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Best router for experimenting with Merlin FW?

Discussion in 'Asuswrt-Merlin' started by htismaqe, Nov 21, 2019.

  1. htismaqe

    htismaqe Very Senior Member

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    I have a Netgear R7800 in production right now, running Voxel's FW. It works great but I forgot how stripped the NG firmware is and I'm wanting to experiment with Merlin to see if it fits my needs better.

    Here are my requirements:

    1) Feature and performance parity with R7800 as best as possible (realizing the R7800 is a workhorse).
    2) Don't need 8 or 10 ethernet ports. I only actually use 1 on the router itself.
    3) Don't need a whole bunch of USB ports.
    4) Don't need AX or AD or anything other than AC.
    5) Not necessarily worried about future-proofing.

    Basically, I want something that CAN replace the R7800 if I decide I love the FW and UI.

    I've narrowed it down to the RT-AC86U and the RT-AC5300. I like the fact the AC86U is a bit newer but it's vertical mount might be a problem fitting below my ceiling (I have my router on a tall shelf in the center of the house). I keep vacillating on the AC5300. I'd love to have the additional 5Ghz band but don't really need it and it's quite a bit more expensive than the AC86U while being quite a bit older.

    Just looking for suggestions. Thanks in advance.
     
  2. QuikSilver

    QuikSilver Senior Member

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    I'd vote for the 86u but as you can see from my signature (I have two) that I might be biased. ;)
     
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  3. htismaqe

    htismaqe Very Senior Member

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    I'll have to take a measurement and see if it will even fit in my situation.
     
  4. htismaqe

    htismaqe Very Senior Member

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    I have just about 10" between the shelf and the ceiling. The tops of the R7800 antennas are about 1" from the ceiling.
     
  5. martinr

    martinr Part of the Furniture

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    That’s got to be one of the most original limiting factors ;). I know nothing of that Netgear router or its specs, but can I suggest that, if the RT-AC68U doesn’t fall too far short of those specs, you give it consideration? If you want to experiment with Merlin’s firmware and want a rock solid router to do it on (and not be wondering about any vagaries of the router itself), I believe this router would be most worthy of consideration. But should its specs not meet your needs, that’d be a shame.
     
    L&LD, skeal, htismaqe and 1 other person like this.
  6. htismaqe

    htismaqe Very Senior Member

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    Thanks guys. I think for the money, I'll give the AC86U a shot. It's $100 cheaper than the 5300.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2019
  7. PolarBear

    PolarBear Regular Contributor

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    I just measured my RT-AC86U. With the aerials vertical, it's 12.5 inches tall.

    If the aerials are angled to slightly "flatter" than 45°, it would just fit into a 10 inch vertical space.

    If the shelf in question is free standing, would it be possible to screw another piece of wood underneath, which protrudes more from the wall ? That would give you a bit more vertical space between the new shelf and the ceiling.

    When I replaced my "lie flat" RT-AC66U with a "stand up" RT-AC86U, I hesitated for a while before buying it for similar reasons. A bit of creative woodwork solved the problem, but fortunately it's in a cupboard so aesthetics were not such an issue.
     
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  8. htismaqe

    htismaqe Very Senior Member

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    Thanks for that. I think I can make it work.
     
  9. martinr

    martinr Part of the Furniture

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    Let us know how you get on.
     
    htismaqe likes this.
  10. Grisu

    Grisu Part of the Furniture

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    Or you could consider the RT-AC66U_B1 (important is B1 type) as it is same as RT-AC68U in the laying housing of 66U series, only missing one USB port you dont need and its even cheaper €75.
    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N08LPPP/?tag=snbforums-20
    Yes its older but a reliable workhorse and less problematic than 86U in some cases especially for testing purposes.
     
    htismaqe likes this.
  11. CaptainSTX

    CaptainSTX Part of the Furniture

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    If you want to step up the processor speed the AC1900P takes you from 1 Ghz to 1.4Ghz. I'm not sure where you can find a new one as this was model originally made for Best Buy however you can get a refurbished unit for $89.99 on Amazon. As this router was an extension of the AC68 product line it is very reliable based on my experience.
     
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  12. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    Guys, @htismaqe is asking about the RT-AC86U.

    The suggestions made I think are based on his likely mistyped 'RT-AC68' in post 6 above. :)
     
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  13. htismaqe

    htismaqe Very Senior Member

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    You are correct! :oops:
     
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  14. HuskyHerder

    HuskyHerder Senior Member

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    htismaqe likes this.
  15. Grisu

    Grisu Part of the Furniture

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    Suggestion of 66U_B1 has been made because he wants a flat model and only for testing.
     
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  16. htismaqe

    htismaqe Very Senior Member

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    True. However, I would also like to replace my R7800 if the testing goes well. The 66U is sizable step down from the R7800. I do appreciate the suggestion, though.
     
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  17. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Might consider keeping the R7800, and running it in AP mode - the QCA radios are quite good on that device.
     
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  18. htismaqe

    htismaqe Very Senior Member

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    Yeah, that's what I'm thinking. It's a great piece of hardware but firmware support just isn't great. Voxel's is the closest thing to good and even then, it's built on Netgear FW which is just awful.
     
  19. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    There's always OpenWRT...

    https://openwrt.org/toh/netgear/r7800
     
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  20. htismaqe

    htismaqe Very Senior Member

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    I did DD-WRT for a few years, first on the WRT1900AC and then on the R7800. I actually bought the R7800 because Kong abandoned the WRT1900AC. Recently, he's decided to forego DD-WRT altogether in favor of OpenWRT. I want to go back to something that's more tightly coupled with the hardware. Brainslayer's builds, especially for non-Broadcom routers, leave a lot to be desired.