Upgrading from RT-N66U

Riptide

Occasional Visitor
Hi. I am currently using 'old reliable' RT-N66U for many years now. I'm looking to upgrade to a modern router with support for newer features, security, etc. and the RTAX86U seems like the best option. I was originally looking at the new GT-AX6000 but decided against it primarily due to cost and a couple other factors.

I am not an expert on networking by any stretch (novice at best) and I have a couple questions here please:
  • Is it possible to power up and configure RTAX86U without hooking it up to my WAN connection? IE, leave my current router running the network while I pre-config the new one.
  • I have a lot of devices on WiFi at my house (phones, wife's computer, smart bulbs, TVs) and they are on 2.4GHz currently. Is it difficult to configure RTAX86U with a 2.4ghz SSID and password that is the same so that those devices 'just work' without having to manually re-join them?
  • One thing I read on the Merlin home page is the possibility of setting up an adblocker. Does this work well? I see people setting up raspberry pi and using it to block youtube ads for example. Wondering if this works the same way or does the same things.

Thanks in advance.

EDIT: Maybe should've put this in the ASUS section. MODS feel free to move. My bad.
 
Last edited:

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
  • Yes, it is possible.
  • Keep the same SSID and pass. You may need to forget connection and re-connect some of the devices.
  • Diversion script. It does similar to Pi-hole DNS-based ad-blocking. In general you can't block YouTube ads this way.
 

Riptide

Occasional Visitor
Fantastic thanks. Sounds like getting it up and running should be fairly easy then. My plan is to update the firmware to the latest merlin release first and then work on getting it ready to deploy.

I sort of wish it had 2.5G ports on the LAN which is about the only thing I'm disappointed in. But then not much has that at this point in time and who knows how long it'll be to get that functionality. The GT-AX6000 has one but I don't think it's worth the extra cost for just a single port.
 

heysoundude

Part of the Furniture
what's going to be most noticeable is the wireless speed on client devices with wifi6 (802.11ax) capability - how many do you currently have?
(then, disable the routing&radios of your n66 and have a nice GigE switch)

To further what @Tech9 said about Diversion, I'll also encourage you to consider running another script called unbound and possibly a 3rd called SkyNet.
you can look those up yourself in the Asus-Merlin Addons subforum - the trio combined can have a significant effect (cumulatively positive) on your internet experience as a whole.

As to 2.5G LAN Ports, check again:
https://www.asus.com/ca-en/Networki...outers/ASUS-Gaming-Routers/RT-AX86U/techspec/ (BUT I think Asus wants you to use it for AiMesh)
you can have as many as you want with a 2.5G switch ;-D
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
another script called unbound and possibly a 3rd called SkyNet

I do not recommend running any scripts. I don't like system dependent on USB flash drive idea.

the trio combined can have a significant effect (cumulatively positive) on your internet experience as a whole.

Angry wife approaching fast experience is likely to happen. Usually not very positive experience.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
possibility of setting up an adblocker.

I wouldn't recommend running any network-wide blockers based on your personal view what is better to block. Something will stop working when you're away from home and you'll run into issues. Let your family members decide if they want to see ads or not. On-device uBlock Origin is much more effective ad-blocker and it blocks YouTube ads as well. You don't really need any of the add-on scripts available for Asuswrt-Merlin.
 

heysoundude

Part of the Furniture
I do not recommend running any scripts. I don't like system dependent on USB flash drive idea.



Angry wife approaching fast experience is likely to happen. Usually not very positive experience.
(I understand and appreciate your conservative approach, don't mistake that - I use "trust but verify" almost as my way of life. I'm doing it right now with the new WireGuard in amtm....my desktop, my phone, the media center/streamer, the laptops...If it doesn't work well on my stuff, I don't go any further)

The trick is to setup and test while they're out, then do whatever config is necessary on their client devices at that time or to get out ahead of the problem and ask to set things up on their device when they get in. (when the phones get back here, I'll collect and config and be fine, because everything has been done methodically.)

What about a USB SSD?
 

Riptide

Occasional Visitor
what's going to be most noticeable is the wireless speed on client devices with wifi6 (802.11ax) capability - how many do you currently have?
I honestly have no idea right now and will check. I'm thinking our mobiles (pixel 6, iphone 13) might support it and possibly my gaming PC which has a asus tuf x570 wifi motherboard. I'm currently on ethernet with the x570.

My WAN connection was just upgraded to the max I can get in this area, 1G over cable. There is no fiber option.
(then, disable the routing&radios of your n66 and have a nice GigE switch)
Most likely will end up doing that. Or alternately donating it should anyone I know be in need of a decent (but old) option.
As to 2.5G LAN Ports, check again:
https://www.asus.com/ca-en/Networki...outers/ASUS-Gaming-Routers/RT-AX86U/techspec/ (BUT I think Asus wants you to use it for AiMesh)
you can have as many as you want with a 2.5G switch ;-D
There seems to be only one 2.5G port on the device and if I understand it correctly it is meant to be used in place of the 1G WAN port only. I don't think it can act as a LAN port. The other LAN ports on the device are 1G. There seems to be some sort of option to aggregate ports on this device but I don't really have a clue how it works.

Regarding the scripts, I'm not sure what the 'angry wife' comment is getting at from Tech lol. Not sure I like the sound of that!
 

heysoundude

Part of the Furniture
I honestly have no idea right now and will check. I'm thinking our mobiles (pixel 6, iphone 13) might support it and possibly my gaming PC which has a asus tuf x570 wifi motherboard. I'm currently on ethernet with the x570.

My WAN connection was just upgraded to the max I can get in this area, 1G over cable. There is no fiber option.

Most likely will end up doing that. Or alternately donating it should anyone I know be in need of a decent (but old) option.

There seems to be only one 2.5G port on the device and if I understand it correctly it is meant to be used in place of the 1G WAN port only. I don't think it can act as a LAN port. The other LAN ports on the device are 1G. There seems to be some sort of option to aggregate ports on this device but I don't really have a clue how it works.

Regarding the scripts, I'm not sure what the 'angry wife' comment is getting at from Tech lol. Not sure I like the sound of that!
the iphone 13 can use wifi6, probably the pixel as well...and gaming over wifi will frustrate you, so it's good you're wired between gaming machine and router.

with 1Gbps you don't need 2.5 LAN ports. Use cable and connectors that meet spec for Cat5e and you're fine until you can get a faster internet package.

"the wife" gets angry when she cant stream "her shows" to her devices because you've been "messing with the internet again" - but the scripts I mentioned have been made to install easily and simply work in most use cases, so unless you're doing some crazy subnetting (or whatever), the wife shouldn't even realize you did anything, especially if you made the changes while she's out or sleeping or...and tested that they work as advertised. If I can do it...and I did, on my n66 back in the day, without knowing much about terminal bash commands/linux and scripts or networking...I'm confident you can muddle your way through as well if you can read and follow directions.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Not sure I like the sound of that!

Diversion and Skynet (and similar other blockers, including Pi-hole) use community based blocklists. In case of error, you may lose access to websites/services until someone discovers the error, reports it to blocklist maintainer, the maintainer updates the blocklist and your router pulls the new blocklist later on. This process may take days. You have to monitor activity and whitelist whatever is blocked, but you need it. Blocklists used by Skynet at some point contained Microsoft Update servers, GitHub, Quad9 public DNS servers, Google servers. Blocklist used by Diversion regularly contain trackers used for bank accounts authentication. You'll be the one responsible for what used to work before, but after you messed with the router it doesn't. Do you like the idea with all the work/learn from home happening these days?
 

Riptide

Occasional Visitor
the iphone 13 can use wifi6, probably the pixel as well...and gaming over wifi will frustrate you, so it's good you're wired between gaming machine and router.
Yah plan is to stay on ethernet for the PC. I also have a mining rig on hiveos (linux) that is running on a TPLink USB wireless adapter. That is the only one I'm a bit concerned with since I understand some adapters have issues negotiating with newer wifi6 routers. If I'm lucky it will 'just work' if I maintain the same SSID and passcode for the 2.4ghz network.
with 1Gbps you don't need 2.5 LAN ports. Use cable and connectors that meet spec for Cat5e and you're fine until you can get a faster internet package.
2.5G transfers between wired devices on the LAN would be nice plus there is the possibility that eventually we may get over 1G internet at which point those ports become a bottleneck. This is not a dealbreaker or I would've just camped on the NT66 for another couple years or whatever it takes to get these features in a typical consumer router. This was one thing I liked about the new GT-AX6000, it has 2.5G support on the LAN. That suddenly became much less interesting once I realized all but one LAN port was 1G. That extra cost didn't seem worth it to me.
If I can do it...and I did, on my n66 back in the day, without knowing much about terminal bash commands/linux and scripts or networking...I'm confident you can muddle your way through as well if you can read and follow directions.
Well we do a lot of streaming mainly over netflix and youtube. I suppose I would be best off checking the list of blocked sites before applying the script so as to avoid any snafus.

I read Tech's response about this and understand the issues. It may be that manually whitelisting certain sites may be the best approach to this. Regardless, step 1 is to just get the router up and running with all the devices connected. Step 2 being to apply Merlin's firmware. Fancy scripts can come later. :)
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
@Riptide, what the router advertised specifications are is one part of the story. What the clients connected to it are capable of is another. Don't spend money chasing ISP upgrade plans. You will end up paying for hardware and services you don't need or use 95% of the time. Family Internet browsing, streaming, work/learn from home, etc. all fits in 150-200Mbps speeds. Gigabit ISP will make no difference in Internet experience, except in downloads. If you want 2.5GbE LAN you need to purchase 2.5GbE switch and upgrade every single wired client to 2.5GbE. What for? After hundreds of dollars in upgrades you'll realize your family does online exactly the same thing as before. Coming from RT-N66U I would purchase one RT-AX68U.

Read this thread:

 

heysoundude

Part of the Furniture
Yah plan is to stay on ethernet for the PC. I also have a mining rig on hiveos (linux) that is running on a TPLink USB wireless adapter. That is the only one I'm a bit concerned with since I understand some adapters have issues negotiating with newer wifi6 routers. If I'm lucky it will 'just work' if I maintain the same SSID and passcode for the 2.4ghz network.

2.5G transfers between wired devices on the LAN would be nice plus there is the possibility that eventually we may get over 1G internet at which point those ports become a bottleneck. This is not a dealbreaker or I would've just camped on the NT66 for another couple years or whatever it takes to get these features in a typical consumer router. This was one thing I liked about the new GT-AX6000, it has 2.5G support on the LAN. That suddenly became much less interesting once I realized all but one LAN port was 1G. That extra cost didn't seem worth it to me.

Well we do a lot of streaming mainly over netflix and youtube. I suppose I would be best off checking the list of blocked sites before applying the script so as to avoid any snafus.

I read Tech's response about this and understand the issues. It may be that manually whitelisting certain sites may be the best approach to this. Regardless, step 1 is to just get the router up and running with all the devices connected. Step 2 being to apply Merlin's firmware. Fancy scripts can come later. :)
Netflix/YouTube and others of that ilk are popular enough that they wouldn't be (black)listed.
You're most likely mountaining a molehill. Just get the machine and flash Merlin, then config. (Is it just me or do others dream of them coming with Merlin pre-installed at some point in the future, and the setup wizard giving us the choice?)
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
The first most annoying effect of ad-blockers is when you search for something in Google and you can't open any of the relevant links on the first page results, because they are all blocked Google ads. Second is accessing online accounts with common 2-step verification and tracking cookies blocked, sending you an SMS to confirm your identity every single time. Third is broken webpages with missing pictures and large blank areas. I don't know how much broken online experience @Riptide family members are going to tolerate and for how long. All the blockers are self limitations.
 

dev_null

Senior Member
With all due respect to divergent perspectives, there's a whole bunch of allegory and misinformation in the posts above.

There are thousands (perhaps hundreds of thousands) of users of Diversion and Skynet (and pihole and related software) who find no appreciable impact to our web experience using these applications, while at the same time resting a bit more comfortably knowing that the community is working to keep us safer by identifying bad actors, over-zealous websites and cross-site tracking, and adding them to block-lists.

I may not have the credentials of some of the previous posters, but I have over 20 years in related fields and have had very few complaints as a result of running Diversion and Skynet (and built-in ad-blocker and P2Partisan - similar to Skynet - when I was running Tomato).

As a matter of fact, I have direct experience with the opposite: when my kids friends are over at our house, they often comment on how few ads they see on their devices in comparison to their usual experience. I have had at least a couple parents ask me what we do, so the impact on the kid was such that s/he mentioned it at home.

I have added some domains to the whitelist that were otherwise blocked (and vice-versa). But I have a conversation with the family on how we're set up and what to expect, and then accept feedback on the impact they may or may not witness. I have never had a bank website blocked, but I have certainly see advertisements blocked on bank websites (cross-site advertisements at that - a dangerous thing).

Am I encouraging the OP to load these functions? No, because one persons experience is just that: a point reference. If you look at the community as a whole, you'll find much support for and use of these apps.

OP, try it or not, but don't be put off by one individual's opinion.

EDIT: my N66U is still running strong on John's build with Diversion at a relatives house. No Skynet because the firmware doesn't support it. It's a great unit that I expect to run for a few more years. I upgraded from the N66U to an RT-AC66U_B1 to the RT-AX86U and both of the latter are great routers.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Different opinions will help @Riptide decide what's best for him. I personally don't enforce my opinion on my family members anymore. Everyone is free to decide what they want to see on their screens. uBlock Origin is the best adblock software. It runs on multiple browsers, blocks YouTube ads and doesn't break webpages. IP-based blocking is mostly useless with no open ports to Internet - the built-in firewall does the job well. Using USB stick is still a system reliability concern. At least it has to be replaced with SSD in USB enclosure, as suggested by @heysoundude above.
 

heysoundude

Part of the Furniture
There's enough polarization in society today <cough, cough, covid vaxx> that we can civilly and kindly express opinions on OP's networking options...and I think we've done a pretty good job thus far, so let's just leave this here in the hopes that the OP updates us with what works best for them.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
My opinion.

When using any network other than my own (or the customers I've helped set up with Skynet and Diversion, and obviously, not with my own client devices, with which I use OpenVPN back to my network to enjoy an ad-free online experience with), I am stunned by the number of ads served, and the fact that people think it's normal.

I am rarely on a single website for multiple minutes or hours at a time, I jump around quite often to read what I need, then usually go to the next site for the next piece of information I'm looking for. Having those ads makes for a hollow experience when all I want is content (written words), not a psychological crowbar to make me part with my money and my mind.

At customers' homes, when I show them how my laptop and phone render the internet, vs. their devices as they follow along, it is easy to get them to try Skynet and Diversion for their networks too.

With the default settings, neither script has caused problems.

The only instructions I give is to ignore search links with 'AD' in their descriptions.

I have had to point a few customers to the whitelisting instructions, but no one has asked me to disable/uninstall them yet (that has also allowed me to install them in the first place).

As with any 'feature', testing in your own network is vital before judgment is passed.
 

Riptide

Occasional Visitor
Ugh so Asus shipped the GT-AX6000 to me today even though I did make haste in having a chat with them this morning to cancel. Apparently they are pretty quick to ship over there to the point I wasn't able to stop it. Now I'm stuck with a bit of hassle doing a return.

I could also keep it and use it instead of the RTAX86U which I could return to best buy. I'm leaning towards just sending the GT-AX6000 back since at this point I don't know what if anything it really offers over the RTAX86U other than a single 2.5G LAN port which does nothing for me right now with a 1G WAN connection to feed it. :/

I appreciate the input on the scripts and I'm not unwilling to try them as long as it's possible to back out of it and remove them. Ideally without a factory reset.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
My opinion.

Why do you need to backup your opinion with some virtual customers stories all the time? Just share your own experience with your own network.
 

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