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ASUS RT-N56U Dual-band Gigabit Wireless-N Router Review

Testing
I used the following machines for testing:

Wired
PC CAT Connected To
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T 3.20GHz

8GB RAM DDR3 PC3-12800

6 Router – Gigabit
Intel Core2 Duo 2.0GHz

1GB RAM DDR2 PC2-5300

6 Router – Gigabit
Wireless
PC A/B/G/N Wireless Card/Device
Intel Core2 Duo 2.0GHz

1GB RAM DDR2 PC2-5300

N (2.4GHz) TRENDnet TEW-687GA
Intel Core2 Duo 2.0GHz

1GB RAM DDR2 PC2-5300

A (5GHz) Intel Pro Wireless 3945ABG
Intel Core2 Duo 2.0GHz

1GB RAM DDR2 PC2-5300

G (2.4GHz) Intel Pro Wireless 3945ABG

For the majority of speed tests, I used an application called LAN Speed Test (LST). LST offers client and server software which reads and writes from memory to achieve max theoretical speeds. There were a few wireless tests at extreme distances where LST failed to complete the test. In any of these cases, I just did a simple file transfer and used BitMeter to measure the average throughput.

Wireless Tests
I set LST to send 10MB packets, 5 times. Then I repeated this test 5 times. So there were a total of 25 10MB packets sent and received. After collecting the data, I put it into an Excel spreadsheet to create the following graphs and stats.

SUS RT-N56U Dual-band Gigabit Wireless-N Router SUS RT-N56U Dual-band Gigabit Wireless-N Router SUS RT-N56U Dual-band Gigabit Wireless-N Router SUS RT-N56U Dual-band Gigabit Wireless-N Router SUS RT-N56U Dual-band Gigabit Wireless-N Router

There’s a lot of data to take in there. However, to briefly sum it up, N is the fastest achieving a max of about half (155Mbps) of the advertised 300Mbps. Wireless G (2.4GHz) has an advantage in distance over the 5GHz wireless A. In fact, at 40 feet and 4 walls, wireless A had horrible signal and wouldn’t keep a connection. This is to be expected, as higher frequencies travel less distance and have more trouble penetrating walls and other obstructions. Although at shorter distances, wireless A outperforms G, probably because of the less crowded 5GHz band. I would’ve loved to test a 5GHz wireless N device, but I didn’t have one at the time of testing.

Wired Tests
As I touched on earlier in the review, ASUS went through great lengths to stress that the RT-N56U is fast. Does it live up to the hype?

SUS RT-N56U Dual-band Gigabit Wireless-N Router SUS RT-N56U Dual-band Gigabit Wireless-N Router

In my tests, it fell a bit short of their advertised “up to 990Mbps”. And in fact, it performed slower than the TRENDnet TEW-691GR which we also reviewed. I was only able to achieve a max of 778Mbps on the RT-N56U. My tests don’t mean that it’s a bad device, I still think 778Mbps is great, but it is disappointing that it didn’t break the 800Mbps mark.

Stress Test
ASUS also claims that the RT-N56U can handle up to 300,000 data sessions. So how does the router hold up under load? Well, I don’t have the machines or the software to simulate 300,000 connections. So I set up the following scenario:

  • Streamed an HD movie to my Xbox360 and PS3
  • Streamed an SD video over the wireless to the ASUS O!Play HD2
  • Watched a YouTube video on my iPhone over Wi-Fi
  • Transferred 100MB packets with LST 800 times, for a total of about 80GB

What I really wanted to see is, if the videos would skip and if the throughput on the 100MB test would be lower than the tests from the “Wired Tests” section above. The RT-N56U handled all of the traffic without a problem. None of the videos skipped, and the 100MB test achieved a max speed of 767Mbps, and a min of 706Mbps. That’s pretty much in line with the speeds when nothing else was happening on the network. It’s good to see that the RT-N56U can handle a good amount of stress.