Best router on the market? current using R7800 and AC86U

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droople

Occasional Visitor
Hi there,

I'm using R7800 and AC86U for around 4 years, and thinking about changing them, the R7800 starts to lost signals.
I checked the front-page and found that R7800 still rank the 1st, and forum said it not necessary mean the best on the market.
So I'm just wondering that can recommendation, I still prefer NETGEAR and ASUS.

Regards
 

Hawk

Very Senior Member
Hi there,

I'm using R7800 and AC86U for around 4 years, and thinking about changing them, the R7800 starts to lost signals.
I checked the front-page and found that R7800 still rank the 1st, and forum said it not necessary mean the best on the market.
So I'm just wondering that can recommendation, I still prefer NETGEAR and ASUS.

Regards
Recommendation on main page is outdated, since it's review many things have changed including new models. Regarding current routers Ac86u is better over R7800, you can also look at rt-ax86u, rt-ax88u, rtax92u and see what you like. If undecided, you can post about it and get community opinion as well.
 

droople

Occasional Visitor
Recommendation on main page is outdated, since it's review many things have changed including new models. Regarding current routers Ac86u is better over R7800, you can also look at rt-ax86u, rt-ax88u, rtax92u and see what you like. If undecided, you can post about it and get community opinion as well.
Hi Hawk, thank you very much. I'm surprised that AC86U is better over R7800 since they are both tested on the main page.
And it seems that no NETGEAR worth to buy after R7800?

I will do some research on rt-ax86u, rt-ax88u, rt-ax92u to see what the differences they have.

I'm looking for stable signal in a heavy interference environment.

Cheers
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
You're welcome to continue living in the 2013 timeline that Wi-Fi 5 was made available to the world.

Recommending Wi-Fi 5 products today while ignoring the benefits Wi-Fi 6 (and the new baby Wi-Fi 6E) offers is just hiding your head in the technological sand. All 'classes' of Wi-Fi can be headaches, depending on the network environment. Older tech won't magically cure anything. And in many cases, it makes matters worse too (being a shared medium, the faster things happen the less congestion possible too).

Wi-Fi is nowhere near 'mature and stable' enough, yet. Any version of it. If it were, these boards would not exist. Wi-Fi is always in a continually evolving state where your best bet is to match the available hardware to your current client devices, network needs, network (Wi-Fi) environment, and budget.

What the latest standards do though, is give the varied devices most of us have on our networks the best chance today to use them as fully as possible with the least issues.

It has taken a long time for Wi-Fi 6 to become a viable alternative to Wi-Fi 5. But that day has long been passed.

Is Wi-Fi 6 Worth It

In 2024, I do not care what number of Wi-Fi we're on. I just hope to see the same kind of improvements then too from where we are today. If 5G is anything to strive towards, Wi-Fi is due for a re-imagining very soon, if it is to remain competitive at any level. That kind of carrot-on-a-stick is what allows me to 'know' that Wi-Fi never stands still. Even when all or the majority of your client devices are on the previous wireless 'class', the new routers still offer improvements for them too (as the articles by @thiggins have shown).

Any network, regardless of ISP paid for speeds, sees an improvement on AX class equipment today. My customers tell me so and I see it in my own network too. Whether that is worth it for you, or if you can even appreciate the benefits it offers is another story.

The best part of 'AX class equipment' is that today it is available for the same or less (with sales, etc.) than the outdated and inferior AC class 'kings' of yesterday. To those that want the best wireless possible.

Of course, that is not to say to throw out perfectly good/working equipment to get the latest and greatest. Rather, if buying network equipment today, buying old tech is less rational than it may first seem. Particularly when the amount of money spent is the same. Buying old technology is the equivalent of insurance without the need for it in the first place.

In the end, there is only one call to make. Either the new tech enhances your network, or it doesn't. But sticking with just the old tech, you will never know.
 

avtella

Very Senior Member
Hi Hawk, thank you very much. I'm surprised that AC86U is better over R7800 since they are both tested on the main page.
And it seems that no NETGEAR worth to buy after R7800?

I will do some research on rt-ax86u, rt-ax88u, rt-ax92u to see what the differences they have.

I'm looking for stable signal in a heavy interference environment.

Cheers

Depends, WiFi side of things the R7800 is superior performance and range wise to the AC86U and has a more mature chipset where things like MU-MIMO actually work in a desirable fashion. Aside from that it’s seems to be one of the preferred AC routers for OpenWRT as its Qualcomm based. AC86U on the other hand has AES acceleration so it has better VPN performance and additionally it has better storage performance.

Current AX models will have much better CPUs for VPN and storage performance, also more mature on the AC (WiFi-5) side of things, aside from WiFi 6. With AX expect ~10-20% gain on 5Ghz in ideal conditions as 1024 QAM is much more sensitive to noise. Bigger gain is on 2.4 GHz where it almost doubles over N. So a WiFi 6 model gives you the flexibility to take advantage of newer clients.

Overall though I agree with L&LD, it may be better to get an AX router now as some of the current models have been out long enough to get over the initial firmware bugs and reliability issues, at least most of them. With some of the previous AC models at the tail end of their support life and soon you may not get as frequent updates (ie QoS databases, minor bugs fixes, security fixes etc). Especially with work from home go with something that’s got a decent life a head of it but somewhat matured if upgrading ie get one 6 months to more preferably a year old rather than something just released like a month or two ago unless you want to be essentially paying higher prices to beta test and also face the ire of your family/work for issues ;).
 
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BreakingDad

Very Senior Member
I just got an rt-ax86u, it's performing very well.
 

ChrisF60526

Occasional Visitor
L&LD. Curious would recommend any wifi 6 router over a top-performing wifi 5 router like the AC88U?

Just curious if the play today is any wifi 6 router or high end wifi 5
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Any Wi-Fi 6 class router? No, definitely not.

Any Asus/RMerlin supported AX class router that accounts for and fully addresses the networks' and users' needs? Yes.

When the price is competitive with AC class routers there is no reason to choose the AC models anymore. Even when they're slightly more expensive and you're expecting to keep the router as long as possible too.

AX class, Wi-Fi 6 routers, must be compatible with all previous Wi-Fi classes. Being the latest usually makes them also the best for the older class client devices too (because of optimized RF designs).

At least when shopping above the bargain basement and midrange classes, I find all the above to be true. (And Asus isn't a bargain-basement brand at all, in the consumer router market).

There never was any high-end Wi-Fi 5 router in the consumer space. Except for possibly the RT-AC3100 which had an exceptional range for the many customers I installed them for.

Today's networks are not just about range though. With AiMesh (yes, I took a while to see and appreciate this next point too), the focus is more about solid coverage with remarkably high to excellent speeds throughout the home (i.e. maximizing the ISP speeds, that you're paying for, on the higher end plans).

The true high-end routers are finally coming (this summer?) with Wi-Fi 6E.

True Tri-Band, Tri-Radio, with simultaneous, concurrent, and fully independent wireless in the 2.5GHz, 5.0GHz, and 6.0GHz bands will make all current routers look as old as the 'B' class routers of 1999, in due time. When a router with sufficient resources (CPU, RAM, 12x antennae, greater than 1GbE Ports, etc.) with these attributes' surfaces along with RMerlin support, I want to be able to test it asap for myself and my customers too. I have little doubt that the 2x RT-AX86U's I have today will be sold the next day. And I have my laptop with an AXE (Intel AX210) Wi-Fi adaptor card already installed.
 

droople

Occasional Visitor
Depends, WiFi side of things the R7800 is superior performance and range wise to the AC86U and has a more mature chipset where things like MU-MIMO actually work in a desirable fashion. Aside from that it’s seems to be one of the preferred AC routers for OpenWRT as its Qualcomm based. AC86U on the other hand has AES acceleration so it has better VPN performance and additionally it has better storage performance.

Current AX models will have much better CPUs for VPN and storage performance, also more mature on the AC (WiFi-5) side of things, aside from WiFi 6. With AX expect ~10-20% gain on 5Ghz in ideal conditions as 1024 QAM is much more sensitive to noise. Bigger gain is on 2.4 GHz where it almost doubles over N. So a WiFi 6 model gives you the flexibility to take advantage of newer clients.

Overall though I agree with L&LD, it may be better to get an AX router now as some of the current models have been out long enough to get over the initial firmware bugs and reliability issues, at least most of them. With some of the previous AC models at the tail end of their support life and soon you may not get as frequent updates (ie QoS databases, minor bugs fixes, security fixes etc). Especially with work from home go with something that’s got a decent life a head of it but somewhat matured if upgrading ie get one 6 months to more preferably a year old rather than something just released like a month or two ago unless you want to be essentially paying higher prices to beta test and also face the ire of your family/work for issues ;).
Thank you Avtella, I think I'll get a RT-AX88U for its 2.4Ghz
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
There never was any high-end Wi-Fi 5 router in the consumer space. Except for possibly the RT-AC3100 which had an exceptional range for the many customers I installed them for.
That's a bold statement. Please define "high end".
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
Already defined in post 8 above.

Not really. That says "high end" is something that isn't here yet. What do you define as "high end" for products available today?

The definition of "high end" (as well as low, mid and anything in between) constantly changes. Draft 11n routers were "high end" at one point.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Well, you keep changing the question. :)

Low end, Mid, and High-end products available today are the RT-AC86/RT-AX58U, the RT-AX88U, and the pinnacle is easily the RT-AX86U, overall.

  • For smaller coverage areas with no need for high VPN performance, the RT-AX58U is a good buy, if it can be found for a significantly lower price than the RT-AC86U.
  • For great routing/VPN performance, the RT-AC86U is untouchable, for the price. Also has good AiMesh v2.0 performance.
  • For a single router (max range/coverage), the RT-AX88U is preferred over the RT-AX86U in my experience.

Particularly for wired backhaul AiMesh v2.0 setups (but even wirelessly, better than 2x RT-AC86U's), one or two RT-AX86U's is a noticeable step up from any of the above (or any other lower-end products not mentioned, specifically anything with 'tri radio' weirdness baked in).

The stability of the RT-AX88U and the RT-AX86U is effectively the same today.

The benefits of the lower cost RT-AX86U (including lower latency and a better AiMesh behavior) are what makes it high-end today.

Even when true tri-radio/tri-band Wi-Fi 6E routers become available nothing will change for the routers above. Unless the new ones are priced very close to what we can buy these for too.

What will a 'true' Wi-Fi 6E router look like? Lots of antennae. Lots of RAM. And significantly more CPU power (and not just more cores either). Faster and/or upgradeable internal storage is also something I would look for. When all of today's routers can be CPU bottlenecked when just updating Entware, the changes suggested above are not just a wish, they are mandatory for Wi-Fi 6E to be superior to the hardware we already have today.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
What will a 'true' Wi-Fi 6E router look like? Lots of antennae. Lots of RAM. And significantly more CPU power (and not just more cores either). Faster and/or upgradeable internal storage is also something I would look for. When all of today's routers can be CPU bottlenecked when just updating Entware, the changes suggested above are not just a wish, they are mandatory for Wi-Fi 6E to be superior to the hardware we already have today.
The fact that Wifi 6E requires a third radio leads me to believe that some manufacturers may eventually resort in cutting corners elsewhere to reduce the price. So I expect to eventually see Wifi 6E devices with low-end CPUs and less RAM in an attempt to get closer to the 200$ target price. For example, the BCM6750 supports the 6 GHz band, so I could see a device using that CPU+wifi combo (it only supports two streams) rather than a BCM4908 with an external quad-stream radio. Such a router would definitely not qualify as "high end".
 

avtella

Very Senior Member
In terms of AC models the R7800 was in my testing superior to the AC88U both in 5Ghz range and performance, it additionally has actual support for OpenWRT where it seems like a golden child on that distro. The AC86U wasn't all that far behind itself with additional advantage of excellent VPN and storage performance over both the R7800 and AC88U. So at least in my view the AC3100 wasn't necessarily the only high end model, granted some if it is subjective.

The Asus AX89X seemed to me to be better than the AX88U/AX86U in 5Ghz performance and at range having just recently been able to get my hands on one temporarily, and it has multiple 10 Gig ports to truly take advantage of the hardware simultaneously on both the LAN and WAN aspects. I can't comment on it's stability as I honestly didn't test it long enough to conclude on that. Maybe not as cost effective but probably more "high end' than the latter two.

As for things like throwing in more powerful CPUs (Currently most consumer models use ARM Cortex A53s, good enough for what they are expected to do in the consumer space) and RAM, something that's not gonna happen quickly or anytime soon, these are still consumer grade gear, where modifying the firmware or sticking add-ons by users is still a rarity in the whole scheme of things and from a manufacturer's perspective a waste of resources and unnecessary hit to the bottom line to cater to a very small group, when the vast majority won't be taxing the CPU/RAM in anyway even on the $400-600 models. Same reason there's only maybe one or two routers out that have 2 or more Multi-gig ports at the moment though that may slow be changing.

If you want more processing power, RAM, and storage you would be looking at a wired model or a self built unit with APs for WiFi. Out of curiosity and just to get a better understanding of where you are coming from what do you mean by "Lots of RAM" and what services do you run requiring high CPU requirements and RAM?
 
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Tucu

Regular Contributor
The fact that Wifi 6E requires a third radio leads me to believe that some manufacturers may eventually resort in cutting corners elsewhere to reduce the price. So I expect to eventually see Wifi 6E devices with low-end CPUs and less RAM in an attempt to get closer to the 200$ target price. For example, the BCM6750 supports the 6 GHz band, so I could see a device using that CPU+wifi combo (it only supports two streams) rather than a BCM4908 with an external quad-stream radio. Such a router would definitely not qualify as "high end".

With 6E I am hoping they release small 2x2 wired APs that drop the 2.4Ghz band and offer simultaneous dual band on the 5Ghz and 6Ghz band. It would probably be a cheap and effective way to deploy gigabit WiFi all over the house.
 

thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
6E cost reduction will come the same way it has in previous generations, primarily by reducing the # of RF chains per radio. Putting three radios on a SoC will usually result in two chains per radio.

QCA's 6E portfolio is a future preview. IIRC from the briefing, the Home 318 platform has 2 stream 2.4 and lets either the 5 or 6 GHz radio be 2 or 4 stream, but not both.

I agree with @avtella . The router tweaking enthusiast market that some of you represent is a very small minority. Consumer gear is designed to hit price points and $600 is waaayyy pushing it. Radio processing has been pushed to the radio SoC for some time, it's not needed in the main CPU. It's highly unlikely you'll see more MIPS, RAM or flash to improve storage or VPN performance.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@RMerlin, no argument from me. That is the definition of low-end/manufacturer trickery. No matter what marketing mumbo-jumbo they put on the box.

@avtella, as mentioned above, when Entware updates peg the CPU on an RT-AX86U/RT-AX88U, that begs for more CPU horsepower. Lots of RAM today would be 2GB or more. Even if I want 4GB to ship with the router and have it user expandable to 8GB or larger, 2GB today would at least give current AX models breathing room to perform closer to their theoretical max.

I've also tried a 'self-built unit' that was an utter nightmare (pfSense). But I'm getting parts together to try it again. ;)



@thiggins, your post perfectly explains why we need more horsepower in Wi-Fi 6E routers. The current implementations are too weak and too far back in the past to be effective today (a scenario where the full performance that is promised, is deliverable).

@Tucu, that kind of out-of-box thinking is exactly how we'll get better routers and cheaper at the same time too. Time to drop support for dead in the water bands and make the new bands fully usable in every aspect for less money too.


I don't care about the details or the excuses of why consumer routers should be the toys they are today. At the price levels, that they're at, they need to be updated massively (regarding resources like CPU, RAM, and storage).

The tech to do this is there (look at handhelds/phones), I want the products now. Or, at least in the next Wi-Fi 6E flagships. Otherwise, they're not (flagships).

And fans (along with the noise, dust, etc.) are not welcome nor will they be tolerated for home use either. The efforts (and the results achieved) made to 'fix' the heatsinks prove that too in these forums.

I've never bought nor recommended a $600 router because much cheaper ones outperform them. Throwing money at a problem isn't a fix. The balance of the hardware and firmware is what makes a router 'high end' to me.

Right now, that bar is the RT-AX86U. The Wi-Fi 6E routers have a high hurdle to top the current king.

And there are no other script authors I would rather support than the ones right here on these forums.

The scripts are lean, do what they say, and get supported in days if not minutes. And for the most part, just work like they're supposed to.

Like I stated above, I will be trying pfSense again when the parts are all together (I now have the 4 Port Intel GbE card, 16GB RAM, i5-7400 with 180W power supply, and a 1TB SSD). What is missing is some time and much-needed energy to bring down a perfectly great setup and see if pfSense can offer anything more this time around.
 

avtella

Very Senior Member
If you were to survey say a 1000 people at random (outside of a networking oriented forum like this) and ask them what all they do with their router outside of just WiFi connectivity, even among owners of expensive models, I think you will have the answer or excuse however you want to put it as to why things aren't moving much in regards to processing/memory and why focus is more on the radio side and associated marketing. Of course I wouldn't mind bigger non radio improvements but this is the ground reality.

I figured you were conflating between "cost effectiveness" & "high end" which don't necessarily have to go hand in hand, which is probably what was throwing some of us off with the earlier comment.
 
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