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Old 09-13-2012, 01:33 AM
Geraner Geraner is offline
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Default Review RT-AC66U vs RT-N66U

Hi,

I have been using the RT-N66U since January 2012 and wrote also a detailed test report about the RT-N66U back in January. See link bellow.
http://forums.smallnetbuilder.com/showthread.php?t=6446
The RT-N66U I have been using with several open freeware products and ASUS firmware. During the last month using mostly Tomato Shibby.

Now I have been contacted by ASUS Nordic who asked me to test there latest product the ASUS RT-AC66U. I got two devices shipped from them and was testing their new product at the same locations as I was testing the RT-N66U on my tests in January this year.
To test the transfer speed oft he AC standard, one of the RT-AC66U can be used as Wireless Bridge. Because there is no 802.11ac network card existing yet.

To get a better comparison between the RT-N66U and the RT-AC66U I divided the test in several parts.

1. Testing the ASUS RT-N66U with 802.11N with firmware Tomato Shibby 1.28.0000 MIPSR2-100 K26 USB AIO-64K
2. Testing the ASUS RT-N66U with 802.11N with latest ASUS firmware 3.0.0.4.220
3. Testing the ASUS RT-AC66U with 802.11N with latest ASUS firmware 3.0.0.4.220
4. Testing the ASUS RT-AC66U with 802.11AC
5. Testing ASUS RT-N66U with 802.11AC with QOS disabled

Speedtest has been done with the program "LAN Speed Test" version 2.0.8.
http://www.totusoft.com/lanspeed2.html

Test done on 3 locations.
1) My office where the router is located. The laptop is about one meter away from the router.
2) Living room. About 20 meters distance to the router with only 2 thin walls between it.
3) Kitchen. Also about 25 meters distance to the router with 2 thin walls and one thicker wall between.

Measurements have been done with sending/reading of 4 different file sizes.
  • 20 MB
  • 50 MB
  • 100 MB
  • 500 MB
Average measured result of all 4 file sizes has been calculated. Results shown bellow are the average results. Measured results shown in Mbps.

The desktop PC which was used to write and read files from via Speed Test was connected to the router via CAT6 cable.
The laptop was used to send and read files from the desktop computer.
WIFI card in the laptop is a Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6205 (2 antenna only!).

The router was set to 40 Mhz when testing N-standard on 2,4 and 5 Ghz band.
RT-AC66 was set to 80 Mhz on the 5 Ghz band for testing AC-Standard.

I also checked the Wirless drivers versions used in all firmware version via telnet command “wl ver”:
RT-N66U Tomato Shibby - Broadcom Wireless Driver 5.100.138.20
RT-N66U ASUS 3.0.0.4.220 - Broadcom Wireless Driver 5.100.138.20
RT-AC66U ASUS 3.0.0.4.220 - Broadcom Wireless Driver 6.30.39.31 (r341183)

Other settings:
  • QOS enabled with highest prio to the desktop computer if possible. Otherwise default QOS settings.
  • Antivirus has been switched off on both test computers to not affect the test results.

Test results:

Office 2.4 Ghz 802.11-N


RT-N66U - Tomato Shibby
Sending: 99 Mbps
Reading: 71 Mbps

RT-N66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 99 Mbps
Reading: 124 Mbps

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 114 Mbps
Reading: 119 Mbps

Living room 2.4 Ghz 802.11-N


RT-N66U - Tomato Shibby
Sending: 71 Mbps
Reading: 79 Mbps

RT-N66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 85 Mbps
Reading: 112 Mbps

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 78 Mbps
Reading: 123 Mbps

Kitchen 2.4 Ghz 802.11-N

RT-N66U - Tomato Shibby
Sending: 59 Mbps
Reading: 79 Mbps

RT-N66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 80 Mbps
Reading: 118 Mbps

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 78 Mbps
Reading: 94 Mbps

Office 5 Ghz 802.11-N

RT-N66U - Tomato Shibby
Sending: 129 Mbps
Reading: 143 Mbps

RT-N66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 131 Mbps
Reading: 134 Mbps

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 122 Mbps
Reading: 146 Mbps

Living room 5 Ghz 802.11-N


RT-N66U - Tomato Shibby
Sending: 125 Mbps
Reading: 142 Mbps

RT-N66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 124 Mbps
Reading: 128 Mbps

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 124 Mbps
Reading: 139 Mbps

Kitchen 5 Ghz 802.11-N

RT-N66U - Tomato Shibby
Sending: 106 Mbps
Reading: 107 Mbps

RT-N66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 101 Mbps
Reading: 117 Mbps

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 101 Mbps
Reading: 133 Mbps

Office 5 Ghz 802.11-AC

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
QoS enabled

Sending: 217 Mbps
Reading: 264 Mbps

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
QoS disabled

Sending: 312 Mbps
Reading: 322 Mbps

Livingroom 5 Ghz 802.11-AC


RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
QoS enabled

Sending: 217 Mbps
Reading: 264 Mbps

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
QoS disabled

Sending: 317 Mbps
Reading: 289 Mbps

Kitchen 5 Ghz 802.11-AC


RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
QoS enabled

Sending: 216 Mbps
Reading: 268 Mbps

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
QoS disabled

Sending: 272 Mbps
Reading: 289 Mbps

Cable connected through router

RT-N66U - Tomato Shibby
Sending: 703 Mbps
Reading: 492 Mbps

RT-N66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 704 Mbps
Reading: 511 Mbps

RT-AC66U – ASUS firmware
Sending: 714 Mbps
Reading: 538 Mbps


Conclusions so far:

The 2,4 GHz N speed of the RT-N66U with Tomato Shibby firmware is slower than with ASUS firmware installed on the product. The 5 GHz N speed on both firmware versions are about the same. (+/- 10 Mbps on some locations)

Comparing 2,4 GHz N and 5 GHz N speed on the RT-N66U and RT-AC66U shows no real differences.
Only the 2,4 GHz N speed of the RT-AC66U is about 10 Mbps slower at the location most far away from the router (kitchen). But that’s not much compared to the total speed and the average user should not notice any difference here.
I have seen some people complaining about that the 2,4 GHz of the RT-AC66U is not as good as on the RT-N66U. According to my test results, I can’t confirm that.

Comparing 802.11N with 802.11ac shows a big difference in speed.
With QoS enabled the speed was identical at all locations in my flat. (80 – 140 Mbps vs 217 - 267 Mbps)
When disabling QoS in the RT-AC66U, the transfer speed could be increased by additionally 100 Mbps in sending and 50 Mbps in reading to a speed of 270 to 322 Mbps depending on the test location.

ASUS advertising is telling us that 802.11AC is about 3x faster than 802.11N, which I can agree as long as the user has QoS disabled on the router.
The advertising and is also telling us:
Compared with current 802.11n, the RT-AC66U delivers up to 1.3Gbps at 5GHz, which is 3X faster than 802.11n!” written in small letters under it: “*Based on theoretical maximum speeds in 5GHz transmission,...
http://www.asus.com/Networks/Wireles...C66U/#overview

Even if the theoretically transfer speed used in the product advertising never can be reached, the 802.11AC performance is in my point of view is impressive.

Now we users are just waiting for the manufactures to release 802.11ac wireless cards as USB and build into new laptops, to start taking advantage of the 3x faster wifi speed that comes with this new standard.

Many thanks to ASUS Nordic to give me the opportunity to test their new RT-AC66U.

Regards
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ASUS RT-AC66U HW: A2 Firmware: 3.0.0.4.270.24_BETA3 Merlin_build
ASUS RT-N66U HW: B1 Firmware: Tomato Shibby 1.28.0000 MIPSR2-100 K26 USB AIO-64K
D-Link DIR-825 HW: B1 Firmware: OpenWRT Backfire 10.03.1
D-Link DAP-1522 HW: A1 Firmware: V 1.40

Last edited by Geraner; 09-13-2012 at 01:41 AM.
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  #2  
Old 09-13-2012, 02:13 AM
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The performance difference with QoS disabled is due to the fact that CTF is only enabled when QoS is disabled. You can probably reproduce the same performance drop by going to LAN, and setting "Disable HW Acceleration" to "Yes", which will force the router into not using CTF.

That also explains part of the performance difference with Tomato, which does not have that CTF module.
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Old 09-13-2012, 03:31 AM
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Thanks for the comment RMerlin.
What stands CTF for? Can you add more information please? Thanks.

/Geraner
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ASUS RT-AC66U HW: A2 Firmware: 3.0.0.4.270.24_BETA3 Merlin_build
ASUS RT-N66U HW: B1 Firmware: Tomato Shibby 1.28.0000 MIPSR2-100 K26 USB AIO-64K
D-Link DIR-825 HW: B1 Firmware: OpenWRT Backfire 10.03.1
D-Link DAP-1522 HW: A1 Firmware: V 1.40
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Old 09-13-2012, 09:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geraner View Post
Thanks for the comment RMerlin.
What stands CTF for? Can you add more information please? Thanks.

/Geraner
Cut-Through Forwarding. It is essentially a proprietary (closed-source) kernel module from Broadcom that speeds up packet processing by the kernel. It has a few limitations however, which means it has to be disabled by the firmware whenever you enable QoS. In the past it also had to be disabled when using port forwarding, which made CTF more or less a "benchmark review booster" essentially. This is no longer the case.
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Old 09-18-2012, 05:16 AM
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Thank you very much for this excellent review.

I can't decide between RT-AC66U and RT-N66U.
The RT-AC66U costs 50 Euros more (170 to 120 - Amazon Germany).

What do you think?

Is it worth investing 50 Euros more into 802.11ac?
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dopefish View Post
Thank you very much for this excellent review.

I can't decide between RT-AC66U and RT-N66U.
The RT-AC66U costs 50 Euros more (170 to 120 - Amazon Germany).

What do you think?

Is it worth investing 50 Euros more into 802.11ac?
Not for that big of a difference, no. You most likely won't get any 802.11ac network interfaces until next year. so might as well wait until non-draft and less expensive products come out.
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Old 09-18-2012, 10:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMerlin View Post
Not for that big of a difference, no. You most likely won't get any 802.11ac network interfaces until next year. so might as well wait until non-draft and less expensive products come out.
Can only agree with what RMerlin worte.
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ASUS RT-AC66U HW: A2 Firmware: 3.0.0.4.270.24_BETA3 Merlin_build
ASUS RT-N66U HW: B1 Firmware: Tomato Shibby 1.28.0000 MIPSR2-100 K26 USB AIO-64K
D-Link DIR-825 HW: B1 Firmware: OpenWRT Backfire 10.03.1
D-Link DAP-1522 HW: A1 Firmware: V 1.40
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Old 09-18-2012, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RMerlin View Post
Not for that big of a difference, no. You most likely won't get any 802.11ac network interfaces until next year. so might as well wait until non-draft and less expensive products come out.
Thanks! I just ordered the rt-n66u (118Euros). :-)

Btw: One of the reasons i bought this device is your firmware RMerlin. Asus should give you some credit for that! ;-)
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Old 10-11-2012, 04:28 PM
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Same question. Picking up a new router tonight at best buy. N66 is $180, ac66 is $200. Worth $20?

I understand I probably won't have any ac clients for several years, but the newness of the ac66 and the 128MB of flash are really calling me. Worth $20 you guys think?
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Old 10-11-2012, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearxor View Post
Same question. Picking up a new router tonight at best buy. N66 is $180, ac66 is $200. Worth $20?

I understand I probably won't have any ac clients for several years, but the newness of the ac66 and the 128MB of flash are really calling me. Worth $20 you guys think?
I'm wondering the same thing. I can return my n66u and pick up the ac66u for about $20 more.
I'm just concerned about the fact that all the reviews say the 2.4g range is not as good as the n66u. Including the review from our own Mr. Higgins, although I'm wondering if that has changed with subsequent firmware releases.
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