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Retired the TP Link Archer C5400, replaced with a Asus RT-AX86U

UsandThem

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TL/DR: Asus RT-AX86U good choice, TP Link needs to support their routers much better (or have/allow 3rd party firmware support).

I bought the TP Link router in early 2016, and honestly it was the most stable router I've ever owned based on performance/reliability. After replacing a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 (I really hated that router), I had almost four years of peaceful bliss of not having my kids whine about their internet connection and speed (Xbox and PC gaming). However, TP Link only released two firmware updates over that time, with the last one being released in July 2017. A few months back, they moved it into their EOL category and which meant there would never be another update for it. I had hoped that it would be a model that received some kind of 3rd party firmware (like Merlin), but that never materialized.

Since everything goes through the router, I really didn't want to continue using a router that had no security updates since 2017. I decided to go with the Asus RT-AX86U based on Asus' pretty steady track record on releasing firmware updates for their routers, and that it was possible to use Merlin firmware route of the box if needed. With both of the kids still at home and doing college work from here (along with their usual online gaming), I figured it made sense to get a router with a quad core CPU, 256MB flash, and 1 GB of RAM to handle all the networking needs. I thought about going with a mesh tri-band system, but pretty much all of the AX versions were way too $$$. I paid around $200 for the TP Link router, and even then I thought it was pricey. The Asus was $250, but the features it offered compared to their competition seemed like the best route to go.

I have to say that the installation and configuration of the Asus router was the easiest I have ever experienced. The TP Link wasn't too bad, but it was kind of pain to get working properly with our AT&T fiber internet. From taking ithe Asus out of the box to getting everything updated/configured, it was about a 20 minute process. Finally, the only reason I did not go with TP Link again for a router was their lackluster support when it came to providing updates to their products. I even looked at a few of their current models, and almost all of them had one or two updates over the last several years, so this appears to be all the support a person can reasonably expect going with many of their routers. So if you are looking for a mid-range Wifi 6 router, consider the RT-AX86U.
 

aigomorla

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I do not think i could ever convince myself or anyone to buy a 250+ dollar asus router. :eek:
I would of probably recommended you getting a Ubiquiti Dream Machine, and if you really needed that wifi6 add on a Unifi6 AP.

+

To be honest, that is just way too much for a consumer class router. Its more so marked up because it was intended for Gamers, which we all know is just a way for vendors to put a markup on something because it has the word "GAMER".
Ubiquiti at least is Enterprise Class, so although its a bit more, you are paying for exactly what you get, which is enterprise class hardware.

Also having only 1 x 2.5gb port is sort of pointless on the ASUS.
It should at least have 2, so you can share that bandwith with another device.
Also if you can afford a 2.5gb WAN connection, which i can't think of many consumer providers, i think you would be wired for 10gbe.
As its setup, its most likely intended for you to connect a form of NAS on that 2.5 so it won't be bottlenecked when 2 people are hammering it on 1Gb.
If it had 2 X 2.5gb port, i might consider of consider it for people who are on 2.5gbe.
 
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UsandThem

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Ubiquiti at least is Enterprise Class, so although its a bit more, you are paying for exactly what you get, which is enterprise class hardware.
I looked at their stuff when I was researching the best route to go. I probably looked at just about everything at least once over the 6 months I read reviews and saw what the market had as far as options. Many of the routers I looked at (like the Netgear Orbi RBK50 mesh 2 pack) increased by $75 - $90 dollars during the year because of shortages/demand due to Covid. I had hoped the pricing would decrease a little as the year went on, but it never really did because of the supply issues.

Asus definitely markets it as a "gaming" router, but the hardware specs are good for the price. Plus, this particular model doesn't have any RGB on it. :p

As long as it offers good wifi coverage so my kids don't bug me about the coverage/speed, and it doesn't go out of date with security updates, Asus could call it anything they want. ;)
 
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aigomorla

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I really like the Netgear Orbi for consumer MESH if you need the stronger wifi.
They are a bit pricey yes, but they work good if you do not have unifi AP's spammed all over your place to drive your neighbors crazy because your wifi SSID is always sitting on top even above theirs' in their own home. ;)

I plead the 5th on doing that.... It took a netgear Orbi for my neighbor to take over the SSID war @ their house.
 

UsandThem

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The nice thing in my neighborhood is the houses aren't right on top of each like they are in newer developments. We have a decent sized yard with trees in between any of the neighbors, so people's wifi isn't battling with each other that much.

Luckily our house was built during a time when people didn't want their houses only 6 feet from each other. :p
 
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aigomorla

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lol it also helps when your house is 2.5 stories, and your neighbors is a single floor, and you have 2 AP'-Pro's s on that top floor in each corner

So yeah, as Obiwan told Anakin ... I have HIGH GROUND!
 
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bob4432

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Sep 6, 2003
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That is exactly what companies who claim to be "GREEN" should do, hell, all companies - once they EOM a device open it up for 3rd party work. Better than going into a landfill!
 

UsandThem

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That is exactly what companies who claim to be "GREEN" should do, hell, all companies - once they EOM a device open it up for 3rd party work. Better than going into a landfill!
I agree 100%.

Hardware/performance wise, the TP Link router is still perfect and could still be used for years. However, without any security updates, it's pretty well junk.

I never really paid any attention to 3rd party firmware support for routers before buying the TP Link unit, but it definitely something I will research going forward as at least I should be able to use the router for several years after the manufacturer drops software support for it (or until it dies).
 
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aigomorla

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I never really paid any attention to 3rd party firmware support for routers
DD-WRT and Tomato are really good in that aspect.
I managed to give life to my cousins linksys WRT1900AC by installing DD-WRT on it.

Too bad opensource routers are not common, especially on TPLink because FCC be scared people be smurfing them.
 

UsandThem

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DD-WRT and Tomato are really good in that aspect.
I managed to give life to my cousins linksys WRT1900AC by installing DD-WRT on it.

Too bad opensource routers are not common, especially on TPLink because FCC be scared people be smurfing them.
In a slightly newer article (by a few months), it looks like TP Link was really trying to pull a fast one concerning open source software: https://www.pcworld.com/article/3104639/the-fcc-just-forced-tp-link-to-support-open-source-router-firmware.html

I guess while TP Link doesn't necessarily prevent open source software on their routers, they definitely don't make it easy for many of their models either. The problem being the time and effort required for individual models, so if it's not a model where there is a large user base clamoring for it, it will be a model like the one I have.
 

aigomorla

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Since u still have it you can always provision it as a SMART IoT router under your main network, and isolate things like alexa/google home and smart switches on its own subnet outside your network.

I realized when you get up to like 15-20 smart devices, it also helps to keep them saddled under a different subnet, and you can always use a laptop or a phone on wifi to jump onto that network to do moderating.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
52,589
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In a slightly newer article (by a few months), it looks like TP Link was really trying to pull a fast one concerning open source software: https://www.pcworld.com/article/3104639/the-fcc-just-forced-tp-link-to-support-open-source-router-firmware.html
That article was dated 2016. How is TP-Link for open-source / 3rd-party firmware TODAY, in 2021? I haven't seen really any files with "TP-Link" in their filenames or model codes in the filenames, in the FreshTomato download servers.
 

UsandThem

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That article was dated 2016. How is TP-Link for open-source / 3rd-party firmware TODAY, in 2021? I haven't seen really any files with "TP-Link" in their filenames or model codes in the filenames, in the FreshTomato download servers.
It was the conclusion article to aigomorla's article from 2016, where it showed that TP Link was dinged for allowable antenna strength be changed in some countries, and not that the FCC was forcing them to not allow third party support due to "security concerns". That case was settled with all the details in the article I linked to.

I know it was three years ago, but it still shows that TP Link doesn't make it easy to use 3rd party (open source) on many of their routers. If it was easy to do, I'm sure my router would have had someone already release open source firmware for it.
 

Makaveli

Diamond Member
Feb 8, 2002
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Go with the Asus you can load Merlin firmware.

And its updated on a regular basis.
 

Pohemi420

Diamond Member
Oct 2, 2004
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Go with the Asus you can load Merlin firmware.
For the RT-AX86U that is true and correct...just avoid the RT-AX92U.

I upgraded from the TP-Link Archer C1900 that I used for years to get an AX router. Tried the Asus, and even exchanged for a new unit after random timeouts and DCs that I couldn't pin down.

The RT-AX92U is not compatible with the Merlin firmware that works on numerous other models, including the RT-AX86U. The stock OS sucks donkeys.

Went to the TP-Link Archer AX50 and have had no issues with the time-outs or disconnects since.
 

lopri

Elite Member
Jul 27, 2002
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I do not recommend Unifi Dream Machine at all. I am dealing with one at the moment and having a huge regret over the purchase. It is literally a hot mess that phones home. First of all, you cannot begin to use it without a login at UniFi cloud, which is infuriating enough. Then after that process it locked me out when I tried to log in using a local login. A tech support made me update the firmware, and the new firmware let me create a new local access. But I have no idea what happened to the original local login - I have a stinking suspicion it is buried somewhere in the system.

The whole cloud ordeal and forced authentication reek of deceit and data collection. I have already gotten a frightening prompt asking me "How much are you likely to recommend this product to your friend, on a scale of 1 to 10?" while I was browsing the firmware interface.

Hardware-wise, this thing boasts quad-core Cortex A57, which I guess is technically better than most other routers that run on A7s, A9s, and A53s. But the thing is HOT. It run at 75~80c constantly, and when it gets close to 80c (CPU load around 10%), the fan kicks in like a jet engine. That happens when you download reasonably big files (like ISOs or game downloads) which is often enough. It has 16 GB of flash storage, and before the purchase I thought that was nice. Now I think that is for data collection. For THEM. This thing is going back.
 

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iamgenius

Senior member
Jun 6, 2008
662
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TL/DR: Asus RT-AX86U good choice, TP Link needs to support their routers much better (or have/allow 3rd party firmware support).

I bought the TP Link router in early 2016, and honestly it was the most stable router I've ever owned based on performance/reliability. After replacing a Netgear Nighthawk R7000 (I really hated that router), I had almost four years of peaceful bliss of not having my kids whine about their internet connection and speed (Xbox and PC gaming). However, TP Link only released two firmware updates over that time, with the last one being released in July 2017. A few months back, they moved it into their EOL category and which meant there would never be another update for it. I had hoped that it would be a model that received some kind of 3rd party firmware (like Merlin), but that never materialized.

Since everything goes through the router, I really didn't want to continue using a router that had no security updates since 2017. I decided to go with the Asus RT-AX86U based on Asus' pretty steady track record on releasing firmware updates for their routers, and that it was possible to use Merlin firmware route of the box if needed. With both of the kids still at home and doing college work from here (along with their usual online gaming), I figured it made sense to get a router with a quad core CPU, 256MB flash, and 1 GB of RAM to handle all the networking needs. I thought about going with a mesh tri-band system, but pretty much all of the AX versions were way too $$$. I paid around $200 for the TP Link router, and even then I thought it was pricey. The Asus was $250, but the features it offered compared to their competition seemed like the best route to go.

I have to say that the installation and configuration of the Asus router was the easiest I have ever experienced. The TP Link wasn't too bad, but it was kind of pain to get working properly with our AT&T fiber internet. From taking ithe Asus out of the box to getting everything updated/configured, it was about a 20 minute process. Finally, the only reason I did not go with TP Link again for a router was their lackluster support when it came to providing updates to their products. I even looked at a few of their current models, and almost all of them had one or two updates over the last several years, so this appears to be all the support a person can reasonably expect going with many of their routers. So if you are looking for a mid-range Wifi 6 router, consider the RT-AX86U.
What exactly did you hate about the Netgear Nighthawk R7000? I'm asking because I currently have it and I'm wondering if I'm having the same issues. It does act up from time to time.

I do not think i could ever convince myself or anyone to buy a 250+ dollar asus router. :eek:
I would of probably recommended you getting a Ubiquiti Dream Machine, and if you really needed that wifi6 add on a Unifi6 AP.

+

To be honest, that is just way too much for a consumer class router. Its more so marked up because it was intended for Gamers, which we all know is just a way for vendors to put a markup on something because it has the word "GAMER".
Ubiquiti at least is Enterprise Class, so although its a bit more, you are paying for exactly what you get, which is enterprise class hardware.

Also having only 1 x 2.5gb port is sort of pointless on the ASUS.
It should at least have 2, so you can share that bandwith with another device.
Also if you can afford a 2.5gb WAN connection, which i can't think of many consumer providers, i think you would be wired for 10gbe.
As its setup, its most likely intended for you to connect a form of NAS on that 2.5 so it won't be bottlenecked when 2 people are hammering it on 1Gb.
If it had 2 X 2.5gb port, i might consider of consider it for people who are on 2.5gbe.

If you connect a 2.5gb switch to the 2.5gb port in the router, shouldn't you be able to share bandwidth between two devices?
 

UsandThem

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What exactly did you hate about the Netgear Nighthawk R7000? I'm asking because I currently have it and I'm wondering if I'm having the same issues. It does act up from time to time.
It was OK for roughly 9 months, but once my kids became teenagers and began playing Xbox more, getting more devices connected to the wifi, it began struggling to keep up and which led to the kids always bugging me about getting disconnected from games, slow internet, etc. It got to the point where I had to reboot it multiple times a day.

Netgear kept rolling out firmware updates for it to fix issues, but it never made much of a difference, and multiple times a day my kids would bug me about the wifi "sucking". So at that point, I replaced it with the TP LInk unit I listed above, and I had about 4 1/2 years of peace and quiet out of my kids (at least when it came to the wifi connection :p ).
 
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Makaveli

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It was OK for roughly 9 months, but once my kids became teenagers and began playing Xbox more, getting more devices connected to the wifi, it began struggling to keep up and which led to the kids always bugging me about getting disconnected from games, slow internet, etc. It got to the point where I had to reboot it multiple times a day.

Netgear kept rolling out firmware updates for it to fix issues, but it never made much of a difference, and multiple times a day my kids would bug me about the wifi "sucking". So at that point, I replaced it with the TP LInk unit I listed above, and I had about 4 1/2 years of peace and quiet out of my kids (at least when it came to the wifi connection :p ).
I always found netgear firmware kinda buggy that is why I was using Merlin's firmware on the R7000 when I had it in service.
 
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DRC_40

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Sep 25, 2012
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Gotta luv watching 2 super mods discussing the virtues of their choices of routers. :p
 

iamgenius

Senior member
Jun 6, 2008
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It was OK for roughly 9 months, but once my kids became teenagers and began playing Xbox more, getting more devices connected to the wifi, it began struggling to keep up and which led to the kids always bugging me about getting disconnected from games, slow internet, etc. It got to the point where I had to reboot it multiple times a day.

Netgear kept rolling out firmware updates for it to fix issues, but it never made much of a difference, and multiple times a day my kids would bug me about the wifi "sucking". So at that point, I replaced it with the TP LInk unit I listed above, and I had about 4 1/2 years of peace and quiet out of my kids (at least when it came to the wifi connection :p ).
Well, in my case the kids are always complaining about lag and latency issues in games. I'm just not paying enough attention to them. The other thing that I hate about this R7000 is that it will drop in speed to 100 Mbps max for both wired and wireless, and you will have to reboot it to go back to normal speeds. It is a bug I think.
 

UsandThem

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you will have to reboot it to go back to normal speeds. It is a bug I think.
That sums up my experience with that unit as well. Rebooting the router would give me a couple days of peace from the kids and their Xbox.

Speaking of which, I guess I've been using this new router for 3+ weeks, and it's been rock solid.

That's with both kids attending college classes online (video conferencing), all the various devices we use in any given day (laptops, desktops Xbox, cell phones), and streaming Netflix, Prime, and Disney+. The kids haven't complained about connectivity at all, so if someone is in the market for a new router, give the Asus a shot.
 

iamgenius

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Jun 6, 2008
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I would consider it. The only thing I dislike is that it is not supported by DD-WRT. I think it will be supported in the future though. I'm not familiar with Merlin.
 

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