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ASUS PCE-AC66 Wi-Fi AC1750 PCIe Wireless Adapter Review

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ASUS PCE-AC66 Wi-Fi AC1750 PCIe Wireless Adapter Review

By Bruce Normann

Manufacturer: ASUSTeK Computer Inc.
Product Name: Dual Band Wireless AC1750 Gigabit PCIe Adapter
Model Number: PCE-AC66
UPC: 886227293902
Price As Tested: $99.99 (NewEgg | Amazon)

Full Disclosure: The product sample used in this article has been provided by ASUSTeK.

The ASUS PCE-AC66 802.11ac wireless PCIe adapter is currently the only wireless adapter I know of, that allows you to experience the wonders of 3-Stream IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi. It won’t be the last, for sure, because the gains in wireless throughput are too good to pass up. There are several significant changes in the new 802.11ac standard, and upping the maximum allowable number of spatial streams is one of them. Theoretically, eight individual streams are supported by 802.11ac, but the new chips from Broadcom top out at three streams on a single IC. That’s enough to push 1.3Gbps across the airwaves on the 5GHz Wi-Fi band, which is probably where the consumer devices will stay. There are several wireless adapters on the market that are capable of handling two streams, but right now the PCE-AC66 is alone at the top of the 802.11ac heap, with three streams and the data rates to match.

The new IEEE 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard is not officially approved, but it does appear to be stable, and there are products on the market already from all the serious players in wireless networking. While 802.11n was a step forward, and many of us have been appreciative of the additional legroom that the 5GHz band allows, there was still plenty of room left for improvement in Wi-Fi performance. It didn’t take long for wireless communication vendors like Broadcom to release new silicon that exploits the many enhancements available in the new standard. The ASUS PCE-AC66 wireless adapter is designed to take full advantage of the higher throughput and expanded signal coverage that’s available with the latest 802.11ac chips that are now available.

ASUS_RT-AC66U_802.11ac_Wireless_AC1750_Dual-Band_PCIe_Adapter_Box_Front_01

The PCE-AC66 wireless PCIe Adapter has three high gain external antennas, and the adapter is designed so that each of them can transmit and receive simultaneous 2.4GHz and 5GHz signals. With three data streams running concurrently on each band, you have concurrent access to throughputs of 450Mb/s on the 2.4GHz 802.11n channel and 1300Mb/s on the 5GHz 802.11ac channel. A word of caution; those throughput numbers represent the raw data rate that the wireless signal can support. They do not take into account the communications overhead associated with typical data streams such as TCP/IP or UDP. So don’t be disappointed with the test results you see in this article or elsewhere; real world throughput is much lower, even for loosely structured protocols like UDP.

Before we get to the testing stage, let’s have a thorough look at the PCE-AC66 hardware and its features.


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6 comments

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  1. Kzinti1

    According to NewEgg, this thing has been “Discontinued”.
    It may or may not be sold again.
    The main complaint is noncompatibility with the P67 chipset.
    “COMMENT QUESTION: Which “Desktop” PCs are on Wi-Fi in your house?”
    None, here. Just netbooks and one TV so far.
    The real computers are all hardwired.

    1. Olin Coles

      Newegg’s page says “Not available” and “OUT OF STOCK”. It doesn’t say anything like you suggested.

    2. Bruce Normann

      In Stock at Amazon and B&H, and Open Box at Newegg
      Compatibility issue is with Z87 chipset, not P67, AFAIK.
      ASUS is working on the problem.
      I had ZERO issues with my Z68 setup.

      1. Bruce Normann

        PCE-AC66 and newer version, PCE-AC68 are both in stock at Newegg now.

        New version (PCE-AC68) is: newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833320173

        Don’t know yet if there is an upgrade path.

  2. mononymous

    P67 is just one of many Intel chipsets anyway, so it shouldn’t be a major factor in deterring people… anyway mine with the X79 works just fine.

    Previously I used a powerline based network as I didn’t have the luxury of drilling holes into walls. The powerline works ok…ish but after upgrading to fiber it didn’t make sense to stick around with a 200mbps network when I can get something better.

    Currently, I pair this with the RT-AC66U, a Wifi ac capable router from Asus. I have a wall separating myself and the source and the distance is about 10m. Maximum would be at ~850mbps so I still get close to a standard gigabit connection so I’m content with the current setup.

    1. Bruce Normann

      I’m curious what kind of encryption you are using.

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