Asus DSL-AC3100

Pricey, but an ex­cel­lent all-in-one Wi-Fi router for NBN FTTN users

PCPOWERPLAY - - Tech // Reviews - PRICE $ 528 asus.com/au

Asus

routers are some of the best in the in­dus­try for home users want­ing a lit­tle ex­tra than sim­ply get­ting on­line. Known for their per­for­mance and wide fea­ture set, the DSL-AC3100 is the lat­est in that tra­di­tion and does not dis­ap­point.

Denoted by the DSL in its prod­uct name, the DSL-AC3100 is a Wi-Fi router with a built-in ADSL, ADSL 2/2+ and VDSL2 mo­dem. Per­fect for NBN FTTN users. In­ter­est­ingly, Asus has added sup­port for G.Fast, which doesn’t ex­ist in Aus­tralia yet, but could one day be used on the cop­per por­tions of the NBN.

Wi-Fi on the DSL-AC3100 is one of its unique sell­ing points thanks to the in­clu­sion of 1024-QAM tech­nol­ogy. Asus calls it NitroQAM, and claim it can pro­vide over 2.1 Gbit/sec over 5GHz to de­vices that also sup­port 1024QAM - and there’s the catch. Hardly any­thing has 1024-QAM sup­port as it’s not a for­mal part of the 802.11ac spec­i­fi­ca­tion.

Round­ing out the hard­ware specs is a gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net WAN port, four gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net LAN ports and two USB ports (1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0). The USB ports can be used for 3G/4G sup­port (i.e: if the NBN is down, 4G takes over so you re­main on­line) or for shar­ing a printer or hard drive on your net­work.

Like most Asus routers, the DSLAC3100 is packed full of fea­tures thanks to Asus WRT. It’s also nice that Asus con­stantly roll out up­dates to their firmware, un­like some man­u­fac­tur­ers who sim­ply re­lease a few patches for bugs and leave it at that. The full list of fea­tures would take up this en­tire page, but some high­lights in­clude OpenVPN and AiMesh.

One of the most use­ful fea­tures in AsusWRT is OpenVPN sup­port. Un­like most other con­sumer routers, Asus sup­ports the same VPN pro­to­col, as a client, that the clear ma­jor­ity of VPN providers use for get­ting around geo­re­stric­tions or ob­fus­cat­ing your in­ter­net traf­fic use. Sup­port for OpenVPN means that you don’t have to in­stall the provider’s app on your ma­chine. Just pop the server de­tails into your router and your en­tire net­work can take advantage of the VPN.

AiMesh lets you place other Asus routers around your home and use them to ex­tend your Wi-Fi cov­er­age. You can link them up over Eth­er­net for max­i­mum band­width, or they can con­nect to each other wire­lessly, form­ing a mesh. It’s easy to setup, works very well and can be quite af­ford­able ver­sus ded­i­cated mesh Wi-Fi hard­ware.

sup­port for OpenVPN means that you don’t have to in­stall the provider’s app on your ma­chine

The Asus DSL-AC3100’s rai­son d’être is sup­port for G.Fast and 1024-QAM Wi-Fi. But there’s no G.Fast in Aus­tralia and the chance of your Wi-Fi de­vices sup­port­ing 1024-QAM is ex­tremely slim. If you want the ab­so­lute best Wi-Fi per­for­mance, you’d buy some­thing like the RTAC5300, which costs about the same, has a faster CPU and an ex­tra Wi-Fi ra­dio so you don’t have to share pre­cious ra­dio band­width with other de­vices. How­ever, if you want the fastest Asus router with a built-in mo­dem, the DSL-AC3100 is it. ANTHONY AGIUS

NET­WORK­ING

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