In my previous blog post Blackfire Router Recommendations, I recommended the ASUS RT-AC56U and the ASUS RT-AC68U as the two routers that will best support whole home wireless streaming at the latest 802.11ac WiFi standard. I also explained why I chose the ASUS RT-AC68U to upgrade my home WiFi from 2.4GHz to 5GHz. In this blog, I’ll explain how to set up these ASUS routers.
The first thing you’ll want to keep in mind before set up is that devices work differently on 5GHz and 2.4GHz WiFi bands. 5GHz capable devices on a 5GHz Wifi channel give you the best data rates from your router. The problem is that 5GHz WiFi has a shorter range than 2.4GHz (meaning your laptop might actually get a better connection on the 2.4GHz band than 5GHz if you are a couple of walls away from your router). Also, any older devices you may have in your home will only work on the 2.4GHz band. The reason why I’m mentioning the differences between 5GHz and 2.4GHz is because this router gives both bands. It also gives you two choices for setup: have one SSID name that covers both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands OR create separate SSID names for each band. Of course, all the devices on the router will still work together whichever band they use to connect.
So, one SSID or two?
If you set both SSIDs to the same name, and with the same password AND with the same encryption method (e.g. WPA2), then you and all your household will only see one WiFi network to join. Your devices will then join whichever band it sees first, and dynamically switch to 2.4GHz if you get out of range of the 5GHz band. The advantage of using just one SSID is that it’s simplest for all your household users – no further decisions need to be made. The disadvantage of this, is that your high speed 5GHz capable devices might end up joining the slower 2.4GHz network. Further, the switchover from 5GHz to 2.4Ghz is not always seamless: if you are listening to music or watching a video, you will experience a glitch or drop out.
If you set up two separate SSIDs, you will have to manually choose the right band for each of your devices. The advantage for going down this route is you can be sure that 5GHz devices near your router can operate at the max data rate at all times. The disadvantage is that you need to know which band your devices can operate on, and decide upfront whether you want to trade max data rate potential for long-distance roaming throughout a larger home.
For an uninterrupted streaming experience, we’d recommend the following:
- You’ll get the best performance with devices positioned near the router
- To optimize a Blackfire-powered wireless 5.1 audio system, position the router in the same room
- To optimize a multi-room music system, position the router centrally in your house, and high up – to get the best range.
- Connect to the 2.4GHz SSID for most of your devices most of the time
- Connect to the 5GHz SSID for devices that are known to be 5GHz capable and have high data bandwidth requirements (like a SmartTV, Set Top Box, Blackfire capable speakers, or a laptop used for streaming)
How to Set Up an ASUS RT-AC68U or RT-AC56U:
- Use an ethernet cable to connect the WAN socket to a cable modem
- Plug in your router and switch it to “ON” (If your router is not brand new, make sure to push the “Reset Button” on the back panel to restore it to the factory defaults)
- Look for blue LEDs lights to appear indicating that “Power,” “5GHz WiFi,” “2.4GHz WiFi” and “WAN” are all on
- Either connect another ethernet cable directly from your laptop ethernet port to your router LAN port OR use WiFi to find an SSID called “ASUS” on your Laptop. (You can also download the ASUS Router app to your phone, then connect to the “ASUS” SSID.)
- Open your browser – a setup app should appear
- Set your Admin password:
- Decide on your SSID Name(s) – I called mine “BFRX-BUTTERS” for the 2.4GHz band and used “BFRX-BUTTERS_5G” suffix after the name to show the one on the 5GHz band.
- Decide on your new password(s):
- Hit “Apply” then reconnect to your new SSID
- Congratulations, you’re now live!
In my next blog post, I’ll discuss how to get the best performance out of your new router.