A little over two years ago, I wrote an a quick “first impressions” post about the Linksys E4200 router. At the time, I was very happy with it. I needed high WAN-to-LAN speeds, and initially, the E4200 delivered. But the first generation of Linksys’s flagship router (of the time) turned out to have serious stability issues. Mine soon started getting really hot, causing frequent slowdowns and crashes. After two years of frustration, I decided it was time for yet another new router. I picked the Asus RT-N66U, and I’ll try to – cautiously – post some first impressions.
Why not “Wireless AC”?
The N66U isn’t actually Asus’s latest model. It’s been updated to the brand new and potentially super-fast 802.11ac standard in the form of the RT-AC66U. I went for the “older” model for two reasons. One is that I was hesitant to get another bleeding edge product. But more importantly, the N66U consistently beats its AC sibling in tests that involved older standards. Most of my devices are 2.4 GHz wireless-g or 5 GHz wireless-n. I don’t own a single wireless-ac device.
Whoa, wifi everywhere
Every single router I’ve previously owned has had trouble reaching our attic. Two slabs of reinforced concrete used to effectively kill the wifi signal. Not with the Asus. Speedtest.net shows speeds of up to 16 mbps in places where there usually wasn’t any reception at all. On the first floor, there’s a healthy 30 mbps.
Setup and firmware
One of my complaints about the E4200 was its oldfashioned, out-dated web interface. The RT-U66N has quite the opposite problem. Its firmware is flashy, modern and a little immature. I ran into a couple of glitches while setting it up, and I can recommend updating to the latest version to get the best speeds. I lost my settings during the upgrade, so it make sense to do this first. I’ve not used the web interface since day one, because the router’s been running perfectly since.
One thing I noticed is that the N66U does run very hot. Its logic board is covered by a very large heatsink, and it feels like it needs it. Only time will tell whether the heat is a problem. In the month-or-so that I’ve had it, the Asus has been completely stable.
If you need the absolute best wifi performance for current day devices (even the iPhone 5S does not do 802.11ac), this router should be on your shortlist. Whether it’ll die a slow and horrible death like the E4200 remains to be seen, but the U66N has been on the market for over a year, and I’ve heard no such complaints. Carefully, tentatively recommended.