THE ASUS RT-AC52U is an eye-catching router. It has a carbon fibre-like crosshatch patterning that catches the light in such a way that it sparkles as you walk past it. The router can be configured as a wireless router, a wireless repeater or an access point. Setup is simple, but you’ll need to enable wireless security as it’s turned off by default. The RT-AC52U only has a 10/100Mbit/s Ethernet WAN port and its four Ethernet ports’ speeds are similarly rated, which may be a problem if you have super-fast broadband. Interestingly, it’s possible to configure the router in Dual WAN mode, where a second modem can be attached to either one of the LAN ports or to the router’s USB port. If you have two ISPs you can also put the router in Load Balancing dual WAN mode to help maximise throughput, or in Fail Over mode, so one connection kicks in if the other fails.
You can also share external storage over your local network through the USB port; the router supports SMB and FTP file sharing. You can create an iTunes server as well as a DLNA media server, but we couldn’t get this to work with iTunes on a PC or an iPad. The Asus AiCloud app on iOS and Android also lets you access your networkattached storage on your smartphone or tablet. It’s also possible to access it remotely over the internet by setting up AiDisk in the router’s web interface. You can share a print server over the network as well, but you’ll need to install the Asus printer utility on each computer you want to print from.
The web interface is comprehensive, and provides features such as Wake On LAN, where you click a button in the web interface to wake up various attached devices. The parental controls are easy to use but a little limiting. You’re able to select the client you want to control easily, but you’re only able to restrict or allow internet access at certain times, and not restrict access to certain sites.
Performance is impressive for the price. With our laptop’s integrated 802.11n adaptor, we saw speeds of 39.5Mbit/s at 10m and 26.2Mbit/s using the 2.4GHz band, which is above average, especially at the longer range. On the 5GHz band we saw a less impressive 90.1Mbit/s at 10m, but 60.5Mbit/s at 25m is a good result. The router’s USB-AC50 wireless-AC USB adaptor led to mixed results in our tests. With the router broadcasting in legacy mode, which supports 802.11b/g/n devices, we saw speeds of 31.8Mbit/s at 10m and 30.4Mbit/s at 25m. However, in 802.11ac mode we saw 88.1Mbit/s at 10m and 87.5Mbit/s at 25m, so it’s worth using the adaptor at longer ranges. Compared to other routers around this price, the RT-AC52U is a good choice thanks to its respectable speeds and extra features such as a print server and remote file sharing. It has some competition from the TP-Link TD-W8980, though, which is quicker at range.