Just how unreliable is the Asus RT-AC86U?

jschu2

Occasional Visitor
I've owned an Asus RT-N66U for 8 years and I haven't had any problems with it until shortly after I added several Google Home smart devices in my house. Maybe it's a coincidence, I don't know. Xfinity recently upgraded my plan to 200mbps, and even after upgrading my 172mbps Arris SB6121 modem, I'm about 75mpbs short of those speeds, and at times it's been less than 50mbps. An Xfinity tech tested the line connected to the modem at somewhere around 1.5gbps, so I've decided it's time to upgrade the router.

My requirements are a Merlin compatible Asus router that can be used with NordVPN. Based on a recommendation of several routers from a 2021 post by RMerlin, I'm close to pulling the trigger on the RT-AC86U. I also learned about hardware acceleration from that post, and that's an added plus. It's only $100 shipped right now, so it seemed like a no-brainer for me until I dug a little deeper and read about the overheating issues. An AX router is overkill for me, especially considering that none of my devices are compatible with Wi-Fi 6, and my speed plan is only 200mpbs.

I know the RT-AC86U is a good router in tests, but when it overheats, what happens exactly? Does it shut down completely? I've read that the problem may have existed only in previous Chinese built models, but not the later versions built in Vietnam. There's apparently an even better ROG version built in Taiwan, but it's not currently on sale. This was just information obtained from a single user on Slickdeals, however, so I don't know how accurate this information is.

If overheating is going to occur, I've been looking into fan kits that I see on Amazon, such as this one:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07ZYZ5SSQ/?tag=snbforums-20

That's just an example. I don't know which "brand" would be the best. Should I buy a fan kit immediately, or wait and see what the temperatures are like first without them? My thinking is that proper cooling from the start will extend the life of it and prevent problems in the future. Thank you for the help!
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I would not consider old models today (particularly AC class models that won't receive the latest 388.xx and later firmware).

Having AX clients (or not), currently, isn't a determination of which router to buy today. The AC class part of today's top AX class routers all have superior hardware and RF designs for those older clients too.

The routers to consider today are the RT-AX68U, RT-AX86U, or the GT-AX6000. With the first being good for ISP speeds of ~600Mbps, the middle model around 1Gbps, and the best balanced hardware available today capable of up to 2.5Gbps (WAN and LAN).

If your plan is to keep this new router as long (hopefully) as you did with the RT-N66U, then buy as much router as possible (good, better, best, in the list above).
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I know the RT-AC86U is a good router in tests, but when it overheats, what happens exactly?

Overheating was one of the issues only. Most dead AC86U units have blown VR module. This router is not recommended in 2023 not because of reliability issues, but because of expected firmware support. Asus have decided all AC-class routers will stay on 386 firmware and that perhaps means no more firmware development - eventual security fixes only and not very often. This router also has still unresolved software issue mostly affecting user scripts in Asuswrt-Merlin and firmware components like Traffic Analyzer, Web History or Client List. You may find them frozen and need to reboot from time to time.

If you want one and don't care much about the issues (simple configuration, not critical to reboot from time to time) or firmware support - make sure you have good warranty on it. It's an excellent Wi-Fi performer for range and wall penetration. You don't need any extra cooling measures on a new unit.
 

jschu2

Occasional Visitor
Thank you both for the help. I've read many of both of your posts during my searches and they've been helpful. I know one of you isn't a fan of the "S" model, and the other thinks it's OK, but for my purposes, the RT-AX86U is overkill, so I bought the RT-AX86S yesterday. I traded in/recycled my old modem at Best Buy (I don't like that store, but in this case, I don't care), which would have been difficult to sell for anything more than $10 on eBay, and that brought the price down to $153. It was worth it to me to spend the extra cash and not have to deal with chasing solutions to fix overheating issues and have it possibly malfunction. Had the "U" model been on sale, I would have gotten it, but it's not being discounted, due to the popularity.

I looked at the RT-AX68U, but could only find a deal on it in white. Isn't the AX86S better? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the AX86S essentially an upgraded AC86U?
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
RT-AX86S is the cheaper version of RT-AX86U with no 2.5GbE port, the same type dual-core CPU and 512MB RAM. It runs the same firmware as RT-AX86U as well. The Wi-Fi hardware and performance is the same. RT-AX68U was the only router model using BCM6710 SoC for both 2.4GHz/5GHz radios and had a long history of connectivity issues. This model didn't go very well on the market and disappeared from Canadian stores about 6 months ago. I suspect it was discontinued quietly and replaced by multiple AX3000/AX5400 versions of RT-AX58U (including V2) base hardware.

RT-AX86S has low memory available reported when used with Asuswrt-Merlin, but I'm sure 388 firmware code is going to be optimized further by Asus for all 512MB RAM routers. In my opinion you did the better choice. You just need to have some patience on the firmware side.
 

jsz

Senior Member
RT-AX86S is the cheaper version of RT-AX86U with no 2.5GbE port, the same type dual-core CPU and 512MB RAM. It runs the same firmware as RT-AX86U as well. The Wi-Fi hardware and performance is the same. RT-AX68U was the only router model using BCM6710 SoC for both 2.4GHz/5GHz radios and had a long history of connectivity issues. This model didn't go very well on the market and disappeared from Canadian stores about 6 months ago. I suspect it was discontinued quietly and replaced by multiple AX3000/AX5400 versions of RT-AX58U (including V2) base hardware.

RT-AX86S has low memory available reported when used with Asuswrt-Merlin, but I'm sure 388 firmware code is going to be optimized further by Asus for all 512MB RAM routers. In my opinion you did the better choice. You just need to have some patience on the firmware side.

I agree. Theres a lot of newer 512MB models being released, albeit on DDR4 with 4912 CPU instead of DDR3 with 4906/4908 combo. Hopefully there's improvements on stuff thats not strictly 3.0.0.6 code (newer HW).

I can also attest that the 6710 having some connectivity issues.

My 2.4G Radio on AX86S has issues on reboot or adding clients en masse (smart switches mainly), but it's fairly stable once everything is settled.. just more rng relative to the higher end BCM43684/BCM6715 or older ACW2 BCM4366E/BCM4365E.. which all are more or less confirmed to have internal CPUs via radio.. outside of the main CPU being used.

6710 and 6705 seem to follow a more traditional hardware approach pre "penta core" architecture. 4x4 6175 seems to retain its internal CPU.

I think Broadcom is okay with this since 4912/4916 CPU's at minimum quad core. Assuming 4906 is now EoL being a older 28nm process.

675X functions similarly to 6710 according to Merlin.. The SoCs are basically pooled resources the same way a Quad core A53 would function with "x" hardware, just weaker A7 design @ 1.5-1.7Ghz.


This is different than something like an AC86U which had a 1.8ghz A53 dual core + 800mhz A7 cores on each radio.
 
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Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I don't care much what's inside the SoC and what process was used in manufacturing. What's more important - how it performs*. There are very few products released using BCM6710 and AX68U was the only one from Asus using it for 5GHz band. This is a good enough indication for me this chip has some issues - hardware, software, supply... whatever. I can't recommend products proven itself not good enough to manufacture, sell or support.

* - the reason I'm still keeping Qualcomm based Synology RT2600ac router.
 

jsz

Senior Member
I don't think theres anything wrong with it particularly, but it likely needs its own resource pool or optimization. Broadcom engineers aren't stupid, but it's definitely a more cost centric design relative to the previous ACW2 BCM4365/E.

More BCM6705 products will be coming to market too.. And thats just a 2x2 variant of the same basic 3x3 6710 hardware from what I understand.

What if its not the chip but rather poor optimization between the older 4906/4908? Might be a reason 6705 didn't pop up till now. (Was announced in 2020 with 6710, BCM4912 didn't get product certification till 2021).

AX59U and AX4200 seem to be the first ASUS based products that have it, paired with BCM4912.


Whatever the case, AX68U and AC68U V4 potentially had the least amount of functional cores for a modern product... including super cheap routers with entry SoCs.
 
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Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Just one single model released using this chip and with long history of connection issues tells me enough - avoid. Who's smart or stupid - the customer is made stupid most of the time. The first AC88U routers were released with wide advertised MU-MIMO and non-working MU-MIMO on chip level. Later Asus swapped the chip with fixed revision. What about the customers who already had AC88U and paid extra? Nothing - stupid. This is how it works.

Customers with failing AC86U, connectivity issues AX68U, new AC68U V4 listed as EoL product, expensive AX92U with no firmware update for >1 year, abandoned Asus Blue Cave and Lyra products... sorry guys, try again and thanks for your continued patience and support. ;)
 
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jsz

Senior Member
I get it. I guess I'm just making the argument that the connection issues may stem from hardware config, rather than chip itself.

It's fairly logical that 6705, 6710, and even 6715 were intended for newer hardware and not something essentially developed for an older Gen 2 Penta core design circa 2016.

And after seeing the AC68U V4 abomination (BCM4906 + BCM4360 Gen 1 AC Radio), I can't help but question it.

It's entirely possible that the BCM4906 may have software issues (in terms of radio processing + layered features) and or have hardware conflicts given its original design intention of offloaded radio CPUs.

It's not like the SoCs which were built ground up with AX spec. Also not free from WL driver issues early on.
 
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jschu2

Occasional Visitor
RT-AX86S is the cheaper version of RT-AX86U with no 2.5GbE port, the same type dual-core CPU and 512MB RAM. It runs the same firmware as RT-AX86U as well. The Wi-Fi hardware and performance is the same. RT-AX68U was the only router model using BCM6710 SoC for both 2.4GHz/5GHz radios and had a long history of connectivity issues. This model didn't go very well on the market and disappeared from Canadian stores about 6 months ago. I suspect it was discontinued quietly and replaced by multiple AX3000/AX5400 versions of RT-AX58U (including V2) base hardware.

RT-AX86S has low memory available reported when used with Asuswrt-Merlin, but I'm sure 388 firmware code is going to be optimized further by Asus for all 512MB RAM routers. In my opinion you did the better choice. You just need to have some patience on the firmware side.
I appreciate the feedback, thank you. I'm glad I didn't get the AX68U, then! This will be a major upgrade from what I've been using, although I have been quite happy with the old router. Even 1GB of RAM isn't that much. I think my RT-N66U has 256MB, so you'd think that after more than 10 years, having 1GB should be the bare minimum. I don't get it, but we'll see how it goes.
 

jsz

Senior Member
All current updated and modern 512mb ASUS routers use the same 370mb+ out of box (450+ with SW enabled). Even stuff coming to market.

I wouldn't worry as much given the fact that they're bring out new hardware with the same spec, but 1GB will have more room to breathe as time goes on. More of a peace of mind move as of now.

Edit: AC86U on older 386 code will hover 250-290mb without SW features enabled. Should be around 400mb with ft. enabled... and those radios don't dip into the main CPU unless needed. AC86U functions as dual core 1.8ghz A53/512MB + 800mhz A7/Ram per radio core.

As for the cooler, you don't need it unless there's something seriously wrong with the unit you purchased. 50C radios and 70C CPU are completely fine.

Spending $99 for router + $24 for cooler is redundant. Would look into a newer/better model at that point.





PS: AC86U is still made in China, but the ones destined for US are made in Vietnam. The same way GT-AC2900 for US comes from Taiwan. GT AC2900 and AC86U in Europe are Chinese made units. Same for anything else ASUS sells en masse (mobos for example). Tarrif purposes and widening supply chain.

Vietnam based AC86U's are 2020+ production. Most issues should be fixed (just assuming based on experience with other industries). Most brands have an idea of RMA rate per quota of units. A lot of the stuff reported on forums is a small fraction of total sales generally speaking.

Example: The US based "RT-AX58U" was originally a Taiwanese SKU sold by Best buy stores only, with "RT-AX3000" model coming from Vietnam and stocked by alternative suppliers. Europe got Chinese models of the same "RT-AX58U" SKU.

I believe the original US AX58U exclusivity was to test the waters and see RMA rates between resellers/units etc.. Arcadyan recently opened shop in Vietnam around this time. AX86U and GT-AX11000 were some of the first mass production units not being made solely in China. Pretty sure AX88U moved over too.

Taiwan seems to be reserved for the niche/low volume stuff now. GT-AX6000 for example.. Which is also produced in China (regional), but US based inventory is currently Taiwanese. Could be moved as time goes on.

Hope that makes sense.
 
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Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Hope that makes sense.

Doesn't make much sense to me. Chips, cores, how it is made, where, what SKU, guessing on top - all not needed. Most home router users want to know does it work (yes/no), is it reliable (yes/no), how much does it cost and where to buy. This is what @jschu2 wants to know as well.
 

jschu2

Occasional Visitor
Things went well for the most part, but there were a couple of hiccups. The WiFi card in my laptop was one of the devices that required a specific driver update, otherwise it wouldn't work in AX mode. Two other laptops didn't have this problem, so I turned off AX mode on 2.4ghz, then ended up reinstalled Windows, hoping everything would be updated properly. Before that, I tried resetting the network and system restore a couple of times without any luck. It was my own stupid fault for not reading the paperwork that came with the router, which very specifically tells you to update the drivers, which I had assumed Windows Update took care of automatically. Unfortunately, Intel no longer lists this driver on their website, so I had to get it somewhere else. Everything is visible now with AX turned on.

The second annoyance I had is that the initial IP address of 192.168.1.1 was no longer accessible after I updated the firmware. Luckily, I saw a post on Reddit stating that their router defaulted to 192.168.50.1 in a similar situation. Asus should be more clear about this. After that, I was able to upgrade to Merlin. I forgot to check RAM usage before switching to Merlin, but as of now it's at 70%. I haven't had the time to make any adjustments, but it's so much quicker to navigate than my old RT-N66U. I'll keep the old one as a backup. My internet speed is substantially quicker, so it was a worthwhile upgrade.
 

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