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RT-AC66U upgrade?

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At the moment I have an Asus RT-AC66U. It has been OK, but I'm thinking it might be getting close to upgrade time.

For a few reasons.

- we have a lot of devices now. The admin section shows 30 something connected devices. 3 smart TVS, 2 Firesticks, 3 computers, 2 tablets, 4 phones, 5 chromecast, amazon echo, google home, 2 printers, smart home stuff like 3 smart plugs, fitbit scales, a wifi photo frame, PS4, a PVR, and probably a few things I have forgotten. And then extra devices when we have any guests.

- There are a couple of areas in the house where 5ghz is marginal

- I've found a couple of the phones have been dropping wifi just lately

- I know the AC66U is fairly old tech now.

It's only a 3 bedroom 2 storey house. But I can only have the router in the corner downstairs.

We do a fair bit of streaming from amazon video, YouTube, I player, etc.

I've considered mesh wifi like Google wifi and ORBI, but you can't have separate SSIDS for 2.4 and 5g, and I really want that. So those are out.

So, I've been researching for the past few days and I'm thinking maybe the
ASUS RT-AC3200 might be a good bet? Or is there something more suitable? I don't mind spending a bit more for something reliable.

Do you guys think this a worthwhile upgrade? I know it has some extra features such as a better dual core processor and ram, and stuff like MU MIMO, (which I think about 2 of my current devices are compatible with).

P.s. my FTTC at home is about 60 Mbps (about the best I can get here), and that's enough for me now. I realise a new router won't increase that, but will it cope better with multiple devices, and increase the signal range slightly?

Thanks for reading.
[boring technical]
technically the AC88U isnt the best for consideration even if you plan to plug in multiple devices if you really need a lot of local traffic, this is because you can do better by getting a semi managed switch with LACP to connect to the AC3100 as you could have lots of ports but with 2Gb/s to the router rather than 4 devices having 1Gb/s to the CPU whereas the other set of 4 ports have the full bandwidth to the CPU. The realtek switch chip used has 2 RGMII interfaces but its likely only one is used as if both are used there will be less bottleneck and connected gigabit devices for performance wont be an issue.

In my use case i connect 100Mb/s based devices to the other 4 ports of the AC88U (printer, raspberry pi, etc) and with LACP to my main router so they dont take up the ports of my L3 managed switch as it is more flexible in bonding and setting up L3 and L2.

Netgear's variant though is probably similar, with 2 ports for LACP to CPU and 4 ports sharing 1Gb/s to the CPU.

more ports are better but not if they have the possibility of an internal bottleneck. Its alright though if wifi and LAN have full bandwidth to each other even if they have only 1Gb/s to CPU in total.

So even if you have money for these BHRs unless you make efficient use of them you're basically just wasting money. I know computer stuff now has an attraction just like cars did a couple decades ago but at times you may be better off diverting the money you saved from not getting an expensive model to something a lot more useful like a NAS for your backup needs as i impress people with my boring boxy datacenter gear more than i do with the fancy asus design. For me i got one despite it not being ideal but i got it at half priced (thanks to asuswrt bug with non 192.168 lan) and i had a use for the 6 ports (2 i use for LACP) other than the mu-mimo wifi it gives. I even use the usb ports on it for an older hard drive and a raspberry pi 2 for the sake of having a low power, low end ftp server for my scanner/printer and for things like downloading/temporary file hosting.

Your use case is really simple and QoS does better with a better CPU so upgrading will help so its best you pick a router with the features you'll need for the next few years till you decide to upgrade. If you dont plan to use LACP than the AC1900 and AC3200 routers are still worth while. Qualcomm's ac2600 is actually better but broadcom's equivalent is the AC3100. The Asus AC3100 has LACP though but only 4 ports and a lot cheaper than the AC88U but if you need more ports but not the LAN performance than you can consider the AC88U as long as you need the other features it offers too. The asus ac3200 has better coverage than the ac68U but only slightly because of better antennas and others mention that it has better coverage than the ac3100/88U however any of these routers even the AC1900 will cover your house if the AC66U already covers it despite barely. The triple band routers dont support wifi bridging despite being ideal for it but are useful if you have many wifi clients in a small area that need the lan performance.

With wifi its all about placement, as even a 1MW wifi output will still get blocked by lead, metal grids and concrete which are also materials use to shield nuclear generators.

With many devices/clients its all about QoS and memory. The AC66U's CPU theoratically can handle up to 100Mb/s with QoS but newer asus routers have automatic QoS features (not available for the ac68U) so you dont need to burden yourself with networking knowledge that earns money for some and will perform QoS up to 300Mb/s (or more depending on if CTF can be used). The AC3100/88U, AC5200 and all newer stuff even netgear equivalents come with some gamer features like gamer vpn network and such which if you have serious gamers is something to consider. A router will handle as many clients as you throw at it as long as it has the memory for it but routers are swimming with memory nowadays and only mikrotik still release routers with less memory but thats only because their routers are memory efficient.
Wow, thanks. I didn't expect such an in depth reply!

I did my best to digest it all, but I must confess some of it did go a bit over my head.

I do agree though, my use case is pretty simple. Local traffic isn't really something I need much, and nor are wired ports.

I don't want to just buy something for the sake of it, even though money isn't too much of an issue. If something is going to improve my user experience, and isn't overly complicated, then I don't mind paying for it.

The main things that matter to me are reliability, ability to serve the devices I own (with the scope to take on extra as our needs grow), and coverage.

Unfortunately the Asus AC3100 is not on sale in my country.

But the AC88U and the AC3200 are. (And there is only £55 difference between them).

I've spent hours researching, and I was basing my thoughts on reviews and user feedback. But it's so difficult to get a handle on what would actually be best for my requirements!
well if you're in the UK you can check online for the AC3100. You have MU-MIMO clients, that can help. If local traffic isnt a concern the ac87U is also capable if you want MU-MIMO but im not really fond of it. As long as the hardware has what you need and the firmware has the features you want than it is something you can consider.

The AC3200 would also do well too if you dont need MU-MIMO and dont mind the many antennas.

Dont forget the netgear and synology variants and other alternatives like qualcomm based ac2600 as qualcomm variants have nicer CPUs in them than broadcom but despite having x4 mu-mimo their lower rating is because qualcomm has streamboost which gives 1Gb/s on 2.4Ghz for supported clients but any performance on 2.4Ghz is impossible nowadays with the crowd of wifi so dont let the numbers (AC3100, AC2600, AC3200) fool you as the AC3100 and AC2600 are both 4 channel on wifi AC, while the AC3200 is 3 channels on wifi AC (but with 2 AC radios). 2.4Ghz is also going to be 300Mb/s (2 channels) on a good day, 1 channel (150Mb/s) on a bad day.

2 AC wifi radios is good if you have many active clients and need the wifi bandwidth.
Yeah the DSL combo might be better for you, I'd get that.
Yeah the DSL combo might be better for you, I'd get that.

Well, I did get that. And it was an epic fail.

It was fine at first. But a few hours later I found one of my chromecast had disconnected. Before I knew it all of my 2.4ghz devices were disconnecting, requiring me to reboot the router before I could reconnect them.

This kept on happening. I tried updating to the latest firmware and a factory reset to no avail. I also tried changing the broadcast channel and various other setting.

I also found that the broadband speed was slightly slower than with my separate modem and ac66u.

Anyway, I lost the will to live with it and returned it for a refund.

It's back to the drawing board now. But at least I have my old trusty rt-ac66u until I decide what to do next.

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