The ASUS RT-N15 SuperSpeed N Wireless Router is a networking device that’s easy to overlook when there are products from Netgear, Linksys, and Belkin next to it on the store shelves (or virtual shopfront), but it’s definitely worth your time and money. It has a built-in 802.11n wireless access point, a 4-port Gigabit Ethernet switch, a built-in router and firewall functions.
It’s a neat unit with no external antennas and it can be laid flat or stood upright on your desk. It has blue status lights that aren’t overly bright in the dead of night and, most importantly, it barely gets warm. We used it for a period of one month without any reliability issues; our Internet connection never dropped out, and our wireless network stayed up and ran swiftly.
You can use the ASUS RT-N15 SuperSpeed N Wireless Router to distribute an ADSL or cable Internet connection, but you need to already have a modem. You’ll have to plug in the modem to the router's WAN port, and use its LAN ports to connect your PC or laptop to access the wireless router’s configuration Web page. If you’re upgrading from an all-in-one modem that has a router (because you want the faster Gigabit Ethernet switch and 802.11n wireless access point, for example), you’ll be able to use only the modem portion of that device if you set it to bridged mode instead of PPPoE (or cable).
Once the cables from your modem and computer are connected, you can log in to the router’s interface to enter your ISP’s login details and establish your Internet connection. Don’t be too put off by the RT-N15’s purple, lime and orange interface; it looks shocking and is a little cumbersome to navigate, but it has a lot of features for you to play with.
You’ll want to visit the ‘quick setup’ first, as this is the only place you can enter your Internet connection type, ISP username and password. You don’t need to give the router any other details: it detects your selected connection’s parameters automatically and establishes a connection once you click on ‘finish’.
However, to get to ‘finish’ you have to first set up the wireless network parameters on the same page. Setting up the wireless network from here is a little limiting as you only get to choose from WEP and WPA encryption settings. This will be fine for most wireless networks, but the dedicated wireless network section of the RT-N15’s interface also lets you use WPA2 and select from TKIP or AES algorithms. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support combined WPA/WPA2 encryption.
The RT-N15 has a built-in stateful packet inspection (SPI) firewall, LAN to WAN packet filtering, and a limited URL filter. The URL filter works with keywords that you define, but instead of blocking all access to that keyword the router will only block a domain name that features it.
Bandwidth management is also a feature of the RT-N15’s firmware, and it allows you to easily prioritise traffic — just by pressing one of three buttons — for gaming, Web or VoIP and video streaming. By pressing the three buttons for these applications, you can set up a priority that’s best suited to your usage patterns. For example, if you’re a heavy gamer, you can give gaming traffic a high priority and drop Web and video streaming traffic to low priority. You can also manually set priority for specific IPs and ports.
The router’s 802.11n wireless access point ran reliably during our tests, in which it achieved average speeds of 5.86 megabytes per second from 1m away, and 5.75MBps from 10m away. We used a Linksys WPC300N PC Card wireless adapter in a laptop and transferred files from a file server to achieve these results.
The ASUS RT-N15 SuperSpeed N Wireless Router performed exceptionally well over long distances; not only was it as fast over 10m as it was over 1m, but it also provided a usable signal wireless signal from 31m away. Video streaming was choppy at this distance, but the Internet was still usable. This is a similar distance to what the Linksys WRT310N achieved, for example, although it was a little slower than that router overall. How it performs for you will depend on your environment, but the ASUS RT-N15 SuperSpeed N Wireless Router is definitely as good as comparable products from the big-name networking vendors.