Setup Options and Functionality
When you connect the RT-N56U to your network for the first time, you can use a simple setup wizard to specify such parameters as Internet connection or Wi-Fi security settings. There is also an included utility for that purpose. The router’s web-interface features an original design that has already been used in ASUS’s previous products. It has an integrated Help system but not all of the settings are covered there.
The main screen shows a chart of the current LAN configuration. Most of the elements of the chart are actually links to the corresponding setup pages. There is also a Reset button and links to some of the most important features. For in-depth setup you may want to proceed directly to the Advanced Settings.
The main usage scenario for a home router is to use NAT to share an Internet connection among clients connected to it via cable or wirelessly. The RT-N56U can also serve as a classic router without NAT or even as an access point.
Most users won’t have to change anything in the default LAN settings. The router has an IP address of 192.168.1.1 and uses its integrated DHCP server to lease IP addresses to client devices. Fixed MAC-IP pairs can be specified, and you can also change some of the parameters of the DHCP server. The latter has a dedicated log file, by the way. Routing information can be automatically obtained from the ISP. The router can support multicast routing if you enable the appropriate option on the menu. You can also enter your own routes. The current routing table can be viewed on a special page.
The RT-N56U supports every modern type of Internet connection including static/dynamic IP address, PPPoE, PPTP, L2TP. You can change the WAN interface’s MAC address and connect up to two IPTV set-top boxes. If you’ve got a dynamic external IP address, you can use the integrated DDNS client to provide easier access to the router and LAN from the Internet. Besides conventional DynDNS and TZO, you can use ASUS’s own DDNS service.
There are multiple ways of providing access to applications running on the LAN. You can specify the particular PC on the DMZ tab or enable port translation on the Virtual Server page. The rules table has no fixed size. Each rule contains internal and external ports (individual ports or ranges; the internal and external ports can be different), the client’s address on the LAN (can be selected out of a list of currently connected clients) and protocol (TCP, UDP, both, or user-defined).
Port triggering is supported, too. There is a special monitoring page for this feature.
The router having two radio modules, most of the Wi-Fi connection settings come in pairs: one for the 2.4 GHz band and another for 5 GHz. The settings are exhaustive: network name, operation mode (you can limit yourself to Wi-Fi 802.11a, b or g or their combinations, but Auto is the best option), channel width (obligatory for 802.11n to work at maximum speed), channel number (for the main and auxiliary channel), encryption mode (open network, WEP, WPA/WPA2 with a key or RADIUS server, 802.1x). It is possible to restrict access by means of a MAC address filter. A special page can be used to overview the current settings and monitor client devices.
If the router is in a hard-to-access place but you want to use WPS, you can do that via the web-interface.
The radio module allows to specify over a dozen special options on the Professional page. The most important of them are a Wi-Fi operation schedule and the option of prohibiting the wireless clients to communicate with each other. Like most modern routers, the RT-N56U can work on a WDS network to expand the coverage. However, with the current limitations and potential incompatibilities, it is often simpler to establish several access points (unless it is impossible or difficult to connect them with cable).
The integrated security and access control features are limited to an URL filter (you can make it work on particular days of the week), MAC filter (it can be enabled together with the abovementioned filter for Wi-Fi), and LAN to WAN packet filter. The latter filter can be used to restrict access from the LAN to certain Internet services by specifying their ports and/or server addresses in the rules list (individual ports/addresses or ranges thereof) according to a schedule.
The router has a traffic management feature called EzQoS that offers four prioritization templates. There is no detailed information on this feature and its usefulness on high-speed Internet connections is questionable.
The same goes for the traffic management rules that can be specified by entering the recipient address and the sender’s port. More useful is the traffic monitoring graph available in the menu. It is a real-time representation of the uplink and downlink speed of each interface, providing an at-a-glance overview of the router’s performance.
Finally, the firmware interface offers a few system settings: administrator password, system clock, firmware updates, configuration management, event log. Unfortunately, the system log cannot be transferred via email. It is only kept and stored on the router after the latter was last turned on. The Syslog server support is not important for home users.
The web-interface is overall user-friendly and offers a lot of options. On the other hand, quite a few of those options will hardly be needed by home users.