Which Merlin Router to replace 86U

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Aty

Occasional Visitor
Hi,

I bought an ASUS 86U and loved the possibilities that the Merlin firmware could add.

But my 2019 had an issue with the 2.4ghz connection while using my MacBook Pro. A quick look at the logs showed it connecting and disconnecting and eventually connected.

Since my home security cameras are 2.4ghz only I returned the router.

I believe the 86U has no issue running VPN dual to it being dual core.

So my options are to try another 86U or another (please feel free to offer your wisdom)

Another option seems to be get the 86U, turn off the 2.4ghz and put in another device like an Amplifi instant to handle the 2.4 or even the 5ghz wireless completely.

That way the 86U is just managing the traffic.

Unless I can purchase something else that offers the same level of control?

TIA
 

Aty

Occasional Visitor
Yes sorry RT-AC86U.

I’ve tried to see from the list of supported if there is an easy date order of release, but to no avail, but I’m guessing that it already is in router release date order ?

I know the AX are the newer ones but the model you mentioned is not on the official supported list.

Thanks for your reply
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
If you're used to AsusWRT-Merlin and you want to stick with it, just get an RT-AX88U.
 

Aty

Occasional Visitor
If you're used to AsusWRT-Merlin and you want to stick with it, just get an RT-AX88U.
Hi Trip,
I’m not tied to anyone at the moment, I just liked what you could do with the Merlin firmware such as scripts (ad blocking, possibly corn scripts). I liked the fact the Vcan be set on for individual devices and the ai protection from trend micro.

But I’m open to options.

I really liked the rt-ac86u because of the signal range and throughout. But the 2.4ghz issue is a major one for me as most of the security stuff is only 2.4ghz.

The rt-ax56u is not that much more than the rt-ac86u on Amazon so I could try that.

The rt-ax88u is more than I want to spend £280ish on Amazon.

If you are aware of any other custom firmware (ddwrt, tomato openwrt etc) that provided the same functionality on other routers I’m more than happy to look into that.

Thanks for taking the time to reply
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
If you're looking to stay within the paradigm of customizing routers to suit your needs, then to be honest I may not be the best resource, as I left that stuff behind a few years ago in favor of simply running discrete components, of small-business/community grade quality or better. There are several advantages to this, namely higher performance and reliability from the sum of the parts and easier upgrade-ability (new wireless standard? just swap your APs, leaving routing/switching/firewall in place, etc.).

Especially if you're concerned about getting exactly the gateway/firewall features you want and the most stability for wifi, I would look in the direction of a wired x86 gateway/firewall appliance coupled with discrete wifi APs, and optionally discrete switching as well. Between OpenWRT, pfSense, Untangle, and other distros, and extending them with packages and scripts, you can more than likely create a like-for-like replacement for what you have now with AsusWRT-Merlin. For hardware choices, the options are many, from embedded low-power appliances like Protecli/Qotom boxes off Amazon or PC-Engines APU series, to 1U Supermicro chassis builds, to spare/used and cheap Dell/Lenovo/HP SFF PCs off eBay with multi-NIC Intel cards in them. For wifi you would pair that box with a discrete, controller-based product (Ubiquiti UniFi, TP-Link Omada, Cisco WAP, etc.). Such a setup would make your network run more like an appliance and less like a toy. More work to get it all setup the way you want, but once finished (with a known-good config) it will stay that way, period.
 
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Aty

Occasional Visitor
If you're looking to stay within the paradigm of customizing routers to suit your needs, then to be honest I may not be the best resource, as I left that stuff behind a few years ago in favor of simply running discrete components, of small-business/community grade quality or better. There are several advantages to this, namely higher performance and reliability from the sum of the parts and easier upgrade-ability (new wireless standard? just swap your APs, leaving routing/switching/firewall in place, etc.).

Especially if you're concerned about getting exactly the gateway/firewall features you want and the most stability for wifi, I would look in the direction of a wired x86 gateway/firewall appliance coupled with discrete wifi APs, and optionally discrete switching as well. Between OpenWRT, pfSense, Untangle, and other distros, and extending them with packages and scripts, you can more than likely create a like-for-like replacement for what you have now with AsusWRT-Merlin. For hardware choices, the options are many, from embedded low-power appliances like Protecli/Qotom boxes off Amazon or PC-Engines APU series, to 1U Supermicro chassis builds, to spare/used and cheap Dell/Lenovo/HP SFF PCs off eBay with multi-NIC Intel cards in them. For wifi you would pair that box with a discrete, controller-based product (Ubiquiti UniFi, TP-Link Omada, Cisco WAP, etc.). Such a setup would make your network run more like an appliance and less like a toy. More work to get it all setup the way you want, but once finished (with a known-good config) it will stay that way, period.
Gulp!

Thanks for all that info, really appreciated and I will look at the options.




I’ve just ordered 2 rt-ax56u unita.
I’ll set one up first and see how the range and throughput are. If fine I’ll return the other.
If it’s a bit weak I can set the other up and create a mesh.

I will look into the other options you mentioned and maybe slowly build it up.
Again thanks for the time and effort you took to help me, I’m most appreciative.
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
You're very welcome. Best of luck with your two Asus units. Come back and let us know how it works out for you.
 

Aty

Occasional Visitor
So my RT-AX56U turned up on Saturday and I set it up on Sunday and put the latest Merlin firmware on it.

I’ve noticed a few issues

First sign of trouble was when I went into my iPhone at one point and it took ages for the page to load in the browser. I quickly jumped on my laptop and checked the internet connection, but there was no issue

Sometimes when you connect on the iPhone it shows it connected but no internet, then that disappears and it connects to the internet. This is when you go into settings and select the WIFi network from there.

I didn’t realise there was an issue with Sonos speakers. I tried the airtime fairness and turning stp off but it’s very laggy when you do anything like play, pause, skip and change volume. I only realised this when I looked at the log and saw a device constantly associated and then deauth it just kept going. I tracked down the device to the Sonos. I then tested the Sonos and found the above issue. Searching ASUS and Sonos on Google showed it’s a known issue.

Then last night my wife’s iPhone showed up about a dozen deauth requests and then associated.

So I’ve put in a returns request which has been accepted. So looks like Asus are off my radar. It’s a shame because I really wanted the functionality that Asus and Merlin had.

I will have to look at other brands that have custom firmware support or just go back to a basic router and a mesh system.

Hope the above helps someone. If anyone has any ideas please let me know as I probably won’t post it back until next week.

Finally thanks to Trip for his help and knowledge
 
Last edited:

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@Aty after flashing the RMerlin firmware onto the RT-AX56U, did you do a full reset to factory defaults (M&M Config and ideally, a Nuclear Reset)? See the last two paragraphs in the link below for further details.


If you didn't do it properly or fully, that may explain your issues as the firmware would be attempting to use microcode, variables, and/or defaults that had been changed/abandoned with the new firmware.
 

bluzfanmr1

Regular Contributor
Then last night my wife’s iPhone showed up about a dozen deauth requests and then associated.
Unless you were having an actual issue, these messages are normal and harmless. I see them all the time from our iphones.
 

Aty

Occasional Visitor
@Aty after flashing the RMerlin firmware onto the RT-AX56U, did you do a full reset to factory defaults (M&M Config and ideally, a Nuclear Reset)? See the last two paragraphs in the link below for further details.


If you didn't do it properly or fully, that may explain your issues as the firmware would be attempting to use microcode, variables, and/or defaults that had been changed/abandoned with the new firmware.
Thanks for the info.

So I set the router up from scratch and updated to Merlin and nuked it.
Sonos ok so I turned on ai protection and locked it down. Then the Sonos started acting up again.
I’ve now hard wired the Sonos to see if it behaves. If it does then the issue is definitely something to do with the wireless settings rather than any firewall etc.
The network just went flaky when I tried to log into the router via the app at home. Not showing any info So I tried to log into router via a web browser, no joy.
The phone WiFi dropped and then came back, and then I could get into the router by the web and the app.

I’ll be report back.
 

Aty

Occasional Visitor
Unless you were having an actual issue, these messages are normal and harmless. I see them all the time from our iphones.
No issue reported but I guess when you start looking to the logs you start questioning everything. But then again you would not get any info from the other routers.
I’ll go with the “if no ones complaining then don’t worry” route.
I assigned a static ip to the Sonos, again worked fine for a while the started playing up. This is the Sonos 1 that only works on 2.4ghz and uses b (no g or n )
 

degrub

Very Senior Member
get rid of the "b" device. Having an "a" or "b" device on a network with g or n devices will drop the link speed down to "b". So what you may be seeing are timeouts from the devices that expect g or n speeds.
 

degrub

Very Senior Member
the only other thing you can do is dedicate an AP to the b band and restrict the rest of your APs to N or higher. Most of the other clients will try to link to the highest standard first before dropping down.
 

Aty

Occasional Visitor
The only b device is the Sonos 1 of which I have 2.(although I’ve only got one connected at the mo)I can’t really afford to replace them at the moment. Even if I got them replaced with other Sonos units I think they still have issues with Asus routers.

I have mulled over getting 1 or more Amplifi Instants because they allow you to create multiple wireless SSIDs and switching off the wireless on the rt-ax56u. This allows me to have the benefits of the custom firmware and resolves the wireless.

Using another router means taking up another frequency.
I’ll keep working on it.

Thanks for the help so far.
 

Aty

Occasional Visitor
I thought I’d put up an update.
After a long and hard think I’ve decided to do what I originally said and return the unit.

The nail in the coffin was that today, with a clear line of sight about 80ft away in the garden it wouldn’t even appear on my phone at 5Ghz (router being on the first floor overlooking the garden), other routers I tried have appeared.

So thanks to all who have tried to help. The search continues.
 

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