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ASRock G10 Gaming Router Review

AkG

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Oct 24, 2007
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5,270
When searching for an optimal lag-free solution for online gaming, buyers typically go towards wired internet solutions since they tend to offer the best bandwidth and connection uptime. However, with the advent of 5GHz Wireless AC, WiFi has come all that much closer to achieving what gamers need and companies have begun to take advantage of that fact with new so-called “gaming grade” routers. While products from ASUS, Netgear and Linksys are the most visible in today’s market, ASRock is now introducing their own unique option: the G10 Gaming Router.

ASRock is a company known for their outside the box thinking and value-oriented mindset. Before many other companies jumped on the whole gaming motherboard bandwagon ASRock was there. When DDR3 was expensive but DDR2 was cheap, ASRock was there with innovative solutions that granted the ability to use older memory on newer systems. Basically if there is a company known for thinking so far outside the box that you can no longer even see the box it is ASRock. One thing they are not known for is their networking solutions which is why the G10 may feel like a breath of fresh air.

Today’s wireless router marketplace is not exactly bereft of excellent choices so in order to not just get noticed, but actually make a dent in the likes of Linksys, D-Link, and ASUS’ bottom-line ASRock has pulled out all the stops and included a lot of nifty features usually not seen in a consumer-grade router.

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These included features run the gamut from IR learning abilities which allow you to control your TV via a free Android App, to an included removable H2R device. Before we get too far here the H2R does require a bit of explaining since it could be a serious value-add for some users. It is both a 2x2 travel router and a Miracast-capable dongle so it can either be used as a portable multi user mini-router when on the road, or to push audio/video to a TV from an Android / iOS device. This is certainly not a feature found with most routers but it is the router itself that will make or break ASRock’s first serious foray into 802.11AC marketplace.

ASRock are obviously fully aware of their lack of street-cred in this segment and and as such (on paper at least) the G10 does seem built to offer a laundry list of capabilities. First and foremost, the G10 is what is commonly referred to as “Wave 2” MU-MIMO router since it has all the latest features that the second generation of 802.11AC technology brings to the table. That means optimizations for simultaneous streaming and gaming on multiple devices so every user receives an adequate allocation of the router’s resources. There’s also advanced beamforming technology which optimizes performance and enhances overall coverage metrics.

Past the more static features this is a 4x4 capable router and happens to be one of the fastest non-Xstream routers available today. The G10 is rated for AC2600 speeds, which breaks down as 1733Mbps on the 5GHz 802.11AC band and a whopping 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz 802.11N band. Yes that is indeed correct and not a typo; this thing is indeed able to break the 600Mbps mark on the still widely used 802.11N band.

The fun doesn’t stop here either. The G10 has a massive 512MB of RAM and a dual core 1.4GHz Qualcomm Atheros IPQ8064 SoC, dual USB 3.0 ports for homebrew NAS abilities and eight internal antennas for true 2 x 4:4 abilities. On the surface at least there is certainly a lot to like about the G10. However, what really is impressive and sure to grab people’s attention is the asking price. At $250 this router may not be the least expensive around but for a AC2600 class device with a ton of add-on features, it may be one of the better values to hit retail shelves recently.

<div align="center"><img src="http://images.hardwarecanucks.com/image/akg/Networking/ASRock_G10/mfg.jpg" border="0" alt="" /></div>
 
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AkG

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A Closer Look at the ASRock G10 Router

A Closer Look at the ASRock G10 Router



It appears that 2015 is the year of the aggressive angular lines and form over function router designs. As with a lot of routers we have recently looked at ASRock has taken a page for Netgear (who arguably started this whole craze with their “NightHawk” series) and made the G10 quite aggressive looking. This is particularly interesting as ASRock goes out of their way to state that this router’s design concept was to make it a piece of art, one that could be the centerpiece to a gaming room.

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Whether you consider this design aesthetic to be a positive or a negative will depend greatly on your age and your opinion on objects d’art. In either case the G10 is certainly attention getting but we do have to wonder what will happen with antenna performance considering they are all housed within that angular casing.

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Thankfully this router does have the hardware specifications to back up this braggadocio act. We will go over the specifics in a moment but for the time being let’s just say that the G10 belongs to a new breed of routers that are loosely grouped together into the ‘Wave 2’ header.

Wave 1 was the original 802.11AC routers that brought to the world a new meaning of the word ‘fast’ for wireless devices. However, while they have insanely high paper specifications it really took multiple units to take advantage of the ultra-wide 802.11AC network bus.

Wave 2 sets out to change this by not starting from scratch as the industry did every single time it wanted to improve wireless Ethernet (ie ‘A’ begot ‘B’ who sired ‘G’ who gave the world ‘N’ who fathered ‘AC’) and instead have figured out new ways to make 802.11AC better. These technologies include greatly improved beam-forming which allows the router to boost the signal strength to specific devices by taking into account interference, such as walls and furniture, to improve reception and work with its surroundings instead of the brute force approach that first gen devices basically relied upon.

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This however is only the tip of the ice berg. The big improvement to Wave 2 routers is MU-MIMO or Multi User Multiple-Input & Multiple-Output. Unlike original MIMO, MU-MIMO provides MIMO to multiple users simultaneously. In the past Wave 1 would basically do all its magic for one device at a time in a first come first serve manner, but now it spreads benefits across multiple devices without micro-stutters or higher latency. This takes a massive increase in processing power and that is why the RAM and CPU itself is beefed up in this new Wave 2 devices.

Unfortunately, as we saw with ASUS and their Wave 2 models like the RT-AC87U this improvement in performance only happens on congested networks and with multiple users all accessing the network at the same time. On a clear network it doesn’t make that much of a difference. Thankfully this is a gaming orientated router and as such is expected to be used by multiple devices at the same time.

In either case, this is where the other trick Wave 2 routers have comes into the equation. As with the RT-AC87U, the ASRock G10 uses a four channel route design so it can send and receive four spatial streams at the same time instead of just three. In addition, when only using three spatial streams the G10 can make use of its additional antennas to improve the efficiency of the beam forming it does. In other words, it will only use the one, two, or three sets of antennas with the best signal reception at any time when dealing with ‘older’ wireless devices.

This adaptability is a great addition as the ASRock G10 makes use of eight internal antennas. Internal antenna arrays have some limitations when compared against exterior arrays since they are placed close to the other unshielded electronics which can cause a minor amount of interference. However, Wave 2 has mitigated some of the ‘damage’ that using internal arrays would normal cause so the G10’s performance shouldn’t be overly handicapped.

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Getting back to the overall layout and design, the ASRock G10 can only be placed in a vertical orientation and it can’t be hung on a wall. For most routers this would be a major handicap, but the G10 has been designed in this way for a reason. We will get to that reason in a moment but it is worth pointing out that its layout will put undue stress on any wired Ethernet cables that are attached and may even cause premature port failure as gravity places more stress on the port’s top area and less on the bottom half.

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On the positive side, ASRock has done a very good job in spacing out the various I/O ports and while the back area will be bit cluttered with all ports in use, actually using them all is actually easier than with most routers.

At the top (or in this case left) and working downwards there is the removable H2R dongle, the IR transmitters, a separate WPS buttons for the 5GHz and 2.4 GHz networks, the four Gigabit LAN ports, the lone (yellow) WAN port, two USB 3.0 ports, a small recessed Reset button, the power button, and lastly the power adapter port for the external power brick.

The one major feature missing from the G10 router is a front I/O LED panel. We personally prefer LED panels as they allow for instant diagnosis of many issues and generally make troubleshooting much easier. Luckily, the top front of this device has a large led that blinks different colors and can double as a diagnostic LED.

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One of the most unique and downright interesting features of this router is the fact that it has built-in IR transceivers. This is actually the first router we know of to boast such a feature and it opens up a who other box of possibilities for the ASRock G10. Basically this router can easily intercept and retransmit any IR signals that you send from basically any IR-based remote control. In simple terms this means it can not only learn but then act as multi-remote device similar to what Logitech and their ‘Harmony’ series offers…or at least that is the theory.

In testing the G10 did indeed pick up and learn our various remote control functions across multiple devices. This is impressive to say the least but unfortunately the built-in transceiver leaves a lot to be desired and renders this feature less usable that one would believe. The problem is that the IR receiver and transmitters are built directly into the unit itself and have an exceedingly narrow focal width. This means a device like the G10 which is meant to be tucked into a corner and ‘out of sight out of mind’ has to be placed directly in the path between the user and the TV/Amp/HTPC/etc. and placing it so more than one device can be controlled is damn difficult to say the least.

This issue could have easily been alleviated if ASRock has taken a page directly from Logitech and their higher end Harmony series. All that would have needed to be done was to include more USB ports dedicated to remote IR transmitters and this in turn would have allowed consumers the flexibility to place the G10 so it could properly interface with secondary IR-based devices.

Needless to say making this cool feature an actually useablee would have made this already pricey router more expensive. In its current form it needlessly adds to the cost of the G10 without actually being all the useful for most users, other than those who have all their devices in the same room.

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Cracking open the case and peaking inside left us rather puzzled. On the one hand the internals of this router are amazingly clean and there is obviously enough room around the PCB for passive airflow. However, heatsinks are pretty much non-existent other than an odd metal covering which doesn’t even come into contact with the plastic case. The two metal ‘cans’ you see are for the radios, act as EMI shields and do not cover the hot-running SoC.

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While we are sure that the Qualcomm chipset does run cooler than some other more classical SoC processors the fact of the matter is it does not run that cool. We honestly believe that overheating and throttling during extended high bandwidth usage is a real possibility, particularly in the summer months. This would likely become quite evident when using all the “gaming” features like QoS and MU-MIMO since they require more processor cycles. While we didn’t experience any hiccups during our gaming sessions, it is winter here in the great white North and we don’t have the capability to put this thing into a hot box. Stay tuned for updates.

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As to the specifics, the G10 makes use of the new Qualcomm ‘Atheros’ IPQ8064 SoC. This multi core, 1.4 GHz controller acts as the brains of the unit and is an extremely potent choice. It is made up of two Krait 300 processors each of which runs at 1.4GHz, and makes use of two (each at 730MHz) network accelerator engines to help boost overall network performance.

Unlike most other routers both the 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz networks are controller by the same chipset, the Qualcomm ‘Atheros’ QCA9980 which boasts Wave 2 802.11AC capabilities. Amongst the long list of features it brings to the table, the QCA9980is also capable of 4x4 configurations per network. This is why there are eight of the internal dipole antennas. Sadly, as you can see these ‘antennas’ are not precisely awe inspiring in their build quality nor their layout.

As this is a true 4x4 router the G10 is capable of 1733Mbps on the sole 5GHz 802.11AC network and a 800Mbit/s on the 2.4GHz 802.11N network. Backstopping these potent abilities, and helping the SoC keep up with the demands, ASRock has used 512MB of RAM and 256MB of NAND for caching purposes. That is a combination that is rarely seen on consumer grade routers.
 
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SKYMTL

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ASRock’s H2R Dongle & Software

ASRock’s H2R Dongle & Software


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Held in place via a hidden magnet in the G10’s top area resides the other really, really distinctive feature: the removable H2R dongle. This is a dual use device that will appeal to a broad range of users. Its main focus is to provide HDMI Miracast abilities much like Google’s ChromeCast adapter. In essence that means you plug this handy little tool directly into a TV’s free HDMI port (or via the included HMDI extension) and then using the free ‘EZ Cast’ App on your compatible device (Android-based or Apple), wirelessly play movies on your big screen HDTV. Meanwhile, the H2R receives power from the TV’s USB port via the included USB to micro USB adapter.

In testing with a Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and two ASUS Nexus 7 (2013) models (one running Lollipop the other running Marshmallow) the H2R device did indeed live up to its billing….sort of. First and foremost, Miracasting introduces a lot of lag and a certain amount of compression artifacts into the equation.

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In addition, the vital piece of is not made by ASRock and as such the H2R’s stability, and usability as a Miracast device is totally and completely at the mercy of a third party. ASRock should have taken the time to ‘role their own’ program to take advantage the G10’s countless features. More to the point the EZCast program is an obvious work in progress that crashed on numerous occasions on our Android devices. The only device that was reasonably stable was the Samsung tablet which is running a customized, jail-broken version of KitKat.

In the coming months we assume ASRock will work with the makers of EZCast to fine-tune the program for stability and usability, but given the limitations that Miracasting brings to the table (and can’t be fixed by ASRock) this accessory certainly won’t be replacing HTPC’s or even dedicated media playing devices anytime soon.

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Thankfully the H2R has another ace up its sleeve: it can also be used as a 2:2 wireless access point. First plug the dongle into any device with a USB port capable of powering it or any USB wall adapter (one can be purchased separately from ASRock). Then plug the H2R’s WAN port into an Ethernet connection with the included RJ45 cable and presto you have a fairly decent 802.11A/b/g/n wireless network for multiple devices. While it may not offer 802.11AC abilities since the underlying AM8250 chipset is not capable of AC performance, the compact H2R is still perfect for the road warrior who spend a lot of time in hotel rooms where there is only one Ethernet port and wireless connectivity is spotty at best.

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The wireless network created by the H2R is rather limited in size, but we consider this a good thing – especially if you are paying for internet connection bandwidth in a hotel room. Also note that this dongle uses is a standard mini-USB port that requires less than 1A of 5V power so you can simply use a USB battery pack to run it.
 

AkG

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Setup and Installation

Setup and Installation


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Setup and installation procedures for both the G10 and the H2R are very similar but different enough to warrant their own walk through and explanations. Starting with the G10, simply plug in the router and either connect to it wirelessly (it will automatically broadcast its two SSIDs and the default passwords come printed on a piece of paper and on the bottom of the router) or plug in directly with an Ethernet cable. We recommend the latter as this way you can easily modify the default network names without interruption, but either method works fine.

Once connected, open up your web browser of choice and type in http://Router.ASRock.com. This will open up a very red, and very retro looking web interface that will walk you through the configuration process. This procedure will only take a few moments if you keep the wireless networks SSID and passwords the same. However, if you don’t want to use the installation wizard, it can easily be skipped and in its place the dashboard can be utilized to manually configure the G10.

If you are only interested in a very simple network then the wizard will be good enough but we still recommend the dashboard and its manual configuration for users who want to fully customize the router and the networks. Either way works, but the dashboard does give more complete and fine-grain control over the process.

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H2R meanwhile is first and foremost a Miracast device with wireless access point abilities added in. As such its installation is a touch trickier and really will come down to what the it will be used for. None of this is clearly laid out in the included pamphlet and to be honest the installation procedure ASRock recommends is bordering on asinine if you are more interested in the Access Point abilities over Miracast streaming. As such, when the installation pamphlet tells you to first connect the H2R to a TV to get the SSID and default password….don’t. It is a waste of time. Instead grab that handy little piece of paper that comes with the G10 and on it will be the default SSID and password of the H2R.

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With this in mind, all users need to do is plug the H2R into to a wall outlet or computer using the included micro USB cable, wait a few seconds for the device to power on and start broadcasting its SSID and then connect to its ‘network’ via your tablet, computer, or even phone.

When asked give it the password for the network and throw the instructions out. Once connected navigate to 192.168.203.1 which will open up a very simple and elegant web interface that puts the G10’s to shame. Here you will find all the various options in neat rows.

Navigate down to the mode option and change it from Miracast to Mirror + AP. Then change the default output from 720P to 1080P. This way your device will not only be ready for all occasions but it will also provide the best quality possible. ASRock could have done much better here since the H2R's setup process is needlessly complicated.
 
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AkG

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G10 Router Interface

G10 Router Interface


When you open up a browser and start to use the ASRock web interface, certain terms and phrases will spring to mind. We will not list all of them, instead the one that is most apt…and most G-rated…is that this interface is best describes as Geo-Cities retro chic. We are not exactly sure what aesthetic the web designers at ASRock were aiming for, but if they wanted to truly bring back the interfaces of decades gone by they should have included a few more 8-bit graphics. Folks, this thing isn’t what we would expect from a $200 router, let alone a $50 one.

What we have here is a wasteful use of page space and an interface that’s overly quirky and lackluster in its abilities. Considering the almost ground-breaking abilities of the G10, its interface feels partially complete and utterly unfriendly when compared to alternatives from ASUS, Netlink, Belkin, D-Link and pretty much every other router manufacturer.

On the positive side this UI is lightning quick without any noticeable lags between loading pages. In addition it is a router interface, and the fact of the matter is that once a router is set up…this interface can be safely ignored. Of course if you want it to learn your remote control’s settings, or use any of the advanced abilities you will have to get used to this abomination, but for most their exposure to it will be limited.

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The actual user interface consists of the typical vertical menu layout with extra-large ‘3D’ buttons for that extra 90’s vibe. These are the main sections upon which you can then navigate to the various subsections, some of which actually have misaligned backgrounds.

The topmost area is the Wireless section with a sub-list with four options. These are fairly self-explanatory in nature; the 2.4GHz and 5GHz sub-sections allow you modify these two critical network while there’s also the ability to change the transmission power output – which will certainly come in handy for covering larger areas.

The Guest and WPS sub-sections are equally self-explanatory but there’s a bit more here than what first meets the eye. We actually like the WPS section as it offers users the ability to choose between two WPS options which makes things much easier as WPS rarely works with 100% effectiveness. Unfortunately, the Guest section is rather basic since it does allow for the creation of up to six (3 per network) guest networks but beyond basic configuration ASRock gives no real in-depth abilities. In addition the duration of how long the network will last is equally limited.

For anyone who wants to create a guest network for a long weekend LAN party, this limitation will become glaringly obvious and annoying. So much so that most will simply give guest access to their promary networks and thus defeating the whole purpose of this feature.

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The LAN section has the usual Local Area Network configuration options including the IP range, DHCP server settings and the like. With that being said if you are looking for Jumbo Frame configuration you will not find it here since this section is well-rounded but a bit dated in its abilities.

The WAN section on the other hand does have a very good list of features. In addition to the usual suspects such as port forwarding, port trigger, and DMZ abilities, ASRock has also included the ability to use different DDNS service providers. This will not interest the average gamer but for anyone whose ISP uses a particularly slow DDNS server this might just be what the doctor ordered.

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Compared to most modern routers the QoS or Quality of Service feels dated and lackluster in its abilities. This is doubly true when compared to to ASUS’ latest routers and their Adaptive QoS. Instead of these advanced features G10 buyers can expect to find a simple user-interface where they can create rules upon which the router will judge and prioritize packages. Thus, if you wish to spend the time in advance setting up detailed rules then QoS can help reduce latency but it will be time consuming and will only net moderate improvements unless a network is extremely congested. If ASRock as hoping to selling gaming enthusiasts on this router these abilities are not going to cut it.

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Much like the QoS section, the Parental Control and Firewall sections seem like previous-generation offerings. For all intents and purposes, users can easily set up rules that will limit access to websites, or even the entire Internet in these areas. But these days, that just doesn’t cut it. We have yet to see a tech savvy child who cannot figure out a way around these basic limiters as even a simple VPN or PeaceFire.org web bypass will happily circumvent it. In the simplest terms this security theatre won’t cut it in today’s ecosystem.

On the positive side the G10 does have a nice big shiny button called ‘Game Boost’ that will automatically prioritize online gaming over everything. In testing this did work quite well but the benefits will once again be limited to those scenarios where there’s a lot of network congestion. On a clear network it won’t make that much of a difference.

At least the Firewall section does have built in (yet basic) DDos protection but that is a fairly common on modern routers and only noteworthy because of the lack of other tangible features found in this interface.

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As its name suggests the USB Application section deals with everything USB related. Here consumers will be able to create USB-based Network Attached Storage, as well as create a Media Server. Compared to some routers this section is a little sparse as the Media Server options are severely limited. On the positive side, this page also includes the ability to configure a network printer via the Network Printer Server.

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The Administration section is where you would find all the usual administrative related tasks such as changing the login password, setting the router to repeater, Access Point, or Media bridge mode or even just updating the firmware.

One interesting addition is the ‘Self-Healing’ abilities of this router. Basically this section allows the router to be automatically rebooted and do a POST. While this may not sound all that important it can be vital for troubleshooting.
 
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AkG

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Test System & Testing Methodology

Testing Methodology


Testing wireless devices is not as easy as you would think. Yes you can simply connect to it and push a bunch of file across the network while timing it but this only tells half of the story and does not explain why speeds can vary. To obtain a more clear picture of how good – or bad – a networking device is, more is needed in the form of a multi-step testing approach.

The first step consists of accurately measuring signal strength. A good strong signal is a prerequisite of high performance. If a device can barely send or receive a signal, the speeds will be very low as both devices will opt for a slower connection speed to compensate.

To test signal strength we use inSSIDer, a program which can graph signal strength of all wireless signals being received by the computer’s wireless NIC.

The second step consists of synthetic bandwidth testing to show the potential performance of a given wireless configuration. For this test we have chosen Lan Speed Test. This free program can test both transmission and reception performance and do so in an easy to use and highly repeatable way. For clarity sake we have averaged both the transmission and reception performance into one aggregate number.

The last step is real world testing. This test consists of 10GB worth of small file and large file mixture which will be pushed from one wireless connected computer to a second computer connected via wired Ethernet. Testing will be done via MS RichCopy. For clarity sake we have averaged both the transmission and reception performance into one aggregate number.

If the device supports wired transmission, wired Ethernet to wired Ethernet real world performance will also be included using the same 10GB of data used for the wireless test.

If a given wireless device is labeled as “entertainment” or marketed as being entertainment centric, a secondary real world test will be included in the form of using the device for wireless HD media streaming. This test will be a pass/fail affair.

To test all sections, we have further created four unique and distinct scenarios in which all testing will be done. The first test is labeled “Zone 1” and it consists of a twelve foot ‘line of sight’ distance between the router and the wireless NIC with no walls or obstructions between the two. This replicates having the router in one end of a small room and the wireless device at the other. It is unlikely to be encountered all that often but it will test a best case scenario performance of the device being tested.

The second test consists of an eighteen foot separation with a single interior non-load bearing wall separating a wireless device and the router. We have labeled this “Zone 2” as it is much more common and is still a very optimal setup for a wireless home networking. This test replicates you having your wireless device in an adjoining room to the router.

The third test is labeled “Zone 3” and consists of having the router in the corner of the basement with the wireless device trying to connect in the second story room at the extreme diagonal end from the routers location. This is still a fairly common occurrence in home networks with numerous walls, floors, pipes, wires, etc. and even other electronic devices in the intervening distance. This is not an optimal configuration but a very common one none the less. This will test the abilities of both the router and wireless NIC to connect and communicate with each other.

The fourth test is labeled “Zone 4” and is an extreme test. While the router is still in the basement we have paced off 400 feet from it outside the testing facility. This replaces those times a person is outdoors and wishes to use his home network to connect to the Internet or other devices connected to the home network. With fewer walls but much greater distances this test is extremely demanding and many will not be able to successfully complete it. Thus it will separate the truly good from the merely adequate devices.

For all tests, four runs will be completed and only the averages of all four will be shown.

When possible both 5Ghz as well as 2.4GHz Bands will be used for all tests with each getting their own separate results.

All tests will carried out via a “clear” network in order to maximize repeatability and minimize factors outside of our control.

For information purposes here is the theoretical maximum each network connection is capable of:


10Mbits/s = 1,250 KBytes/s
100Mbit/s = 12,500 KBytes/s
150Mbit/s = 18,750 KBytes/s
300Mbit/s = 37,500 KBytes/s
450Mbit/s = 56,250 KBytes/s
1000Mbit/s = 125,000 KBytes/s
1300Mbit/s = 162,500 KBytes/s
1734Mbit/s = 216,750 KBytes/s
2334Mbit/s = 291,750 KBytes/s
2400Mbit/s = 300,000 KBytes/s
2600Mbit/s = 325,000 KBytes/s
3200Mbit/s = 400,000 KBytes/s


Full System Used:


Processor: Core i7 5930K
Motherboard: Asus Sabretooth TUF X99
Memory: 32GB Crucial Ballistix Elite DDR4
Graphics card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780
Hard Drive: Intel 1.2TB NVMe 750
Power Supply: XFX 850
 
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AkG

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Performance Testing: USB 3.0 Bandwidth

Performance Testing USB 3.0


While USB has indeed be a mainstay of ASUS routers for as long as we can remember, the AC68U was the first high performance router that also provides USB 3.0 and not just USB 2.0 ports. As most consumers know USB 3.0 brings numerous enhancements to the table including higher bandwidth potential and increase power over USB capabilities. As we have seen many times in the past, reality sometimes can wildly differ versus theory and there are numerous ‘USB 3.0’ devices which actually perform at the same levels as their previous USB 2.0 counterparts.

To see exactly how much capabilities USB 3.0 adds to the router we devised a very simple test. Using an empty Seagate GoFlex Slim 320GB device we connected it to the USB 3.0 a port of the router. We then configured it as a network drive and using MS RichCopy measured the performance via wired, 2.4GHz wireless and 5GHz wireless networks.

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While not the fastest device we have ever seen the G10 does post some pretty darn good numbers. For most consumers all they need to do is add a USB drive or two and they would have a very good performance NAS solution.
 
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AkG

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Signal Strength Testing & Synthetic LAN Performance

Signal Strength Tests


A good strong signal is a prerequisite of high performance wireless networking. If a device can barely send or receive a signal, the speeds will be very low as both devices will opt for a slower connection speed to compensate. To test signal strength, we use inSSIDer, a program which can graph signal strength of all wireless signals being received by the computer’s wireless NIC.

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Synthetic Tests


For synthetic performance testing to show the potential performance of a given wireless configuration. For this test we have chosen Lan Speed Test. This free program can test both transmission and reception performance and do so in an easy to use and highly repeatable way. For clarity sake we have averaged both the transmission and reception performance into one aggregate number.

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SKYMTL

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Real World Performance Testing

Real World Performance Testing


For real world testing we have taken 10GB worth of small file and large file mixture and pushed from one wireless connected computer to a second computer connected via wired Ethernet. Testing will be done via MS RichCopy. For clarity sake we have averaged both the transmission and reception performance into one aggregate number.

If the device supports wired transmission, wired Ethernet to wired Ethernet real world performance will also be included using the same 10GB of data used for the wireless test.


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We were a tad disappointed with both the wired and wireless abilities of the G10 considering its on-paper specifications. We were expecting a performance drop-off as the G10 router was moved further and further away from our reception device since the internal antenna layout isn't the best and certainly not in the same league as the external arrays that ASUS, Linksys, D-Link, and other manufactures offer.

On the other hand the wired performance was puzzling. In this day and age this level of performance is rather slow. Obviously ASRock considered wired performance to be of little concern and it is the firmware –rather than the controller – that is culprit here. Maybe ASRock should spend a few more processor cycles on this critical area and less in other areas.

The included H2R did post some very respectable numbers that should easily allow a typical road-warrior worry free wireless connectivity.
 

AkG

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
Messages
5,270
Conclusion

Conclusion


When an established company makes their first foray into a firmly established market, we never know what to expect. Naturally there’s a certain amount of risk involved, especially when designing a brand new product that’s meant to compete against entrenched alternatives. ASRock approached these challenges face-first by introducing the G10, a router that has some incredible specifications, a stupidly long feature list and a pretty aggressive pricing structure.

When looking at the G10 from a raw performance standpoint, there’s a whole lot to like but still some areas that left us scratching out heads. There’s some extremely competitive throughput on its 2.4GHz and 5GHz wireless bands, to the point where it can compete against and in certain cases even surpass some of the best routers we have tested to date. Our Zone 1 and Zone 2 tests show that in a typical home environment the G10 can provide a strong, high bandwidth Wireless AC connection to supporting devices. However as you move further afield from the router to a house’s second storey or outside in a yard, performance tends to drop like a stone. It seems like no amount of beamforming or output power can completely compensate for an internal antenna array of limited size.

Past the wireless connectivity, many gamers will still choose to utilize at least one wired connection for their main system and this runs us into one of the more serious downfalls of the G10. Its wired bandwidth casts a pale shadow when compared to every other router –both high and low end models- we’ve tested. There’s a distinct possibility this is a result of immature firmware but it could also be caused by chipset throttling due to an overtaxed and almost nonexistent internal cooling system.

Another minor concern for us is the user interface which seems to be ripped right out of Byzantine times. It may be quite responsive but its design is anything but intuitive and several options we would normally expect to find on gaming-grade routers aren’t present. Luckily, this is something ASRock can easily adjust in future firmware revisions.

While we may have some minor gripes here and there, the ASRock G10 packs a load of useful features, some of which are bound to improve as the platform matures. The MU-MIMO really helps in load balancing for multiple streaming devices, its IR Learning technology can provide a hub for control over multiple home appliances through the ASRock Router App and Self Healing can save your bacon if there’s a hardware-based router issue. We also appreciated the G10’s easy setup process and dual USB ports for easy NAS storage access. It’s extremely hard, if not impossible, to find all of these items packed into a single networking device.

One of the most interesting additions here is the H2R dongle. It is a surprisingly robust and easy to utilize networking access point for all your travel needs while also pulling double duty as a Miracast adapter for streaming content from a compatible device to your HDTV. However, while the access point functionality works extremely well, even after years on the market the Miracast ecosystem still isn’t stable or fully fleshed out. ASRock can’t be blamed for this in any way but the crashes, connectivity issues and other problems with their Miracast-compatible app don’t inspire confidence. Regardless of the Miracast hiccups the H2R is a huge value-add since purchasing each of those features separately would likely cost about $75.

As a first foray into the high end wireless market, the ASRock G10 is a very competitive product that offers a metric ton of features and nearly limitless functionality options. However, this jack of all trades approach may have also made it a master of none. A wireless router’s primary function – that is to offer seamless, broad range wired and wireless connectivity – seems to have been sacrificed in their rush to distinguish the G10’s add-ons and exterior design. With that being said, if you are in the market for a higher end gaming router that doesn’t cost $300, offers excellent medium range wireless performance and you will actually find uses for its various extras, consider the G10 as an option. Just be aware of its relative immaturity but also the G10’s potential to grant a more seamless experience in the future provided ASRock properly supports it.
 
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