AC68U is an entry level of wireless router towards AC powered wireless router from ASUS, bolted with combined dual-band speed up to 1900Mbps of 802.11ac, by which, in general, thrice faster than the old 802.11n generation wireless standards. As an entry level router in an AC generation router, the AC68U offers premium features such as AiProtection Pro and AiMesh to be highlighted in general. The AC68U does support the latest turbo plans from the respective ISP’s precisely UniFi 800Mbps and TIME 1Gbps, only, via a wired connection.
- AiProtection Pro – Network Protection (Router Security Assessment, Malicious Sites Blocking, Vulnerability Protection and Infected Device Prevention and Blocking) powered by Trend Micro and Advance Parental Controls for the parents to control and monitor their children’s activity.
- VPN Server and VPN Client.
- Enhance Media Server
- AiCloud – A personal cloud service
- 3G/4G Data Sharing
- Dual WAN
- Airtime Fairness
Let’s proceed into the packaging style (before unbox) and the router overview after unboxing.
The packaging comes with simple, straightforward design and authenticity details.
The front of the box shows the general information of the router, while the rear side of the box shows the comparison between other ASUS wireless router models along with the detailed information of the router in the form of graphics. The left-hand side of the box shows the specification of the router and the right-hand side of the box shows the highlighted features.
The supplied accessories along with this wireless router are, a single unit of AC68U, a single Cat5E ethernet cable, a single unit of power cable, a single warranty card and a single support CD which both comprise a user manual and the utility.
The indicators present for AC68U are, a single WAN indicator, four LAN indicator, USB’s indicator, power indicator and wireless indicator. The wireless antenna is removable and replaceable.
At the rear of the router, a single gigabit WAN port, four gigabit LAN port, a power button, a single USB 2.0 port, a single USB 3.0 port, a reset button and LED’s on/off button. On the left-hand side of the router, a single Wi-Fi on/off button and a WPS button were located.
The specifications of the router as follows:
SETTING UP FOR THE FIRST USE
- Step 1: Key in 192.168.1.1 into your browser’s address bar.
- Step 2: On the landing page, click on the “Manual Setting”
- Step 3: On the Internet connection type page, click on the “Yes” option.
- Step 4: Tick the “Special Requirement from ISP” checkbox before clicking on “PPPoE” option.
- Step 5: Key in your provided ISP’s username and password
- Username: XXXXX@unifi – example of expected ISP username.
- Password: JwueoQpxq12la (13 characters) – example of 13 characters of password.
- Step 6: Select your ISP’s Profile (UniFi – Home), click on the “Next” button.
- Step 7: Key in your wireless SSID for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz band along with a strong password, once the credentials have been entered, click on the “Apply” Button.
- Step 8: Create your own custom router login username and password. Click on the “Next” button.
- Step 9: You will be directed to summary page while the router applies the changes before directing you to the login page.
WALKTHROUGH OF THE FIRMWARE
The Network Map of the AC68U running on the merlin firmware loses the AiMesh feature, however, if you’re wishing to use other AC wireless router from ASUS, to add a node or to make your AC68U as a slave of your main wireless router, it is highly advisable to flash to the stock firmware instead.
The Traffic Analyzer records your client’s usage and displays their web or apps history. Well, this is a good feature to monitor your client’s activity from anywhere in your house. The traffic will be recorded every hour and, the graphs will be kept on updated as per latest result.
The AiProtection offered in AC68 is free for lifetime, despite of you using it on the stock firmware or Merlin firmware. The beauty of this protection is, it actually protects you from accessing malware contained website and, prevents any suspicious infected device to infect other devices in your network.
In this crucial part of the AC68U’s true potential, I focused on two main network speed test method, wired and wireless. The devices used for this experiment is the iPhone 7 Plus and ASUS G752VT laptop. For best method of measuring your internet speed, it is highly advisable to use wired over wireless under the minimum condition of using Cat5E ethernet cable.
Below are the outcome of the wired test conducted via laptop.
Several servers were selected, mainly Telekom Malaysia, Singtel and Vodofone UK. Based on the test conducted, the first three images show that, the speedtest result from TM’s server shows highest reading followed by the Singtel and finally, the Vodofone UK. The last image was tested with a VPN, BolehVPN to be precise, and, well, the result is acceptable. To conclude the wired test, the router does handle the 800 Mbps like a charm.
In order to get an accurate (well depends on your device’s hardware), it is highly recommended via 5 GHz band. Some device couldn’t capable to produce best network benchmark due to its internal hardware limitations.
Below are the recommended wireless settings:
In order to get an optimum result, it is highly advisable to conduct the test via 5 GHz wireless band, if and only if, your hardware supports it.
The outcome of the wireless test concludes that, my laptop able to achieve over 600Mbps (according to the best test) while, as the distance gets further away from the AC68U, the outcome of the speedtest reduced. Similar to 5 GHz wireless bands, I able to achieve over 200 Mbps (according to the best result), when, I am nearby the router, and, as the distance get’s increased, the speed test result differs compared to the outcome when the test conducted near the AC68U.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES
- Excellent build quality.
- AiProtection Pro (Lifetime license).
- Comes with a single USB 2.0 and a single 3.0.
- Physical buttons for WPS, Wi-Fi (on/off) and LED’s (on/off).
- Great wireless coverage.
- Asus-Merlin support.
- Able to handle heavy internet activities.
- Supports UniFi 800 Mbps solid via wired connection.
- Supports ASUS’s app (Settings can be configured from the app).
- No Captive Portal.
The AC68U being an entry level of AC wireless routers from ASUS, it costs quite a premium price for such router at the price of RM 1039. Despite of its high price, it does, offer, premium features as well, similar to other high end ASUS routers, one of being, the famous AiProtection Pro, a commercial grade network security protection powered by Trend Micro.
Comes with 5 Gigabit ports, the AC68U definitely supports up to 1Gbps solid via wired connection only, mind you that, if you’re using over wireless, you might not get the subscribed speed, you can opt to buy a suitable wireless USB powered adapter to fully utilize your network subscription using the best supported bands fully.
Lacking of Captive Portal, the AC68U surely does fit to be the part of the network equipments in your organization, let it be a star-up or an intermediate business venture. The ability of handling multiple connected websites, the AC68U passes like a charm.
A good news for network enthusiasts, to get an extra features and performance, you can flash the router to a highly trusted custom firmware developed by RMerlin under the project, Asus-Merlin.
To close up my rant here, I would proudly, give an award for such an awesome router. It definitely deserves a full 5 star from me. With recently announced broadband improvement plans by the respective ISP’s, most of the router manufacturer comes up with their official news of their wireless AC router models that, supports the type of speed range from the ISP’s. If you’re planning to upgrade your old ageing wireless router, why not give an AC68U a try? With premium offered features, you can’t go wrong with this router.