At a Glance
The Asus USB-AC53 provided significantly higher speeds at range than our test 802.11n laptop adaptor. The included clip to attach it to your laptop screen is well designed and makes this adaptor much more practical when moving your laptop around.
The Asus USB-AC53 is a wireless 802.11ac USB 2.0 dongle. The dongle itself sports a chequered pattern giving it a more premium look. The plastics and build quality are on par with the competing products like the D-Link DWA-182 and Netgear A6200, with some minimal creak and rattle as you handle the device. See all
Wi-Fi and Networking reviews.
There is a single button on the device for WPS connection to a wireless network. Also included is a stand on the end of a 1m USB cable. This provides both a method of vertically mounting the adaptor and more flexibility for placing it for better signal. The stand is of a significantly higher quality than that on other options we’ve seen. A very nice touch is the inclusion of a second shorter cable and clip to attach the unit to the top of a
laptop screen. The clip works well and did not cause any damage to the laptop.
The main potential benefit of the 802.11ac technology in this adaptor over an 802.11n setup which is more commonly found in today’s laptops is data throughput at range. One way it does this is through beam forming, which allows the router to detect the direction of the adaptor and provide a stronger signal towards it.
To test the performance of this adaptor and especially its performance at range we checked the data throughput under different conditions. Firstly at 1m distance between the router and adaptor, to determine maximum possible throughput.
Secondly at an 18m distance to check performance at range. Finally we tested at a much further 82m distance, to see how it copes with extreme range. A laptop using a 3×3 MIMO 802.11n setup was used to provide a comparison.
Under the 1m test the Asus USB-AC53 reached a speed of 200 Mb/s on the 5GHz spectrum (note that 11ac only works on this wave band). This is one of the the fastest results we’ve seen for USB dongles adaptor, the slowest producing 180 Mb/s and the fastest at 209Mb/s.
Meanwhile the test laptop on 802.11n saw a speed of 184 Mb/s. So at short distances you may see a modest but measurable performance increase with this ac adaptor over an 802.11n.
At greater distance things become more interesting. In the 18m test the adaptor sustained a speed of 176 Mb/s which eclipsed the 67 Mb/s of the 802.11n laptop setup. So at this range the Asus USB-AC53 adaptor showed over three times the data throughput.
In the 82m test the USB adaptor still produced an impressive 120 Mb/s which is considerably higher than the 87 Mb/s of the 802.11 laptop.
Asus USB-AC53: Specs
- 802.11ac wireless adaptor
- USB 2.0
- 2.4/5 GHz
- WPA2, WPS
- 96 x 26 x 12.4 mm
- 20 g