Asuswrt-Merlin router with 2.5gbps WAN and LAN ports - quick bit of purchase advice, please...?

Shasarak

Regular Contributor
Hello all. I wonder if I could ask for a quick bit of purchase advice?

I'm in the UK and my broadband provider is Virgin (cable service). The supplied Virgin router is... okay, but not great; so instead I've been using an RT-AC86U router (with Merlin software, naturally), with the Virgin "hub" configured to act as a dumb cable modem.

This has worked very nicely, but I've recently upgraded to Virgin's fastest broadband service, which offers speeds a little above 1 gigabit - meaning that if I stick with the current setup, I'm losing about 200mb/s of potential broadband speed, because I'm limited by gigabit Ethernet.

So I'm wondering if I should upgrade to a new Asus router. It would need to have:

- a 2.5gbps WAN port

- at least one 2.5gbps LAN port (which will be connected to a desktop PC with a USB 2.5G Ethernet adapter)

- at least three other gigabit LAN ports (two of which will feed gigabit Ethernet switches, and one of which will provide a backhaul connection to my old router, which will be demoted to an access point)

What's the cheapest router that can run Asuswrt-Merlin, gives generally respectable performance, and meets these requirements?
 

degrub

Part of the Furniture
you are limited by the internet as well as your end devices rather than the sync rate of your lan ports once at Gbit/s LAN, particularly for home use. Unless you are doing high bandwidth transfers across your LAN, you really won't see any difference other than how you think about it.
Internet bandwidth from servers tends to run rather much slower than Gbit, more likely down in the 100 Mbit/s range for page serves with download sites having possibility of Gbit serving.

You may improve your local wireless some, but this depends heavily on your physical environment and your client devices for a jump from AC to AX.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I was hoping for something a shade cheaper

This is what fits your requirements. As usual, ISP upgrade slightly over Gigabit leads to more expenses only. In real life Internet use you won't see much difference between 940Mbps (Gigabit) and 1200Mbps. Now you want a new router, you'll need a new 2.5GbE hub and 2.5GbE network card(s) for hundreds more $$$. All this for better speed test only. You're not the first one to fall in this trap. ISPs generate good business for hardware vendors.
 

Shasarak

Regular Contributor
you are limited by the internet as well as your end devices rather than the sync rate of your lan ports once at Gbit/s LAN
Well, sure. But I do sometimes do some heavy downloading on my desktop PC, at the same time as my partner is running a remote desktop session to her workplace upstairs (she works odd hours) and then leave that running while I'm watching Disney+ and checking for app updates on my phone - it all adds up. Some of the downloading that I do can occasionally hit 100MB/s (Bytes, not bits) so having 300Mb/s (bits this time!) of headroom rather than 130 does sometimes make a tangible difference.

Perhaps I should consider the possibility of a device that has 2.5G WAN access but is still limited to gigabit at the LAN end....

The thing is, though, there is a simple backstop option here, which is just to actually use the Virgin box as a router, instead of merely as a modem. It's a Virgin Hub 5, which isn't a great device, but it's nowhere near as annoying as my old Hub 3 was. I'm sure an Asus router would do a better job, but (given that my demands are not that sophisticated) I have to think carefully about whether it's enough better to justify spending £270 on it. (Using my old router as an AP ensures good WiFi coverage throughout the house at least).

This is what fits your requirements.
Understood.
Now you want a new router, you'll need a new 2.5GbE hub and 2.5GbE network card(s) for hundreds more $$$.
A USB 2.5Gbps network adapter isn't that expensive ($30), and there's only one device (a desktop PC) that would ever benefit from going above gigabit speed, so there's no need to fork out for a 2.5Gb Ethernet switch at this point - the PC can be connected direct to the router's 2.5Gb LAN port while everything else goes through a gigabit switch.
 

hash70

Occasional Visitor

ASUS TUF-AX3000 V2 has a 2.5ghz port so you should get ur full speed.or the asus rt-ax86u
994767BA-31B6-45FC-8907-77BFC6A712CF.png

 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Perhaps I should consider the possibility of a device that has 2.5G WAN access but is still limited to gigabit at the LAN end...

All home routers rely heavily on NAT acceleration techniques (hacks to run fast on slow hardware) and you have to be careful what firmware options you enable (no information in the User Manual what disables it). Otherwise your router with 2.5GbE port(s) will turn into up to 350-400Mbps WAN-LAN capable device. Simple Bandwidth Limiter on Guest Network kills the performance. Or dreams of very fast WireGuard VPN.
 

Shasarak

Regular Contributor

ASUS TUF-AX3000 V2 has a 2.5ghz port so you should get ur full speed.or the asus rt-ax86u View attachment 45745

Having looked at Asus' website, I am struggling to understand the capabilities of those two devices.

It looks like the AX3000 V2 has a 2.5Gb WAN port, but the LAN ports are all gigabit - except that it's possible to aggregate two of the LAN ports to make a 2Gb connection. Is that right? If so, to use that I would need a new network adapter which supports aggregating two 1Gb channels, and would also have to figure out how to make everything else work with just two other LAN ports.

The AX86U looks even more complicated. It looks like it has a single 2.5Gb port that can be used as either WAN or LAN (but not both at once) plus it supports aggregating two 1-gigabit ports as well... does that sound right?
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
With AX86U you can do WAN + LAN4 ports aggregation to a modem with 802.3ad support and use the 2.5GbE port for your LAN. Perhaps this TUF-AX3000 V2 has the same option, but on a weaker hardware and with no Asuswrt-Merlin firmware support. This model is region specific, not available in my country.
 

Shasarak

Regular Contributor
Perhaps this TUF-AX3000 V2 has the same option, but on a weaker hardware and with no Asuswrt-Merlin firmware support.
Sod that, then, I need my Merlin firmware. :D

With AX86U you can do WAN + LAN4 ports aggregation to a modem with 802.3ad support and use the 2.5GbE port for your LAN.
I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think my Virgin Hub 5 sports 802.3ad. :( It has a 2.5 gigabit Ethernet port, so they probably figured it wouldn't need that.

I'm starting to get the feeling I should just hold fire for a bit and hope Asus eventually releases a new version of the AX86 with 2.5G LAN and WAN ports!
 

eightiescalling

Regular Contributor
So spending higher now to meet current usage isn't the best approach but based on your comments about downloads vs wfh vs streaming, 2.5G WAN and a router that can run gig internally would give you the gig speed for downloads essentially isolating the leftover for the more latency sensitive demands.

Keep in mind that with the traffic mix you mention, if you take hardware limitations (ie use it as a free throttle internally to act as QoS at WAN level) out of the mix you need something QoS like to keep the wfh calls and netflix going which if that's the router kills your speed anyway.

Depends on your needs for wired switching though - if the router ports are enough or not.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
The newer version of the RT-AX86U has been released, it is the GT-AX6000. Highly recommended for your situation and the only true match for it. About 20% faster throughput than the RT-AX86U too.
 

jsz

Senior Member

ASUS TUF-AX3000 V2 has a 2.5ghz port so you should get ur full speed.or the asus rt-ax86u View attachment 45745



Don't see the point.. 2x2 5G radio.. I mean I guess if you wire backhaul 2 of them... :)

The newer version of the RT-AX86U has been released, it is the GT-AX6000. Highly recommended for your situation and the only true match for it. About 20% faster throughput than the RT-AX86U too.

I'm considering testing another incase I got a lemon. I really wanted to keep it... but it didn't make sense. :(
 
Last edited:

John35

Occasional Visitor
There is a new version of AX86U - AX86U Pro. It's based on GT-AX6000 hardware, but with a single 2.5GbE port.

I considered the RT-AX86U Pro, but availability in the U.K. is "sometime" and I was concerned if the radios would be as strong at my (now EOL by ASUS) RT-AC87U's (which are amazing, I get c. 1G bps connections to upper rooms one through a brick wall)
The cheaper prices on the GT-AX6000 brought it down to about the same price (£271.99 vs. £262.99), so was a simple decision. (BTW arrived 40 mins ago, looked pleasantly compact until I added the antennae. Now not so much.)

The old RT-AX86U has a 2.5G port too, but the price difference isn't huge now, maybe as the replacement becomes more common that will change?
 

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