As one of three routers boasting a top aggregate transfer speed of up to 1,900Mbps, it is a given that the Asus RT-AC68U will be expensive. The question is whether the speed is worth the premium.
Unfortunately, the proprietary TurboQAM technology that boosts the wireless 802.11n speeds requires a compatible device. Very few of these devices are available and chances are you do not own one, making the speed boost academic.
The AC68U is Asus' flagship router and it is packed to the vents with features. It has everything, from parental controls to built-in network diagnostic tools.
Black with a honeycomb finish that seems impervious to fingerprint smudges, the AC68U's design is typical for an Asus router. But in a departure from previous models, it has an upright design that reduces its footprint. It has three external detachable and adjustable antennas. However, it cannot be mounted on a wall.
It has two USB ports, which can be connected to a printer or to an external storage drive. You can even plug a wireless 3G/4G dongle in the USB port for Internet connectivity.
Asus' AiCloud feature lets you share files on the USB-connected drive over the Internet, with other computers or mobile devices (with a companion Android or iOS app). If configured properly, the router can even share files found on a computer connected to it over the Internet, which is a less common feature.
Despite its dual-core processor, I found it slower than expected when it came to saving my settings. Perhaps my expectations were raised after learning about the new chip, but 8sec to apply my wireless settings seems too long.
Asus uses a Web-based interface for the router settings. It is impressively detailed, with verbose instructions. I appreciated the notifications that told me I had not changed the default router password, along with other security-related warnings.
But the text-heavy interface and the sheer number of options can be overwhelming. I was stumped at first when my laptop failed to detect the router's Wi-Fi network.
After spending time tweaking settings and rebooting the router to no avail, I noticed that the Wi-Fi feature was disabled, presumably by default as a security measure. Perhaps a simple mode that hides all the advanced features is needed in a future refresh.
The AC68U's download speed was good, hitting an average of 335Mbps. However, the Linksys Smart Wi-Fi Router EA6900 was still the fastest in my experience at over 400Mbps.
This Asus router is peerless when it comes to advanced features. But its price may be hard to justify for less demanding users. The user interface also looks a bit dated.