Best Budget Router under $75 or How to Fix RT-AC86U Network Drops?

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jholmes07

New Around Here
I had the rt-AC86U since October 2018 and ever since November 2018 its been a major pain. Finally was able to get ASUS to swap it out July 2019 and that was good for about a year but issues started again and hasn't stopped ever since! The majority of reviews says this is one of the best routers available so I wanted to say I'm the one screwing things up but my colleague who purchased the same router as me has been going through the same experience. Also there are countless forum posts here in these forums and in Amazon reviews describing the same issues as I am having. Before the RT-AC86U I had a used rt-N56U that worked amazingly for over 5 years!! Even resold it and basically recouped all my cost. In essence I know ASUS has good routers and I know how to use ASUS routers. But its obvious there's something wrong with the rt-AC86U and its has tarnished the ASUS brand for me.

With that being said, I'm not ready to replace it yet with a comparable router but I do need something more reliable around the house to WFH. Every time the internet drops, its my head that gets chewed by my lady. What are the best routers under 75$ I can get as back up? I need it for a plex server, Zoom meetings, and steaming apps to about 10-12 devices. I occasionally VPN into my local network and NAS but I don't need this. It would be an added bonus or luxury. Dipped my toes into custom firmware like Merlin but realized this was also more than I needed.

Issues experienced with the ASUS rt-AC86U
Intermittent network drops - reboot sometimes help

Issues experienced with original ASUS rt-AC86U that are no longer present in replacement unit
Non-working 2.4Ghz band
Turning off unit sends router into endless reboot loop
Reset button also sends router into endless reboot loop
Intermittent drops of network

Steps taken to fix that has not worked
Follow L&LD's guide
Troubleshooting and change settings with ASUS tech support
Use Merlin custom firmware

With this being said, if there are any other known solutions to the RT-AC86U issues I can try please let me know! Last time I searched the forums for answers, nobody had any solution to the number of posts describing similar issues.
 
Last edited:

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
If the replacement in July 2019 was also a 2018 model, it may be failing again.

I would attempt the following at least once before buying a new router.

Fully Reset Router and Network
 

jholmes07

New Around Here
I will give it a try thanks! How do I know if its a 2018 model? and are the 2018 models known to have issues? That was my theory when both mine and my colleagues unit demonstrated similar issues but noticed reviews were overwhelmingly positive for others. I purchased them together from Microcenter.

If the replacement in July 2019 was also a 2018 model, it may be failing again.

I would attempt the following at least once before buying a new router.

Fully Reset Router and Network
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Yes, known issues (just ask @OzarkEdge about it!) for those initial models from 2018.

If you look at the router, it should say the year of manufacture.
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
Yes, known issues (just ask @OzarkEdge about it!) for those initial models from 2018.

If you look at the router, it should say the year of manufacture.

My two 2018 China RT-AC86Us that died were from Microcenter, 3/2018.

They failed to power up one day with a half lit LAN4 LED. Otherwise, they served well. Asus replaced one; I replaced the other.

OE
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
I had the rt-AC86U since October 2018 and ever since November 2018 its been a major pain. Finally was able to get ASUS to swap it out July 2019 and that was good for about a year but issues started again and hasn't stopped ever since! The majority of reviews says this is one of the best routers available so I wanted to say I'm the one screwing things up but my colleague who purchased the same router as me has been going through the same experience. Also there are countless forum posts here in these forums and in Amazon reviews describing the same issues as I am having. Before the RT-AC86U I had a used rt-N56U that worked amazingly for over 5 years!! Even resold it and basically recouped all my cost. In essence I know ASUS has good routers and I know how to use ASUS routers. But its obvious there's something wrong with the rt-AC86U and its has tarnished the ASUS brand for me.

With that being said, I'm not ready to replace it yet with a comparable router but I do need something more reliable around the house to WFH. Every time the internet drops, its my head that gets chewed by my lady. What are the best routers under 75$ I can get as back up? I need it for a plex server, Zoom meetings, and steaming apps to about 10-12 devices. I occasionally VPN into my local network and NAS but I don't need this. It would be an added bonus or luxury. Dipped my toes into custom firmware like Merlin but realized this was also more than I needed.

Issues experienced with the ASUS rt-AC86U
Intermittent network drops - reboot sometimes help

Issues experienced with original ASUS rt-AC86U that are no longer present in replacement unit
Non-working 2.4Ghz band
Turning off unit sends router into endless reboot loop
Reset button also sends router into endless reboot loop
Intermittent drops of network

Steps taken to fix that has not worked
Follow L&LD's guide
Troubleshooting and change settings with ASUS tech support
Use Merlin custom firmware

With this being said, if there are any other known solutions to the RT-AC86U issues I can try please let me know! Last time I searched the forums for answers, nobody had any solution to the number of posts describing similar issues.

Swap in a spare router. If the 'network drops' stop, replace the AC86U and enjoy a stable network. Not every technology purchase will serve to a ripe old age.

ASUS AC2900 Dual-band Gaming Router, Mesh Wi-Fi support - Newegg.com $153

OE
 

CaptainSTX

Part of the Furniture
If the router was purchased new it will say on the label the year it was manufactured. If you purchased it refurbished they sometimes "conveniently" put the label over this information and state the router only has a 90 day warranty.

I went through three 2018s before I got ASUS to send me a 2019 as a warranty exchange.

Good luck!
 

nyonya

New Around Here
An Asus AC66U B1 should work for your needs and is $69 on Amazon warehouse, which means it'll ship quickly and is returnable after you fix the issues with the AC86U.
 

jholmes07

New Around Here
Thanks everyone. It turns out my unit is from 2019. I’m pretty sure my original unit was from 2018 tho. My colleague couldn’t check his because like someone said, they put a label over the production year when he sent it in for repair. His 5GHz still doesnt work.

On my end, I dont want to take the chance since I have 7 days left on my warranty. I called Asus and arranged a replacement. Hopefully this next one is a good one. Even had my ISP send in a tech and he said, my modem looks fine so no issues there.
 

jholmes07

New Around Here
If the replacement in July 2019 was also a 2018 model, it may be failing again.

I would attempt the following at least once before buying a new router.

Fully Reset Router and Network

Can you or someone else please link to the guides for recommended set up for a new ASUS router? I know there are a few around in the forums. Not sure which ones are the defacto guides today.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture

jholmes07

New Around Here
I cannot vouch as to their 'de facto' ratings, but what has worked consistently for me are the following.

Fully Reset Router and Network (When you want to determine as much as possible if the hardware is at fault).

L&LD | SmallNetBuilder Forums (Primarily the M&M Config, and the Nuclear Reset guides, including the amtm Step-by-Step guide if setting up a USB drive, along with other notes).

New M&M 2020

M&M 2020 Specifics

Thanks for this. My new router arrived and I am about to do all of this. The part I hate the most is the new SSID's :(
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
New SSID's are great. Really lets you know what needs (or is trying) to connect. Along with new passwords (even though they aren't strictly necessary to be 'new'), it makes your network 'yours' again by only having client devices you want on there.

The only devices I connect to my main network are ones I have full control over.

Everything else is on a Guest network (via YazFi) or not allowed to join at all. :)
 

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