RT-AX86U Hardware Version

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bertilak

Regular Contributor
I have an RT-AX86U on the way. Should I check the hardware level before I even open the box?

What hardware levels are there for this model? Any problems with older levels?
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
What hardware levels are there for this model?
Undocumented. I am aware of at least three variants so far, unsure if the third one has launched yet.

The main differences between these three is the switch used for the 2.5 Gbps port (Two different Broadcom chip, and another is a Realtek chip).
 

bertilak

Regular Contributor
Thanks for the reply.

Looks like no important differences, at least not important to me. I was worried about updated (faster) processors or amount of memory, or other things of that nature.

I ordered it from Amazon who had lower prices than elsewhere so I wondered if they were dumping older versions that might have had a problem with flakey hardware.

So when the package shows up I will open it!
 

bbunge

Part of the Furniture
So when the package shows up I will open it!
You have chosen wisely.

Make sure to upgrade the firmware when you set it up. Asus has an auto upgrade feature that you can turn on now.
 

NinjaTortuga

Occasional Visitor
Undocumented. I am aware of at least three variants so far, unsure if the third one has launched yet.

The main differences between these three is the switch used for the 2.5 Gbps port (Two different Broadcom chip, and another is a Realtek chip).

@RMerlin
I understand these are newer devices. Historically speaking though, is there a preference between Broadcom vs Realtek?
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Not Realtek!
 

NinjaTortuga

Occasional Visitor
I thought so, seem to remember that from somewhere. Surely someone will refer to this at some point so out of curiosity...

Any way to tell without opening up the device?

I'm interested in buying one is the only reason I ask.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
If you want that specific model, there is effectively no choice. Just buy it and see what performance it offers in your network.

If better than what you have, keep it.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Historically speaking though, is there a preference between Broadcom vs Realtek?
It always depend on the specific chip used. In this case, I have no idea if one of the three is better than the others. The reasons for the changes were probably supply chain issues.
 

RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Not Realtek!
The vast majority of computer motherboards are using Realtek chips. I don't see any widespread issue of dead motherboard NICs.
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
The vast majority of computer motherboards are using Realtek chips. I don't see any widespread issue of dead motherboard NICs.
I sometimes see people badmouth Realtek but personally I've had lots of devices with their NICs and never had a single problem. That's more than I can say for Intel (despite their reputation) where I now just assume automatically that something about them won't work properly. As they say, YMMV.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Onboard motherboard NICs are something you're stuck with, depending on the model chosen. On a piece of networking equipment, I'd rather it be Intel.

Not working properly (or as expected) isn't the same thing as 'not dead'.
 

Paliv

Regular Contributor
I'd rather it be Intel.
Unless it has “Puma” in the name.

I’ve seen just as many complaints about Intel 2.5Gb ports on motherboards as Realtek. Currently mine has an Intel chip with no issues. My last board had Realtek and still works fine 5 years later. I think it’s a roll of the dice either way. Still, it would be nice to know what chip you are getting in an item with the price tag of the AX86U.
 
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Maximus0636

New Around Here
Old reputations die hard. RealTek has the historic reputation of being the 'cheap generic onboard solution' for people who don't opt for more expensive dedicated hardware, especially in terms of Audio chipsets. Now adays though, it is quite rare for the casual or even enthusiast user to spring for dedicated audio hardware.

Broadcomm, on the other hand, is historically more liked, perhaps because people have looked to their chipsets as one of the few cable modem options that avoid the dreaded Intel Puma6 defect. (I personally bought a Broadcomm-based cable modem for this reason.)

But as for networking, I wouldn't make a decision based on whether a router's internal 2.5Gbps port is using RealTek or Broadcomm hardware. I have the AX86U router, and I don't even know or care whether it is using Broadcomm or Realtek inside.
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@Paliv, don't really care about motherboard NICs, and I don't know Puma either.

And without knowing what is on the other end of the LAN cable, it doesn't automatically imply Intel is the problem either.
 

NinjaTortuga

Occasional Visitor
If I recall correctly one of the Arris cable modems used Puma and they were garbage from reviews I've read in the past. Anyhow thanks for the feedback.
 
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RMerlin

Asuswrt-Merlin dev
Unless it has “Puma” in the name.
And also Intel's first revision of their 2.5 Gbps NIC was completely broken. A second hardware revision had to be quickly launched to address the problem, and I believe there were a few additional issues that required fixes at the driver level before they finally got it right.

Every company has their share of failed products. Cannot say that every Realtek is garbage and every Intel is perfect - past experiences has shown otherwise.
 

Paliv

Regular Contributor
If I recall correctly one of the Arris cable modems used Puma and they were garbage from reviews I've read in the past. Anyhow thanks for the feedback.
The SB6190. It was Arris’ first gigabit modem, if memory serves. It had latency spikes that would anecdotally make the connection unusable for even basic surfing. A lot of the issues have been patched since.
 

Paliv

Regular Contributor
And also Intel's first revision of their 2.5 Gbps NIC was completely broken. A second hardware revision had to be quickly launched to address the problem, and I believe there were a few additional issues that required fixes at the driver level before they finally got it right.

Every company has their share of failed products. Cannot say that every Realtek is garbage and every Intel is perfect - past experiences has shown otherwise.
Yes, they seem to be on their (possibly) third revision which is on my current motherboard without any issues thankfully. I had to do a lot of poking around when I purchased a motherboard last fall since the stories going around the forums were miserable for Intel 2.5 Gbps NICs and they are being put into everything.
 

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