To help you in your wireless router shopping, this review will take a closer look at what the ASUS RT-N66U Dark Knight wireless router has to offer in terms of design, features, and performance.
If you are a casual tech consumer, you probably associate the name ASUS with computers. The company does produce networking devices, however, and the ASUS RT-N66U Dark Knight is one of its proudest offerings. This newer release boasts an eye-catching design, but it is not all style and zero substance. The RT-N66Uís set of features is impressive, as is its performance. A tad pricy at $169.99, the ASUS RT-N66U Dark Knight is not the wireless router for everyone, but those looking for a solid networking solution should find it to be a worthy addition to a wireless-seeking home or small office.
While you are probably interested most in how the ASUS RT-N66U Dark Knight performs and what is has to offer in terms of features, let us first begin by discussing the routerís design.
ASUS did not change up the RT-N66U too much from the previous release in the line, the RT-N56U. That is not a bad thing, however, as this is one wireless router that has quite a stylish design. Not as boxy as some other routers on the market, but still rectangular in shape, the RT-N66U Dark Knight is compact and should fit in nicely to any home or office. The mostly black color scheme is highlighted on the top side by an aesthetically pleasing gray and black checkerboard pattern. It obviously was not necessary for ASUS to include this, but it does add a nice touch to the routerís overall look.
While the RT-N66Uís sleek body and pattern give it a stylish aura, its three large external antennas that protrude from the back panel let you know that it is first and foremost a piece of networking equipment. You can detach the antennas in downtime or when you are transporting the router, but they will need to be attached for the RT-N66U to work properly.
The ASUS RT-N66U sits on its base and is given added grip thanks to four rubber feet. The low center of gravity and wide nature of the router allows it to sit sturdily throughout its operation. ASUS offers other options to give you some flexibility in how you display the router. You can stand it vertically by adding a base that comes with the router, or you can mount it to a wall if you feel like getting fancy. From a personal standpoint, the standard method works best and is the easiest.
The front of the top panel showcases a lineup of status lights for your connections. As for the back panel, that is where all your connectivity resides. ASUS designed the back panel well, as all of the features are evenly spaced. This includes four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and one Gigabit Ethernet WAN port, two USB 2.0 ports, a power port, and buttons for power, reset, and Wi-Fi Protected Setup. The lack of USB 3.0 is a disappointment.
One of the many appealing aspects of the ASUS RT-N66U is how user-friendly it is. No matter your level of technical knowledge, you should have no trouble setting the router up in a matter of minutes. Beginners can make use of the setup CD that comes with the RT-N66U. This CD will guide you through all the steps to setting up and configuring the router to fit your needs. If you are more advanced in terms of your technical knowledge, you can employ the Web interface to configure the router by visiting its default IP address. This option supplies a wizard as well for painless setup. Besides the wizard, the Web interface is very intuitive and easy to use. The Dark Knight can be setup through your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
Moving on to the features of the ASUS RT-N66U Dark Knight, we find solid overall functionality along with some nice bells and whistles throw into the mix. The RT-N66U is a dual-band router that can make use of both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands that each provide 450Mbps. This gives you a potential total connectivity speed of 900Mbps in a perfect world. Unfortunately, you will not find many providers that currently support the 450Mbps standard, so those claims are more of a boast than an actuality. Still, it is nice to know that you have a router that has such potential and is also compatible with pretty much all of the Wi-Fi clients that make up the market.
The RT-N66U Dark Knightís features are accessible through the aforementioned user-friendly interface. Divided into three distinct sections, the interface has a little something for everybody. The Quick Internet Setup offers help for beginners through the wizard, while the General section allows you to dig deeper into the settings. For instance, you can use the Network Map to view connected devices and block certain ones. If an external hard drive is connected via USB, you can use the interface to set it up as a network storage device. You can even download HTTP, FTP, and P2P files to a storage device connected to the router via USB. Printers can be connected via USB as well. Parental Control is another General feature that should be handy for households with children.
Small offices will probably enjoy the ASUS RT-N66Uís features found in the routerís Advanced section of its interface. The highlight here is the option to set up a Virtual Private Network server for accessing data and surfing the Web securely on a remote basis.
As far as performance is concerned, the RT-N66U Dark Knight is impressive, particularly on the 5GHz band. Range and throughput scores here are better than most competing wireless routers. Range remains impressive when using the 2.4GHz band, but speed is rather average when compared to other routers in the RT-N66Uís class. Overall, it is hard to complain about the ASUS RT-N66Uís performance.
When you consider all that the ASUS RT-N66U Dark Knight has to offer in terms of design, features, and performance, it becomes a wireless router that is tough to pass up. Its price tag will probably be a point of contention for many, but if you are seeking quality and performance out of a wireless router for your home or small business, the ASUS RT-N66U is a solid choice.
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