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Question ASUS AC66U vs ASUS AC86U

Apr 30, 2020
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I recently switched internet providers and needed to purchase a router. My house is a medium sized home. To this point we have utilized the company provided WIFI router and didnt encounter any major problems. Our usage includes some PS4 and Nintendo Switch Gaming, TV streaming via Smart TV and AppleTV, and some PC gaming.

I decided on the ASUS AC66U router as it was on sale for $80 and while at the store got some heavy salesmanship saying I should ideally invest in the AC86U ($190). I felt that the latter may be overkill and the double pricetag didnt help the cause so I brought the 66U home. I have not set it up yet. After some research I am wondering if the salesman wasnt just trying to upsell me.

i would love some expert opinion on my dilemma - cant beat the price of the 66U and it will handle our home networking needs just fine or invest in the 86U for stronger signal and it should serve our family for years to come.

Thank you!
 
The signal levels are pretty much the same the transmit power for all routers is limited by the government. What can be different is how much data they attempt to pack into the same radio bandwidth. So the signal won't go any farther but it may have more usable data at the same distance.

Most issues are your end clients. They tend to have small antenna and low power transmitters to save battery. They also only have say 2 antenna so even if a router can run 4x4 mimo the feature will not be used because the end device can only use 2x2. There are many other tricks router manufacture use to get bigger numbers and many end devices do not support them.

The sales guy was definitely just trying to up sell you and didn't know what he was talking about or he would have told you the one feature that router has that makes it very different. The asus 86u and a handful of others uses a very special cpu that has a encryption accelerator. If you are using a VPN client on most consumer routers even very expensive ones you will only get about 20-30mbps. This router can get over 200mbps because of that feature.

Still if you do not need the high speed vpn ability it is purely a upsell.


The other feature that maybe different is the ability to load the merlin firmware on it. There are 2 models of ac66u. The newer ac66u-b1 is fully supported. The older ac66u you can still get images but they are not updated because the router does not have enough memory. Merlin firmware is not official but asus works closely with them and has integrated many features into the factory firmware.
 
Apr 30, 2020
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Thank you for the detailed reply, it is very helpful. I dont plan on setting up a VPN so I think the smartest thing would be to set up shop with the 66U and see if it fits our needs.

The router I bought is the AC66U-B1 version. In my reading I have come across mention of Merlin firmware often. Something I need to learn more about. What are the major advantages of the Merlin firmware over the factory, especially if they work together?
 
Used to have a lot of ease of use things asus did not have but asus has since incorporated a lot of those into the base firmware. I know one thing I recently found out was the factory images still do not have the feature that lets you display the speed and duplex of the wan and lan ports.

Mostly for me it is the VPN is simpler to configure and has more features. Maybe asus added it but the main thing was being able to decide what traffic uses the vpn and what can bypass.

You can go to the merlin site and see what extra features it has. It is nowhere near dd-wrt or something like that but most those feature nobody really uses. Mostly it is designed to be very stable.

It is pretty trivial to install you just load the file like you do a firmware image from asus. If you don't like it you can just load a factory image back.
 

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