Merlin firmware for the new RT-AX86U?

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TheLyppardMan

Very Senior Member
Are there any plans to create a Merlin version of the ASUS firmware for the new RT-AX86U? I only ask because I have one on order and it's due to be with me within about 4-6 weeks.
 

det721

Part of the Furniture
Give it some time. I asked the same question about the AX58U and was given the same answer by Merlin and now it's fully Merlin supported. :)
 

kernol

Very Senior Member
Yep ;) ... it beats an answer that says "no ways" [like the "GT-ROG" models which are not and may never be Merlinized] - BUT ... caution ... no guarantee the RT-AX86U will get included in Merlinware [there are a LOT of "AX" models which don't get to the finish line].
 

faux123

Regular Contributor
the new AX86U looks like a beast... 1.8 GHz 64bit quad core, 1 GB of RAM, newish 4.1.x kernel, similar open source structure as other HND based routers (AX88U/AC86U)...

Might be an upgrade path for me a few years from now... None of my home devices can take advantage of AX.. And I'm waiting for WiFi 6E since that may have more impact (much higher bandwidth and less interference at home) than just plan WiFi 6 looking at the benchmark so far on the plain AX models.
 

Cidious

Occasional Visitor
I bought one just now. Should arrive tomorrow. I'll run it stock for a while. See how that flies. But I'm on my knees praying Merlin will support it eventually. I mean it's the direct successor of the AC86U which is by far the most popular Asus Merlin router out there I bet. I looked at the AX88U but it's quite a bit more expensive here and doesn't offer 2.5GbE etc.

I'm assuming Merlin will come across with support since I can't see it not becoming the most popular Asus router for this gen again with it's feature set and pricing. But it's early days. Time will tell. I'll throw in a few bucks for donation anyway. Been using the AC86U with Merlin softs for quite a while now. Steady as a rock!
 

doczenith1

Very Senior Member
Interesting. I always thought it was the RT-AC68U which was the most popular one out there.
I'm with you on the 68U but I see that transitioning to the 86U in the future as 68U's get retired.
 

Cidious

Occasional Visitor
You might be right as the 68U is the cheaper one and good enough for most homes. The 86U though is more for slightly more demanding power users I guess. It's faster (newer) than the 88U. Hence my reasoning. I think by now it has overtaken the 68U.

I just got my AX86U and it's good but I'm so used to the less laggy Merlin web interface tweaks. Also I found that it can't fill the 2.5G Bandwidth when connecting a USB 3.0 SSD. I guess Merlin needs to put some work into for this to be fully to it's capabilities. I'm currently stuck at 145MB/s where on my AC86U with Merlin soft I'd hit 115MB/s on a 1Gbit port. Same drives. Maybe it's Samba V2 vs V1? not sure but I hope in the future if Merlin decides to support this beauty we'd be able to fully saturate the 2.5G bandwidth since that's what I literally bought it for. The hardware should be more than capable. It must be some software limitation.

WeChat Image_20200807174040.jpg

Update:
Build quality has improved quite a bit. It feels like such a more robus machine. I haven't opened it up yet. I did improve the thermal solution for my AC86U with some better thermal pads/paste and more copper back then. I'll probably do the same when I can actually see chip temperatures after custom firmware comes out. Been using it a full day now. Steady as a rock. Using 2.5G port to PC and Wifi 6 to PC and laptop. All stable and working as intended. A worthy AC86U successor with minor improvements and the latest standards.
 
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Paapaa

Occasional Visitor
I cannot speculate about future model support.
In general, what are the criteria you use to decide if you will support a model or not? Or are these criteria documented somewhere?

(Disclaimer, also strongly considering buying RT-AX86U and Merlin support would cement my decision. It seems that AX86U is finally also available on Amazon.de, for example.)
 

Cidious

Occasional Visitor
I had the same questions as you.

Now having bought it anyway I can tell you this. The unit is almost the same as the AC86U except for Wifi AX (which in theory is an upgrade but practically I don't notice much difference since I don't game on my wifi. I use cabled for that and Wifi for my handhelds). The 2.5Gb port is sweet. But useless unless it gets Merlin with Samba V2 support for higher throughput. I can't find other benefits of the AX86U over the AC86U for daily real life usage.

Maybe if you have very specific use cases there might be 1 or 2 more options hidden away in some corner that I'm not interested in or haven't found but in general they are the same. And Wifi AX is only interesting over AC in select scenarios.

Conclusion is that if you already have an AC86U. The upgrade only makes sense if Merlin will support it eventually. And if you don't have a decent router at all then for less than half the price you can get a AC86U WITH Merlin support that will give you a smoother all round experience with more functions.

If history is any indicator then I think he will support it eventually since there is no real reason why not (yet) and it's going to be a very popular and important model in the Asus line-up for sure just like the AC86U was/is. It has 2.5gb ethernet which is still pretty rare on midrange routers. That is why I went ahead. But in the state as it is now it doesn't give me any benefit over the AC86U WITH Merlin. other than 30MB/s more transfer speed to my
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
In general, what are the criteria you use to decide if you will support a model or not?
These changes over time, but right now:

- It needs to be Broadcom-based
- It needs to be widely available (not just in two or three countries)
- It needs to have high-end hardware so I don't have to fight with lack of flash or RAM
- It needs to receive frequent enough GPLs so I won't have to regularly skip it due to the GPL being outdated
- I need to have one
- I need to have the time to try supporting it
- I need to have the motivation to try supporting it

Each new model requires its own dedicated support. That means every time I work on a new firmware release, I have to work on each separate model, and I need GPL releases from Asus for each individual model, and I need to merge each of them separately. So that means if I support 10 different routers, then I need to merge in the content of 10 different GPL releases, and these need to be close enough to one another to be compatible. The more models I support, the harder this is to accomplish, therefore I am VERY conservative regarding adding any new model. The RT-AX92U for instance didn't happen so far because it gets irregular GPL releases, it has limited market share, and I didn't feel like putting the 2-4 weeks of dedicated work just to add this specific model.

Right now in the short term, I have no plan to add any new model. The last two models I added were an absolute nightmare, and are still problematic to this day (as all three AX models receive GPL releases from Asus on three separate frequencies, one of which is currently out of sync with the two others. The sure thing is I won't even consider adding any new model until after the 386 code merge has been done for a sufficient number of models, which will at least help a little by unifying two separate code branches. That probably won't be done for a couple of months.

So, since there are too many variables involved, I no longer speculate about which model I want, nor which model I CAN support. It will happen if and when it happens. I can't know for sure until I have gone ahead and did all the necessary work to support it, to confirm whether it CAN be supported or not.

The amount of work involved for adding any new model is constantly increasing, which in turns make my motivation in doing so constantly decrease as a result. Just supporting what I do right now has pretty much reached the limit of what I am willing to invest in terms of time and efforts into this project.
 

unsynaps

Senior Member
Another device only doing 2.5G. Why does no one do 5G?

I mean I can understand why they don't do 10G (Power, heat, questionable performance over copper depending on cable grade and length of run) but 5G should be fine.
 

Cidious

Occasional Visitor
These changes over time, but right now:

- It needs to be Broadcom-based
- It needs to be widely available (not just in two or three countries)
- It needs to have high-end hardware so I don't have to fight with lack of flash or RAM
- It needs to receive frequent enough GPLs so I won't have to regularly skip it due to the GPL being outdated
- I need to have one
- I need to have the time to try supporting it
- I need to have the motivation to try supporting it

Each new model requires its own dedicated support. That means every time I work on a new firmware release, I have to work on each separate model, and I need GPL releases from Asus for each individual model, and I need to merge each of them separately. So that means if I support 10 different routers, then I need to merge in the content of 10 different GPL releases, and these need to be close enough to one another to be compatible. The more models I support, the harder this is to accomplish, therefore I am VERY conservative regarding adding any new model. The RT-AX92U for instance didn't happen so far because it gets irregular GPL releases, it has limited market share, and I didn't feel like putting the 2-4 weeks of dedicated work just to add this specific model.

Right now in the short term, I have no plan to add any new model. The last two models I added were an absolute nightmare, and are still problematic to this day (as all three AX models receive GPL releases from Asus on three separate frequencies, one of which is currently out of sync with the two others. The sure thing is I won't even consider adding any new model until after the 386 code merge has been done for a sufficient number of models, which will at least help a little by unifying two separate code branches. That probably won't be done for a couple of months.

So, since there are too many variables involved, I no longer speculate about which model I want, nor which model I CAN support. It will happen if and when it happens. I can't know for sure until I have gone ahead and did all the necessary work to support it, to confirm whether it CAN be supported or not.

The amount of work involved for adding any new model is constantly increasing, which in turns make my motivation in doing so constantly decrease as a result. Just supporting what I do right now has pretty much reached the limit of what I am willing to invest in terms of time and efforts into this project.
Thanks for your explanation. I saw the AC68U is most popular. AC86U a solid second place. I hope the AX86U will be widely spread too eventually but it's a bit early to tell. As an early adopter I'm ready to wait it out. Thank you for all you've done for the community and are still doing. My AC86U is still running like a champ at the office now with your Merlin release.

As for motivation. I'm not in any way affiliated with Merlin. But I guess donations help. Would be a nice idea to maybe fund buying a unit for Merlin together if he decides to look into it. From members that bought it and would like to see future support. I'm not sure if I go outside the forums rules now. But I'm willing to put in the first amount if more buyers of the AX86U would be interested. Time will tell though. The release is too fresh now.


I am wondering is there any decent way to upgrade Samba ourselves in the firmware? I can live with the slower webinterface or some missing poweruser options but would love more throughput on the USB 3.0 ports as that's what I actually bought it for.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
 

Paapaa

Occasional Visitor
These changes over time, but right now:
Thanks for your informative answer! Makes total sense and gives perspective on the whole process of choosing and adding support for a new model. (This might be a good post to add to the FAQ if it is not there already.)
 

Mutzli

Very Senior Member
One big problem with all new AX routers is the limited release they will see since WiFi 6E is just around the corner. WiFi 6E is too important of an upgrade for Asus not to support it. I bet a year from know all the AX models will get a hardware upgrade with an updated chipset that supports the new frequencies in 6E. I'm already surprised that Asus is constantly adding new models to the AX router lineup with a standard that is poised to be obsolete in a few months from now.
 

det721

Part of the Furniture
I'm already surprised that Asus is constantly adding new models to the AX router lineup with a standard that is poised to be obsolete in a few months from now.
Yep Asus is just betting not many people know of or have any knowledge that Wifi 6E is just around the corner. Makes ZERO sence to buy anything AX right now period. Even the holy grail AX88U will be obsolete once this happens. I for one can't wait being in a Apt competing with many other AP's to use the 6 GHz band. Until then my money stays in the bank.
 

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