Following on from my review on Asus’ top performing wireless AC router, the RT-AC68U that we looked at not too long ago, it is only worth us taking a closer look at what makes this next generation wireless adaptor tick. Unless your laptop or desktop system has built-in wireless, there is one of two main options out there for you to choose from in order to add the freedom to your system that is wireless networking. The first of these methods is to get a USB based device which is a simple device with very little setup required – literally plug it in, install the driver and you’re away. In addition a USB adaptor is compatible with both notebook and desktop systems and they are not overly expensive either. Like most things though there is a downside to going down the USB path; whilst they are able to deliver some highly respectable levels of performance, the antenna is either very small, or internal to the adaptor and therefore signal strength can be an issue.
The second main path to go down when going wireless is go with a PCI Express add-on card; obviously there is the immediate downside in that you’re not going to shoehorn one of these into your notebook system – so it’s USB only on that one I’m afraid, but for the desktop system there are a couple of perks in going down this route. The first of these is that you don’t lose another USB port on the rear or front of your case, but more importantly the antennae are bigger and on the PCE-AC68 there are three of them with a magnetic base plate on offer to maximise the signal strength and speed of your connection to the router. Sounds good huh?
Inside the box alongside the brightly coloured card Asus give us a VIP warranty note, driver CD and quick setup guide, three external antennae, a magnetic base plate with a long SMA extension cable and a half-height PCI back plate.