Many modern routers have a top access point with support of connection speeds 450/600 and 1300 Mbps in ranges of 2.4 and 5 GHz, respectively, which is provided by the use of three antennas and support of protocols 802.11 n and 802.11 ac. But with the choice of the customers the situation is much more complex. If we talk about embedded in smartphones and tablets adapters, they will often only have a single antenna (up to 150/433 Mbps), rarely two (to 300/867 Mbps). A little different and the choice in laptops, although there’s occasionally possible to find a configuration with three antennas. Unfortunately, advertised for several years, the technology MU-MIMO, designed to ensure more efficient use of the wireless connection continues to be in an indeterminate state from the point of view of availability and the support of its client devices. So the only reason to buy it fast in the segment of Wi-Fi routers remains the exploitation together with the fast adapters in computers.
For desktop systems, if speed is important to you network access, of course, it is desirable to use a connection cable. Gigabit network adapters are no longer exotic and are ubiquitous, and routers and switches with Gigabit ports are relatively inexpensive. If you are on a PC you really need fast Wi-Fi, fast adapters are small, so each new model is of interest. On our market today there are literally only three internal models for installation on the PCIe bus with the formula 600/1300. If we talk about external devices with USB, the adapter is actually only one. In fairness, we note that if we reduce the requirements on the connection speed, new options will appear quite a lot and they may be interesting for those who use routers a little easier.
In these circumstances, we are of course interested in the new product of Asus, and we decided to dedicate a separate material, though usually for the adapters do not. USB wireless controller USB-AC68 was presented this year. It supports USB 3.0 interface, protocols, 801.11 a/b/g/n/ac and connection speed up to 600/1300 Mbps.
The adapter Asus USB-AC68 comes in a relatively small cardboard box with a dust jacket. The design of its traditional networking products Asus — photos of the device, technical specifications, key features.
Inside the user will find the adapter, extension cord, stand, quick manual, warranty card, CD with drivers.
The supplied extension tube allows you to choose more convenient from the point of view of signal quality, the position of Asus USB-AC68, and hold such a large device is directly connected to the laptop is not the best option. The extender has a special stand for vertical installation.
It is made of black glossy plastic. Weighting and rubber base help reliable retention of the device on a horizontal surface. But thick and tough enough cable prevents this. Built-in magnet in this model. The cable length is about one meter, which is sufficient for most users.
On the website of the company can download driver updates that are for Windows 7-10 and OS X 10.7-10.11. Note that they are included in most utility installations, but not as an archive with inf and other documents. In the folder with the installed drivers will be several additional programs and bat files of unknown purpose. It is also worth to note that on the website of the driver there are two versions for different markets. What exactly are the differences is unknown. Probably talking about the required regional standards for radio communications. In testing we used the latest version of the package — 126.96.36.199, which was driver version v.1030.9.0303.2016.
The adapter Asus USB-AC68 received a large case — overall dimensions are 30 x 18 x 115 mm (with connector cap).
The device has four antennas, two of them internal and two are implemented in the form of the opening “horns”, which has one degree of freedom and three positions with detent. For of the hull is mostly black plastic.
In the assembled state, we see only the gloss, but if you open the antenna, then under them will be a matte finish. However, the antenna inside the red, as a small insert with an indicator on the front side.
The led lights blue when communication with the access point flashes slowly when there is no connection. Activity when sending or receiving data it does not show.
The possibility of changing the position of the antennas is useful from two points of view — more reliable reception and access of air to the cooling grilles on the body of the adapter Asus USB-AC68. As we remember from past tests, despite the rapid development of the technology of manufacturing chips, fast wireless adapters consume a lot of energy and can dramatically heat up. However, in this model even when working, the temperature rise of the body was insignificant.
The model is based on chip Realtek RTL8814AU which is rather unusual for this manufacturer. Probably other developers are unable to offer a suitable customized chip. Unfortunately, in the public domain information on this chip could not be found. However, its main characteristics are known — USB 3.0 interface for PC connection, support wireless communication standards 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac bands 2.4 and 5 GHz with maximum connection speeds of 600 and 1300 Mbps, respectively. Recall that this value is only possible with the availability of modern routers or access points of the upper segment.
Explicit mentioning of supported channels for 5GHz was not found. But in testing routers the adapter and 36-m and 100-m with channel width of 80 MHz and a maximum speed of connection.
To evaluate the performance of the adapter Asus USB-AC68 was used on computers running 64-bit Windows 8.1 with all latest updates. We evaluated the speed of data transfer between segments of the LAN and WLAN via the access point router. During the test broadcast was attended by a couple dozen networks in the 2.4 GHz band and two or three network on 5 GHz.
Test the adapter Asus USB-AC68 was performed on routers Asus RT-AC1200G+ (firmware 188.8.131.52.380.3971) and the RT-AC68U (firmware 184.108.40.206.380.3831). Both models are built on a chipset Broadcom. The first is a relatively affordable model supporting 802.11 ac with Gigabit ports, providing the connection speed to 300 and 867 Mbps in the bands 2.4 and 5 GHz. Second, despite his age, is quite worthy representative of high-speed models and is able to provide customers with speeds of 600 and 1300 Mbps in ranges of 2.4 and 5 GHz, respectively. Note that the 600 Mbps the router is formally different from the “adapter” because it is based on the work of the special technology Broadcom TurboQAM. However, given that the adapter and routers capable of running on 5GHz with 802.11 ac using 2.4 GHz band for them is rare and few people need, especially in urban environments loaded with air. Some of the figures on the charts, of course, still will be, but comments on them in this article, we, perhaps, give will not. Moreover, such equipment explicitly sold to work with 5GHz.
Of setting up wireless access points routers minimum selects a specific channel number, channel width and setting the password for WPA2-PSK. For the adapter Asus USB-AC68, no special options are not used. Note that the list of available settings in the driver are relatively small. It is noticeably less represented for devices based on Broadcom or Intel chips. Useful in practice, it is possible to notice, perhaps, only the choice of the standards/bands.
Another seen in the tests feature is a strange process of connecting to a wireless network. Almost always, it required more time than we used to, or had to restart it. However, after connecting everything worked flawlessly.
As usual, testing was performed with a single thread on reception, on transmission in full duplex and also in the modes of eight simultaneous threads.
The first chart shows the test results with the router Asus RT-AC1200G+ when placed in the same room at a distance of four meters line of sight in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. And for the last checked options with younger (36) and senior (100) channels.
The speed of the adapter Asus USB-AC68, although not the maximum supported mode in combination with this router, is quite high and ranges from 300 to more than 600 Mbit/s. While the 36-th channel is slightly more efficient in case of high load multi-threaded operations.
View now to work with the Asus RT-AC68U in the same conditions.
For channel 36, this configuration shows better results from 400 to 730 MB/s For 100-m channel, the growth is noticeable mainly on multithreaded operations.
Compared with the commonly used us for tests routers adapter the Asus PCE-AC68U shows that in General, the novelty differs little from him at the speed in scenarios with one or two threads. But if the load on the connection is coming from multiple applications at the same time, the internal adapter on the PCIe bus performs better.
With this router we have compared the operation of the adapter using the extension cable with open antennas and installing directly to the USB port of the computer without opening the antennas. When placed in a room in the main scenario single-threaded data transfer to the client there is no significant difference. In other cases, the second option loses 10%-25%.
The following two charts will help us to evaluate the “range” of the device. The testing was with the same pair of routers in the 5 GHz band on 36-m the channel. The client, in addition to the base points on four meters line of sight, installed in the apartment for one non-permanent wall on the same four metres and through two walls of eight metres.
In the case of using a router Asus RT-AC1200G+ move one wall with preservation of the distances has led to a noticeable (about 30%) decrease in transfer speed from the adapter Asus USB-AC68 to the router, but had little effect on receiving data by a client (in single thread performance even increased) and full-duplex mode. Well, two walls and the increase in the distance cost falling by 20% -70%. Overall, however, the speed even at the farthest point was from 100 Mbps to 500 Mbps, which would be sufficient for most popular applications, including HD video.
Changes when working with a router Asus RT-AC68U have a different character. The second point in the transmission of data from the client shows a decrease of about 10%, whereas enrolment has increased by 6%, and the scenario transmission and reception by 9%. While multithreaded operations, the drop is from 25 to 50 percent. The removal of the third location causes the reduction in speed of up to 150-360 Mbps.
In General, no remarks to the operation of the device in nonideal conditions there. Despite the formally large losses in the 5 GHz band by increasing the distance and obstructions, in reality, due to the high workload of the air at 2.4 GHz, this is where you can get good results including if the devices are not within the same room. Well, 802.11 ac, facilitates this thanks to the MIMO technology and the work at once on four channels.
Additionally, we evaluated consumption of the power adapter that is important for mobile devices. We investigated in different modes using special keys on the USB bus. The values on the chart are given in watts on a scenario of data transmission and reception in eight streams (four in each direction). The 5GHz band used channel 36.
The maximum measured value during the operation of the device does not exceed 2.5 watts. In the absence of activity, but when connected to a wireless network, the consumption is 1.1 W for 2.4 GHz and 1.5 W for 5 GHz. If the connection is not quite the adapter in just a few seconds spent in deep sleep mode, the consumption of which our tester praised as completely missing.
It’s nice that Asus has decided to support the users of their top routers giving them a new wireless adapter Asus USB-AC68 to the appropriate level. The developers were not afraid to use less known for the chipset itself. One of the advantages of the model note the presence of USB 3.0 interface lets you use the device not only traditional desktops, but also laptops and compact PCs. Technical capabilities of the model correspond to the modern requirements of high-performance adapters — it provides support for all of today’s popular wireless protocols, including 802.11 ac and high speed connections up to 600 and 1300 Mbps in ranges of 2.4 and 5 GHz, respectively.
Performance testing of the adapter showed that it could compete with such a well-known model, just like Asus PCE-AC68. The power consumption is relatively small so you can work on it offline on my laptop.
The adapter Asus USB-AC68 is quality made and has an attractive design with movable antennas, which allows to improve the speed and range of operation. Useful for this and complete the extension, which can also be useful from the viewpoint of easy connection to stationary systems.
The appearance of the device on the local market is expected in late November. Cost at the time of publication information was not. In foreign stores, this model is available for about $90 or 70 euros.