At the heart of the Asus RT-N56U are two sets of 802.11n wireless antennas. These create the distinct spatial streams for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz radio frequencies.
Typically better 2.4GHz will offer three or four distinct antenna, as more spatial streams increase the MIMO effect, so increasing speed and workable distance.
The RT-N56U comes with two internal antennas for the 2.4GHz range and three for the 5GHz range.
Two antennas is something we'd expect to see on more modest Wireless-N-class routers, though we can understand the need to concentrate on the 5GHz performance.
Even so, same-room and medium-distance tests were excellent.
In some respects besting wired 100BaseT Ethernet speeds, with an average of 12MB/s and peaks just over 13MB/s. One room and floor away and speeds were maintained at 10MB/s.
It wasn't until we tried at distance that things tailed off to 1.1MB/s, which was our only disappointment with the RT-N56U, but at 5GHz its three antenna maintained a decent 3.8MB/s transfer speed.
Unusually for a router it manages to pull off the twin design goal of looking aesthetically pleasing and offering an aesthetically pleasing web interface.
In fact its interface feels more like a standalone app than a web-based interface. It's slick, well presented, easy to navigate and speedy to use.
This makes setting up what in effect are two routers in one an easy and quick job. It also includes a WPS fast-setup button that ties into Windows 7 which can eliminate entering WPA keys. If you trust that sort of thing.
A barrage of status LEDs is tastefully implemented, while the USB ports can handle storage, printers and compatible 3G adaptors. That USB storage ties in beautifully with the UPnP capabilities so it doubles as a media streamer, bittorrent, FTP and HTTP download server too.
There's an awful lot to like about the ASUS RT-N56U from the aesthetic design of both the chassis to the slick web-based interface to its actual performance.
There's a confident air about every aspect of it and you really feel the engineers have the designed knowhow to squeeze every drop of performance from their hardware.
The Ai Radar technology certainly overcome any limitations of the 2.4GHz twin antenna to provide leading-class performance and 5GHz speed are equally impressive.
With only a question mark over its long-range performance, at this price it's certainly full-steam ahead for this ASUS router.