Introduction

External design and hardware

Firmware upgrade

Web-interface

Command line

Testing

Summary

Introduction

When representatives of the ASUS company communicated with us and offered to test another wireless repeater, we were ready to receive a small network device that is stuck directly into the socket... However ASUS RP-AC68U model exceeded our even the wildest expectations. In this review we tried to consider not only external design and functional capabilities of the device, but also its performance. RP-AC68U model will be ideally suited for users who need to expand the coverage of the existing high speed wireless network in case of placement of the repeater in a visible place. But first things first!

External design and hardware

The designers who created the RP-AC68U model have tried wonderfully well. In our opinion the case has turned out rather big for an access point, dimensions of 181х106х106, but at the same time looks very nice and unusual.

The name of the model and logo of the vendor are located on the front panel of the repeater. Here it should be noted, one element of the front panel, which is hidden from the eyes of users, is the sensor reacting to a touch: an easy contact allows turning on or off the light of the device.

The upper and side panels are not remarkable, except, perhaps, the built-in light.

Five Gigabit Ethernet ports, USB 3.0 port, LEDs indicating operating of the wireless modules, power slot with and ON/OFF button, the WPS button and two stickers with brief information about the device are located on the rear side of the case.

On the bottom side there are four rubber legs, ventilation grate, as well as Reset button to reset the user configuration.

Now let's have a look at the insides of the device.

The hardware platform of ASUS RP-AC68U model is represented by two green textolite plates: the motherboard and the wireless module. The system is based on SoC processor Realtek RTL8198C, DDR2 module ESMT M15F2G16128A of 256 Mbytes serves as RAM. Flash memory is presented by microchip ESMT F59L1G81LA with the capacity of 128 Mbytes.

Two chips Realtek RTL8814AR and RTL8194AR, responsible for the wireless network, are located on the second plate.

That's where we proceed to completion of the review about the hardware of the repeater and access point and pass directly on to studying software capabilities of the device.

Firmware upgrade

Firmware upgrade is carried out in Firmware Upgrade tab, Administration menu item. The firmware upgrade process may be carried out both in the manual and semi-automatic modes.

Regardless of the mode chosen any specific technical proficiency will not be required from the user. The whole process takes about three minutes (not considering the time necessary for downloading the firmware file from the vendor servers).

One can make sure that the upgrade procedure has been performed successfully by looking at any page in the web interface, at the top of which the current firmware version will be shown.

In case of a failure during the firmware upgrade process, the vendor suggests to use the utility Firmware Restoration by means of which it is possible to find the devices which are in the recovery mode and to recover on them the firmware in semi-automatic mode.

Now let’s see what the device web-interface features.

Web-interface

Any current browser can be used for access to the web-interface of the ASUS RP-AC68U model. It is necessary to enter login and password.

Right after entering correct credentials, the user is navigated to the homepage of the device, which displays the brief information about the device status: operation mode, number of connected clients, wireless module settings, current firmware, etc.

In the System Status item located on the right side of the page, not only the basic settings of the wireless module are presented, but also CPU and RAM load of the whole device.

In addition to the data above, this element can contain information about wired and wireless clients of the device, global network connection status, as well as the presence of external USB-devices.

USB Application menu item lets the user set up RP-AC68U for operation with the connected USB-device. Currently supports the following device types: external hard disks or flash drives with USB interface, as well as printers.

The USB-attached storage device can be used not only for storage of files and providing access to them to devices on the LAN. AiCloud 2.0 menu item allows setting up remote access to the information placed on the external drive. Besides, AiCloud function allows executing data synchronization with another network device of the ASUS company. Shall admit, it was the first time we saw USB port in an access point/repeater of this vendor. And also we have not met before the dual-core processor in the devices of such a class.

Tabs of the Wireless menu item are traditional for the ASUS wireless equipment.

The only tab of LAN menu item lets one specify the IP parameters of the device.

The model under review ASUS RP-AC68U can operate in one of three main modes: Repeater, Access Point, Media Bridge. Modes Express Way 2.4 GHz and Express Way 5 GHz in essence execute the repeater function, but repeatable signal is only transmitted to a different frequency range.

System tab of the same menu item allows one to change user name and password, to select time zone, to enable or disable access through telnet and HTTPS protocols.

System log menu item tabs contain log information as about operation of the entire device as a whole, and its wireless module in particular.

By using Network Tools menu item tabs one can check operability of a network, view the list of the current connections, as well as make remote waking up of the computer on the LAN.

Here, perhaps, it is worth noting that during operation of RP-AC68U in other modes, the model web-interface slightly changes.

That is where we bring the review of the device web-interface capabilities to a conclusion and move on to the command line review.

Command line

Enabling and disabling the access to the ASUS RP-AC68U command line is performed using System tab, Administration menu item in the web-interface. As of when this review was being written, the connection through the SSH protocol was not supported.

In order to access the command line one must use the same log-on information as for the connection to the device web-interface. Firmware of ASUS RP-AC68U access point is built on Linux 3.10.24 OS using Busy Box 1.17.4.

RP-AC68U login: admin
Password:
ASUSWRT RP-AC68U_3.0.0.4 Mon Nov 16 07:43:52 UTC 2015
admin@RP-AC68U:/tmp/home/root# cd /
admin@RP-AC68U:/# uname -a
Linux RP-AC68U 3.10.24 #4 Mon Nov 16 15:44:26 CST 2015 mips GNU/Linux
admin@RP-AC68U:/# busybox
BusyBox v1.17.4 (2015-11-16 15:43:50 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, 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, 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. We decided to put the output of both commands in a separate file. Also contents of /bin, /sbin, /usr/bin, and /usr/sbin catalogs are located in a separate file.

Now let's turn to /proc catalogue to view its files 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@RP-AC68U:/# cd /proc/
admin@RP-AC68U:/proc# ls
1                          315                        crypto                     net
10                         34                         custom_Passthru            pagetypeinfo
11                         35                         custom_Passthru_wlan       partitions
12                         36                         devices                    peth0
13                         37                         diskstats                  phyPower
134                        38                         driver                     phyRegTest
138                        39                         eee                        pptp_conn_ck
14                         4                          enable_dos                 qos
15                         40                         eth0                       rtk_vlan_management_entry
158                        41                         eth1                       rtk_vlan_support
16                         42                         eth2                       rtl865x
162                        43                         eth3                       rtl_dnstrap
164                        44                         eth4                       sched_debug
17                         47                         eth7                       scsi
18                         5                          execdomains                self
19                         50                         fast_l2tp                  softirqs
2                          6                          fast_nat                   stat
20                         61                         fast_pppoe                 sys
21                         619                        fast_pptp                  sysvipc
214                        7                          filesystems                timer_list
216                        8                          filter_table               tty
22                         821                        fs                         uptime
224                        822                        gpio                       usb
227                        9                          hw_nat                     version
23                         StormCtrl                  igmp_proxy_wan_dev         vmallocinfo
233                        alg                        interrupts                 vmstat
236                        asus_ate                   iomem                      watchdog_kick
242                        br_igmpDb                  ioports                    watchdog_reboot
245                        br_igmpProxy               irq                        watchdog_start
246                        br_igmpQuerierInfo         kallsyms                   wl0
247                        br_igmpVersion             kcore                      wl0-vxd
248                        br_igmpquery               kmsg                       wl0.0
249                        br_igmpsnoop               kpagecount                 wl0.1
250                        br_mCastFastFwd            kpageflags                 wl0.2
253                        br_mldQuerierInfo          load_default               wl0.3
257                        br_mldVersion              loadavg                    wl1
268                        br_mldquery                locks                      wl1-vxd
276                        br_mldsnoop                meminfo                    wl1.0
278                        buddyinfo                  misc                       wl1.1
280                        bus                        modules                    wl1.2
3                          cmdline                    mounts                     wl1.3
313                        consoles                   mtd                        yaffs
314                        cpuinfo                    nandinfo                   zoneinfo
admin@RP-AC68U:/proc# cat uptime
2477.82 4895.50
admin@RP-AC68U:/proc# cat loadavg
0.05 0.12 0.13 1/68 824
admin@RP-AC68U:/proc# cat cpuinfo
system type             : Sheipa Platform
machine                 : Unknown
processor               : 0
cpu model               : MIPS 1074Kc V2.4
BogoMIPS                : 498.89
wait instruction        : yes
microsecond timers      : yes
tlb_entries             : 64
extra interrupt vector  : yes
hardware watchpoint     : no
isa                     : mips32r2
ASEs implemented        : mips16
shadow register sets    : 1
kscratch registers      : 0
core                    : 0
VCED exceptions         : not available
VCEI exceptions         : not available
processor               : 1
cpu model               : MIPS 1074Kc V2.4
BogoMIPS                : 498.89
wait instruction        : yes
microsecond timers      : yes
tlb_entries             : 64
extra interrupt vector  : yes
hardware watchpoint     : no
isa                     : mips32r2
ASEs implemented        : mips16
shadow register sets    : 1
kscratch registers      : 0
core                    : 0
VCED exceptions         : not available
VCEI exceptions         : not available
admin@RP-AC68U:/proc# uptime
 03:41:35 up 41 min, load average: 0.04, 0.11, 0.12

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

admin@RP-AC68U:/# nvram
usage: nvram [get name] [set name=value] [unset name] [show] [save file] [restore file]
admin@RP-AC68U:/# nvram show | grep admin
size: 19906 bytes (41534 left)
admin@RP-AC68U:/# nvram show | grep password
size: 19906 bytes (41534 left)
http_passwd=password
acc_list=admin>password
admin@RP-AC68U:/# nvram show | grep http_username
size: 19906 bytes (41534 left)
http_username=admin

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

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. Wireless repeater and access point ASUS RP-AC68U boots in 70 seconds. We consider this result normal.

The second test, which was no less traditional, became a security scanning procedure, which has been carried out using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.8 network security scanner. On the whole, there were eighteen open ports discovered. The most interesting data are presented below. Naturally, we have reported about the found vulnerabilities to the vendor. Technical specialists of the vendor have notified us that the found vulnerabilities (and even some other) are already fixed in current versions of the firmware. Then we asked for an explanation to the XSpider utility producers. It has become clear that detection of suspicions on vulnerability is made according to the version reported by the system in a banner, no other checks are made at the same time. Thus, the RP-AC68U model is free from the vulnerabilities listed 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 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 Intel PRO/1000 PT
ASUS PCE-AC68
Atheros AR8131
ASUS RT-AC88U
OS Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus

 

We decided to begin the performance tests with measuring device performance upon operation in the access point mode. ASUS PCE-AC68 wireless NIC was used as the client. JPerf utility, 2.0.2 version, was used for tests with 1, 5, and 15 concurrent TCP connections in both frequency ranges.

Then we decided to find out throughput of the device under test in the Media Bridge mode, which is very similar to the wireless client mode. The operation of the wireless network was provided by the ASUS RT-AC88U router, which is also on testing in our laboratory.

One more operation mode of ASUS RP-AC68U which drew our attention, is the wireless repeater. We built a network on the basis of the wireless router ASUS RT-AC88U, functions of the wireless client were undertaken by the NIC ASUS PCE-AC68.

Since ASUS RP-AC68U has USB 3.0 port, we couldn't but test the performance of the device with external drives, connected to this interface. For testing we used our standard external SSD drive Transcend TS256GESD400K 256 Gbytes. To our surprise, we were able to measure only two file systems (NTFS and FAT32) while connected in USB 2.0 mode. Operation in USB 3.0 mode or with other file systems was extremely unstable and led either to the impossibility of recording to an external device or to reboot RP-AC68U. Naturally, we reported about it to the vendor, and we hope that this problem will be fixed in the next firmware. As of when this article was being written, the following file systems were officially supported: NTFS, HFS+ and FAT32.

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

Summary

After testing the wireless repeater and access point ASUS RP-AC68U we were left with mixed feelings. On the one hand, we liked the design solution used in the model, as well as the resulting wireless performance; but on the other hand, the current version of the firmware seems slightly unfinished.

The strength areas are presented below.

  • High wireless speeds
  • The presence of the dual-core processor
  • Futuristic design
  • The presence of five Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • Support of several operation modes
  • Support of both frequency ranges
  • The presence of the signal power indicator on the case.

Unfortunately, we cannot help but mention drawbacks we have discovered.

  • Unstable work with USB-drives
  • The web-interface is not completely translated.

As of when this review was being written, the repeater ASUS RP-AC68U wasn’t sold in Russia, that’s why it is too early to speak about the price.

Introduction

External design

Hardware

Web-interface

Testing

Summary

Introduction

Not very often our testing laboratory hosts switches. However, today is an exception because industrial switch GigaLink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I came to our lab for testing. The model in question is intended for working in the most harsh environment with the temperature from -40 to +85°С and relative degree of humidity till 90 percent. GigaLink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I switch has eight Fast Ethernet and two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, one of which is a combo port. One more peculiarity of the model in question is PoE support of IEEE 802.3af/at standards with the total power equal to 320W. Okay, let’s get started!

 

External design

Industrial switch GigaLink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I comes in black metal case with the following dimensions: 165x145x45 mm. The model under test is intended for mounting on the standard DIN-rail, for which a corresponding holder is placed on the rear panel.

The bottom panel and both sides are not remarkable, except for a sticker with the brief information about the device.

For its working GigaLink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I switch needs an external DC adapter (which isn’t included in the box) with the following parameters: 12-40V and 1A. Power connector and ground contact are placed on the upper panel of the case. The vendor recommends using of adapter with the power not less than 320W in case of connecting PoE-devices and working with low temperatures.

The front panel has eight Fast Ethernet interfaces with PoE support, LEDs indicating port condition and two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. In addition to this, LED indicating power, sunken Reset button and the model name are placed here.

Now let's have a look at the insides of the switch.

Hardware

The hardware platform of GIGALINK GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I industrial switch consists of three green textolite plates.

Configuration of the whole switch is performed with the help of one of the additional plates, on which two big chips are placed: Serial-to-Ethernet IC+ IP210W LF controller and flash card Macronix 29LV160DBTI-70G with the capacity of 2 Mbytes.

On the second plate there are two four-port PoE-injectors Microsemi PD69104B1 (under big radiators), which provide all eight user ports with power.

On the main plate there are four main silicons, two of which are hidden under radiators. Only IC+ IP108A chips are accessible for review which perform functions of Ethernet transceiver, and double-purpose module IP403 LF of the same vendor.

Web-interface

For configuring the switch via the web-interface one can use any modern browser. For access, one should enter login and password, which are equal to admin and system by default.

Upon successful authentication the user is navigated to the start page of the switch, where ports status and the list of device abilities are displayed.

Items of Administrator menu item allow changing login and password for the administrator, setting IP-address of the device, viewing and changing other parameters of the switch, removing all user settings, firmware upgrading and rebooting the testing model. We find it strange that there is no ability for saving current settings to the file and their further recovery. In all fairness, the specified settings are available in the web-interface of GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I model, but they are placed in Backup/Recovery group.

Settings of parameters for interfaces working is performed with the help of Port Configuration item of Port Management menu group.

Port Mirroring menu item of the same group allows an administrator to create SPAN-sessions for mirroring the user traffic.

One can limit transmission speed of the user traffic with the help of Bandwidth Control item. We cannot consider this implementation intuitively clear.

To prevent broadcast storms the administrator has to go to Broadcast Storm Control item.

Industrial switch GigaLink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I supports one of two modes of working with virtual networks: Port Based and Tag Based, switching between which is performed with the help of VLAN mode item of the VLAN Settings menu group. It’s worth noting that switching of the modes leads to removing of the user virtual networks configured before.

Belonging of the transmitted user data to a particular virtual network is configured with the help of VLAN member item of the same group. We should confess that setting of the virtual networks on the switch in this particular way causes bewilderment, putting it mildly.

Sometimes in modern networks one has a necessity to configure the equipment the way that provides access to a particular host or resource from different virtual networks. Corresponding setting is available in Multi to 1 Setting menu item of the same group.

Unfortunately, we couldn’t discover description of this function in the user manual, but assume that with the help of Non-Association Port Setting page the administrator can isolate particular ports from each other inside one virtual network.

Per Port Counter group contains the only item Port Counter that displays statistics on using ports of GigaLink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I switch.

Quality of service management is performed with the use of items of QoS Setting group.

Security parameters are presented in Security group. Here the administrator can manually bind MAC-addresses to the switch ports, view current bridge (MAC) table, set filtering by ports of TCP/UDP and specify interfaces from which access to the web-interface of the device is allowed. As we mentioned before, we consider the web-interface in this group not very user-friendly, putting it mildly. So, for example, the administrator doesn’t have an ability to easily find to which physical port a device with a particular MAC-address is connected; access to the control interface is usually bound to a particular virtual network and isn’t restricted by physical ports…

All parameters of STP (Spanning Tree Protocol) working are gathered in the Spanning Tree group. Here the administrator can select mode of STP functioning, set switch priority, configure timers for the protocol working.

GigaLink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I switch has an ability of aggregating physical ports to one logical with the use of IEEE 802.3ad technology. The corresponding setting is available in the only item Link Aggregation Settings of the Trunking group. In the current firmware version one can aggregate only the ninth and tenth ports. We hope that in the next firmware versions this restriction will be removed. Aggregating is available in static mode as well as with the use of LACP protocol, which settings are also presented here. The only thing that confused us is name of the option: Link Aggregation Algorithm. From our point of view, it would be more logical to name it Load-Balancing Method or something like this. Also name of the group itself confuses us a little bit, we think that it would be more appropriate to name it LAG.

Items of DHCP Relay Agent menu group allow the administrator to configure the DHCP repeater built-in the switch.

Additional settings are presented in Miscellaneous group that doesn’t have sub-items.

Configuring connecting to the switch via SNMP protocol is performed with the help of SNMP Settings group that doesn’t have sub-items.

That’s where we proceed to completion the review of the web-interface features of the GigaLink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I switch and pass directly on to testing, because the command line is not intended for being used by network administrators.

Testing

We decided to start this section from a security scanning procedure of the switch control module. To perform this testing we use Positive Technologies XSpider security scanner. There were five open ports discovered. The most interesting data of this test are presented below.

 

It’s worth noting that during security testing the switch rebooted several times, so we recommend specially taking care about restricting access to the control plane of the device during network design and exploiting. Naturally we informed the vendor about this problem but to our surprise we didn’t get the assurance that it would be fixed.

The next test was measuring of the switching delay. This was performed for the frames of different length with different values of the switch interfaces utilization. The diagrams for forwarding frames between the interfaces GE-GE, FE-FE and GE-FE are shown below.

As one can notice from the diagrams presented above, increase of the interface utilization doesn’t lead to the significant growth of the latency, but size of the frame, obviously, directly influences the switching delay.

During performing testing we discovered one more peculiarity of Gigalink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I switch working: during increase of the Gigabit Ethernet interfaces utilization loss of the frames occurs, probably, interface controllers or switching fabric can’t manage to control it, so the switch is not non-blocking. During traffic forwarding between other interfaces the specified effect doesn’t occur.

Testing of the delay and packet loss was performed with the help of hardware traffic generator IXIA. That’s where we proceed to completion testing section and pass directly to summing it all up.

Summary

After testing Gigalink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I industrial switch we had mixed feelings. On the one hand, it is a compact configuring switch with all necessary base functionality and intended for working in the most extreme conditions such as the temperature from -40 to +85°С and relative degree of humidity from 5 till 90 percent. But, on the other hand, we cannot stop feeling some incompleteness. The series of industrial switches of Gigalink product range appeared relatively recently, so we hope that in the nearest future the vendor will fix all remaining drawbacks.

The strength areas of GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I switch are listed below.

  • Availability of configuring via the web-interface
  • Compact dimensions
  • PoE support
  • Industrial design
  • Availability of mounting on the DIN-rail
  • Reasonable price.

Unfortunately, we cannot help but mention discovered drawbacks.

  • Not the most convenient and intuitive web-interface
  • Absence of actual user manuals
  • Instability of the control plane against network attacks
  • Blocking switch fabric.

When this review was being written, Gigalink GL-SW-F101-08PSG-I switch price in Moscow online shops was 38500 rubles.

Introduction

External design and hardware

Initial setup and firmware update

Web-interface

Testing

Summary

Introduction

Usually we get the equipment for testing directly from a vendor or an official distributor in the territory of the Russian Federation. Today we have an exceptional case: we have received D-Link DIR-809 A1 wireless router directly from the Chinese online store GearBest. At the time of writing this review DIR-809 is not officially sold in Russia, however, it has been available for order from online stores in other countries. The sample received was not adapted to work in the territory of the Russian Federation, so that users who also want to make an order in foreign online stores will face with some features of the equipment, which we will describe in this review. Let's get started!

External design and hardware

The first thing we noticed when we have received the parcel, - the packing exterior, neither on the box nor in the manual it has a word in Russian or in English – hieroglyphs only. In our view, a Chinese online store users should be ready for this, so we are not referring it to the disadvantages of the product. Also, despite the additional packaging of the delivery service, the box was extremely crumpled, fortunately, the equipment inside was not damaged, but it will not be suitable to use the router as a gift. Of course, this does not apply either to the quality of the online store service, which sent us the good, or to D-Link DIR-809 wireless router, but we could not help but mention the detected features. Now let's look inside the box. The case of the model has the following dimensions: 190x133x83 mm (without antenna) with weight 229 grams (without power supply adapter).

The device needs an external power source (included in the box) with the following characteristics for functioning: 5V and 1А. Perhaps a few words should be told about the power supply adapter, which has a non-standard for Russia plug (Type A). Therefore, users have to purchase an additional adapter or a new power supply unit with the appropriate plug and specifications. The appropriate adapter can be purchased immediately with the goods in the online store.

The front and side panels do not have anything remarkable on them apart from a ventilation grate on the front panel.

A small ventilation grate is also presented on the upper panel, consisting of two parts - opaque and glossy. Also there are LEDs indicating status of the entire device as a whole, the availability of the Internet connection, status of LAN-ports, as well as wireless module status.

On the rear panel there are four LAN ports and one WAN port Fast Ethernet, three non-detachable antennae, power socket and also Reset/WPS button located on it.

On the bottom of the case there are a ventilation grate, four plastic legs and a sticker with brief information about the device.

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

The electronic stuffing of D-Link DIR-809 wireless router is one green textolite card which has all essential elements located on one of its sides.The system is powered by Realtek RTL8881AN SoC. Winbond W9825G6KH-6 chip with the size of 32 Mbytes performs functions of the RAM. Support of the 2.4 GHz frequency range of wireless network segmentis performed by Realtek RTL8192ER chip with 2x2 antennae configuration. SoC is responsible for the operation of the third antenna.

That is where we bring the review of the hardware platform of D-Link DIR-809 wireless router to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of its software component.

Initial setup and firmware update

After the first switching on the router it is necessary to perform the initial setup of the device. The LAN-interface default address is 192.168.0.1. Unfortunately, we understand nothing in Chinese therefore we had to change at first web-interface language to make further setup. First, you need to download a language pack file from the official website of the vendor, then go to advanced settings button marked with a red box in the image below.

At the time of writing this article only two language packs were available: for Portuguese and Spanish languages. At first it is required to install any language file, then to delete it. These manipulations lead to the fact that English becomes language of the web-interface of the device.

Not obligatory, but extremely desirable step is firmware upgrade. The upgrade takes about one minute and doesn't require any technical experience from the user: it is only required to choose the file downloaded earlier and to upload it on the device by means of FIRMWARE item of TOOLS menu.

You can ensure successful change of the firmware either via the web-interface header or via DEVICE INFO item of STATUS web-interface group.

D-Link DIR-809 wireless router supports the firmware recovery mode to which the device can be transferred manually (by holding the Reset button for 15 seconds while boot) or can be transferred automatically in case of failure when updating the firmware. One can ascertain that DIR-809 is in recovery mode by slowly flashing power LED on the upper panel of the case. To recover the firmware it is necessary to connect to the LAN port of the device, assign IP-address from 192.168.0.0/24 network to the NIC and appeal by means of any modern web browser to the address 192.168.0.1.

That is where we bring a review of initial setup and firmware update process to a conclusion and pass on to brief examining of its web-interface. In conclusion we will note that on the FTP server of the vendor contains the bigger quantity of firmwares and language packs, than is available for download via D-Link Web server.

Web-interface

One can access D-Link DIR-809 wireless router web-interface using any modern browser. LAN-interface default address is 192.168.0.1. The password field will have to be left blank upon the first entry.

Upon successful authentication the user will find him/herself on INTERNET page, SETUP tab by means of which it is possible to choose type of connection to a provider and specify the main settings of this connection. Advanced network settings are available in the ADVANCED NETWORK item, ADVANCED tab.

EASY SETUP item, SETUP tab also allows users to make setup of connection to the Internet. Besides, here it is possible to change main parameters of a wireless network. However, to our surprise, not all options of connection are presented in this menu item.

Wireless networks operation is performed by means of WIRELESS SETTINGS item, SETUP tab, and also 2.4G ADVANCED WIRELESS, 5G ADVANCED WIRELESS and WI-FI PROTECTED SETUP items.

One can change IP parameters of LAN interface, and also control operation of the built-in DHCP server via NETWORK SETTINGS item, SETUP tab.

Control of IPv6 protocol addresses can be managed using the same item of the same tab.

By means of VIRTUAL SERVER, PORT FORWARDING and APPLICATION RULES items, ADVANCED tab the administrator can set up redirection and dynamic opening of TCP and UDP ports.

The administrator can allow or deny a certain traffic on the basis of MAC addresses, IP addresses and numbers of TCP/UDP ports, and also on the basis of requested URL in HTTP. The appropriate settings are available in the MAC FILTER, WEBSITE FILTER and FIREWALL SETTINGS items, ADVANCED tab.

If it is required to restrict access rate of this or that client to the Internet resources, it is necessary to use the TRAFFIC CONTROL item.

One can change admin password, allow remote control of the device, control user settings, set up time synchronization and connection to DDNS providers, update a firmware, and also execute cable diagnostics by means of TOOLS tab items. It is worth noting that some time zones for Russia are incorrect. So, for example, Moscow time offset indicated +4, whereas actually Moscow has time offset +3.

By means of STATUS tab items the administrator can view information about the router and its interfaces, get access to log information, study the list of connections, and also view statistical information about operation of the device. Unfortunately, sending logs to the remote Syslog-server isn't provided.

The web interface of D-Link DIR-809 wireless router has the built-in help, access to which can be got using SUPPORT tab items.

That is where we bring a brief review of the router web-interface 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. D-Link DIR-809 wireless router boots in 21 seconds. We believe that the result is excellent.

The second traditional test was a security scanning procedure, which has been carried out using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.8 utility. Scanning was carried out from the LAN-interface side. On the whole, there were three open ports discovered: TCP-80 (HTTP), UDP-67 (DHCP) and TCP-52881 (HTTP). The most interesting data of those we obtained are presented below.

To be fair, it should be noted that in the course of testing D-Link DIR-809 wireless router regularly rebooted, that, in our opinion, can become a serious problem even in the home networks.

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 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 Intel PRO/1000 PT
ASUS PCE-AC68
Atheros AR8131
ASUS RT-AC88U
OS Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus Windows 7 x64 SP1 Rus

The first test was performance of DIR-809 model upon performing of NAT/PAT. For loading emulation we used JPerf utility version 2.0.2. It can be seen from the diagram below that routing speed with NAT is restricted to wire interfaces performance of the device.

In Russia and on the territory of ex-Soviet bloc countries PPTP still remains extremely popular method of connection to the Internet therefore we couldn't help but test DIR-809 performance by operation with this tunneling protocol. To our regret, the encrypted tunnels aren't supported. We tried to turn on PPTP together with MPPE, the tunnel was established, but right there broken, - no data were transferred through it.

It is time to test the wireless module. In 2.4 GHz frequency range DIR-809 can operate in two modes: with enabled and disabled 20/40 MHz channels coexistence. We have tested the performance of the device during operation in both modes. Performance DIR-809 with disabled 20/40 customers support was expectedly higher.

Also we measured transmission speeds of user data in case of connection of the client to a 5 GHz wireless network. At first we used one wired client for this test.

From the diagram above it is visible that the received speeds are restricted to wired interfaces’ performance of the router. We decided to alter the test a little bit, by connecting the second wired client. On the diagram below maximum transmission speeds of user data of the wireless client in the 5 GHz range by operation with two wired clients are presented. Data received pointed out that wired interfaces of DIR-809 are a device bottleneck. To be fair, it is worth marking that we took measurements in situation of rather close lay-out of wireless devices. When moving away the wireless client from the router the speed of wireless connection will decrease, equalizing wired and wireless throughput.

D-Link DIR-809 can work not only in the wireless router mode, but also perform functions of the repeater. Naturally, we couldn't but test operation in this mode. D-Link DIR-809 can extend wireless network only in other frequency range that is if the initial network worked in the range of 2.4 GHz, then DIR-809 will expand its covering only at a frequency of 5 GHz. In this test DIR-809 increased a covering of the network created by ASUS RT-AC88U wireless router, review of which will appear on our website in the near future.

Another useful function of DIR-809 is the possibility of rate-limiting of the user traffic. For this experiment we used a UDP stream instead of TCP connections. Results of measurements are given on the diagram below.

Practically on all of the speed ranges the rate-limit mechanism works correctly, however on very small speeds the considerable errors are possible. We decided to provide the separate diagram for speeds up to 4 Mbps. Also it is necessary to note that we couldn't force this mechanism to work for the outgoing traffic, so rate-limiting works only for incoming packets.

On the announcement of the vendor D-Link DIR-809 wireless router supports the IPv6 protocol, however, to our regret, we couldn't force the device to transfer IPv6 packets.

In conclusion we would like to note that during testing the case of D-Link DIR-809 wireless router didn't heat up more than 38,2 degrees Celsius while average temperature in the room was equal to 23 degrees Celsius. Measurements were taken by means of our laboratory pyrometer ADA TempPro-2200.

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

Summary

D-Link DIR-809 is an inexpensive low-end wireless router which will suit those who wish to lower ones costs or aren't ready to overpay for not used functions of high-end models. The routing speeds provided by the device don't allow calling D-Link DIR-809 the high-performance top router today. However, to most of the users wishing to update the network equipment and get support of both frequency ranges them will be quite enough.

A number of features of the device associated with the way we have received the equipment. These features are, for example, power supply unit which plug is not accepted by sockets in Russia. Or initial language of the web-interface. However we decided not to refer these features to drawbacks of the model.

The strength areas of D-Link DIR-809 wireless router are presented below.

  • Support of two wireless frequency ranges
  • High traffic transmission speeds via PPTP
  • Support of several operation modes
  • Rate-limiting
  • Acceptable wireless speeds
  • IEEE 802.11AC support
  • Existence of the built-in cable tester
  • Competitive price.

Unfortunately, we cannot help but mention some of its drawbacks, which aren't depending on the place of acquisition of the equipment.

  • Absence of the web-interface in Russian
  • Wrong time zones for Russia
  • Instability to network attacks
  • No IPv6 support
  • Impossibility to rate-limit outgoing traffic.

As of when this article was being written, the price for D-Link DIR-809 wireless router in online store GearBest was about 30 dollars, and the best price for D-Link DIR-809 in German-speaking Europe countries, according to website Geizhals Preisvergleich, was 139 euro.

Introduction

External design and hardware

Firmware upgrade

Web-interface

Testing

Summary

Introduction

Currently our test lab is hosting two wireless router by ASUS meant for operation in LTE mobile operator networks: 4G-AC55U and 4G-N12. Today we're going to review the more entry-level model of the two, ASUS 4G-N12 wireless router, which features four Fast Ethernet ports and a wireless module with N300 support. However, let's take our time and tell you about everything in parts.

External design and hardware

ASUS 4G-N12 wireless router comes in a black plastic case with the dimensions of 175x125x30mm and the weight of only 300 grams. The device needs an external power adapter with the following characteristics (included in the box) for proper functioning: 12V and 1А.

A considerable part of the front panel of the router is glossy. On the right part of the front panel there are LEDs that indicate operation of the device essential components: the wireless module and wired interfaces as well as LEDs indicating presence of the installed SIM card and connection to the WAN. LTE LED displays the power of the mobile service provider signal in the area where the device is located.

The side panels of the case feature a slot for the SIM card and WPS button that is used for facilitation of wireless clients connection. It's worth noticing that 4G-N12 supports only full-sized miniSIM cards. MicroSIM and nanoSIM cards can be installed only using a special-purpose adapter.

The upper panel is not remarkable at all and there is only a ventilation grate on it.

The router under review has two external non-detachable antennas for the Wi-Fi network and two internal antennas used for connection to mobile networks. External antennas are fastened to the rear part of the device case. Also, there are four wired Fast Ethernet LAN ports located over here; one of them may be used as a WAN port if it's necessary to get connected to networks of wired service providers. A power socket, ON/OFF button, sunken Reset button, and a sticker with brief information about the device are located here too.

The bottom part of the device has two round rubber legs and a small plastic stand meant for improved comfort in desktop mounting.

Now let's have a look at the insides of the case. Hardware stuffing of ASUS 4G-N12 4G wireless router is two green textolite cards: a motherboard and wireless module used for connection to mobile service providers. Unfortunately, all primary elements are covered with metal screens. Only Broadcom BCM5358UB0 chip, which performs SoC CPU functions with support of 4G networks, is accessible.

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

Firmware upgrade

Firmware upgrade is carried out in Firmware Upgrade tab, Administration menu item. Currently the firmware may only be upgraded in manual mode. In order to do this one will need to predownload the firmware file from the vendor's website.

The whole firmware upgrade process takes around one and a half minute and does not require any technical proficiency from the administrator.

That is where we bring a brief review of the firmware upgrade process of the device to a conclusion and pass on to examining capabilities of the wireless router web-interface.

Web-interface

The web-interface of 4G-N12 4G wireless router is similar to other wireless telecommunications equipment by ASUS and therefore we will not review all of its capabilities in detail but only focus on the newest and most interesting ones. The web-interface is available in 13 languages.

A new group that has been added is called SMS and one can use its tabs to send, receive, and edit text messages. Phone Book tab lets the user save phone numbers of the most sought-after subscribers on the router.

On the whole, tabs in Wireless menu group are traditional and feature the same data as in other wireless routers by ASUS. Probably the only thing that we'd like to point out is inability to manually set the bandwidth of the Wi-Fi wireless channel to 40 MHz using current firmware.

LAN menu item is used to specify the IP-address of the router LAN port as well as configure the operation parameters of DHCP.

One of the most interesting menu items is WAN. ASUS 4G-N12 wireless router can get connected both to the wired service providers and wireless networks of mobile service providers. Selection of the connection type is made using Internet Connection tab. Unfortunately, connection methods popular in ex-Soviet bloc countries like PPTP and L2TP are not supported at the moment. One can choose only PPPoE as well as static or dynamic IP-address.

Mobile Connection Status tab shows the parameters of the current connection to the mobile service provider network as well as allows managing traffic limits.

One can choose the mobile network generation using which the connection should be established via Mobile Connection Scan tab. Also, one can select the service provider that one needs to connect to.

Virtual Server/Port Forwarding tab lets the user manage the rule for PAT that allows remote users to gain access to a certain LAN resource.

Intrusion Detection tab in Firewall menu item lets one carry out a thorough scanning of the transmitted packets for certain network services.

Managing access to the WAN resources can be scheduled. The appropriate settings are available in Access Control and Schedule Rule tabs.

Another interesting capability that is worth reviewing is WAN Capture in Network Tools menu item, which lets save packets that are transmitted via the device WAN interface. The file is saved in a format supported by the majority of modern traffic analyzers. For example, it can be opened using Wireshark.

It'd be fair to mention that 4G-N12 cannot be detected using standard ASUS – Device Discovery wireless equipment detection software because it may not be a proprietary ASUS device but a platform that has been ordered from third-party vendors like in the case of SL series routers. Also, getting connected to the device using Telnet and SSH protocols is impossible. That is why we are bringing this 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. ASUS 4G-N12 wireless router boots in 29 seconds and we think it's a decent result.

The second traditional test was a security scanning procedure, which has been carried out using Positive Technologies XSpider 7.7 (Demo build 3100) utility from the local network. On the whole, there were two open ports discovered, and they are TCP-80 (HTTP) and TCP-8085 (HTTP).

Before getting straight down to performance tests we would like to mention 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

At first we measured the data transmission speed between the wired and wireless clients. In order to test it we used JPERF utility, 2.0.2 version. Results of the measurements are presented on the diagram below.

It's worth mentioning that the obtained values are due to the maximum connection speed of the wireless client. And though 4G-N12 router has N300 module, the connection speed didn't exceed 144 Mbps. It's possible that this happened due to the inability to set the bandwidth of 40 MHz. Perhaps when the vendor adds the above-mentioned setting, we will be able to obtain higher speed values. However, even in this case we would not expect it to improve performance significantly since it would be limited by Fast Ethernet wired interfaces.

The second throughput test was setting of the maximum user data transmission speeds with enabled NAT/PAT. In other words, one of the four wired ports was used as the WAN interface.

The obtained results are decent when it comes to one-way only operation, but we expected the speeds to be higher in full-duplex operation.

Neither could we keep away from reviewing connection to the LTE network of the mobile service providers. At this stage we would like to point out that the received speeds will depend not only on the mobile service provider and the load of its network, but also on the proximity of the mobile phone tower to the device. Results of our measurements performed in one of the towns in Moscow region, far away from mobile phone towers, are presented below.

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

Summary

ASUS 4G-N12 wireless router used for operation in LTE networks of the mobile service providers made a good impression on us. We believe that this device would become the workhorse for many home and small office users that experience problems with or have no connection to wired service providers. 4G-N12 will allow for provision of access to the WAN for all wired devices as well as wireless employees and customers. Connection settings are really easy and do not require any kind of special technical know-how. We hope that at the time when the device is on sale, the price will be competitive enough so that all interested users can afford it.

The strength areas of ASUS 4G-N12 wireless router are presented below.

  • Possibility of connection to both wireless and wired service providers
  • Acceptable routing speeds
  • Ability to receive and send text messages
  • The device boots really fast
  • Ability to limit wireless traffic
  • Support of deep packet inspection and access control
  • Ability to capture the transmitted packets

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

  • 4G-N12 cannot be detected by Device Discovery utility

As of this writing, the best price for ASUS 4G-N12 in German-speaking Europe countries, according to website Geizhals Preisvergleich, was 139 euro.