Improve House Wifi / Keep Existing Router?

LexLuthor

Regular Contributor
Hello,
I currently have an Asus RT-AC68U serving my 2500 sq ft house. Signal at remote parts of the house is ok in general and I don't have any glaring connection issues. I have a 2nd one that I've setup as AiMesh, but when it's on, I have too many connection issues (drops, stalls, etc). Either way, I wondering if I should just ditch the older wifi technology and get a Wifi 6 router with multiple satellites.
The thing is I really like the Asus router running Merlin for my network management and I also have an external hard drive connected that I use frequently.
Would it make sense / is it possible to get a Wifi 6 network solution and just put it in bridge mode to use as house wifi access only? I presume I would put the main Wifi 6 router (configured to bridge mode) near my Asus and connect the Wifi 6 system router via it's internet port to an ethernet port on the RT-AC68U. And then reconnect all of my clients to the Wifi 6 network solution. Then I still manage my internet access via the Asus (VPN, external hard drive, QoS, traffic analyzing, etc). Is that all correct?
What kind of improvement will I even see, if any, moving to Wifi 6? I don't seem to have a problem streaming a 4K video from my router to a fire TV stick on the other side of the house via Kodi.
If this did make sense and I were to proceed, is the Asus router slowing anything down at that point or it's still quite capable to provide all of the internet routing for many devices?
Thanks in advance.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
All you need is to replace your current AC68U router with a single newer popular choice AX86U. It offers AX for your newer AX devices and improved AC Wave 2 for your existing AC devices, with better speeds and range. The same vertical design like your AC68U, supported by Asuswrt-Merlin, much faster hardware. What you have running on AC68U is available on AX86U, except per IP Traffic (incompatible with the new Linux kernel). In addition you'll get Cake QoS and Wireguard VPN (coming soon) options. Don't use the router as NAS, not a good idea if you value your data.
 

LexLuthor

Regular Contributor
All you need is to replace your current AC68U router with a single newer popular choice AX86U. It offers AX for your newer AX devices and improved AC Wave 2 for your existing AC devices, with better speeds and range. The same vertical design like your AC68U, supported by Asuswrt-Merlin, much faster hardware. What you have running on AC68U is available on AX86U, except per IP Traffic (incompatible with the new Linux kernel). In addition you'll get Cake QoS and Wireguard VPN (coming soon) options. Don't use the router as NAS, not a good idea if you value your data.
Doesn't look like it's possible to get an AX86U at the moment, at least without paying a large premium. I'll keep a lookout though. That would likely cover my house without having to worry about a 2nd one in AiMesh or vs another solution with satellites?
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Most likely it will. I have one AX88U for experiments, the same hardware as AX86U. It has at least 20% better coverage than AC68U on 5GHz band. This is perhaps all you need to reach the weak Wi-Fi spots. I would avoid AiMesh, if a single router can do the job.
 

jkxs

Occasional Visitor
Doesn't look like it's possible to get an AX86U at the moment, at least without paying a large premium. I'll keep a lookout though. That would likely cover my house without having to worry about a 2nd one in AiMesh or vs another solution with satellites?
MicroCenter stores around the country received inventory about two days ago at certain locations (after 3+ months of all locations being OOS) if you live near one.
 

LexLuthor

Regular Contributor
Most likely it will. I have one AX88U for experiments, the same hardware as AX86U. It has at least 20% better coverage than AC68U on 5GHz band. This is perhaps all you need to reach the weak Wi-Fi spots. I would avoid AiMesh, if a single router can do the job.
I wouldn't even say I have weak spots with the AC68U. Certainly don't notice any real world issues, maybe the downstairs TV would benefit from a slightly better signal.
In real world terms, what's an AX86U going to get me over my AC68U? Am I going to even notice anything is different?
As far as the NAS, I really don't want to get into building a NAS box or paying for a commercial NAS box. I have one 4TB drive connected. It's got movies and TV shows that wouldn't be the end of the world if I lost, all of my cell phone photos auto-backup to it and it's got all of our family photos and videos. Every so often I manually back off of that up to another drive that I keep in a metal safe.
MicroCenter stores around the country received inventory about two days ago at certain locations (after 3+ months of all locations being OOS) if you live near one.
My store currently has 8 available. Still wondering what spending $250 will get me in real-world use. Will I even notice a thing?
 

jkxs

Occasional Visitor
I wouldn't even say I have weak spots with the AC68U. Certainly don't notice any real world issues, maybe the downstairs TV would benefit from a slightly better signal.
In real world terms, what's an AX86U going to get me over my AC68U? Am I going to even notice anything is different?
As far as the NAS, I really don't want to get into building a NAS box or paying for a commercial NAS box. I have one 4TB drive connected. It's got movies and TV shows that wouldn't be the end of the world if I lost, all of my cell phone photos auto-backup to it and it's got all of our family photos and videos. Every so often I manually back off of that up to another drive that I keep in a metal safe.

My store currently has 8 available. Still wondering what spending $250 will get me in real-world use. Will I even notice a thing?
I'm not the person who can answer that. Personally, I have everything wired except for my Samsung devices (3 phones, 1 tablet all capable of WiFi 6) and one scanner. I currently have a Netgear R7800. It was time for me to upgrade. Someone said that the 5g WiFi range on the RT-AX86U would be better than the 5g range on my R7800 so I am happy. Note that every other retailer (B&H, Adorama, Newegg, Asus themselves) is selling the unit at $279.99 and are all backordered, or out-of-stock. Amazon just restocked (selling at $249.99) four. I was waiting a few months for it to restock so I jumped on it.

There is a new Asus router that should be available soon, but it is $400 http://www.snbforums.com/threads/best-dual-band-ax86u-or-wait-for-next-model.75953/post-727874
 
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Tech9

Part of the Furniture
In real world terms, what's an AX86U going to get me over my AC68U? Am I going to even notice anything is different?

Yes, you'll get better coverage, faster speeds to your existing AC 5GHz devices with AC Wave 2, AX for newer devices, much newer and faster hardware with longer support, lower latency and overall faster response in everything. If you use on-router VPN, the newer ARMv8 cores have hardware AES support and offer about 200Mbps speeds, compared to 50Mbps on AC68U. AC68U to AX86U is going to be a huge upgrade for you.

Here is an example from my tests:
AC68U to 1-stream AC client, 433Mbps link speed - 202Mbps max measured throughput
AX88U (same hardware as AX86U) to the same client - 254Mbps max measured throughput
This is 2x consecutive tests in the same Wi-Fi environment. The difference is quite noticeable.
 
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LexLuthor

Regular Contributor
Yes, you'll get better coverage, faster speeds to your existing AC 5GHz devices with AC Wave 2, AX for newer devices, much newer and faster hardware with longer support, lower latency and overall faster response in everything. If you use on-router VPN, the newer ARMv8 cores have hardware AES support and offer about 200Mbps speeds, compared to 50Mbps on AC68U. AC68U to AX86U is going to be a huge upgrade for you.

Here is an example from my tests:
AC68U to 1-stream AC client, 433Mbps link speed - 202Mbps max measured throughput
AX88U (same hardware as AX86U) to the same client - 254Mbps max measured throughput
This is 2x consecutive tests in the same Wi-Fi environment. The difference is quite noticeable.
Appreciate the reply!
I have 300M/300M Verizon FiOS for internet.
I don't use VPN too much, but that might be because speeds are slow on the AC68U, so that's a plus.
I'm still trying to understand where I'm going to notice improvement. Streaming at 254Mbps instead of 202Mbps to an AC client isn't something I'd ever notice, I don't think. 202Mbps is still way above anything I'd need for any streaming video application.
Downstairs TV is on a 5GHz channel and it says fair connection about 60Mbps in the speedtest, so that's definitely one device I might see a noticeable improvement, but I haven't really had issues streaming to that TV.
I do have about 30 devices connected, but devices that are streaming media are the only ones using a lot of bandwidth.
I'm not not clear yet how spending $250 will get me anything I would notice. Maybe I'm just missing something, so I appreciate the patience.
I do have one reserved for me at a nearby Microcenter that I can pick up by Wednesday so I'm still thinking.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I'm not not clear yet how spending $250 will get me anything I would notice.

You will notice much more responsive network and you will have the chance to go with one single router. Your attached USB storage will also work better on faster hardware with more RAM. There is also AX86S variant with dual-core CPU, 512MB RAM and no 2.5Gb LAN port as cheaper alternative. Wi-Fi part is the same as AX86U, VPN performance is the same, runs the same software and it will be Asuswrt-Merlin supported starting with 386.4 version. After all, get yourself a present for Christmas! The reserved AX86U is waiting for you. :)
 

LexLuthor

Regular Contributor
I'm not even seeing the AX86S for more than $10 less so that's kind of pointless even if I don't really need the U version.
Anything coming down the pipe in the next year or so that maybe makes it worth waiting a bit?
 

SoCalReviews

Very Senior Member
I wouldn't wait and I wouldn't get the AX86S since it's a still a newer model with less of a track record. There is the newer model linked above that runs about $400 USD but that is also very new and we don't know enough about it's performance and reliability. If you don't mind spending that kind of money and rolling the dice on a brand new router then it's an option. Otherwise stick with the AX86U that you have reserved.

The AX86U is an exceptional wireless router and it is going to perform noticeably better in every way than the AC68U. I know because that was exactly the model I had too before I upgraded. You will appreciate owning a new AX86U router.
 
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LexLuthor

Regular Contributor
I wouldn't wait and I wouldn't get the AX86S since it's a still a newer model with less of a track record. There is the newer model linked above that runs about $400 USD but that is also very new and we don't know enough about it's performance and reliability. If you don't mind spending that kind of money and rolling the dice on a brand new router then it's an option. Otherwise stick with the AX86U that you have reserved.

The AX86U is an exception wireless router and it is going to perform noticeably better in every way than the AC68U. I know because that was exactly the model I had too before I upgraded. You will appreciate owning a new AX86U router.
I think I'll go get it but honestly, I'm fully expecting that I plug it in and will not notice difference in everyday use at all.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
You remind me of a customer that was very doubtful of what a new RT-AX86U would offer on his network. He had to replace an original RT-AC68U that was at the limits of his current setup (from an original 5Mbps down/0.25Mbps up ISP connection with less than 6 wireless devices (so many years ago) to 400Mbps up/down symmetrical Fibre connection with 50+ devices).

When we initially installed the new RT-AX86U, he was ecstatic over the very noticeable difference in his network from the old router. But after less than two weeks, he seemed to have regretted his decision (based purely on a cost basis). He mentioned that 'maybe the old router was still good enough'?

I brought over a brand-new RT-AC66U_B1 router and briefly changed the routers out. He was shocked how much he had gotten used to the RT-AX86U in his network in such a short time period. He hasn't spoken of 'regrets' since.

Not saying that everyone will notice a difference, but the differences are real and highly beneficial for a modern home with fast ISP speeds and more than one user at a time.

You may find the following interesting reading for both the RT-AX86U and the RT-AX68U. And both upgraded from much better hardware than the RT-AC68U you have now.


Report - 2x RT-AX68U upgrade over 2x RT-AC86U in wireless backhaul mode
 

jkxs

Occasional Visitor
I think I'll go get it but honestly, I'm fully expecting that I plug it in and will not notice difference in everyday use at all.
Microcenter offers 30 day returns no questions asked. So if you aren't ecstatic in 3 weeks then return it.
 

LexLuthor

Regular Contributor
You remind me of a customer that was very doubtful of what a new RT-AX86U would offer on his network. He had to replace an original RT-AC68U that was at the limits of his current setup (from an original 5Mbps down/0.25Mbps up ISP connection with less than 6 wireless devices (so many years ago) to 400Mbps up/down symmetrical Fibre connection with 50+ devices).

When we initially installed the new RT-AX86U, he was ecstatic over the very noticeable difference in his network from the old router. But after less than two weeks, he seemed to have regretted his decision (based purely on a cost basis). He mentioned that 'maybe the old router was still good enough'?

I brought over a brand-new RT-AC66U_B1 router and briefly changed the routers out. He was shocked how much he had gotten used to the RT-AX86U in his network in such a short time period. He hasn't spoken of 'regrets' since.

Not saying that everyone will notice a difference, but the differences are real and highly beneficial for a modern home with fast ISP speeds and more than one user at a time.

You may find the following interesting reading for both the RT-AX86U and the RT-AX68U. And both upgraded from much better hardware than the RT-AC68U you have now.


Report - 2x RT-AX68U upgrade over 2x RT-AC86U in wireless backhaul mode
Good stuff! That's a great test and I will swap back in the old router after 2 weeks for fun :)
You have all convinced me and I'm going to get pick it up now.
I know I'm being a bit of a pain, but I'm still not clear where I will see improvement. Things like "more responsive network" don't really help clarify. Will streaming videos start faster, will I get better quality video when streaming Netflix to a 1080p screen, will webpages open faster. I don't think any of those things will be true to be honest. Maybe by 4K TV downstairs will get a bit better quality video, maybe I'll get more range in my backyard. VPN will be faster, assuming my VPN provider is having a good day.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Better video quality is not something I would expect. Unless you can specify a better stream (i.e. 4K vs. 1080p).

The range of improvements will vary, depending on your client devices' specifications. All TVs feel 'slow' to me. They are vastly underpowered. Having to wait even an eighth of a second for a setting to change on a TV is an eternity! And most TVs take a second or more, between each button push, ugh!

A newer, current-generation laptop will be able to leverage the additional throughput and lower latency quite effectively though. With one customer, their 10 to 20-minute-long backups each night were transformed to less than a minute (to their NAS', from remote, OpenVPN connected clients).

If you have local NAS, printers, scanners, media boxes, etc., you may notice this level of improvement too.


WiFi 6E? Of course, you will! But the smart money is to wait for WiFi 7. Particularly if you have the RT-AX86U to tide you over. :)
 

SoCalReviews

Very Senior Member
I think I'll go get it but honestly, I'm fully expecting that I plug it in and will not notice difference in everyday use at all.
You will. The improvement with less latency was immediately noticeable for example during the of loading web pages (snappier, less lag, etc.) ... and there will be a much improved and more stable 5Ghz radio range. The 2.4Ghz connection improvements will be less noticeable.
 

LexLuthor

Regular Contributor
Should I be considering the RT-AX68U instead for $70 less (or $100 less if it goes back on sale) or the RT-AX58U at $90 less. Wondering if the RT-AX86U might be overkill. What do I lose going with either of those? If the AX82U was supported by Merlin, I'd probably grab that for $65 less.
 
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