**New member**Need help deciding what router to buy

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Masonboro

Occasional Visitor
Greetings, I am a bachelor who lives in a 900sqft house alone (sometimes) with very few guests and I do not have any experience purchasing a router. Currently, I have a Pixel 3XL (ac/4x4 5GHz, replacing soon), Google Nest hub(unboxed) and a Google Nest mini(unboxed). I plan on getting a gaming console and some more smart devices soon. My ISP will be spectrum on a 100Mbps plan that I hope will be plenty of bandwidth for me. My budget is $100-200 and I am torn between a gaming router (TUF GAMING AX5400 or ROG STRIX GS-AX3000 *examples*) or a more practical model such as the RT-AX55. I would like to future proof until WiFi 7 is widely deployed so 2-3yrs maybe? I would also like to get into networking as a hobby so all the advanced settings in the "gaming" routers is enticing, but are they needed or am I getting caught up in all the "gaming" hype? Ai protection pro seems almost necessary with it's two way IPS etc. What makes things even more confusing is that some routers have the same internals but are just rebranded as gaming etc. I know similar questions have been asked, but mine is user specific and any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Welcome to the forums @Masonboro.

It doesn't matter what you buy for a 900 SqFt home, you should have great coverage and full ISP speeds within.

You can certainly buy 'a' router for $100 to $200, but taking into consideration the few guests, 2-3 years of life, and other factors; the experience may not be what you expect during all or most of that time if you stick strictly within that price range. The following models will provide what you've asked for (and more).

There is no such thing as a 'gaming' router. You either want a stable and performant network or not. RMerlin firmware will give you the options to explore networking further, as you want/need (along with amtm and the many available scripts).

Current Order of Recommended Routers Late 2021
 

Masonboro

Occasional Visitor
Welcome to the forums @Masonboro.

It doesn't matter what you buy for a 900 SqFt home, you should have great coverage and full ISP speeds within.

You can certainly buy 'a' router for $100 to $200, but taking into consideration the few guests, 2-3 years of life, and other factors; the experience may not be what you expect during all or most of that time if you stick strictly within that price range. The following models will provide what you've asked for (and more).

There is no such thing as a 'gaming' router. You either want a stable and performant network or not. RMerlin firmware will give you the options to explore networking further, as you want/need (along with amtm and the many available scripts).

Current Order of Recommended Routers Late 2021
Thank you for the welcome, reply and I will look over the recommendations. I would like to clarify if 2-way IPS etc is needed for my setup or is Ai protection classic enough?
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
I would like to clarify if 2-way IPS etc is needed for my setup or is Ai protection classic enough?
Needed? No. Asus routers didn't have this in the past and nobody was screaming "If only my router had 2-way IPS". My router (RT-AX86U) comes with it free of charge and I've never enabled it as I only have trusted devices on my network and don't download dodgy stuff from the internet. If you have untrustworthy/irresponsible people/devices on your LAN (e.g children or Chinese IoT devices) you might think differently.

P.S. Ignore any "gaming" features. By all means buy a router you like, but don't pay extra just because it has "gaming" in it's description.
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
AiProtection is a form of 2-way IPS.

Whether it's enough or not depends on how freely you click links indiscriminately in the future and, whether your devices (and guests) have pre-infected device/OS installs and/or bad surfing habits too.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
who lives in a 900sqft house alone
My ISP will be spectrum on a 100Mbps plan

You're good with any AC Wave 2 router starting from $50 like TP-Link Archer C80, even the ISP provided one. Avoid AC86U due to poor reliability history. Avoid AX68U due to frequent Wi-Fi issues reported. Avoid "gaming" routers, you'll pay more for marketing and RGB lights. If you prefer Asus, look around for RT-AX86S model and if it fits your budget. You don't "need" anything from TrendMicro. You have to agree to data sharing in order to use the "free" services. There is no future proofing in expensive consumer routers. Get what you need today and upgrade when you need upgrading.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
Ai protection pro seems almost necessary with it's two way IPS
This sort of thing is meant to be on an additional device not in the router. This kills your speeds.

100mbps now / 1gbps later / 2gbps & 5gbps plans are out there as well.

would also like to get into networking as a hobby
Then you don't want to waste money on something off the shelf.

If you're interested in tinkering then you want to get a wired router and pick up an access point for wireless.

Benefits:
- wired router can be used regardless of the WIFI updates
- AP can be swapped out later when WIFI7 comes along for less money than the whole unit like you get off the shelf

If you want to go a step further and really get into networking the next step would be either repurposing a PC or building one yourself to act as the router and hook up or insert a WIFI card into it making it wireless as well.

The thing about this "learning" situation is it can be either cheap and sufficient or you spend a little more and get performance you can't get off the shelf. If you go the PC route you have options of rolling in a NAS by adding drives to the case or plugging a DAS into it. If you like using a DVR you can build Plex into it w/ an antenna / PCI OTA card w/ multiple tuners or external HDHR box. If you upgrade beyond 1gbps service it's easy to put a new NIC into the PC for 2.5GE / 5GE or even 10GE vs buying a new router all over again or being stuck with an ISP device that's costing you an extra $15/mo. Speaking of which buying a decent CM makes sense pretty quickly at those rates. Using an MB8600 offers you a good stable connection and room to expand since it has multiple ports on the back and you can combine them to exceed 1gbps speeds down the road. If you go higher end right off the bat there are some modems that have a 2.5GE port on the back. CM's though are only $150-$200 for these features and easily paid off within a year considering the rental costs.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture

jelaware

Occasional Visitor
Why bother with asus if you have your own place? You can wire up a custom ubiquiti or mikrotik system
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
Because of the limited budget of $100-200, for example? :rolleyes:
Or you take the blinders off based on budget and expose all options and let OP decide whether the budget is relevant for future options. OP will buy whatever is needed currently or build a foundation to work off of for personal goals like learning about networking. Maybe they have other services that aren't mentioned or thought about in the topic posted. Notice how specific devices weren't recommended?

For under $100 you could take a Pi + usb wifi adapter and be up and running.
For $100-$200 you could buy a block box w/ antennas that does a mediocre job and has a shelf life of a couple of years
For a little more or the same you can make your own.
For a bit more you can roll your other devices into the same box and reduce clutter while increasing performance.

Just looking for a a cheap wifi solution doesn't mean there's not ambition to exceed those goals but didn't expand on the laser focus of 1 problem instead of seeing the forest.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Yes, x86 firewall with 2.5GbE ports minimum, managed 2.5GbE PoE+ switch with 16-ports minimum and a few AXE AP's with 2.5GbE ports is a good $2000 start for a single person with few devices in 900sqf place. No doubt about it. A new Porsche Carrera GTS for fast pizza delivery.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Notice how specific devices weren't recommended?

Yes, you forgot about the usual Zyxel access points advertisement in your posts.

Now you're just shooting for the moon and being absurd.

No. Asuswrt-Merlin supported router with available Custom Scripts will keep @Masonboro busy for some time and it fits the budget. It's more power efficient, with better support from SNB Forums and in case of learning process mistakes the Reset takes less than 10 minutes along with basic configuration. This is what @Masonboro will be happy about. I'm being realistic.
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
I'm being realistic.
It's about choices and options. Asus isn't the end all be all of routers.


First thing to take notice of is the speeds being marketed as not being true depictions of what you actually get since it's all limited by the physical port connecting to your modem.

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You can't get these speeds ever if the WAN on them is 1gbps. It just can't happen. You might get up to 1.2-1.5gbps on the LAN side WIFI <> WIFI in an adhoc connection but, once you need to traverse the WAN it's going to be slowed down. The highest speeds will require 160mhz channels to be used and at least a 2x2 client connection. To exceed them you need to find a client card for 3x3 or 4x4 connectivity. Your internet connection though is still limited by the ISP / port connecting to the ISP device.

The options are unlimited though if you want to spend the money on them. If they want to expand their knowledge on networking then getting beyond a consumer device will be needed to play around with the different facets of networking. It's just reality that there's more than just your Asus recommendation and why this forum revolves around Asus is beyond me as "networking" is in the name.

***We have these little debates any time we contradict each other and well, it is what it is.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Asus isn't the end all be all of routers.

Agreed. Asus routers offer longer manufacturer support and Asuswrt-Merlin supported models allow playing with custom scripts. If someone wants to learn new things and in the same time keep the investment low - it's a good start. We are talking about single user with 100Mbps ISP line.

why this forum revolves around Asus is beyond me

It's very simple. Most of this forum's content is about Asuswrt-Merlin firmware. It runs on Asus routers. You can have some fun with AC66U B1 router for under $100. It's still actively supported by Asus and runs the latest Asuswrt-Merlin firmware versions. It's not always about max performance.
 
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RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
First thing to take notice of is the speeds being marketed as not being true depictions of what you actually get since it's all limited by the physical port connecting to your modem.
I don't know what criteria are used to establish that top ten list, but their number four (which I assume is the RT-AC3200, as they don't list accurate model name) has been EOL for nearly two years now... Buying an RT-AC3200 in 2022 makes zero sense, unless you are going down the third party firmware route (for example with Fresh Tomato).
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
You can have some fun with AC66U B1 router for under $100. It's still actively supported by Asus and runs the latest Asuswrt-Merlin firmware versions. It's not always about max performance.
That router is the model I personally recommend to customers who want a sub-$200 router. Even with hardware acceleration disabled (if one wanted to use traditional QoS), that router would handle 100 Mbps just fine. Wifi 6 becomes useful only if the user has LAN-side data transfers that would benefit from it (say, with a NAS), as 100 Mbps WAN transfers would be fine with Wifi 5.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I don't know what criteria are used to establish that top ten list

When you see Asus Archer A2300 - you know. Do you have any plans to support this one?

That router is the model I personally recommend to customers who want a sub-$200 router.

Cheap, reliable, compatible and can do >400Mbps on Wi-Fi in a small home. The best budget router.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
When you see Asus Archer A2300 - you know. Do you have any plans to support this one?
I hadn't seen it. WTH is that list LOL.
 
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