Pricey, but an excellent all-in-one Wi-Fi router for NBN FTTN users
802.11ac 1024-QAM Wi-Fi, 4x external antennas, 1.4GHz dual-core CPU, 1x gigabit Ethernet WAN, 4x gigabit Ethernet LAN, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, ADSL/VDSL/G.Fast modem
Asus’s routers are some of the best in the industry for home users wanting a little extra than simply getting online. Known for their performance and wide feature set, the DSL-AC3100 is the latest in that tradition and does not disappoint.
Denoted by the DSL in its product name, the DSL-AC3100 is a Wi-Fi router with a built-in ADSL, ADSL 2/2+ and VDSL2 modem. Perfect for NBN FTTN users. Interestingly, Asus has added support for G.Fast, which doesn’t exist in Australia yet, but could one-day be used on the copper portions of the NBN.
Wi-Fi on the DSL-AC3100 is one of its unique selling points thanks to the inclusion of 1024-QAM technology. Asus calls it NitroQAM, and claim it can provide over 2.1 Gbit/sec over 5GHz to devices that also support 1024-QAM – and there’s the catch. Hardly anything has 1024-QAM support as it’s not a formal part of the 802.11ac specification.
Rounding out the hardware specs is a gigabit Ethernet WAN port, four gigabit Ethernet LAN ports and two USB ports (1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0). The USB ports can be used for 3G/4G support (i.e: if the NBN is down, 4G takes over so you remain online) or for sharing a printer or hard drive on your network.
Like most Asus routers, the DSL-AC3100 is packed full of features thanks to Asus WRT. It’s also nice that Asus constantly roll out updates to their firmware, unlike some manufacturers who simply release a few patches for bugs and leave it at that. The full list of features would take up this entire page, but some highlights include OpenVPN and AiMesh.
One of the most useful features in AsusWRT is OpenVPN support. Unlike most other consumer routers, Asus supports the same VPN protocol, as a client, that the clear majority of VPN providers used for getting around geo-restrictions or obfuscating your internet traffic use. Support for OpenVPN means that you don’t have to install the provider’s app on your machine. Just pop the server details into your router and your entire network can take advantage of the VPN.
AiMesh lets you place other Asus routers around your home and use them to extend your Wi-Fi coverage. You can link them up over Ethernet for maximum bandwidth, or they can connect to each other wirelessly, forming a mesh. It’s easy to setup, works very well and can be quite affordable versus dedicated mesh Wi-Fi hardware.
The Asus DSL-AC3100’s raison d’être is support for G.Fast and 1024-QAM Wi-Fi. But there’s no G.Fast in Australia and the chances of your Wi-Fi devices supporting 1024-QAM is extremely slim. If you want the absolute best Wi-Fi performance, you’d buy something like the RT-AC5300, which costs about the same, has a faster CPU and an extra Wi-Fi radio so you don’t have to share precious radio bandwidth with other devices. However, if you want the fastest Asus router with a built-in modem, the DSL-AC3100 is it.