The little big ASUS USB-AC55 802.11ac USB adapter

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By Ben Barnard - Independent Tech Reviewer

The Good The ASUS USB-AC55 Wireless-AC1300 Dual-band adapter is an easy and affordable way to add the latest and fastest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard to your PC, or upgrade the existing built in Wi-Fi capability in your Laptop to a faster and more reliable connection. Even at 802.11n standards it easily competes with wired 10/100 Fast Ethernet connections in terms of speed. In 802.11ac mode it is surpassed only by Wired Gigabit Ethernet in terms of speed, but the cost of implementation is far lower than for Gigabit Ethernet.

The Bad Not much. It is even compact enough to take with you when you travel. The only caveat is that maximum speeds on 802.11ac are obtained when connected to a USB 3.0 port, though it is fully backwards compatible and will work on older USB 2.0 ports at approximately 70% of the USB 3.0 speeds

The Bottom Line You can breathe new life into ageing devices by adding or improving it's connectivity to the rest of your local network or internet. Because the ASUS USB-AC55 is an external plug and play unit, you can easily transfer it between devices as your needs change. It may seem like a modest piece of equipment, but do not underestimate the benefits it can enable when used as one of your networking options.

Ratings
Overall 8.2/10
Ease of Use 8.5/10
Performance 8.5/10
Value for Money 7.5/10

Who needs this Wi-Fi as a means of connecting to other nearby devices or the internet has grown exponentially, but has left the ordinary PC stuck to cabled locations. A simple USB plug-in can free your PC from that static location and provide the same level of connectivity in places where it is impractical to have Ethernet cabling. It does not use up any of your existing cable runs or Ethernet ports and can be an easy solution when the need arises to have your PC in a different location on a temporary or permanent basis. Wi-Fi offers much easier means of scheduling your children's on-line presence to certain days of the week, or hours of the day, through the use of guest network facilities. For Laptop users it is such an easy way to upgrade an existing built-in 802.11g/n adapter to a faster 802.11n/ac connection.

Ease of use The product comes with an installation CD and Quick Start Guide. Windows 7 does not come with 802.11ac drivers, so it is important to use the supplied installation CD. Thereafter the USB-AC55 can be plugged in, Windows will do the device installation and you're ready to go. The device has a WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) button for easy connection to a secure network. There is also a neat flashing LED beneath the surface to indicate when the connection is active.

Is it fast enough Theoretical connection speeds can be misleading. The graph below shows you actual file transfer speeds as measured by a product called LAN Speed Test from Totusoft. The software creates 10 file transfers in each direction and repeats the test three times, the average from all three tests is then used. The tests were done using a Laptop running Windows 7 64-bit connected to a 802.11n/ac Wi-Fi modem/router. Different scenarios were tested. In the same room with the Laptop about 3 meters away from the Wi-Fi access point, and in a next room where the Laptop was about at 6 meters away on the other side of a brick wall and with a wooden cupboard in between (All figures are in Mbps).

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The tests clearly showed the ASUS USB-AC55 to have greater speed and reach than built in adapters, and is even a viable alternative to ordinary 10/100 Fast Ethernet connections. Tests done on a different floor level to the 802.11ac Access Point, still returned better figures than even the same room 802.11n connection would, being testament to the design and power of the antennas inside.

In Summary If you are used to seeing connection speeds on your Wi-Fi connections around the 52-130 Mbps mark, then you'd be delighted to see your Wi-Fi adapter reporting a connection speed of 867 Mbps. If you can at present connect to a Wi-Fi network that includes the 802.11ac standard, or are contemplating such an installation, then this ASUS USB-AC55 becomes one of the easiest and most cost effective options to upgrade your client devices. It is a solid and versatile investment in your networking setup and an obvious alternative to cumbersome and unsightly Ethernet cable runs.

Where to buy:
http://www.firstshop.co.za/asus-usb-ac55-network-adapter-usb-ac55-p-28085
http://www.takealot.com/asus-usb-ac55-dual-band-wireless-ac1300-usb-3-0-wi-fi-adapter/PLID40364054
http://www.evetech.co.za/PC-Hardware/asus-usb-ac55-dual-band-wireless-ac1300-usb-adapter-1356.aspx
 
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