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Asus DSL-AC68U Router review

Gordon Kelly

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Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Asus DSL-AC68U Router
  • Asus DSL-AC68U Router
  • Asus DSL-AC68U Router
  • Asus DSL-AC68U Router
  • Asus DSL-AC68U Router
  • Asus DSL-AC68U Router
  • Asus DSL-AC68U Router
  • Asus DSL-AC68U Router
  • Asus DSL-AC68U Router

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Strong short and long range wireless performance
  • Integrated VDSL2 modem
  • Intuitive setup
  • All-in-one upgrade on an ISP supplied router

Cons

  • Edged out by dedicated AC1900 routers
  • UI a little dated
  • Rivals cheaper if the integrated modem isn't key
  • Only one USB port

Key Features

  • 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz & 5GHz WiFi
  • Integrated VDSL modem
  • 1x USB 3.0
  • 1x Gigabit WAN, 4x Gigabit LAN
  • WPS, WPA/WPA2 security
  • Manufacturer: Asus
  • Review Price: £194.99

What is the Asus DSL-AC68U?

This is the router many people have been waiting for. The DSL-AC68U is essentially the RT-AC68U but with an integrated VDSL2 fibre optic modem. Unlike the majority of routers, this means the DSL-AC68U is a single box replacement for your ISP-supplied router and one that comes with a barnstorming AC1900 wireless spec. Is this the ultimate all-in-one upgrade?

Video: How to improve your home's Wi-Fi network

Asus DSL-AC68U – Design And Features

It is no surprise that the DSL-AC68U looks much like the RT-AC68U and this is no bad thing. While many routers have reverted to lying flat, the DSL-AC68U still retains the upright form factor of the RT-AC68U and this gives it an impressive, if slightly imposing presence.

It is also very well built. Like all routers, the DSL-AC68U uses a plastic chassis but it is extremely solid and you’ll find no ill-fitting edges or creaks and squeaks. Routers are never the most attractive of devices, but if you don’t mind the DSL-AC68U’s conspicuous styling it does add something to most rooms.

SEE ALSO: Best Routers

DSL-AC68U

But it is the DSL-AC68U’s functionality that is the real talking point and Asus has pulled out all the stops. The real talking point is the inclusion of a proper VDSL2 modem (like the AC1750-based Fritz!Box 7490) which supports speeds well in excess of 100Mbps. It isn’t compatible with Virgin Media’s cable modems, but anything coming in through your phone line will play nicely.

While we don’t get enough VDSL2 third party modems, it is rarer still to see them combined with AC1900 WiFi. Here the DSL-AC68U takes its chipset straight from the RT-AC68U with Broadcom’s ‘TurboQAM’ technology boosting legacy 802.11n 2.4GHz speeds up to a theoretical 600Mbps. In conjunction with 802.11ac’s 1300Mbit theoretical limit you get the 'AC1900' moniker.

Do note you will need a TurboQAM compatible wireless receiver to harness these supercharged 2.4GHz speeds (such as Asus’ own PCE-AC68) but we’ve found AC1900 routers to excel across all spectrums and offer a major step up from their more common AC1750 brethren.

In addition to this pairing Asus also ticks all the usual boxes: Gigabit WAN, 4x Gigabit LAN, WPS and WPA/WPA2 security as well as IPv6 compatibility. It can also operate in bridge mode as a wireless extender which gives the router a second life when it eventually gets old and you upgrade to something else.

One strange shortcut is the inclusion of just a single USB port. It is USB 3.0, but most routers (including the RT-AC68U) have two. The logical conclusion is it had to make way for the VDSL2 port, but it is a shame Asus hasn’t been able to find the space to cram a second USB port in somewhere.

SEE ALSO: Best Powerline Adapters

DSL-AC68U UI

Asus DSL-AC68U – Setup

Asus has long been one of the front runners in intuitive router setups and with the DSL-AC68U that remains the case. Nothing has changed in the process since the RT-AC68U was released back in December 2013, but little needed to.

You simply connect the router to both power and a phone line (preferably the master socket as it gives the cleanest signal) and boot it up. No wireless password is set by default and when you first connect to the router it automatically opens a browser window and begins the setup wizard. This configures both the modem and WiFi (SSID, password, etc).

Some broadband connections will require you to input some settings so be sure to search for what you need beforehand or speak to your ISP directly.

As ever the one gripe we have with the Asus setup is the ageing UI. It is far from the worst around, but it could do with losing some of its gothic influence. It does seem as if Asus has actually been subtly lightening it here and there, but it could still look much fresher given the examples set by both D-Link and Linksys.

playtech1

September 19, 2014, 1:40 pm

It's a slight shame the comparison does not include the Home Hub 5 or its predecessors, as that will be what most folk with fibre will be upgrading from.

Dcol

September 19, 2014, 1:45 pm

I've been running one of these for nearly two weeks. It replaced an old BT HH3 and Openreach modem combo. The wireless coverage and speed is a great improvement over the old HH3, and I can actually use remote play on my Vita without it dropping out every 5 minutes.

I am having a little trouble with the VDSL stability though. Since I couldn't log in to the Openreach modem, it's a bit difficult for me to tell if the stability issue is new or if I've always suffered it without knowing. Anecdotally I think it was better on the OR modem.....I could do 10 hour days connected to my office VPN without dropouts and streaming iPlayer etc was flawless.

Left to it's own devices the router's integrated modem connected at a similar download speed as the OR modem but with much improved upload rates (down/up: 37M/6.5M vs 37M/8.5M), but it was dropping the connection 5/6 times a day which interrupted streaming and online gaming. After fiddling with the settings and turning down the modems TX power, my connection is currently dropping out about once per day....which is OK but my speed has dropped to 29M/6.3M. While the upload speed is limited by my settings, I assume that he FTC cabinet hardware has limited my download speed because of all the drop outs and the reconnections when I've been titting about with the settings.

I'm probably going to try the OR modem again with unlocked firmware so that I can do a proper stability comparison, but so far I'm underwhelmed with the VDSL modem performance.

Gordon Kelly

September 20, 2014, 4:15 pm

Here's the direct link - HH5 is great for an ISP-supplied router, but much slower than the DSL-AC68U: http://www.trustedreviews.com/...

Graphs are brand new, we'll be expanding them more widely in future reviews.

Dcol

September 21, 2014, 5:55 pm

Further to my post above, I've been running a stable connection for 3.5 days and counting. It seems that the DSL-AC68U is just a bit optimistic about setting the Tx power of the modem. I'm now running with the Tx power set to -4dB which limits my upload speed to about the same as the old OR modem. I guess that must be the limit of what my line can support. It's great that ASUS give access to such low level controls so this stuff can be tweaked.

Pbryanw

September 22, 2014, 4:50 pm

Yep, many thanks for the graphs - makes comparing the routers a lot easier. Also, makes the D-Link look like a very good buy, especially if you've got lots of non-AC devices.

Naa

September 27, 2014, 6:07 pm

I have just purchased this router after my Netgear D6300 completely failed/died after 10 weeks of use. I had great expectations of the Asus after reading this review but it has not lived up to expectations.

Connected to my smart tv it took nearly 20 minutes to download a 15 minute news clip from I player. This was tried on both 2.4 & 5 ghz modes. Both the netgear and my isp provided technicolor routers accomplished the same in under 3 minutes.

Have I got a bad example? Signal strength at 5 ghz is very very poor all around the house and not worth considering even at 5 meters.

I have also had two drop-outs in the first 48 hours. I have done the latest firmware update, but I can't see that it has made any difference.

Very very disappointed. On verge of returning, but what other adsl modem routers are there?

ASUS Support

September 30, 2014, 10:27 am

Hi Naa,

Apparently there are some setup issues which caused this problem. Please kindly go to UI Advanced Settings > Administration > DSL Feedback and submit a feedback form for our analysis. We will get the issues resolved. Thanks.

Sincerely,
Paul L.
ASUS Support

Naa

September 30, 2014, 2:07 pm

Really bad problem with this router. If left on for more than 24 hours the speed degrades to virtually nothing. Usual speed 14Mbps goes down to 3.00Mbps . Once rebooted speed returns to normal. This means that the router needs to be rebooted at least once a day which I have never had to do in 15 years of owning routers. Am returning as faulty as it is not fit for purpose.

SimonC

October 6, 2014, 7:17 pm

Sadly I've had nothing but headaches with this device. I've tried dozens of settings but the longest I seem to be able to stay connected to Infinity2 service is 12mins before it drops the line. After several days of this my line as now been subjected to DLM reducing my speed from 53mbps to 32mbps. Even with DLM imposed the router still keeps disconnecting. For £160 I expected better, looks like it's going back for a refund later this week.

Naa

October 18, 2014, 2:52 pm

I have now returned mine which cost £179. Now connected by little free/cheap Technicolor router provided by ISP which works much better, higher speeds, broader wi fi coverage, lower pings and no drop outs.

Declan

October 23, 2014, 10:38 pm

I was looking for an all in one VDSL modem router with USB sharing and a built in media server and after much research I bought the ASUS DSL-N66U, partly convinced by the favorable 8/10 review on this site. Unfortunately the device has been terribly unstable. 1 minute it drops VDSL, the next minute it's a media server crash, the next it's a combo of both. I had the unit replaced as faulty by the supplier as it simply hadn't been fit for purpose but the replacement box has been the same. I also submitted DSL feedback via the method recommended by ASUS and I got no response, nothing, nada, zilch. I'm not one to bash manufacturers lightly but it's one thing to sell a terribly unstable product, another to ignore customer service request. The former is really poor, the latter is just downright rude.

My next move is to return the replacement box so I've been digging around for something with similar functionality but better stability and my search led me to this review. Reading the first few pages I thought, "yeah, sounds good and has wireless ac and USB 3 support - great". Then I read some of the comments on here and the message I get has nipped in the bud any crazy notion I had to buy the AC68U. Alas I think the notion of having all this functionality in 1 stable device is a pipe dream, or if it's not then I have yet to use or hear of the box that will do it.

Acponline

November 20, 2014, 6:03 am

The worst adsl modem for New Zealand spark network,
2 hours in total with Asus and spark and the internet light is not coming on despite the DSL light is fixed on .
So many resets and so many restarts, this modem is hopeless to say the least. The ASUS, tech support is good at giving case numbers as always. If my company has to run to an ASUS distributer to get my unit checked up after spend NZD$400 (The most expensive modem in its class) with a case number....Then no more ASUS products for my clients or for my company.
Remedy: My old tplink router TD-W8960N connected to internet within 60 secs of powering up. NZD$70 this TPLINK adsl modem primary functions work.
Please test your products before you release this in the New Zealand market

marcwilson

December 11, 2014, 9:27 am

Does this router support multi-NAT?

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