Asus’s lastest DSL router aims to be an ace op­tion for home net­works.

APC Australia - - Contents - Dan Gar­diner

“Cu­ri­ously, the DSLAC100 doesn’t in­clude baked-in sup­port for WTFast VPN — a spe­cial ‘Gam­ing Pri­vate Net­work’ ser­vice that promises to de­liver bet­ter pings and less packet loss”


Look­ing like the front of some kind of cy­ber­punk mus­cle­car, Asus’s mostre­cent 802.11ac router brings to­gether a huge range of fea­tures with built-in DSL mo­dem into one fam­ily-ori­ented de­vice. Match­ing the ex­cel­lent RT-AC88U ‘s 802.11ac Wi-Fi ca­pa­bil­i­ties (with top 5GHz speeds of 2,167Mbps and 2.4GHz speeds of up to 1,000Mbps), this new unit’s com­pat­i­ble with FTTNbased NBN con­nec­tions and has a ded­i­cated WAN Eth­er­net port for hook­ing up ex­ter­nal modems, mak­ing it a good choice for those who might be on ADSL now, but even­tu­ally mi­grate to a non-FTTN NBN con­nec­tion.

The real star of the show is Asus’s ex­cel­lent WRT firmware, which of­fers a com­pre­hen­sive set of en­thu­si­ast-ori­ented fea­tures. That in­cludes higher-end op­tions like VPN client and server tools, com­pre­hen­sive event log­ging and de­tailed Wi-Fi tweak­ing tools.

An AiPro­tec­tion hub is ori­ented to­ward se­cu­rity, and now in­te­grates a host of ad­vanced soft­ware smarts pow­ered by Trend Mi­cro. That in­cludes rea­son­ably com­pre­hen­sive parental con­trols, such as cat­e­go­ry­based site block­ing (such as Gam­ing, Me­dia Stream­ing, P2P, In­stant Mes­sag­ing and so on) or the abil­ity to re­strict in­ter­net ac­cess for spe­cific de­vices to cer­tain hours of the day.

As in other ar­eas of Asus’s firmware, the con­trols here are rel­a­tively straight for­ward and pro­vide a use­ful amount of info on what each op­tion does — although some ar­eas could per­haps use a lit­tle more de­tail. For ex­am­ple, there’s no way to drill down and see what sites and ser­vices, are be­ing blocked in each cat­e­gory. There’s also no way to whitelist cer­tain sites or ser­vices either, and we found it didn’t block chat-ser­vice Tele­gram — although it did get more main­stream op­tions in­clud­ing Face­book, Snapchat, YouTube, Red­dit, Twit­ter and In­sta­gram.

Cu­ri­ously, the DSL-AC100 doesn’t in­clude baked-in sup­port for WTFast VPN — a spe­cial ‘Gam­ing Pri­vate Net­work’ ser­vice that promises to de­liver bet­ter pings and less packet loss, which Asus has part­nered with on many of its other high-end routers in the last cou­ple of years. It’s un­clear why that’s the case — but does mean that this router isn’t as well-suited to com­pet­i­tive gamers.

While the DSL-AC3100 does so much right in some ar­eas, it’s a lit­tle mixed when it comes to Wi-Fi per­for­mance. Its sig­nal pen­e­tra­tion and range are both com­mend­able: it man­aged to main­tain solid read and write speeds at longer dis­tances and even through brick walls. Our long-dis­tance test, about 10m from the router and with par­tial sig­nal block­ing due to two brick walls, had peak reads and writes of 41.5 and 23.5MB/s re­spec­tively. That’s around 11% and 24% down on our near-dis­tance re­sults (tested 3m from the router with line of site) of 46.4 and 30.4MB/s. For com­par­i­son, at that far dis­tance most other routers drop by around 20-30% for reads and 30-40% for writes.

How­ever, for an 802.11ac router those near-dis­tance speeds are, frankly, a lit­tle lack­lus­tre. Other Asus routers we’ve tested, such as the RT-AC5300 and afore­men­tioned RT-AC88U, have main­tained read speeds in the 60-70MB/s range and writes around 50-60MB/s in these ex­act same tests.

Still, if you can live with­out hav­ing the ab­so­lute fastest through­put, then this is still a great, fullfea­tured router for the de­mand­ing home net­work.

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