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Lifewire / Yoona Wagener
Fast, simple setup
Easy-to-use mobile app
Complex web interface
A little pricey
Can’t adjust orientation
The Asus RT-AC68U is a versatile dual-band, whole-home Wi-Fi router that boasts ample capability and flexibility for power users and average users alike.
Dual-band wireless routers are fairly affordable now that the 802.11ac wireless standard has become more of the norm in routers and other devices. If you’re hoping to upgrade from a single-band router or you’re simply interested in leveling up to a device that’s at the forefront of the latest router technology, consider the Asus RT-AC68U. It has enough power to support large homes and boasts parental controls, gaming support, and AiMesh home networking.
We tested this router and noted aspects like speed, ease of setup and use, and the bevy of features that may appeal most to power users.
The Asus RT-AC68U is not too large or heavy, which makes it ideal for even smaller apartments. Though it can support the Wi-Fi demands of a large home, you won’t be hard-pressed to find a place for it in a smaller dwelling. The router naturally (and exclusively) stands upright on a platform base, which could be a deterrent if you’d prefer a device that you can lay down completely flat on a surface.
Still, at just 8.66 inches tall, 6.30 inches long, and 3.28 inches wide, it’s likely that you’ll have no trouble accommodating it. In addition to the relatively small profile of the body of the router, there’s not much area added by the three detachable antennas.
The Asus RT-AC68U is not too large or heavy, which makes it ideal for even smaller apartments.
Since it does stand upright, all the indicator lights are placed on the front and at the bottom of the router face, which is smooth and sports a sort of criss-cross pattern with long angled lines that adds some visual interest. The LED indicator lights and the icons are subtle and not too bright or gaudy, which adds to the overall sleek and understated look of the router.
You’ll find all the ports on the back of the device: four LAN ports, WAN port, one USB 2.0, and one USB 3.0 port. They’re all clearly marked and spaced for easy access.
Setting up the Asus RT-AC68U was very fast and simple. The process took only about five minutes from start to finish, and we connected to our Xfinity ISP service capable of download speeds up to 150 Mbps.
You can opt to complete the setup using a computer or a mobile device. We chose the latter. We located the Asus app from the App Store and downloaded it to our iPhone before prepping our modem, attaching the antennas to the router, and powering it on. Then we located the default Asus SSID and followed the steps in the mobile app as directed by the quick-start guide. First we assigned our router a name and password, specified a connection type, and then assigned a network name and password to our 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz connections.
We were then able to connect to the network without a single hiccup or any downtime.
In the world of routers, dual-band routers generally have a leg up on single-band routers since they broadcast on two bands simultaneously as opposed to just one network. And following that logic, tri-band routers step up bandwidth performance a whole other notch by supporting three frequencies at once.
The Asus RT-AC68U offers Gigabit Wi-Fi, or speeds of up to 1000Mbps (megabytes per second) via the 802.11ac wireless standard, which is also commonly referred to as 5G Wi-Fi since it operates in the 5GHz frequency. This standard is newer than the former standard, 802.11n, which uses only 2.4GHz signals. Routers like the Asus RT-AC68U support the older standard in addition to the newer 5GHz spectrum, which means they can serve up signals to more dated devices along with the newest gadgets.
All AC routers are assigned a number corresponding to the overall possible speed they can deliver. AC1200 is the baseline and the speeds increase incrementally and all the way up to AC5300. And in this particular router, which is rated in the AC1900 speed class, that breaks down to a possible maximum speed of up to 600Mbps on the 2.4 GHz frequency and as fast as 1300Mbps on 5GHz band.
While the combined possible Wi-Fi speed is 1900Mbps, actual performance will vary depending on your particular internet service and data plan, any interference from other signals and devices, and even where you place your router. The other caveat is that not all the devices in your home may be 802.11ac-compatible. That said, many of the newer laptops and mobile devices—including recent generations of iPhones and Android devices—are up to date.
We noticed markedly faster loading and even slightly better picture quality (both HD and 4K) when streaming content with the Asus RT-AC68U. We were particularly impressed by the nearly lightning-fast streaming performance on platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.
The only time we noticed a drop in performance was when we played games on an Nvidia Shield gaming console when connected to the 5GHz channel. We noticed some minor skipping and fuzzier image quality (most streaming services lower image quality to avoid buffering). But this was also when streaming 4K content on another TV on the same 5GHz channel, so that’s to be expected. Otherwise, we were able to stream video, play a game on an Android tablet, stream music on a phone, and operate a MacBook on the 2.4GHz band with no discernible lag.
We noticed faster loading and slightly better picture quality when streaming both HD and 4K content.
We tested the speed quality several times a day using the Ookla SpeedTest tool on both a mobile device and laptop. While the results typically returned a range between 90-109Mbps, the fastest speed we captured was 115.93Mbps.
We never lost a signal in our testing space, a modestly sized city apartment, so we can’t say for sure how it would fare in a large home, which it claims to be designed for. Though we couldn’t test the full range capability, there is another potential range-boosting benefit of the RT-AC68U. It comes with the benefit of AiMesh technology, which allows you to connect this Asus router with others from the lineup for a comprehensive home networking system. The draw is that instead of discarding an older Asus model, you could keep it in the game along with this newer router for an updated and more powerful network.
While we chose to set up the router using the mobile app, the web GUI (graphical user interface) is where you’ll find all the many layers of control and customization the Asus RT-AC68U offers. The look of the GUI is clean if not a little outdated, but it’s relatively easy to move through since the navigation panel is clearly laid out on the left side of the interface. But cycling through the various options on this panel may prove to be a bit much for the general user.
Average users will probably be content sticking with the area labeled “General,” which includes the usual suspects like enabling parental controls and a guest network, which are straightforward to set up. Other more complicated features in this section include managing USB and AiCloud settings for setting up FTP sharing, configuring servers, as well as saving and syncing files in the cloud.
The mobile app is definitely less intimidating and friendlier to the average user.
When it comes to the advanced settings section, there are many options to wade through. In the wireless section alone, you can set encryption settings for each wireless frequency, enable Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WP) with capable devices, restrict wireless access points, and enact RADIUS (Remote Authentication Dial In User Service), which adds another level of security when you select certain authentication modes. But that’s just scratching the surface of what a user can do.
On the other hand, we found the app to be much more intuitive in the way that information is displayed and accessible. There’s a main home page that provides a quick-glance view of real-time traffic and the number of connected devices. Other details are broken into categories for notifications, family sharing settings, and a separate features area that contains many of the same controls the web GUI offers—like firmware upgrades, FTP, parental controls, diagnostics, and even a security scan. If you compare the two platforms, the mobile app is definitely less intimidating and friendlier to the average user.
Wi-Fi routers span a relatively broad price spectrum, depending on the speed and capability you’re looking for. Mid-range routers typically fall within the $100-$200 price range. Retailing for $150, the Asus RT-AC68U router falls right in that pocket. It’s not a drop in the bucket, but you can avoid jumping up into the $200 plus window and still feel confident that you’re getting many of the most in-demand features higher-end AC routers bring to the table. The Netgear Nighthawk R7000 is a prime example. You’ll find many of the same capabilities, but the R7000 retails for about $50 more at a list price of $190.
In many respects, the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 mirrors the Asus RT-AC68U. They’re similar in size (though the Nighthawk R7000 is mountable to the wall), share the same AC1900 Wi-Fi performance potential, and come with safeguards like WPS, VPN, guest access, firewall protection, and DoS prevention of malicious hacks and attacks. But while the Asus RT-AC68U is designed for large homes, the Netgear Nighthawk R7000 can accommodate very large multi-story homes—though without the same kind of whole-home AiMesh support the RT-AC68U offers.
Two major differences in favor of the Nighthawk R7000, depending on your needs, include the smart-home integration the router offers with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and the added level of parental controls via the Circle with Disney app. Another possible deciding factor could be comparing the mobile app experience. Some users may appreciate the more plug-and-play nature of the Nighthawk R7000 as opposed to the more intricate web GUI that accompanies the Asus RT-AC68U.
Get more recommendations on VPN routers, Asus routers, and the most impressive 802.11ac Wi-Fi routers.
A powerful router for the above-average user.
The Asus RT-AC68U is a fast and high-performing AC1900 dual-band Wi-Fi router. While some users may consider it a little too much equipment, even the casual user will see improved connectivity without having to dive too far beneath the hood. And for those who do want to tinker, the RT-AC68U can oblige.