Asus DSL-AC56U router review

If you want a router that will future proof your purchases for when VDSL or fibre comes to your neighbourhood, give the Asus DSL-AC56U serious thought.

It may be more pricey than most digital subscriber line (DSL) modems available today, but it packs a feature set that will cater for your needs for several upgrade cycles.

At a recommended retail price of R3,099, the DSL-AC56U is not cheap for a DSL router. You can get a Wi-Fi enabled router for three times less, but it is likely that you will have to upgrade it when you upgrade your connectivity.

With the DSL-AC56U you can rest assured that you can use the same modem regardless of most infrastructure changes in your area, even if it means ditching cabled Internet connectivity completely.

The DSL-AC56U offers everything the RT-AC5300 does in a smaller more aesthetically pleasing package at a better price. Compared to the Alien Spider you sacrifice some raw Wi-Fi speed penetration, but you get all the features of the excellent ASUSWRT to manage your network such as hardware NAT and parental controls.

You get a 5GHz and a 2.4GHz Wi-Fi channel, the ability to add a guest Wi-Fi network, 4x gigabit Ethernet ports, a Gigabit WAN port, 2x USB ports and an ADSL port. Enough to meet most household needs.

On top of that you have VPN support, AICloud storage support, parental controls, network management and a built in FTP server, among other things.

A downside is that while the AC56U offers USB hard drive support for NAS services, you don’t get a USB3.0 port.

Asus DSL-AC56U1 software screenshot
Asus DSL-AC56 software screenshot

What really sets this router apart from other high end routers is the ease of use of its features. If you are brave (and you have a router that supports it) you can install DDWRT and get many of the features of the DSL-AC56U, but without the hardware feature support and user-friendliness.

When we attached an Asus EA-AC87 5GHz access point to our network as a Wi-Fi bridge everything was set up seamlessly.

Both units had the same IP and DHCP servers enabled. However, when the two devices detected each other the DSL-AC56U kept its IP and remained the DHCP server, while the AC87 got a new IP and became DHCP relay.

We then decided to connect the RT-AC5300 to this setup, and again the whole process was handled seamlessly. Easy as falling off a chair. Asus really has taken DDWRT and made it work to its utmost potential.

Besides the price being high for a lowly DSL modem, the AC56U is highly recommended, especially as its gigabit WAN support will ensure you will never again have a connectivity bottleneck on your network. If I had the choice of any other router and the AC56U, even the excellent AC5300, I would take the DSL-AC56U.

Key specifications

Asus DSL-AC56U Specifications
Network Standards Support IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.3, IEEE 802.3u, IEEE 802.11i, IEEE 802.11e, IPv4, IPv6
Data Rates 802.11a : 6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11b : 1, 2, 5.5, 11 Mbps
802.11g : 6,9,12,18,24,36,48,54 Mbps
802.11n : up to 300 Mbps
802.11ac : up to 867 Mbps
Connectivity 5GHz
4 RJ45 ports
1 WAN port (Gigabit Capable)
1 DSL RJ11/45 xDSL Port
2 USB Ports (USB 2.0 only)
Dimensions 147x 205x66mm
Weight 400g
Operating System ASUS-WRT


Pros Cons
Easy to use and setup Price is high
Asus-WRT software No USB3.0 port
Gamut of features, including Gigabit WAN

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Asus DSL-AC56U router review