Need to replace my AC68-U - what router is recommended for Merlin's excellent firmware these days?

spudgun

Occasional Visitor
Good afternoon everyone,

My AC68-U that I have had since May 2014 could be slowly dying as I've had to restart the 2.4ghz wifi a few times recently as nothing can connect to it even though devices can detect that it is broadcasting.

It has given me 7 and half years of excellent service and I have been on Merlin's firmware (John's fork) for the vast majority of this time as I have found it to be comprehensive, secure and a joy to use.

As such, I'd like my next device to be one that is able to continue this firmware journey (I know that I will need to switch from John's fork as it only supports much older devices) and I was wondering what the community's suggestion would be for the best device to replace my trusty AC 68U with?

I am currently on a 80/20 VDSL connection, but expect to have FTTP installed in the next 18 months. The router currently has 3 x 1gb hardwired connections to it to distribute to fixed devices around my home as well as serving 8 different wireless devices.

Budget wise, a max of £250 would be ideal

Feature wise, other than that identified above, an ability to turn the LEDs off is a big plus as I don't need this device to light my hall up at night!


Thank you very much, in advance, for considering this.
 
Last edited:

festus77

Occasional Visitor
Had mine for about the same amount of time. When she said goodbye as my main router, I went with RT-AX86U. It's a fine machine.
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
I upgraded from an RT-AC68U to an RT-AX86U earlier this year. It's a good router but probably overkill for both our use cases, unless you're planning on using the router's VPN client.

Operationally I've found both routers to perform similarly, no massive difference unless you're using QoS or VPN. But hopefully it will be supported for quite some time. At £250 I'm not sure it's worth the money (for my use case) but I got it in an Amazon sale for £184 which is much more palatable.

I have mentioned in other threads that there is an annoying bug with the 5GHz WiFi, but I've managed to work around that. It's still quite a new model so hopefully that will be fixed in a future firmware update.

It does have the ability to turn off the LEDs. ;)
 

Lynx

Senior Member
I think the RT-AX86u would be best for you. I found the 5Ghz on the RT-AX86U to be extremely fast and reliable. I saw speeds of around 60Mbytes/s between client and router.

I think the hardware is nice but it annoys me that udhcpc kill commands are not sent on wan disconnect. So that resulted in loss of internet connectivity with my Huawei modem.

A completely different option is the RT3200 + OpenWrt. You then get more sophisticated SQM and WireGuard. Those are so cheap (circa £80) you can buy 2x or 3x and put them in a 802.11s mesh to give coverage through your whole house.
 

heysoundude

Very Senior Member
if you can't find a deal on the AX86, I should think an AC86 would suit your needs for the foreseeable future (if they're more available/budget friendly) while the prices of wifi6 equipment (hopefully) drop and devices that use it increasingly populate the market. You do not currently NEED a machine that can handle a significanly speedier connection, after all, and that end of the tech spectrum is still evolving; in 18mo it will be much more mature and should be more reasonable on the bank account
don't mothball the ac68 - use it as a mesh node if you can wire backhaul to the new machine, and force your WLAN to be 5GHz only, if all of your devices support it. You may have to flash Merlin or stock firmware to it for this - not sure about John's fork having AiMesh included
 

spudgun

Occasional Visitor
Thank you for all of the helpful replies.

The AX86 is currently on sale for around £250 here in the UK, but Amazon have an offer on the RT-AC86U for £105, so I might go for that instead.

Other than Wifi6, what other features would I miss out on by going for the cheaper option?
 

JGrana

Very Senior Member
@ColinTaylor , do tell what the 5Ghz bug is (and workaround please). I recently installed an AX86U at a remote location along with an AX58U as a mesh node.
When I run dmesg, I see these messages flooding the log:

Code:
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
CONSOLE: 384230.799 wl1: r0hole: tx_exp_seq 0xda7, seq 0xda8
[tdts_shell_ioctl_stat:256] Recv ioctl req with op 2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
Not sure its a WiFi bug, but I have tried a number of different settings - no change...
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
@ColinTaylor , do tell what the 5Ghz bug is (and workaround please). I recently installed an AX86U at a remote location along with an AX58U as a mesh node.
When I run dmesg, I see these messages flooding the log:

Code:
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
CONSOLE: 384230.799 wl1: r0hole: tx_exp_seq 0xda7, seq 0xda8
[tdts_shell_ioctl_stat:256] Recv ioctl req with op 2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
_blog_emit, blogp = 0x2260
Not sure its a WiFi bug, but I have tried a number of different settings - no change...
I don't think the blog messages are errors, they're just debug messages as far as I can tell. There are plenty of other "info level" messages (e.g. wlc_send_bar) that Asus has left enabled which are equally annoying. I do wonder whether that's deliberate because they know there are issues and they want their customers to be beta testers.

The specific problem I was referring is the 5GHz WiFi driver constantly crashing and restarting when there are other stations occupying the same channel. It is described here.
 

Jack Yaz

Part of the Furniture
I upgraded from an RT-AC68U to an RT-AX86U earlier this year. It's a good router but probably overkill for both our use cases, unless you're planning on using the router's VPN client.

Operationally I've found both routers to perform similarly, no massive difference unless you're using QoS or VPN. But hopefully it will be supported for quite some time. At £250 I'm not sure it's worth the money (for my use case) but I got it in an Amazon sale for £184 which is much more palatable.

I have mentioned in other threads that there is an annoying bug with the 5GHz WiFi, but I've managed to work around that. It's still quite a new model so hopefully that will be fixed in a future firmware update.

It does have the ability to turn off the LEDs. ;)
i'm itching to pull the trigger on an AX86U but waiting for the imminent black Friday deals Amazon will run in case it gets discounted
 

rlj2

Regular Contributor
I have 2 AC86Us, and 1 AX86u, the AX has its bugs. i have to turn off flow control for iptables/flexqos to work correctly. Im constantly finding little bugs with it. The AC86us are stable and work perfect. They just dont have wifi6. For what its worth, I consider the AX the worst "upgrade" i purchased in 2021
 

anotherengineer

Regular Contributor
I have 2 AC86Us, and 1 AX86u, the AX has its bugs. i have to turn off flow control for iptables/flexqos to work correctly. Im constantly finding little bugs with it. The AC86us are stable and work perfect. They just dont have wifi6. For what its worth, I consider the AX the worst "upgrade" i purchased in 2021
hmmmm I read the AC86u had a bunch of issues also?? My 68u doesn't seem what it was way back, I'm thinking of trying John's FW to see if it runs any different. I think it's age, plus all of the added features of Merlin FW over the years might be bogging it down?? As for AC86U I can get it on sale in Can for $180, whereas the AX86u is tough to find in stock and usually goes for $330.
 

ahyrych

Occasional Visitor
ac86u | CPU: BCM4906 (1.8 GHz, 2 cores) | RAM: 512 MiB
ax86u | CPU: BCM4908 (1.8 GHz, 4 cores) | RAM: 1 GiB
and also AX86u have newer drivers and SDK
 

Similar threads

Sign Up For SNBForums Daily Digest

Get an update of what's new every day delivered to your mailbox. Sign up here!
Top