Reviving RT-AC66U

Mpuk7

Regular Contributor
Hi all,

Whilst I keep looking around for a good price on the RT-AX86S (or 86U) I just wondered if there was any hope of my RT-AC66U being brought back to life or does it sound like it is totally dead?

I'm hoping to get a replacement in the next week or two when I see a good deal.

I've unplugged everything from it, tried removing the power for 10 minutes or more. Plugged the power back in whilst holding the WPS button in and get slow flashing power light.
It doesn't broadcast any SSIDs and when I plug my laptop into any LAN port or the WAN port on it I can't seem to access it at all. I've reset it a number of times now, tried holding the WPS button in for 30 seconds or so as well whilst the power LED is flashing slowly.
I've tried setting a static IP on my laptop and can't access it at all and sounds like it's in Rescue mode but the firmware utility is unable to see the router at all.
The ethernet cable works fine when I connect to the Virginmedia Hub (which is awful) so I know the LAN port and cable work on my laptop.
The hub us causing a pain with a number of devices I have with static 192.168.1.x addresses as it uses 192.168.1.x for the guest network (I do remember there was a trick for this somewhere but may not work anymore).
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
The original RT-AC66U is about 10-yers old End-of-Life device with limited firmware options and slow hardware. Just get an RT-AX86S. The difference in performance will be night and day. Don't buy RT-AC86U - it's 5-years old already an facing limited firmware support as well. RT-AX86U is good.
 

Mpuk7

Regular Contributor
Thanks Tech9, do you think my AC66U has actually failed? Frantically trying to find a good price for an 86S, seems like around £167 is the best at the moment. Amazon apparently had them for £139 last May.
Just hoped to get the 66U going for a few days until I get the new one to keep some devices going.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Thanks Tech9, do you think my AC66U has actually failed?

I can't say anything without having the device in my hands. If you used this old router in 2022 though and it was working well for you, perhaps something cheaper like RT-AX58U will work for you as well. The catch is this router has two hardware revisions - V1 (with Asuswrt-Merlin support) and V2 (with no Asuswrt-Merlin support). The hardware difference is here:


If you are not interested in 3rd party firmware, it may be a good upgrade to your old router. The same form factor as well if that's important.
 

Mpuk7

Regular Contributor
Thanks, I did fear it could have been hacked or something as it probably had a growing number of vulnerabilities. I was curious to know how the RT-AX86S compared in size, the current one sits just behind my TV in the living room so would still be hidden behind the TV anyway. Will try and do some measurements to see how they compare. If I stand my AC66U upright would there be a big size difference?
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
AX86 series have small footprint, but they are tall. Perhaps similar to AC66U vertical with the stand. A router behind the TV is not ideal though. TVs have large metal plates inside acting as RF shield to your Wi-Fi. All TVs have structural metal plates and foil mirrors at backlight.
 

Mpuk7

Regular Contributor
Ah, might put it lower down somewhere. Would probably improve reception for my work PC when working from home too!
The VM Hub3 isn't behind the TV and my signal with that keeps cutting out and seems disatrously slow, really is a basic ISP supplied device. I must admit my AC66U did seem to prove reliable generally. Only been using the VM Hub3 for a few days and it's a nightmare.
 

Mpuk7

Regular Contributor
Thanks both, is there much in it between the AX58U and AX86S?

When I consider my needs, my devices aren't that modern, I have a webcam that I bought 2nd hand in 2006 that I still use! My laptop is an MSI GE60 which is about 8 years old now maybe and we mostly use mobile phones (Galaxy S8 and Galaxy A5). I have old Raspberry Pis, a Synology NAS, work PC and work laptop. I don't think any of my devices support Wifi 6 but might as well have some future proofing.

I'll do some research on the AX58U as need to ensure compatibility with my somewhat legacy arrangement in the house.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I don't even know why you want an Asus router. Most people around buy them for extra features to play with and longer support, but for some it doesn't matter. I have played with TP-Link Deco M4 2-pack (currently £89.99 on Amazon UK) and TP-Link Archer AX20 (currently £74.49) and both are solid no-frills devices with good Wi-Fi and easy to manage. Deco M4 is a good working Qualcomm based "mesh" system (if you need more coverage) and Archer AX20 is hardware equivalent to Asus RT-AX56U (for less and with good feedback). It's up to you, but there are other options as well.
 

Mpuk7

Regular Contributor
I had a Netgear years before which was awful and overheated constantly so ended up putting it in a bag in the freezer at times and stripped it down to a board with a big fan on top of it it got so bad. I had TP-Links and must admit they were better and I still have one connected to my old 2006 webcam as it's in an upstairs bedroom and that uses custom firmware too as a wireless bridge.
I work in IT support but networking isn't my strongest side (we have a mix of Draytek, Sonicwall, Unifi, Meraki and Aruba mainly), my current router has/had OpenVPN configured, port forwarding etc as well as other customisations and my AC66U has handled the traffic from around 30 odd devices, over 2.4G, 5G and wired both direct and via two small 5 port managed switches really well.
My concern recently has been the security element and the AI Protection is attractive as I can't see what dubious activity is occurring at 3am from some odd location in Indonesia and which of my many devices it may be trying to communicate with. My aim is to detect abnormal behaviour and resolve weaknesses in the network as best I can, I know wireshark is useful for stuff like that but would be interested in the reporting and features of the AI Protection. My house isn't huge, I have a Wifi repeater in the hallway for security cameras at the front and feel lag in video streaming may improve with better Wifi.
Will consider the Archer as don't have anything against TP-Link, I do like the idea of having more visibility of what is happening on the network.
Also fond of the Asus interface and mobile app features too, familiarity with knowing I can find what I need in there.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
AI Protection is attractive

AiProtection is a 3rd party service from TrendMicro and they collect your data in exchange of some security. The same engine on TP-Link routers is called HomeCare. I'm not very sure what's the main purpose of it - protecting home router users or collecting data to improve TrendMicro's paid services. I personally don't like this type of firmware bloatware. If you know what are you doing online you don't need this.
 

Mpuk7

Regular Contributor
I did wonder what was in it for them, bit like supermarket loyalty cards. Mildly unnerving but unsure of the level of detail as although they may see IP addresses in the traffic they can easily resolve those to the websites being visited potentially or even see the actual websites visited by name. Not so much a concern for my security personally as can't remember how long ago I last had anything dodgy on my laptop etc. but other internet users in the house are a little less on the ball with internet security and I admittedly have picked up the odd cheap tablet or IP camera over the years which aside from being potentially vulnerable to attack may also have malware built in...
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
All modern browsers use Safe Browsing and block malicious websites before AiProtection can react. I have to actually disable Safe Browsing to trigger AiProtection response. TrendMicro's EULA is talking about browsing history, emails, files... everything they may be interested in. Best form of malware if you ask me - works with your knowledge and approval. You even want to buy a router that has it pre-installed before even knowing what they want from you. Do you know why Web History requires TrendMicro's engine? Because I don't. It can be done without TrendMicro "assistance" easily.
 

Mpuk7

Regular Contributor
Good point, also Virginmedia have some website protection too. My main concern is my Linux devices more than Windows ones as I'm not too wise with the security on them and would like to see traffic, IPs, ports etc. from those more than anything. Also to have a router thats kept up to date against the latest vulnerabilities too.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
There is a difference between frequent updates and quality updates. Asus does frequent updates, not sure about quality. Whatever I found buggy in previous AX86U firmware is the same in current firmware. Some actively advertised features are broken for years. Updates are mostly focused on what sells more routers. The latest update has a firewall bug potentially exposing your devices on Internet. What security updates were you talking about again?

 

Mpuk7

Regular Contributor
The good ones preferably. Sounds like they don't do a huge amount of testing before release. I did get a new firmware released by TP Link once for some silly DHCP bug so do feel the end users are always the Guinea Pigs.
 

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