WRT1900AC wifi unstable (with G1100 FIOS) at in-laws - Asus RT-AX88U? AX86U? Netgear? Seeking router with best range and stability.

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njweb

Senior Member
The good news:
At home, we have Comcast gigabit internet and I am using a new Arris S33 (2.5 Gbps port) modem and a new Orbi RBK853 (2.5 Gbps WAN) mesh system. The system is rock solid on wifi with tons of devices on the network! I can work from home for months on end and never have a connection hiccup (that is in the same room as the Orbi router, but we have great range all around the house thanks to strategically placed satellites).

The bad news and reason for my post:
Yesterday I had to work remotely (using a VMware connection to my cloud based work computer) from my in-laws' house and had a number of wifi disconnects (4 or so) and most of those times I was on important Zoom calls. The wifi signal was reasonably strong so that did not seem to be the root cause of the disconnects.
Seems the WRT1900AC itself has issues causing wifi disconnects (assuming that the Actiontec G1100, which has to be connected, is not somehow to blame).

They have FIOS and have an Actiontec G1100 Gateway router. They had wifi range issues with the Actiontec back in 2017 or so (and even with the newer G1100) so they bought a Linksys WRT1900AC router (turned off wifi on the Actiontec) when it first came out (before they even got the newer Actiontec G1100).

I am assuming the wifi instability at my in-laws' place is due to the WRT1900AC and not the Actiontec.

Mesh is not an option at my in-laws' place since they have no location upstairs for the satellite that would make sense / help.

Need:
So we're looking for a stable (no wifi disconnects) stand-alone router for my in-laws' place with a solid signal (great range).
Any router recommendations for ~$300?


After reading threads here, I am leaning towards the Asus RT-AX88U (over the RT-AX86U) due to the 88U hopefully having slightly better range on 2.4 GHz (in case 5 GHz signal upstairs where I was working is a little low)
https://www.reddit.com/r/HomeNetworking/comments/mxs2cw "[jcamil wrote] The difference is that AX86 is 3x3 on 2.4GHz band and AX88 is 4x4 on 2.4GHz band. Both are 4x4 on 5GHz band."

Any Netgear or D-Link or TP-Link routers I should be considering for around $300?

I found some Best Buy reviews for the RT-AX88U that were not so happy about range (of course others were very happy), but this one concerned me since it directly compared the 88U to the WRT1900AC and said the Asus has WORSE 2.4 GHz range than the WRT1900AC:
BB review "After owning it for a year, it has performed good. It's not great, as the 2.4ghz signal is way weaker than my old linksys wrt1900ac. I don't understand why. I tinkered with it and then decided to use the merlin firmware. Much better firmware but it still has the short range for the 2.4ghz. The 5ghz is awesome!"

I am still at my in-laws today, so I would like to buy a router today, so I can hook it up and have it ready for the next time I have to work from here.

Thanks in advance for any thoughts / recommendations!

Any WRT1900AC owners here? Since I do not work here often, I do not have enough experience with it...
 
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Tech9

Very Senior Member
Get one RT-AX86U, it's the newer router. It works well for many folks on this forum.
 

njweb

Senior Member
Get one RT-AX86U, it's the newer router. It works well for many folks on this forum.

Thanks.
I figured given the apparently / potentially (slightly?) better 2.4 GHz range (4X4) of the RT-AX88U might make bit more sense to ensure maximum coverage in the room where I was working yesterday, in case 5 GHz is not strong enough to cover reliably (worst case scenario).
Also just noticed the 86U is not even cheaper than the 88U - they both cost $299 + tax right now.

Does the 86U have any benefits over the 88U I am unaware of?
The 88U's latest firmware is from July 2021, so Asus is still supporting it actively, which is nice.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
The RT-AX86U has many benefits over the more than 2-year-old RT-AX88U. At the same price point, it is still the better router buy.

At 'normal' introductory prices, the 'AX88U was about $80 more, but the 'AX86U was worth paying that $80 difference for the improved network responsiveness it provides. Note that the advantage dissipates if you pair the RT-AX86U with anything less than another identical model. Even when paired with the RT-AX88U, the performance was less.

The newer RF/chip design, Broadcom SDK, and internal firmware options all contribute to a superior router over anything else Asus has right now that also supports RMerlin firmware at this price point.

If you can wait for the RT-AX86U to go on sale, do so. Otherwise, you won't regret buying it at 'full price' either.

 

Tech9

Very Senior Member
Does the 86U have any benefits over the 88U I am unaware of?

AX86U is 2 years newer model, has 2.5Gb port, smaller footprint and expected longer support.

I figured given the apparently / potentially (slightly?) better 2.4 GHz range (4X4)

Not guaranteed. AX88U had some reported 2.4GHz range issues in the past, on specific firmware versions.
 

njweb

Senior Member
The RT-AX86U has many benefits over the more than 2-year-old RT-AX88U. At the same price point, it is still the better router buy.

At 'normal' introductory prices, the 'AX88U was about $80 more, but the 'AX86U was worth paying that $80 difference for the improved network responsiveness it provides. Note that the advantage dissipates if you pair the RT-AX86U with anything less than another identical model. Even when paired with the RT-AX88U, the performance was less.

The newer RF/chip design, Broadcom SDK, and internal firmware options all contribute to a superior router over anything else Asus has right now that also supports RMerlin firmware at this price point.

If you can wait for the RT-AX86U to go on sale, do so. Otherwise, you won't regret buying it at 'full price' either.


(Think your first model reference (in bold above) was a typo of course, but I got it based on the second half of the sentence).

Thanks a lot! That really helps a lot (newer RF/chip, Broadcom SDK).
So it has some additional firmware options?
So the wifi performance (range and stability) might actually be better with the 86U then. That is my main concern.

Side note - The 2.5 Gbps is nice to have in case I inherit the router down the line and can put it in front of my Orbi to get a single 2.5 GBps into my laptop).
My in-laws do not need 2.5 Gbps support with their current plan (100 Mbps 'only').

I see that Best Buy has the AX86U for $50 less than the 88U so that is a nice benefit too. I'll get the local store to price match it (since they have it in stock store and Best Buy does not have any in-store for pickup today) .

At the end of the day I want stability and range and it seems the newer design of the 86U may outweigh the 88U's 4x4 design.
Too bad nobody tested them side by side - 86U vs 88U - for wifi range).

Based on your feedback, I will go with the 86U and give it a shot.
 

njweb

Senior Member
AX86U is 2 years newer model, has 2.5Gb port, smaller footprint and expected longer support.



Not guaranteed. AX88U had some reported 2.4GHz range issues in the past, on specific firmware versions.


Thanks. Regarding your first point, indeed - It seems based on the newer design (see my other reply to L&LD), the 86U is probably the better bet for me.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
No mistake on my part. The nominally 'cheaper' RT-AX86U is at least $80 better than the two-year-old RT-AX88U, even if the prices are flipped at most retail sites (still).

And do note that the 'AX86U does have a 4x4:4 design too, for the 5GHz band.

Same base hardware doesn't mean anything when the different SDKs may turn on/off optional and/or better-implemented features.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
WRT1900AC router

In the short term - on the 2.4GHz radio - change it over to B/G/N-Mixed from default Auto, and use 20MHz vs. the default 20/40 - assuming of course, stock firmware...

This will stabilize the 2.4GHz radio on the big blue WRT assuming one is running the stock Linksys firmware.
 

njweb

Senior Member
In the short term - on the 2.4GHz radio - change it over to B/G/N-Mixed from default Auto, and use 20MHz vs. the default 20/40 - assuming of course, stock firmware...

This will stabilize the 2.4GHz radio on the big blue WRT assuming one is running the stock Linksys firmware.


Thanks, a lot!
Let me check my in-laws current settings next weekend (will need to connect to the WRT1900AC with an ethernet cable to check and we're going back to our home after breakfast, so not going to disrupt things now).
Also trying to recall which band I was connected to on Friday when each of the 4 disconnects occurred, especially since it may have steered me to the other band at times (after disconnects e.g.).
PS: I also ordered a USB ethernet adapter for my laptop to help connect to and configure the secondary router (will come in handy at other times too)
 
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njweb

Senior Member
In parallel:
Microcenter was out of RT-AX86U stock at the location I visited yesterday (where I was going to price match (PM) it to Best Buy's price ($50 less) - the latter does not carry them in-store).
So I ordered one from Best Buy instead.

But then I read the following two DIRECT comparisons between the AX88U and AX86U, both of whom prefer the AX88U over the AX86U:

Comparison 1) from SNB itself, a user who tried both the RT-AX86U and RT-AX88U and said the 88U was much better for him for both bands in a big house:
{Vit5421 wrote]
Here is my 2 cents.
Both routers are very good but I have much better luck with ax88 compare to ax86 in very big multilevel house using latest Merlin 386.1_2. Both bands on ax88 give me the better signals and connection speed consistency and even compatibility with old IOT devices. Probably its because of better antennas and SOC on 2.4 and longer time on the market.
Ax88 also looks so much better on the shelf for my taste and only $50 more expensive.


2) Amazon review by someone who tried the 88U and 86U among others:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07HM6KJN8/?tag=snbforums-20
START QUOTE:
" Consistently very fast in my Cox Gigablast network with multiple (~60) devices"

By SL on February 18, 2021
WiFi routers I recently tested:
- ASUS RT-AX88U (this device)
- ASUS RT-AX86U

- ASUS RT-AX92U (2 Pack)
- ASUS ZenWiFi CT8 (2 Pack)
- TP-Link Archer AX6000
- NETGEAR RAX120
This device is the ONLY one among the routers I tested that can consistently provide faster download speeds vs. the other routers (including those that are mesh systems):
- Greater than 920 Mbps speeds on my MacBook Pro hardwired via a switch to the router
- Greater than 850 Mbps on my Apple TV 4K hardwired via two switches to the router
- Greater than 850 Mbps on my Dell hardwired via MOCA
- Greater than 400 Mbps on my iPhone XS Max wirelessly connected next to router (around 300 Mbps for the other routers)
- Greater than 300 Mbps on my iPhone XS Max wirelessly connected with two walls and an HVAC unit blocking the line of sight (around 200 Mbps for the other routers)
- Greater than 200 Mbps on my Apple TV 4K wirelessly connected with a wall and a fireplace blocking the line of sight (lower than 200 Mbps for the other routers)
I have around 60 devices on my network (note that none are WiFi 6) such as:
- A ton of smart plugs and light bulbs
- Several Amazon Echos, Apple HomePods, Google Home smart speakers
- Several laptops, tablets, smart phones, smart watches
- Several home security cameras
- A handful of Apple TV streamers
This router is fast and powerful enough to make use of my unlimited Cox Gigablast service plan in my ~1700 sqft home without being bogged down AT ALL handling ~60 connected devices.
The only other routers tested that come close, but do not equal, would be the NETGEAR RAX120 and ASUS RT-86U; the others were measurably inferior performance-wise.
Even with a VPN client and NextDNS running on the router, I don’t measure any network performance slowdowns. see less"

END QUOTE

Long story short, given that each person's network environment (size / construction and layout of home, specific client hardware, type of devices in use, neighboring networks, nearby microwave or BT devices etc., usage pattern), ultimately, in conjunction with all the helpful advice I have received here in this thread (thanks again all!), I am going to get BOTH the AX88U and AX86U and (like I have done in the past in similar upgrade purchase decision situations):

I will run speed tests and signal strength tests (the latter via a reliable signal meter app) for both routers in the same exact location with the same settings and see which one works better in terms of signal strength and speed on both bands (ideally focusing on 5 GHz so long as it has a strong enough signal upstairs).
The $50 difference is not going to be a deciding factor; it will essentially come down to which router has the best speed and signal strength. Stability will be hard to test, since I do not plan to work from here for some time, so my usage to compare the 2 will only be 4 or 5 hours on a Saturday or Sunday).
If the results are very close (negligible impact on real world usage), I will get the 86U since it has a newer design, potentially longer firmware support, smaller footprint and lower price.

Will share the outcome to hopefully provide another data point for others in the same boat.
In the meantime, thanks again to everyone here who provided helpful feedback on these two routers and the differences between them!
 
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njweb

Senior Member
If you can, do it. Don't forget to update the firmware. Test Wi-Fi performance with latest Asuswrt - it's newer than latest Asuswrt-Merlin.


Will do, thanks for the suggestion.

Just to set expectations for all in terms of timing, barring any unexpected family emergencies etc., the earliest I will be back at my in-laws and able to test the 2 routers would be next Saturday afternoon.

Side note - It would be ironic if the WRT1900AC (which gets very good range even upstairs) just needs a settings tweak to prevent disconnects (need to check settings next weekend when I have time here).
Last night for browsing and watching Plex TV streaming video content from my home to my in-laws) and today the wifi connection has been stable. I did get one disconnect yesterday morning IIRC though.
Regarding the 4 disconnects over 11 hours Friday are something to do with the WRT1900AC and my VMware Horizon / work connection: If a settings tweak could help, they frankly might not even need a new router.
That being said, Friday's experience was not good to say the least and I cannot afford to be disconnected (let alone 4 times in one day) during critical business calls on Zoom where I am either a leader or an active participant and can miss providing or hearing key updates / portions.
Work has been hectic and stressful enough with the added headache of needing to reconnect to my session which then takes a few minutes for everything to finish loading up / caching.

We're now so reliant on our internet connections and devices, unlike when I started my career and we did not have cell phones, text messages, Skype IM etc... :) But I have to admit I love the benefits of tech devices / gadgets in everyday life both work and personal.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
Also trying to recall which band I was connected to on Friday when each of the 4 disconnects occurred, especially since it may have steered me to the other band at times (after disconnects e.g.).
PS: I also ordered a USB ethernet adapter for my laptop to help connect to and configure the secondary router (will come in handy at other times too)

The WRT1900 doesn't bandsteer - defaults from Linksys set up two SSID's, one for each band.

When you get a chance, do update the firmware - make sure to check which HW version it is (there are a couple, and the firmware is hardware specific) - number of driver and security fixes were pulled in.

Try to avoid the Linksys Cloud if you can - it's not needed to manage the router, but it is nice if remotely managing it offsite - too bad it's a security mess that hasn't been addressed.

The WRT1900 is good hardware, esp with regards to stability and 2.4GHz performance - excellent range once the 2.4GHz is setup as I mentioned above.

Replacing it - consider the Synology RT2600AC - same HW as the R7800 Netgear, but much better SW... what is nice about the Syno box is that they do keep it up to date, and if one needs to expand out the network, the MR2200ac's do native mesh.

Alternate would be one of the Orbi kits - base and a couple of satellites... they're pretty well regarded here.
 

njweb

Senior Member
The WRT1900 doesn't bandsteer - defaults from Linksys set up two SSID's, one for each band.

When you get a chance, do update the firmware - make sure to check which HW version it is (there are a couple, and the firmware is hardware specific) - number of driver and security fixes were pulled in.

Try to avoid the Linksys Cloud if you can - it's not needed to manage the router, but it is nice if remotely managing it offsite - too bad it's a security mess that hasn't been addressed.

The WRT1900 is good hardware, esp with regards to stability and 2.4GHz performance - excellent range once the 2.4GHz is setup as I mentioned above.

Replacing it - consider the Synology RT2600AC - same HW as the R7800 Netgear, but much better SW... what is nice about the Syno box is that they do keep it up to date, and if one needs to expand out the network, the MR2200ac's do native mesh.

Alternate would be one of the Orbi kits - base and a couple of satellites... they're pretty well regarded here.


Thanks a lot!
Yes, at our own home we have been using Orbi mesh systems since 2017. I currently have an RBK853 (AX6000) system - router + 2 satellites, as noted in my first post, and it works great in our home and basement.
Rock solid system (paired with my Arris S33 2.5 Gbps modem: Very good signals and throughput throughout the house and basement. We have numerous Roku units., TiVO units, Plex TV and PMS and a number of laptops and numerous other wifi devices. It literally never disconnects on wifi even when on all day for work and / or when downloading multiple large files while streaming etc.

Anyway, back to the in-laws' place:
As noted above, Orbi (or other mesh system) is unfortunately not an option for their layout (nowhere in hallway upstairs to physically place the satellite that would benefit them).
Via wifi, I was not able to access the WRT1900AC's UI (it is set up as an AP behind their Actiontec G1100 gateway modem router combo) and I do not have an ethernet port on my laptop (adapter, is on the way), so I could not check the firmware version or settings today and next weekend we're not seeing them (visiting my side), so we will not be up there for almost 2 weeks.
Seems there is some bug in one of the firmware versions per Linksys rep Chadster's post.

When we're back a their place, I will check the WRT1900AC's firmware version and also the key wifi settings.
H/W - It is probably a 1st gen unit (I now recall I actually gave them our WRT1900AC when I upgraded to another router 5 or so years ago).

In the meantime, I may open both the AX88U (arrives tomorrow) and AX86U (arrives Tuesday) and test them here at our place, with wifi clients in some tough locations, after work this week. That may give me enough info to decide on one or the other.

Thanks for RT2600AC suggestion! I will keep that in mind if the other two, already on the way, are disappointing. Actually I had read about it a while back and (temporarily) forgotten about it.
 
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Skatrdie0

New Around Here
Thanks a lot!
Yes, at our own home we have been using Orbi mesh systems since 2017. I currently have an RBK853 (AX6000) system - router + 2 satellites, as noted in my first post, and it works great in our home and basement.
Rock solid system (paired with my Arris S33 2.5 Gbps modem: Very good signals and throughput throughout the house and basement. We have numerous Roku units., TiVO units, Plex TV and PMS and a number of laptops and numerous other wifi devices. It literally never disconnects on wifi even when on all day for work and / or when downloading multiple large files while streaming etc.

Anyway, back to the in-laws' place:
As noted above, Orbi (or other mesh system) is unfortunately not an option for their layout (nowhere in hallway upstairs to physically place the satellite that would benefit them).
Via wifi, I was not able to access the WRT1900AC's UI (it is set up as an AP behind their Actiontec G1100 gateway modem router combo) and I do not have an ethernet port on my laptop (adapter, is on the way), so I could not check the firmware version or settings today and next weekend we're not seeing them (visiting my side), so we will not be up there for almost 2 weeks.
Seems there is some bug in one of the firmware versions per Linksys rep Chadster's post.

When we're back a their place, I will check the WRT1900AC's firmware version and also the key wifi settings.
H/W - It is probably a 1st gen unit (I now recall I actually gave them our WRT1900AC when I upgraded to another router 5 or so years ago).

In the meantime, I may open both the AX88U (arrives tomorrow) and AX86U (arrives Tuesday) and test them here at our place, with wifi clients in some tough locations, after work this week. That may give me enough info to decide on one or the other.

Thanks for RT2600AC suggestion! I will keep that in mind if the other two, already on the way, are disappointing. Actually I had read about it a while back and (temporarily) forgotten about it.
Did you end up testing the ax88 vs the ax86? I'm having the ax86 delivered today after reading a lot about how it's the one to get over the ax88. I just noticed that the ax88 is now on sale for $261 vs the $250 for the ax86. My main concern is also about the 2.4 in regards to the range/signal strength because I have some outdoor cameras that could benefit from stronger signals and I don't think my 1700 single level home is large enough to warrant a mesh system.

Please, you or anyone else let me know what your findings are before the ax88 isn't on sale anymore.
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture

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