Asus RP-AC68U: Impressive speeds

The Wi-Fi status LEDs are useful but the Asus RP-AC68U Wi-Fi repeater has too many Gigabit ports.
The Wi-Fi status LEDs are useful but the Asus RP-AC68U Wi-Fi repeater has too many Gigabit ports.PHOTO: ASUS

The Asus RP-AC68U looks nothing like the other wireless extenders tested in this roundup.

In fact, my four-year-old daughter mistook the AC68U - with its boxy shape and glowing red LEDs - for a fancy gift box.

At around 870g, the AC68U is larger and heavier than other extenders. This is probably because of its extra ports. It comes with five Gigabit Ethernet ports and a USB 3.0 port. The typical wireless extender has just one Gigabit port.

Asus says that you can connect an external storage drive to the USB 3.0 port to create a budget network-attached storage (NAS for short). Combining this feature with the Asus AiCloud app turns the attached storage drive into a personal cloud server to deliver content over the Internet.

However, this feature is not what I need in a wireless extender, especially as I could instead attach the storage drive to my router.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $259

    STANDARDS: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac

    ETHERNET PORTS: 5 x Gigabit


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 3/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

The AC68U's five Gigabit ports, too, is excessive, as I doubt most consumers would need that many ports on such a device.

Mind you, most routers come with four Gigabit ports.

To accommodate these mostly unnecessary features, the AC68U is bulky and cannot be plugged directly into the power outlet, unlike its competitors. This is inconvenient as I would have to place the AC68U on a shelf or the floor.

I did find the Wi-Fi status LEDs, which show the strength of the Wi-Fi signal from the router, useful as I was able to use them to gauge the best location to place the extender.

Like other extenders, you can set up the AC68U using Wi-Fi Protected Setup or using the browser on a computer. The AC68U has the same Web-based interface as Asus routers, but with fewer functions.

Using this interface, you can enable the Roaming Assist feature, which switches clients from the router - when the router's Wi-Fi signal drops below a certain threshold - to the AC68U, which presumably has a stronger Wi-Fi signal at that location.

This results in a better wireless performance for the client device, but it works only with a compatible Asus router.

Another feature, dubbed ExpressWay, uses both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless bands together to either improve the Wi-Fi coverage or to boost perormance. It is similar to the FastLane feature offered by the Netgear X4 extender.

With a signal strength of 68 per cent and an average data transfer speed of 22Mbps, the AC68U was the best performer out of the three wireless extenders in my tests.

Vincent Chang

•Verdict: The AC68U produced the best wireless performance in the roundup. But I am not sold on the usefulness of its extra ports.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2016, with the headline 'Asus RP-AC68U: Impressive speeds'. Print Edition | Subscribe