Asus USB ac68 is a Wireless USB Adapter with 802.11ac Support, Many modern top-end routers have access points that support connection speeds of 450/600 and 1300 Mbps in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, respectively, which is provided by using three antennas and supporting the 802.11n and 802.11ac protocols. But with the choice of customers, the situation is much more complicated. in this Asus USB ac68 review we will try to cover everything about ac68 adapter.
If we talk about the adapters built into smartphones and tablets, then most often they have only one antenna (up to 150/433Mbit/s), in rare cases – two (up to 300/867Mbit/s). Little different and the choice in laptops, although there is occasionally possible to find a configuration with three antennas. Unfortunately, the MU-MIMO technology advertised for several years, designed to make more efficient use of wireless communications, remains in an uncertain state in terms of the availability of client devices supporting it in the market.
For desktop systems, if you care about network access speed, of course, it’s advisable to use a cable connection. Gigabit network adapters are no longer exotic and are ubiquitous, and routers and switches with gigabit ports are relatively inexpensive. If you need fast WiFi on a regular PC, the choice of fast adapters is small, so each new model is interesting. In our market today there are literally only three internal models for installation on a PCIe bus with the formula 600/1300. If we talk about external devices with USB, then such an adapter is generally only one. For the sake of fairness, we note that if the requirements for connection speed are reduced, then there will be quite a lot of new options and they may be interesting to those who use routers a bit simpler.
In these conditions, of course, we were interested in the product of Asus, and we decided to dedicate a separate material to it, although usually we do not do this for adapters. asus usb ac68 Wireless Adapter supports USB 3.0 interface, protocols 801.11a /b/g/n/ac and connection speeds up to 600/1300 Mbps.
Asus USB ac68 Package includes
The adapter comes in a relatively small cardboard box with a dust jacket. Its design is traditional for Asus network products – photos of the device, specifications, key features.
Inside, the user will find the adapter itself, an extension cord with a stand, a brief instruction manual, a warranty card, a CD with drivers.
The bundled extension cable allows you to select the adapter position that is more convenient in terms of signal quality, and to keep such a large device directly connected to a laptop is not the best option. The extension has a special stand for vertical installation.
It is made of black glossy plastic. The weighting agent and the rubber base help securely hold the device on a horizontal surface. But the thick and fairly rigid cable prevents this. There is no built-in magnet in this model. The cable length is about one meter, which will be enough for most users.
On the company’s website, you can download driver updates for Windows 7-10 and OS X 10.7-10.11. Note that they are bundled with the installation utility, and not as an archive with inf and other documents. In this case, in the folder with the installed drivers there will be several additional programs and bat-files of unknown purpose. It is also worth noting that the driver’s website is available in two versions for different markets. What exactly the differences are unknown. It is probably about compliance with the necessary regional standards for radio communications. In testing, we used the last package by version number – 22.214.171.124, in which the driver version v.1030.9.0303.2016 was located.
Adapter warranty is one year.
Asus USB ac68 Appearance and technical specifications
The adapter received a rather large case – overall dimensions are 30 × 18 × 115 mm (with a cap mounted on the connector).
The device has four antennas, two of them are internal, and two are implemented in the form of opening “horns”, having one degree of freedom and three positions with fixation. For the body is used mainly black plastic.
In the assembled state, we see only the gloss, but if you open the antenna, then under them will be a matte finish. At the same time, the antennas themselves are red inside, just like a small insert with an indicator on the front side.
The LED is blue when there is a connection with the access point, flashes slowly when there is no connection. It does not show activity when receiving or transmitting data.
The ability to change the position of the antennas is useful from two points of view – a more confident reception and the provision of air access to the cooling grids on the adapter case. As we remember from past tests, despite the intensive development of chip manufacturing technologies, fast wireless adapters consume a lot of power and can noticeably heat up. However, in this model, even with active work, the rise in body temperature was not significant.
The model is based on the Realtek RTL8814AU chip ( a Chip That support monitor mode ) , which is quite unusual for this manufacturer. Probably, other developers have not yet been able to offer a chip suitable for the requirements of the customer. Unfortunately, in the public access information about this chip could not be found. However, its main characteristics are known – USB 3.0 interface for connecting to a computer, support for wireless communications according to 802.11a / b / g / n / ac standards in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands with maximum connection speeds of 600 and 1300 Mbps, respectively. Recall that such values are possible only in the presence of modern routers or access points of the upper segment.
Explicit mention of the supported channels for 5 GHz could not be found. But in testing with routers, the adapter worked on both the 36th and 100th with a 80 MHz channel width and maximum connection speed.
USB AC68 Performance
To evaluate the performance of the adapter, computers running 64-bit Windows 8.1 with all the latest updates were used. The estimated data transfer rate between the LAN and WLAN segments through the access point of the router. During testing, a couple of dozen networks in the 2.4 GHz band and two or three networks at 5 GHz were present on the air.
The adapter was tested with Asus RT-AC1200G + routers (firmware 126.96.36.199.380.3971) and RT-AC68U(firmware 188.8.131.52.380.3831). Both models are based on Broadcom chipsets. The first is a relatively affordable model with support for 802.11ac and with gigabit ports, providing connection speeds of 300 and 867 Mbit / s in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The second one, despite its age, is quite a worthy representative of high-speed models and is able to ensure the work of clients at speeds of 600 and 1300 Mbit / s in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, respectively. Note that the 600 Mbps from the router is formally different from the “adapter”, because they are based on the work of the special technology Broadcom TurboQAM. However, taking into account that both the adapter and the routers are capable of operating on 5 GHz with 802.11ac, using the 2.4 GHz band is a rare and not very useful option for them, especially in urban areas with a loaded broadcast. Some figures on the charts, of course, will still be there, but we will probably not give any special comments on them in this article. Moreover, such equipment is clearly purchased for operation with 5 GHz.
The settings of wireless access points in routers are minimal – the choice of a fixed channel number, channel width and setting a password for the WPA2-PSK mode. For the adapter, no special options were used. Note that the list of available parameters in the driver is relatively small. It is noticeably less than that presented for devices on Broadcom or Intel chips. Of the useful ones in practice, one can only notice, perhaps, the choice of standards / ranges.
Another feature noticed in the tests is the strange process of connecting to a wireless network. Almost always it took him more time than we used to, or had to run it again. However, after connecting everything worked flawlessly.
As usual, testing was conducted with one stream for reception, transmission, in full duplex, and also in modes for eight simultaneous streams.
The first graph shows the test results with the Asus RT-AC1200G + router when placed within one room at a distance of four meters of direct visibility in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. And for the latter, the variants with the younger (36) and senior (100) channels were checked.
The speed of the adapter, in spite of the mode not supported by it, combined with this router, is quite high and ranges from 300 to more than 600 Mbps. At the same time, the 36th channel turns out to be slightly more efficient in the case of high load multi-threaded operations.
Now let’s take a look at working with Asus RT-AC68U under the same conditions.
For channel 36, this configuration shows better results – from 400 to 730 Mbit / s. On the 100th channel, growth is noticeable mainly in multithreaded operations.
A comparison with the Asus PCE-AC68U adapter we used for router tests shows that, in general, the new product differs little from it in speed in scenarios with one or two streams. But if the connection load comes from multiple applications at the same time, the internal adapter on the PCIe bus performs better.
With this router, we compared the operation of the adapter through an extension cord with open antennas and with installation directly into the computer’s USB port without opening the antennas. When placed within the same room in the main scenario of a single-stream data transfer to the client, there is no significant difference. In other cases, the second option loses 10% -25%.
The following two graphs will help us evaluate the “range” of the device. Testing took place with the same pair of routers in the 5 GHz band on the 36th channel. The client, besides the base point on four meters of direct visibility, was installed in the apartment behind one non-capital wall on the same four meters and through two walls on eight meters.
In the case of using the Asus RT-AC1200G + router, moving one wall at a distance while maintaining the distance resulted in a noticeable (about 30%) decrease in the transmission speed from the adapter to the router, but had little effect on the client receiving data (in the single-threaded mode, performance even increased) and full duplex. Well, two walls and an increase in the distance were worth a drop of 20% —70%. However, in general, the speed even at the far point ranged from 100 Mbit / s to almost 500 Mbit / s, which will be quite enough for most popular applications, including watching HD video.
Changes when working with Asus RT-AC68U router have a different character. The second point in the transmission of data from the client shows a decrease of about 10%, while the reception increased by 6%, and the scenario of reception and transmission – by 9%. At the same time on multi-threaded operations, the drop is from 25 to 50 percent. Removal to the third location leads to a decrease in speed to 150-360 Mbit / s.
In general, there are no comments on the operation of the device in non-ideal conditions. Despite the formally large losses in the range of 5 GHz from the increase in distance and the presence of obstacles, in reality, due to the high workload of the 2.4 GHz air, it is in it that you can get good results also when placing devices not within the same room . Well, the 802.11ac protocol contributes to this thanks to MIMO technology and work on four channels at once.
Additionally, we estimated the power consumed by the adapter, which is important for mobile devices. We investigated it in different modes using a special tester on the USB bus. The values in the graph are given in watts per scenario of sending and receiving data in eight streams (four in each direction). Channel 5 was used for the 5 GHz band.
The maximum measured value during operation of the device does not exceed 2.5 watts. In the case of inactivity, but with a wireless connection, the consumption is 1.1 W for 2.4 GHz and 1.5 W for 5 GHz. If there is no connection at all, then the adapter literally after a few seconds goes into deep sleep mode, the consumption in which our tester rated as completely absent.
It’s nice that Asus decided to support the users of its top routers by offering them a new wireless adapter of the appropriate level. At the same time, developers were not afraid to use a less well-known chipset. Of the advantages of the model, we note the presence of a USB 3.0 interface, which allows using the device not only with traditional desktop systems, but also laptops, as well as compact PCs. The technical capabilities of the model meet modern requirements for high-performance adapters – it provides support for all of today’s popular wireless protocols, including 802.11ac, and the maximum connection speeds are 600 and 1300 Mbps in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands, respectively.
Testing the performance of the adapter has shown that it can compete with such a well-known model like the Asus PCE-AC68. In this case, the power consumption of the device is relatively small, so that you can work with it offline on a laptop.
The adapter is of high quality and has an attractive design with mobile antennas, which allows to increase the speed and range of work. Useful for this and complete extension cord, which can also be useful in terms of ease of connection to stationary systems.
The appearance of the device in the local market is expected in late November. At cost at the time of publication of the information was not. In foreign stores, this model is offered for about $ 90 or 70 €.