AX86U vs GT-AX6000 vs ET12 (1-pack) ?

spruce-jackal

Occasional Visitor
I'm torn between AX86U, GT-AX6000 and an ET12 1-Pack. Prices are $250 / $350 / $480. I have 1gbps fiber I'd like to maximize, am in an apartment building with a lot of interference, use NordVPN, have an AX210 w/6E on my primary laptop and including that currently have 7x total devices to connect - 4x support AX and 3x support 6E (laptops, phones, tablet, streaming stick, 0 smart home / IoT). The interference comes from general apartment building router / device density, but the building also has AT&T instant on is setup in every unit so there's a BGW320-500 modem blasting 2.4 / 5ghz *plus* the Google WiFi mesh setup people end with if they (more likely) choose Google Fiber. Unsure if having a few hundred routers that are broadcasting but not actually handling traffic notably increases total interference but seems not ideal?

My take is that the AX86U would be fine (quad core + 2.5GbE wan + 5Ghz 4x4), but the newer BCM4912 hardware on the GT-AX6000 (and ET12) might offer enough of a performance boost to be worthwhile. I'm also interested in the ET12 for tri-band and 6E, but I'm unsure how much to value 6E since I don't really understand to what degree interference actually impacts the 5Ghz bands. Also unsure to what degree I'll miss Merlin support on the ET12 since I haven't used Merlin before. Considered GT-AXE11000 for Merlin, but seems outclassed by the ET12 for $50 cheaper.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
In your situation, I would buy all three, test them at least 3 days each, consecutively/exclusively one at a time, then pick the one that gives you the most consistent network experience. Return the others.

With your description though, the ET12 with Wifi 6E is the one you'll be choosing if the interference is as bad as you state above.

If you can get the GT-AXE16000, that is the actual model I would be leaning towards testing though (I have a feeling it will get RMerlin support before any ET series does).
 

spruce-jackal

Occasional Visitor
In your situation, I would buy all three, test them at least 3 days each, consecutively/exclusively one at a time, then pick the one that gives you the most consistent network experience. Return the others.

With your description though, the ET12 with Wifi 6E is the one you'll be choosing if the interference is as bad as you state above.

If you can get the GT-AXE16000, that is the actual model I would be leaning towards testing though (I have a feeling it will get RMerlin support before any ET series does).
Agreed about GT-AXE16000 probably being more likely to get Merlin support, but $700 for a single router setup is mind bogglingly expensive even for 6E. I'd have no use for the 2nd 5ghz band or 2x10GbE either. Maybe the Merlin supported GT-AXE10000 will go on sale, but I don't expect to have the same quality of support Merlin or otherwise since it'll probably sell fewer units than either the GT-AXE16000 or the GT-AX6000 it's sandwiched between.

I can't really test effectively right now so I'm unsure if buying all three to test would be that useful - the building is brand new and only around 10% full so the interference situation today isn't representative of what it'll be in a month or two.

Is there a good guide somewhere that explains the effects of interference with apartment scale network / device density?
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
First, unless your available disposable cash is in excess of the cost of an item, or it is simply an emergency need/purchase today, I would never buy it NOT on sale. :)

Second, there are no guides I know of. They are not needed.

With just 3 effective 2.5GHz channels that don't interfere with each other and an additional handful of channels in the 5GHz band, it doesn't take much to deduce that that is all the neighbors required to make your network feel like warmed-up sludge.

However, it is not just 7 or 8 neighbors that are required, their networks need to be fully utilized 100% of the time too, to affect an additional network full-time. And of course, almost none are used at such a high load, continuously. And that is why Wi-Fi still works 'good enough', even if not optimally, for all.

What the 6GHz radio/band will offer you is priceless (today): a band of your own with little/no neighbors to worry about. ;)

If the apartment units will be filled in a month or two, that is when I would test/make my decision. Knowing it is only 10% occupied today and going ahead and buying a router based on what you'll see for so short a time is where the money-wasting really is. But if I were to buy 'blind' today, the 6E routers are the only ones I would be looking at in your situation. But keep in mind that not all WiFi 6E is equivalent either. Buyer beware. And do your due diligence when you think you're comparing identical specs between products too. The reason I lean towards the GT-AXE16000 over the ET12 is not merely for the possible RMerlin support. But because (possible) RMerlin support means it has more options available and exposed to the user than the 'lifestyle' ET12 would ever have (yes, huge guess at this point on my behalf).

The 'WAF' factor of equipment is never a consideration for me. Like I tell my customers, the wife will get used to it, if the hardware is reliable/dependable, it effectively becomes 'invisible' too, over time.
 

spruce-jackal

Occasional Visitor
First, unless your available disposable cash is in excess of the cost of an item, or it is simply an emergency need/purchase today, I would never buy it NOT on sale. :)

Second, there are no guides I know of. They are not needed.

With just 3 effective 2.5GHz channels that don't interfere with each other and an additional handful of channels in the 5GHz band, it doesn't take much to deduce that that is all the neighbors required to make your network feel like warmed-up sludge.

However, it is not just 7 or 8 neighbors that are required, their networks need to be fully utilized 100% of the time too, to affect an additional network full-time. And of course, almost none are used at such a high load, continuously. And that is why Wi-Fi still works 'good enough', even if not optimally, for all.

What the 6GHz radio/band will offer you is priceless (today): a band of your own with little/no neighbors to worry about. ;)

If the apartment units will be filled in a month or two, that is when I would test/make my decision. Knowing it is only 10% occupied today and going ahead and buying a router based on what you'll see for so short a time is where the money-wasting really is. But if I were to buy 'blind' today, the 6E routers are the only ones I would be looking at in your situation. But keep in mind that not all WiFi 6E is equivalent either. Buyer beware. And do your due diligence when you think you're comparing identical specs between products too. The reason I lean towards the GT-AXE16000 over the ET12 is not merely for the possible RMerlin support. But because (possible) RMerlin support means it has more options available and exposed to the user than the 'lifestyle' ET12 would ever have (yes, huge guess at this point on my behalf).

The 'WAF' factor of equipment is never a consideration for me. Like I tell my customers, the wife will get used to it, if the hardware is reliable/dependable, it effectively becomes 'invisible' too, over time.
The XT12 *did* get Merlin support so I thought the ET12 might at least not be dead last on the list of routers to support.

I've attached 2x screenshots showing the current 2.4Ghz / 5Ghz WiFi congestion situation. Looks like only 1 neighbor is actually moved in ("fourtylove") and the rest of the networks are (for now) zombie routers in empty units.
 

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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Zombie routers. :D

If that is what it looks like with 1 neighbor already...
 

bbunge

Part of the Furniture
The XT12 *did* get Merlin support so I thought the ET12 might at least not be dead last on the list of routers to support.

I've attached 2x screenshots showing the current 2.4Ghz / 5Ghz WiFi congestion situation. Looks like only 1 neighbor is actually moved in ("fourtylove") and the rest of the networks are (for now) zombie routers in empty units.
At least the routers in the 2.4 GHz band are well behaved on channels 1, 6 and 11. Looks like you have the UNI-I 2 channels or DFS channels open for use right now. There have been 18 houses built within 1/4 mile of me in the past two years. Each with a dual band router and many do not care which channel they broadcast on. I used to play the game of setting the best channels and bandwidth on my router. Now I leave most of the WIFI settings alone. I just enable WPA2/WPA3-Personal and enable DFS channels. The AX86U is happy, the clients are happy and the family is happy all on Asus firmware.
 

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