What is the better purchase between the AX88U and AX86U?

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riroku

Occasional Visitor
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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bitsbytes

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.
 

L&LD

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
 

SoCalReviews

Very 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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riroku

Occasional Visitor
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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riroku

Occasional Visitor
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
 

tallytr

Senior Member
Picked up a RT-AX86U at Staples in Canada today. $CAD 279 + taxes.
Prefer the router design over the flat AX88U, works better in my room...also prefer the rocker power switch on the 86U....Only using one LAN port due to router placement, going to a switch from there....
 

JGrana

Very Senior Member
Hmm, In terms of stability, I have owned an AX88U since it's release. It's been running very stable from day one - other than me doing too many experiments with Entware/scripts/hacking.
Basically, any instability has been root caused to me...

I also recall that @RMerlin uses one as his main router.

IMHO, other than the oddball experiment Asus did with the Quantenna chipset (AC-87U), every Asus router I have owned has been pretty stable.
And I have owned quite a few ;-)
 

GDT

Regular Contributor
I just purchased an AX86U, but I can replace it with AX88U for the same price. I'd prefer it for the 8 ethernet LAN ports. Should I stick with AX86U?
 

tallytr

Senior Member
I just purchased an AX86U, but I can replace it with AX88U for the same price. I'd prefer it for the 8 ethernet LAN ports. Should I stick with AX86U?
Just curious, I never used more than one LAN port on my routers, always plug in a cable and from there to a switch, I guess depends what your setup is space wise, makes no difference in terms of performance....
 

GDT

Regular Contributor
Just curious, I never used more than one LAN port on my routers, always plug in a cable and from there to a switch, I guess depends what your setup is space wise, makes no difference in terms of performance....
I'm going to move to a bigger house on three levels and I suspect I need a better wifi coverage. I'm currently using five LAN ports (two for NAS, main PC, sky q box, game console). Watching at the price, seems like ax88u is more expensive than ax86u but I can switch model with the same price.
Seems like ax88u has faster and better 2.4G coverage, a more mature rmelin support (ax86u is on alpha) but I'm concerned about reported instabilities.
 

SoCalReviews

Very Senior Member
I'm going to move to a bigger house on three levels and I suspect I need a better wifi coverage. I'm currently using five LAN ports (two for NAS, main PC, sky q box, game console). Watching at the price, seems like ax88u is more expensive than ax86u but I can switch model with the same price.
Seems like ax88u has faster and better 2.4G coverage, a more mature rmelin support (ax86u is on alpha) but I'm concerned about reported instabilities.
There might be reasons why someone would be motivated to change to the AX88U if they already own the AX86U but the particular reasons that you posted aren't very good ones.

1) The overall coverage and/or performance isn't necessarily going to be better with the AX88U... especially with the 5Ghz band.

2) The 2.4Ghz coverage and performance isn't going to be much different with the AX88U since that will likely depend more on the Wifi quality of your client devices and the the Wifi standard they support rather than the small differences that exist between these two Asus wireless routers. For example many older client devices won't support Wifi 6 (AX) or for that matter even Wifi 5 (AC) for the 2.4Ghz band.

It's an over-utilized and crowded legacy frequency band that is often plagued with interference from all kinds of devices such as Bluetooth devices, microwave ovens, wireless toys, wireless land line phones, etc. and clients usually run more reliably on a narrow 20Mhz bandwidth.

3) You can easily add a 1 Gigabit 5 port switch to your AX86U setup for about $15 USD and then you will have your combined 8 usable 1 Gigabit LAN ports or add an 8 port switch for 11 total usable ports.

4) RMerlin firmware support for the AX86U will advance faster than you think. Notice of it being supported just began and at this time this router is just over four months old.

5) Since you already have the AX86U there would be some uncertainty if you switched to the AX88U. The AX88U is an older first generation Wifi 6 design. Manufacturers often work out bugs and try to improve their later designs. Reliability would be something you would have to find out for yourself since some users have no problems and others have reported issues but that's usually true with all models of routers.

However if you really have the desire to trade in your AX86U for the AX88U just to try it and see for yourself if you like it more then don't let anyone convince you that shouldn't. I would say go for it and then you would know for sure. I have read posts from other users in this forum who have made the same decision to switch and were happy with their decision but I've read more posts from users that switched to the AX86U. Just don't be surprised if at some point you miss the AX86U.
 
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tallytr

Senior Member
On the switches and 3-floor house (3,400sqft)...
Moved the RT-AX86U with gigabit cable modem to my upstairs office, covers all 3 floors but one remote room in the basement. Tx and Rx rate in router interface max. 1,733 Mbps in my office on notebook and still ~200Mbps in the basement...was thinking AiMesh 2.0 for basement but not stable yet. Converted old phone cables (CAT5) to network jacks in each room, that way Apple TV in the basement is still on a gigabit connection but also ran one CAT6 cable with a total of 4x 8 port Linksys switches in line (no problem getting gigabit speed on the other end).
One TP Link AP for the outside IP cams...
Move of modem/router upstairs was the best thing ever for almost complete Wi-Fi coverage.
 

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