AC87u with Merlin -> what next

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evo17paul

New Around Here
Hi,
Long ti.e user of Merlin and various add-ons and I know no more firmwares being developed for AC87u which is performing great.

Trying to understand which Merlin supported router next out of the AX range. Anyone any clues, experiences?

No limits on budget but I do have BT Halo connectivity and some TP Link extenders already
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Welcome to the forums @evo17paul.

If your home space needs 'extenders', then I would guess you're a prime candidate for an AiMesh v2.0 (RMerlin firmware 386.1 Beta 5 or later) set up.

I would not use any of the extenders you have currently. Particularly if you can wire two or more of the suggested Asus routers below together for a wired AiMesh set up.

Before we start spending your money though, I would say if your RT-AC87U is performing great for you today, I would wait to upgrade to something this summer/fall with an appropriate Wi-Fi 6E router (the world's first tri-band, tri-radio routers with 12 antennae/12 streams or more). Of course, I'm waiting for an RMerlin supported Asus model (if it comes) myself.

If you need to lighten your pockets of some cash, then a pair (or more) of RT-AX86U's in wired backhaul mode will make a tremendous upgrade to your network. Today, there is nothing better.

If you can use your 'extenders' as Media Bridge's, then they can be useful for your wired capable devices. Otherwise, time to sell those too.

New M&M 2020

M&M 2020 Specifics

How to Connect an AiMesh Node

Two AX86U Aimesh @2.5G Ethernet backhaul possible? | SmallNetBuilder Forums

Is Wi-Fi 6 Worth It

Wi-Fi 6 Pt 2

Repeater mode = wireless AiMesh

Media Bridge Mode

Fully Reset Router and Network

L&LD | SmallNetBuilder Forums
 

evo17paul

New Around Here
Welcome to the forums @evo17paul.

If your home space needs 'extenders', then I would guess you're a prime candidate for an AiMesh v2.0 (RMerlin firmware 386.1 Beta 5 or later) set up.

I would not use any of the extenders you have currently. Particularly if you can wire two or more of the suggested Asus routers below together for a wired AiMesh set up.

Before we start spending your money though, I would say if your RT-AC87U is performing great for you today, I would wait to upgrade to something this summer/fall with an appropriate Wi-Fi 6E router (the world's first tri-band, tri-radio routers with 12 antennae/12 streams or more). Of course, I'm waiting for an RMerlin supported Asus model (if it comes) myself.

If you need to lighten your pockets of some cash, then a pair (or more) of RT-AX86U's in wired backhaul mode will make a tremendous upgrade to your network. Today, there is nothing better.

If you can use your 'extenders' as Media Bridge's, then they can be useful for your wired capable devices. Otherwise, time to sell those too.

New M&M 2020

M&M 2020 Specifics

How to Connect an AiMesh Node

Two AX86U Aimesh @2.5G Ethernet backhaul possible? | SmallNetBuilder Forums

Is Wi-Fi 6 Worth It

Wi-Fi 6 Pt 2

Repeater mode = wireless AiMesh

Media Bridge Mode

Fully Reset Router and Network

L&LD | SmallNetBuilder Forums
Thanks L&LD that's just the response I was looking along with some great advice on money saving as well :)

I wasn't sure when 6E was available or whether it was worth it with all my endpoints being aligned to older frequencies, but can decide nearer the summer. At least gives me a project it look forward too if we are still in lockdown!!!

Thank you again, appreciate it
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Have a look at the Is Wi-Fi 6 worth it and Pt 2 for why you want to upgrade as 'high' as possible, anyway. :)
 

spedwards

Occasional Visitor
I was also running the AC87U until last summer. With Merlin FW. Also on BT avg ~67Mbps. But the AC87U would not support the BT TV box 4K TV stream. It kept tearing the picture and generally suffering stutters and dropouts. Which was made worse by the pair of Xboxes that are also running most evenings.

The AX86U was announced, but not available when I jumped to the AX88U.

I chose an AX router as two of our work laptops already had AX200 cards embedded. Whilst the other two, older Dell units used by the kids for school work and YouTube, cost a total of £28 combined to upgrade to AX200 cards.

The overall difference between the AC87U and AX88U was nothing short of astonishing given how frustrating the 87U had become.

Everything just worked. From the Router's GUI being instantly responsive. The extended options available on the router menus. The four laptops clearly and concurrently streaming meetings at high res'. No tearing on the 4K UHD BT TV feed at all. No disruption to 4K Amazon box streams. IPv6 works. Auto switching between bands on iPads now worked. It was a whole new experience.

The only downside was that the AX88U 384.19 FW build has 2.4Ghz range and stability WiFi issues. But the latest Merlin 386.1_beta5 is very stable and has great WiFi range and stability.

As has already been said by others. If the AC87U is working for you now, there is no need to change. In fact why change for 6e at all if the AC87U is good enough?

If you want a change now, without waiting for 6e and its inevitible price tag, there are various thoughts about the AX86U vs AX88U elsewhere on the forum.

In my case it had to be the AX88U as I have to place it on a shelf with limited height above it.

If I had to pay full price for an AX88U I would perhaps have bought a used AC88U for ~£125 which was common back then. Then waited until 6e becomes available. But I bought a used v1.1 AX88U unit from ebay for £180 and haven't regretted it.
 

evo17paul

New Around Here
Hey Spedwards,

Thanks for inputs.
Overall I'm happy with the AC87u and got things nicely setup and helped with some Piholes as well on RPi, and TPLink extenders wired into power lines. I've split my providers of broadband and TV and therefore don't experience your issues.

One of the main reasons for looking for new was Merlin is not writing builds for the AC87u and I like to stay up to date from a security perspective on things.

Saying that I appreciate all comments and views. I've read about the WiFi issues with the AX88u but was really canvasing to see whether that was isolated or not, as I was looking at that or the AX86u at the time. Lockdown makes the money in my pocket want to spend it quicker!!
 

spedwards

Occasional Visitor
Hey Spedwards,

Thanks for inputs.
Overall I'm happy with the AC87u and got things nicely setup and helped with some Piholes as well on RPi, and TPLink extenders wired into power lines. I've split my providers of broadband and TV and therefore don't experience your issues.

One of the main reasons for looking for new was Merlin is not writing builds for the AC87u and I like to stay up to date from a security perspective on things.

Saying that I appreciate all comments and views. I've read about the WiFi issues with the AX88u but was really canvasing to see whether that was isolated or not, as I was looking at that or the AX86u at the time. Lockdown makes the money in my pocket want to spend it quicker!!
If I read that correctly it looks like there's going to be an AX86U in the post on its way to you soon. You'll need the 386.1_beta FW, unless we see a full Merlin 386 release before your purchase arrives. Because 386 is the earliest Merlin FW for that unit.

Six years of hardware development is a significant jump, and there's always going to be something new around the corner. You are going to see a big difference in your network capacity/usability/capabilities/.... with the AX86U right now.

Yes, you could wait for 6e, but realistically that's not going to be available next week. I hope later this year we may all be out of lockdown and have far less time to spend tweaking our router configs. If I were in your position I'd have ordered one already and been prepared to sell it in on in 12 months if I thought that 6e would really offer that much more. With AX it took me two years after AX launched to get enough cilents to warrant an AX router. I imagine it'll be a while before I get enough 6e clients to do the same. You may be in the same situation.

I look forward to hearing your comparison between it and the 87U after you've got it installed and used it for a week or two.

Edit: I forgot to mention the WiFi difference between the AC87U and the AX88U, which I imagine will be similar to the AX86U.

When I bought the AC87U I ditched my two range extenders (Yes, I know now, but I didn't know any better back then> These days I would cable to either APs or AIMesh) because the range of the AC87U was so good. But over the years that range shrank gradually. I thought it was possibly due to increasing interference from neighbours, but it got to the point where I was considering a mesh unit to go into the conservatory and cover the back garden.

When I put in the AX88U on its stock old FW I could stand at the very back of the back garden and stream video. The 386 FW has given me back that range, which is a good 10m further than the AC87U ever managed from exactly the same installation position. Same neighbours, modern router.

The AX86U won't be much different to the AX88U in the real world. It should be far better than the AC87U. It'll be interesting to see if any of those TPLink extenders of yours are actually needed after the upgrade.
 
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