What is the better purchase between the AX88U and AX86U?

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New Around Here
My Asus 68P recently died on me after being reliable for the time I had it so I'm currently in the market for a new asus router. I was running Asus Merlin on it. The only thing I used Merlin for was to use Diversion but it's not something that is required for my new router.

My current ISP bandwidth is 1GB Down/ 1GB Up. It has 4 PC connected via hardwire and a multiple phones/laptops/tv connected to the Wifi

I've been searching the forum and it seems the AX88 and AX86 are pretty popular. I'm curious what is the better purchase between these two router? I can purchase the AX86 for 249.99 + tax and the AX88 for 299.99 + tax. I understand the AX86 is newer but is it also better than the AX88?

So far from my research, they seem to be equivalent with the AX88 being older and costing a bit more but has the option to run Merlin

Thank you for your time

EDIT: I apologize for posting in the wrong section. I had multiple tabs open and posted in this section instead of wireless buying advice
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Regular Contributor
They have the same cpu/ram arrangement. They have the same 5Ghz radio. I think the ax86u has a newer 2.4Ghz radio plus it has a 2.5 gigabytes wan port. The ax86u is cheaper as well. So from my point of view if you don't meed more than 4 lan ports the ax86u is a better choice for you.


Part of the Furniture
See what value the RMerlin firmware offers on a supported router. That small price difference easily makes the RT-AX88U the better buy and the better router too.

You may get lucky and the RT-AX86U might be supported soon. But I would not take that bet today when you 'need' to replace the failed RT-AC68P.

The following link may also be useful to either get your 68P working or at least verify that it really is gone.

Fully Reset Router and Network


Senior Member
The AX86U would be a direct upgrade to your AC68P in terms of footprint and appearance. The jump in performance is huge. You will get superior range and connection stability for both the 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz bands. The AX86U actually has 4 antennas (3 external and 1 internal). You should notice a big improvement in quickness and speed with lower latency. It is full of features designed to enhance gaming performance including a specific prioritized LAN port for gaming. There is an extra 2.5Gb WAN/LAN port that you can configure to use as you like in the firmware settings. Since it's AX/Wifi 6 compatible you are ready for the future clients that support the new Wifi 6 standard. The $250 USD cost is reasonable for a wireless router of it's quality hardware and performance. Merilin does not support it with his firmware at this time but he might in the future. The AX86U is has been one of the best rated brand new Wifi 6 wireless routers in most of the wireless reviews.

The AX88U has been available longer. It uses similar internal hardware (the same 1.8Ghz quad core SoC) and will offer similar high performance as described for the AX86U. It has a much larger footprint. It has eight 1Gb Ethernet LAN ports and four external antennas. It has Merlin supported firmware available for it. From what I read in this forum I believe the 2.4Ghz radio in the AX88U is different than the AX86U but I am not sure what the actual technical differences are. I believe the 5Ghz radios are the same for both the AX86U and AX88U. The AX88U has had some reported technical issues in the past... especially in regards to some buggy firmware releases but those issues have supposedly been resolved and there are many owners that have been giving it very high ratings.

It's all a matter of what you need in a wireless router. If you absolutely want to use Merlin firmware right now, if you feel you would use eight Ethernet ports, you prefer the 4 external antenna design and have room for the larger footprint, and don't mind spending $50 USD more then you should consider the AX88U. If you want a similar looking direct upgrade replacement for your AC68P with most of the improved performance and features that the AX88U offers then consider the AX86U. Both are great choices for you to consider. I lean towards the AX86U since that is what I own but take your time and read all the suggestions posted from owners about the AX88U before you make your final decision.
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New Around Here
Thank you for the inputs!

I have decided to go for the AX88U for now as I’ve been using a basic spare router that was given to me by my ISP without Merlin/diversion for a couple of days now and forgot how valuable it is for my daily usage. I guess, I have grown use to it blocking ads on my phone that I forgot how much I need it and thought I could go without Merlin/Diversion support on the AX86. Now on the basic router I keep getting ads that tell me to spin for a prize or take me to the AppStore for some random app. I was consider the AX86 and Pihole but diversion seem like an easier setup after further research

also the 299.99 price seem like the better buy at this time since it’s a sale price where as the AX86u is 249.99 MSRP. Amazon has their holiday returns so I have until January to return as well if anything goes wrong.

I appreciate all of the info I received from the above post. Hopefully I have no regrets with my decision
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New Around Here
Had both. AX88u has stability issues even after 2 of them, ax86u has had none
Do you know what version your AX88U was? I have read about the stability issues but some people said the v1.1 fix it, I don't know how true that is though. I do want to get the AX86u but scared that it won't get merlin support

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