RT-AX88U or RT-AX86U as main Router using AiMesh 2.0 with Merlin firmware.

baud

Occasional Visitor
Looking for some thoughts regarding what appliance is preferred when deploying a two-node AiMesh configuration. I will test and compare, but am curious as to what others may have experienced.

As of today, both Nodes would be running Merlin 386.1_beta. Diversion, Skynet & Unbound. Available appliances are RT-AX88U & RT-AX86U. Specs are very similar. Not really sure I see a compelling reason to use the newer RT-AX86U as the main router.....
 

dave14305

Part of the Furniture
It's like the question I ask myself every Saturday: "Should I take the Ferrari or the Lamborghini to the grocery store this time?" :cool:

I've yet to run AiMesh ever, but I would stick with the AX88U as the router since it has a longer track history on Merlin firmware. If necessary, you can revert the AX86U to stock firmware in case of "new model" issues and not lose any Merlin-specific features on the main router.
 

baud

Occasional Visitor
It's like the question I ask myself every Saturday: "Should I take the Ferrari or the Lamborghini to the grocery store this time?" :cool:

I've yet to run AiMesh ever, but I would stick with the AX88U as the router since it has a longer track history on Merlin firmware. If necessary, you can revert the AX86U to stock firmware in case of "new model" issues and not lose any Merlin-specific features on the main router.

Right! Good analogy. I too think that the more proven device is probably a good idea.

The only major advantage the RT-AX86U has is some port speed capabilities, but I don’t host storage so don’t really see the benefit.

Thanks for your input.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
With the two routers stated, I would make the RT-AX86U the main one. But not today. When RMerlin 386.1 goes final. ;)

Why? Latency. Much less on the RT-AX86U.
 

modestyB

Occasional Visitor
With the two routers stated, I would make the RT-AX86U the main one. But not today. When RMerlin 386.1 goes final. ;)

Why? Latency. Much less on the RT-AX86U.
Just replaced AC68U with AX88U. Phenomenal improvement, on 386 beta 2.
Had Diversion installed on the old AC68U, have not installed it on AX88U, yet.

Wondering if Diversion could influence/degrade the latency on AX88U?

Also considered the AX86U, but with Diversion and other plugins, will there really be a noticeably latency difference between AX86U and AX88U?
 

Maloon

Occasional Visitor
Hi,

May I ask why AX86U has much less latency? Thanks!
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
The 'why', I am not 100% certain of. But here are my best guesses.
  • two years newer platform with all the improvements possible in that time (even with almost the same hardware inside).
  • (Small) Design improvements over time, while minimal in themselves, are cumulative and noticeable.
  • there is 'only' 47MB of JFFS capacity on the RT-AX86U vs. the 63MB capacity of the RT-AX88U.
  • Does the lower capacity allow for lower latency? In much the same way that cache on a CPU gets slower, the bigger it is made.
  • That 2.5GbE Port adds something to the whole router, overall. Even above the direct influence, it has on wired Ethernet speeds when using it.
How certain am I of the above? Not 100% of course. But they are good guesses from a layperson.

I am certain enough to have bought two RT-AX86U's (AiMesh over wired 2.5GbE Ports) and retired my RT-AX88U (which is effectively sold right now).

Using Diversion will degrade the latency on any router if you use a large enough list with it. Otherwise, it simply makes the web faster (less junky ads downloaded per session).

If the entire experience is important to you, then the RT-AX86U is superior to the RT-AX88U when rebooting, initializing the radios, latency while browsing the web and how effectively it uses the USB drive to power amtm scripts. Make no mistake, the CPU and the radios still need a few minutes to 'settle' after rebooting or changing configuration options, but it is still faster (lower latency) than the RT-AX88U in my direct testing with both routers flashed to 386.1 Beta 2 and fully (Nuclear) reset.

One obvious example: in speedtest runs, the RT-AX86U after fully resetting it would repeatedly 'score' 0ms or 1ms Ping times while hitting 940Mbps + for both up and down speeds. The RT-AX88U never hit the 0ms mark (it used to when I had first bought it last year though...), but it would occasionally match the 1ms but would usually be in the 2 to 3 ms range when testing with my ISP's servers. When tested with other servers, it would be in the 20ms and higher range while the RT-AX86U would be in the 12ms to 14ms range.

Like I said, while browsing, the difference is obvious to me (pages appear like you're turning a page in a book). With Diversion, that experience is magnified when only the content is presented. ;)
 

modestyB

Occasional Visitor
AX86U vs AX88U, your reasoning makes sense. And if it is 100% correct or not, the AX86U probably is more speedy.

Did get the AX88U due to a sale, lower than the AX86U price..., still stunned by the performance increase from AC68U – especially when browsing.

Will test with reinstall Diversion later, it felt like it made even the AC68U more direct. So must assume it does not hinder the AX88U experience sofar.

Might have to trade for AX86U later then.
 

baud

Occasional Visitor
Update:

Very interesting experience. I have been testing different configurations over the past month +. 88U as main, 86 as main, with AiMesh, without, rolling beta updates and finally both with their recent stable releases.

I'll start with my hardware disappointments regarding the RT-AX86U. In roughly two months time, I have replaced the device three times! I experienced dead ports and endless loops on multiple devices. I'm familiar with just about all the troubleshooting procedures. Nuclear resets, flashing in specific order, WPS, etc. Efforts resulted in RMA scenarios that ultimately were replacements through Amazon as that was a much easier path. I want everyone to know that the build quality between the two units is not comparable. The ports on the board of the RT-AX86U were loose on all units. That's the main physical issue I couldn't accept. Plugging RJs into ports the entire board moves?!?!? Have no doubt about it, the RT-AX88U is better constructed. Maybe at some point a teardown to see the internal construction would be interesting.

Regarding Performance. Two major advantages that the 86U offers are the 2.5Gbps port and the "lower latency". I was not able to utilize the 2.5Gbps port as my WAN speed is capped at 1Gbps. I attempted to get it working internally with a 10Gbps switch, but with negotiation issues, I left it alone. The 88U doesn't offer the 2.5Gbps speed to compare to anyway.

After running for a few days with both devices as the main and the other as AiMesh Node, I did not see any advantage running the RT-AX86U over the RT-AX88U. Surprisingly, on larger file tests with iPerf, the RT-AX88U performed better. Leaving the network, testing with speedtest, fast and dslreports, the 88U performed the same or better. I also noticed that using ping test internally (I know ICMP is not the best measure) pings from a laptop wired directly the the 88U were more consistent. I also tested a LAG configuration with two 1Gbps ports. They behaved the same on both units. Pings and speed were more consistent on the X88 and speeds sometimes slightly faster as well.

In the end, I'm looking for another RT-AX88U, as a second unit to replace the RT-AX86. In my search, I'm finding the 88U for roughly $100 more?!?!? Hmmm.

The RT-AX86U has been an extremly unplesant experiecnce. I'm curious to hear the experience of others.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@baud I'm sorry to hear about your issues with the 'AX86U's. None of my customers have had any issues, nor I with my 2 units either, in the last few months. I don't buy network equipment online, I buy from a brick and mortar store (when possible). It is possible that you were getting units from a bad batch?

Having had the RT-AC86U, RT-AX88U, and the RT-AX86U's, I can honestly say that each upgrade (in the order listed) was because of an enhanced experience when using the network for any task(s) at all.

The difference between the RT-AX86U and the RT-AX88U was very surprising actually because even with the older RT-AC86U, they all share the same basic hardware (CPU, etc.) 'specs'. Sure, more cores here or there, and more RAM, but they should be comparable when testing for a single client device on the same connection (yet there were obvious differences).

The upgrade from the 'AC86U to the 'AX88U the benefits could be put down to 'AX' being better, and to the two years between the two models where RF design, hardware tweaks, and other fine tunings could be 'reasonable', given the time frame.

The easily noticeable lower latency jump to the 'AX86U from the 'AX88U was not expected or as easily explainable though. (This link here shows this isn't my imagination, either).

I tried every combination of an RT-AX58U, RT-AX88U, and RT-AX86U in wired AiMesh mode, and each time, the RT-AX86U was hindered significantly when another router was in the mix. I had no choice. I had to buy another RT-AX86U and see if the issue would be AiMesh itself, or, the other (lesser) routers.

I thought I was just 'testing' the RT-AX86U's when I had them in wired (2.5GbE backhaul) AiMesh mode. Of course, I couldn't give them up after seeing what my 1Gbps symmetrical Fibre connection could actual do with them in the network. Particularly when I could achieve those speeds wirelessly too with at least my laptop and an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E adaptor too. :)

386.1 Final 2x RT-AX86Us 2.5GbE Backhaul


When a properly setup wired AiMesh network with 2x RT-AX86U's is in place, there is nothing else in the consumer space that can compare (at least, with the routers I've had experience with).

Spending $20, $50, $100, and $150 or more on the now 'old' RT-AX88U is not a good buy today when the RT-AX86U is also a consideration/available.

I would be looking for a new source of RT-AX86U's to test with instead, or at least, make sure you double-check your testing of the unit you have now vs. the 'AX88U. If you're not seeing the same as I do, the set up may be the issue?

The above held true from RMerlin firmware 386.1 Beta 1 through to Beta 5, and to 386.1_0 release final.

Best Practice Update/Setup Router/AiMesh Node(s) 2021

Hope you find the 'AX88U at a reasonable price if it is still the best match for your network use. :)
 

baud

Occasional Visitor
@baud I'm sorry to hear about your issues with the 'AX86U's. None of my customers have had any issues, nor I with my 2 units either, in the last few months. I don't buy network equipment online, I buy from a brick and mortar store (when possible). It is possible that you were getting units from a bad batch?

Having had the RT-AC86U, RT-AX88U, and the RT-AX86U's, I can honestly say that each upgrade (in the order listed) was because of an enhanced experience when using the network for any task(s) at all.

The difference between the RT-AX86U and the RT-AX88U was very surprising actually because even with the older RT-AC86U, they all share the same basic hardware (CPU, etc.) 'specs'. Sure, more cores here or there, and more RAM, but they should be comparable when testing for a single client device on the same connection (yet there were obvious differences).

The upgrade from the 'AC86U to the 'AX88U the benefits could be put down to 'AX' being better, and to the two years between the two models where RF design, hardware tweaks, and other fine tunings could be 'reasonable', given the time frame.

The easily noticeable lower latency jump to the 'AX86U from the 'AX88U was not expected or as easily explainable though. (This link here shows this isn't my imagination, either).

I tried every combination of an RT-AX58U, RT-AX88U, and RT-AX86U in wired AiMesh mode, and each time, the RT-AX86U was hindered significantly when another router was in the mix. I had no choice. I had to buy another RT-AX86U and see if the issue would be AiMesh itself, or, the other (lesser) routers.

I thought I was just 'testing' the RT-AX86U's when I had them in wired (2.5GbE backhaul) AiMesh mode. Of course, I couldn't give them up after seeing what my 1Gbps symmetrical Fibre connection could actual do with them in the network. Particularly when I could achieve those speeds wirelessly too with at least my laptop and an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E adaptor too. :)

386.1 Final 2x RT-AX86Us 2.5GbE Backhaul


When a properly setup wired AiMesh network with 2x RT-AX86U's is in place, there is nothing else in the consumer space that can compare (at least, with the routers I've had experience with).

Spending $20, $50, $100, and $150 or more on the now 'old' RT-AX88U is not a good buy today when the RT-AX86U is also a consideration/available.

I would be looking for a new source of RT-AX86U's to test with instead, or at least, make sure you double-check your testing of the unit you have now vs. the 'AX88U. If you're not seeing the same as I do, the set up may be the issue?

The above held true from RMerlin firmware 386.1 Beta 1 through to Beta 5, and to 386.1_0 release final.

Best Practice Update/Setup Router/AiMesh Node(s) 2021

Hope you find the 'AX88U at a reasonable price if it is still the best match for your network use. :)
Your experience is where my expectations were. I haven't done anything yet. The more I process everything, I don't feel comfortable buying older hardware as a solution, especially when it's more expensive.

I agree, that maybe Amazon has a bad batch of these. That wouldn't surprise me.

I'm going to grab a unit from Micro Center and give it another whirl. Hopefully this works out. Ugh....
 

Kingp1n

Very Senior Member
Your experience is where my expectations were. I haven't done anything yet. The more I process everything, I don't feel comfortable buying older hardware as a solution, especially when it's more expensive.

I agree, that maybe Amazon has a bad batch of these. That wouldn't surprise me.

I'm going to grab a unit from Micro Center and give it another whirl. Hopefully this works out. Ugh....
Have you had a chance to try out the AX86U again? I'm looking into getting trying out the 86U to see if latency does decrease.
 

baud

Occasional Visitor
Have you had a chance to try out the AX86U again? I'm looking into getting trying out the 86U to see if latency does decreasPick
Picked it up this morning. Setup and kicking the tires. This unit does feel better. Crazy. :oops:

Running as router with AX88 as AiMesh Node. So far so good....
 

Kami-san

New Around Here
So what’s the better router for covering long distances? I plan to run 2 of either of these and tether them to form a backhaul and for any area that still gets weak signal I will throw in a RP-AX56 repeater.

I read some mentions of the AX88U having the more potent 2.4Ghz chip.
 

Kingp1n

Very Senior Member
I'm trying a AX86U as the main router and the 88U as a node. So far no issues, the AX86U has some additional features that the 88U is missing. The GeForce Now QoS being one of them. However it's missing WTFast in compared to the 88U.

I'm still testing both. I might switch and use it as node as well. Might end up selling the 88U.
 

wmmallette47

Regular Contributor
And I shouldn’t be agonizing over the decision between the two. I do not game and my tv streaming is hard wired. Wifi is only for phones/tablets and smart plug type devices
 

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