Internet connection nowadays is part of the basic needs.. Network problems and complains around the house would be only be 2 things.
- No internet
- Slow internet connection
Problems with your Internet Service Provider is beyond your control.. Connecting to the ISP would be your problem. At Azure House our internet is from PLDT, and luckily we don’t encounter any major issue.. Mind you the last problem we had lasted 3 weeks.
Connecting to PLDT is composed of 2 Network devices
- Modem/Router provided by PLDT connects to the line.
- Router connects to the modem
PLDT now supplies WiFi router with their internet. Gone are the days that the modem and router are separate. But I am one of those old school guys and I prefer that they are separate, this gives me a little more control to address my needs. Also I requested a little different configuration for the modem. Luckily the technician from PLDT who handled my last problem also assisted to have this kind of configuration.
So for the past 2 years (going 3 years) we have been using the Asus RT-AC68U 1900AC Dual Band Gigabit Router. This is my third router, the first one was a Linksys WRT-54GS next was a Dlink DIR 615. So basically this is the Ares v3.
All the iterations of Ares share a common goal, to be at war to make sure we get quality internet.
I bought the router as replacement for the DLink router after a year the WiFi chip just got busted and the WiFi stopped working. This router came at a steep price ~14,000 PHP last December 04 2016.
I was a bit skeptical when I first saw this router since Asus is not a known brand for routers. At that time we usually associate Asus with motherboards and PC peripherals. Oh well Asus is known now mostly for the ROG line.
Asus released this router around 2013, so this have been around before I bought it. Since its release the router have been raking awards and special mentions from many review sites. Since its first release there was not a hardware revision. For me this just sounds like the engineer really did a great job during the design and got the perfect mix of software and hardware from the first production.
Lets have a little run down of the features that stand out. The wow factor for me about this router.
Dual core CPU
My previous routers are single core specialized SOC as CPU. I want to experience if there is really a difference in terms of our usage.
Wireless AC Devices started popping out, this WiFi Standard is faster compared with Wireless N. I considered it good to have this feature as future proof. I don’t really intend to keep on buying router every year. To note, this is a configure and leave alone unless it get broken kind of thing.
Dual Band 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz
This is a dual band router that supports both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz devices. The DLink router also support the same WiFi Frequency but this is a much later model so there should be some improvement to it.
2.4 GHz covers wider area but at a lower bandwidth, this is ideal for mobile phones and devices that is not really specialized for content that requires high bandwidth.
5 GHz covers a narrow area but at a higher bandwidth, this is ideal for TV and media boxes. Devices which are specialized for videos and streaming.
RF Beam forming
This refers to the way the antenna can be steered in a direction to transmit radio signals. This translates as stable and reliable WiFi connection.
USB 3.0 which support HDD which can be shared as CIFS
This was also important for me especially at this time my DLink NAS was already showing signs of giving up. I was thinking maybe this is a cheaper way to set-up a kinda NAS. Actually this is just a niche feature. Yes it does work and gives the convenience of sharing USB disks. But the factors and features that makes a NAS for what it is, just does not make this a sound alternative.
After 2 years and counting, let us look at the low-downs and surprises from feature in which at first I thought was just a marketing strategy.
Asus firmware support
It is already years since the router’s release and yet Asus still updates the firmware. Even adding the AiMesh, Asus implementation of mesh WiFi. Great Job Asus really a Great Job.
Parental control, content filtering
This came at a surprise the router supports features that keep healthy browsing for me and my kid. This work well sites and be blocked per device. Connection to the internet can be restricted to certain hours.
Traffic analyzer, Web History and Bandwidth Monitor
This router is capable to analyze network traffic and create a report out of it. How much bandwidth we are using, Who are the top clients and What are the top sites or apps.
This is not like your standard firewall that comes with the router. AiProtection is another layer of protection for network devices which is composed of:
- Malicious sites blocking
- Two-Way IPS
- Infected Device Prevention and Blocking
AiProtection with Trend Micro provides real-time network monitoring to detect malware, viruses, and intrusions before they can reach your PC or device.
Dual WAN Fail-over
PLDT really tested this feature. When we experienced the down time, I pop in a 4G router and boom the internet connection switched from No connection to a little bit slower 4G. When PLDT finally fixed the connection, the router switch back by it self. It would be ideal to just keep the 4G router kept plugged in for just in-case scenarios, but we could not afford paying for 2 internet subscriptions. So this will work fine.
Having a party at the house, the guests ask for WiFi password. Sure, just enable the Guest network and give them a password. Boom they have internet. The best thing.. they are isolated from the network and you can set the bandwidth limits.
WiFi Signal Degrades
There are signs of degrades and the area of coverage was getting narrow which is noticeable for the 2.4 GHz. The beam forming does help keeping the device connected but at a lower connection speed.
HW and Software Performance Degrades
I do notice slow downs which I think is related to how much time the router was turned on. In Software this could mean Memory Leak and over time the memory resource available for the software is getting smaller and causes slowdowns. In Hardware it maybe related to the wear and tear to each component, especially this device runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A scheduled restart once a week mitigated this problem.
There are also at times that the router interface could not be accessed but there is no network interruption. There are a lot things going on with this router which are specific needs for my network.