ASUS’s prowess with gaming equipment continues to reverberate all over the world and it certainly isn’t stopping any time soon. Right from its desktop gaming PCs popularly labeled ROG (Republic of Gamers), you can tell that it is serious about hardware, and not just in the PC category alone, but also when it comes to routers. Surely enough, ASUS is justified to create powerful Wi-Fi routers now and then because only they understand the ideal kind of performance that would complement their gaming hardware.
Today, let’s look at a few of their “most confusing” routers – the RT-AC68P, the RT-AC68U, the RT-AC66U, and the RT-AC68W. Right from their names, you can easily tell that they’re all from one series with the main exception being the letters they bear towards the end of their model names. While this most definitely means that they have a lot of common features, they all have some subtle differences that could raise your eyebrows.
Similarities Between ASUS RT-AC66U vs RT-AC68U vs RT-AC68P vs RT-AC68W
Below are some of the features that all these routers share with each other:
They Are Dual-Band Routers
Most modern routers are usually multi-band meaning that they can operate in two different frequencies – the 2.4GHz frequency band and the 5GHz band. This is more common with the AC wireless cards. As such, you get superior speeds from all these ASUS wireless routers.
They Have AiRadar Beamforming
Performance doesn’t stop with the AC wireless cards. ASUS’s AiRadar Beamforming is a relatively new technology that works by directing the Wi-Fi signals directly to the connected client. Think of this like shouting towards someone in a particular direction rather than shouting for everyone at once. The result? Stronger signals regardless of where you’re seated in the house.
They Can Be Controlled Remotely via AiCloud
If you’re worried about your kids going over your bandwidth quota while you’re away, AiCloud will let you remotely monitor and even manage these ASUS routers. It makes it easier to keep track with what is happening at home conveniently.
They Offer the Latest 802.11AC Wi-Fi
While we do know that Wi-Fi 6 (802.11AX) is already knocking on our doors in 2019, we still cannot argue with 802.11AC Wi-Fi because it is still relatively fast and relevant. However, you shouldn’t start celebrating about ASUS incorporating the latest 802.11AC Wi-Fi until you’ve confirmed the speeds your ISP is going to provide you.
They Have Advanced QoS
No one loves a congested network, and with ASUS’s advanced QoS, your network experience will be smooth. If you are a heavy internet consumer, this is a feature you definitely wouldn’t want to miss on.
Differences Between ASUS RT-AC66U vs RT-AC68U vs RT-AC68P vs RT-AC68W
Here comes the challenging part – How can all these routers which only have single varying letters on their model number possibly be significantly different from one another? Well, most of the differences, while subtle, will have a great impact on your experience. In addition to this, you’ll find out that they all aren’t priced equally too.
Because the similarities between the routers exceed the notable differences, it would be wise to go for a specific router from the four that meets your needs adequately. Going for the expensive one just because you believe it is a better router might not be the right way to go about it.
|USB Types||USB 2.0||USB 2.0 & 3.0||USB 2.0 & 3.0||USB 2.0 & 3.0|
|No of Antennas||3||3||3||3|
As you can see, there aren’t many differences between the four routers with regards to the basic specifications or what the normal buyer would consider. However, the price tags say a different story.
ASUS RT-AC66U Wireless Dual Band Router
If we were to go by the model series name, the ASUS RT-AC66U comes last in the hierarchy because of the “66”. However, the real question we should be asking is – how does it fair on as a router on its own? From its exterior outlook, it does look pretty much like its siblings. All have four antennas and all have 5 LAN ports (4 Gigabit LAN ports and one Gigabit WAN port). The build also seems visually pleasant, but that’s not something worth debating so much about because ASUS already built a reputation for that. However, only a review of its performance will accurately explain what makes it stand out.
Performance of ASUS RT-AC66U
With its current affordable price tag of $143, it is amazing that the RT-AC66U came with such good hardware specifications. A 1750Mbps throughput speed coupled with a 600MHz CPU to ensure that your network requests are handled efficiently is something to smile about especially when you review other routers like it that are not in this specific ASUS series. As all the other three routers are dual-band, it wouldn’t make any sense pointing this out as a distinguishing feature. However, it is worth noting that the RT-AC66U runs 3×3 MIMO thus explaining why it can manage incredible speeds.
Comparing 600MHz to the others which all boast 1GHz processors makes the RT-AC66U the weaker of all four, but this is partly because this particular model uses an older MIPS-based CPU that will not go the extra mile like the others. For the average user, the 600MHz CPU speed shouldn’t be a big factor because you won’t be running a server with this router. Since even power users can benefit from it, they might only notice performance dips when they connect multiple intensive gadgets to the router.
Best Use for ASUS RT-AC66U
The RT-AC66U is your go-to router if you aren’t into the fancy specifications but would also love to have a Wi-Fi router that can occasionally deliver great performance when you need it. Homes with a reasonable number of devices (about 10-20) can all be served with this router. While this is also an 802.11AC router, you shouldn’t really focus on pushing it to the limit by having too many powerful devices connected to it. If you have gadgets that are 2-3 years old, then this would be a perfect pick for you especially if you are an average internet consumer.
Pros of the ASUS RT-AC66U
- It is affordable and reasonably-priced for a router with its specifications
- It is easy to set up
- It has a fairly good range
- Great build quality
Cons of the ASUS RT-AC66U
- You miss out on a faster USB 3.0 port because it only has two USB 2.0 ports
- Its CPU speed is slower when compared to the other routers in the same series
- Its total throughput speed is slightly lower than the other routers in the same series
ASUS RT-AC68U Wireless Dual Band Router
The real power struggle actually begins with the RT-AC68U mainly because all of its features are somewhat identical to the rest of the routers remaining in the series. Visually, for instance, you can definitely tell that this router is a bit different from the RT-AC66U. The build quality is still similar to that of the RT-AC66U, but the RT-AC68U has a slightly different presentation and a different feel towards it. Because its performance is also slightly bumped up from that of the RT-AC66U, it is easy to start judging this router as a better contender, but we shall know about that in a short while.
Performance of ASUS RT-AC68U
While we might have downplayed the RT-AC66U in terms of its total throughput speed of 1750Mbps, the significantly higher throughput speed of the RT-AC68U (1900Mbps) might sound good on paper, but not too helpful for the everyday user unless your ISP is providing you with a Gigabit ethernet connection. As such, the performance of the RT-AC68U is only considerably better than that of the RT-AC66U when both are compared in terms of their ability to work on the higher frequency band i.e. the 5GHz band.
This router will comfortably connect to more devices that operate in the 5GHz band compared to the RT-AC66U which will partly get choked when all its connected devices need to compete on the 5GHz band. Since its total cost is still around the neighborhood of that of the RT-AC66U, it is worth pointing out that this is the better router of the two mainly because this one offers slightly higher performance on paper. When it comes to a real-world scenario, you would be surprised that both the RT-AC66U and the RT-AC68U will not have a very large performance gap between them. However, if you plan on shopping today, then this model would be a suitable pick.
Best Use for ASUS RT-AC68U
As the performance bump isn’t that big, you will still use this router in the same way that another person with the RT-AC66U uses his/hers. The only notable difference will be that you will have a bigger allowance for connecting more devices that can operate in the 5GHz band. In addition, the inclusion of both the USB 2.0 and the USB 3.0 gives you the best of both worlds. This makes the RT-AC68U more like a bridge that ferries you from the “averagely-performing” RT-AC66U to the RT-AC68 series which can be considered as high performers.
Pros of the ASUS RT-AC68U
- It gives you both USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports
- It has a slightly higher throughput speed which comes in handy when you have a speedy internet connection from your ISP
- It is a standing model and thus occupies less horizontal space
- It has 4 Gigabit ethernet ports which greatly complement its speed
Cons of the ASUS RT-AC68U
- Configuration can take some time because it does not come with a pre-configured network
- While the inclusion of a USB 2.0 port is good, most devices nowadays operate well with the USB 3.0 making the USB 2.0 port partly useless
ASUS RT-AC68P Wireless AC1900 Dual Band Router
There’s a lot of debate over the ASUS RT-AC68P online because people keep confusing it with the RT-AC68U. There are some complaints of some users even receiving the RT-AC68U instead of the RT-AC68P. In addition to this, ASUS itself claims that the RT-AC68P has dual USB ports with USB 3.0 and claims that they are ten times faster than the USB 2.0, but in reality, the RT-AC68P has one USB 2.0 and one USB 3.0. It however corrects this on the specifications page and indicates that there is indeed a USB 2.0 port. Other than that, you are likely to know you are dealing with an RT-AC68P the moment you lay your eyes on its surface finishing. It definitely has a more futuristic look compared to the RT-AC68U, but apart from this, you could say that the RT-AC68P is simply a newer version of the RT-AC68U. Perhaps the only notable difference from a general view could be the price.
Performance of ASUS RT-AC68P
Honestly speaking, we found it hard to distinguish the performance differences between the RT-AC68P and the RT-AC68U because they are identical in almost everything right from the maximum throughput speed of 1900Mbps to the speed of its processor which has a clock rate of 1GHz. However, despite the fact that both of these processors are 1GHz, since the RT-AC68P is the newer version, it comes with a slightly faster 1GHz dual core processor meaning that it can process things slightly faster than its predecessor. The difference is not so notable though. In fact, you could easily swap between the two routers and not notice if anything has improved. The only gadgets to really benefit from a slightly faster CPU are gaming consoles where speed and latency are crucial.
Best Use for ASUS RT-AC68P
As the RT-AC68P and the RT-AC68U are somewhat interchangeable, it goes without saying that you will be using this router just the same way that someone with the RT-AC68U will be using his/hers. Both routers are designed for serving large homes, but you would want to go for the RT-AC68P in situations where speed and responsiveness means a lot to you. If you are a gamer, you’d definitely want to go for the RT-AC68P of the three routers that have been reviewed so far. While you could also use this router for 4K streaming, you would be saving some few bucks if you went for the RT-AC66U which can still do a good job at that, but if cash isn’t a problem, then pick this one.
Pros of the ASUS RT-AC68P
- It has a slightly faster processor compared to its predecessor (the RT-AC68U)
- It is slightly newer
- It comes with the latest firmware preinstalled (Version 188.8.131.52.384.45717 at the time of writing)
Cons of the ASUS RT-AC68P
- Its similarity to the RT-AC68U makes it more like a duplicate than a new product
- It still includes a USB 2.0 port despite many devices using USB 3.0 nowadays
ASUS RT-AC68W Wi-Fi Router AC1900
By now, you must have gotten the drill regarding the ASUS RT-AC68 series. There are subtle differences between the routers, and the last in line – the AC68W – introduces one glaring difference which is color. Almost all the specifications of the RT-AC68P still hold here too. You get a 1GHz processor and a maximum theoretical speed of 1900Mbps. It equally packs a 128MB flash memory storage and 256MB of RAM which is the same as that of the RT-AC68U and the RT-AC68P.
Performance of ASUS RT-AC68W
If color were a performance feature, we would have it listed here, but since that is not the case, then you can expect the same performance that you would expect from the RT-AC68P. Notice that it is more similar to the RT-AC68P and not the RT-AC68U. This router would be great for a large home, but so would the other two. Thus, choosing between the three would only be a matter of selecting the cheapest of the routers in the RT-AC68 series. If you’re are a gamer though, the RT-AC68P or this particular router would be just sufficient.
Best Use for ASUS RT-AC68W
This router falls in almost the same category as the RT-AC68P because it is slightly newer. Since almost everything else in it is constant, it would be best used in large homes. Gamers might use this as their default router, but only if they are not too keen about the superior performance of the routers. Either way, this router will do its part even for the most intensive of gamers. The RT-AC68W is also more than ideal for 4K video streaming because it’s maximum throughput speed of 1900Mbps is enough to serve 4K video streams to multiple people. You should remember that your ISP’s speed is what will ultimately determine the speed that you get on your devices.
Pros of the ASUS RT-AC68W
- It is equally a standing model just like the RT-AC68U and the RT-AC68P and it thus takes less space
- It is the only router in its family with a different color. This might be ideal for people who want their router’s color to complement the look or feel of their rooms
- Just like its predecessors, it is simple and easy to setup
Cons of the ASUS RT-AC68W
- It is more of a dirt magnet thanks to its color
- It does not have any significant performance improvements over the RT-AC68P
ASUS AC66U vs AC68U: Should I Buy the AC66U Over the AC68U?
You should go for the RT-AC66U if you’d like a cheaper wireless router that will serve your home adequately. However, you would be better off with the RT-AC68U since it is just a couple of bucks more and it comes with slightly much more than the RT-AC66U such as a faster processor and a higher throughput speed.
ASUS AC68U vs AC68P: Should I Buy the AC68U Over the AC68P?
The differences between these two routers are so minimal that you won’t notice any real differences between these two routers. If you are a gamer, you should go for the RT-AC68P rather than the RT-AC68U. The RT-AC68P has a slightly faster processor even though both have the same clock rate of 1GHz.
Rounding It Up
All these routers simply belong to the same family, so pointing out which of the four is the king and which is the servant is a bit laughable. If you are still determined about picking the best out of the four, then you might be forced to look at things like CPU speed and throughput speed, but you need to remember that these differences are so subtle that it wouldn’t make sense to boast about them. In addition, they aren’t too great for custom firmware installation. In general, however, all these routers strike a perfect balance between cost and value because they give you so much for relatively less.
There are more features that make these routers stand out against others from different brands such as NETGEAR and Linksys, but for the sake of highlighting the individual differences between these specific routers, we overlooked most of the features in this review so that you can accurately point out the differences. In reality, any of these routers will give you much more than you had asked for. The cons that we pointed out for each of them were simply in relation to each other and not in relation to routers outside the scope of this article or even other routers from ASUS itself. Of course, ASUS does have even more powerful wireless routers out there, but for a typical household, all these routers would serve just fine. Coupled with the fact that they are fairly priced, we would say they’re definitely great.