March 31, 2012

REVIEW : ASUS RT-N53 Dual-band Wireless-N Router



I recently replaced my 3-4 year old D-link Wireless G router with the ASUS RT-N53. This router is part of their Black Diamond series. It only looks AMAZING but it also has lightning fast performance for a very affordable price. This router was only about $70 CAD with a $10 MIR (Mail-In Rebate).



The router has 4 integrated antennae, 2 for 2.4 GHz and 2 for 5 GHz. It allows for 5 separate SSIDs to be broadcasting at the same time from this router. This mean you can have 2 separate 300 Mbps networks at the same time. You can also choose what each network has access to. You can set a guest network that only has access to internet while having a master SSID that has access to your files too. It is also compatible with all your older devices because it also broadcasts a,b,g and n at the same time.

This is not just a router either. There is a Wifi repeater mode which allows you to use this $60 dollar router as an advanced Wifi repeater for your existing network. Other repeaters on the market are about $20 dollars more without the functionality of being a router. As with all Wifi repeaters, it will take up half the bandwidth for the repeated signal. With my experience with this router, the range is really good. In my home, the router is about 40 feet (12.19 meters) away from my computer with 4 walls and a bunch of stuff in between and still get a really strong signal (even with my bad wireless chip and the router's bad positioning).

As with all new routers, there is a WPS (Wifi Protected Setup) button for quick connections to new devices but one pretty unique feature of this router is an on/off button. If you have experience shopping for routers, you would know how few on the market actually have an on/off button. This  very useful if you want to quickly turn off your Wifi broadcast.

This router supports 64-bit WEP, 128-bit WEP, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK, WPA2-Enterprise, and WPA-Enterprise encryption protocols. Some other features include 5 RJ-45 10/100/BaseT Ethernet ports (4 for LAN and 1 for WAN)

As you can see, this router has epic functionality and flexibility but it also looks amazing. It is the BEST looking router I have ever encountered. It has the same pattern as the RT-N56U (ASUS's flagship router).
I particularly like the lights on this router. I thought that the 'x' shaped lights on the package was photoshopped in but it actually looks as good as the package depicts it in real life (the photos in this article were taken in bad lighting conditions). The lights are much more stylish than the standard circles (as seen on the Motorola Surfboard Modem beside it). This router is one router that I will not be afraid of wall-mounting because of its great design. Another cool design feature is that the base on this router is also the wall-mounting bracket. No more having to guess the distance between the holes!

The difference between this router and the flagship router is the Gigabit LAN switch and the flagship model includes 2 USB ports. The flagship model also has one more antenna. Oh and there's the $61 price difference.

Software


This router also comes with a pretty good looking firmware. It has by-far the best GUI in a router firmware that I have seen. Unfortunately, this firmware has a bunch of typos (like "proceeding" instead of "processing") which is actually pretty amusing.

It includes a CD with the box but it isn't needed. I just plugged in my laptop with the included FLAT CAT5e Ethernet cable into one of the ports and clicked through the firmware setup and it was done and my network was up and running in less than 5 mins.

Conclusion


I would give this router a 8/10 because of its functionality, design, and flexibility. It lost 2 because of its lack of USB and Gigabit ports, but how much can I ask for this price.

Pros:
-Flexible
-Fast
-Stylish
-5 SSIDs
-Dual-Band

Cons:
-No USB ports
-No Gigabit ports

NOTE: Online shops, ASUS's Website, and the box all have conflicting information because of the different regionalized versions so refer to the RETAIL BOX for the real specs. The specs used in this article were from a router box purchased in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS post them below and we'll be happy to answer them!

Tim Mui is the founder of [blank]'s Universe. He is also a technology enthusiast that particularly enjoys the fields of computers, photography, and Pro Audio and Lighting. In his spare time, Tim enjoys playing the french horn and tinkering.