AX88U worth $130 extra? AC86U or AX88U from N66U -- Like Merlin...

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weaverinva

Occasional Visitor
Hello there kind community members. What a great set of forums.

I have read may forums and postings including reviews like:
https://www.snbforums.com/threads/b...ta-is-now-available.60037/page-31#post-531024

May I ask community wisdom....

I am a techie and run Server 2019 on my laptop with VMs for work and understand speed, networking, and value. Yet I am person who wants to spend wisely.

I have had a N66U since 2013 with merlin and it has been rock solid. Had 5/250 Comcast service and upgrading now to 35/1000 service. Time to upgrade home router. Only 2 floors with 2000 sq ft each. n66u has done well but 2.4 band more clogged now.

I have three teenagers with their devices, wife and I, and a live in relative. 2 smart TVs, 2 Rokus, 6 laptops, 5 tablets, 9 phones and a few watches. My only ax device is my used Note10+. I won't be upgrading laptops for at least 2 years likely.

I am an avid merlin fan and want a supported router for that.

So....$189 for AC86U or $319 for AX88U? I really want want good range and speed. Perhaps 1 router for whole house or use an AP for 5G downstairs (I have a netgear R7000 I could use for that or get an AC68U for AP downstairs). May attach a single USB storage device but I can do that through windows 10 and it shares fast. No high end gaming in the house but two computers from game from son on Minecraft and Forza (Microsoft).

Do you think the $130 additional is worth the value? If no radios went out the AX88U could be a 7-10 year router. I really want the range though too. The AC-86U has certainly and still is a stalwart.

Yes, I do VPN using PPTP and OpenVPN back to my house from the road trips sometimes. I am doing more with Microsoft cloud Onedrive for backups but seems Microsoft throttles some uploads and downloads sometimes..

Thank you for considering some commentary on my situation.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
The ISP connection, seems to be 'throttling' your uploads on your asymmetrical speeds? :)

The RT-AX88U is a great router and worth the price difference, IMO. Particularly with regards to your 1Gbps download speeds it offers better throughput than the RT-AC86U. Both will give you identical OpenVPN speeds up to your ISP limits.

With 7 years under its belt it would seem the RT-N66U would be ready to be retired but wait! Flash @john9527's firmware on it and use it as a Media Bridge for some of your wired capable devices (if possible).

https://www.snbforums.com/threads/fork-asuswrt-merlin-374-43-lts-releases-v44e5.18914/

If you're able to locate the router near the middle of the areas covered, a single RT-AX88U will be a great experience for years to come.

If in the future, you still need more/better WiFi on the second floor, an RT-AX58U would be the best match (wired, if possible) at that time.

HTH. :)
 

weaverinva

Occasional Visitor
The ISP connection, seems to be 'throttling' your uploads on your asymmetrical speeds? :)

The RT-AX88U is a great router and worth the price difference, IMO. Particularly with regards to your 1Gbps download speeds it offers better throughput than the RT-AC86U. Both will give you identical OpenVPN speeds up to your ISP limits.

With 7 years under its belt it would seem the RT-N66U would be ready to be retired but wait! Flash @john9527's firmware on it and use it as a Media Bridge for some of your wired capable devices (if possible).

https://www.snbforums.com/threads/fork-asuswrt-merlin-374-43-lts-releases-v44e5.18914/

If you're able to locate the router near the middle of the areas covered, a single RT-AX88U will be a great experience for years to come.

If in the future, you still need more/better WiFi on the second floor, an RT-AX58U would be the best match (wired, if possible) at that time.

HTH. :)
Thank you for the response and recommendation. Good to know about the throughput on ax88u. Any particular source urls that you have on that one? Nice comment on n66u--right on--I have seen that fork.

After reading others and your prior posts, I have AC86U ($178) and AC68U ($103 amazon warehouse) (for a potential AP downstairs) arriving from Amazon today. But seeing the speeds I was getting on the temporary Xfinity WiFi6 XB7 gateway from my ax phone and even my ac tablets and Dell 5530 precision laptop made me think twice about the most excellent ac86u--and seeing your December upgrade post... I am replacing the XB7 $14/mo with a Moto MB8600 because of expense *and* I cannot actually fully turn off the radios on the Comcast gateway--Ugh. Crazy. Put in Bridge mode and still broadcasts with hidden SSID. Bad for the airways. Need good Asus so I can control DNS (OpenDNS) and access with teenagers and VPN etc etc.

Your prior posts also talk about this being an interim time toward Wifi6E in 6 months to a year. So my head thinks fast regarding the balance of things to think about. Save money to purchase something later....

I have my single N66U on the main floor nicely in the middle of house at 6ft off the floor. Lower floor is full walk out basement with in law quarters and another bedroom. These are the two floors--main and basement. Because floor has so much duct work in it, I will test whether a second 5Ghz device or two are needed in the lower level. N66U has done well all over the house but only 2.4 at fringes at middling speeds and downstairs too, and 5Ghz at fringes not really usable at all--5Ghz in the middle downstairs okay. I have 2 older Netgear routers that I could make 5G only AP on lower level with wired backhaul but speed (AX) would suffer. I have tested them R7000 and R6400v2--fairly good 5ghz throughput.

I built my house 20 years ago and have hard wire to every room using Ortronics enpoints. So I can backhaul from multiple locations and have most of my items Samsung TV, low end Denon, Roku ultra, on the hard wire. Nice idea on the media bridge!!!! I have seen his firmware.

Your posts really create a wealth of knowledge that people can refer back to.....just saying. I have used wisdom from here to setup many a house network for friends and myself.

I may downgrade for $10/mo to 300/10 because I am not sure the 1000/35 is worth it. Any comment on this too? I am likely paying mostly more for the benefit of 35 up to keep things hopping. So many articles show that the higher bandwidth does not make things "feel faster"....WSJ, TechRadar, etc. Going from 5 to 10 up with kids using Zoom and streaming bi directional was a big gainer. Too bad but I suspect more online work in the fall unfortunately.

Any additional commentary appreciated!
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
Thank you for the response and recommendation. Good to know about the throughput on ax88u. Any particular source urls that you have on that one? Nice comment on n66u--right on--I have seen that fork.

After reading others and your prior posts, I have AC86U ($178) and AC68U ($103 amazon warehouse) (for a potential AP downstairs) arriving from Amazon today. But seeing the speeds I was getting on the temporary Xfinity WiFi6 XB7 gateway from my ax phone and even my ac tablets and Dell 5530 precision laptop made me think twice about the most excellent ac86u--and seeing your December upgrade post... I am replacing the XB7 $14/mo with a Moto MB8600 because of expense *and* I cannot actually fully turn off the radios on the Comcast gateway--Ugh. Crazy. Put in Bridge mode and still broadcasts with hidden SSID. Bad for the airways. Need good Asus so I can control DNS (OpenDNS) and access with teenagers and VPN etc etc.

Your prior posts also talk about this being an interim time toward Wifi6E in 6 months to a year. So my head thinks fast regarding the balance of things to think about. Save money to purchase something later....

I have my single N66U on the main floor nicely in the middle of house at 6ft off the floor. Lower floor is full walk out basement with in law quarters and another bedroom. These are the two floors--main and basement. Because floor has so much duct work in it, I will test whether a second 5Ghz device or two are needed in the lower level. N66U has done well all over the house but only 2.4 at fringes at middling speeds and downstairs too, and 5Ghz at fringes not really usable at all--5Ghz in the middle downstairs okay. I have 2 older Netgear routers that I could make 5G only AP on lower level with wired backhaul but speed (AX) would suffer. I have tested them R7000 and R6400v2--fairly good 5ghz throughput.

I built my house 20 years ago and have hard wire to every room using Ortronics enpoints. So I can backhaul from multiple locations and have most of my items Samsung TV, low end Denon, Roku ultra, on the hard wire. Nice idea on the media bridge!!!! I have seen his firmware.

Your posts really create a wealth of knowledge that people can refer back to.....just saying. I have used wisdom from here to setup many a house network for friends and myself.

I may downgrade for $10/mo to 300/10 because I am not sure the 1000/35 is worth it. Any comment on this too? I am likely paying mostly more for the benefit of 35 up to keep things hopping. So many articles show that the higher bandwidth does not make things "feel faster"....WSJ, TechRadar, etc. Going from 5 to 10 up with kids using Zoom and streaming bi directional was a big gainer. Too bad but I suspect more online work in the fall unfortunately.

Any additional commentary appreciated!
A 2xRT-AC86U wired or wireless AiMesh and 300/10 ISP speeds should do it... you can always upgrade to a higher ISP service tier later. The second 86U is a good match and hardware backup for the main router.

The 68U does not support Smart Connect node band steering, so use separate SSIDs per band with it.

A 66U_B1 could be a better/more recent/less expensive build 68U, but in different form. Also does not support Smart Connect.

Also suggest using fixed channels, not Auto.

Try the 86U first before opening the second router... it has good coverage and might be enough by itself. Upgrade to latest firmware, reset, and then configure it.

Too bad prices have creeped up with the pandemic. I bought two 86Us for $280 after Asus rebate in 3/2018.

OE
 
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weaverinva

Occasional Visitor
A 2xRT-AC86U wired or wireless AiMesh and 300/10 ISP speeds should do it... you can always upgrade to a higher ISP service tier later. The second 86U is a good match and hardware backup for the main router.

The 68U does not support Smart Connect node band steering, so use separate SSIDs per band with it.

A 66U_B1 could be a better/more recent/less expensive build 68U, but in different form.

Also suggest using fixed channels, not Auto.

Try the 86U first before opening the second router... it has good coverage and might be enough by itself. Upgrade to latest firmware, reset, and then configure it.

Too bad prices have creeped up with the pandemic. I bought two 86Us for $280 after Asus rebate in 3/2018.

OE
Thank you for your opinion. Agree that 300/10 should do it but oh 1000/35 may be nice but primarily for big upload/download only.

Nice thought on a backup router in case main router goes down for second ac86u....can't have that at all these days!

Wow, did not realize the ac68u was so long in the tooth. Right the ac66u b1 is a better value--probably much more responsive than the two netgears as well. I could just use the n66u for the in law quarters on a different channel. I do use fixed channels.

Great idea to just try the 86u first. Do you use merlin firmware? If not, why so? Agree that configure from scratch important. The n66u was way slow, rest to factory and start from scratch and got 940Mbps on wired computer behind router. Big difference. I can't be wasting bandwidth....

$280 was good price. Glad for you. Does the AX88U not tempt you? Especially if had service of 1000/35? Honestly with today's devices I am not sure the AX88u goes much faster with wireless. I appreciate people opinions here!!!!

Sure do appreciate the response. Anyone else with both routers want to weight in?

Peace.
 
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OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
Do you use merlin firmware? If not, why so?
I deconstruct tech overhead to save time and money and trouble, and only add to it when it's required for some good reason. I don't require the add-ons in Asuswrt-Merlin and prefer to not build dependencies on a one-person supplier.

$280 was good price. Glad for you. Does the AX88U not tempt you? Especially if had service of 1000/35? Honestly with today's devices I am not sure the AX88u goes much faster with wireless.
If I needed equipment now, I would consider AX, but I would still stick with 2xRT-AC86U... more mature, better price, capable enough for my clients, and also not WiFi 6e. My next stop is WiFi 6e tri-band (dedicated wireless backhaul) after it's been vetted and the prices settle down.

The trend in home networking equipment is to over promise and under deliver draft product. Plus the typical cycle of capital investment in home clients naturally lags this marketing. So, it is most practical to plan for and stay on the trailing edge... less bloody work and more money for tasty beers.

OE
 

weaverinva

Occasional Visitor
I deconstruct tech overhead to save time and money and trouble, and only add to it when it's required for some good reason. I don't require the add-ons in Asuswrt-Merlin and prefer to not build dependencies on a one-person supplier.



If I needed equipment now, I would consider AX, but I would still stick with 2xRT-AC86U... more mature, better price, capable enough for my clients, and also not WiFi 6e. My next stop is WiFi 6e tri-band (dedicated wireless backhaul) after it's been vetted and the prices settle down.

The trend in home networking equipment is to over promise and under deliver draft product. Plus the typical cycle of capital investment in home clients naturally lags this marketing. So, it is most practical to plan for and stay on the trailing edge... less bloody work and more money for tasty beers.

OE
You have summarized my philosophy with my purchase of the n66u way back when. Only consider merlin because may perform better and there is always stock firmware to go back to. Always great like Rom'ing of old, if someone who is good can squeak out some extra performance.

Now I have to decide second router needed for 5ghz or not......and which one...fun......

I have all my bands named separately. Sounds like you fully use Smart Connect and have one network SSID. Feels like a lack of control....
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
I have all my bands named separately. Sounds like you fully use Smart Connect and have one network SSID. Feels like a lack of control....
I wanted to try same SSIDs but could not since Asus Smart Connect forced Auto channels and those are disruptive. But a recent firmware release removed the Auto channel restriction, so I am trying same SSIDs now. I only have one client, a WiFi IP phone, that I want on 2.4 but it has a setting for that, so... so far, same SSIDs are working here... and they look better.

But yes, potentially less control. If I need more control, I can append -24 to one SSID and I'll have it.

OE
 

weaverinva

Occasional Visitor
still stick with 2xRT-AC86U...

OE
This is likely my path. Use the $150 saved for future Wifi6e device....

OE, I have read your setup documentation and other posts. Are you still using SC with two ac86u? What have you found with using same SSID for both bands, or are 2 and 5 different SSID for you? Because of brick house, I will likely have at least 2 other 5ghz access points. I want fast access downstairs in the basement and outside on deck. I am leaning towards a 5g SSID and a 2g SSID. Then hopefully my 5g band devices will change AP appropriately. Seems that does not happen sometimes on home equipment.

What really works with same or different SSID? So many conversations talk about all the same SSID but then other say, devices hang on to one SSID too long.

I could use roaming assistant on my main router at -70. Then regardless of remote AP being Asus or netgear etc a single SSID for 5ghz band should work, yet?

Anyone have any further comments on SSID configuration? Just saying do what works takes time in signal and speed measurements. I can do that with iperf or speedtest.net but hope I can optimize based on others good experience.

Thank you!!!

OE--Just reread your prior post. You answer what you are doing. I apologize for redunancy. I suppose I just wish 'optimal' was more clear in these setups. I see why you just chose two ASUS both with smart connect.....
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
This is likely my path. Use the $150 saved for future Wifi6e device....

OE, I have read your setup documentation and other posts. Are you still using SC with two ac86u? What have you found with using same SSID for both bands, or are 2 and 5 different SSID for you? Because of brick house, I will likely have at least 2 other 5ghz access points. I want fast access downstairs in the basement and outside on deck. I am leaning towards a 5g SSID and a 2g SSID. Then hopefully my 5g band devices will change AP appropriately. Seems that does not happen sometimes on home equipment.

What really works with same or different SSID? So many conversations talk about all the same SSID but then other say, devices hang on to one SSID too long.

I could use roaming assistant on my main router at -70. Then regardless of remote AP being Asus or netgear etc a single SSID for 5ghz band should work, yet?

Anyone have any further comments on SSID configuration? Just saying do what works takes time in signal and speed measurements. I can do that with iperf or speedtest.net but hope I can optimize based on others good experience.

Thank you!!!

OE--Just reread your prior post. You answer what you are doing. I apologize for redunancy. I suppose I just wish 'optimal' was more clear in these setups. I see why you just chose two ASUS both with smart connect.....
AiMesh broadcasts the same 5.0 GHz SSID on the same channel from all nodes; and the same 2.4 GHz SSID on the same channel from all nodes. Try Smart Connect with SSID weaverinva for both bands to see how your clients behave. Later, if you want to try separate SSIDs, you can rename the 2.4 SSID and client connections to weaverinva-24. And so on as your network and clients evolve.

Note that some users my insist on using separate SSIDs to manually connect certain clients to certain bands. Also note that some clients have controls for controlling their connection preference.

As for roaming node-to-node, I don't think SSID names per band, identical or different, will matter. The most you can do to influence node-to-node roaming is to space your nodes for optimum WiFi overlap... not too much and not too little. For reference, my 2xRT-AC86Us are stretched to 77' with a kitchen and several brick walls in between. I would prefer them a bit closer for overlap, but clients do well enough and the wireless backhaul performance for the matching 86Us is better than you'd anticipate for its RSSI numbers, credit the matching hardware, I suspect.

Remember, the client decides where to connect, node and node band. With RA and SC, the router tries to assist the client's connection decision.

OE
 

weaverinva

Occasional Visitor
Thank you OE and L&LD.

So I have my AC86U working nicely as the central hub. Works great. No a bit more coverage near the garden and in our inlaw quarters. So I found a used Netgear R7000 and R6400v2 ($40 total) and I have a ac68u found for $100 discounted (can still return). I could use ac68u or my N66u as a backup in case things go down temporarily.... Wondering if I should keep the AC68U as an AC backup and use for the garden or just use the two netgears in access point mode. I have the R7000 in access point mode and it gets to the garden with it being placed in a line of sight window. The R6400v2 or the N66U could be in the inlaw quarters. Same SSID on all seems to work well. Sometimes have to go off and back on wifi to reconnect to best but not often.

AC will be enough for me for awhile. Primary ac86u with the two cheap netgear access points may really work well.

What would the AiMesh AP get me versus generic AP? I have all 1Gb wired backhaul. I suppose AiMesh benefits without triband backhaul which I don't need seem dubious.

I can't seem much. Primary benefit of ac68u would be if main went out I could use it instead of the slower yet reliable N66U.

With AiMesh do I get partitioning of guest networks on remote nodes too.

Doing vlan for my in law quarters might be really nice. The only way I can see to do that would be a guest wifi that does not have access to 'internal' resources.

Thank you for any commentary in my ongoing budget situation. Peace.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
A second, wired, RT-AC86U in AiMesh setup would give you great coverage for your main WiFi network(s), but so far, Guest Networks are not included (there is some hope it will be 'soon', whenever Asus thinks 'soon' is).

I would use the R7000 as a wired AP and sell/return the rest, including the RT-N66U. I think you have received your money's worth and have outgrown them.

You can use the R7000 in router mode and have the inlaws separated like that. No VLANs required. :)

Don't hold onto any router for use as a backup. They will only gather dust and be obsolete if and when the 'main' router gives up the ghost too.

With two routers in the home (main + AP), you are ensured you will have one for an emergency.

HTH. :)
 

weaverinva

Occasional Visitor
A second, wired, RT-AC86U in AiMesh setup would give you great coverage for your main WiFi network(s), but so far, Guest Networks are not included (there is some hope it will be 'soon', whenever Asus thinks 'soon' is).

I would use the R7000 as a wired AP and sell/return the rest, including the RT-N66U. I think you have received your money's worth and have outgrown them.

You can use the R7000 in router mode and have the inlaws separated like that. No VLANs required. :)

Don't hold onto any router for use as a backup. They will only gather dust and be obsolete if and when the 'main' router gives up the ghost too.

With two routers in the home (main + AP), you are ensured you will have one for an emergency.

HTH. :)
Fantastic reply--it will help others too. I read so many.... Agree in all fronts. With my 2 floor home layout (1900) each floor, the single central AC86U is quite amazing. Getting 275-350D/37-41U in most areas of the home. It even gets through the brick some when a person is close. With 2 day shipping, if something went defective I could use the R7000, even if inferior, for a bit. I will put the R6400v2 in the inlaw quarters and return the AC68U. I got that from Amazon Warehouse for $103. I was hesitant and would never do that for a main router because you don't know what people will return with idiosycracies. I'll save it.

You did not say anything about what AiMesh might add. I get that a second AC86U might help but I'd really need to put it near a window, and I would not get $200 of use from it. The used netgears are working fine as APs.

I think I was hoping for something magical from AiMesh wired backhaul but I see that it really shines in a tri-band wireless environment....and the AC68U does not have as much smart connect.

Before this I had never had all my 2.4 and 5 and multi AP on the same SSID. Really surprised how well it is working. Only 2 devices usually remain on 2.4GHz which is fine since 5Ghz can handle the traffic of my 17-20 wireless devices and 10 or so wired. TV, Roku, Denon are all hardwired to ethernet.

Your commentary really helps people. Very appreciative for any and all wisdom. Peace.
 
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weaverinva

Occasional Visitor
Just for interest. I pulled out the AC68U before sending it out and put it in AiMesh Node with AC86U Router. Whew, everything might be 'simple' but my 5G network slowed way down even with wired backhaul preference. The R7000 will work fine for an AP. Very interesting. I can see the value of the SmartConnect with its various pro parameters. Not sure about all radios being on the same channel. That does not seem like a good idea. Oh well. So much for AiMesh for me. Manual config is just fine with me. I am going to use my Netgear R6400v2 as a 5g only radio AP in the in laws. Peace.
 

weaverinva

Occasional Visitor
Yes... The ax88u is far superior and worth it imho.
Thank you. Did you own a AC86U and what were the benefits? I only have one AX client a phone. I get up to 515Mb down and 41Mb up from my AC laptop etc. Does the AX88U have that much more range or capabilities? I can't see it but very possible!

Any detail to your superior comment?

Peace.
 

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