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which router should i get?

Discussion in 'Wireless Buying Advice' started by William Bonneau, Feb 21, 2020.

  1. William Bonneau

    William Bonneau New Around Here

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    Feb 21, 2020
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    Hey everyone we are in need of a new router to keep up with our house devices. Current router is 6 years old and always crashing.

    What would you recommend for the average family basics:

    High speed Internet
    Many devices- phones/tablets/cameras

    I don’t mind spending more for something more reliable.
     
  2. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    What is 'high-speed internet' for you? What is 'many devices'? What is your current router, for reference? What does a 'crash' entail?

    Spending more than what, exactly?
     
    William Bonneau likes this.
  3. EmeraldDeer

    EmeraldDeer Very Senior Member

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    Location:
    Massachusetts
    My current router is the most reliable router I have owned. It is the most advanced router supported by Merlin. My previous routers have been:
    Netgear R7800
    Asus RT-AC3200
    Asus RT-AC68
    Asus RT-N66

    However, there are plenty of posts on this forum about getting fed up and returning their RT-AX88U. Is it because they misconfigured? Is it because they did not reset to factory defaults after upgrading to latest firmware? Is it their devices which might not work well with any router? Who knows.
     
    William Bonneau and L&LD like this.
  4. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    A family in 800sqf apartment downtown or a family in a 4000sqf farm house?
     
    William Bonneau likes this.
  5. William Bonneau

    William Bonneau New Around Here

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    thank you

    high speed = pages loading fast, I guess at least 20 megabit/sec?

    devices: we have 3 tablets, 4 phones, 5 laptops, 4 smart TVs (yes we have too much junk..), and 5 people (2 being heavy netflix users)

    current router is Asus RT-N66U.

    Main problem right now is that wifi signal is pretty faint in some corners of the house. House is 2300sqft 2 levels, with metal studs if that makes a difference for interference.
    Often the web pages will load very slowly, and this is despite the 250 megabit cable connection I pay for.
    I'd rather not resort to wiring ethernet everywhere.

    please advise thanks
     
    L&LD likes this.
  6. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    @William Bonneau, I would start with an RT-AC86U (2019 manufacture date) and install RMerlin firmware. Follow the M&M Config guide (and possibly the Nuclear Reset guide too) after installing the firmware you want to use/test. Do not use a backup config file to set up the router either, nor do I recommend to blindly put in the settings from the old into the new.

    With the above proven stable, I would add a USB drive that is 4GB or larger and, (via amtm, built into RMerlin firmware 384.15_0 and later), the Skynet, FreshJR QOS, and consider also using the Unbound script too for the fastest, better secured and more robust network experience. There are other scripts you could add too, but these are the security/performance ones. :)

    If your budget allows, the RT-AX88U offers more stability and throughput than the RT-AC86U above. Highly recommended if you even just have a few AX WiFi clients available today, or not. It is hands down the best Asus/RMerlin + amtm + Scripts router you can buy today.

    Either of these options will be a huge upgrade from the venerable RT-N66U that is still in service. Even a relatively in-expensive RT-AC66U_B1 would be a noticeable upgrade too, but to take full advantage of heavy streaming and your 250Mbps ISP connection, the newer routers mentioned above should be seriously considered even at their higher cost. :)

    If you are able to locate the current or new router to a central position in the home, it may be able to handle the entire house by itself. If not, re-purposing the RT-N66U as an AP may help too (or a newer model such as the RT-AC66U_B1 or newer used in AiMesh mode instead).

    Consider following the guides mentioned above as well as the amtm Step-by-Step guide too if you need help with that aspect. But note you will not need to install amtm if using RMerlin 384.15_0 or later. ;)

    See the link in my signature for those guides and more.

    HTH. :)
     
    atlr and Pulaski like this.
  7. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    You are in predominantly ASUS users forum, so suggestions like the one above are expected. There is no "one size fits all" in WiFi world though, so based on your simple requirements I would suggest to you something different:

    If you need good set-and-forget WiFi system, more than enough for your 250Mbps ISP line, go with Netgear Orbi RBK50 (good even for 400Mbps ISP). It is a bit expensive and not the latest and greatest, but proven reliable, very user friendly (10min setup), very fast (has designated WiFi channel between the router and the satellite), with excellent WiFi coverage (up to 5000sqf, ideal conditions though) and you can connect 7 wired devices to it (3 x LAN on the router, 4 x LAN on the satellite), if you need to. It will cover your house with a strong signal for sure, the family will be happy with your decision and you can focus on more important and pleasurable things in life than tweaking your WiFi router.

    Avoid this particular ASUS RT-AC86U due to inconsistent build quality, high failure rate as a result and still unresolved software (or hardware) issues. There are hundreds of threads here on this forum discussing RT-AC86U issues. Don't install any custom software, if you don't need to. Scripts, USB sticks, swap files... if you just need fast and reliable WiFi connection, don't waste your time with flashing, resetting, long setup processes, fine tuning of hundreds of options, etc. Also, you don't need an AX router now. They are all for early adopters, very few AX devices are available and WIFI 6E (with 6GHz band support) is already around the corner. It is not going to be an investment in the future.
     
  8. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    This is the Wireless Buying Advice Forum. May the best/most suitable router win. :)

    Asus is in the lead for a reason and has been for a long time. Same for the third-party firmware and scripts. AX (or how I see them the 'latest') routers are not just for early adaptors. They are also for people that have tried and tested the best current AC routers and still found the latest AX models superior and still within their budgets too.

    As for the false statements made about 'high failure rates' and what-not, that should be taken with a grain of salt too. It doesn't work for everyone? Shock. That is not guaranteed by any manufacturer anyways. Buy, test and keep what works. Nothing special here. Applies to all products sold today and in the future too.

    Recommendations for more expensive and lessor performing equipment is questionable, at best. With a limitless budget, everyone should have a Ruckus system in their home and have it installed professionally too.

    For everyone else that wants the best WiFi router experience, including performance, security and long term support at affordable prices vs. the competition? Asus is doing a very good job by itself. With RMerlin (oh no! a third-party firmware developer) and amtm (built-in, no less) plus powerful, user-friendly scripts? What competition? Particularly when these purchases can be planned for and bought on sale.

    The single AiMesh installation I have performed was almost too easy with @OzarkEdge's excellent install notes and two RT-AC86U's that haven't even hiccuped for the owner for several weeks now (and a lot of complaints from the other household users beforehand). I used to call it AiMess, in jest. But I am slowly turning into an AiMesh believer myself. And yes, I have called these customers every week to ask how their experience is (as I told them I would). :)

    https://www.snbforums.com/threads/o...-supported-products.44375/page-14#post-381537

    The best part about using routers in AiMesh? They can be repurposed at any time as needed in the future back into routers, media Bridge mode, repeaters, etc. Not the same can be said for the more expensive suggestion here and their 'one-trick' pony shows.

    Giving a poster a suggestion/different choice is great when the choice offers something tangible. Doing it merely to show Asus in a bad light is not very ingenious and is not doing anyone any favors here.

    For over half a decade I have recommended, set up and installed Asus routers to many, many customers. Many of them were coming from other brands they were loyal to, too. All saw the benefits I predicted for their networks.

    What is even more of a testament is that many of those first installs are still in service for some of those customers.

    Not only just 'in service', but also with up-to-date features (thank you @RMerlin, @john5927 and so many others that contribute to these joint efforts), up-to-date security and still with enough performance, stability, and reliability to meet and even exceed the ISP and LAN requirements of those customers even today.

    Don't be daunted by 'hundreds' of settings. Nobody offers that. :)

    Be grateful that those options are there though, if and when you need them as your network usage and requirements invariably rise. ;)
     
  9. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    The same user @OzarkEdge doesn't have AiMesh at the moment because one of his RT-AC86U routers died 2 days ago.
    https://www.snbforums.com/threads/one-of-my-rt-ac86us-died-and-shipped-to-asus.62318/

    Another active user @CaptainSTX had returned 4 x RT-AC86U, only the 5th unit is working OK for him. I used to believe he does something wrong and even argue. Until one day I got rid of my own RT-AC86U, had enough of it. Got tired of ASUS trying to fix the product two years after I spend >$200 for it.

    There is a lot of information here on SNB for @William Bonneau to read, including how the same users recommend over and over again the same thing no matter what. Again, there is no "one size fits all" solution, everyone's situation is different. I would suggest also to look at Google WiFi system, there are many positive reviews around.

    Have a good day everyone!
     
  10. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    If the heavy Netflix users are located in weak signal spots, they will eat up most available bandwidth.

    Upgrading from a two stream to four stream router would be a good first step, if the router is close to the center of the area where your heaviest bandwidth users are. My go to is a NETGEAR R7800.

    If the router isn't centrally located and you've never had to use your router admin pages for anything other than to set up your router, then I'd start with an original NETGEAR Orbi (RBK50). It's easy to set up and has a very good wireless connection between the router and "satellite" unit.

    I do not recommend any Wi-Fi 6 products at this point. You will likely turn off Wi-Fi 6 features and end up with what is essentially a more expensive four-stream AC (Wi-Fi 5) router.
     
  11. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Part of the Furniture

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    True. I paid $280 for may 2xRT-AC86U AiMesh and I'll have it back in service soon. Meanwhile, I still have a fully functional working home network with half my AiMesh. It took me less than 20 minutes and $0.00 to recover from the router going down because AiMesh has a builtin disaster recovery plan... a backup router is always standing by. I had to tell my wife that the network died!

    OE
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2020
    L&LD likes this.
  12. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    It's a good practice indeed to have a backup router, no matter what make/model the main one is. @William Bonneau, whatever your final decision is, keep the existing RT-N66U as it is configured for emergency situations, especially if you go with RT-AC86U... :)

    I forgot about R7800 @thiggins suggested above. One of the best WiFi routers I've ever played with in terms of signal strength and coverage. If the current RT-N66U almost covers the house, a single R7800 may be good enough. I don't know where @William Bonneau lives, but this model periodically comes on sale on Amazon. Some people in US managed to get it for $120 in Dec 2019. In case custom firmware is needed for R7800, it is supported by Voxel and OpenWRT.
     
  13. EmeraldDeer

    EmeraldDeer Very Senior Member

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    Location:
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    Here is an idea to consider when purchasing a home wireless router:
    I consider the following functions must have:
    • DNS filtering for security and ad blocking - Diversion (Asuswrt-Merlin) does this right on the router. Perhaps you could do the same by choice of DNS provider. You could use piHole on another device, but is the complexity warranted?
    • IP filtering for security - Skynet (Asuswrt-Merlin) does this right on the router. pfSense on another device could do this, but is the complexity and cost warranted?
    • Quality Of Service for traffic category bandwidth prioritization - FreshJR QoS (Asuswrt-Merlin) Unless your ISP service is in the hundreds of Mbps both up and down, this provides a more seamless interactive experience when downloads or uploads are happening
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2020
    dave14305 likes this.
  14. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    You are talking about custom firmware, running on limited choice routers. The best router for this setup is about $270. The rest are older models, the second best has low reliability history, the upcoming second supported AX model has average hardware. Setting up 3rd party scripts is not exactly Plug-and-Play for an average home router user. The information how to do it is available here on SNB and the router gets extra functionality indeed, but the whole setup reliability is no better than the reliability of the USB stick used in the process, plugged in a heated up to 50C or above router USB port. Then we start with extension USB cables (to keep the heat away, few extra $), special Patriot/OCZ/whatever USB sticks (based on someone's experience, extra $20-50), external enclosures with SSD drive (best option, from $50), is 95% RAM utilization normal questions (because all this extra running software fights for the limited RAM too), why is my CPU hitting 100% load (because I never worried about it before, but now I see it), how to backup/restore my settings (because I already changed so many things), is this value in QoS correct (if I run whatever game or something else), etc... in other words, no complexity at all, easy and cheap? If @William Bonneau wants to go this way, we can definitely help, it's up to him. There is some information provided and one key sentence though:

    @William Bonneau, looking at the data you provided:

    - you don't work for $20/h, most likely
    - at least 2 of the laptops are not used for Netflix only
    - the devices you have home are above $4000 total value
    - the router you use is for 2012, you have a busy family, Internet is not the most important thing in your life
    - your Internet connection 250Mbps... your router can't handle it, but you're still paying for it
    - the size of your home 2300sqf, it's not cheap, I can guess
    - measurements you use, metal studs... are you in North America?

    Why don't you call a local AV/Networking company and see what they can offer? They'll come, see what is needed, offer you options, install it for you, measure signal levels, adjust what is needed... you cut them a cheque, mark WiFi as done in your schedule and move on to the next project. Mention UDM ($330) + UAP-AC-PRO ($135) when you get there, just in case.
     
  15. jim trudel

    jim trudel Regular Contributor

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    r7800 hard to beat.. no?
     
    LeKeiser likes this.
  16. EmeraldDeer

    EmeraldDeer Very Senior Member

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    LeKeiser likes this.
  17. tiko

    tiko Occasional Visitor

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    I will rater buy two or three AC68U and put them in AiMesh ethernet wired in the house. That would suit perfectly what he describes and save him a few bucks.
     
  18. Marinemaster

    Marinemaster Regular Contributor

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    How about Linksys MR9000 ? Any recommendations ?
     
  19. L&LD

    L&LD Part of the Furniture

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    @Marinemaster, yes, I would recommend looking past the Linksys products. ;)
     
  20. Klueless

    Klueless Very Senior Member

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    You're right. Could get lucky. I had several sites with "N routers", two of them N66Us. I upgraded a couple to AC68Us and saw some improvement. I upgraded two of them to AC86Us and the increased range/performance was both surprising and noticeable.

    Before committing to a "more better" router or mesh the OP could take a closer look at current location. Sometimes a few feet can make a big difference. Worse case add an AP afterwards.
    And, as usual, Tim nails it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020