ASUS EA-N66 Dual-Band Wireless-N900 Gigabit 3-in-1 AP/Wi-Fi Bridge/ Range Extender Review


We used the "Network" benchmark included in the Passmark Performance Test suite to test throughput between computers using several different adapters. For wireless tests, we used a multitude of devices ranging from standard integrated laptop wireless G of a Dell XPS M1530, the ASUS USB-N53 adapter (2.4 and 5GHz), and ASUS' EA-N66 3-in-1 adapter (also 2.4/5 GHz-capable) and placed them in a number of rooms around our office to simulate a typical home setup.  The router was placed on the top of a desk behind a monitor, and the test different locations are described below:

Location 1:  6 feet away (typical 2nd workstation location)

Location 2:  20 feet away, same room (large room/living room or office situation)

Location 3:  20 feet away, 1 wall and 1 half-wall separation (next room performance or cross-office performance)

Location 4:  40 feet away, 2 external insulated walls (through-floor or multi-unit usage




A quick note:  The provided flat ethernet cable capped speeds at 100Mb/s, so we had to use a full-fledged CAT5 cable to ensure full throughput, as we were puzzled by the ~95 Mb/s caps in our Gigabit UDP transfers.


Gigabit connections showed a remarkably-solid 350 Mbps throughput for UDP transfers and a lower but still respectable 95 Mbps for TCP transfers.  The advantage of the 5GHz band is clear, resulting in nearly twice the throughput in TCP and a staggering 4x throughput in UDP, making it ideal for high bandwidth requirements from online gaming and content streaming.  UDP protocols tend to be where you want to see faster speeds, as it's the protocol often seen in streaming (media/games). The EA-N66's performance also does not see very much performance degradation for the distances and obstructions given. Paired with the reliable performance of the RT-N66U router, the ability of the EA-N66 to maintain great signal stability over long range makes a great companion device for those looking to maximize their network coverage in a warehouse, office, or multi-story home.  For cheaper and lower-power routers, the EA-N66 is a great solution to having a stronger reception signal in adapter mode, or making sure your entire house (upstairs/downstairs) are covered.  The range of the EA-N66U itself was impressive, allowing coverage of our entire small single-story house.  Obviously, speeds decreased a bit as there is greater losses between the notebook wireless adapter to the EA-N66U as an extender, then to your router.  On average, we saw about a 25% throughput reduction in repeater mode, but it's important to note that the drop-off is more extreme as you can have drop-off between the extender and then between your notebook and the extender.  Small to medium businesses can see huge benefits to splashing connectivity into weak spots or places that are out of range in a simple manner, without stringing a variety of other routers and access points together.




Serious gaming on wireless is a holy grail for many, especially LAN-goers and planners, and the 5GHz connection is a big step in that direction.  Latency can make-or-break a battle in fast-paced FPS' and RTS', so we wanted to see how our pings compared to LAN performance.  Connection to a Speed Test server in Seattle, only 30 miles away from our office, the gigabit wired connection gave a 4ms ping, and was consistent through 5 tests.  Hooking our computer up to the EA-N66 and utilizing the 5GHz band, we obtained a very impressive 5ms ping at locations 1-3 and 6ms at location 4. Performance on the 2.4GHz band was less than stellar, but still a very respectable 10-13ms. Gaming wirelessly on the RT-N66U has become a regular routine for some time now, and the addition of the EA-N66 to our wireless arsenal gives us the option to use a gaming laptop  or console elsewhere in the office or even across the house. One mustn't forget that this device can be used to enhance the connectivity of other Ethernet-equipped devices. This includes smart TVs, set-top boxes, blu-ray players, and gaming consoles which may have weak built-in connectivity.  Obviously, pings suffer greatly when using the EA-N66 as an extender, as you incur nearly double the latency, so repeating isn't an ideal online gaming setup.


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