Introduction

External design and hardware

Setting-up procedures and firmware upgrade

Web-interface

Command line

Testing

Summary

Introduction

Recently our testing laboratory hosted an elder brother of the testing model – the repeater RP-AC52, which functionality and performance may be unclaimed by some users. Today we decided to review the youngest model from the product line of ASUS wireless repeaters – RP-N12, supporting 802.11N wireless standard with the maximum theoretical data transmission speed equal to 300 Mbps. Okay, let’s get started.

External design and hardware

ASUS RP-N12 wireless repeater comes in a white plastic case with the dimensions of 81х55х34 mm (not considering the protruding plug and antennae). The plastic on the ribbed front panel is glossy, the name of the vendor’s company and three LEDs indicating operating of the whole device and its wired and wireless modules are located here. As the power supply unit is placed inside the case, no external adapters are required.

The upper panel is not remarkable, there are only small ventilation holes here. On the bottom panel there is a Fast Ethernet interface.

Located on the sides there are two non-detachable 2dBi antennae. The Reset and WPS buttons are also placed on one side. In addition, there is a power switch here, which allows switching off the device without unplugging it.

Connecting to a power line is carried out with the help of the plug placed on the rear panel of the case. Moreover, a sticker with brief information about the repeater is located here.

Now let's have a look at the insides of RP-N12 case.

The hardware platform of ASUS RP-N12 repeater consists of two green textolite plates, one of which serves only as a power supply unit.

The system is based on SoC processor MediaTek MT7628NN with built-in 2T2R wireless Wi-Fi module (IEEE 802.11n). Winbond 25Q32FVS1G microchip with the capacity of 4 Mbytes performs functions of flash memory. Winbond W9412G6KH-5 chip provides the repeater with 16 Mbytes of DDR RAM.

That's where we proceed to completion of the review about the hardware of ASUS RP-N12 repeater and pass directly on to studying its software capabilities.

Setting-up procedures and firmware upgrade

After switching on ASUS RP-N12 repeater one more open wireless network ASUS_RPN12 appears on the list of SSIDs available for connection. It’s worth noting that one can also connect to the device for its initial settings with the help of its Fast Ethernet interface.

Regardless of the way chosen for connecting to the device for its initial settings, one should go to 192.168.1.1 address using any modern browser, where the quick setup wizard asks to choose an existing wireless network for the connection.

If the necessary network is absent on the list, a user can perform manual setting for connection to it.

After choosing a wireless network for the connection, one should enter parameters of the network supported by the repeater itself.

When both wireless networks are chosen and set up, the device needs about two minutes for applying user settings, after that RP-N12 is absolutely ready for work.

Though the firmware upgrade for the repeater is not a necessary action, we strongly recommend installing the latest firmware version during the initial settings procedure and keeping firmware up to date further. Changing of the firmware version is performed in manual or semi-automatic mode with the help of Firmware upgrade tab, Administration menu of the web-interface.

The whole process needs about three minutes and does not require any special knowledge from users.

That’s where we draw the review of the initial settings procedure for ASUS RP-N12 repeater to a close and move on to studying the web-interface capabilities of the device.

Web-interface

The web-interface of RP-N12 repeater is typical for ASUS wireless equipment and is available to users in twelve languages. We will not describe its capabilities in detail, but mention the most interesting of them.

Right after entering correct credentials, the user is navigated to the page of Network Map item, displaying the device operation mode, wireless clients and state of the wireless network which coverage area is extended by RP-N12.

Quick Internet Setup menu item launches the primary setup wizard, which we described in the previous part of the review.

With the help of tabs of Wireless item one can manage his/her own wireless network. Here one can set parameters for MAC addresses filtering, enable the help for wireless roaming, set security parameters and enable Wi-Fi Proxy function, which allows changing MAC addresses visible in the “parent” wireless network. In more detail we described the parameters of this function in one of our previous reviews devoted to ASUS RP-AC52 repeater.

With the help of LAN menu item the administrator can change IP parameters of the repeater and also enable the built-in DHCP-server.

Operation Mode tab of Administration menu allows selecting the device operation mode: Repeater, Access Point or Media Bridge (that is a wireless client itself).

One can change the administrator password, select time zone, enable or disable a capability of the connection via Telnet protocol with the help of System tab of the same menu item. To our surprise, it is one more device where we discovered not quite correct time zone for Moscow.

One can get access to the log information with the help of the tabs of System Log item.

That's where we proceed to completion of the quick review of the web-interface capabilities for ASUS RP-N12 and pass directly on to the command line interface.

Command line

Access to the command line of the device can be enabled/disabled with the help of System tab, Administration menu item of the web-interface of the repeater.

Login and password used for the access to the command line interface are the same as for the web-interface access. ASUS RP-N12 repeater is built on Linux operating system with a core of version 2.6.36 using BusyBox of version 1.12.1.

RP-N12 login: admin
Password:
BusyBox v1.12.1 (2015-04-08 15:38:57 CST) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.
# busybox
BusyBox v1.12.1 (2015-04-08 15:38:57 CST) multi-call binary
Copyright (C) 1998-2008 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:
 [, [[, arping, ash, basename, brctl, cat, chmod, chpasswd, cp, date, dmesg, echo, expr, free, ftpget, ftpput,
 grep, halt, hostname, ifconfig, insmod, kill, killall, klogd, ln, logger, login, logread, ls, lsmod, mdev,
 mkdir, mknod, mount, mv, ping, poweroff, ps, pwd, reboot, rm, rmmod, route, sed, sh, sleep, syslogd, telnetd,
 test, touch, traceroute, umount, unzip, vconfig, vi, wc, wget
# cat /proc/version
Linux version 2.6.36 (root@asus) (gcc version 3.4.2) #1 Wed Apr 8 15:44:07 CST 2015

With the help of ps command, let’s see what processes are currently running on the device. Unfortunately, top utility showing information on the current activity of the launched processes is absent on the device.

# ps
 PID USER       VSZ STAT COMMAND
 1 admin     2468 S    /sbin/init
 2 admin        0 SW   [kthreadd]
 3 admin        0 SW   [ksoftirqd/0]
 4 admin        0 SW   [kworker/0:0]
 5 admin        0 SW   [kworker/u:0]
 6 admin        0 SW<  [khelper]
 7 admin        0 SW   [sync_supers]
 8 admin        0 SW   [bdi-default]
 9 admin        0 SW<  [kblockd]
 10 admin        0 SW   [kswapd0]
 11 admin        0 SW   [kworker/u:1]
 14 admin        0 SW   [mtdblock0]
 15 admin        0 SW   [mtdblock1]
 16 admin        0 SW   [mtdblock2]
 17 admin        0 SW   [mtdblock3]
 18 admin        0 SW   [mtdblock4]
 19 admin        0 SW   [mtdblock5]
 20 admin        0 SW   [mtdblock6]
 21 admin        0 SW   [kworker/0:1]
 39 admin        0 SW   [RtmpCmdQTask]
 40 admin        0 SW   [RtmpWscTask]
 41 admin        0 SW   [RtmpMlmeTask]
 48 admin     2468 S    /sbin/wanduck
 50 admin     2124 S    httpd
 51 admin     1404 S    dnsmasq
 52 admin     1588 S    /usr/sbin/infosvr br0
 56 admin     2468 S    watchdog
 57 admin     2468 S    apcli_monitor
 62 admin     1280 S    lld2d br0
 313 admin     1812 S    /sbin/syslogd -m 0 -t GMT-4 -O /tmp/syslog.log
 317 admin     1812 S    /sbin/klogd
 328 admin     2464 S    ntp
 329 admin     1820 S    /bin/sh
 331 admin     1816 S    telnetd
 418 admin     1820 S    -sh
 443 admin     1816 R    ps

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.

# cd /proc/
# ls
455           52            18            6             fs            iomem         locks         softirqs
418           51            17            5             driver        timer_list    cmdline       kcore
331           50            16            4             tty           modules       cpuinfo       kmsg
329           48            15            3             bus           buddyinfo     devices       kpagecount
328           41            14            2             sys           pagetypeinfo  interrupts    kpageflags
317           40            11            1             irq           vmstat        loadavg       crypto
313           39            10            self          misc          zoneinfo      meminfo       diskstats
62            21            9             mounts        mtd           vmallocinfo   stat          partitions
57            20            8             net           execdomains   slabinfo      uptime        mt7628
56            19            7             sysvipc       ioports       filesystems   version       Config
# cat uptime
1769.36 1750.24
# cat loadavg
0.07 0.02 0.00 1/36 459
# cat cpuinfo
system type             : MT7628
processor               : 0
cpu model               : MIPS 24Kc V5.5
BogoMIPS                : 382.97
wait instruction        : yes
microsecond timers      : yes
tlb_entries             : 32
extra interrupt vector  : yes
hardware watchpoint     : yes, count: 4, address/irw mask: [0x0000, 0x0ff8, 0x0ffb, 0x0ff8]
ASEs implemented        : mips16 dsp
shadow register sets    : 1
core                    : 0
VCED exceptions         : not available
VCEI exceptions         : not available
# cat meminfo
MemTotal:          13864 kB
MemFree:            1112 kB
Buffers:            1152 kB
Cached:             2664 kB
SwapCached:            0 kB
Active:             2788 kB
Inactive:           2316 kB
Active(anon):        640 kB
Inactive(anon):      716 kB
Active(file):       2148 kB
Inactive(file):     1600 kB
Unevictable:          68 kB
Mlocked:               0 kB
SwapTotal:             0 kB
SwapFree:              0 kB
Dirty:                 0 kB
Writeback:             0 kB
AnonPages:          1388 kB
Mapped:              992 kB
Shmem:                 0 kB
Slab:               4748 kB
SReclaimable:        560 kB
SUnreclaim:         4188 kB
KernelStack:         288 kB
PageTables:          244 kB
NFS_Unstable:          0 kB
Bounce:                0 kB
WritebackTmp:          0 kB
CommitLimit:        6932 kB
Committed_AS:       4044 kB
VmallocTotal:    1048372 kB
VmallocUsed:        2144 kB
VmallocChunk:    1044516 kB

Contents of /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin and /usr/sbin catalogues are shown below.

# ls /bin
xtables-multi     rt2860apd         mount             lld2d             hostname          cp
vi                rm                mknod             kill              grep              chmod
umount            reg               mkdir             iwpriv            gpio              cat
touch             pwd               mii_mgr_cl45      iwconfig          flash             busybox
sleep             ps                mii_mgr           iptables-restore  echo              ated
sh                ping              ls                iptables          dnsmasq           ash
sed               mv                login             igmpproxy.sh      dmesg
rtinicapd         mtd_write         ln                igmpproxy         date
# ls /sbin
wps_stop               wan-down               restart_dhcpd          logread                init
wps_start              vconfig                reboot                 logmessage             ifconfig
wps_oob                track_set              re_wpsc                link_up                halt
webs_upgrade_radio.sh  syslogd                rc                     link_status            gen_ralink_config
webs_upgrade.sh        start_telnetd          poweroff               link_down              detectWAN_arp
webs_update.sh         run_telnetd            nvram_oob              klogd                  ddns_updated
watchdog               route                  ntp                    ip-up                  apcli_monitor
wanduck                rmmod                  mdev                   ip-down                ATE
wan-up                 restart_dns            lsmod                  insmod
# ls /usr/bin
wget        unzip       test        killall     ftpget      expr        arping      [
wc          traceroute  logger      ftpput      free        basename    [[
# ls /usr/sbin
udhcpc      tcpcheck    ntpclient   infosvr     chpasswd
telnetd     nvram       networkmap  httpd       brctl

We can't help mentioning nvram utility that allows changing certain important device operation parameters.

# nvram
Usage: nvram [get name] [set name=value] [unset name] [commit] [show] [restore file] [save file]
# nvram show | grep admin
http_username=admin
http_passwd=admin
size: 8825 bytes (52615 left)

That is where we bring the brief review of the repeater command line interface capabilities to a close and pass on to testing the device, because, in contrast to its elder brother RP-AC52, the repeater under review does not support any multimedia functions.

Testing

The first measurements we usually start this section with are estimating the booting time of the repeater, which is a time interval starting with the moment when the power is on until the first echo reply is received through ICMP. ASUS RP-N12 repeater boots in 17 seconds. We consider this result normal.

The second traditional test is a security scanning procedure, performing with the help of a security scanner Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100). There were four open ports discovered. The most interesting discovered data are presented below.

Before getting down to performance tests we would like to get our readers familiar with the main parameters of the test stand we used.

 Component PC Notebook
 Motherboard ASUS Maximus VI Extreme ASUS M60J 
 CPU  Intel Core i7 4790K 4 ГГц Intel Core i7 720QM 1.6 ГГц
 RAM  DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 32 Гбайта DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 16 Гбайт
 NIC Intel PRO/1000 PT
 ASUS PCE-AC68
Atheros AR8131
ASUS RT-AC66U 
 OS Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus  Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus 

 

We decided to find out the performance of RP-N12 for each of three supported operation modes. At first, we measured throughput for one, five and fifteen simultaneous TCP connections during the device operating in Media Bridge mode. This mode is very similar to the wireless client mode, when RP-N12 connects to an existing wireless network.

In addition to Media Bridge mode ASUS RP-N12 can perform functions of an access point. The device throughput in this mode is presented at the diagram below.

Finally, we got to the most interesting part – RP-N12 throughput in the repeater mode. In this mode the device connects to one wireless network and creates the second one.

That's where we draw the testing part to a close and move on to summing it all up.

Summary

ASUS RP-N12 wireless repeater showed itself as a reliable medium-grade device, which can satisfy needs of ordinary users in the coverage area of the wireless network. External design and compact dimensions allow installing the device in sight.

The strength areas of ASUS RP-N12 are listed below.

  • Compact dimensions and accurate external design
  • Support of Wi-Fi Proxy functionality
  • Support of several operation modes (Media Bridge, Repeater, Access Point)
  • Sufficient  performance of the wireless module

Unfortunately, we cannot help but mention discovered drawbacks of the device.

  • The web-interface is not completely translated
  • Incorrect time zones

When this review was being written, the expected retail price of ASUS RP-N12 in Russia was 2290 roubles.

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Comments   

0 #2 RE: ASUS RP-N12Maxim Klimanov 2016-12-10 01:10
Quoting Margot Witmer:
Ik do want to open the box of the RP-N12 to remove the psu board. Can you tell me how to do that?

As far as I remember, there is a screw under the sticker. So you need to unscrew it and then you need to unclip all clips located between two plastic parts of the case. You can use a spudger, any other plastic tools or even flat bladed screwdriver. Hope it helps.
Quote | Report to administrator
0 #1 How disassemble RP-N12Margot Witmer 2016-12-09 21:59
Ik do want to open the box of the RP-N12 to remove the psu board. Can you tell me how to do that?
Quote | Report to administrator
Found a typo? Please select it and press Ctrl + Enter.