The exterior design is an advantage that can be seen without any tests. For the upright case of the router to be steady, the stand is heavy. Combined with the lack of external antennas, the slim case looks very elegant. It measures 17 x 14.5 centimeters with a thickness of only 1 to 2.5 centimeters. And it seems that those 2.5 centimeters are only necessary to fit the connectors in.
The angular front panel has a few indicators: Power, Wi-Fi, Internet, LAN, and USB. Their blue light is not intensive and cannot distract you. There is a small WPS button at the bottom for quick and easy connection of wireless clients.
The RT-N56U has one WAN and four LAN ports of the Gigabit Ethernet standard. They are all equipped with individual indicators. It also has two USB ports and a power connector. A Reset button can also be found here.
The RT-N56U is going to be an excellent choice if you want to show your friends how cool you are. It will look perfect next to a Vertu phone or Bose speakers. The aesthetic properties do not go along well with ergonomics, however. The only official way to install the router is upright on the included stand. You cannot wall-mount it or put it down flat on your desk. But if you use all of the router’s ports by connecting five Ethernet and two USB cables, its compact case won’t be steady.
Thus, the style and quality are top class, but the usability is lacking.
The RT-N56U is based on a 500MHz Ralink RT3662F processor. It has an integrated dual-band radio module with support for 2T3R mode but it can only work at one frequency at any given moment. Therefore it is accompanied with a Ralink RT3092L chip in 2T2R mode. As a result, the main processor is used for the 5GHz frequency band whereas the auxiliary one, for 2.4 GHz. The router has 64 megabytes of RAM and 8 megabytes of flash memory. The USB controller is integrated into the main chip. The Gigabit Ethernet interface is based on a Realtek RTL8367F. As we found out, it supports Jumbo Frames up to 9 kilobytes (a larger size wasn’t supported by our network adapters).
The electronic chips are covered by a large screen that does double duty as a heatsink for the processor and Gigabit Ethernet controller. A place for a console port can be found on the PCB. The antennas are implemented on the PCB, too. It’s hard to make out their configuration but we can spot three micro-connectors for external antennas.
There are several firmware versions available on the manufacture’s website. We used version 188.8.131.52m but there is beta version 184.108.40.206 that supports 3G modems.
The compact size of the router’s case means poor ventilation. Therefore it is desirable to install the router upright, as intended by the manufacturer, and never block its vent holes. At an ambient temperature of 30°C and a high load (high Wi-Fi or file sharing traffic) the router may be unstable.