I’m currently using the Asus RT-N56U. I bought it back in 2014 when the 802.11ac is starting to become mainstream, but most of the device I was using back then doesn’t support 802.11ac so I decided to get another 802.11n router.
Current: Asus RT-N56U
It was, and still is, a stable router. I could leave it ON 24/7 and it rarely slows down or need a reset. It was quite an upgrade from the unstable D-Link DIR-615 and weak Apple Airport Express. Even without antenna sticking out, the router is fairly powerful.
I love the build in download manager. With it I can download large files overnight while keeping my PC off. The USB 2.0 connection is more than fast enough for the 5mbps Internet speed I have back then. However, it is slow when transferring files over to the computer. It transfer at 2MB/s with stock firmware, and 20MB/s with custom firmware. Even when max out the USB2.0 speed, it is still slow when transferring large files.
When I started to travel to China more often, I started using the VPN function of the router. It is quite a Godsend because of it I can use Google and Facebook while in China. Other than social media, I also feel more secure doing banking thru VPN while connected to public WiFi anywhere outside of home.
Free Router: D-Link DIR-850L
If I ever get a new router, it must be capable of these features which is only found on more higher end router. It wasn’t found in the D-Link DIR-850L given free by my ISP. After subscribing to Time Broadband, they gave D-Link which I didn’t use it because my Asus router is simply more feature rich. My home internet is max out at 100mbps, so I don’t need the extra speed provided by the new 802.11ac WiFi.
That was 2 years back. After getting a 4K TV and a NAS, I start to realize there’s many dead zone in my small little apartment. I placed the Asus router in my 2nd bedroom next to the master bedroom. Although the signal is pretty good in the master bedroom, it is very bad in the living room. The kitchen area is ok, but the signal in the 3rd bedroom behind the kitchen is poor too. It wasn’t a problem when the 3rd bedroom was used as a storeroom, it is now my wife’s wardrobe room.
I initially forgot about having the D-Link DIR-850L at home, and planning to get a new 802.11ac router to replace the Asus RT-N56U, and using the old Asus as an access point. Asus newest model is the RT-AC86U and it cost around RM1500 in Malaysia. I probably could get it for around RM1200 online, but in the US it is only sold less than RM800, and less than RM700 in China. Finding the price so bloated in Malaysia most probably thanks to GST and SIRIM, I find it hard to buy it here. It is only a few weeks later that I realized I have an extra router at home.
Adding The Second Router
I have the B2 version of the router, the firmware that comes out of the box is 1.09. Since I do not use it as the main router, I was lazy to updating to the latest firmware. By following a guide in Hardwarezone, to set it as an access point, I got to turn off the HCDP, NAT and UPnP. After that connect it the main router with the LAN cable plugged into the LAN ports instead of WAN ports. I moved the main Asus router outside of the bedroom to the nearby the main apartment entrance door where the fiber optic modem is.
It worked and I managed to get Internet from the LAN ports. For some odd reason, I couldn’t detect my NAS in the network even if I’ve connected it to the D-Link router. I guessed updating the router to the latest firmware should fix the problem. I made the mistake of obtaining the latest firmware from D-Link Malaysia site. Even though the firmware is stated for non-Unifi unit, I ended up with a permanent @unifi suffix for WiFi SSID after updating to the latest firmware.
Then I tried getting the firmware from D-Link US. I first tried the latest Beta firmware. I got one major problem or bug after updating – I couldn’t set the WiFi password for the 2.4GHz band. So I went and install the latest stable firmware from the US site. Same problem. I finally use a pin to hard-reset the router by poking the button underneath, which solve the problem. I guess I might even fix it that way if I’ve stayed with the Beta firmware, but I didn’t bother to update back the Beta firmware since things starts to working normally. I was able to get Internet and access my NAS in the network.
Configure for Smooth 4K Streaming
I ran some quick speed test and it ran fine on the PC connected to the LAN port, and on my phone connected to WiFi. I played a 4K video, which was stored on the NAS, on the TV. It wasn’t smooth, it was even worst than before swapping the router in the bedroom. I suspect the TV is connected to the router in the bedroom which do not have LOS unlike the Asus router at the entrance.
I looked into that poor D-Link router’s interface to block the TV’s MAC address like I can do on my Asus router but I was unable to find that function. It does allow blocking device on the main page by setting parental control. So with that I setup Parental Control for the TV to “Always Off” and that sort of solve the problem. The TV starts to stream 4K video smoothly over WiFi and is finally better than before.