Monday, April 11, 2016

Decided to buy a proper router


When I got my internet connection with Belong, I received a free Wireless ADSL/Modem router as I signed up for one year.

While I do not have any complaints to make with respect to the modem potion of it, the router was using ancient technology. No Gigabit Ethernet, no dual band Wi-Fi support and no 802.11ac support. Streaming performance from the NAS to my MacBook Air was terrible. The situation would not improve with my desktop PC, despite having dual band 802.11ac support, because the router was not capable of it. And, the 100Mbps Ethernet ports were, quite slow for 2016.

The telephone point in the apartment that I am renting, is located in the kitchen. (I don't know what the architect was smoking! Perhaps at the time the apartment was built, the Internet was unheard of.) The kitchen is attached to the living room. My desktop PC will be kept either in the living room (until we buy a TV) or in the 2nd bedroom. It was impossible to draw an Ethernet cable or a RJ11 cable from the kitchen to either of these locations unless I drew it on the floor. But I wanted it out of reach of my kid. I could not draw it along the wall because I would have to fit some hooks or nails on the wall to lift the cable up, which would mean damaging the property.

I did not want to keep the router in the kitchen as well. My wife would definitely spill water on it. The ideal location was the top of the fridge. From there, the PC would get direct line of site from the router if it was kept in the living room. My wife has no immediate plan to buy a TV, so the PC will most probably stay in the living room for a long time.


And I could move the NAS to the top of the fridge as well. Then it could be connected to the router via Ethernet.

Now all I needed was a good router.

The following were the devices which were estimated to connect to the router initially.

  • Desktop PC via inbuilt 802.11ac 867Mbps mPCI-E module
  • MacBook Air mid-2011 model laptop
  • Two Nexus 5 phones
  • My father's iPhone 3GS (yes they will be visiting me soon)
  • HP ProLiant MicroServer Gen8 - need 3 Gigabit Ethernet ports for best performance (two for data, 1 for iLO)

The routers people recommend on the Whirlpool forums (that's where the geeks in Australia hangout) was unanimously the Asus AC68U router. It has 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports and 802.11ac speeds up to 600Mbps on 2.4GHz band & 1300Mbps on the 5GHz band for a combined throughput of 1900Mbps. The only 802.11ac supported device that I had is the desktop PC and it should get all the bandwidth possible as this was my main PC. The reason most people recommended this router was the level of maturity of firmware and the management features it offered. I probably did not need all of those features though. We shall see, if I decide to buy this.

There were two options for me. To get a router and use it with the Belong router in bridged mode. Or to get a router with an ADSL modem built in. Former was the cheaper option but it was also the messy option especially in the space-constrained apartment. The latter was more expensive, but elegant. Both models were available in the AC68U series. The router only model was called the RT-AC68U and the one with the modem was called the DSL-AC68U.

And these routers were very expensive, especially with the fallen Australian Dollar. The RT model was about $220 and the DSL model was about $320. Yes, they were that expensive. Needless to say that I was not willing to spend that much money on a router. (It is just a router, isn’t it? Not a god damn video card!) But this router, if it survives longer than the 3 year warranty period, would still be relevant for many years. If we somehow got NBN at the property, I could use it either as a router (I would lose one LAN port in the process though) if we got an Ethernet cable into the house, or I could use it as is if we got NBN in the form of VDSL. There weren't many adapters that could fully exhaust the router as most only do up to 867Mbps.

After swaying between the decisions of buying and not buying, finally I decided to buy the DSL-AC68U model. I have been burnt too many times trying to cut corners. Hopefully this was the right decision to make.

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