ASUS has pushed to make their RT-N66U remarkable by making it look remarkable, and operate in a way that is impressively-unremarkable by being super easy to setup and use. In the past few months of usage, we've never had to power cycle. Not once, and if that isn't worth a big something to you in a router, I don't know what is. Additionally, the setup only takes a few minutes and can be accomplished wirelessly and requires no CDs or IP lookups. The UI is simple and unintimidating and WPS connections for companion WPS-enabled devices is a lovely departure from the typical connection process. Simply click the WPS button on the router and the device on the other end and let them figure out how to connect.
Performance was great, and even in my house we weren't able to challenge the Dark Knight too hard, and even through two external walls we saw little attenuation with both 2.4 and 5GHz connections, and the connection was very stable. We saw throughput of up to 35 Mbps with a standard integrated wireless G adapter at 2.4 GHz which is enough to max out most home internet connections and handle HD streaming. Gaming on the 5GHz connection was pleasantly uneventful both using a PC to play Battlefield 3 in the same room and a variety of shooters and other online games on a PS3 in the next room. Pings were only 1ms lower than wired in most locations in my home and with several months of wireless gaming under my belt, I didn't even notice, which is the true testament of its viability, although I'm not hardcore enough to complain about the 1-2ms I'm losing. Even USB transfer performance rang in at a solid 10 MB/s.
The other features add lots of value to the package, with super easy network-attached storage (NAS) setup to easily share and stream data throughout a home or office. Networked printing is also super easy, and the AiCloud rounds out ASUS' push for a connected home made possible by one device, the RT-N66U. Every device quickly and easily can communicate with each other, share storage, connect to the cloud, stream data, and your computers can even be remotely-controlled by your phone or tablet to wake it from sleep if you want to be able to access files and folders located on it. The possibilities are nearly-endless, and it doesn't require special knowhow or rigging to make it all work. It's hard to sound overly-fond of a router, but the Dark Knight is refreshingly easy to use and maintain, and that's enough to make it an exciting acquisition for your home or business network. The ability to access data from anywhere is huge, and the ease of being able to stream data throughout a house is something that is hard to live without once you know what you're missing out on.
So the RT-N66U has features that anyone would love and is all easy enough for anyone to use, but the price will unequivocally not be for everyone at around $160. It's a stretch, but if you're making a push for a fully-connected and integrated home, it could likely end up costing much more by stringing together multiple devices to complete the same end goal, and the setup and user experience will most certainly not be as good. Also, the fact that it's as low-maintenance as we've found, has huge appeal for heavy home users and small businesses/offices. The small business appeal is also huge because it doesn't require any technical knowledge to use and setup, so small businesses that don't have an IT guy on staff won't feel left in the dark. We wouldn’t necessarily advocate purchasing the RT-N66U to cover a small, single-story apartment however, as tighter spaces would be better served by the more affordable RT-N56U and RT-N53. For most, ASUS' Dark Knight must be looked at as an investment, comparing the needs they have for integrated printing, cloud storage, central storage, and low-maintenance networking against the long-term cost of going through several $30-50 that require frequent power cycles and an unfriendly UI. With budgets being tight, the RT-N66U will probably be simply out of reach for many, but for those demanding dual-band reliability and expansive coverage, it's likely a purchase they won’t regret, or be able to live without. Stated simply, there's a reason why the RT-N66U was one of the most-anticipated routers ever, and why it's brought up whenever a discussion springs up about the best router money can buy.
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