The Asus DSL-AC68U may be expensive, but it is flexible. It has a built in ADSL and VDSL modem, and one of its LAN ports can serve either as a Gigabit Ethernet or a WAN port. This means you’ll still be able to use the router if you switch from ADSL to a cable or fibre service, or vice versa; the setting to swap from using the DSL port to the RJ45 WAN port is hidden away under the Dual WAN menu.
The router has four Gigabit Ethernet ports for your wired connections. There’s also a USB3 port for sharing external storage, networking a printer or sharing your 3G/4G USB modem’s data connection. You can share files locally using SMB, FTP or by creating a DLNA or iTunes server for media files. It’s also possible to access your files remotely over the internet, although speed and performance will be dependent on your ISP’s upload rate.
The DSL-AC68U is designed to stand upright, and its flat front has an attractive textured carbon fibre-like patterning. The router’s stand isn’t removable and there are no mounting points on its back, so you have no choice but to have it stood upright. There’s a bank of blue status LEDs but, unlike on the Asus RT-AC87U, there’s no way to turn these off. Three external user-replaceable antennas protrude from the top of the router.
When you first turn on the router, its wireless networks are enabled by default without a password set, so the first thing you should do is set a secure password to stop anyone accessing your network. You can also set up six guest networks; three on each of the router’s 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. You can set if each guest network will have access to your local network and even how much access time each guest user has.
The web interface is consistent with that of other Asus routers, and is reasonably easy to navigate. It can be tricky to find the settings for port forwarding and other useful features, but once you do they have clear instructions and explanations. We also found the parental controls interface a little limiting in that you can restrict internet access at certain times, but not control access to specific websites.
The DSL-AC68U uses Broadcom’s TurboQAM technology to boost the throughput on the 2.4GHz band, raising it to a theoretical maximum of 600Mbit/s. On its 5GHz band the router has a theoretical throughput of 1,300Mbit/s. As our test laptop’s integrated 802.11n adaptor doesn’t support TurboQAM, we didn’t expect to see such colossal speeds, although the router did manage a respectable 53.6Mbit/s at 10m range and 16.5Mbit/s at 25m on the 2.4GHz band. After switching to 5GHz we saw 172.4Mbit/s at 10m and 72Mbit/s at 25m; this is one of the fastest speeds we’ve seen at 10m on 802.11n, but other routers such as the RT-AC87U are quicker at longer range.
Asus was unable to provide us with a matching USB adaptor for testing, so we used a Trendnet TEW-805UB 802.11ac USB3 model. With this adaptor using 802.11n on the 5GHz band, we saw speeds of 181.8Mbit/s at 10m and 109.9Mbit/s at 25m, which is about mid-table. Using 802.11ac, speeds improved further to 256.6Mbit/s and 139.8Mbit/s, which is an above-average result. To really take advantage of the DSL-AC68U’s full potential you’ll need to use it in conjunction with Asus’ PCE-AC68 PCI-E wireless adaptor (£60 inc VAT fromwww.argos.co.uk). With this adaptor, we saw an amazing speed of 699Mbit/s at 10m. Most surprisingly, the adaptor managed to maintain this same speed at 25m, too – a fantastic achievement.
The DSL-AC68U is an excellent ADSL/VDSL router that you’ll be able to keep using even if you change your type of broadband. Its speeds are impressive, especially at long ranges. The router’s main trick, however, is when you couple it with the PCE-AC68 PCI-E adaptor; if you can use this desktop PC-only adaptor, you will see the most astonishing throughput. If you want a router with a built-in modem and are willing to pay for serious wireless speeds, it’s a great choice.