RT-AX58U/AX3000 vs. RT-AX88U for medium-sized house?

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SR-71

Occasional Visitor
Hello good people, would appreciate all thoughts pro and con here. Just bought the RT-AX3000 for a 2000-2300 sq. ft., long rectangular rambler/ranch-style home (router is in the finished basement near the middle because that’s where the cable internet feed was installed previously). Am relatively happy so far — solid persistent connections, usable speeds, etc., and in most areas the range is better and in one other, slightly worse but usable on 2.4G only. I’ve optimized the antenna positions as best I can via trial and error.

So, I’m left wondering whether the AX88U would be NOTICEABLY better in coverage/range and throughput AND worth double the money before my AX3000 return period runs out (have about a week left). Avoiding the older AC3100/3200 due to combination of the newer AX standard and newer CPUs on the AX line, and LOTS of bad reviews of early 2.4G radio failures on those AC routers (no thank you).

Two cost factors in play here — in-between jobs and cutting the Comcast Triple Play cord while trying not to over- or underbuy for the foreseeable future. With current 500/15 mbps service, I’m getting very usable Wi-Fi speeds on the AX3000 (can provide details for context).

BUT — what will likely happen when I drop it down to their 100/5 or 200/5 service to save money? I know, those UL speeds are a joke but Comcast is the only choice in my area. Should I take the percentage drop I’m seeing on the wireless speeds and apply to those lower service speeds as an estimate? If so, would the AX88U be a *noticeably* better choice to make the most of it in this mid-sized environment? I know the 88U is nicer to have, but also thinking about the savings I can put towards the cable modem instead to jettison those monthly rental fees.

FYI, only a dozen or less clients on my network at a time, and not all being used simultaneously.

For cable modem replacement, I’m considering either the:

1) Arris SB6183 (16x4 DOCSIS 3.0) modem for $60-$70 as a cheap but very solid/reliable option according to many reviews, or

2) Arris SB8200 (32x8 DOCSIS 3.1) for $170

to replace Comcast’s XB3 (24x4 DOCSIS 3.0). Both Arris modems use Broadcom chips, not the problematic Intel Pumas, and it seems that both Arris models are pretty solid performers from the various reviews. Thoughts? Is the SB6183 going too low? It’s rated for up to 373mbps by Comcast even though it should handle faster speeds per Arris (but there must be a reason for Comcast’s lower rating, perhaps during peak usage times?). Comcast has the SB8200 rated at up to 1 gbps.

If it would help, I can provide further details on my current setup, wireless clients, and speeds tested across the house — didn’t want to have a novel for a first post.

BTW, the AX3000 has been rock steady, runs pretty cool, and other than a few wireless settings not sticking after a reboot, it’s been problem-free on the basics (stock firmware). For the price and features, it’s pretty good, just don’t want to find out later I should have gotten its big brother.
 

digits n bits

Regular Contributor
I’m using a RT-AX58U right now in a similar situation as yours. You’re about at the limit for range on the the 58U for a fast, stable connection. I also have a RT-AX88U and I’ve found the range better and the performance is better but at double the cost for a almost two year old router at this point. I run Merlin on my routers and on the RT-AX58U it runs really well, better than stock. You made a good choice for a router I’d stick with that for the price. For modems stay away from any modem with an intel puma chip set.
 

KevTech

Very Senior Member
Arris SB8200 (32x8 DOCSIS 3.1) for $170
Are you set on the Arris or would another DOCSIS 3.1 modem be OK?

Reason I ask is all of the DOCSIS 3.1 modems use the same Broadcom chip in them.

MB8600 SB8200 CM1000 CM1100

Only thing different among them is how many ports they have on the back.

Anyway, I would buy a DOCSIS 3.1 modem so you get the OFDM channel which helps if/when there is congestion in the area.
 

digits n bits

Regular Contributor
Are you set on the Arris or would another DOCSIS 3.1 modem be OK?

Reason I ask is all of the DOCSIS 3.1 modems use the same Broadcom chip in them.

MB8600 SB8200 CM1000 CM1100

Only thing different among them is how many ports they have on the back.

Anyway, I would buy a DOCSIS 3.1 modem so you get the OFDM channel which helps if/when there is congestion in the area.
I have the SB8200 and it works fine, no issues. The SB8200 actually has four ports, two are covered by a plastic cover. You’re right all those modems are pretty much the same.
 

SR-71

Occasional Visitor
I’m using a RT-AX58U right now in a similar situation as yours. You’re about at the limit for range on the the 58U for a fast, stable connection. I also have a RT-AX88U and I’ve found the range better and the performance is better but at double the cost for a almost two year old router at this point. I run Merlin on my routers and on the RT-AX58U it runs really well, better than stock. You made a good choice for a router I’d stick with that for the price. For modems stay away from any modem with an intel puma chip set.
Thanks for sharing — that helps on both fronts regarding range and Merlin.

One of the reasons I bought this router was to try Merlin. I wanted to try stock first so I had a good handle on it before switching for comparison. How current is Merlin compared to the stock F/W? Also, what have you found that Merlin added that was better than stock, and in what way/result?

I updated the stock F/W to 8601 but not the latest that was just released several days ago. I’ve noticed some bugginess in it not keeping some of the Wi-Fi setting changes sometimes, so I might just try Merlin next — especially as the latest stock release notes didn’t fix or add anything compelling for my situation.
 

digits n bits

Regular Contributor
Thanks for sharing — that helps on both fronts regarding range and Merlin.

One of the reasons I bought this router was to try Merlin. I wanted to try stock first so I had a good handle on it before switching for comparison. How current is Merlin compared to the stock F/W? Also, what have you found that Merlin added that was better than stock, and in what way/result?

I updated the stock F/W to 8601 but not the latest that was just released several days ago. I’ve noticed some bugginess in it not keeping some of the Wi-Fi setting changes sometimes, so I might just try Merlin next — especially as the latest stock release notes didn’t fix or add anything compelling for my situation.

The stock firmware is OK but it’s a bit buggy sometimes. On the RT-AX58U it’s actually pretty good. Now the firmware on the XT8 is a mess but that’s another issue I’m dealing with.

Merlin is solid with very few issues if any. He doesn’t really add features to add them but cleans up the stock firmware and makes a few changes that add to functionality for the better. The WiFi is faster, runs smoother, you can add scripts for more functions if you want. Check out his post on the main page. I’m currently running 314.18 Alpha on my RT-AX58U but use the latest stable firmware 314.17.
I also use 314.17 on my RT-AX88U, runs great.
 

SR-71

Occasional Visitor
The stock firmware is OK but it’s a bit buggy sometimes. On the RT-AX58U it’s actually pretty good. Now the firmware on the XT8 is a mess but that’s another issue I’m dealing with.

Merlin is solid with very few issues if any. He doesn’t really add features to add them but cleans up the stock firmware and makes a few changes that add to functionality for the better. The WiFi is faster, runs smoother, you can add scripts for more functions if you want. Check out his post on the main page. I’m currently running 314.18 Alpha on my RT-AX58U but use the latest stable firmware 314.17.
I also use 314.17 on my RT-AX88U, runs great.
Thanks, now I have to try Merlin for sure! I’ll have to run through the stock screens first to document all my changes, since I’m guessing it’s a bad idea to try to restore the config backup file from the stock version.

Thanks to both of you regarding the modems, and here’s why I’m more partial to Arris at this point:

First, I was speaking with a Comcast technical rep last week who confirmed that they tend to have really good experience from customers using those two Arris models, very few problems. I know it’s just one data point, but it’s a start. Plus lots of great reviews for the SB6183, but I need to check up on the SB8200 reviews a bit more. Good to hear it’s working great here.

Next, I read online that some of the Motorolas can have chronic disconnect problems that do not recover automatically without a manual modem reboot. That would get frustrating and tedious very quickly, and would suck during a video call (especially an interview).

And finally, I learned Netgear has a noticeably shorter 1-year “warranty” on their devices, which is deceiving because according to customer reports online, once you are 90 days after purchase, they require you to purchase additional “technical support” before they will even talk to you about it. So it’s really only a 90-day warranty without additional cost. I refuse to do business with companies like that.

IMHO, assuming those reports are accurate, Netgear’s warranty process sounds to be a scam to suck even more money out of you for their defective devices. I’m surmising they’re charging customers their own cost to send you the replacement unit that they are legally obligated to provide for free under the warranty — and that’s if they even do, since they can still come up with any number of reasons to refuse to honor replacement after you’ve paid the “technical support” fee. I’ve also seen a number of comments here on SNB to avoid Netgear routers as well. Hey, where’s there’s smoke...

Anyway, just answering why I’m partial to trying the Broadcom-based Arris modems on Comcast — in case it helps anyone else who’s looking. I agree that it probably makes more sense to buy a DOCSIS 3.1 modem since it’s the current standard and has double the channels to be more resilient during peak times since cable is a neighborhood network. I was trying to see where I might save some money, but either way I’ll be saving the rental fees going forward. It’ll just take at bit longer for the ROI with the 3.1 version and I’ll be set should I want to increase the speed later.

Thanks again, really appreciate the help.
 

sanke1

Senior Member
If you have wooden walls, then RT-Ax58U would suffice. I have concrete walls and for me I need 2 x RT-AX88Us in mesh mode.
 

SR-71

Occasional Visitor
I have the SB8200 and it works fine, no issues. The SB8200 actually has four ports, two are covered by a plastic cover. You’re right all those modems are pretty much the same.
Thanks and let me ask, how long have you been using the SB8200? And which hardware version # of it do you have?

The reason I’m asking is that I’ve found a concerning number of reviews on Amazon with a disturbing pattern for SB8200 (and I filtered the reviews for only that model): Early failures, lockups, or stallings after just several months from purchase. Also, according to several reviews, apparently this modem needs higher upload signal strengths from the ISP connection (higher than the ISP’s standard, such as Comcast’s) to work reliably than many other modems, which leads to the problems reported (sounds correctable though, with help from the ISP). And Arris’s support sounded really bad as well unless you want to fork over $50 for an expedited replacement vs. waiting for it without having internet for days/weeks if you don’t have a spare modem.

So now I’m back to being torn between buying the cheaper, slower, and probably more reliable SB6183 vs. the seemingly more problematic potential of the SB8200. It sounds that while it’s working, the SB8200 provides even better download speeds than the the SB6183 on the same lower tier plans — which would be nice to get every bit of speed possible out of them. I’m guessing that if one has sufficient upload signal strength, you might be able to avoid a good number of the problems, but I wonder how long it would last before it would raise its ugly head.
 
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digits n bits

Regular Contributor
Thanks and let me ask, how long have you been using the SB8200? And which hardware version # of it do you have?

The reason I’m asking is that I’ve found a concerning number of reviews on Amazon with a disturbing pattern for SB8200 (and I filtered the reviews for only that model): Early failures, lockups, or stallings after just several months from purchase. Also, according to several reviews, apparently this modem needs higher upload signal strengths from the ISP connection (higher than the ISP’s standard, such as Comcast’s) to work reliably than many other modems, which leads to the problems reported (sounds correctable though, with help from the ISP). And Arris’s support sounded really bad as well unless you want to fork over $50 for an expedited replacement vs. waiting for it without having internet for days/weeks if you don’t have a spare modem.

So now I’m back to being torn between buying the cheaper, slower, and probably more reliable SB6183 vs. the seemingly more problematic potential of the SB8200. It sounds that while it’s working, the SB8200 provides even better download speeds than the the SB6183 on the same lower tier plans — which would be nice to get every bit of speed possible out of them. I’m guessing that if one has sufficient upload signal strength, you might be able to avoid a good number of the problems, but I wonder how long it would last before it would raise its ugly head.
I’ve been using it for six months on Spectrum and it’s been solid, no issues at all. I’d have to check the hardware version. Maybe post a question in the modem forum about it. There isint much choice in docsis 3.1 modems. I pay zero attention to reviews on Best Buy and Amazon. For the most part their customers don’t know a router from a modem and throw bad reviews because of no knowledge of what they bought, bad setups they can’t fix and get frustrated or get bad customer service and return the item and leave a bad review but no real reason why it’s bad. Also the paid reviewers always leave positive reviews because they’re getting thousands of dollars of free electronics. Best advice: buy it and try it, if it doesn’t work out you can always return it.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@SR-71 if you want the most trouble-free experience on your router, then you should do a full reset after flashing the firmware you want on it (this applies whether you flash RMerlin or when/if going back to stock from an RMerlin flashed router).

The link in my signature below contains the M&M Config and the Nuclear Reset guides that will ensure your router will be at a good/known state and be using the defaults it will be expecting when running RMerlin firmware.

HTH. :)
 

KevTech

Very Senior Member
I have the SB8200 and it works fine, no issues. The SB8200 actually has four ports, two are covered by a plastic cover. You’re right all those modems are pretty much the same.
I know the MB8600 has four ports but the SB8200 I have only has two.

Looking through the side of the case I can see there are only two RJ45 ports on the board.

BTW- In case you do not already know, if you use this URL to go into the modem UI it will show the config file.

http://192.168.100.1/main.html

Annotation 2020-06-18 094917.jpg
 

KevTech

Very Senior Member
The reason I’m asking is that I’ve found a concerning number of reviews on Amazon with a disturbing pattern for SB8200
Can't go by Amazon reviews anymore as they put all reviews for certain hardware in the same place. You might find people have a different Arris modem but the review is in the SB8200 reviews.

Personally I think the SB8200 is the best built DOCSIS 3.1 modem and I have had zero issues with it. Only problem is if trying to use LAG but almost all the DOCSIS 3.1 modems are having this issue in some form.

Here is a tear down of the SB8200: https://www.dslreports.com/forum/r31268505-
 

SR-71

Occasional Visitor
Thanks for all the feedback. I agree regarding online reviews, so here’s how I approach them with a hefty grain of salt (to mix metaphors):

You *can* filter those lumped-in Amazon reviews by model, but only in a web browser (not in any of their mobile apps), as there’s a pull-down filter to read only those reviews for a particular model. I really wish they would stop the misleading practice of lumping different models together — but I’m sure it leads to more sales as a one-stop shopping page.

You just have to find the link to show all of the reviews from the United States (near the bottom of the first page of reviews, just before the international reviews), and then you filter on the “All formats” drop-down, which then offers the specific model as the only option (sometimes just by its functional description, but it works).

I typically discount the “5” glowing/gushing reviews (likely were compensated or they just got it, so they have no timeline of experience/problems) as well as the bad reviews that aren’t helpful in the details — like you said, they don’t often don’t know anything about it other than it’s not working. The Best Buy reviews are typically the worst ones in this regard.

That leaves several that actually do provide some specifics that sometimes are helpful, like the one or two that mentioned that problems can arise if your ISP upload signal strength isn’t high enough for the SB8200. This way, I can check the signal strength on my current Comcast modem and screenshot it prior to replacing it, and compare with the new modem.

I agree, I’m just going to have to try one and see how it works. While all tech has a certain percentage of lemons, I figure it’s generally worth the effort to stack the deck in my favor by avoiding equipment that has a pattern of similar or early failures, which can be indicative of a larger problem in the line.

Definitely appreciated all the tips — I know I started out asking about the AX3000, but it all helps. I think I’ll take your suggestion to post over in the modem forum just to see what feedback I get.
 

SR-71

Occasional Visitor
I almost forgot to ask regarding streams — I’m thinking of keeping the AX3000 as I’m getting good enough results for the price and it’s been very reliable so far. (Thanks for the tips on how to prep it for flashing Merlin and configuring afterward, as that’s my next mini-project with it.)

All that said, it appears that it’s mainly a 2-stream router vs. the AX88U’s 4-stream. So the question becomes more of a potential down-the-road performance issue in my case.

I’m fairly sure my assumption that all of my wireless client devices are 2-stream is correct (all AC or N currently — Apple TV HD (4th gen), Roku (HD), Smart TV, smartphones, tablets, older laptop, etc.). My next laptop will have AX (possibly the revamped Dell XPS 15), so it would help to know:

Are the new Killer and Intel laptop AX cards and associated internal antennas 2-stream or 4-stream? (If only 2-stream, then the AX3000 might be “good enough” for the price/performance ratio.)

My choice seems to be either:

1) Return the AX3000 and buy the now-older but more expensive and very good AX88U draft-AX router to get its advantages, which may or may not make a noticeable difference here, or

2) I could keep the AX3000 now to save some cash and then, later down the road when the newer and hopefully more mature AX-spec routers are available, add on with a newer one that might be 4-stream. (Just saw that ASUS announced a couple of new ones already.)

The problem is that using the AX3000 in wireless AiMesh mode isn’t likely going to be as good without using the wired backhaul, as I don’t have a way to run a cable through the basement due to the sealed ceiling, tight doorframe in the way between rooms, etc.

Appreciate your thoughts on the 2 vs. 4 stream question, as it helps my decision process.
 

sanke1

Senior Member
Just a little correction for you.
RT-AX88U is not a draft AX router. Hardware revision 1.1 which is being sold since last 7-8 months is now fully certified for AX standard.

You have a 3rd choice and that is to get RT-AX86U which is releasing shortly.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
RT-AX88U is not a draft AX router. Hardware revision 1.1 which is being sold since last 7-8 months is now fully certified for AX standard.
The AX standard has not been finalized by the IEEE yet, it's still in draft.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Then what the hell was the certification for v1.1 of RT-AX88U? Haha
Wifi Alliance certification is different from standard ratification by the IEEE.

Basically, the IEEE defines the technical standards, and the Wifi Alliance handles the marketing. And as usual, marketing gets itself ahead of engineering...
 

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