ASUS RT-N56U Wireless Router Review

The Belkin 54G wireless access point I’ve been using for a few years has been suffering since we extended the house.. there’s just not enough range on it, and it tends to temporarily lock up if it’s hammered a lot.

Finding a replacement took a lot of research, but I eventually decided on the ASUS RT-N56U, costing about £85, after reading some great reviews, including one in PC Pro. It’s worth reiterating that it doesn’t contain an ADSL router.. so if you’re on that type of broadband you’ll still need one of those in your set up. I’m happy with that, since the master socket isn’t where I want to place the wireless router anyway.

Configuration was straight-forward, aided by a decent web interface. As soon as I plugged it in I upgraded the firmware to the latest version from ASUS. I’d also seen that there are unofficial firmwares from a Russian group which are meant to fix a bunch of stuff & add new features. I’m sticking with the ASUS firmware unless I hit stability problems or find that I want to tinker later on. I certainly like the option to have a customised firmware should the need arise.

After having it running for a few days I’m really impressed with the speed and coverage across the house. It allows you to either use one SSID for 2.4Ghz and one for 5Ghz.. which lets you decide which band you want a device to use. Or set the same SSID for both, and it’ll automatically switch you over to the fastest band according to the signal strength. I was in the kitchen, and it connected on what must have been the 2.4Ghz band (due to the distance), then moved to the living room where the speed shot up & was obviously using the 5Ghz band.

Here’s a table showing how the signal strength has been affected by the upgrade;

Signal Strength (dBm)
Postion ASUS Belkin
Utility Room -70 -75
Kitchen Diner -76 -85
Lounge -45 -63
Bedroom -61 -75
Bathroom -76 -85


And here’s my unboxing video;

Using OpenDNS with the O2-supplied Router

One thing that O2 didn’t put into the web interface for the Thomson TG585 wireless routers they supply you with, is a way to change DNS servers. It’s therefore a bit of a pain if you want to use OpenDNS. Luckily it’s not that hard to make the changes via a telnet connection:

Login name: SuperUser
Password: O2Br0ad64nd

Now make a note of your existing DNS setup using this command:

dns server route list

It’ll give you something like this;

DNS Server Entries:
  DNS Server     Source  Label   Metric Intf         State  Domain
D                    10     O2_ADSL       UP      *
D                    10     O2_ADSL       UP      *

The ‘Intf’ column is the type of connection you have (yours might differ from mine).. you’ll need this for the next commands;

dns server route flush
dns server route add dns= metric=0 intf=O2_ADSL
dns server route add dns= metric=0 intf=O2_ADSL
dns server route list

That’s it. Release and renew your IP address on all connected equipment and you’re all set.