Modems and routers and network cards aren’t usually the sexiest and most exciting of devices to pass through the PC World test centre. They’re generally going to be hidden under a desk or in a cupboard, so we don’t pay much attention to how they look.
The ASUS RT-N66U changes all of that. It is, as wireless routers go, gorgeous. It’s no surprise that ASUS refers to the N66U as the ‘Dark Knight’ — Christopher Nolan’s caped crusader would definitely use a couple of these for Wi-Fi in his Bat-cave.
When it comes to current Wi-Fi specifications, the RT-N66U sits at the top of the tree. It’s a dual-band 802.11a/b/g/n router, rated at N-900 for simultaneous 450Mbps transfer rates over the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.
802.11ac routers are starting to become available — ASUS does even have an 802.11ac version of this router, called the RT-AC66U — but we’d personally stick with 802.11n until the new standard is agreed upon.
It doesn’t have an ADSL2+ modem built in, so you’ll need to hook it up to your existing modem through the RT-N66U’s Gigabit Ethernet WAN port. It can distribute your Internet and home network connection through its four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, too, although with such solid Wi-Fi specs we’d be tempted to use it entirely wirelessly.
Two USB 2.0 ports on the Dark Knight make for easy connectivity if you’ve got a printer that you want to share around your home’s network, or a external hard drive. You can also hook a 3G or 4G mobile broadband dongle to use as a backup Internet connection if your main ADSL connection is down.
If you’re the kind of person that likes playing around with your home network, setting up static IP routes and port forwards and whatnot, you’ll probably love the RT-N66U. It’s chock-full of settings to adjust in its ASUSWRT Dashboard Web interface — you can change practically every aspect of the RT-N66U’s opration.
ASUS has done a great job of filling the RT-N66U with features, making it easy to adjust and easy to control, and packaging all of that in a deadly-looking shell. It’s got to be one of the best routers on the market at the moment, at least until 802.11AC Wi-Fi becomes standard.