Upgrading from and old 802.11n router (AC or AX?)

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villur

New Around Here
I've been reading about some new router technologies and wifi6 for the past 3 hours, and have still not come to the conclusion of which new router to buy.
I was almost ready to buy the RT-AX88U since I saw quite a few people speak highly of it but then found some more "technical" forums and posts saying most AX based routers suck anyway, and there is virtually little to gain from going with an AX/wifi6 router right now.
My use case would be to just get the best latency and connectivity and since I'm currently stuck on 2.4GHz, it gets quite noisy on the evenings since I live in an apartment.
Its a medium sized apartment and max usage would be streaming media on a smart-tv, 2 laptops, 4 phones, iPad and my PC(wired). What sometimes seems to happen on higher usage is that my gaming experience suffers a lot with latency spikes and overall sluggish connection. Not sure if it its just the network congestion or the old age of the router not handling all the traffic, but better gaming experience is one of the areas I'd like to improve the most, with better wifi connectivity and QoS features maybe? With low traffic my gaming experience is flawless, so It has to do with the increased traffic I assume?

So would I benefit from an AX router or should I still get an AC one? Im fine with spending 300€ on a router if it means I'm getting another 7 years from it.
We have fiber coming into the building, so theoretical speeds could be pretty high, I haven't looked at what the max speed provided is, 2 years a go it was 500/500.
 

degrub

Very Senior Member
If the 2.4 GHz spectrum is crowded, a new wireless router is not going to change that if your devices only support 2.4 GHz..
Best case is your devices support 5Ghz, so move to an AC based wireless router.
Hardwire everything possible for the best experience, low latency, highest possible bandwidth.
If your apartment is sharing cable bandwidth across the apartment building for internet, it may not be possible to improve in the evening with everyone else getting on line on the same cable plant.

Don't bother to be a beta tester for AX / wifi6 routers. Give it a year or more.
 

villur

New Around Here
Devices all support 5Ghz (except the RPi), router does not. Its evenings where my apartments devices are causing high traffic that seem to impact my gaming experience, not the overall higher usage of the building since it only seems to happen when the TV is on and the people I live with are downloading/streaming stuff on their laptops.
Any suggestions for good AC routers? Having more then 4 ports would be ideal, but not mandatory.
 

degrub

Very Senior Member
unmanaged switches are cheap if you need more ports. A lot of people like ASUS on here. Search the other threads for Trip, LL&D, and others previous rec.
 

Zetto

Regular Contributor
I was in the same situation and personally, I don't see any benefit in getting an AC router, esp. if AX equivalent costs the same. AX routers will be able to do everything AC one can, and then some. Sure, it was a draft standard but it has become official weeks ago as it's been quite a while since it was introduced, and now there's lots of choices and many bugs from early AX implementations have been ironed out. Besides, AX now will serve longer than an AC router once you start buying AX equipment. I actually did wait for AC to mature while getting some AC clients along the way and now, at this point, it just doesn't seem worth it to get an AC router and wait again for AX to mature, by the time it's ripe, the Wifi 7 will arrive while my new AX toys will be stuck at AC speeds, been there, done that lol
 
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thiggins

Mr. Easy
Staff member
@Zetto AX and AC provide the same maximum link rates on 5 GHz for both AX and AC devices.

My advice would be to price AC and AX routers with the same # of streams. With only a few devices active at a time, you could probably get by with a two or three stream router if you wanted to save money.

AX isn't going to provide practical benefit if you don't have AX devices. Even then, you need a LOT of AX devices active simultaneously to see the hyped benefits of OFDMA.

I would upgrade to WiFi 5 now and then WiFi 6E in a few years. You'll get a mature router that's been through the debug cycle for a few years and let others debug WiFi 6 and 6E products for a few years so that they'll be stable when you're ready to buy again. You'll also have more selection and prices will be lower.
 

Zetto

Regular Contributor
@thiggins Like I already said, I did just that with AC. So much so, AX is now out, and official, while all of my AC clients were stuck at N speed for years. Don't see the point of going through the exercise all over again with AX, by the time it matures, Wifi 7 will be here. Not everyone buys routers every year, some of us like them to last for many, many years, so when we do buy one, we'd like to have some measure of future proofing, as silly as it may sound to someone like you.
 
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Thw0rted

Regular Contributor
I can't imagine anybody buying a router every year. From a quick Google, 802.11n (wifi 4) was finalized in 2009, AC (wifi 5) in 2013, and somebody upthread said that they just finalized AX (wifi 6). So, plan on a new router every ~5-7 years, and you can keep up with changing standards. Even if you buy a good AC router today, because you don't trust AX products to be stable or think the value isn't there, you'll be fine with it for that same 5-7 year window.

Plenty of people have a home connection that's faster than wifi 4 but most of us can't keep up with wifi 5. The OP will be much happier with a good AC router with robust 5GHz performance than a low-end AX device with poorly-built firmware.

As for specific suggestions: I had a few teething troubles with my Asus RT-AX92U, but I've been really happy with it lately. It only supports AX on one of its three bands, and I use that band for mesh backhaul, but in the OP's case it sounds like a small apartment so they could buy a single unit and put clients on all three.
 

Zetto

Regular Contributor
Plenty of people have a home connection that's faster than wifi 4 but most of us can't keep up with wifi 5. The OP will be much happier with a good AC router with robust 5GHz performance than a low-end AX device with poorly-built firmware.
I don't think even Asus RT-AX55 would have poorly built firmware ;) Asus appears to be pretty good updating firmware regularly even for very old routers like N66. BTW, AX55 supports AX on both bands ;)
 
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Thw0rted

Regular Contributor
I don't think even Asus RT-AX55 would have poorly built firmware ;) Asus appears to be pretty good updating firmware regularly even for very old routers like N66. BTW, AX55 supports AX on both bands ;)

Oh I should have clarified, I wasn't talking about any particular "low-end" AX device. AFAIK Asus does not make a "cheap" router, just "pretty good" up to "very good". What I meant was, don't buy the very cheapest AX you can find just because it's AX, when AC from a good brand will serve you better in the long run.
 

Clark Griswald

Senior Member
AC86U Amazon

Currently $159 w/ next day delivery of this "Work Horse" of a router.

Stay Safe Everyone
 

alba666

Occasional Visitor
I can't imagine anybody buying a router every year. From a quick Google, 802.11n (wifi 4) was finalized in 2009, AC (wifi 5) in 2013, and somebody upthread said that they just finalized AX (wifi 6). So, plan on a new router every ~5-7 years, and you can keep up with changing standards. Even if you buy a good AC router today, because you don't trust AX products to be stable or think the value isn't there, you'll be fine with it for that same 5-7 year window.

Plenty of people have a home connection that's faster than wifi 4 but most of us can't keep up with wifi 5. The OP will be much happier with a good AC router with robust 5GHz performance than a low-end AX device with poorly-built firmware.

As for specific suggestions: I had a few teething troubles with my Asus RT-AX92U, but I've been really happy with it lately. It only supports AX on one of its three bands, and I use that band for mesh backhaul, but in the OP's case it sounds like a small apartment so they could buy a single unit and put clients on all three.
AX92 here as well (with my old AC88 as a mesh node due to WAN port issues). It has been stable for me of late as well.
IMHO, today I would spend the extra $40 on Amazon and buy the AX86 (quad CPU, more memory, can run Merlin).
 

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