Broadcom wifi 6 router v Qualcomm wifi 6 router

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psychopomp1

Senior Member
Been very happy with my Netgear RAX200 router (Broadcom based) except for the fact that I can't run a OpenVPN client on it. So bought an Asus RT-AX89X (QCA based) and had high hopes for it. Whilst I had no issues running OpenVPN, wifi coverage (both on wifi 5 & 6) on it was worse than the AX200 - despite using same radio settings as the RAX200. For example, my laptop with an Intel AX200 card couldn't connect at more than 2 Gb/s when right next to the AX89X and only 400 Mbps at the furthest point - yet with the RAX200 i was getting 2.4 Gb/s and 1.2 Gb/s respectively. So is this just a case of Asus' wifi drivers for AX89X being poor or the fact that QCA wifi 6 routers just aren't as good as their Broadcom counterparts for wifi? I know to get a clearer answer I could try the Netgear RAX120 (also QCA based) but this offers me no extra features over the RAX200. For now, I will keep the AX89X as a spare/back-up router and hope future firmware updates might improve wifi performance. Btw will the AX89X ever get the Merlin firmware treatment?

Cheers
 

avtella

Very Senior Member
It will not get Merlin, its only for BCM models. For AX models the AX88U but not the GT-AX11000...

Interesting, your results seem the opposite of what Ive seen in reviews with the AX89U being at the apex of routers for 5Ghz performance and both the 120 and 89U being much better than the RAX200 on the 2.4 Ghz performance and storage performance, of course different environments will yield different WiFi results. I personally haven't used the AX89U but was thinking of recommending it to someone who was insistent on getting a high end AX model.

As for my own experience experimenting with the RAX80/120/200, the RAX120 gets higher sustained transfer speeds than the RAX80/200 on 5 Ghz (My ISP overprovisions my gigabit profile so I get around 1150-1200 Mbps) on speed tests even 10-15ft from the router through walls and one floor below, when LAN testing to a NAS its around 1200-1350 Mbps on 5 Ghz and when it comes to 2.4 Ghz (20Mhz) the RAX120 absolutely crushes the other two models as I can actually stream 4K YouTube 12-18ft through walls from the router but on the RAX80/200 its too slow and stutters. Storage performance was also significantly in the RAX120's favor having tested using a Samsung T5 SSD.

TLDR: Stick with whatever works best for you in your environment, if the RAX200 serves you well then I'd stick to it.

One question psychopomp1, in your experience was the AX89U pretty stable or not? I've heard both ways (looking at user comments on sales sites).
 
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psychopomp1

Senior Member
Yeah i thought QCA chipsets would be better so slightly surprised. But then again, I know a lot of folks rate the AX88U very highly for wifi coverage....yet this uses the same BCM chipset as the RAX200 though I'm well aware the AX88U is dual band whilst the RAX200 is tri-band. But anyway, like you say, different routers will give different results since 2 no environments are ever the same.
 

psychopomp1

Senior Member
Stability-wise, no issues with the AX89X running the latest stock firmware 3.0.0.4_384_82800. I think where people were getting random reboots, this was ocurring on older firmware. Oh and I hated the fan running all the time on the AX89X despite being in a relatively cool room. There is an option to disable the fan in the firmware but I didn't try it, just in case the router overheated o_O
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
Beyond the physical chips and drivers themselves, the determining factor for usable throughput at any given range may likely depend more on electrical/RF engineering and related sub-components -- ie. the supplied wattage to the PA chips, the amount, model and configuration of those chips , and ultimately the amount and quality of current delivered to each radio chip (and ultimately antenna array), and back.

If you take a look at the fcc.io internal photos for starters, you'll see a ton of difference in system board design. That alone will alter the amount and quality of pre-amp current supplied to each amplifier, and in-turn each radio. Then comes the PA chips themselves. Looking at each model: the RT-AX88U uses a Skyworks SKY85216-11 LNA and a SKY85006-11 PAM for 2.4Ghz, and a SKY85743-21 high-power front-end module for 5Ghz. From what I can see, the RAX200 uses identical Skyworks modules for 5Ghz and believe 2.4Ghz as well, but haven't been able to confirm -- but they're also placed differently (directly by each spatial array). The RT-AX89X uses Qorvo QPF4288 and QPF4588 for 2.4 and 5Ghz. Each brand and model component varies in the amount of Tx gain and Rx gain supplied by default.

Add in varying antenna designs, how well each can/cannot de-couple the spatial streams to the client, and/or RF antenna cable line loss, and it's no wonder you can have pretty variable results in client throughput over distance, just based on the differences in physical design alone.

So, Qualcomm or Broadcom may be theoretically ahead of one of the other on paper, but if the above-mentioned engineering or componentry isn't there, then the overall outcome can (and likely will) be drastically different than what one might expect, and per your observations previously.
 
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Synomenon

Regular Contributor
Pretty much the same experience here. Started off with a RAX200, tried an AX89X and am now back on the RAX200 despite liking the stock Asus firmware much more than the stock Netgear firmware.

Connection stability and speeds were better for me with the RAX200. Household has multiple iPhone 11 Pro. Max units, latest iPad Pro. models, Apple TV 4Ks and video game consoles pretty much streaming or playing content throughout the day.
 

geminis3

New Around Here
The Qualcomm advantage it's that will you be able of installing OpenWRT when ath11k it's ready for primetime (next year probably), Broadcom is a house of scares only supported by stock firmware forks like Merlin.
 

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