Web Based Interface
The RT-N13U uses the same default IP for access that the majority of routers do; 192.168.1.1. After the quick setup runs you can login and change the configuration to your heart's content. One of the first things I would recommend doing, if you did not do this using the setup wizard, is change the SSID and Admin Password. These two things will help (but will not prevent) someone from gaining access to the web setup.
The "home" page of the RT-N13U is fairly informative. Most routers take you to the system status page where you can see very little useful information. ASUS has opted for a more graphical page that shows the status in easy to understand icons. Here you see a connectivity tree that shows you the number of clients connected, if you have any USB devices attached and if you are connected or disconnected from the internet.
Along the right side of the window you will find information about your setup. This includes the SSID, Authentication mode, LAN IP, PIN code for WPS and a few other options. If you click on the client icon you can easily see the status of each client. You can also quickly change their priority on the network.
This is a nice feature if you have someone that is hogging up all the bandwidth in the house. You can (with the click of a mouse) reduce their traffic priority and free some up for the rest of the network. You can also block that device; clicking on block establishes a MAC address block so that even if the machine name and LAN IP change, it can still not access the router. As for the rest of the web interface on the RT-N13U, it is pretty much like others in its class with a few notable (and very nice exceptions).
The first on our list of nice added features is the Operating Mode page. Here you can view the operating mode of the RT-N13U. Your options are Router, AP and Repeater and are changed by the switch on the bottom of the RT-N13U we talked about earlier.
Each of these is pretty self-explanatory.
Next up on the RT-N13U list of handy features is the AI-Disk. This allows you to setup an "FTP" for internal or external use. To use this all you need is a USB drive. For my testing I used a Kingston DT200 64GB Flash Drive. Once you have the drive in place, all you have to do is go through a very simple three-step wizard to share files from the RT-N13U. If you want you can also setup advanced options for your file shares in the USB Application page.
Next we talk about the EZ-QoS page. This one is very nice for people that do not know (or want to know) about the complexities of QoS (Quality of Service). Instead, with a couple of clicks they can adjust their RT-N13U for the best performance based on the type of traffic they have.
The rest of the items are very similar to what you would have in every other router, with the exception of a WDS (wireless distribution service) tab on the wireless settings page. This is interesting as it allows the RT-N13U to act as a wireless bridge between other routers and access points. WDS is great for homes or offices that want to extend their wireless connectivity without the need to run a ton of cables.
There is a down side, though. If you are using mixed brands then the only wireless encryption allowed is WEP Open. This puts you at a great security risk. WEP is one of the least secure methods for wireless traffic. In fact, it usually can be broken in less than 10 minutes with the right tools (even less if you bring a GPGPU based system into play). If you want to use this nice feature I would recommend sticking with the same brands throughout the area.
One other important thing to note is that while WDS can extend range and make life easier, it also reduces the speed of your extra legs. If someone connects to a second tier AP in a WDS network, then their bandwidth is cut roughly in half. If you are on a third tier then the total is 1/4 what the whole is. For example, if you are connected at 150Mbps, and connect to a second tier AP, you have an effective bandwidth of 75Mbps. On a third tier it is 37.5 Mbps. So, it is important to keep that in mind when setting WDS up. We will be covering this in more detail in another article.