ASUS RT-AC87U

Introduction

External design and hardware

Firmware upgrade and setting-up procedures

Web-interface

Command line

Testing

Conclusion

Introduction

We couldn't yet get accustomed to the speeds of wireless routers that support AC1900 when ASUS company surprised us with a new router, RT-AC87U, with support of AC2400, which allows for raising the level of wireless speeds up to staggering 2334 Mbps. In this review we will try to find out what are the real speeds available to the users of this wireless router.

External design and hardware

ASUS RT-AC87U wireless router comes in a black plastic case, which is really typical for this kind of devices. The only nontypical thing in it is its size and weight: 290x168x48 mm and 747 grammes. To work properly the device needs an external power unit (included in the box) with the following characteristics: 19V and 2,37А.

On the upper surface there is a 3D brand tag as well as subscriptions to the device status LEDs located on the edge between the front and upper panels.

Side panels are not remarkable at all and there is only a ventilation grate located on them.

The front panel of the model under review has two buttons located on it: LED and Wi-Fi, which are used for enabling/disabling LEDs and Wi-Fi, respectively. Apart from it there is a USB 3.0 port hidden behind a special plate.

The bottom side has four rubber legs used for desktop mounting of the device. ASUS RT-AC87U can also be hanged onto the wall and therefore it has two mounting holes located on its bottom side. A sticker with the brief information about the model and a ventilation grate are located here, too.

The rear panel has sockets used for connection of four external antennae, power socket with a power ON/OFF button, WPS and Reset buttons, and five Gigabit Ethernet interfaces (four LAN and one WAN ports).

Now let's have a look at the insides of the ASUS RT-AC87U case. The electronic stuffing of ASUS RT-AC87U wireless router is one textolite card which has all essential elements located on both of its sides. Spansion S34ML01G100TFI00 module with the size of 128 Mbytes performs functions of flash memory.

The largest part of the card surface is covered by massive heatsinks. It stands to mention that passive cooling is used in RT-AC87U. However, unfortunately for us, the heatsinks themselves are used to cool metal screens under which there are all other chips located. Therefore, the only thing accessible for inspection is the flash memory module.

Information about the CPU and RAM can be obtained via several backhand ways: using the web-interface and command line. An ARMv7 CPU with two cores (2000 BogoMIPS each) is used in the system.

That is where we bring the review of hardware components of the device to an end and pass on to examining its software capabilities.

Firmware upgrade and setting-up procedures

Upon first access to the web-interface of ASUS RT-AC87U wireless router the primary setup wizard will get launched. It is used to set the administrator password and specify the main operation parameters of the device: device operation mode, connection type to the service provider, settings of the wireless network.

And though the firmware update is not necessary to be carried out in order to prepare RT-AC87U for fully-fledged operation, we strongly recommend all users to do it.

Firmware upgrade is carried out in Firmware Upgrade tab, Administration menu item. Firmware upgrade may be carried out both in a manual and semi-automatic mode. In order to perform the latter one needs to be connected to the Internet. Actually, the manual firmware upgrade mode is not that difficult as it only requires a firmware image file that was previously downloaded from the vendor's web server. The whole firmware upgrade process takes about three minutes and does not require any technical proficiency from the administrator.

Unfortunately, when this article was being written there were still no utility for firmware restoration (Firmware Restoration) available for ASUS RT-AC87U at the official website. However, this is not a big problem. The owner of this device can either use the same utility available for any other ASUS wireless router or restore the device firmware manually. This utility may come in handy if there is a failure during the firmware upgrade process. In this case the device will automatically switch to the restoration mode.

Upon manual firmware restoration the administrator can upload the firmware file directly to the router using TFTP.

C:\>tftp -i 192.168.1.1 put c:\RT-AC87U_3.0.0.4_376_2061-gdea2a5b.trx
Transfer successful: 37543936 bytes in 107 second(s), 350877 bytes/s

The second method of the manual firmware restoration is uploading the firmware file using the boot-loader web-interface. Also, one can reboot the device or reset user settings here.

Slowly flashing power indicator will show that the router changes for the rescue mode. Another thing that may indicate the transition to the rescue mode are changes in TTL field value in retraced ICMP echo replies: TTL=64 in the normal mode and TTL=100 in the restoration mode.

Now let's review the new capabilities of the router web-interface.

Web-interface

One can access the device web-interface by entering 192.168.1.1 in any modern browser. It's worth noticing that the web-interface is available in 22 languages.

We will not review all capabilities of the RT-AC87U web-interface, since we had already done it before, but only turn our attention to the most interesting features.

Network Map menu item shows brief information about the connected clients and availability of access to the Internet. Apart from it, this tab also contains key settings of the wireless network for both frequency ranges and information about the CPU and RAM usage.

ASUS company has started collaborating with Trend Micro anti-virus software vendor. This collaboration resulted in appearance of AiProtection menu item, which provides the router users with network protection and parental control features. It'd be fair to point out that the parental control feature has been present in the ASUS network equipment earlier too, but nevertheless the other protection features were not available.

Parental control lets one place restrictions on the used applications and visited websites for children's devices as well as grant the access to the Internet on schedule. Network protection features are more interesting and include a security test of the router (checking the correctness of settings in terms of security), blocking of malicious websites, attack control, and detection and blocking of infected devices.

Router Security Scan feature shows settings that are directly associated with security of the router and local network it's connected to. The user can manually activate any security feature that s/he is interested in.

Upon detecting an infected device in the local network, ASUS RT-AC87U wireless router can send the administrator an email notification.

Adaptive QoS menu item underwent some changes, too. Now the router can analyse applications (based on the transferred traffic) that are initialized on the user hosts and show their traffic consumption speed using Bandwidth Monitor tab. Traffic Monitor tab contains info about the interface utilization during various time periods.

QoS tab lets one carry out either manual or adaptive adjustment of QoS. In the manual adjustment mode the user can specify the bandwidth value—or its priority— required for every application by him/herself. The adaptive mode gives one a possibility to specify priorities for groups of similar applications.

The list of websites that the user has visited is located in Web History tab.

Switch Control tab in LAN menu item is meant to be used in order to enable and disable support of Jumbo frames as well as for selection of the method of accelerating of NAT translations.

Also, the new firmware versions now provide the users with a possibility to perform automatic reconnection to the server by the VPN client if the connection has been lost.

That's where we were about to bring this section to an end, but one thing attracted our attention: absence of the repeater mode in Operation Mode tab, Administration menu item. ASUS claims that RT-AC87U model supports three operation modes: wireless router, access point, and Media Bridge, which makes the device perform functions of a wireless client. However, some browsers let the user choose the above-mentioned operation mode. We notified the vendor about this and are expecting it to fix the bug in the next firmware versions.

And now let's pass on to reviewing the device command line capabilities.

Command line

Switching the access to the command line on and off is performed using System tab, Administration menu item in the web-interface.

Firmware of the model under review is built on Linux 2.6.36.4 OS using Busy Box 1.17.4.

RT-AC87U login: admin
Password:
ASUSWRT RT-AC87U_3.0.0.4 Thu Aug 28 08:49:28 UTC 2014
admin@RT-AC87U:/tmp/home/root# cd /
admin@RT-AC87U:/# uname -a
Linux RT-AC87U 2.6.36.4brcmarm #1 SMP PREEMPT Thu Aug 28 16:59:31 CST 2014 armv7l GNU/Linux
admin@RT-AC87U:/# busybox
BusyBox v1.17.4 (2014-08-28 16:49:27 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, wget,
which, zcat, zcip
admin@RT-AC87U:/#

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.

admin@RT-AC87U:/# ps
PID USER VSZ STAT COMMAND
1 admin 6084 S /sbin/preinit
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 [migration/0]
7 admin 0 SW [migration/1]
8 admin 0 SW [kworker/1:0]
9 admin 0 SW [ksoftirqd/1]
10 admin 0 SW< [khelper]
11 admin 0 SW [kworker/u:1]
51 admin 0 SW [sync_supers]
53 admin 0 SW [bdi-default]
54 admin 0 SW< [kblockd]
105 admin 0 SW [kswapd0]
151 admin 0 SW [fsnotify_mark]
159 admin 0 SW< [crypto]
231 admin 0 SW [mtdblock0]
236 admin 0 SW [mtdblock1]
241 admin 0 SW [mtdblock2]
246 admin 0 SW [mtdblock3]
268 admin 0 SW [kworker/0:1]
269 admin 0 SW [kworker/1:1]
272 admin 0 SW [mtdblock4]
277 admin 0 SW [mtdblock5]
281 admin 664 S hotplug2 --persistent --no-coldplug
318 admin 6068 S console
320 admin 1508 S /bin/sh
326 admin 0 SWN [jffs2_gcd_mtd4]
329 admin 1496 S syslogd -m 0 -S -O /tmp/syslog.log -s 256 -l 6
332 admin 1496 S /sbin/klogd
334 admin 0 SW [khubd]
442 admin 6076 S usbled
532 admin 6076 S /sbin/wanduck
539 admin 652 S tftpd
551 admin 1500 S telnetd
553 admin 1480 S /bin/eapd
557 admin 2088 S /bin/wps_monitor
558 admin 6076 S wpsaide
560 admin 1956 S nas
561 admin 1596 S /usr/sbin/acsd
564 nobody 956 S dnsmasq --log-async
565 admin 6076 S ntp
570 admin 2452 S avahi-daemon: running [RT-AC87U-3E60.local]
571 admin 6500 S httpd
573 admin 1508 S crond
574 admin 1452 S /usr/sbin/infosvr br0
575 admin 1540 S networkmap --bootwait
577 admin 6076 S watchdog
580 admin 1688 S rstats
587 admin 6076 S ots
589 admin 1496 S lld2d br0
591 admin 6076 S disk_monitor
592 admin 6076 S bwdpi_check
668 admin 716 S miniupnpd -f /etc/upnp/config
680 admin 2456 S u2ec
682 admin 1524 S lpd
685 admin 2456 S u2ec
686 admin 2456 S u2ec
843 admin 1520 S -sh
853 admin 1500 R ps
admin@RT-AC87U:/#
Mem: 46584K used, 209184K free, 0K shrd, 304K buff, 12424K cached
CPU: 0.0% usr 4.5% sys 0.0% nic 95.4% idle 0.0% io 0.0% irq 0.0% sirq
Load average: 0.13 0.04 0.05 1/61 854
PID PPID USER STAT VSZ %MEM CPU %CPU COMMAND
854 843 admin R 1504 0.5 0 4.5 top
571 1 admin S 6500 2.5 0 0.0 httpd
1 0 admin S 6084 2.3 1 0.0 /sbin/preinit
577 1 admin S 6076 2.3 1 0.0 watchdog
591 1 admin S 6076 2.3 1 0.0 disk_monitor
532 1 admin S 6076 2.3 0 0.0 /sbin/wanduck
592 1 admin S 6076 2.3 0 0.0 bwdpi_check
565 1 admin S 6076 2.3 0 0.0 ntp
558 1 admin S 6076 2.3 0 0.0 wpsaide
442 1 admin S 6076 2.3 0 0.0 usbled
587 577 admin S 6076 2.3 0 0.0 ots
318 1 admin S 6068 2.3 1 0.0 console
680 1 admin S 2456 0.9 0 0.0 u2ec
685 680 admin S 2456 0.9 1 0.0 u2ec
686 685 admin S 2456 0.9 0 0.0 u2ec
570 1 admin S 2452 0.9 0 0.0 avahi-daemon: running [RT-AC87U-3E60.local]
557 1 admin S 2088 0.8 0 0.0 /bin/wps_monitor
560 1 admin S 1956 0.7 0 0.0 nas
580 1 admin S 1688 0.6 0 0.0 rstats
561 1 admin S 1596 0.6 1 0.0 /usr/sbin/acsd
575 1 admin S 1540 0.6 0 0.0 networkmap --bootwait
682 1 admin S 1524 0.6 0 0.0 lpd
843 551 admin S 1520 0.5 0 0.0 -sh
320 318 admin S 1508 0.5 1 0.0 /bin/sh
573 1 admin S 1508 0.5 1 0.0 crond
551 1 admin S 1500 0.5 0 0.0 telnetd
589 1 admin S 1496 0.5 1 0.0 lld2d br0
332 1 admin S 1496 0.5 0 0.0 /sbin/klogd
329 1 admin S 1496 0.5 0 0.0 syslogd -m 0 -S -O /tmp/syslog.log -s 256 -l 6
553 1 admin S 1480 0.5 0 0.0 /bin/eapd
574 1 admin S 1452 0.5 0 0.0 /usr/sbin/infosvr br0
564 1 nobody S 956 0.3 1 0.0 dnsmasq --log-async
668 1 admin S 716 0.2 0 0.0 miniupnpd -f /etc/upnp/config
281 1 admin S 664 0.2 1 0.0 hotplug2 --persistent --no-coldplug
539 1 admin S 652 0.2 1 0.0 tftpd
246 2 admin SW 0 0.0 1 0.0 [mtdblock3]
269 2 admin SW 0 0.0 1 0.0 [kworker/1:1]
7 2 admin SW 0 0.0 1 0.0 [migration/1]
268 2 admin SW 0 0.0 0 0.0 [kworker/0:1]
326 2 admin SWN 0 0.0 1 0.0 [jffs2_gcd_mtd4]
5 2 admin SW 0 0.0 0 0.0 [kworker/u:0]
admin@RT-AC87U:/#

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 contains tcpcheck utility that lets the administrator find out whether a TCP port is open in a certain node.

admin@RT-AC87U:/# tcpcheck
usage: tcpcheck <timeout> <host:port> [host:port]
admin@RT-AC87U:/# tcpcheck 5 192.168.1.1:23
192.168.1.1:23 is alive
admin@RT-AC87U:/# tcpcheck 5 192.168.1.3:80
192.168.1.3:80 failed

It looks like /rom/Beceem_firmware catalog contains files that are somehow associated with Yota service provider.

admin@RT-AC87U:/# ls /rom/Beceem_firmware/
RemoteProxy.cfg macxvi.cfg.freshtel macxvi.cfg.gmc macxvi200.bin.giraffe
Server_CA.pem.yota macxvi.cfg.giraffe macxvi.cfg.yota macxvi200.bin.normal

Now let's turn to /proc catalogue to view its contents and find out the system uptime, its average utilisation, information on the CPU installed, and the amount of RAM. Actually, system uptime and average system utilisation can also be learnt using uptime command.

admin@RT-AC87U:/# cd /proc
admin@RT-AC87U:/proc# ls
1 326 565 8 fs self
10 329 570 843 interrupts slabinfo
105 332 571 9 iomem softirqs
11 334 573 953 ioports stat
151 4 574 bcm947xx irq swaps
159 442 575 buddyinfo kallsyms sys
2 5 577 bus key-users sysrq-trigger
231 51 580 cmdline kmsg sysvipc
236 53 587 cpu loadavg timer_list
241 532 589 cpuinfo locks tty
246 539 591 crypto meminfo uptime
268 54 592 devices misc version
269 551 6 diskstats modules vmallocinfo
272 553 668 dmu mounts vmstat
277 557 680 driver mtd zoneinfo
281 558 682 emf net
3 560 685 execdomains pagetypeinfo
318 561 686 fa partitions
320 564 7 filesystems scsi
admin@RT-AC87U:/proc# cat uptime
4411.45 8728.85
admin@RT-AC87U:/proc# cat loadavg
0.03 0.04 0.05 2/61 955
admin@RT-AC87U:/proc# cat cpuinfo
Processor : ARMv7 Processor rev 0 (v7l)
processor : 0
BogoMIPS : 1998.84
processor : 1
BogoMIPS : 1998.84
Features : swp half thumb fastmult edsp
CPU implementer : 0x41
CPU architecture: 7
CPU variant : 0x3
CPU part : 0xc09
CPU revision : 0
Hardware : Northstar Prototype
Revision : 0000
Serial : 0000000000000000
admin@RT-AC87U:/proc# cat meminfo
MemTotal: 255768 kB
MemFree: 203308 kB
Buffers: 388 kB
Cached: 12592 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 12808 kB
Inactive: 6444 kB
Active(anon): 10880 kB
Inactive(anon): 3908 kB
Active(file): 1928 kB
Inactive(file): 2536 kB
Unevictable: 0 kB
Mlocked: 0 kB
SwapTotal: 0 kB
SwapFree: 0 kB
Dirty: 0 kB
Writeback: 0 kB
AnonPages: 6280 kB
Mapped: 3608 kB
Shmem: 8508 kB
Slab: 20728 kB
SReclaimable: 7152 kB
SUnreclaim: 13576 kB
KernelStack: 488 kB
PageTables: 568 kB
NFS_Unstable: 0 kB
Bounce: 0 kB
WritebackTmp: 0 kB
CommitLimit: 127884 kB
Committed_AS: 23860 kB
VmallocTotal: 516096 kB
VmallocUsed: 18464 kB
VmallocChunk: 445268 kB
admin@RT-AC87U:/proc# uptime
05:13:52 up 1:13, load average: 0.01, 0.04, 0.04
admin@RT-AC87U:/proc#

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

admin@RT-AC87U:/# nvram
usage: nvram [get name] [set name=value] [unset name] [show] [commit] [save] [restore] [erase] ...
admin@RT-AC87U:/# nvram show | grep admin
size: 35379 bytes (30157 left)
http_username=admin
http_passwd=admin
acc_list=admin>admin
acc_webdavproxy=admin>1
admin@RT-AC87U:/#

As a matter of course, we couldn't help but check a recently discovered vulnerability, which is called ShellShock, in Bash framework. Fortunately, ASUS RT-AC87U wireless router is not exposed to it due to the absence of the pain point of the device, the interpreter.

admin@RT-AC87U:/# bash
-sh: bash: not found

That's where we proceed to completion of the brief review of the command line interface capabilities and pass directly on to testing the device.

Testing

The first testing procedure we usually begin our testing section with is estimating the booting time of the device, which is a time interval starting with the moment when the power is on until the first echo reply is received through ICMP protocol. ASUS RT-AC87U wireless router boots in 104 seconds. We believe that this result is decent.

The second traditional test was a security scanning procedure, which has been carried out using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100) utility. On the whole, there were 13 open ports discovered. The most interesting data are presented below.

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

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

Performance of ASUS RT-AC87U upon carrying out of NAT/PAT translations is presented on the diagram below. It's worth noticing that by default this kind of traffic is processed using hardware acceleration, which prevents applying any load on the device CPU.

If one enables carrying out of the translation, or in other words when simple routing of packets is performed, the data transmission will not be done using hardware acceleration but the CPU.

Apart from IPv4 traffic forwarding ASUS RT-AC87U also supports the next version of Internet Protocol, IPv6, which is handled by the CPU.

Connection to the provider may be carried using various tunnel types. PPTP, L2TP, and PPPoE. We decided to test PPTP performance. Connection may be established both using MPPE encryption and without it.

ASUS RT-AC87U wireless router possesses a built-in VPN server of OpenVPN protocol. We just couldn't help but measure speeds of access to the server upon using default settings.

One of the most interesting tests is, we dare say, the measurements of performance of the wireless segment. Unfortunately, we didn't have any wireless adapter operating in AC2400 mode in our lab and that's why at first we performed measurements for both of the frequency ranges using ASUS PCE-AC68 network adapter that supports AC1900.

We must say that we were pleasantly surprised at the wireless data transmission speeds for 5 GHz frequency range that we obtained. However, we decided not to stop at this point and asked the vendor to provide us with another ASUS RT-AC87U router in order to use it as a client and thoroughly test AC2400.

This way we'd probably manage to hit the barrier of 1 Gbps in wireless speeds soon!

ASUS RT-AC87U wireless router has a USB 2.0 and a USB 3.0 port, which we used to connect a 750 Gbyte Transcend StoreJet 25M3 hard disk successively formatted into four file systems: NTFS, FAT32, and EXT2/3. The results of measurement of access speeds to the disks using SMB protocol are presented below.

It's also worth mentioning that ASUS RT-AC87U uses passive cooling of its hardware components, or in other words it doesn't have a fan in its case. We decided to measure the temperature of the device case during our performance tests. In order to measure it we used our lab's ADA TempPro-2200 pyrometer. The highest temperature that we managed to measure has been 48,8°С. We believe that the result is decent.

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

Conclusion

Generally, we are glad about ASUS RT-AC87U wireless router we tested. It allows for performing wireless data transfer at never-before-seen speeds. Appearance of user protection features, developed by Trend Micro company, looks like a useful change too. Usage of a powerful CPU will let the users enjoy various network resources to the full.

Strength areas of ASUS RT-AC87U are presented below.

  • High traffic transmission speeds in the wireless segment
  • A powerful CPU
  • Appearance of a feature of network protection of the clients
  • Advanced capabilities of QoS feature
  • Support of IPv6
  • Excellent IPv6 routing speeds
  • Availability of hardware acceleration of traffic upon carrying out of NAT/PAT translations
  • Support of two wireless frequency ranges
  • A built-in client and VPN server

Unfortunately, we cannot help to mention some of its drawbacks.

  • Relatively high price
  • The web-interface is not completely translated
  • The Russian language web-interface is a bit unstable and runs beyond the screen

As of when this article was being written, ASUS RT-AC87U was not officially on sale in Moscow. The sales are to start in December 2014. The device will be priced at 9990 roubles.

Buffalo WZR-1750DHP

Introduction

External design and hardware

Firmware update

Web-interface

Testing

Conclusion

Introduction

This is not the first time our laboratory hosts equipment of Japanese company Buffalo: TS4400D, LS421, and TS5600. However, all models of this brand that we previously reviewed were NASes. It's high time to change it! Today our test lab welcomes Buffalo WZR-1750DHP wireless router which supports wireless data transfer at speeds of up to 1750 Mbps. Okay, let's get started!

External design and hardware

Buffalo WZR-1750DHP wireless router comes in a black plastic case with rounded corners and has dimensions of 34x212x183 mm. To work properly the device needs an external power unit (included in the box) with the following characteristics: 12V and 4А.

The model under review is meant for wall or desk mounting and to do this one can fasten two special-purpose leg stands to the case. The router may be placed both vertically and horizontally.

Side panels are not remarkable at all and there is only a 3D brand tag located on them.

There are four LEDs on the front panel that show: wireless network status, WAN connection, device status, enabled/disabled routing. Apart from it, there is also AOSS button located over here. It's used for facilitating connection of the wireless clients (using a standalone utility that one can download from the vendor's website).

On the rear panel of the device there is an option button and switch of the wireless module operation mode (access point or bridge), USB device eject button as well as the indicator of its status, USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports, four LAN Gigabit Ethernet ports with indicators of their status, one WAN Gigabit Ethernet port with an indicator of its status, power socket, and power ON/OFF button.

Reset button is located on the bottom side of the device. One will also be able to find a piece of carton with the brief information about the device here.

The electronic stuffing of Buffalo WZR-1750DHP is one green textolite card (not considering small cards that act as antennae) which has all essential elements located on one of its sides. Unfortunately, a part of the hardware components is covered with screens. Only four chips were left accessible for inspection. 512 Mbyte PieceMakers PMF512816ABR-KADN module is the device RAM. Two Broadcom chips answer for support of the wireless network: BCM4360KMLG and BCM4331KMLG. Zentel A5U1GA31ATS module with the overall memory size of 128 Mbytes acts as the flash memory.

That is where we bring the device hardware review to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of its software component.

Firmware update

Firmware update may be carried out both in manual and semi-automatic mode. Firmware update is carried out in Firmware Update sub-group, Admin group of the web-interface.

If one prefers using the semi-automatic mode, the router will automatically access the vendor's website (obviously, if there's access to the Internet) and ask the user to choose one of the available firmware versions.

Firmware update in the manual mode is just a bit more difficult, one only needs to download the file containing the new firmware version and upload it to the wireless router.

Regardless of the chosen firmware update mode, the whole update procedure takes about three minutes (not considering the file downloading time).

We would like to point out one peculiarity that our readers may come across upon firmware update. Buffalo company only permits using those firmwares that have been developed exactly for countries or regions where a certain device is to be used. If one uses the wrong firmware, the update procedure will not be completed and the user will receive an error. Therefore, the device firmware will not be updated.

Also, it's worth noticing that there's an alternative firmware version for WZR-1750DHP model which is based on the DD-WRT code. One can download it from the web server of Buffalo company too.

That is where we bring the review of the process of firmware update to a conclusion and pass on to examining its capabilities.

Web-interface

One can access the web-interface of Buffalo WZR-1750DHP wireless router by entering 192.168.11.1 in any modern browser. In order to connect to the device the administrator must specify login and password, which are admin and password by default. Also, one can change the web-interface language upon accessing it.

It's worth noticing that there are two versions of the web-interface: standard one (which is meant to be managed from a common PC, tablet, or notebook) and mobile one, which was developed for users of small touch screen mobile devices. The mobile interface is presented below.

Further we will be reviewing simply the key capabilities of the standard firmware version. Upon successful authentication the administrator will find him/herself on the home page of the device where s/he will see groups with the main settings. For example, over here one can manage parameters of the wireless network, activate a guest account, adjust QoS settings, switch on web filtration, specify operation parameters of the USB carrier, and review the connected user devices.

One can fine-tune the device using Advanced Settings group, which we will review now.

Management of the access to the WAN is done using sub-groups of Internet group. Getting connected to the service provider can be done using both the static or dynamic IP address as well as PPTP, PPPoE, or L2TP tunnels.

There's also PPTP subgroup which lets remote users get connected to the router.

Local area network settings are located in LAN group. It would be fair to mention that the firmware versions for other countries (not only for Russia) lack "IPTV" and "PPTP Client" groups.

Buffalo WZR-1750DHP model supports up to two wireless networks within every frequency range. The corresponding settings are located in sub-groups of Wireless group. Also, one can manage filtration based on MAC addresses and adjust guest access over here.

Management of firewall and other various filtrations is done using Security group.

Management of protocol and application support can be carried out using Applications group. Also, this group features parameters of access to the device using SMB/Samba protocols as well as QoS settings.

Admin group allows users managing time synchronization and log settings, changing the administrator password, updating firmware, rebooting the devices, and performing an array of other administrative tasks.

The user can learn the current status of the router using the sub-groups of the same-named group. In this group one can find information about the current status of the device as well as static and log data.

That is where we bring review of the device web-interface capabilities to a conclusion and pass directly on to testing it.

Testing

The first testing procedure we usually begin our testing section with is estimating the booting time of the device, which is a time interval starting with the moment when the power is on until the first echo reply is received through ICMP protocol. Buffalo WZR-1750DHP wireless router boots in 46 seconds.

During the testing procedures we managed to find out that upon pressing power ON/OFF button WZR-1750DHP doesn't switches off instantaneously. Instead of this, it will be turned off in a correct way. The whole turning off process takes about 20 seconds.

The second traditional test was a security scanning procedure, which has been carried out using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100) utility. The scanning has been carried out from the LAN interface direction. On the whole, there were four open ports discovered, and they are TCP-53 (domain), TCP-80 (HTTP), TCP-443 (HTTP SSL), and TCP-50024 (HTTP). Detection of a probable vulnerability associated with processing of ICMP messages by the router came to be an unpleasant finding. The obtained data are presented below.

Before getting down to reviewing the performance test results we would like to mention the key specification of the test stand we used.

Component PC Notebook
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VI Extreme ASUS M60J
CPU Intel Core i7 4770K 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7 720QM 1.6 GHz
RAM DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 32 Gbytes DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 16 Gbytes
NIC Intel PRO/1000 PT
ASUS PCE-AC68
Atheros AR8131
OS Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus

We decided to begin the throughput tests with finding out the maximum routing speeds. WZR-1750DHP allows either simply routing IP packets or performing NAT/PAT translation. Results of the measurements are presented on the diagram below. The tests were carried out with 1, 5, and 15 concurrent TCP connections using JPERF 2.0.2 utility.

The router under review has two built-in clients and PPTP server. As a matter of course, we couldn't help but review it. Connection to the built-in PPTP server may be carried out both with encryption and without it.

Buffalo WZR-1750DHP supports connection of USB carriers. We decided to test access speeds to the user data stored on 750 GBytes Transcend StoreJet 25M3 HDD. In order to do this we successively connected it to USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports. The wireless router under review only supports two file systems: FAT32 and XFS. In other words, unfortunately we didn't manage to find support of NTFS.

One of the interesting capabilities of the model under review is support of high speeds in the wireless segment: up to 450 Mbps within 2.4 GHz frequency range and up to 1300 Mbps within 5 GHz frequency range. One can find the results of speed measurements within frequencies of about 2.4 GHz on the diagram below. We were pleasantly surprised at getting data transfer speeds of about 300 Mbps upon the theoretical speed value of 450 Mbps.

Unfortunately, everything is not as good within 5 GHz frequency range as the users from Russia and the CIS have the limited theoretical speed of 600 Mbps. One cannot simply change the region since it's hard coded in the firmware. It means that the equipment which is meant to be used in a certain country or a region cannot be taken to any other country or region. The diagram below shows the measurements of wireless speeds within 5 GHz frequency range for the Russian version of WZR-1750DHP model.

Naturally, we just couldn't do with it and therefore we asked the vendor to provide us with a model which is meant for sale in the EU. The diagrams presented below show its performance within the frequency range of 5 GHz.

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

Conclusion

We were left with mixed feelings after reviewing Buffalo WZR-1750DHP wireless router. On one hand, this is a device with rich functionality and nice design. On the other hand, strict pegging to the region or country where the device is meant to be used and limitations caused by it may overscore most of the model advantages for users who live in the ex-Soviet block countries.

The strength areas of Buffalo WZR-1750DHP wireless router are presented below.

  • Ability to prohibit the router management upon wireless connection
  • Competitive price
  • A built-in PPTP server
  • High access speeds to the data stored on a USB disc
  • Support of two wireless networks in each frequency range
  • Presence of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports
  • Ability to review information about the connected wireless clients
  • Availability of web filtration mechanism
  • A nice case design
  • A built-in BitTorrent client
  • Support of energy saving mode
  • Availability of an alternative firmware powered by DD-WRT

Unfortunately, we cannot help to mention certain drawbacks we have discovered.

  • Speed limitations for users from Russia and the CIS
  • Average speeds for PPTP connections
  • Presence of a probable vulnerability associated with processing of ICMP messages
  • Absence of support of the newest version of IP, IPv6

As of when this article was being written, the average price for Buffalo WZR-1750DHP in Moscow online shops was 6100 roubles.

ASUS RT-N18U

Introduction

External design and hardware

Firmware upgrade and utilities

Web-interface

Command line interface

Testing

Conclusion

Introduction

It looks like Foxnetwork laboratory being the first to receive ASUS equipment for review gets to be a good tradition. RT-N18U model, which is meant to replace its predecessor RT-N16, is not an exception. We were sent it, which was not even a mass production sample, long before the vendor announced the launch of the device. That's why Foxnetwork offers its readers a one-in-a-kind opportunity to find out the mystery behind the new device and learn more about it. Enough waiting, let's get down to reviewing it!

Whilst we were preparing the review for publication, the vendor representatives provided us with a mass production sample of ASUS RT-N18U wireless router, which is somewhat different from a prototype product. That’s why we had to make certain alterations in the finished article so that all our readers would be able to receive fresh and trustworthy information to the greatest possible extent.

External design and hardware

ASUS RT-N18U wireless router comes in a black plastic case with dimensions of 153x206x37 mm (not considering the antennae). To work properly the device needs an external power unit (included in the box) with the following characteristics: 12V and 1.5А.

On the upper panel of the device there are a brand tag and model name (RT-N18U). Also, there are LEDs indicating the status of the whole device, its wireless module, LAN and WAN ports, as well as LEDs indicating the connected USB devices.

The largest part of the bottom panel of the router is a ventilation grate. Also there are four rubber legs used for table mounting and two tooling holes used to mount the device on the wall.

Side panels are not remarkable at all and there is only a ventilation grate located on them.

On the rear side there are four LAN and one WAN Gigabit Ethernet ports, one USB 2.0 ports, three aerial sockets used to connect the external detachable antennae, as well as ON/OFF, Reset, and WPS buttons, and a power socket. The USB 3.0 port is located on the router front panel.

Hardware stuffing of ASUS RT-N18U wireless router is one aquamarine textolite card. All the most interesting elements are covered with two metal screens located under a radiator on one of the card sides.

The only element accessible for inspection was the Spansion S34ML01G100TFI00 flash memory module with the size of 128 Mbytes.

That is where we bring the review of the device hardware to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of its software component.

Firmware upgrade and utilities

One can detect a switched-on ASUS wireless router within the local network wired segment using Device Discovery utility.

 

Firmware upgrade is carried out in Firmware Upgrade tab, Administration menu item. Firmware upgrade process may be carried out both in manual and semi-automatic mode. Firmware upgrade in the semi-automatic mode is available only if the router is connected to the WAN network. In order to upgrade the firmware manually the user will need to download the firmware upgrade file beforehand from the vendor's website. The whole upgrade procedure takes not longer than three minutes (not considering the firmware download time).

In case of a failure during the firmware upgrade process, the router changes for the rescue mode during which the power indicator on the device starts slowly flashing. The administrator can restore the firmware using Firmware Restoration utility, which automatically searches for an inoperable device within the network and upgrades its firmware. It'd be fair to mention that the administrator can manually switch the router over to the rescue mode. To do that s/he only needs to hold Reset button for 10 seconds while the device is booting.

In case if it's not possible to use the utility due to this or that reason, the firmware restoration will still be feasible. There will be two methods that the administrator can use: uploading the firmware via TFTP or using the web-server built in the loader. The former can be done using any modern TFTP client in order to upload the actionable firmware to the device and wait until it's rebooted.

C:\>tftp -i 192.168.1.1 put c:\RT-N18U_3.0.0.4_374_4857-g1becd6c.trx
Transfer successful: 29040640 bytes in 76 second(s), 382113 bytes/s

The second method is a bit more functional. Using this technique the administrator not only can restore the firmware, but also reset the user settings.

Since at the time when this article was being written there were no alternative firmware versions for ASUS RT-N18U available, we are bringing this chapter to a close and proceed to the brief review of the device web-interface capabilities.

Web-interface

The web-interface of ASUS RT-N18U wireless router is similar to all devices powered by ASUS-WRT firmware, and therefore we will not review all of its capabilities in detail but only focus on the newest and most interesting ones.

Upon the successful authentication an administrator will find him/herself on the home page of the device.

ASUS RT-N18U supports only one frequency range, 2.4 GHz, and therefore allows the user creating up to three guest wireless networks in this range via Guest network menu item.

Using tabs located in Traffic Manager menu item one can manage priority of transmitted packets and analyze the utilization of the router interfaces.

Getting connected to the service provider can be done using both the static or dynamic IP address or one of the following tunnels: PPPoE, PPTP, and L2TP. The applicable settings are located in Connection tab, WAN menu item.

One of the nice capabilities of ASUS-WRT firmware for the majority of ASUS wireless routers is support of the second WAN port (Double WAN tab, WAN menu item), which can be carried out either using one of the device LAN ports or getting connected to it via one of the supported USB modems.

The list of protocols that are permitted NAT Passthrough are located in NAT Passthrough tab, WAN menu item.

The user can manage the IPv6 support parameters using the same-named menu item.

A great new thing that appeared in the latest firmware versions is a possibility to filter IPv6 traffic. In order to manage these settings the administrator needs to use IPv6 Firewall tab in Firewall menu item.

Tabs in VPN menu allow one managing built-in VPN client and server. The following protocols are supported for the VPN client: PPTP, L2TP, and OpenVPN, whilst the VPN server only supports PPTP and OpenVPN.

Operation mode tab in Administration menu item lets the administrator choose the RT-N18U operation mode.

Beginning with 3.0.0.4.376_1211 firmware version the users have several new interesting features. For example, apart from basic wireless network settings now System Status group provides graphs that show you the utilization of the device CPU and RAM.

Yet another interesting feature that was added came to be the possibility to review the signal strength of the connected wireless clients.

That is where we bring the brief review of ASUS RT-N18U wireless router web-interface to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of its command line.

Command line interface

Switching the access to the command line on is performed using System tab, Administration group in the web-interface.

In order to access the ASUS RT-N18U wireless router command line one needs to enter the same login and password as for logging in to the device web-interface. Firmware of the model under review is built on Linux 2.6.36.4 OS using BusyBox 1.17.4.

RT-N18U login: admin
Password:
ASUSWRT RT-N18U_3.0.0.4 Mon Mar 24 04:51:54 UTC 2014
admin@RT-N18U:/tmp/home/root# cd /
admin@RT-N18U:/# uname -a
Linux RT-N18U 2.6.36.4brcmarm #1 PREEMPT Mon Mar 24 11:48:15 CST 2014 armv7l GNU
/Linux
admin@RT-N18U:/# busybox
BusyBox v1.17.4 (2014-03-24 11:42:53 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, wget, 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.

admin@RT-N18U:/# ps
PID USER VSZ STAT COMMAND
1 admin 2108 S /sbin/preinit
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 [kworker/u:1]
46 admin 0 SW [sync_supers]
48 admin 0 SW [bdi-default]
49 admin 0 SW< [kblockd]
97 admin 0 SW [kswapd0]
143 admin 0 SW [fsnotify_mark]
153 admin 0 SW< [crypto]
225 admin 0 SW [mtdblock0]
230 admin 0 SW [mtdblock1]
235 admin 0 SW [mtdblock2]
240 admin 0 SW [mtdblock3]
262 admin 0 SW [kworker/0:1]
265 admin 0 SW [mtdblock4]
269 admin 664 S hotplug2 --persistent --no-coldplug
298 admin 2092 S console
299 admin 1504 S /bin/sh
303 admin 1492 S syslogd -m 0 -S -O /tmp/syslog.log -s 256 -l 6
306 admin 1492 S /sbin/klogd
312 admin 0 SW [khubd]
405 admin 2100 S usbled
450 admin 2100 S /sbin/wanduck
458 admin 1496 S telnetd
461 admin 2100 S wpsaide
Mem: 32756K used, 223132K free, 0K shrd, 420K buff, 7264K cached
CPU: 0% usr 0% sys 0% nic 100% idle 0% io 0% irq 0% sirq
Load average: 0.05 0.06 0.05 1/52 648
PID PPID USER STAT VSZ %MEM %CPU COMMAND
472 1 admin S 3352 1% 0% httpd
473 1 admin S 3352 1% 0% httpd -s -p 8443
1 0 admin S 2108 1% 0% /sbin/preinit
599 1 admin S 2104 1% 0% u2ec
609 608 admin S 2104 1% 0% u2ec
608 599 admin S 2104 1% 0% u2ec
477 1 admin S 2100 1% 0% watchdog
461 1 admin S 2100 1% 0% wpsaide
405 1 admin S 2100 1% 0% usbled
450 1 admin S 2100 1% 0% /sbin/wanduck
485 477 admin S 2100 1% 0% ots
490 1 admin S 2100 1% 0% disk_monitor
466 1 admin S 2100 1% 0% ntp
298 1 admin S 2092 1% 0% console
471 1 admin S 2012 1% 0% avahi-daemon: running [RT-N18U-0A38.lo
627 458 admin S 1508 1% 0% -sh
299 298 admin S 1504 1% 0% /bin/sh
648 627 admin R 1496 1% 0% top
458 1 admin S 1496 1% 0% telnetd
306 1 admin S 1492 1% 0% /sbin/klogd
303 1 admin S 1492 1% 0% syslogd -m 0 -S -O /tmp/syslog.log -s

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 the administrator find out whether a TCP port is open in a certain node.

admin@RT-N18U:/# tcpcheck
usage: tcpcheck <timeout> <host:port> [host:port]
admin@RT-N18U:/# tcpcheck 5 192.168.1.1:23
192.168.1.1:23 is alive
admin@RT-N18U:/# tcpcheck 5 192.168.1.3:80
192.168.1.3:80 failed

Looks like /rom/Beceem_firmware catalog features files that are somehow associated with Yota service provider.

admin@RT-N18U:/# ls /rom/Beceem_firmware/
RemoteProxy.cfg macxvi.cfg.giraffe macxvi200.bin.giraffe
Server_CA.pem.yota macxvi.cfg.gmc macxvi200.bin.normal
macxvi.cfg.freshtel macxvi.cfg.yota

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-N18U:/# cd /proc
admin@RT-N18U:/proc# ls
1 458 543 diskstats mtd
143 46 550 dmu net
153 461 592 driver pagetypeinfo
2 463 599 emf partitions
225 465 6 execdomains scsi
230 466 601 filesystems self
235 471 608 fs slabinfo
240 472 609 interrupts softirqs
262 473 7 iomem stat
265 474 765 ioports swaps
269 475 799 irq sys
298 477 97 kallsyms sysrq-trigger
299 48 bcm947xx key-users sysvipc
3 480 buddyinfo kmsg timer_list
303 485 bus loadavg tty
306 49 cmdline locks uptime
312 490 cpu meminfo version
4 491 cpuinfo misc vmallocinfo
405 5 crypto modules vmstat
450 541 devices mounts zoneinfo
admin@RT-N18U:/proc# cat uptime
1477.03 1450.97
admin@RT-N18U:/proc# cat loadavg
0.04 0.05 0.05 1/52 801
admin@RT-N18U:/proc# cat cpuinfo
Processor : ARMv7 Processor rev 0 (v7l)
BogoMIPS : 1599.07
Features : swp half thumb fastmult edsp
CPU implementer : 0x41
CPU architecture: 7
CPU variant : 0x3
CPU part : 0xc09
CPU revision : 0
Hardware : Northstar Prototype
Revision : 0000
Serial : 0000000000000000
admin@RT-N18U:/proc# cat meminfo
MemTotal: 255888 kB
MemFree: 222592 kB
Buffers: 448 kB
Cached: 7280 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 5472 kB
Inactive: 6064 kB
Active(anon): 3904 kB
Inactive(anon): 3852 kB
Active(file): 1568 kB
Inactive(file): 2212 kB
Unevictable: 0 kB
Mlocked: 0 kB
SwapTotal: 0 kB
SwapFree: 0 kB
Dirty: 0 kB
Writeback: 0 kB
AnonPages: 3828 kB
Mapped: 2752 kB
Shmem: 3948 kB
Slab: 12368 kB
SReclaimable: 1248 kB
SUnreclaim: 11120 kB
KernelStack: 416 kB
PageTables: 476 kB
NFS_Unstable: 0 kB
Bounce: 0 kB
WritebackTmp: 0 kB
CommitLimit: 127944 kB
Committed_AS: 16812 kB
VmallocTotal: 516096 kB
VmallocUsed: 17524 kB
VmallocChunk: 489864 kB
admin@RT-N18U:/proc# uptime
04:25:05 up 25 min, load average: 0.02, 0.04, 0.04

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

admin@RT-N18U:/# nvram
usage: nvram [get name] [set name=value] [unset name] [show] [commit] [save] [re
store] [erase] ...
admin@RT-N18U:/# nvram show | grep admin
size: 35259 bytes (30277 left)
http_username=admin
http_passwd=admin
acc_list=admin>admin<Family>family0a38
acc_webdavproxy=admin>1<Family>0

That's where we proceed to completion of the brief review of the command line interface capabilities and pass directly on to testing the device.

Testing

The first testing procedure we traditionally begin our testing section with is estimating the booting time of the device, 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-N18U wireless router boots in 38 seconds. It'd be fair to mention that somewhere around the 16th second we received a couple of echo-replies, which however weren't sent by the device OS but by the loader that one can detect using TTL=100 field.

The second test, which is no less traditional, was a security scanning procedure, which has been carried out using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100) utility. On the whole, there were 13 open ports discovered. The most interesting data we obtained are presented below.

Before getting down to performance tests we would like to mention the key specification of the test stand we used.

Component PC Notebook
Motherboard ASUS Maximus VI Extreme ASUS M60J
CPU Intel Core i7 4770K 3.5 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
OS Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus

We began the performance tests by measuring IPv4 routing speeds upon execution of NAT/PAT as well as upon switched-on accelerator of NAT translations. In order to test the device we used JPert utility, 2.0.2 version.

After that we decided to switch off the acceleration of NAT translations and measure the user traffic transmission speed upon routing without translations. Majority of users will probably use routing with NAT hardware acceleration and therefore one should pay more attention to the previous diagram.

Neither did we keep away from the support of IPv6.

Connection to the provider may be carried using one of the tunnel types. We decided to test connection using PPTP both with MPPE128 encryption and without it. These connection types are still widely-used by people in Russia and the CIS. However, lately it looks like the trend of using VPN connection type by the service providers is gaining momentum.

ASUS RT-N18U wireless router hardware supports the server and client sides of PPTP. We didn't carry out the applicable tests since generally its performance is on the same level as the one shown by PPTP as a WAN connection. Instead of this, we managed OpenVPN server and measured access speeds using the above-mentioned protocol.

ASUS RT-N18U supports wireless network operation in 2.4 GHz frequency range. Naturally, we decided to find out what wireless speeds will be available for the users. The diagram presented below contains data received from the mass production sample whose wireless module supports theoretical speeds of wireless transfer of up to 600 Mbps.

The rear panel of the model under review has a USB 2.0 port. The USB 3.0 port is located on the front panel of the device. We connected external 750 GB Transcend StoreJet 25M3 HDD to both USB ports of RT-N18U and tested the access speeds to the data located on it.

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

Conclusion

Generally, we are glad about the ASUS RT-N18U prototype model we tested and we are anticipated to see it on the shelves in stores. However, when this article was being written, there weren't even any announcement dates available. Also it's worth noticing that ASUS RT-N18U is a replacement for the outdated RT-N16 model.

The strength areas of ASUS RT-N18U wireless router are presented below.

  • Support of three guest wireless networks
  • May be managed not only via HTTP, but also using HTTPS
  • Support of USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports
  • High IPv6 traffic transmission speeds
  • Support of OpenVPN server and client
  • High access speeds to the data stored on a USB disc
  • Support of a double WAN port
  • Possibility to review the signal strength of client devices

Unfortunately, we cannot help but mention one drawback.

  • The web-interface is not completely translated

When this article was being written, the official sales of ASUS RT-N18U wireless router in Russia did not yet start. The average price of the device in e-shops abroad was $170. The anticipated price of the device in Russia would be around 2700 roubles.

NETGEAR WNDR4700

Introduction

External design and hardware

Firmware upgrade and additional utilities

Web-interface

Command line

Testing

Conclusion

Introduction

A story of the trip of NETGEAR WNDR4700 wireless router from the vendor's office to our test lab is really complicate and long, but still we are really glad to provide our readers with a detailed review and testing of this somewhat unusual networking device. Its singularity is about a special hard disc bay located in its case; moreover, it's not used for common small 2.5" notebook discs but only for a fully-featured 3.5" SATA data carrier.

External design and hardware

In terms of the external design, WNDR4700 looks like the majority of wireless SOHO devices: a black plastic case with LEDs located on the glossy front panel and network ports on its rear side. However, it still looks a bit bigger. The device has dimensions of 256х206х85 mm. To work properly WNDR4700 needs an external power unit (included in the box) with the following characteristics: 12V and 5A. We already saw a similar case in R6300 model.

On the bottom side of the stand there are rubber legs and a sticker with brief information about the device.

There is a bay used for installation of the HDD located behind one of the device punched side panels.

On the other side panel there are three buttons used to switch the wireless network on and off, facilitate the procedure of wireless client connection, and back up the user data. Also, there are a USB 3.0 port and slot used for connection of SD cards.

Network interfaces are located on the bottom part of the rear panel; there are four LAN GE ports, one WAN GE port, USB 3.0 port, sunken Reset button, ON/OFF button, and power socket.

Electronic stuffing of WNDR4700 is one main green textolite card and several small support cards that function as antennae. Unfortunately, the only module accessible for inspection was the Hynix H27U1G8F2BTR flash memory module with the size of 128 Mbytes and IDT 89HPES4T4 microchip. All other chips are covered with screens.

That is where we bring the review of the hardware platform of NETGEAR WNDR4700 wireless router to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of its software component.

Firmware upgrade and additional utilities

Firmware upgrade is carried out in Firmware Upgrade sub-group, Administration group of the web-interface. Firmware upgrade may be carried out both in a manual and semi-automatic mode. In order to perform the latter one needs to be connected to the WAN.

Upon upgrading the firmware in the manual mode one needs to specify the file with the applicable firmware downloaded beforehand and click on Upload button.

The whole upgrade procedure takes about three minutes (not considering the file downloading time).

As of when this article was being written, there was only one utility available for usage by WNDR4700 users: ReadySharePrinter that facilitates the procedure of connection of a remote printer.

Now let's have a look at the device web-interface.

Web-interface

Since our test lab already hosted quite a few networking devices by NETGEAR— WNDR3800, R6300, WNDR4500, and WNR1000v2—our readers already had a possibility to get acquainted with the majority of capabilities featured in web-interfaces of routers produced by this vendor. That's why we will not review all capabilities of WNDR4700, but only turn our attention to the most interesting features.

In order to access the device web-interface one should enter 192.168.1.1 address and type in the logon information upon authentication; which is admin/password by default. Upon successful authentication the administrator will find him/herself on the home page of the web-interface available in 22 languages.

The web-interface is available in two modes: basic and advanced. Using the basic mode the users can review the device status and manage connection to the Internet provider, change wireless network operation parameters as well as those of connected users and devices, and apply the parental control feature.

By switching for the advanced mode the administrator will be able to use two wizards that make it possible to perform the initial adjustment of the device. Apart from that, the advanced mode gives the user wider functionality in terms of managing NETGEAR WNDR4700 wireless router. For example, using Setup group one can change parameters associated with tweaking the local network and Internet port.

Storage group offers the user an opportunity to define the access right for other users, format the internal HDD, and manage a built-in media server.

In Administration group the user can review status of the router and its ports, log information, and data about connected devices as well as change the password and upgrade the firmware.

Advanced Setup group contains features used for the most flexible adjustment of the device.

That's where we draw a brief review of the web-interface capabilities of WNDR4700 to a close.

Command line

Access to the web-interface of WNDR4700 wireless router can be gained via a method that is conventional for the majority of wireless SOHO devices by NETGEAR: using telnetable utility. In this case one won't need to specify login and password.

=== IMPORTANT ============================
Use 'passwd' to set your login password
this will disable telnet and enable SSH
------------------------------------------
BusyBox v1.4.2 (2013-01-25 11:20:51 EST) Built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.
[WNDR4700]#

In spite of the information located on the banner displayed upon connection, SSH daemon won't get launched by entering passwd command.

BusyBox 1.4.2 library is installed in Linux 2.6.32.11.

[WNDR4700]# busybox
BusyBox v1.4.2 (2013-01-25 11:20:51 EST) multi-call binary
Copyright (C) 1998-2006 Erik Andersen, Rob Landley, 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:
[, [[, addgroup, adduser, arping, ash, awk, awx, basename,
bunzip2, bzcat, cat, chgrp, chmod, chown, chroot, clear,
cp, crond, crontab, cut, date, dd, delgroup, deluser,
df, diff, dirname, dmesg, du, echo, egrep, env, expr,
false, fgrep, find, free, fsck, fuser, getopt, getty,
grep, gunzip, gzip, halt, hdparm, head, hexdump, hostid,
hostname, hwclock, id, ifconfig, init, insmod, ipkg, kill,
killall, killall5, klogd, length, less, ln, lock, logger,
logread, ls, lsmod, md, md5sum, mesg, mkdir, mkfifo, mknod,
mktemp, mm, mount, mv, nc, netmsg, netstat, nice, nslookup,
passwd, pidof, ping, ping6, pivot_root, poweroff, printf,
ps, pwd, rdate, reboot, reset, rm, rmdir, rmmod, route,
sed, seq, sh, sleep, sort, start-stop-daemon, strings,
su, switch_root, sync, sysctl, syslogd, tail, tar, tee,
telnet, telnetd, test, tftp, time, top, touch, tr, traceroute,
true, umount, uname, uniq, uptime, usleep, vconfig, vi,
watchdog, wc, wget, which, xargs, yes, zcat, zcip
[WNDR4700]# uname -a
Linux WNDR4700 2.6.32.11-wndr4700 #2 Mon Jan 28 03:19:37 EST 2013 ppc unknown
[WNDR4700]# cat /proc/version
Linux version 2.6.32.11-wndr4700 (torby.tong@dni-l-sw01) (gcc version 4.5.1 (GCC) ) #2 Mon Jan 28 03:19:37 EST 2013

Let's see what processes are currently running using ps command.

[WNDR4700]# ps
PID Uid VmSize Stat Command
1 root 2496 S init
2 root SW [kthreadd]
3 root SW [ksoftirqd/0]
4 root SW [events/0]
5 root SW [khelper]
8 root SW [async/mgr]
152 root SW [sync_supers]
154 root SW [bdi-default]
155 root SW [kblockd/0]
160 root SW [ata/0]
161 root SW [ata_aux]
162 root SW [ksuspend_usbd]
167 root SW [khubd]
171 root SW [kmmcd]
229 root SW [kswapd0]
230 root SW [aio/0]
231 root SW [crypto/0]
806 root SW [scsi_tgtd/0]
812 root SW [scsi_eh_0]
817 root SW [mtdblockd]
902 root SW [scsi_eh_1]
903 root SW [usb-storage]
1005 root 2112 S klogd
1009 root 1792 S /bin/datalib
1078 root 2496 S /bin/sh /usr/sbin/set_fan_vol
1365 root 1856 S udhcpd /tmp/udhcpd.conf
1368 root 1664 S /usr/sbin/net-scan
1396 root 1728 S /usr/sbin/lld2d br0
1562 root 2304 S crond -c /tmp/etc/crontabs -T GMT-4
1600 root 1984 S /usr/sbin/miniupnpd
1630 root 2240 S syslogd -m 0 -T GMT-4 -c 511
1659 root 1664 S /usr/sbin/ntpclient
1664 root 2304 S crond -c /tmp/etc/crontabs -T GMT-4
1692 root 2176 S /usr/sbin/dnsmasq -r /tmp/resolv.conf --wan-interface
1740 root 2560 S /bin/sh /usr/sbin/luns_scan.sh
1835 root 1600 S potd
1837 root 1152 S potval
1859 root SW [flush-31:0]
1916 root 2496 S /bin/sh /usr/sbin/send_wol 311
1920 root 4544 S N /usr/sbin/afpd -F /etc/netatalk/afpd.conf -P /var/run
1923 root 1792 S hotplug2 --persistent --coldplug
1956 root 3200 S avahi-daemon: running [WNDR4700.local]
2272 root 1344 S udhcpc -b -i eth0.1 -h WNDR4700 -r 0.0.0.0
4832 root 1984 S hostapd -B /tmp/secath0 /tmp/secath1 -e /etc/wpa2/ent
4888 root 1856 S /sbin/traffic_meter
4907 root SW [ telnetDBGD ]
4908 root SW [ acktelnetDBGD ]
4910 root SW [checkSBusTimeou]
4918 root SW [NU UDP]
4923 root SW [NU TCP]
4936 root 2496 S /bin/sh /sbin/check_HDD_capacity
4957 root 2368 S /usr/sbin/uhttpd -h /www -r WNDR4700 -x /cgi-bin -t 6
4959 root 1152 S inetd
4990 root 2560 S /bin/ash --login
6596 root 2048 S /usr/sbin/utelnetd -d -i br0
23794 root 2688 S /bin/ash --login
24352 root 2112 S sleep 311
24894 root 2112 S sleep 67
25324 root 2112 S sleep 31
25450 root 2112 S sleep 1
25451 root 2624 R ps

Let's find out what kind of content /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, and /usr/sbin catalogues have.

[WNDR4700]# ls /bin
addgroup dmesg ls rm
adduser echo md rmdir
ash egrep mkdir sed
busybox false mknod sh
cat fgrep mktemp sleep
chgrp getopt mm su
chmod gpg-error-config mount sync
chown grep mv tar
config gunzip netmsg touch
cp gzip netstat true
datalib hostname nice umount
date ipcalc.sh pidof uname
dd kill ping usleep
delgroup ln ping6 vi
deluser lock ps zcat
df login pwd
[WNDR4700]# ls /sbin
80211stats led.sh
app_mount ledcontrol
artmtd log_fan_rpm_fault
athstats logread
athstatsclr lsmod
backup mount_root
cfdisk mtd
cfg net-util
cgiMain pivot_root
check_HDD_capacity pktlogconf
cmd_autoreset pktlogdump
cmd_ddns poweroff
cmd_ebtables printhosts
cmd_traffic_meter printnss
cmddlna qos.sh
cmdftp radartool
cmdigmp reboot
cmdroute reg
cmdsched rmmod
cmdsched_wlan_status route
cmdupnp rs_send
detect_factory run-ramfs
detwanv6 start-stop-daemon
dni_apup storage_test
dni_qos switch_root
dumpregs sysctl
fdisk syslogd
firstboot sysupgrade
fsck tfm_led
generate_traffic_meter_conf traffic_meter
getty uci
halt udevtrigger
hdparm udhcpc
hotplug-call udhcpd
hotplug2 umount_unapproved
hotplug2.mount update-wifi
hotplug2.testbusy usb_disk_event
hotplug2.umount vconfig
hwclock wan_debug
ifconfig watchdog
ifdown wifi
ifup wlan
igmpproxy wlan_old
init wlanconfig
insmod wps_pbc
ip_mac wpsled
ipconflict zcip
klogd
[WNDR4700]# ls /usr/bin
[ cut fuser logger smbpasswd tr
[[ detcable head md5sum sort traceroute
arping diff hexdump mesg strings uniq
awk dirname hostid mkfifo tail uptime
awx du id nc tee wc
basename env ipkg nslookup telnet wget
bunzip2 expr killall passwd test which
bzcat find killall5 printf tftp xargs
clear flushRoute length reset time yes
crontab free less seq top
[WNDR4700]# ls /usr/sbin
afpd ip ppp-nas
afppasswd ip6tables pppd
avahi-autoipd ip6tables-restore proftpd
avahi-daemon ip6tables-save px5g
avahi-dnsconfd ipp radvd
brctl iptables radvdump
chat iwconfig rdate
check_smart_error.sh iwgetid remote_smb_conf
chroot iwlist restart_ap_udhcpc
cmd_cron iwpriv ripd
cnid_dbd iwspy ripngd
cnid_metad lld2d select_partition
crond luns_scan.sh send_wol
detach_afp_shares minidlna set_fan_vol
detectSATA miniupnpd sfdisk
detwan mke2fs smartctl
dev-scan mkfs.ext2 smartd
dhcp6c mkfs.ext3 smbd
dhcp6ctl mkfs.ext4 ssmtp
dhcp6s mkfs.xfs stamac
dns-hijack net-cgi telnetd
dnsmasq net-disk telnetenable
dsyslog net-dump tune2fs
e2fsck net-scan uhttpd
ebtables net-wall update_afp
ez-ipupdate nmbd update_smb
format_sata noip2 update_user
hostapd ntpclient usb_cfg
hostapd_cli ntpst utelnetd
i2cdetect parted vmstat
i2cdump partprobe vol_id
i2cget phddns wget_netgear
i2cset potd wol
inetd potval zebra

Now let's turn to /proc catalogue to view its contents and find out the system uptime, its average utilisation, information on the CPU installed, and the amount of RAM.

[WNDR4700]# ls
1 229 NetUSB loadavg
1005 230 ath_pktlog locks
1009 231 athdebug mcast
1078 23794 athnodefixedrate mcast_set
1365 29947 athrtscts meminfo
1368 3 athversion misc
1396 32126 buddyinfo modules
152 32303 bus mounts
154 32568 cmdline mtd
155 32569 cpuinfo net
1562 4 crypto ocminfo
160 4832 detect_phy pagetypeinfo
1600 4888 device-tree partitions
161 4907 devices scsi
162 4908 diskstats self
1630 4910 dma simple_config
1659 4918 dni_qos_if slabinfo
1664 4923 driver softirqs
167 4936 execdomains stat
1692 4957 filesystems swaps
171 4959 fs switch_phy
1740 4990 igmpsnoop sys
1835 5 interrupts sysrq-trigger
1837 6596 iomem sysvipc
1859 8 ioports timer_list
1916 806 irq tty
1920 812 kallsyms uptime
1923 817 kcore version
1956 902 key-users vmallocinfo
2 903 kmsg vmstat
2272 MFS lan_prio zoneinfo
[WNDR4700]# cat uptime
3328.36 3177.42
[WNDR4700]# cat loadavg
0.04 0.05 0.01 1/61 1891
[WNDR4700]# cat cpuinfo
processor : 0
cpu : APM82181
clock : 1000.000010MHz
revision : 28.131 (pvr 12c4 1c83)
bogomips : 2000.00
timebase : 1000000010
platform : PowerPC 44x Platform
model : amcc,wdnr4700
Memory : 256 MB
[WNDR4700]# cat meminfo
MemTotal: 256128 kB
MemFree: 157440 kB
Buffers: 5312 kB
Cached: 37120 kB
SwapCached: 0 kB
Active: 46464 kB
Inactive: 16320 kB
Active(anon): 26816 kB
Inactive(anon): 0 kB
Active(file): 19648 kB
Inactive(file): 16320 kB
Unevictable: 0 kB
Mlocked: 0 kB
SwapTotal: 0 kB
SwapFree: 0 kB
Dirty: 64 kB
Writeback: 0 kB
AnonPages: 20800 kB
Mapped: 5824 kB
Shmem: 6464 kB
Slab: 18240 kB
SReclaimable: 1920 kB
SUnreclaim: 16320 kB
KernelStack: 488 kB
PageTables: 6528 kB
NFS_Unstable: 0 kB
Bounce: 0 kB
WritebackTmp: 0 kB
CommitLimit: 256128 kB
Committed_AS: 77120 kB
VmallocTotal: 729088 kB
VmallocUsed: 78592 kB
VmallocChunk: 599936 kB
[WNDR4700]# uptime
00:55:53 up 55 min, load average: 0.08, 0.06, 0.01

That is where we bring review of the device command line to a conclusion and pass directly on to testing it.

Testing

The first traditional procedure we usually begin our testing chapter with is measuring the booting time of the device. However, this time we decided to somewhat modify the measurement procedure since upon loading NETGEAR WNDR4700 occasionally replies to ICMP echo requests, but all other services become unavailable (including the web-interface). That's why in this case we measured the time period from plugging the device in the power network to lightning of a LED that shows the operation status of the internal HDD. By this time the device web-interface will have already become available. NETGEAR WNDR4700 boots in 118 seconds, which is a pretty large value for devices of this kind.

The second traditional test was a security scanning procedure, which has been carried out from the LAN segment using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100) utility. On the whole, there were ten open ports discovered, and they are TCP-23 (telnet), TCP-53 (DNS), UDP-53 (DNS), TCP-80 (HTTP), TCP-443 (HTTP SSL), TCP-548 (afpovertcp), TCP-3333 (dec-notes), TCP-5555 (HTTP), TCP-20005 (unknown), and TCP-33344 (unknown). The most interesting data are presented below.

Prior to carrying out performance tests we can't help to mention the key specifications of the test stand we used.

Component PC Notebook
Motherboard ASUS Maximus V Extreme ASUS M60J
CPU Intel Core i7 3770K 3.5 GHz Intel Core i7 720QM 1.6 GHz
RAM DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 32 Gbytes DDR3 PC3-10700 SEC 16 Gbytes
NIC

Intel Gigabit CT Desktop Adapter
ASUS EA-N66

Atheros AR8131
OS Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus

One can install fully-featured HDDs with SATA interface into NETGEAR WNDR4700 wireless router. We haven't run across this feature before and that's why we decided to begin the performance tests from measuring the access speeds to the disc that was successively formatted into four file systems: FAT32, NTFS, EXT2, and EXT3.

Apart from discs with SATA interface, the users can also connect external USB carriers to the device. We decided to test this feature too. We used a 750 Gbyte Transcend StoreJet 25M3 during the testing procedure.

Since primarily WNDR4700 is a wireless router, we decided to find out what data transfer speeds the wired users can get. Data transfer has been carried out between LAN and WAN ports using NAT for 1, 5, and 15 simultaneous TCP-sessions.

The device under review supports operation with both IPv4 and IPv6. Unfortunately, one can only establish connections using the newest IP version in one direction: from the LAN segment towards WAN.

Usage of VPN for those who live in Russia and the CIS is a relevant method of connection to the service provider. Access speeds to the WAN via PPTP are presented on the diagram below. Unfortunately, WNDR4700 only supports tunnels without encryption.

NETGEAR WNDR4700 wireless router supports operation within two wireless frequency ranges: 2.4 GHz and 5GHz. We measured the user data transmission speeds in both of the frequency ranges.

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

Conclusion

We believe that combining features of a wireless router and NAS in NETGEAR WNDR4700 turned out really well since it functions equally well both in terms of providing users with the access to the WAN and to files stored on the internal HDD. Obviously, this device is not a fully-featured NAS, but it will become a suitable solution for use in homes or small offices. Possibility of wireless module operation in 5GHz frequency range makes it possible to offload problematic 2.4 GHz frequencies.

The strength areas of WNDR4700 are presented below.

  • Possibility of installation of a SATA HDD into the device
  • Used traffic meter
  • Ability to select USB devices which are to be granted access to the device
  • Support of IPv6
  • Perfect data transmission speeds via PPTP tunnels
  • Support of two wireless frequency ranges
  • Presence of a USB 3.0 port
  • High access speeds to the data stored on external and internal HDDs

Unfortunately, we cannot help to mention certain drawbacks of the model.

  • Access to the router command line is not secured by a password
  • The fan inside of the case is too small
  • Absence of encryption support for PPTP tunnels
  • Relatively high price

As of when this article was being written, the average price for NETGEAR WNDR4700 in Moscow online shops was 9000 roubles.