Asus RT-N66U or RT-AC66U, which one to buy?

Discussion in 'ASUS N Routers & Adapters' started by PAPPL, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. PAPPL

    PAPPL Occasional Visitor

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    Hi,
    i'm going to buy an Asus RT-AC66U or RT-N66U next week.
    I'm very happy about RMerlins custom firmware for both routers.
    Now i have to decide which one to grab.

    I read the reviews on SNB, but still having questions:

    - Do both routers have the same settings in router-GUI on newer firmwares, except the additional settings for AC-wireless?

    - Is it possible to activate only 802.11g & 802.11n or 802.11n & 802.11ac?

    - Do both run stable, except the QOS-Setting bug? My current Zyxel-Router loses wireless connection every 2 weeks and only resetting the router helps. I don't want to get a router again with major wlan bugs.

    - Any advantages one of both knocks the other out?

    - Any things we need to know, e.g. tricky firmware update procedure....

    Thanks Pappl
     
  2. Briant73

    Briant73 Regular Contributor

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    I'd like to answer you since I just went from an rt-n66u to ac66u but it seems my AC66U is defective from the factory. All it does it sit there and power cycle. I tried resetting but nothing just power light on for a few secs then power light off. I'm used to devices having issues but not working out of the box is rare for me. So no comparsion yet from me.

    I tried different power outlets to plug into, and letting it sit and same old power cycle. Quality Control missed this one it seems.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012
  3. PAPPL

    PAPPL Occasional Visitor

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    This seems to be a common issue of many brands. My Zyxel-Router still needs resets after many firmware updates, another Netgear router with build in modem wasn't even able to establish a connection for more than 24 hours. :mad:
    So now i'm going to try one of these two ASUS routers, both will have the same "good" QC routine.

    Please let me know the differences of your comparison after you get your replacement device.

    Thanks
     
  4. RMerlin

    RMerlin Part of the Furniture

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    If the router detects a problem with the firmware at boot time then it will reboot itself. Maybe that's what's happening. Try putting the router in recovery mode to reflash it, maybe the firmware in it is corrupted (tho if it can easily be returned, I would still do that in case it's just the sign of more problems to come).

    Set your PC to a static IP (192.168.1.100, gateway 255.255.255.0, default gateway 192.168.1.1)
    Turn the router off.
    Press the reset button, and keep it pressed
    Turn it on
    Wait until the POWER led starts blinking, then release the reset button
    Either access http://192.168.1.1/ or run the Firmware Recovery tool from Asus's CD
    Do you see the CFE page? If yes, then try flashing the latest firmware through that page (either mine or Asus, doesn't matter)

    See afterward if it works correctly.
     
  5. RMerlin

    RMerlin Part of the Furniture

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    I have both. The routers are quite similar, and exhibit the same performance. They also have almost the same features, the only real differences as far as I can remember is the AC66U supports 802.11ac, and can also be set as a Media Bridge (provided you have a second one).

    Hardware-wise, the AC66U has more flash storage (only really useful if Asus starts releasing very large firmwares with lots of features, and even then the 32 MB the N66U has should be plenty of breathing room). They have the same CPU, same RAM, and general same wireless performance.

    The AC66U has a slightly different architecture that might make it trickier for Tomato or DD-WRT to support it (but not impossible).

    Firmware still has a few rough edges, especially the QoS/Wifi issue, but Asus are aware of the issue, so it's just a matter of patience there for the fix to come.

    I'd say if you can afford the extra 20$ to the price, and want a device that will have a longer life (Due to 802.11ac support), go for the AC66U. There is no longterm downside to it versus the N66U (aside perhaps for the DD-WRT/Tomato situation, and that's quite hypothetical).

    802.11ac isn't a separate radio, so there is little point in "disabling" it. The channel width can be set to 20, 20/40, 20/40/80 - the latter is used by 802.11ac.

    You can have it not accept b/g connections. What I do with my routers here is have 2.4 GHz accept anyone (so even my old PS3 can connect), and I limit 5 GHz to the newer standards.
     
  6. PAPPL

    PAPPL Occasional Visitor

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    Great summary! :D
    So i'll put ASUS RT-AC66U into the basket.
    :cool:

    So if there is the same CPU & memory built in, there will be the same "bad" SMB & FTP transfer rates over USB, right?
    I know SNB reviewed the USB features, but the processor should be able to work with much higher file copy transfer rates at USB-Port. Maybe with newer, better firmware updates?

    Anybody tested SMB transfer rates over USB at home?

    I'm running a cheap, passive cooled Western Digital Live 3TB NAS-Drive now, and i'm getting around 95MByte/s reading over GB-LAN. SNB reviewed this drive, it has only a 800MHz processor installed.
    I'm hoping since over 3 years there will be a router capable to share files over USB at >50MByte/s. Most routers can do only ~5MByte/s, so the ASUS router is one of the best at this feature at the moment, but still far away from 95Mbyte/s the cheap WD Live drive can achieve.

    Thanks, Pappl
     
  7. Briant73

    Briant73 Regular Contributor

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    First of all a big thanks to Rmerlin! Looks like the router was in recovery mode the whole time. I tried clearing nvram values and rebooting but no dice so I then loaded FW .164 on to it and the device came up great. I wonder if there was a corrupted FW upgrade/load at the factory. I may still return this one but I have 30 days to test it out and decide.

    Now I was never thrilled with the n66u I was trying out to replace my D link dir-655. It ran extremely hot to the touch on top of the router, at times with other devices using the network I felt things went to a crawl (never had this happen on the dir-655), and it just seemed to be slow on my internet speedtests compared to direct or with my dir-655. The thing I liked over the 655 was the n66u radio seemed to cover more area with a better signal quality.

    I think Rmerlin covered the comparsion pretty well - all I can add so far -
    Setting the Radio for 2.4 to a channel I had to switch Channel Bandwidth from Auto to 20 or 40. I believe on the n66u this was possible even with auto channel bandwidth. Also so far the AC66u is running cooler to the touch than my n66u did. It's warm to the touch but not hot.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2012
  8. RMerlin

    RMerlin Part of the Furniture

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    The SMB performance isn't CPU-capped. It's either IO-capped by the USB driver or controller, or poorly optimized at the software level.

    A NAS will provide far better performance because it's not limited by the USB 2.0 performance. USB 2.0 is only 480 MBits max in theory. Once you add the overhead and everything else, you get around 30-40 MB/s when using a good controler (like an Intel controler on an actual PC).

    I did a few USB performance tests on the router a few weeks ago. Unfortunately I didn't note down my results, but I think the best read performance I was able to get from the USB disk was around 15-16 MB/s, with SMB performance being closer to 13 MB/s, which is close to what Tim also got when he reviewed the RT-N66U.

    In the future, routers switching to USB 3.0 should be able to greatly improve performance. At that point, the speed limitation won't be the USB connection but the performance of the rest of the device (CPU/memory/IO subsystem). Will also depend on the internal architecture - if they put a USB 3.0 controller on a 133 MHz PCI bus, then you won't get anywhere near the limit that USB 3.0 can reach.

    I'm really curious to see what kind of performance people are getting out of the new RT-N65U, which has USB 3.0 ports.
     
  9. enewmen

    enewmen Occasional Visitor

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    Hi.

    This is slightly off topic.
    But does someone know if 802.11ac is mature enough now so future changes in the ac standard will just require some firmware change?
    I will also love to get a AC66U, but only if the hardware will never need to change.
    Surprised the AC66U doesn't seem to have lower power consumption.

    One more thing. Are the clients that use ac required to use the full capability of ac? Many "n" clients only use one channel and are not much faster than "g" and don't support the features if n that make n shine.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2012
  10. DaveMishSr

    DaveMishSr Senior Member

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    I cannot compare since I only have owned the RT-N66U. For me there is no need to upgrade to the RT-AC66U. I can stream HD video from one end of my house to the other faster than I can view it. As for transfer speed I was able to transfer a 3.25GB file from my laptop while out on my patio to the house server in ~10 minutes. That is fast enough for me. I have no plans on going over to the RT-AC66U, at least for now.
     
  11. emax.b

    emax.b Occasional Visitor

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  12. enewmen

    enewmen Occasional Visitor

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    "not that the AC66 is a bad router. It's just that it doesn't really provide enough benefit for most users (those with non-11ac devices) to outweigh the pain of its unstable firmware and higher price"

    I hope this means when the ac standard is more common, the firmware WILL be stable and the performance will be good/great with '11ac' cleints (as well as still doing well with the '11n' clients).

    "If you're looking to 'future proof' your wireless router choice, the current crop of draft 11ac routers isn't a good choice given their first-generation draft 11ac chipset."

    So, how will I know the 11ac chipset is second (or third) generation? About when will this happen? worst case rough guess?

    thanks!
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  13. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Firmware stability is up to the product manufacturer. You can have mature technology and still have flaky firmware.

    You will know when next generation chipsets are out by following SmallNetBuilder. We always ID chipsets used in products.
     
  14. RMerlin

    RMerlin Part of the Furniture

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    The driver also plays an important role, as Broadcom are still actively developing the driver for their chipset that was only released this year. The good news is Asus are actively keeping up with new driver releases, as they are already using newer versions than what is used by DLink and Netgear (no idea about Buffalo, they don't put the GPL code up for download).
     
  15. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Yes. Absolutely!
     
  16. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    All current 802.11ac routers are based on the Broadcom chipset that implements the 802.11ac Draft 2.0 standard. The current IEEE schedule calls for the spec to be finalized in November 2013.
    Between now and then, more chipset vendors will enter the market and next generation chipsets will be spun.

    There are more features in 802.11ac than the Broadcom chipset supports. See the chart on this page. Most notably standardized transmit beamforming and multi-user MIMO are not currently implemented.

    And don't forget, there are no client devices that support 802.11ac yet.

    No. Similar to 802.11n, the standard supports products using 1-4 streams. Most mobile devices will continue to use single-stream clients, given space and power constraints. So, most mobile devices will use single-stream 11ac. In fact, that is one of the main reasons for the big push for 11ac. See Screw HD Video! Apple and Mobile Carriers Have Other Plans For 802.11ac
     
  17. Trentors

    Trentors Occasional Visitor

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    I am starting to regret buying RT-AC66U. It is very buggy and it seems the whole 802.11ac draft is far from the finished version thus making it a transition niche product.

    The RT-N66U is the popular router that many people own and has support of both DD-WRT and Tomato. This is the router the community will support long after Asus eventually will stop fixing their firmware.
     
  18. SwordOfWar

    SwordOfWar New Around Here

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    Considering the N66U and the AC66U are only about a 20$ price difference, I'd say the AC66U is still a better investment right now, especially if you move into AC wireless within the next year.

    There are wireless AC adapters on the market now so that is an option if you don't want to wait (or if you don't mind upgrading in a year).

    Even a year from now if you decide to upgrade to a finalized AC wireless chipset, the AC66U will still be an excellent router, and far exceed wireless N which the N66U is limited to, for only a small difference in price.

    What it really comes down to is if you need DD-WRT or Tomato, as there still isn't enough information to suggest that they will be supported on the RT-AC66U anytime soon. But besides that, if you don't mind the extra $20, the AC66U is a better longterm investment than the N66U.

    EDIT: I'd also like to note that on the newest ASUS and RMerlin's build of firmwares for this device, it is very stable and I haven't had to reboot it due to instability since I bought it about 2 weeks ago. The pre-installed firmware is however buggy so I recommend updating it before doing anything else.
     
  19. worthmining

    worthmining Occasional Visitor

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    My N66U has been performing at this level for the last two years until recent firmware upgrade (two version ago), the file transfer speed has never be faster than 2MB/s, used to be around 4MB/s, not a lot but fast enough to be practical. There is no change in the network during this performance decline therefore I had to conclude to be firmware upgrade alone to be the cause.
     
  20. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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