2 86U's AiMesh or Xt8?

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Goofie Newfie

Regular Contributor
So I've been reading for days and the info is overload.
I have a 87u, running Merlin since day one, thank you Merlin, without you that router would have sucked. It's actually been very reliable with his firmware, and the range is pretty good on 2.4. But it's getting old, and the range is not quite cutting it anymore and the 5gig always sucked.

I have some major dead spots in my home. It's due to some metal for my Air Exchanger. So one section of my home has always been rough. The 87u was the only single router that could do it at the time. Before that I ran dual routers, wrt moded..

Anyways, I still have a lot of 2.4 devices. Cams and smart devices, smoke detectors, wifi light switches etc. I do have newer phones, laptops etc. 1 Gig Fiber. Dedicate Aruba 24 port switch. I am a sys admin. I even had Cisco in my house years back, way back when wifi was new, but for home, I don't want to go all out complicated anymore. I'm not against Ubiquiti or TP Link Omada I just don't think their worth it to a point. Really want to stick with at least wifi6 for future proofing.

After reading it seems XT8, no merlins support, not sure what I'd actually miss on stock firmware anymore, but it seems the stock firmware is actually quite stable finally.
House is cat 6e. Would use wired backhaul. Mostly 2.4/5gig clients, with new phones incoming. I think Mesh is the only answer. I don't see one router pulling it off.
But do I do dual 86's or XT8? or wait for ET8? or whatever Asus is announcing on the 2nd.

Then theres the overpriced Orbi and Linksys. Another discussion maybe. Thanks
 

Poseidon

Senior Member
If you have any IoT/smart devices then I would stay clear or ASUS routers. They are terrible with such devices. I tried 2 Asus routers (AXE11000 & AX86U) and ended returning BOTH because my smart 2.4 devices (and other Apple HomeKit devices) kept disconnecting and not responding. Really tried hard to like both but didn’t work out for me. I assume the ASUS XT8/ET8 would perform similar.

Splurged on the Orbi RBK852 and it was night and day. It’s vastly overpriced but it works great! My smart devices never lose connection and I’m getting fantastic speeds and performance in every location in my home. Settings are barebones but not an issue because everything works perfectly on default (with minor changes like enabling IPv6). Something to consider. Good luck with your decision.
 

Goofie Newfie

Regular Contributor
Thanks, I did get the Xt8 to try from Amazon. And sure enough on latest firmware my IOT devices are messed up. Dropped back to the last firmware and all is stable. I do like the Asus interface. But I find range to be an issue, and even with devices claiming to have high speed, they aren't getting it. Also my wired speeds aren't great so it's not utilizing my 1.5Gig fiber, really only getting 700. Shame, nice form factor, best interface, good app. Really wanted to like it, but this will be the 2nd Asus router I've had and I have feeling I'll regret it. Think I'll order the orbi next. Just trying to watch some vids, see what I'm really missing on the interface. Can I name every client? bind them to a node? stuff like that. Thanks for the reply. The Alien is nice too but that's getting pricey.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I am a sys admin.

Do it right once. Get the router/firewall you prefer, centrally managed SMB class APs. Add more APs when needed.

You'll have a higher-performing, more configurable network that will run more like an appliance and less like a toy.

@Trip is the professional around, if you need advice about compatibility, specific manufacturers and model numbers.
 
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Goofie Newfie

Regular Contributor
Do it right once. Get the router/firewall you prefer, centrally managed SMB class APs. Add more APs when needed.



@Trip is the professional around, if you need advice about compatibility, specific manufacturers and model numbers.
I can't argue with that, but there's this side to me that is like, just how much do I need for home, and after working at it all day do I really want to mess with stuff in detail at home? Then there's the side of me that realized how reliable a proper system would be and even less headache. But again, do I need ruckus or aruba at home. Probably not. Ubiquiti AP's haven't really impressed me in the past but it would be a route to take.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
after working at it all day do I really want to mess with stuff in detail at home?

You have to mess once. After that is actually boring. With home routers you will have to mess way more.

But again, do I need ruckus or aruba at home. Probably not.

I had a home lab before, it was taking quite a bit of time of my life. It was interesting and addicting at first. Now I run Netgate firewall and Ruckus APs. Not the latest and greatest - SG-5100 and R610. I only touch the system on major updates and I'm not in a hurry. It can do 500Mbps on Wi-Fi and Gigabit on wired. I never upgraded to Gigabit ISP (500Mbps currently) just because I don't need it. Most of my family Internet activities fit in 150Mbps speeds. It's up to you, most people will recommend 2x RT-AX86U (around $500) routers in this forum. Asuswrt is in beta stage, AiMesh too, Asuswrt-Merlin is excellent, but few months behind in code base. The low price will keep you close to beta tester, for a long time. It works for most consumers, but not in the way you know from your work place. Worst case scenario, your routers may arrive on my test bench for dissection. This is one of pervious best router models.
 

Poseidon

Senior Member
Can I name every client? bind them to a node? stuff like that. Thanks for the reply. The Alien is nice too but that's getting pricey.

Yes on the naming of the client and I’m not sure about directing clients to specific nodes but that kind of defeats the purpose of “mesh” routers because a device should be free to connect to the strongest/fastest/best performing node. That’s what the Orbi does and it does it masterfully!

And stay away from the Amplifi Alien. Subpar range and lousy support. Looks fancy and nice but doesn’t live up to the hype. I had one for the better part of the year and ended up selling it. Made the mistake of giving ASUS routers another try and eventually settled on the Orbi RBK852 after much research and reading actual verified user reviews/experiences and not settling on PAID and BIASED website reviews/reviewers.

I really like this site but it gets quite redundant to see the same recommendation of Asus routers every time someone asks what router to purchase. IMO Asus hasn’t really had a kick ass router since the Dark Knight (N66U).
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
IMO Asus hasn’t really had a kick ass router since the Dark Knight (N66U).

I disagree. What makes Asus routers interesting for folks who like to tinker is Asuswrt-Merlin firmware and Custom Scripts. AiMesh addition gives current Asus router owners the option to re-use some of the routers they already have. The advantages are in software. Netgear R7800 was perhaps the best hardware AC router, but the firmware was limited. There is something for everyone on the market. If you want easy - Orbi/eero are good options. If you want cheap - there is always D-Link/TP-Link around. Another Asus advantage is longer and regular support. Some vendors update the firmware once and move on. This very same RT-N66U from 2011 had a firmware update in 2020.
 

bokolobs

Occasional Visitor
I have been using a pair of XT8s since April and I wish I did what the others here said, do it right once. But of course I didn't know it at the time of purchase. The XT8 worked for a solid week. Then a series of firmware updates just broke my network. I've since used a wired backhaul but even then devices will drop from the mesh node every so often. The last usable firmware for me and for a lot of others is version 42095. And I'm afraid I'm not getting the necessary security updates. There are also bugs in 42095 that they have fixed in later firmware. But installing that would break the mesh node backhaul connection randomly for me. I also use the XT8 as an OpenVPN server. But I can't seem to add more than two users to the user list. It's driving me crazy.

In the end, I've decided I have had enough. I now have a mini PC on order that I will use as a firewall. I'm thinking of using Untangle or Pfsense. I'll switch the XT8 to AP mode. But I might just sell them in the future. I've set up an Omada network for my brother-in-law's office and it couldn't be easier. I'm planning on getting a couple of Omada access points to replace the XT8s at home.
 

Goofie Newfie

Regular Contributor
So, I've been waiting for some other gear to show up, not sure what's taking so long, but meanwhile I haven't sent the Xt8 back yet. IT's been solid on the 2nd last firmware. I'm not getting the speeds near 1 gig, more like 620. But I haven't had to reboot anything, the mesh is solid, it is wired. Not sure why my 2nd 5g wireless is slower than the 1st 5G even though my backhaul is wired, but honestly....so far so good. I just don't feel the range is enough for my property. That could be solved with another XT8 added later maybe, but I'll try the Orbi and see. But I do like the Asus interface having had a few Asus routers, and I know the Orbi will feel crippled. Roaming doesn't work well though, I really need to manually connect again to get the best connection, and if I was going to keep it, I'd play with that a bit more to stop things from sticking to the wrong AP. I'm having troubles getting the Ubiquiti AX stuff in Canada to try, but I'm going to try the Orbi for a month while waiting for it. If the Orbi does the job, then I'll keep it. I am not looking at the Alien anymore, too many comments online with it being unreliable.
 

Goofie Newfie

Regular Contributor
So, I got the Orbi wifi 6 ax6000, put the stable firmware on it according to their forums. Faster wired lan, faster wireless, but what a headache to setup and the range is no better. Matter of fact on the 2.4, there are sections of my home that are worse than the XT8. Plus the App is garbage. it locks up, it's never correct so if you check what is connected to say the satellite, it's always wrong, you need to check the web interface to get what is really connected where. I'm having tons of issues with clients sticking to the wrong AP, even with AP's near 50 feet apart. I also had some odd devices that would not connect at all. Then it auto-updated, fixed my few clients I had issues with, but killed the range even more and wired lan speed is now on par with the Asus. So it's going back to. But between the two, if 500megs is where your internet speed is, and you need mesh, stick with the XT8 on the previous firmware. I had no issues with it, it just wasn't covering my home well enough. The interface and app are 10 times better than the crap from Orbi. Also the fact that Orbi wants you to pay for their protection software is nonsense and the warranty is 1 yr only. I have some trouble spots that no router has been able to do on its own. So now I'm moving onto Ubiquiti to try that I guess. Whether I chance the Alien or not I'm not sure. Or go dream machine or their gateway and get the AP's which probably makes more sense. Some of their stuff is hard to get in Canada right now.
 

Poseidon

Senior Member
The Orbi curb-stomped the XT8 in almost every facet, except for settings options, in my testing of both units. I’ve had mine running for a month and literally have not had a single issue or hiccup yet. I’ve never managed to go this long using a router without something going not as expected.

For set up I advise using the web gui (192.168.1.1) to get things going with the Orbi. Their app is pretty limited. Also while their router security option (Armor) isn’t free ($28 per year w/ discount code) it’s miles better than Asus’ Trend Micro.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
$28 ongoing cost for a router? How is it 'miles better'?
 

Goofie Newfie

Regular Contributor
The Orbi curb-stomped the XT8 in almost every facet, except for settings options, in my testing of both units. I’ve had mine running for a month and literally have not had a single issue or hiccup yet. I’ve never managed to go this long using a router without something going not as expected.

For set up I advise using the web gui (192.168.1.1) to get things going with the Orbi. Their app is pretty limited. Also while their router security option (Armor) isn’t free ($28 per year w/ discount code) it’s miles better than Asus’ Trend Micro.
This is why it is so hard to determine what is best for your home by reading reviews and watching Youtube video's. What works in your home, may not work in mine. Too many factors to consider. I wanted the Orbi to be it so I could move on with my life, but looks like I'm still testing stuff. Look at their forums, the 852 has got too many issues to list and since you can't officially go back to a previous firmware your stuck waiting for another auto update or basically hacking it yourself. Nothing should ever auto update. Who does this? Why can't I turn that off? I did all my setup with the web page, but there are some things in the app not on the web page, so you go back and forth. Before it auto updated to latest firmware overnight, it was getting much better speeds on lan vs Asus, and most places in my home. Where the Orbi fails is long distance, the irony as I thought that would be it's strength. Using an App to test both back to back, there are sections outside my home the Orbi just isn't reaching, and it isn't very far. The Asus did, barely but it did. For some reason, their App is just crashing constantly on my phone unless I use remote access instead of local. Odd. Literally freezes my phone requiring reboot. Anyways my quest continues. I'm still using the Orbi as I have a return window for another 3 weeks. But I do have a few devices that just won't connect to it. Again, the Asus on the previous firmware was fine. I will say the satellite works much better on the Orbi, much better speeds, but it's a shame with a wired backhual you can't turn on the extra 5g and use it like you can on the Asus. Oh, and I had to turn Armour off. Was blocking legit sites, and even when I unblocked them it kept blocking them still. Another common issue according to their forums. I wouldn't pay anything for it.
 

Poseidon

Senior Member
$28 ongoing cost for a router? How is it 'miles better'?
I’d rather pay $28 a year for security that doesn’t slow down my internet browsing than getting one for free.

Every recent Asus router I have owned I had to disable Trend Micro.

Also @Goofie Newfie, I did see posts in the Orbi community about issue with the new firmware but I never encountered any of them. Guess I’m just lucky or perhaps it’s because I always factory reset after updating to a new fw and start from scratch (never restore backup settings).

Either way in MY environment the Orbi RBK852 has exceeded expectations and has performed like a champ, stability-wise, speed-wise and range-wise). Yes it lacks customization options like the Asus but it just flat out works out of the box with very little tinkering. Expensive AF but at least I don’t have to worry about constant rebooting or adjusting a setting option here or there just to get my IoT devices to respond. Don’t need that headache. Good luck on you’re quest to find something that suits you and your environment
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
As someone that hasn't paid for 'security' for decades, I highly doubt the value of any such service (and that's another topic I won't go into here).

Glad we're able to make a choice that makes each of us happy.

If your speeds don't decrease, yes, that is better. But just by a few metres, not miles. :)
 

Goofie Newfie

Regular Contributor
So I've had the 2 Alien Routers for near a week now. LOL. The very thing I said I wouldn't do. Tech9, just laugh at me. I had a discussion with them, if I don't like them, they'll swap them out for a UDMP and AP's. I gotta say they've grown on me. Firmware issues early on seem to have settled down, I've read their entire forum I think. Of course this relies heavily on what you have in your home. Their web ui has a few more beta features so you don't need to use the App anymore for naming, changing icons, has a live and accurate network map. The Wireless mesh was impressive, but I wired it, and it's been rock solid. I wish I had more control of them, these are consumer devices meant for "apple" users imho. But they have a charm to it. What suffers is 2.4gig again. But the 5gig range is very impressive. Trounces the orbi and Asus inside my home, but outside I have the same issues again. Obviously my house is lined with lead or something. So I'm going to play with these another week, then decide on udmp and 3 AP's. The UDMP is out of stock anyways, so are the AP's and there's an SE coming out too. So I don't mind waiting. But again I'm going to say this, for the money, if you stay on the correct firmware, the XT8 is the deal to be had with a Mesh. If they can get that firmware fixed, and maybe they will with the 6e, for the money it's all most would need.
 

BreakingDad

Very Senior Member
AX86U here, 49 devices, 31 days uptime, no issues.

Just saying.
 

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