As we noted above, the RT-N56U has two independent radio modules for 2.4 and 5 GHz, so you can establish two Wi-Fi networks to ensure higher total bandwidth. For example, you can leave the 2.4GHz band for mobile devices and notebooks whereas the 5GHz band can be used for a media player and HD video streaming. We used three network adapters with USB interface for this test: ASUS USB-N13 (Ralink processor, 2T2R, up to 300 Mbps), Netgear WNA3100 (Broadcom processor, 2T2R, up to 300 Mbps) and a dual-band D-Link DWA-160 (revision A2, Atheros processor, 2T2R, up to 300 Mbps). The latter was also used for testing the 5GHz band.
The router was installed vertically on its stand. We used two setup variants: default (WPA, Auto Personal as selected by the integrated wizard) and top-performance (N only, 40 MHz, WPA2-Personal). Let’s see whether these modes differ in performance. The speed was measured for a client connected to the router’s LAN port.
The automatic settings ensure that wireless devices of any standard (a, b, g, n) work normally. The best results that our 802.11n devices delivered were 75-80 Mbps in the 2.4GHz band. That’s not as high a speed as we might want, though. The 5GHz DWA-160 was the fastest, outperforming the wired Fast Ethernet when transferring data to the access point. Let’s see if we can improve the performance by tweaking the Wi-Fi module parameters.
The second diagram shows that our optimization was largely successful. Three devices can notch 100 Mbps, the WNA3100 being especially good. The DWA-160 at 2.4 GHz is rather indifferent to our tweaking but delivers over 120 Mbps when transferring data from the access point to the client at 5 GHz. So, if you want to get the highest speed possible, you can switch all of your network devices to the new standard and/or 5GHz band.
ASUS must be given credit for developing a product that combines splendid looks, high-performance platform, and multifunctional firmware. A special feature is the availability of two radio modules that can ensure very high speed for your wireless network. In our tests we got as fast as 100 Mbps and more, for example. The routing section is fast as well and can help you get information from the Internet at a speed of almost 1 Gbps. The PPPoE connection was about 500 Mbps fast whereas PPTP and L2TP were as fast as 100-150 Mbps, which means that this router won't be a bottleneck on a modern 100Mbps connection.
The USB functionality like sharing and downloading files and running a media server is interesting, yet these are all but extra features and you can’t expect them to be up to the router’s main functionality in the quality of implementation.
The RT-N56U might be interesting for people who like to tweak their hardware by means of alternative firmware and add-on modules. It allows to establish console access and install additional software for more functional file download and media server features, for example. You should be careful with that, though. Despite its advanced hardware configuration, the router may get unstable.