6a or 7 category. Cat6a cable allows transmitting data on maximum speed with the length of the track till 55 meters. On short distances (till 30 meters) twisted-pair wire of Cat5e category can be used.
When this review was being written, ASUS XG-U2008 switch was not being sold in Russia yet, so it is too preliminary to say about novelty price in roubles. However, average model price in Europe was 250 euro.
Reviews and tests of different vendors’ top devices most often appear on our pages: the fastest, the most functional, with the most trendsetting technologies. However most of ordinary users don’t need expensive and complex network equipment. The main requirements which are imposed by subscribers of home networks to wireless routers are stability of operation, good wireless coverage, availability of basic functionality. This is how the model ASUS RT-AC1200G+ was created. Let's consider it in more detail!
ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router comes in black plastic case with the following dimensions: 207х148х35 mm (not including external antennae) with weight of only 395 grams. For its working the device needs an external power adaptor (included in the box) with the following parameters: 12 V and 2 A.
The upper panel, consisting of two parts, is opaque. It has a vendor name and key parameters of a product together with LEDs indicating status of wired and wireless interfaces of the device and power supply.
The side panels have two external antennae and a ventilation grate located on them.
ASUS RT-AC1200G+ model is equipped with four external non-detachable rotatable antennae, two of which are located on the side panels, and two on the rear panel. Apart from them five Gigabit Ethernet ports (four LAN and one WAN), power socket with ON/OFF button, USB 2.0 interface, sunken Reset button and WPS button are located on the rare panel.
On the bottom panel of the router there are a sticker with brief information about the device, four rubber legs, two recesses for two more legs, two technological holes for mounting the device on the wall and, of course, a ventilation grate.
Now let's have a look at the insides of the case. The electronic stuffing of ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router is one aquamarine textolite card which has all essential elements located on both of its sides. Unfortunately, almost all key chips are hidden under the protection screens. The only exception is the flash-memory module Spansion (Cypress) FL128SAIF00 with the capacity of 16 Mbytes. It is worth noting that the vendor of the router reveals information about some features of the platform. For example, it is known that the capacity of RAM available for RT-AC1200G+ model is 128 Mbytes, and the platform itself is based on Broadcom chips: BCM47189 (SoC that operates at 900 MHz frequency with support of Ethernet and IEEE 802.11A/N/AC wireless network); BCM43217 (responsible for support of IEEE 802.11 B/G/N wireless network). Functions of wired switch are performed by Broadcom BCM53125 chip. From the analysis of a component layout on a card it is possible to conclude that the antennae connected to the side panels of the case work in the range of 2.4 GHz whereas those that are connected to its rear panel are intended for operation in the range of 5 GHz. The device possesses the following MIMO configuration: 2x2:2, that is two antennae are used for transmission, two for reception and two spatial streams.
That is where we bring the brief review of the hardware platform of the router to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of its software component.
Firmware upgrade does not require any specific proficiency from the user and is carried out using Firmware Upgrade tab, Administration menu item. Firmware upgrade may be performed both in a manual and semi-automatic mode. The latter case, naturally, requires Internet connection. The whole process requires about three minutes (not considering time necessary for downloading a file from Internet).
Here, in our opinion, it is appropriate to mention the utilities delivered together with the router. Complete with ASUS RT-AC1200G+ three utilities are distributed: Device Discovery, Firmware Restoration and ASUS Printer Setup.
With Device Discovery utility the user can detect ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router in his/her local network.
Connection of the remote printer is made by means of Printer Setup utility.
In case of a problem during the firmware upgrade process, RT-AC1200G+ may change to the rescue mode during which the Power indicator starts slowly flashing. Indirect indicator of such a mode will be TTL equal 100 in ICMP echo replies. In the normal mode of the router TTL equal 64. Standard method of device restoration is to use Firmware Restoration utility.
If it isn't possible to use the specified utility, a web-server embedded into the bootloader is available to the administrator, by means of which it is possible not only to restore a firmware, but also set the device's default settings.
Another way to restore the firmware of ASUS RT-AC1200G+ router is via TFTP.
C:\>tftp -i 192.168.1.1 put "c:\RT-AC1200G+_126.96.36.199_380_3971_0816-g516a6d6.trx"
Transfer successful: 13537280 bytes in 18 second(s), 752071 bytes/s
The router needs to be rebooted after the restoration is completed.
That is where we bring review of utilities and firmware upgrade methods of ASUS RT-AC1200G+ model to a conclusion and pass on to examining its capabilities.
The web interface of ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router is available in sixteen languages and is typical for ASUSWRT firmware devices. We will not consider explicitly all capabilities of the device, but only turn our attention to the most interesting of them.
Guest Network menu item allows creating up to three guest networks in each frequency band. This feature will be in demand in a situation where it is necessary only to provide someone with temporary access to a global network without disclosing the primary key or network name.
Bandwidth Limiter and Traffic Monitor features are available in Traffic Manager menu item.
The schedule, according to which a device is allowed access to the Internet, is controlled by means of Parental Controls menu item. The presence of built-in Yandex.DNS service support will help to protect children from unwanted content.
For control of the applications using the external device connected to USB port one need to use USB Application menu item.
Router wireless module settings can be performed using Wireless menu item tabs.
By means of LAN menu item tabs users can change LAN IP parameters, control DHCP server, create static routes, control connection to IPTV service. Switch Control tab contains additional parameters intended for device tweaking.
WAN connection is controlled by means of Internet menu item. Here the administrator can change virtual servers’ settings by means of which access from the Internet to LAN resources is provided. Absence of Dual WAN function, which allows to be connected to two providers simultaneously for balancing or backing up, seems surprising to us especially considering the availability of 3G / 4G modem support.
Connection to the Internet or ISP network can be made not only using IPv4, but also by means of the sequel of the IP-IPv6. The appropriate settings are collected in the same-named menu item.
ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router allows remote users to connect to LAN behind the device. The appropriate settings are provided in VPN item. Unfortunately, only one tunnel protocol – PPTP is supported.
Access control is made by means of tabs in Firewall menu item. In addition to direct control of access to different nodes based on IP addresses, the possibility of traffic filtering on the basis of URLs and keywords is also available to users.
The change of an operation mode of the device, control of system settings and also updating the firmware are made using the tabs in Administration menu item.
All log information is presented in System log menu item.
In addition to the main features, some support tools are also available to users, which can be accessed not only through the command line interface, but also using Network Tools menu item of the device's web interface.
That is where we bring a review of the capabilities of ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router web interface to a conclusion and pass to the section dedicated to command line of the device.
Control of access to command line of the device is made by means of System tab Administration menu item. A nice option here is SSH support for providing secure access to the router when command line interface is used.
In order to access the command line one must use the same credentials as for the connection to the router web interface. Firmware of the model under testing is built on Linux 188.8.131.52 OS with BusyBox 1.17.4.
RT-AC1200G+ login: admin
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/tmp/home/root# cd /
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/# uname -a
Linux RT-AC1200G+ 184.108.40.206brcmarm #1 PREEMPT Thu Nov 3 15:55:43 CST 2016 armv7l GNU/Linux
BusyBox v1.17.4 (2016-11-03 15:46:45 CST) multi-call binary.
Copyright (C) 1998-2009 Erik Andersen, Rob Landley, Denys Vlasenko
and others. Licensed under GPLv2.
See source distribution for full notice.
Usage: busybox [function] [arguments]...
or: function [arguments]...
BusyBox is a multi-call binary that combines many common Unix
utilities into a single executable. Most people will create a
link to busybox for each function they wish to use and BusyBox
will act like whatever it was invoked as.
Currently defined functions:
[, [[, arp, ash, awk, basename, blkid, cat, chmod, chown, chpasswd, clear, cmp, cp, crond, cut, date, dd, df,
dirname, dmesg, du, e2fsck, echo, egrep, env, ether-wake, expr, fdisk, fgrep, find, flock, free, fsck.ext2,
fsck.ext3, fsck.minix, fsync, grep, gunzip, gzip, head, ifconfig, insmod, ionice, kill, killall, klogd, less,
ln, logger, login, ls, lsmod, lsusb, md5sum, mdev, mkdir, mke2fs, mkfs.ext2, mkfs.ext3, mknod, mkswap,
modprobe, more, mount, mv, netstat, nice, nohup, nslookup, pidof, ping, ping6, printf, ps, pwd, readlink,
renice, rm, rmdir, rmmod, route, sed, setconsole, sh, sleep, sort, strings, swapoff, swapon, sync, syslogd,
tail, tar, telnetd, test, top, touch, tr, traceroute, traceroute6, true, tune2fs, udhcpc, umount, uname, unzip,
uptime, usleep, vconfig, vi, watch, wc, which, zcat, zcip
Let's see what processes are currently running using ps command. By using top utility one can obtain information on the current activity of the launched processes. The output of specified utilities is located in a separate file.
Contents of /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin and /usr/sbin catalogs, as well as the output of sysinfo utility, are located in a separate file. For example, /sbin catalog features tcpcheck utility that lets one find out whether a TCP port is open on a certain host.
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/# tcpcheck 10 192.168.1.1:23
192.168.1.1:23 is alive
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/# tcpcheck 10 192.168.1.2:23
Now let's turn to /proc catalogue to view its contents and find out the system uptime, its average utilization, information on the CPU installed, and the amount of RAM. Actually, system uptime and average system utilization can also be learnt using uptime command.
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/# cd /proc
1 373 407 610 crypto loadavg swaps
141 375 411 612 devices locks sys
151 377 412 614 diskstats meminfo sysrq-trigger
2 378 477 619 driver misc sysvipc
222 380 48 636 emf modules timer_list
227 381 491 638 execdomains mounts tty
232 384 5 7 filesystems mtd uptime
237 389 50 736 fs net version
242 390 51 95 interrupts pagetypeinfo vmallocinfo
265 391 583 bcm_chipinfo iomem partitions vmstat
267 393 584 buddyinfo ioports scsi zoneinfo
297 394 585 bus irq self
299 398 586 cmdline kallsyms slabinfo
3 399 587 cpu key-users softirqs
304 4 6 cpuinfo kmsg stat
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/proc# cat uptime
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/proc# cat loadavg
0.18 0.16 0.13 1/54 738
03:15:50 up 15 min, load average: 0.17, 0.15, 0.12
We can't help but mention nvram utility that allows changing certain important device operation parameters.
usage: nvram [get name] [set name=value] [unset name] [show] [commit] [save] [restore] [erase][fb_save file] ...
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/proc# nvram show | grep admin
size: 39757 bytes (25779 left)
So, for example, by means of nvram utility it is possible to disable STP for RT-AC1200G+ LAN ports.
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/proc# nvram show | grep stp
size: 39757 bytes (25779 left)
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/proc# nvram set lan_stp=0
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/proc# nvram commit
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/proc# nvram show | grep stp
size: 39757 bytes (25779 left)
Unfortunately, RT-AC1200G+ model isn’t equipped with the thermosensors in contrast to ASUS hi-end devices.
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/proc# cat /proc/dmu/temperature
cat: can't open '/proc/dmu/temperature': No such file or directory
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/proc# wl -i eth1 phy_tempsense
admin@RT-AC1200G+:/proc# wl -i eth2 phy_tempsense
That's where we proceed to completion of the review of the command line interface capabilities and pass directly on to testing the device.
The first testing procedure we traditionally begin our testing section with is estimating the booting time of the router, which is a time interval starting with the moment when the power is on until the first echo reply is received through ICMP. ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router boots in 48 seconds. We believe that this result is decent. It is also worth noting that during the booting we received several echo replies about 20-25 seconds after power was on, but these messages were sent by the bootloader, which is indirectly indicated by the value of TTL equal 100 in the returning packets.
The second no less than standard test was a security scanning procedure using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.8 utility. Scanning has been carried out from the LAN. On the whole, there were 18 open ports discovered. The most interesting data are presented below.
Obviously, we told the vendor about discovered vulnerabilities and suspicions on their existence. Vendor’s technical specialists informed us that discovered vulnerabilities (and even some other ones) are already fixed in the actual firmware versions. XSpider utility identifies vulnerabilities by version number reported by the system in the banner and other checks are not performed.
Before getting down to performance tests of ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router we would like to get our reader familiar with the key specifications of the test stand we used.
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme||ASUS M60J|
|CPU||Intel Core i7 7700K 4 GHz||Intel Core i7 720QM 1.6 GHz|
|RAM||DDR4-2133 Samsung 64 Gbytes||DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 16 Gbytes|
|NIC||Intel PRO/1000 PT
|OS||Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus||Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus|
We decided to start measuring of device performance from discovering throughput on performing NAT/PAT. The tests were carried out with 1, 5 and 15 simultaneous TCP connections.
It can be seen from the diagram above that the total speed of simultaneous traffic flows even in both directions didn't exceed 1 Gbps (in a full duplex mode). In our opinion, this limitation is connected to 1xRGMII usage and performance of CPU as during the specified test CPU was 100% utilized.
During next testing we decided to disable NAT HWA and find out what transmission speeds will be available to users in this case. As can be seen from the diagram below, disabled hardware acceleration leads to loss of router throughput by several times during NAT/PAT.
Performance measurement of RT-AC1200G+ model while execution of routing without NAT/PAT became the next experiment. All ASUS wireless routers tested earlier by us in this test demonstrated speeds similar to the NAT/PAT test with disabled HWA. To our surprise, pure routing is executed by this device at higher speeds. It seems that the hardware acceleration is used also during routing without NAT/PAT as well.
We could not ignore the throughput of the device by operation with upcoming version of IP – IPv6. ASUS RT-AC1200G+ model showed excellent results when processing IPv6 traffic.
Connection to operators can also be made using a variety of tunnels (VPN). We decided to find out what speeds will be available to users when connecting to providers using PPTP and L2TP VPNs.
Performance testing using PPTP was done without encryption, because when MPPE was enabled the tunnel was set up, but no data were transferred through it. We decided to figure out what exactly was happening. It turned out that at some point the router ceases to encrypt the data sent to the tunnel (with an intensive traffic flow from LAN to WAN). If there is only a flow from WAN to LAN, RT-AC1200G+ model is capable of processing encrypted traffic at speeds about 40 Mbps. Naturally, we reported about the problem to the vendor. The error will be fixed in one of the upcoming firmware versions.
ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router has built-in VPN server. Unfortunately, PPTP, the throughput of which we have just measured, is the only protocol supported. It seems surprising to us that the vendor did not include OpenVPN support in the firmware.
The model under testing has the ability to support quality of service of the transferred traffic. So, for example, the administrator can limit the speed with which data of a host located on the local network is transferred to the Internet. We decided to find out how real transmission speed corresponds to configured values.
From the diagram above it is seen that starting from about 90 Mbps, an increase in the speed allowed to the host does not affect the real transmission speed. This effect is related to the router's CPU throughput, because when the traffic reaches 90 Mbps, CPU is 100% utilized. In the diagram below we presented the part of the graph in which the router still successfully copes with the task of providing quality of service.
Perhaps, one of the most anticipated measurements are the tests of the wireless module. The diagrams below show wireless data transmission speeds we received in both frequency ranges.
ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router is fitted with USB2.0 port, which can be used for connection of external drives, 3G and 4G modems, and multifunctional devices. We decided to find out what access speeds to the data stored on the USB drive will be available to users of the tested wireless router. For the measurements, we consistently formatted our test 256 GByte Transcend TS256GESD400K SSD drive into four different file systems: NTFS, FAT32, EXT2 and EXT3. The results of the measurements are shown in the diagram below.
Before getting down to the summary, we would like to note that during the execution of various tests of this section, we also measured the temperature of the router case using our lab's ADA TempPro-2200 pyrometer. The highest temperature of the top panel that we managed to measure has been 45.2°C while average temperature in the room was equal to 25°С.
In general, we were satisfied with the tested ASUS RT-AC1200G+ model, which belongs to wireless routers of the middle class. ASUS RT-AC1200G+ is great for working in home ISP networks, providing access to the Internet without reducing the speed at all basic tariff plans, and the presence of USB 2.0 port allows one to connect the external drive, MFD or 3G/4G modem to the device.
The strength areas of ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router are the following:
- high routing speeds (including VPN);
- USB 2.0 port;
- reasonable price;
- both wireless ranges support;
- a built-in VPN server;
- IPv6 support;
- QoS feature presence;
- 3G/4G modem support;
- high access speeds to data on external USB storage;
- support of up to three guest networks in each wireless frequency range;
- parental controls presence.
Unfortunately, we cannot help but mention about its drawback:
- the web-interface is not completely translated.
ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router supports a maximum theoretical speed in 2.4 GHz frequency range equal to 300 Mbps, as well as 867 Mbps in 5 GHz range. Real speeds in these ranges turned out to be excellent, real user data transfer rates exceeded 50% of the theoretical ones. However, it seems to us that more efficient wireless modules would be more appropriate in this model. For example, in 2.4 GHz range it would be logical to see a wireless module supporting N600.
Also it should be noted that the built-in VPN server of ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router supports only PPTP protocol. Of course, this is not a big problem, but we would like to see here the support of OpenVPN technology, which we are so used to in flagship models.
As of when this article was being written, the average price for ASUS RT-AC1200G+ wireless router in Moscow online shops was 4765 roubles.
As of this writing, the best price for ASUS RT-AC1200G+ in German-speaking Europe countries, according to website Geizhals Preisvergleich, was about 75 euro.
For a very long time ASUS Company has sent wireless routers and access points for testing to our network laboratory, absolutely ignoring wireless network adapters with PCIE and USB interfaces. Finally, it's time to fix this gap and to provide our readers with the review of ASUS USB-AC68 Wi-Fi adapter with the USB 3.0 interface. This model allows connecting to the existing wireless networks at speeds up to 600 Mbps in the range of 2.4 GHz and to 1300 Mbps in the range of 5 GHz, so ASUS USB-AC68 card possesses AC1900 wireless formula. Let's consider model in more detail!
ASUS USB-AC68 Wi-Fi adapter comes in black plastic case with red insertions and two external antennae. External antennae can rotate and be fixed in one out of three positions.
On the front side (if such a device could in principle have the front side) a blue LED is placed, which can be used to visually determine whether the wireless network connection exists. The appearance of the test model for some reason caused resistant association with a little black birdie with red wings who is sitting down on some dark object.
Overall dimensions of the device are 115х30х18 mm with weight of only 44 grams. Leaping ahead, it is worth noting that there are four antennae in USB-AC68 model: two external and two internal, allowing the device to operate in 3x4 MIMO (3T4R) mode, ie three antennae on transmission and four on data receipt can dynamically be involved.
A significant part of the model case is a ventilation grate for improved cooling of chips as fast wireless adapters typically consume a lot of energy and can heat up considerably.
Together with the Wi-Fi adapter comes a CD with drivers, a warranty book and a brief instruction for connection of the device. It should also be noted that in a set there is an USB-extender with a cradle, allowing more convenient placing of the adapter on the desktop or other horizontal surface. The cradle is not magnetic, but with a weighting compound, its bottom side is rubber and allows sticking to smooth objects. Cable length of about one meter what, in our opinion, will be enough for most users.
Now let's have a look at the insides of ASUS USB-AC68 case. The electronic stuffing of the device is single textolite card which has all essential elements located on both of its sides. Unfortunately, all chips are hidden under protective screens and aren't accessible for review. On a card there are two slots for connection of external antennae, and also two internal nondetachable antennae are located. ASUS USB-AC68 Wi-Fi adapter is based on Realtek RTL8814AU chip.
That is where we bring the review of the hardware platform of the device to a conclusion and pass directly on to testing.
Before getting down to performance tests we would like to get our reader familiar with the key specifications of the test stand we used. As the load generator we used JPerf utility version 2.0.2. The tests were carried out with one, five and fifteen simultaneous TCP connections in case of placing the wireless router and tested equipment in close proximity to each other (from one to three meters).
|Motherboard||ASUS Maximus VIII Extreme||ASUS M60J|
|CPU||Intel Core i7 6700K 4 GHz||Intel Core i7 720QM 1.6 GHz|
|RAM||DDR4-2133 Samsung 64 Gbytes||DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 16 Gbytes|
|NIC||ASUS RT-AC88U||Atheros AR8131|
|OS||Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus||Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus|
ASUS USB-AC68 Wi-Fi adapter has USB 3.0 interface therefore we made its connection to the appropriate interface of our test computer. Functioning of a wireless network was provided by ASUS RT-AC88U wireless router, which we already have described earlier. Performance measurement was made for both wireless ranges: 2.4 and 5 GHz. Results of measurements are given on the diagram below.
Unfortunately, not all notebooks and desktop computers have USB 3.0 port therefore we decided to find out what speeds will be available to users who will connect ASUS USB-AC68 model to USB 2.0 port.
As seen from the diagram above, the interface of Wi-Fi adapter connection has practically no impact on speed of data transmission in the range of 2.4 GHz. For connections in the range of 5 GHz the version of the USB interface begins to play the significant role, however this influence will be noticeable only in a situation when wireless devices in principle are able to reach such speeds (fast wireless router or access point, good signal, absence of noises and so on).
We didn't keep away from operation of ASUS USB-AC68 in AD HOC mode for the range of 2.4 GHz. The received speeds turned out to be noticeably below what was shown by the Wi-Fi adapter in Wi-Fi client mode, however generally it is caused by restrictions of an operating system. ASUS PCE-AC88 model was used as a wireless client. The diagrams below contain comparison of speed of data transmission in the direction of USB->Wi-Fi while operation of the adapter in ad hoc and wireless client modes. As always, measurement of speeds was performed for one, five and fifteen simultaneous TCP connections. It is also worth noting that maximum speed of connection of the wireless client to ad hoc network didn't exceed 300 Mbps.
Naturally, we couldn't help but clarify how ASUS USB-AC68 Wi-Fi adapter heats up in the course of operation. For temperature measurement we used our lab's ADA TempPro-2200 pyrometer. The highest temperature of heat-sinking screen inside the case that we managed to measure has been 47 °C while temperature in the room was equal to 27 °C.
In principle, we were satisfied with new ASUS USB-AC68 wireless adapter with the USB 3.0 interface allowing the user to increase significantly performance of PCs and notebooks by operation in a wireless network. USB-AC68 model supports all modern wireless protocols IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac and is perfect even for those users who have high requirements for devices design. The used wireless formula allows making the best use of majority of the modern routers (up to 600 Mbps in the range of 2.4 GHz and up to 1300 Mbps for connections at frequencies of 5 GHz). External rotatable antennae together with AiRadar technology will allow not only to increase data-transfer speed, but also to expand coverage.
The strength areas of ASUS USB-AC68 Wi-Fi Adapter are presented below:
- high traffic transmission speeds in both wireless frequency ranges;
- support of USB 3.0;
- existence of a USB-extender and a cradle;
- a possibility of operation in the ad hoc mode;
- existence of external rotatable antennae;
- simple installation.
Unfortunately, we cannot help but mention its drawback:
- lack of original utility for device control.
As of when this article was being written, the average price for ASUS USB-AC68 Wi-Fi adapter in Moscow online shops was 4800 roubles. We hope for the considerable reduction of price in the nearest future after the device is available for sale in more shops.
As of this writing, the best price for ASUS USB-AC68 in German-speaking Europe countries, according to website Geizhals Preisvergleich, was about 70 euro.
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