Router Recs for optimal reliability, security and speed

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testing123

Occasional Visitor
I have a commercial account with my IP and have 2 static IP addresses, which I'm not really using at present. My network in my Home/home office has been put together over the course of several years. Recently, I had to replace my cable modem and got a SB8200, which has two NW jacks (yes, I know I could use multiple IPs via a 1-jack modem and a switch).

I have several subnets, but have decided to pick up another router to isolate networks via IP address. At present, my Gateway Router is an Asus RT-N66U using Merlin FW (my subnet routers are a mix of TP-Link and Linksys WRTs). This router has been very reliable. I plan on using it for the TVs, thermostat and various other devices I'd like to isolate from my business, production and 'play' machines. I used to do some online gaming, and may again, so I want a router that is efficient and fast and can handle whatever I throw at it. I don't want to get crazy, but price is not the primary factor in my decision.

I'd like to stick with Asus. Can y'all recommend a top end router that meets these criteria? It would need to be wired and wifi. I'm not sure I care for the ones with the vast arrays of antennae, but I do want a strong signal.

Thanks for any help.
 

avtella

Very Senior Member
If you want Asus go with the AX86U, good WIFi performance and it also has a multi-gig port if needed. Also gaming isn't all that bandwidth intensive, in most cases using a few 100 kbps, but a decent QoS is important if you have slow internet or upload.

Another option if your WiFi is good enough for your needs, I'd also take a look at getting a $150-300 x86 Intel/AMD box preferrably with an Open PCI slot for upgradability, and install pfSense/OPNSense or OpenWRT and use that as your dedicated wired firewall/router and use your current router as an AP. This setup would probably be more robust and secure in the long run.
 
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testing123

Occasional Visitor
Thanks for your response, avtella. Nice router, albeit a bit expensive. But my perspective is that buying quality saves the long run money. What's your opinion of the "lifetime free Asus Ai Protection Pro"? I generally breeze right past those mfr provided 'gimmicks'.

As to the Pfsense box, I have plenty of components around here to put something together, but getting the time to educate myself on how to set it up and configure might be an issue.

Given that I'll probably use whatever new router I get and my current RT-N66U (at least for now), each with its own static IP , is there any issue with these routers being placed next to each other near the modem?

Again, thanks.
 
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Tech9

Regular Contributor
is there any issue with these routers being placed next to each other near the modem?

Set manually different channels - for example 1 and 36 on the new router, 11 and 149 on your existing N66U. AX86U suggested above is the current Asus router of choice. Avoid the few years old AC86U with it's sub-optimal internal design and reported overheating/failure issues.
 

avtella

Very Senior Member
Thanks for your response, avtella. Nice router, albeit a bit expensive. But my perspective is that buying quality saves the long run money. What's your opinion of the "lifetime free Asus Ai Protection Pro"? I generally breeze right past those mfr provided 'gimmicks'.

As to the Pfsense box, I have plenty of components around here to put something together, but getting the time to educate myself on how to set it up and configure might be an issue.

Given that I'll probably use whatever new router I get and my current RT-N66U (at least for now), each with its own static IP , is there any issue with these routers being placed next to each other near the modem?

Again, thanks.
If the AX86U is expensive take a look at the AC66UB1it's essentially an AC68U in a different shell but lower priced. @Tech9 care to elaborate? Out of curiosity, first time hearing that. Other alternatives are AC86U/88U/R7800.

As for router side antivirus, I'm not sure how effective that stuff is without working in tandem with software/certificates on the client side, especially with with https so common these days.

Of course it's up to your comfort level, but if you are interested in pfSense/OPNSense, don't assume it's too daunting, I myself am a novice. Yeah if you have parts lying around that's pretty good to start with. Lawrence Systems on YouTube has nice and simple videos on how to install pfSense to how to setup things like ad/ip blocking etc, that's pretty much how I got started.

Whatever route you go, hope it works well for you.
 
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Tech9

Regular Contributor
@Tech9 care to elaborate?

See my very first post on SNB. I registered to share my observations how this router is made internally, why it overheats and fails more often than others. I learned to repair those, but the PCB has too many points of failure and there is no point doing it.
 

testing123

Occasional Visitor
Thanks for the additional info. I've been looking at user reviews of the AX86U. A lot of people are happy with it, but mixed in are reviews complaining of intermittent reduction in wifi speeds and some other issues. But 85% are 5 stars and 3 stars and below are 1, 2 & 3%. I think it worth a try, and my Asus routers have been pretty problem free and reliable. Plus I like the Merlin fw (although I'm not sure it's out yet).

One note is that several reviews mentioned that the AI protection collects data, but can be turned off. A plus for me is that it only has 3 antennas.

avtella, thanks for the mention of Lawrence systems. I may not get to it for a while, but security is important enough to me to check it out when I have time.

Amazon was $40 higher than others, but it doesn't seem to be in stock anywhere. Expected wait times are 2-4 weeks.
 

Tech9

Regular Contributor
@testing123, don't expect much reliability from newer home routers. They are all made similar with cutting down costs style engineering. For better reliability look at SMB systems - router, switch and wireless separately. You don't need multiple routers to separate networks - business APs can broadcast VLAN separated SSIDs. Read the threads in Wireless Buying Advice section for some ideas. Home routers are perhaps the best you can get for few hundred bucks. Big chunk of the price goes towards marketing - Spaceship/Spider shaped box, big Red/Gold antennas, RGB lights, 11000 class labels, Rapture/Gaming names etc. all unrelated to real-world performance.
 

testing123

Occasional Visitor
I looked on the SNB home page but don't see 'SNB systems'. Do you have a link?

Regarding too many routers, I plan on trimming down the subnets. My home/office NW needs have changed and I think I can do what I want with 2 routers using 2 static IPs. My wireless NWs can be isolated. There ought to be enough of the wireless NWs between my RT-N66U and whatever new router I buy., including the 3 guest NWs on the N66U and whatever other router I choose (assuming it's not the AX86U). I have plenty of routers and switches I can use temporarily if I decide to set up the new topology first. I don't have to choose right away.
 

Tech9

Regular Contributor
SNB - Small Net Builder (website)
SMB - Small and Medium Business (class products)

Share what you want to have and we can discuss options. I don't understand well the idea of multiple connected routers serving multiple subnets. How are those routers connected at the moment or how you plan to connect them in the future and for what reason?
 

testing123

Occasional Visitor
Ah, I see. I misread SMB. Actually, I just ordered the AX86U. It has overwhelmingly good user reviews. As to the subnet routers, once I receive the 86U, I'll eliminate them and clean up the NW (I've been using 2 different brands of routers for the subnets...WRT54GLs and TP-Link TL-WR940Ns). Since I have two static IPs, I'll be able to isolate my wired NWs via the two routers, using the different IPs. The wireless NWs on the RT-N66U and 86U can be isolated from the wired NWs, as can the myriad of guest NWs. I'll separate my business and personal wired NWs via the IPs and use the guest NWs for TVs, thermostats, laptops, phones and whatever other devices I might add. And of course, I'll leave one open for guests to connect to.

I appreciate both yours and avtella's input in helping me to make the choice.
 

Tech9

Regular Contributor
Reading some of your older posts I still don't understand clearly what your goal is and what the many routers separate. I have a suspicion what you think is separated in reality is not. All those cascaded routers can be easily replaced with VLAN capable router, switch and APs. You know better what to do. Enjoy your new AX86U router. Hopefully it is as reliable as your old N66U.
 

testing123

Occasional Visitor
I do have a few wrt54gL routers on which I flashed dd-wrt FW, because it supported vlans. Of course, those routers are a bit aged.

I am considering building a pfsense machine (still using separate routers for the two static IPs). How difficult is it to configure vlans in pfsense? Are there 'plug-in' configurations available?

@avtella I'm just getting my feet wet in researching pfsense...the Lawrence System youtubes seem pretty helpful.

Also, will the AX86U/merlin support vlans? Or perhaps some other 3rd party FW (although I've really come to appreciate Merlin)?
 
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Tech9

Regular Contributor
Asuswrt-(Merlin) doesn't have native VLAN support. pfSense does in both Console and Web interface. The documentation is good and you'll figure it out quickly, if you already use VLANs. The two different external IPs static are not needed in my opinion. You can use DDNS in case the external IP changes.
 

testing123

Occasional Visitor
It's been a while since I flashed and configured with dd-wrt and set up the vlans, but I still have the configured router and the dd wrt documentation I can review. As to the static IPs, the additional IP is only $5/month, so worthwhile for me. I'm just at the beginning of researching PFsense, but it looks like a very secure solution. What are the advantages of using something like the a Netgate device as opposed to building? I do have a lot of components lying around, but nothing in small form factor, so I would end up buying components and a case anyway. Teh SG-3100 is only $400 and supports GB speeds (which I don't have at present, but likely will at some point).
 

CaptainSTX

Part of the Furniture
Before buying the SG-3100 I suggest you load and try PFsense on an old PC you have on the shelf and see if you like it and can get it to do what you want.

Loading the software is straight forward getting all the settings to accomplish what you want can be time consuming and if you haven't spent the $400 nothing lost but your time if you abandon the project.
 

ddaenen1

Senior Member
It's been a while since I flashed and configured with dd-wrt and set up the vlans, but I still have the configured router and the dd wrt documentation I can review. As to the static IPs, the additional IP is only $5/month, so worthwhile for me. I'm just at the beginning of researching PFsense, but it looks like a very secure solution. What are the advantages of using something like the a Netgate device as opposed to building? I do have a lot of components lying around, but nothing in small form factor, so I would end up buying components and a case anyway. Teh SG-3100 is only $400 and supports GB speeds (which I don't have at present, but likely will at some point).

Any small server will do. Look for something with a Xeon CPU, type X34xx or E3-12xx with a decent mobo (i've become a Supermicro fan - Intel NIC's onboard, IPMI and rock solid whilst older generations type X8.. or X9... are available for cheap) with 16Gb ECC RAM and 1 or 2 100gb SSD's and you are home free.
 

Tech9

Regular Contributor
What are the advantages of using something like the a Netgate device as opposed to building?

Guaranteed compatibility, power efficiency, pfSense Plus edition

 

ddaenen1

Senior Member
Guaranteed compatibility, power efficiency, pfSense Plus edition

And overly expensive compared to alternative hardware with the same specs to achieve same throughput.
 

Tech9

Regular Contributor
And overly expensive compared to alternative hardware with the same specs to achieve same throughput.

Business firewall appliance. Intended for people not interested in lowest price on eBay. In regards of Supermicro Xeon server as home router - good choice if @testing123 is a middle eastern prince with 200 family members. Otherwise the main benefit goes to the local electricity supply company.
 

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