Today, I will be reviewing the Asus DSL-N55U. In today’s broadband environment, it is hard to know what broadband router to buy. There are such considerations such as what wifi technology you should be looking for and will the router get the best connection and download speed that I can possibly get out of my telephone line.
The Asus has some great features that I will go further into for this review, but here is the technical specification for the router:
Integrated home gateway with independent CPUs for modem and router
Dual-band Wi-Fi delivers up to 600Mbps in bandwidth
4x Gigabit Ethernet ports provide enhanced wired network performance
Auto-detecting ADSL connection with CD/manual-free setup
Finest P2P experience via 300,000 concurrent data sessions
File sharing, printer sharing, and iPad charging using multi-functional twin USB ports
Asus DSL-N55U - Boxed - Review
As can be seen above, the router comes nicely presented box and comes with all that you need to setup and connect your computer to the internet. The box contains the following:
3x detachable dual-band antennas
Support CD (user manual, utilities)
Quick Start Guide
Asus DSL-N55U - Top View - Review
After opening the box we get to see the unit itself, a nice sleek and black unit with the dimensions of 207 x 148.8 x 35.5 mm (WxDxH) It is a great looking router with blue LEDs for all of the functions such as wireless, ADSL connection and other functions. At the rear of the unit is the 4 gigabit Ethernet connections, 2 USB connections, 3 for the antennas and the ADSL connector.
Asus DSL-N55U - Rear Ports - Review
The USB 2 connections can be used for a printer or ftp based file sharing or samba network share, not only that but you can charge you tablet off the USB connectors as well, if you choose to do so. You can also have a 3/4G mobile dongle on the router which it will use if the ADSL connection drops, a backup internet connection
For this review I had to update the firmware on the Asus as it has been reported that it has ADSL2+ stability issues with the firmware that is shipped with the router (at time of writing). I can also confirm that I had this issue with ADSL2 sync reliability. After updating the firmware the stability issues of the unit become a thing of the past and it becomes rock solid without any sync issues (latest firmware version is 184.108.40.206.188A)
The new firmware also includes a new interface which has basically the same functionality of the old interface. As with the old interface, the new interface is easy to setup and use and, after installing the hardware, I had it up and running in around 5 minutes.
Asus DSL-N55U - Interface Main - Review
At the right hand side of the interface, there is information on the setup of the wireless. The Asus comes with both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz wireless N networking which I will go into detail later on in this review. From this interface, you can change the SSID of the wireless networks as well as the encryption key, very simple and easy to use.
At this point, I would like to mention Asus’s AiRadar which intelligently strengthens the signal out of the individual antennas to give a better and faster wireless signal, this only works in the 5Ghz wireless frequency.
The router also comes with QoS (Quality Of Service) management which basically allows you to limit the bandwidth for application, ports, or computers. This feature is great if you want to stop someone downloading from bittorrent, or just limit a siblings amount of bandwidth that they are using. There are three different types of QoS. These are Automatic, User-defined Priority, and User Defined QoS rules. The last two give you the power to limit how others use the router, throttling their connection or setting the priority that the router gives certain traffic.
Asus DSL-N55U - QoS Settings - Review
There is also a very nice flash powered traffic graphic which I found very useful, it shows you in real time how the router is being used, great if your network is running slow and suspect a little sister of watching something over the internet. The graph can show four types of information there are Internet, Wired (basically the 4 ethernet ports), wireless (2.4Ghz) and wireless (5Ghz). The graph gives you 3 scales Daily, Last 24 hours, and Real-Time.
Asus DSL-N55U - Traffic Overview Graph - Review
We also have parental controls which allow you to set the the times that computers are allowed to access the network, and basically the internet, you can set this from Monday to Sunday, so for children who have school and you can’t get off Steam you can set it up to stop the internet at say 8.30pm and allow access at 3.30pm then next day.
Asus DSL-N55U - Parental Controls - Review
You can also do this with the wireless network as well setting it to turn on and off on different days when you know that no one is in the house for network security or to save costs at night when you know that no one is going to be using the wireless.
Asus DSL-N55U - Dynamic DNS (DDNS) - Review
The router also has a built in DDNS service (Dynamic Domain Name System) which allows network clients to connect to the router through domain names (such as myrouter.internet.com) if you have a dynamic IP address it will automatically update the DNS server if you IP changes which is a great function to have if you want to remotely access your computer or router and especially handy if you want to host a website from home.
One thing that I have noticed with routers in the past is how slow they can get when using both the wired and wireless connections, for example; when someone is streaming media over the wireless and another person is gaming both notice a slow down in the network, but with the Asus I didn’t notice any slow down when both streaming media and accessing the internet, I’m putting this down to the fact that the Asus comes with 2 independent CPUs one which is for wired Ethernet and the other for wireless which means that instead of a single CPU handling both wired and wireless communication two CPUs can independently handle them separate ensuring great data throughput.
I connected to my ADSL provider, with a sync speed of 0.85mbps upload and 7.6 mbps download speeds, which was a little less than my BT supplied hub which connects at an upload speed of 1.0mbps and a download speed of 8.7mbps. I then ran a speed test on the Asus and got the following results:
Asus DSL-N55U - Asus Speedtest.net - Review
I then tried my BT supplied router using the same speed test I got the following results:
Asus DSL-N55U - BT Homehub Speedtest.net - Review
The Asus might be a little slower over my BT router but to be honest, I did not notice the difference in speed and the extras that you get with this unit more than adequately make up for the slower sync speeds and actual speeds of the Asus router.
The Asus also comes with 4 x 1Gbps ports, which are great for transferring large files or streaming media between a NAS and your computer, the router never misses a beat. I can stream full HD through the router over the 1Gbps ports and it took 4 and a half minutes at 120 MB/s to transfer 11.5 GB of data.
The wireless is just as good, you get dual-band wireless both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. The 2.4Ghz can be used for 802.11n and backwards compatibility. The 2.4Ghz offers slower speeds then that of the 5Ghz range but the 5Ghz range has a shorter ranger over the 2.4Ghz.
802.11n also introduces a technology known as MIMO (Multiple In, Multiple Out) which means that it uses multiple antennas to send and receive information, increasing the bandwidth for the wireless and so getting better speeds. This is why the Asus uses multiple antennas. They don’t get in the way and give great wireless performance.
One feature that is not apparent with the router is the presence of Asus’s Green Network Technology which is supposed to give up to a 70% power saving. It is supposed to be able to detect the cable length and adjust the power of the signal to give best performance with minimal power consumption, if all the computers connected to the routers are off then the router turns the ports off. I personally cannot say that I have been able to test the function but if true this is a great saving.
In conclusion the Asus DSL-N55U offers great speeds over wired and wireless Ethernet, not only that but coupled with good ADSL connection speeds and rock solid uptime (with the latest firmware) it’s a very reliable unit. It also comes with some nifty features such as great QoS control to keep other internet users on the router under control, and with the great parental feature for those who want their kids off the internet at certain time the Asus is a fantastic buy.