RT-AC86U vs RT-AX86S The difference except WiFi6 and half the Price?


Occasional Visitor
As a long-term, over 7yrs RT-AC68U user I'm happy with my beloved device. Still not have any problems at all.
But I'm highly interested in the newer models... but I really couldn't get the difference between RT-AC86U (older model) and the newest RT-AX86S "except" WiFi6 ?
Both of them got 1.8Ghz dual-core processors and 256 MB Flash + 512 MB RAM !
Actually, I'm not interested in AX (WiFi6) because of the lower wall-penetration specs. So, I can go with AC(WiFi5) without any hesitation.

So, what do you think?
- Should I go with the newest RT-AX86S (WiFi6) or buy the RT-AC86U(WiFi5) for the "half price" ( in my region) ? :rolleyes:

RT-AC68U、RT-AC86U、RT-AX86U Product different Compare|ASUS Global


Part of the Furniture
The current AX routers have excellent (i.e. much better) WiFi 5 performance than even the best WiFi 5 routers from many years ago (including the RT-AC86U, which has been dethroned for a while now). WiFi 5 and WiFi 6 have the same range. I think you're getting confused by WiFi 6E products (which are not recommended today), but still offer comparable range and even higher throughput. The upper, frequency range, of WiFi 5 is right next to WiFi 6E too, so there is effectively no downside there either in real-world use.

In your situation, you may want to consider the RT-AX68U instead if the price is closer to your budget (and it should be much closer to the lessor RT-AC86U too).

What the specifications may not indicate is that the RF designs of the AX routers are noticeably improved and include the latest SDKs. Which both help to give better throughput and a lower latency experience for everything on the network.

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

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

Note that the RT-AX86U has the potential for double the throughput with appropriate devices (and/or better range) because of the 4x4:4 design. But it doesn't sound that is needed in your situation today. But do note that the RT-AX68U is 'only' 3x3:3.

The RT-AX68U will be a tremendous upgrade over an 'original' RT-AC68U powered network. And it will have the same CPU, RAM, and flash as the RT-AX86S model too. The only logical step up today from the RT-AX68U would be the 'full' RT-AX86U.

Hope this helps.


Part of the Furniture
Best to toss a coin to decide. I have both an AX86U and an AC86U as well as an AC66U_B1. I use the AX86U for my home WIFI and it is a beast! The AC86U is loaned out to a deserving family. No doubt the AX86S would do as well for me and it does cost less than an AX86U today (the AX86S now costs as much as I paid for my AX86U).
My only concern with the AC86U is that it is still sitting on firmware from last July while most of the Asus routers have gotten upgrades. There were overheating concerns with the AC86U, at one time, that were fixed but I wonder if there are some other problems that we are not getting upgrades.


Part of the Furniture
Both of them got 1.8Ghz dual-core processors and 256 MB Flash + 512 MB RAM !

More RAM installed doesn't mean more RAM available. Both AC86U and older AC68U have roughly the same RAM available after boot. Both can run the same scripts in Asuswrt-Merlin. I would pass on AC86U because of bad reliability history, the fact it was the first ever Asus HND router, it's >4-years old now and usually gets updates slower, even after much older AC68U variants. I don't see big Wi-Fi performance difference between AC66U_B1, AC68U, AC1900P and AC86U to common 2-stream client. AC86U has better range and holds faster link speeds, but AC68U is much more trusted and reliable router. If your ISP line is up to 400Mbps, your AC68U is still good - save your money.


Regular Contributor
If you can afford it then buy the RT-AX86U. It will future proof you for a few years. The RT-AC86U is already older technology. I bought the AX86U and retired the AC86U. I keep it up to date as a backup.

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