THE ASUS DSL-AC68U may be expensive, but it is flexible. It has a built-in ADSL and VDSL modem, and one of its LAN ports can serve either as a Gigabit Ethernet or a WAN port. This means you’ll still be able to use the router if you switch from ADSL to a cable or fibre service, or vice versa. There are four Gigabit Ethernet ports, plus a USB3 port for sharing external storage, networking a printer or sharing your 3G/4G USB modem’s data connection. You can share files locally using SMB, FTP or by creating a DLNA or iTunes server. It’s also possible to access your files remotely over the internet.
Wireless networks are enabled by default without a password set, so the first thing you should do is set a secure password. You can also set up six guest networks; three on each of the router’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. The web interface is reasonably easy to navigate. It can be tricky to find the settings for port forwarding and other useful features, but once you do they have clear instructions Parental controls are a little limiting in that you can restrict internet access at certain times, but not control access to specific websites.
The DSL-AC68U uses Broadcom’s TurboQAM technology to boost throughput on the 2.4GHz band to a theoretical maximum of 600Mbit/s. On its 5GHz band the router has a theoretical throughput of 1,300Mbit/s. Our test laptop’s integrated 802.11n adaptor doesn’t support TurboQAM, so we didn’t expect to see such colossal speeds, but the router did manage a respectable 53.6Mbit/s at 10m range and 16.5Mbit/s at 25m on the 2.4GHz band. After switching to 5GHz we saw 172.4Mbit/s at 10m and 72Mbit/s at 25m; this is one of the fastest speeds we’ve seen at 10m on 802.11n, but other routers such as the RT-AC87U are quicker at longer range.
Asus was unable to provide us with a matching USB adaptor for testing, so we used a Trendnet TEW-805UB 802.11ac USB3 model. With this adaptor using 802.11n on the 5GHz band, we saw speeds of 181.9Mbit/s at 10m and 109.9Mbit/s at 25m, which is about mid-table. Using 802.11ac, speeds improved to 256.3Mbit/s and 139.8Mbit/s, which is above average. To really take advantage of the DSL-AC68U’s full potential you’ll need to use it with Asus’s PCE-AC68 PCI-E wireless adaptor (£60 inc VAT from www.argos.co.uk). With this adaptor, we saw an amazing speed of 699Mbit/s at 10m. Most surprisingly, the adaptor managed to maintain this speed at 25m – a fantastic achievement.
The DSL-AC68U is an excellent router that you can keep using even if you change your type of broadband. Its speeds are impressive, especially at long ranges, and when you couple it with the PCE-AC68 PCI-E adaptor you’ll see the most astonishing throughput. If you want a router with a built-in modem and are willing to pay for serious wireless speeds, it’s a great choice.