A few weeks ago we acquainted you with a motherboard by ASRock, which showed very good results in a very specific area – overclocking. After being completely satisfied by the ASRock Z170 OC Formula (full review), today we continue in the same ASRock “fashion” with another high-quality product offered by the Taiwanese company. We are so impatient to present to you the ASRock G10 Gaming Router – the gaming router that arrived in our office, so that we may test it and share our impressions with you.
Even though the company is mostly famous for its motherboards, ASRock offers other products, reinforcing the systems we use for exploration of the virtual world. This is exactly the case with the router we shall discuss in the present review, so without further ado – let’s get started!
More information about prices and availability of the ASRock G10 (AC2600) Gaming Router, you can find here: http://amzn.to/1XR6y0j
What’s in the box?
We were impressed by the box the very first time we saw it. At the front we find a very curious inscription “Make ’em PRAY” which makes us wonder what is so special about this machine, that makes its opponents “pray”. Apart from that, we see another device, which we shall discuss a bit later but also mention here as it is part of the package. It is a bonus device, the so called Dongle – we shall discuss its meaning and functionality in the lines to follow.
On the left are listed the contents of the box, the measures ASRock has taken to guard your communication, the additional software you can control your router with, and the Dongle, as well as the operating systems you can use it on. On the right you have the specs sheet explaining the meaning and designation of the different ports – very convenient if you don’t want to read the full specifications or the manual included in the package.
Inside the main box, there is a smaller one containing everything you need for the installation of your new router and the device itself – the ASRock G10 AC2600. Apart from the router and the manuals, we find the charger, a Micro USB cabel, an Ethernet cabel type RJ-45, and an HDMI connecting to the Dongle. We are pleasantly surprised to see that ASRock has provided two plugs – English and European.
Design, construction and technology
During the unboxing we noticed its unusual size (266.5 x 184 x 82 mm) and design. As usual, our first step is to thoroughly examine the appearance of the device. The ASRock G10 AC 2600 strongly resembles a skyscraper with unconventional shape, which makes it stylish and more impressing at first sight. It is black and is made of glossy plastic which translates int only one thing – magnets for fingerprints. Despite this fact, removing smudges is easy.
In the top right part you can see the indicator, showing the device’s status – if it’s on/off, and it can change colors depending on potential errors that can occur. In the top left corner, you can find one of the most important parts of the package – the Dongle. In our case, it was connected to the router, but don’t worry if you find it with the other contents of the box, as it is very easy to install it – you just slide it and the magnet takes care of the rest.
We shall now explain more abou the so called Dongle and its function. It resembles a normal fash drive, although its connector is HDMI, not USB. Also, its size is relatively small – 115 x 35 x 17.3 mm and weighs only 43 grams, which makes it easier for you to carry around throughout the day. Be not mislead by its size – it is multifunctional.
The Dongle has two powerful antenas and supports the IEEE 802.11n Wi-Fi standard, meaning that it can reach wireless speed of up to 300Mb/s. Apart from its dimensions, this is its first plus – thus, it can be used as a router because of its RJ-45 port, available at its end. This is an easy thing to do – first you power it up through the micro USB port and then connect the RJ-45 cable to the other port – thus you receive a stable router, supporting the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) 802.11а/b/g/n standards. In this way, you will never have problems with places where only one Ethernet cable is available, while more than one person needs Internet connection.
A second advantage of the device is hidden in its port. By wirelessly connecting the Dongle to your TV, you can use your mobile device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) as a data source which can be displayed on the big screen. If you have concerns about resolution in this kind of “operation”, don’t – the Dongle can process images with resolution of up to 1920 x 1080 (FHD). Another key moment is the support of operating systems. Fortunately, almost all operating systems are included in the list – iOS, Android and Windows, of course.
The front part of the router is quite interesting and aggressive. Its form is irregular and the surface – uneven. All this is due to the design, resembling two diamond edges and the embossed golden ASRock Gaming logo in the bottom, which adds extravagance and completeness. When turned to the right, the “sky scraper” in G10 AC2600 is manifested most clearly. Here you can see the LED indicator positioned at the top (resembling light signals in tall buildings which warn airplanes and other flying objects), and the “balconies” (cooling vents) as well as the dividing lines.
The back of the router is a bit different from the front. This time we have a vertical form with no protruding part and embossed inscription on it. Ddespite this, again we can see the unconventional surface refracting the reflecting environment in a really interesting and attractive way. You can find information about the password for the Internet connection, the MAC address, as well as the serial number of the device at the bottom. ASRock has added two rubber feet for maximum stability of the device, and they perform really well, unless you decide to tilt it not in the direction of the sides.
On the left, you can see all ports as well as the option to manipulated the Dongle. Starting from the bottom, we can find the charging port, an on/off button, two USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet port, four LAN ports (RJ-45), two buttons to choose from the 2.4GHz or 5GHz frequency range, and IR transmitters. We shall later discuss some of them in greater detail.
You may be wondering why we label the router as a “skyscraper”, apart from the obvious design reasons. Most routers are placed horizontally, but the ASRock G10 AC2600 can be only vertically positioned – it can’t be hung on a wall or placed otherwise. With this we end our observations of its design, and now we shall understand how it functions, what benefits it offers and what standards it uses.
After you were well acquainted with the capabilities of the Dongle, we shall now emphasize solely on the skyscraper ASRock G10 AC2600. The router features a SoC (System-on-a-chip), including the dual-core Qualcomm Atheros IPQ806 processor with base frequency of 1.4GHz, 512MB RAM, and 256GB of own storage. Perhaps you wonder why such a device needs such components. Well, it offers 8 antenas, four 2.4GHz accelerators and four 5GHz accelerators, making the ASRock G10 AC2600 a 4×4 router.
The second reason why this device has a dedicated memory and processor are the standards used by ASRock G10 and the type of multiplexing. The router can work at 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz frequency range, owing to the wireless standards it supports – 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. Now that you know that the Dongle covers all of them with the exception of AC, with speed of up to 300 Mbps, perhaps you are wondering what the maximum data transfer speed for the ASRock G10 AC2600 is.
You won’t be disappointed by the 802.11n standard (older wireless devices simply do not support the AC standard) at 2.4GHz, as its top speed used to be 600 Mbps, but now the ASRock G10 changes the status quo as it reaches up to 800 Mbps. With the 5GHz coverage and 802.11ac, the data transfer can reach the astonishing 1733 Mbps. Probably you are wondering how these high speeds are manageable.
As we mentioned above, the standards used by the router are 802.11n and the newer 802.11ac. The first one uses space-division multiplexing, through the process of which myriad data streams are being transmitted simultaneously between several antenas of the transmitter and receiver. In our case the configuration is 4×4 MIMO. Unfortunately, despite the fact that this is the first Wi-Fi substandard to use MIMO (multiple input multiple output), this is only the Single-User version of MIMO (SU MIMO). This means that in each and every moment the router can transmit/receive only to/from one endpoint device. If another active device is added, the speed and quality decrease.
This is not the case with the 802.11ac or more precisely with the so called “Wave 2”. The standard itself was approved in 2014, and “Wave 1” worked like the 802.11n standard. Despite this, the new wave does not use SU MIMO (Single user), it has MU MIMO, meaning that the data packs being sent by the router can be “distributed” to several devices, while preserving the quality. Since this is a gaming router, one would expect namley this function to be used most frequently, and this is one of good news with ASRock G10 AC2600. These functions are the reason why the Taiwanese company has added own memory and a processor, helping the snappy work.
|Support of wireless standards||802.11a/b/g/n/ac|
|Memory||256MB Flash and 512MB DRAM|
|Frequency range||2.4GHz & 5GHz simultaneously|
|Safety||WPA, WPA2,Mixed, WPS|
|Dimensions||266.5 x 184 x 82 mm|
Functions and applications
And now that we know how this device functions, the standards it uses for this “new record”, we shall have a look at the functions it offers (facilitating the manipulation with this device) and a number of options we can use to benefit from the so called IoT (Internet of Things), which is gradually entering the daily routine of many users.
This is one of the apps, proving once again that the router has been made chiefly for those of you who spend a good part of their lives in the world of virtual reality. You can find this option in the interface of the router itself that we shall have a look at in more detail below.
Its purpose is to fully reduce the lag while playing games – if many devices are connected to the router and you are downloading a file to one of them, it is normal that the speed will be restricted – it is namely there that Gaming Boost is activated. You set the speed that your device receives from the ASRock G10 in this mode, and in this way you can play your favorite games without worrying about any lags.
Yet another intriguing function! It is often the case that routers are constantly plugged in the socket, which more or less leads to lower lifespan of devices. Here, however, the nice Self-Healing option which restarts the ASRock G10 AC. If you are worried that it will restart while you are playing and thus interrupt your fun and cost you the victory, don’t. The setup and configuration of this option is entirely in your hands – the restart can happen at any point in a 24-hour day, leading to longer lifetime and better performance of the ASRock G10.
We mentioned earlier that the ASRock G10 AC 2600 has two USB ports. Perhaps you thought that their presnece is not at all a coincidence – on the contrary, there is a purpose behind them. Exactly, you can find them just below the WAN port. They let you configure your own file system, often referred to with the simple name NAS (Network-attached storage). Even though that usually the configuration of a “home” server is relatively difficult, here the setup is effortless – you simply need to connect a storage device and you’re ready. Nothing hard, right?
It’s not only easy to configure, but also it is easy to use. If you desire to use this function for the first time, you need to connect to the ASRock G10 AC2600, so that you may add it in the list of devices, after which it is not necessary to be directly connected to it – you just need to have Internet connection with which you can upload the files/data to your storage device, connected to the router.
Internet of Things (IoT)
Many of you have encountered the IoT abbreviation in our news and articles. This is due to the fact that Internet of Things is used more and more as a method of controlling certain physical objects via a computer network, and in this way entirely replacing the need of using a given device to control another such device (remote control for TVs, for example). The ASRock G10 AC2600 is part of the IoT family and offers easy control via IR rays.
The transmitters are located slightly below the Dongle port. You can download a mobile app, free of charge, and use it to control any device that can be manipulated by IR rays. To be able to use this function, you need to dowload the “ASRock Router” app from the Google Play/App Store and have IR-controllable devices. In our case, one such device is the airconditioner and we can share with you how the so called IoT works.
After you have downloaded the mobile app, you will need the remote control for the given device. Once you have it, we move on to step 2 – the IR control button which provides a list of the buttons the router has learned. At first you will be only able to press “Add New IR Control”. Then you give it a name (“turn device on”, for example) and open the settings of the new controller. You will find four options there – learn, test, clear and save. We need only two of them – learn and save. When you press the “learn” option, you need to point the remote control to the ASRock G10 AC2600 and press the button that will be used, under the name you have saved in the mobile app. Then it will “tell” you that it is remembering this signal – you just need to save the new information.
Once you are wirelessly connected to the router, you won’t need to be near the TV or to point you phone to the device in order for it to start working – you just need to press “turn on” and it will be switched on. This is valid for all other IR commands you have saved. If you think that some of them are unnecessary – you can remove them by pressing “Clear”.
Installation and settings
In fact, the installation of the ASRock G10 AC2600 is really easy, and the LED lights facilitate this process even more. When started, the router’s indicator is blue, which means that you are connected to the Internet. Wait after the blinking is over and see how it continues – if you see constant blue light, then you have Internet connection – congratulations! If you have constant or blinking yellow light, however, this means that the device failed to connect to the Internet.
To make the ASRock G10 AC2600 signal with only blue light, you need to connect it to the power supply and plug the WAN (yellow) cable, providing Internet. After you have performed this, the setup of the ASRock G10 AC2600 will appear on your desktop. If this does not happen, you can type in the following IP address “http://192.168.1.1/” and manually configure your router (if you are asked for a password – it is “admin”). You can find the Wi-Fi password at the bottom of the ASRock G10 AC2600. That’s all about the installation process, now we shall discuss the interface options and settings.
Once your device has been automatically configured, the home page will appear. You can see that it has several buttons, some of which are active. The first one is WAN – it provides information about the type of your connection, your IP, MAC and Gateway, and a few other options such as port scanning and DoS protection.
The second button is “Router”, which is slightly more important thant the latter as far as confidentiality is concerned. You can set the name and password of the wireless connection, as well as the type of network identification method. For those of you who will manually adjust the settings for the first time, we recommend WPA2-AES, as you can use your own password, while the Open option allows anyone to use your connection.
The “Client” button informs you of the number of connected devices (wirelessly or with a cable), their IP and MAC address. Additionally, the USB icon provides similar info – number of storage devices connected to the router (the maximum is 2), as well as the free and occupied storage space on them. This keeps you informed, without the need of removing either of them to check if they have the needed space. We now continue with the most important apps and options that are to be found in the Advanced menu.
The first submenu is Wireless. In comparison to the Router icon, here you can perform detailed configuration of your wireless connection – password, giving access to a select number of users, name of the network itself, the standard it uses (A or N), as well as the bandwidth. In addition, the second important submenu (mostly for gamers) is Gaming Boost. Earlier on we mentioned its functions and now we can summarize its options – on/off, data transfer speed (send/receive), priority of devices connected to the ASRock G10 AC2600.
Many users are also interested by the Parental Control submenu. Here you can set the time periods within which a device can use your Internet service. You can perform this by pressing the button under “Schedule” – you will then see the days of the week and each hour (from 0 to 24). After you have set everything, you simply press Apply and your plans are now in action.
Lastly, we shall examine the Administration menu. There are several options for those of you who want to alter the basic settings of the ASRock G10 AC2600. In the Router Status submenu you can find general info about the router and its wireless connections. On the other hand, the Operation Mode allows you to choose to use the device as a router or a repeater – the second option is used when you already have another router and you want to further increase its coverage.
The third submenu “Set password” allows you to change the username and password with the initial encounter with the interface (by default they are “admin”). “Firmware Upgrade” lets you update the software version, and the good news here is that you have a “Check and update” button, meaning that you won’t need to search the Internet, the system itself finds and installs the last version.
We reached the most interesting part – the performance of ASRock G10 AC2600 in the two tests that focus on the quality of the signal and its data transfer speed. The Internet speed test is not included, as the speed varies with every user – the most important thing is the coverage of the router. For this purpose, we performed several tests with different scenarios. The first of them is in close proximity to the device, then we gradually move away and also consider the walls between us, so that we may see the power of the signal it sends. We also used a second router – TP-Link, in order for us to see the quality of the ASRock G10 AC2600. Here we have the results…
In close proximity
In this case we decided to check the router’s performance at the simultaneously working two frequencies (2.4GHz and 5GHz). We were definitely happy with the results…
Moving further away
Okay, the ASRock G10 AC2600 is better for distances shorter than a meter, and this is why we decided to complicate things a bit. Because all mobile devices support 2.4GHz frequency range, we decided that the remaining tests will be at this frequency alone. Again, we have the two routers one next to the other, so that the comparison will be absolutely objective…
As we saw above, the quality of the ASRock G10 AC2600 is more than sufficient, and in some tests we even lost connection with the other router. In the images below, you can find a juxtaposition between the ASRock G10 AC2600 (first image) and TP-Link (second image) in terms of their speed and the significance of the components included by the Taiwanese company for the sake of the best possible performance.
We now end this review with a very good opinion. From the very beginning, the ASRock lent us a helping hand by automatically showing the web page or the so called interface, with the help of which we configured our router. After we configured it and connected several machines, no change of speed was to be noticed. This is due to the standard it supports – 802.11ac or the MU-MIMO technology, to be more precise. Indeed, this will appeal to the users that have more than one device in their room and are connected namely to the ASRock router, as well as to the gamers who don’t want lowering of the speed because some file is being dowloaded.
Apart from this standard, gamers receive another technology, which can prevent potential lowering of speed which is the source of lags. Gaming Boost is to be found in the router’s interface and is quite easy to use. The only thing you have to consider is your Internet speed, because you need to set the minimum reachable speed in the menu.
Another key technology which has been facilitated with the ASRock G10 AC2600 is NAS. Normally, to configure your own cloud server, you need a lot of time and patience. However, the Taiwanese comapny has taken care of all that with the help of the USB 3.0 ports, which also offer higher speed than USB 2.0.
We are mostly impressed by the infrared technology, allowing us to replace the remote controls in our office and home – this, of course, would not have been possible, unless we had a smartphone to download the ASRock Router app. A small detail here is that the ASRock G10 AC2600 has to be near the device it collects data from. After all, routers are meant for Internet connectivity, and we can only positively accept the bonus technology.
The only disadvantage, almost negligible, is the design. The ASRock G10 AC2600 can be placed only vertically. Some of you may wonder why we are calling this a minus. Think about the cables connected to the device. With time they start leaning toward the ground and if their quality is not the best, some of their fibers may not withstand the power of gravity.
More information about prices and availability of the ASRock G10 (AC2600) Gaming Router, you can find here: http://amzn.to/1XR6y0j
- Easy installation
- New 802.11n speed record
- MU-MIMO technology, allowing you to connect more devices to the router, without drastically decreasing the Internet speed
- Support of NAS configuration
- Internet of Things mode, thanks to the IR ports
- Free Dongle, that can instantly turn into a router
- Beautiful but not quite effective design