Asus RT-N66U Dark Knight Double 450Mbps N Router
Price Range: $129.99 - $239.58
CNET Editors' Rating: 4.0 / 5
The good: The true dual-band Asus RT-N66U Dark Knight Double 450Mbps N Router offers excellent coverage, stable wireless signals, and stellar data rates on the 5GHz band. The router comes with a generous feature set and can also work as a standalone VPN server.
The bad: The RT-N66U's firmware is a little buggy and its data rate on the 2.4GHz band could use some improvement. The router's USB ports don't support the USB 3.0 standard.
The bottom line: Though not perfect, the Asus RT-N66U Dark Knight Double 450Mbps N Router would make an excellent network gateway for home and small-office environments.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
I've held off reviewing the Asus RT-N66U Dark Knight Double 450Mbps N Router until now due to some known bugs in earlier versions of its firmware. The latest, version 184.108.40.206.108, is still, well, a little buggy, but fortunately not seriously enough to keep the router from being an excellent networking device.
Being the first N900 router from Asus, the RT-N66U offers stellar performance on the 5GHz band and a vast number of features. The router also has great wireless range and was very stable in my testing. With two USB ports it has more to offer than other USB-enabled routers, and it was very fast when coupled with a storage device.
The RT-N66U isn't perfect, however. Performance on the 2.4GHz band was slower than I expected, and the router's USB ports lack support for the latest USB 3.0 standard. Nonetheless, if you're looking for a top-notch router for your home or even a small office, the RT-N66U is one of the best on the market, especially considering that its street price is lower than that of the Linksys E4200v2 from Cisco.
Design and ease of use
The RT-N66U looks similar to its predecessor, the RT-N56U, with a sleek casing that more resembles a jewelry box than a networking device. The RT-N66U, however, can't disguise its true nature due the external-antenna design, with three of them sticking up from the back. These antennas are detachable but you do need them in place for the router to work.
Also on the back, you'll find four LAN ports and one WAN port. All of these ports are Gigabit Ethernet, meaning you'll also be able to get a fast wired network if you're not interested in wireless. Near these ports are the Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS) button, the reset button, two USB 2.0 ports, the power button, and a tiny power port. While that may seem to be a lot of things on the router's back, items are well-distributed, so it's less cluttered than you would imagine. Still, it would be a lot better if a few items were moved to the front or the sides of the router, where there are no buttons at all.
On the front, the router has an array of LED lights that show the statuses of the ports on the back, the connection to the Internet, the USB ports, and the wireless networks.
The RT-N66U comes with four rubber feet to make it stay put on a surface, but it's also wall-mountable. It comes with a separate base -- which, interestingly, I couldn't attach to the router until I broke a little piece of plastic off of it -- for keeping it in a vertical position. (That little piece is probably there to keep the base from falling off, but it's just too long, making it almost impossible to attach the base to the router.)
The router comes with a CD that contains setup software that walks you though every single step of how to set it up, so it should be very easy for home users. Savvy users can skip the CD and use the router's Web interface to set it up by pointing a connected computer's browser to 192.168.1.1, which is the router's default IP address. The first time you go there, the interface will greet you with a Web-based wizard with steps similar to those of the desktop setup software.
Either way, you won't have any problem getting the router up and running. I myself was able to do that in less than 10 minutes, including opening the box.
The RT-N66U is an N900 true dual-band router, meaning that both of its bands (5GHz and 2.4GHz) can offer up to 450Mbps, currently the fastest speed of the Wireless-N standard. In order to enjoy this higher speed, your Wi-Fi client also has to support the 450Mbps standard (also known as the 3x3 standard), which most of them don't. Nonetheless, the router works with all existing Wi-Fi clients, including those made for pre-N wireless standards.
To make sure the router offers maximum compatibility, you'll need to change the settings of its wireless networks to Auto and the encryption methods to support both AES and TKIP methods. To do this you will need to use the Web interface, which also allows you to access to all of the router's features.
And the RT-N66U's Web interface is great: well-organized, responsive, and reasonably simple. There are three major parts of the interface that you can access from the left part of the page. The top part is the setup wizard mentioned above, the middle is for General items, and the bottom is the Advanced Settings.
General offers a Network Map for viewing currently connected devices, including those connected to the router via the USB ports. You can click on one of the connected devices to interact with it. For example, you can quickly block a Wi-Fi client or set up a network storage feature of an external hard drive. In the General area, you can also add or change up to six Guest networks, three for each band. Other nifty General features include a Parental Control feature, a Traffic Manager, and management of the router's USB ports.
The USB ports can be used for a lot of functions. As with most USB-enabled routers, you can connect USB external storage devices or printers to these ports and turn the router into a storage or print server, both of which by the way worked well and were easy to set up. With the RT-N66U, these ports can also be used to host storage over the Internet, coupled with a cellular USB dongle so the router can work as a mobile hot spot, and when an external hard drive is connected you can also use the router to manage downloads by itself. The router's PC-less download feature supports FTP/HTTP downloading, BitTorrent, NZB, and eMule and worked well in my trials, except the fact that it doesn't support downloads from sites that require authentication.
Lastly, the Advanced Settings offer more in-depth access to the router's features, some that would be specifically useful for businesses. The most notable feature is the VPN server for creating a secure virtual private network for remote users. You do need to possess decent networking know-how to set up and manage a VPN. The router also supports IPv6, a customizable firewall, and QoS.
Overall the RT-N66U offers most, if not all, of the features you might want from a high-end router, and all the ones I tried out worked very well. I did find a few small bugs, however. For example, via the Web interface you can set the router to automatically check for and update itself with the latest firmware. The problem is this function always says that there's a new firmware version available even when the router has been updated with the latest. For this reason, you'll need to check Asus' support Web site to find out if there's actually a new version of the firmware available.
The RT-N66U offered stellar performance on the 5GHz band. For the throughput test, which was done at a close (15 feet) distance, when used with 450Mbps clients, it scored about 182Mbps. At this speed, the router can finish transmitting 500MB of data in about 20 seconds. When I increased the distance to 100 feet for the range test, still with a 450Mbps client, the router managed to maintain a high throughput of about 155Mbps.
I also tested the RT-N66U with regular 2x2 (300Mbps) clients and on the 5GHz band and it scored an impressive 110Mbps and 98Mbps for close and long distances, respectively.
It was quite a different story when I moved to the popular 2.4GHz band, however. In this band, the RT-N66U, though not slow, wasn't able to impress me. When used with 450Mbps clients, it scored 55Mbps and 45Mbps for close and long distances, respectively. With regular clients, speeds were reduced to just 37Mbps and 29Mbps.
To make up for this, the RT-N66U offers very long range on both bands, up to 300 feet in my testing. It was also very stable and passed my 48-hour stress test with no problems. During the stress test, the router was set to continuously copy data back and forth between multiple clients, both wireless and wired. Neither of the router's wireless bands disconnected once during this time.
Despite the fact that the RT-N66U doesn't support USB 3.0, its network storage performance was also very impressive, with 132Mbps for writing and 88Mbps for reading over a Gigabit Ethernet connection. These speeds are fast enough for light media streaming and data sharing. The only router that was faster than the RT-N66U in this category is the Linksys E4200v2 from Cisco, which has fewer features than what the RT-N66U has to offer.
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Service and support
Asus backs the RT-N66U with a two-year warranty. At the company's Web site, you'll find downloads, FAQs, a manual, and other support materials. If you want to contact the company's tech support, however, it's better to do that via e-mail as there's no tech-support phone number listed on the Web site.
Thanks to its stellar performance on the 5GHz band, exceptionally long range, and generous spread of features, the Asus RT-N66U Dark Knight Double 450Mbps N Router is one of the best N900 routers on the market, despite its few minor shortcomings.
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||13.8 in x 10.6 in x 5.9 in|
Average User Rating: 4.0 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 8
4 Star: 1
3 Star: 0
2 Star: 1
1 Star: 2
I feel the need, the need for speed!
Rating: 5 / 5
on July 7, 2013
7 out of 7 users found this review helpful
Pros: + Setup is fairly easy
+ Coverage of the ASUS is very good
+ Speed is phenomenal
+ Build quality is fair
Cons: - WPS is enabled by default. Make sure to turn it off to protect yourself from the WPS exploit
- Firmware update window goes blank at the end of the upgrade
Summary: This router easily handled 120 devices, mostly iPads and laptops without any glitches or burps.I put all the audience members on the 2.4 GHz radio and the presenters on the 5 GHz radio and the conference continued flawlessly. This router is amazing. If you are a techie responsible for setting up wireless at conferences this is a great device to stick in your bag of tricks. To confess my doubts, I really wasn't sure if it could handle 120 devices but it ran rocksolid for two days. Now if I could only convince the Holiday Inn conference center to put in new Asus wireless access points.
I needed a solution for a 2-story house on a half acre of land, built into a hill with a walk out basement. The goal was edge to edge wireless coverage on the property with the ability to stream hi-def video inside the house.
To begin, the NetSpot wireless survey tool was used to find the optimal mounting location for the ASUS "Dark Knight". As it turns out the best placement was on the first floor just above doorbell. Thankfully the ASUS has wall mount screws as well and a very generous power cable length. I fished the power cables and network cables through the wall and used a 1-3/4" holesaw with a computer cable access cap/grommet to cover the hole.
It would be nice if the access point came in a white color for aesthetics. From the side profile it is hardly noticable in the hall, but if you walk in the hall and look up, there is a giant black box with three legs sticking out. :) Overall it looks good, but I wouldn't mount this thing is a conspicuous place like over the TV or in the dining room.
The coverage of the ASUS is very good. The 2.4 Ghz wireless easily covers the 1/2 acre from edge to edge and the top of the hill to the bottom. According to the wireless survey there are about 20 - 2.4 Ghz access points in the area but the ASUS seems to handle the interferene without any issues in the 2.4Ghz range.
As expected the 5Ghz coverage drops off drastically as you move away from the ASUS AP. However, the 5Ghz signal covers the ranch house top to botton and allows the streaming of high def video without any issues. Moving outside the of the house the 5Ghz signal drops off fast and doesn't make it to the bottom of the hill.
The ASUS AP was easy to setup and came loaded ith the latest firmware. Under the covers it runs BusyBox Linux which means it should be extremely solid. The ASUS generates a little bit of heat and needs ventiallation. While the vents are on the sides, on earth heat rises due to gravitational bouyancy. It might be a better design to put more vents on the top and move the power and network inputs to the bottom as the top of the unit gets warm.
The blue status LEDS are not annoying like many other devices which insist on annoying high-intensity LEDS. The gigabyte network ports do a great job of autodetecting everything. I tried everything from a 10/100 hub to an Arduino Opensprinkler controller and it negotiated fine with everything.
The setup was really simple with the web inteface. Only one computer can login at a time to the web interface and if you forget to logout it can create an issue. The web interface is somewhat basic but pretty. I haven't tried the USB servers or VPN/PPTP but I assume it will work without issue since BusyBox Linux is the O/S. The only thing I could not get to work was the DHCP MAC to IP mapping. Instead I just set static IPs on the printers etc...
Speed tests show that it can handle gigabit speeds both on the LAN and wireless without any issues. For the price this is a great value and a good core piece of hardware for your home/office network. It has a great feature set and lots of extras including the guest network for creating a simple VLAN. I also think the exernal antennas are better than internal antennas, plus you can swap them out for high-gain antennas unlike APs with internal antennas. You can also bump the TX power to 500mW but I have mine set at the default of 80mW and am happy with the performance.
I will miss my old reliable Linksys 2.4Ghz but unfortunately it couldn't keep up with the traffic loads anymore. This ASUS Dark Knight rocks and is comparable to a $400 CISCO dual band access point, plus you don't have to go through the pain and suffering of setting it up and paying the license costs for all the features. Good job ASUS, I look forward to the next version of the firmware. Maybe throw a wireless survey tool in there.
Note: before you will buy the "ASUS RT-N66U", I suggest check for best price at: Gigabitroutersblog.blogspot.com/p/asus-rt-n66u.html
I would recommend this product to a friend and purchase it again.
Best Wireless Router I've ever used!
Rating: 5 / 5
on July 8, 2012
4 out of 4 users found this review helpful
Pros: I truly enjoy everything about this router... the range is incredible!
Cons: It has a VPN Server, I only wish it also had a VPN client to connect to other networks. The old web based admin had an issue with port forwarding, however, I loaded the latest version (beta version) of the new interface and it fixed ALL my issues.
Summary: My home is rather large (4,600 SQ. FT.) and thus I had an issue with the wireless reaching my front family room TV/computer setup. I purchased this router to replace my Apple Airport Extreme as a last ditch effort in an attempt to keep from wiring the home. The Asus RT-N66U 100% solved my problem. I can now watch HD movies wirelessly movies anywhere in home. For giggles I tested watching movies on the laptop in the front and backyard.... it now works there as well! None of my computers have the dual band cards... I can only imagine what type of throughput I'd receive if they did. In closing, I get now 60mbps down in the family room... before purchasing this router I would only receive 1 - 2 mbps down at best!!! Make sure you use a wifi security key... if you don't you will run the risk of your entire block connecting through your Internet!!!
I highly recommend this router
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on March 22, 2012
3 out of 3 users found this review helpful
Pros: Great range, covers a 4000 sqft house and the basement. The USB file sharing port is still a little slow, but works for movies and data files. I didn't use all of the fantastic features available, but will list some of them. You can set up 6 guest netwo
Cons: The printer server is terrible. It only took a couple minutes to set up, but the printer drops off-line all the time. Also the Dashboard UI needs improvement. Last minor gripe is that you can't tighten the 3 antennas on the back sufficiently. They loos
Summary: My last router was a Linksys E3000, this router is supremely better. I would recommend paying the extra money for this router over any other in it's class.
BUT IT! Best Dual 450Mbps Router out! Awesome range!
Rating: 5 / 5
on August 25, 2012
2 out of 2 users found this review helpful
Pros: -Easy set up
-SUPER GREAT RANGE!
Cons: -Price but well worth it)
Summary: My 6 year old "G" Router died, so I replaced it with a LinkSys EA4500. That router did not have the advertised range, and it was hard to connect to it with my Laptop, Ipads, Iphones, and PS3s. So I replaced it with the ASUS Dark Knight. This router is awesome! It covers over 3000+ square feet easily. Places where I used to have a wifi extender! Superfast speed and awesome range! Hands down it kicks the Linksys' butt! Go Get it!!
I own the linksys e4200v2 & the Asus RT-N66U
Rating: 5 / 5
on April 20, 2012
2 out of 2 users found this review helpful
Pros: My Asus out preforms my linksys Outstanding gigabit ethernet throughput. I have my cable company's top tier speed which tops out at 100Mbps,yet with the Asus I'm clocking 128Mbps-135Mbps. The wifi range is good,reaches all the way around my house.
Cons: Availability. For months everyplace online was out of stock. Also updating the firmware was a little tricky.
Summary: Absolutely hands down the best router on the market,if we;re talking about dual band N900 routers