ASUS RT-AC68U (AC1900) Review
Pros: Super easy to use, decent set of features
Cons: Below average throughput, somewhat expensive
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The ASUS RT-AC68U tied with two models from NETGEAR in terms of overall performance, the Nighthawk X10 and the AC1750 (R6400). Both NETGEAR models did a bit better in our throughput tests, while the NETGEAR AC1750 did the best of this trio when it comes to range — the RT-AC68U and the Nighthawk both delivered similar average range. The ASUS is the easiest of this group to use and all three have a similar set of features, but the ASUS usually retails for $20-$40 more than either of the NETGEAR models, making it a bit less desirable.
To pick out which wireless router is really the best, we did a survey of all the most popular and well-received models, then bought the ones that showed the most promise to test out side-by-side. We rated and scored each router in five weighted rating metrics, with the RT-AC68U's results described below.
Responsible for a quarter of the overall score, we started off our testing process by comparing and rating all the different features and functions that these products have. We awarded points if each model has beamforming capabilities and the abilty to handle MU-MIMO traffic, as well as if you can wirelessly reset the router. Additionally, we also compared the number USB and LAN ports each router has and awarded some bonus points if you can turn the LED indicator lights off. The ASUS RT-AC68U did decently well, meriting a 6 out of 10.
This router has the average number of connections — four LAN gigabit ports and a pair of USB ports, one with the 2.0 standard and one with the 3.0 standard.
We did award the ASUS RT-AC68U some final points for being able to be reset wirelessly and for allowing you to turn off the LED indicator lights if you find the network traffic indicator lights to be distracting.
This router does have beamforming abilities, letting you concentrate the signal strength in areas where you need it the most, but it does lack MU-MIMO (Multi-User, Multiple-Input, Multiple-Output) technology, making this a somewhat poor choice if you have tons of different internet connected devices in your household.
Ease of Use
Following our assessment of the different features on each router, we moved on to evaluating and scoring how intuitive and easy each router is to us. The ASUS performed exceptionally well in this test, meriting a 9 out of 10 — one of the highest scores of the entire group in this metric, which is responsible for 20% of the final score.
Right out of the box, this is one of the easiest wireless routers to set up. The hardest part is manually entering the IP address from the manual into a browser. Once you get to the settings page, it's super easy to set an SSID and password, as well as set up an admin login. The interface is extremely intuitive and one of our favorites, though we were a little bummed that we immediately had to update the router's firmware, though we were automatically prompted to do so.
It's also super easy to set up more advanced functions, such as parental controls or Quality of Service (QoS). The content blockers are super easy to set up and we particularly liked that you can restrict pages both by content or by time, allowing you to do your best at preventing kids and teens from viewing inappropriate content or set rules like no internet after bedtime.
Additionally, you can impose these rules on specific devices, so not every device will have the internet cut off at certain times or censored.
You have the option of enabling either adaptive, traditional, or bandwidth limiter QoS, allowing you to prioritize which types of internet usage you want to take priority over others and if you want to throttle back certain types or devices.
The interface is also really easy to understand and use.
2.4 GHz. Throughput
Next, we moved on to testing out the data throughput capabilities of each router, both on their 2.4 GHz. and 5 GHz. networks. Each set of throughput tests account for 20% of the overall score of each router and scores are based on averaging multiple trials of an iPerf3 test with various distances and obstructions between the router and our test computer. The ASUS didn't do amazingly well in the 2.4 GHz. range, earning a 4 out of 10.
The ASUS did about average in the short distance throughput tests, having an average throughput of 45 Mbits/s in the line of sight test and 44 Mbit/s in the obstructed version. These tests had about 10' between the router and computer.
For our medium distance test, we had the router and the computer separated by about 35'. The ASUS did a little worse, having a slower than average throughput. It averaged 29 Mbits/s in the unobstructed test and 23 Mbit/s in the test with obstacles between the router and laptop.
We only did an obstructed version of our long distance test, which separated each device by around 70'.
The ASUS had an average of 12.7 Mbit/s — far slower than some of the other products we have tested.
5 GHz. Throughput
The ASUS did about the same in our 5 GHz. metric, earning another 4 out of 10. This router got of to a bit of a rough start in this metric, doing slightly below average in the short distance line of sight test and even worse in the obstructed version.
This router did about the same in the medium distance test with interference, only doing slightly worse than average, but it did exceptionally poorly in the line of sight test at a moderate distance, having some of the worst results of the entire group.
It finished out this test with a surprisingly strong performance at the 5 GHz. long distance test, doing well above average.
For our final metric, which constitutes the remaining 10% of the total score, we ranked each router on its effective range. We did this by seeing at what distance away from the router we began to experience YouTube buffering and playback issues on our test laptop. In our test, we were able to separate the router and computer by around 144' before we encountered severe issues, which is about average for these products. This earned it a 5 out of 10.
This router isn't a great value, as a few cheaper products performed about the same.
Overall, the ASUS RT-AC68U is a decent router. It's not amazing, but it isn't awful either. We don't really recommend it, favoring the slightly cheaper models that perform identically overall, but the ASUS might be a solid choice if you are shopping in its price range and want a product that has an intuitive settings interface and is really easy to use.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer