Router upgrade from AC68u with Merlin support

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wuyanxu

Regular Contributor
Which would be a good Asuswrt-Merlin supported router to upgrade to from AC68u?

I've had my Asus RT-AC68U from new since mid-2014. I think it's a 3x3 AC1900 WiFi 5 router.

It's been flawless 24/7 until recently. Over last few weeks, I've noticed about half-second of stuttering every few minutes in Oculus Quest PCVR games playing wirelessly via WiFi. This morning all WiFi clients dropped off for no reason, had to restart the router, ethernet still worked. Also noticed my phone in exact same previously reachable 5Ghz location falls back to mobile data sometimes.

So I'm thinking may be its WiFi chip is degraded after over 7 years of constant use, does such things happen?


What would be good replacement?

There are so many variants for the Asus AX models it's so confusing. Which model has true 3x3 or greater TX/RX configuration and has highest chance of continuously receive Merlin support?


Looking ahead, I think WiFi 6E would be the standard to get. Its 6GHz band would be perfect for line-of-sight VR streaming when we get such headset (I'd expect this for next VR headset I buy). But those routers are currently super high-end. I think now is a bit too early to buy.

So in a way, this router would be a stepping stone to 6E router in a few years time. Although budget is flexible, I'd prefer to not spend anything more than I have to because I'm late to WiFi 6 and I plan to upgrade to a high-mid-range 6E when I upgrade my VR headset.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
 

unsynaps

Senior Member
Do not think there is a Merlin firmware running on any 6E routers.

AX86U is your best bet.

Also 6E is nice and all but personal experience (running the GT-AXE11000) your house better be made of paper or mesh setup.
Like 5GHz, 6GHz penetrates walls even less. I get full tilt off 2.4/5Ghz to my PC. I BARELLY get one bar on 6GHz (hell sometimes it does not even show up). Same router same client.
Also remember if you want 6GHz gotta be running Windows 11.
 
Last edited:

mlord

Occasional Visitor
Everyone here is fond of the overkill AX86U router (I even just got one the other day), but really the AX68U has everything you need so long as your ISP connection is not faster that 1Gigabit. And the AX68U is cheaper and much more widely available at the moment.

As to what's happening with the AC68U: failures of electronics are almost always due to capacitors aging/failing, first usually in the power supply, and then in other warm parts of the electronics. Unfortunately, the AC68U has a "weird" power supply with a "weird" connector size, so it's not easy to swap another in to see if that's the issue.
 

wuyanxu

Regular Contributor
Thank you everyone.

Everyone here is fond of the overkill AX86U router (I even just got one the other day), but really the AX68U has everything you need so long as your ISP connection is not faster that 1Gigabit. And the AX68U is cheaper and much more widely available at the moment.

As to what's happening with the AC68U: failures of electronics are almost always due to capacitors aging/failing, first usually in the power supply, and then in other warm parts of the electronics. Unfortunately, the AC68U has a "weird" power supply with a "weird" connector size, so it's not easy to swap another in to see if that's the issue.
I also thought Ax86u is a bit overkill, considering I'd like to upgrade to 6E later.

No, my ISP is no where near 1Gig speeds.

Also 6E is nice and all but personal experience (running the GT-AXE11000) your house better be made of paper or mesh setup.
Like 5GHz, 6GHz penetrates walls even less. I get full tilt off 2.4/5Ghz to my PC. I BARELLY get one bar on 6GHz (hell sometimes it does not even show up). Same router same client.
Also remember if you want 6GHz gotta be running Windows 11.
Line-of-sight still gives okay results right? I play VR in the same room as the router, or occasionally through a set of glass door. The sole purpose for the 6GHz band is for wireless VR
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
The RT-AX86U may indeed be overkill for many people who do not have greater than ~500Mbps symmetrical ISP connections or who (also) do not notice (and/or appreciate) the lowest latency connections possible to online resources. In addition to the other benefits the latest hardware and latest SDK offers.

However, Wi-Fi 6E hardware has at least a few more iterations to go before it will dethrone the current king (RT-AX86U).

I suggest that the 6E router to replace it hasn't been built (nor designed) yet.

If, your ISP is fast enough, if, you appreciate the lowest latency possible, if, you're not in a rush to jump to 6E, just because, then the RT-AX86U is the only sane choice to me (if it's in stock and at a reasonable price). Not only will this router be worth keeping around in 2025 and later, but the inflated prices of all products today make it the long-term bargain, easily too. Overall.

In my network, I don't replace to spec, or to keep up with the Jones's. I replace equipment because of the tangible benefits the 'new' may offer over the current equipment in use.

If your current router is working, and there is no reason to buy something today, don't.

But, when confronted with a $250 entry-level router like an RT-AC86U, then $50 more for the obviously better RT-AX86U is money well spent. Even for many of my customers. Nobody has complained about why they spent the extra few dollars, not even the customers who moved only one step above the entry-level RT-AC86U to the RT-AX68U (because no stock on the RT-AX86U's). They thought that even 2x the cost of those routers was worth it to better match their ISP speeds. And the objective numbers support their feelings too.


Current Order of Recommended Routers Late 2021

Report - 2x RT-AX68U upgrade over 2x RT-AC86U in wireless backhaul mode

Report - 2x RT-AX68U upgrade - Followup questions/answers
 

wuyanxu

Regular Contributor
In my network, I don't replace to spec, or to keep up with the Jones's. I replace equipment because of the tangible benefits the 'new' may offer over the current equipment in use.

If your current router is working, and there is no reason to buy something today, don't.
Indeed, the only reason I'm thinking of upgrading is because the current router feels unstable, feels like it is on its last legs. I plan to wait for a deal for the Ax86u or just get the cheaper Ac68u if I can no longer wait. Both have been added to 3camels to alert me when they drop in price.

I've reset my Ac68u to factory default, reconfigured only as necessary. Hope it can last a while longer.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I think you mean a deal on the 'cheaper RT-AX68U'. :)

Any RT-AC68U routers (still) in operation are best used in Media Bridge mode, for my customers.
 

wuyanxu

Regular Contributor
Well, here's the price breakdown:
Ax68u - at £165 - lowest at £132 end of Sep
Ax86u - at £250 - lowest at £184 end of Jun

I'd be happy with a sub £200 Ax86u considering I don't have to have it right now, the old router still works somewhat.
 

wuyanxu

Regular Contributor
Any neighbors around? Have you checked for recent Wi-Fi environment changes?
On 5Ghz, I've not noticed any change. There are 2 visible neighbour's WiFi depends on where I sample.
On 2.4Ghz, there is 1-2 new names I haven't noticed before. But this band is only for smart home and very old devices.

Would interference in 2.4Ghz band affect 5Ghz band performance? My parents did recently move in with us while waiting for their new house to go through the purchase process. I know my sound bar produces 2.4Ghz interference, their evening TV time is around similar time I play VR games.
 

KOA

Regular Contributor
Everyone here is fond of the overkill AX86U router (I even just got one the other day), but really the AX68U has everything you need so long as your ISP connection is not faster that 1Gigabit. And the AX68U is cheaper and much more widely available at the moment.

As to what's happening with the AC68U: failures of electronics are almost always due to capacitors aging/failing, first usually in the power supply, and then in other warm parts of the electronics. Unfortunately, the AC68U has a "weird" power supply with a "weird" connector size, so it's not easy to swap another in to see if that's the issue.
I am using Lenovo power supply with my Asus RT-AC68U.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Depends on what that $ is based on. Location. And other factors too.
 

wuyanxu

Regular Contributor
I am using Lenovo power supply with my Asus RT-AC68U.
The square Lenovo thinkpad power supply? or older barrel ones? I have a 2012 laptop barrel to spare but looks far too big for the router.

Unlikely. But have you tried different control channels for both 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks? This is easy to experiment with.
On 5GHz, I've experimented with 36 and 100. Behaves the same.

I'm now using chanel 13 on 2.4Ghz because this post talks about how to distance the Wifi from soundbar.
 

wuyanxu

Regular Contributor
Does Merlin firmware support the AX86S?

Some random posts suggest it's coming, but it's not listed as supported on supported devices list.


Edit: Ah okay, it will be supported at 386.4.
(I got the numbers confused, thinking 384 was released ages ago so should be on supported list)
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Does Merlin firmware support the AX86S?
Not yet, I needed updated GPL for that. I received it a few weeks ago for that particular model, so it will be supported with 386.4.
 

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