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Customer Review

VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 28 July 2014
Two points to start:
* ASUS have confirmed that the 3 year warranty in the UK is invalid if the router isn't purchased from a UK reseller;
* this router model and other ASUS routers were open to serious exploits until a firmware update in April 2014; so update firmware - currently July 2014 - as soon as possible at first installation.

This is an excellent 802.11ac router specified for simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz; 2.4GHz (450 Mbps) and 5GHz (1.3 Gbps), combined in AC as 1.75Gbps. There are three internal and three external aerials (3x3). The only let down is the two USB 2.0 ports that needed to be USB 3. The specification includes Enterprise standard and Radius security, so ASUS see it as suitable for a small office (SOHO) as well as the home. It has 6 separate guest SSIDs with that are quickly and easily configured; a bonus when the family or friends arrive with a laptop. Despite possible office use, it looks good. Supported operating systems are: Windows 32 / 64 bit XP, Vista, 7 and 8; Mac OS X; Linux. It supports VPN, Samba and FTP. Internet access can also be provided through 3G/4G modems.

Although the ASUS UK 3 year warranty is transferable, ASUS confirmed that it is invalid if the router is not purchased from a UK reseller. I don't know how they interpret that, but as they check the serial number, they may have a list of serial numbers were only available to UK resellers. Whilst my ASUS motherboards have been faultless, saving a few pounds and possibly having an invalid warranty wasn't worth the risk. Return costs to international sellers are not covered by Amazon's A-Z Guarantee if the seller refuses to refund the return cost; as an example returning a router like this to Hong Kong costs £28.

Devices have more access features that are then exploited by others. This was the case with this router, and ASUS were alleged to have known about it for 8 months before updating the firmware in April 2014. The current software at the time of this review is dated July 2014. Nevertheless, disabling features services such as Telnet and Samba that are not being used is sensible. As a basic part of installation I ran all the security tests at www.pcflank.com and www.grc.com . There were no open ports, UPnP, or exploits to deal with and the ASUS withstood the router crash test at GRC.com. There is a MAC filter with White and Black lists for Wi-Fi devices. The 2.4 and 5 GHz transmissions can be separately enabled by day and time and, there is a Parental Control feature.

I'm using this with an ADSL2+ BT phone line; initially through a TP-Link TD-8817 modem and now a Billion 8800NL (the Billion is better). Router installation and configuration are easy although the WAN PPPoE connection had to be manually selected as the automatic configuration didn't select it. It comes with one flat tastefully black Cat 5e cable, so you'll need a Cat5 cable to connect to the modem. The management GUI is an exemplar of clarity and ease of configuration and, the settings can be saved to restore if necessary. It allows MAC cloning if necessary to connect to your ISP.

Wi-Fi transmission is separately configurable for transmission power, automatic channel select, variable bandwidth (2.4GHz - 20/40 MHz, 5Ghz - 20/40/80 MHz) in both frequencies. The maximum power at 5GHz is 200 mW. Maximising 802.11n performance in 2.4GHz is set by selecting N Only and, 5GHz by selecting 802.11n + AC. However, in compliance with 802.11n, the maximum transmission is 54Mbps when Wireless Mode is set to Auto and the encryption method is WEP or TKIP. My Samsung TAB 2 7.0 tablet receives 64Mbps around the house whereas the BT Home Hub 3 gave 54 to 64 Mbps. Our dual band Viera television now has the full 5 bars signal on 5 GHz, instead of 4 bars at 2.4Ghz from the BT Home Hub 3.

The router takes around 9 watts in idle, so allowing for a modem - say 10 watts in total - you'll use about 1.7kW in a week with it on 24/7.

UPDATE 20 August 2015
The RT-AC66U isn't stylish like the Netgear R7500 or Linksys EA8500 but it's reliable and easy to configure. The ASUS normally sits horizontally but I found that it was getting hot during the warm weather; mounting it vertically on the bracket that comes with it has solved that issue. I'm still pleased that I bought it and for everyday use I prefer it to the Linksys WRT1200 and EA8500, and the Netgear R7500.

The updated firmware provides a mature feature rich router at a reasonable price compared to the position when it was launched. Other than the USB2.0 ports instead of USB 3.0 I can't find anything negative to say. Definitely a recommend buy if available for around £125 compared with other high priced AC wireless routers.
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