Time to replace N66U running asuswrt-merlin..

  • ATTENTION! As of November 1, 2020, you will not be able to reply to threads 6 months after the thread is opened. Threads will not be locked, so posts may still be edited by their authors.

phem0r

New Around Here
Good morning all,

I have owned a Asus RT-N66U for roughly 5 years and it's WiFi seems to be flaking out, so what a good reason to buy a new router :), only i haven't looked into routers since i bought this one.. So here are some details on my simple setup.

I live in a roughly 2000 sq ft home serviced by a 250mb down and 20mb up cable connection into a Motorola Arris SB8200 modem (i have the option of gigabit from my ISP too). My modem is hooked up to the RT-N66U running Asuswrt-Merlin 380.70 and i have 3 hard wired connections from that - one is to my main computer where i work from home and am an avid gamer (WoW, FPS titles etc..), second is to a work laptop and then the third is to our Amazon Fire TV where we stream everything.

Wirelessly, it's only cell phones and a Chromecast, so i don't have a big demand for wireless speeds but at the same time i don't particularly want to buy an old standard.

My budget is around $200 and i was looking at the Asus RT-AX58U / RT-AX3000 (they seem to be the same thing!?) and running Asuswrt-Merlin firmware again but i am definitely open to all suggestions

I think i covered everything..

Thanks,
Allan
 

heysoundude

Very Senior Member
I wouldn't bother spending the money on current WiFi6 hardware as the "standard" is still evolving. an RT-AC86u will give you the performance and longevity you have come to expect from your good ol' n66u, and will be supported by Merlin (and the script people) for some time to come...which gives the manufacturers time to get wifi6e devices into the hands of consumers. so when you've a bunch of those, you upgrade the 86u to an AX router and use the 86 as an AiMesh Node ;)
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
All standards are constantly evolving, meaning we can't stand still either. Price/cost is the only consideration worth keeping in balance (for the features gained). An AC class router that costs the same as an AX class router is a poor buy today. Having said that, other factors (such as the RT-AC86U's superior VPN speeds) may be factored into the decision too. If VPN service is required now or in the future, the RT-AC86U is an easy recommendation. However, if VPN performance isn't even on the radar, the RT-AX58U is the better buy at equal or even slightly more cost than the 'AC86U. :)

But, before deciding to replace your RT-N66U, try the excellent RMerlin fork by @john9527 instead. You will have upgraded the router to 2020 levels and may fix any issues you see running that old firmware today.


After flashing to the @john9527 fork, be sure to do a full reset to factory defaults as suggested in the last two paragraphs of the following link. And who knows? Some of the 10 tips may be useful too in solving the issues for now.


HTH.
 

CaptainSTX

Part of the Furniture
The AC86 is an excellent router and the go to choice if you want VPN speed, but if you want the reliability of an N66 or even an AC68 the AC86 seems to be more prone to issues based on questions on this forum or even buyer's reviews another router in the ASUS line might be a better choice. Also based on some buyer's reported experiences this router's life may be shorter than the N66s. It will be interesting in 2022 to see how many of the class of 2017 AC86s are still functioning.
 

K-2SO

Very Senior Member
Avoid RT-AC86U and the renamed RT-AC2900. Unreliable model. $300 loss from 2 units in my books.
 

phem0r

New Around Here
All standards are constantly evolving, meaning we can't stand still either. Price/cost is the only consideration worth keeping in balance (for the features gained). An AC class router that costs the same as an AX class router is a poor buy today. Having said that, other factors (such as the RT-AC86U's superior VPN speeds) may be factored into the decision too. If VPN service is required now or in the future, the RT-AC86U is an easy recommendation. However, if VPN performance isn't even on the radar, the RT-AX58U is the better buy at equal or even slightly more cost than the 'AC86U. :)

But, before deciding to replace your RT-N66U, try the excellent RMerlin fork by @john9527 instead. You will have upgraded the router to 2020 levels and may fix any issues you see running that old firmware today.


After flashing to the @john9527 fork, be sure to do a full reset to factory defaults as suggested in the last two paragraphs of the following link. And who knows? Some of the 10 tips may be useful too in solving the issues for now.


HTH.
Thank you for the information, for now I've gone down the route of updating the firmware to the fork version however i receive the following error when trying to do so

"Invalid Firmware Upload
To comply with regulatory amendments, we have modified our certification rule to ensure better firmware quality. This version is not compatible with all previously released ASUS firmware and uncertified third party firmware. Please check our official websites for the certified firmware."

RT-N66U is currently running Asuswrt-Merlin 380.70 and i'm trying to upload file RT-N66U_374.43_44EAj9527.trx from the link you provided. Can i not 'downgrade' version number?
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
Thank you for the information, for now I've gone down the route of updating the firmware to the fork version however i receive the following error when trying to do so

"Invalid Firmware Upload
To comply with regulatory amendments, we have modified our certification rule to ensure better firmware quality. This version is not compatible with all previously released ASUS firmware and uncertified third party firmware. Please check our official websites for the certified firmware."

RT-N66U is currently running Asuswrt-Merlin 380.70 and i'm trying to upload file RT-N66U_374.43_44EAj9527.trx from the link you provided. Can i not 'downgrade' version number?
This is explained in the "Installation Notes" for the firmware.
 

phem0r

New Around Here
This is explained in the "Installation Notes" for the firmware.
You're correct, however the Firmware Restoration Tool just tells me that the router is not in rescue mode so i can't upload the firmware. Did i need to purposely brick the router somehow to upload this..
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
You're correct, however the Firmware Restoration Tool just tells me that the router is not in rescue mode so i can't upload the firmware. Did i need to purposely brick the router somehow to upload this..
Getting into rescue mode is tricky because it requires precise timing. Open up a command prompt on your PC and run a continuous ping to the router (ping -t 192.168.1.1). When you see a ping reply with a TTL=100 you know it's time to release the reset button. If you wait too long the router will go into a normal startup (TTL=64).
 

phem0r

New Around Here
Getting into rescue mode is tricky because it requires precise timing. Open up a command prompt on your PC and run a continuous ping to the router (ping -t 192.168.1.1). When you see a ping reply with a TTL=100 you know it's time to release the reset button. If you wait too long the router will go into a normal startup (TTL=64).
Thanks i'll try that
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
You can confirm you are in rescue mode by going to http://192.168.1.1 which should display the "ASUSTek - CFE miniWeb Server". You can upload the new firmware from there if you prefer.

If your PC loses it local IP address you may not be able to connect to the router when it is in rescue mode. In which case you need to set a static IP on your PC's network adapter. See step 2 here.
 
Last edited:

phem0r

New Around Here
You can confirm you are in rescue mode by going to http://192.168.1.1 which should display the "ASUSTek - CFE miniWeb Server". You can upload the new firmware from there if you prefer.

If your PC loses it local IP address you may not be able to connect to the router when it is in rescue mode. In which case you need to set a static IP on your PC's network adapter. See step 2 here.
Well I have a constant ping running and it’s returning TTL=100, I manage to get to the CFE and clicked upload on the new firmware, the CFE screen then went away and the ping is still returning TTL=100 so I assume it’s working through the firmware, it’s been about an hour now..

I did set a static IP on my machine and the router is plugged directly into my machine with nothing else hooked up
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Yes, be patient. This takes a long time.
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
Just making sure, it’s been over 2 hours, hooked up some crappy old router to service the house so my wife doesn’t go crazy in the interim
In my experience it usually takes between 40 and 60 minutes. But I have had it just fail to work and have to repeat the process. It might be worth doing a factory reset before attempting it again.
 

phem0r

New Around Here
In my experience it usually takes between 40 and 60 minutes. But I have had it just fail to work and have to repeat the process. It might be worth doing a factory reset before attempting it again.
Shut the router off, did a factory reset on it and repeated the process but using the asus restoration utility, system recovery in progress, 20%. Nice
 

ColinTaylor

Part of the Furniture
system recovery in progress, 20%. Nice
Don't be fooled by the "progress" counter. It's just a timer that's not actually connected to anything. So it will usually just get to 100% and the upload will still be being applied.
 

K-2SO

Very Senior Member
This progress counter may say "not responding". It does take a long time, but not 2h. The router will reboot at some point. I have no idea why N66U/AC66U flash is so slow. I have one AC66U running Tomato. I remember flashing it 3 times before I realize flash process is so slow.
 

phem0r

New Around Here
Don't be fooled by the "progress" counter. It's just a timer that's not actually connected to anything. So it will usually just get to 100% and the upload will still be being applied.
This progress counter may say "not responding". It does take a long time, but not 2h. The router will reboot at some point. I have no idea why N66U/AC66U flash is so slow. I have one AC66U running Tomato. I remember flashing it 3 times before I realize flash process is so slow.
I eventually realized this and just went and played a round of golf.. But it's all flashed to the RMerlin fork now so i'll see how things go, thanks for the assistance!
 

Sign Up For SNBForums Daily Digest

Get an update of what's new every day delivered to your mailbox. Sign up here!
Top