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quickdry21

join:2009-05-15

ASUS RT-AC66U Router

Any reason to spend an extra $20 on the ASUS RT-AC66U over the ASUS RT-N66U? My primary needs are WiFi penetration, I only have one coax outlet and it's in a remote corner of my apartment.

Any other suggestions for quality WiFi routers?

GreenEnvy22

join:2011-08-04
St Catharines, ON
Only get the AC variant if you plan on getting 802.11ac equipment in the next couple of year that can take advantage of it.

I picked one up last week because it was on sale for only a few dollars more then the non-AC variant.

got_milk

join:2007-08-22
Georgetown, ON
reply to quickdry21
I've heard of issues with the 5GHz band on the RT-AC66U (constant connection drops and some devices flat out not connecting). There's brand new firmware with an updated wireless driver however which may have solved these issues.

I personally have an RT-N66U and love it. The throughput and range is better than any other consumer router I've had the chance to play with. I upgraded from a Netgear WNDR3700 which at one time was supposed to be the king of wireless throughput and range and with the RT-N66U I can reach areas with good signal that the WNDR3700 wouldn't reach one bit.

The only real caveat to the router (which applies to the AC66U as well) is that ASUS doesn't seem to test their firmware builds that well before releasing them. Features like IPv6 seem to play the game of working -> broken -> working -> broken, and NAT loopback tends to be broken every so often as well.

With that being said though I definitely think if you're looking to spend that kind of money on a router, you can't do much better than the *66U routers. You might want to look into Asuswrt-Merlin as a firmware alternative - it's the Asus firmware with some extra additions and fixes. Tomato runs on the router too, but not very well in my opinion - wireless performance and range tends to take a massive hit. DD-WRT is an option as well, but it's pretty much a mess and difficult to install.

kovy7

join:2009-03-26
kudos:8
reply to quickdry21
I got the AC one just for that wireless feature.


El Quintron
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reply to got_milk
said by got_milk:

Tomato runs on the router too, but not very well in my opinion - wireless performance and range tends to take a massive hit. DD-WRT is an option as well, but it's pretty much a mess and difficult to install.

As an aside, I'm running Tomato on mine, and the WIFI is pretty good, I have a full brick house, with plaster walls.

One of the issues with Tomato, is that the default wireless power setting is much lower than it would be with the Asus default firmware (even if it did perform better than the WNDR3700) so you can increase it by a healthy margin, and get nearly the same results you would with the default firmware.

EQ
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got_milk

join:2007-08-22
Georgetown, ON
said by El Quintron:

One of the issues with Tomato, is that the default wireless power setting is much lower than it would be with the Asus default firmware (even if it did perform better than the WNDR3700) so you can increase it by a healthy margin, and get nearly the same results you would with the default firmware.

One of the first things I did upon installing Tomato was boost the TX power levels to the same values that Asus uses by default (80mw if I recall correctly). Using default values and after some serious experimentation and tweaking the best I could do was taking only a small hit in range but a big hit in throughput (over 50% lower than stock Asus).

I take it you're using Shibby's Tomato? I know Toastman uses really old wireless drivers in his builds.


Mike2009

join:2009-01-13
Ottawa, ON
kudos:3
reply to quickdry21
I have an RT-N56U and it's amazing.


El Quintron
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reply to got_milk
said by got_milk:

I take it you're using Shibby's Tomato? I know Toastman uses really old wireless drivers in his builds.

I am using Shibby's Tomato, it's too bad about TomatoUSB though, it ran like a champ on my RT-N16.

By the way, thanks for mentioning AsusWRT-Merlin, I wasn't aware that was RMerlin from WDLXTV, I went to the site and put all the pieces together, s/he is an awesome coder.

Cheers,
EQ
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silvercat

join:2007-11-07
reply to got_milk
said by got_milk:

I take it you're using Shibby's Tomato? I know Toastman uses really old wireless drivers in his builds.

Are they really old though ?

From the changelog of Toastman RT-N version 1.28.0501.3:

Revised/recompiled BCM driver backported from Asus GPL 3.0.0.4.220
(may 2012 issue)


Guspaz
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join:2001-11-05
Montreal, QC
kudos:23
reply to quickdry21
A year old? That doesn't sound all that new, especially considering that the driver is dated before the AC66U even came out.
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FiberToTheX
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join:2013-03-14
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reply to quickdry21
It's draft 2.0 802.11ac so it's at least 2 drafts behind (current draft is 4.0)

802.11ac will be finalized sometime later this year. If you can wait for final draft equipment then I would recommend that. Unless you have AC devices (of which there are very few) then I would recommend sticking with the RT-N66U.

Both routers have Merlin firmware capability (check SNB forums)


silvercat

join:2007-11-07
reply to Guspaz
said by Guspaz:

A year old? That doesn't sound all that new, especially considering that the driver is dated before the AC66U even came out.

True, but i don't think Shibby's is any newer.

quickdry21

join:2009-05-15
reply to quickdry21
So I take it the primary difference is one supports the upcoming ac standard? Wireless n should be good enough for me.

got_milk

join:2007-08-22
Georgetown, ON
reply to silvercat
said by silvercat:

said by Guspaz:

A year old? That doesn't sound all that new, especially considering that the driver is dated before the AC66U even came out.

True, but i don't think Shibby's is any newer.

You're right - Toastman has brought his driver version in line with Shibby's. Toastman used to be really far behind the last I checked, it's good to see him make it up to par. There are much better drivers available now from newer firmwares, it'd be nice to see them get another version bump!


dillyhammer
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reply to El Quintron
said by El Quintron:

I am using Shibby's Tomato

Are you seeing the 50% throughput bottleneck that got_milk See Profile experienced with tomato?

That's a deal killer for me.

Mike


El Quintron
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said by dillyhammer:

Are you seeing the 50% throughput bottleneck that got_milk See Profile experienced with tomato?

That's a deal killer for me.

Mike

Full disclosure:

I flashed it the minute I bought the router, so I can't how it compares to stock, but I live in a four floor backsplit, with full brick and plaster walls, and my router is in the basement.

I can still get wifi all over the house and stream 1080p over wifi when I have tried, but I haven't tried on the top floor where I have Ethernet jacks.

EQ
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dillyhammer
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1080p over wifi? Wow.

(I got the same setup, router in basement, I'm 2 stories up, house is 1922 double brick and full plaster and lath).

Thanks pal.

Mike


El Quintron
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said by dillyhammer:

1080p over wifi? Wow.

(I got the same setup, router in basement, I'm 2 stories up, house is 1922 double brick and full plaster and lath).

Thanks pal.

Mike

The N66U is a beast, but that's why I bought it

I don't see you having any connectivity problems with Shibby in that house.
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Guspaz
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reply to quickdry21
Well, that's not outlandish... The bitrate of 1080p video on bluray is at most 40 Mbps, and 802.11n wifi will easily do 200+ on a 3x3 device with a good signal.
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dillyhammer
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said by Guspaz:

Well, that's not outlandish... The bitrate of 1080p video on bluray is at most 40 Mbps, and 802.11n wifi will easily do 200+ on a 3x3 device with a good signal.

It all looks good on paper. Later there's running and screaming.



Penetration is a problem for me with a TL-1043ND. Not a top notch device, but not too shabby. At 2 stories up HD video over wireless stutters from time to time. I did track down some issues with the firmware on the media server, but still... not the greatest reception up 2 stories. On the 3rd floor I have to be within 10 feet of the stairs or signal is lost completely.

Sounds like the N66U may take care of [some of] that.

Mike
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Guspaz
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reply to quickdry21
Well, wifi routers also have a variety of options designed to make it work. There's WMM for clients that support it, and I know my Netgear WNDR3700v2 has a checkbox for automatic multimedia wifi QoS that has the router prioritize video streams over anything else on the wifi (unlike normal router QoS that happens only on the WAN connection). The help docs call out specifically both throughput and jitter as being targeted by that option.
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dillyhammer
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The 1043ND has WMM enabled by default. There are no wireless options (other than the standard stuff) on the WDTV Live or the Patriot Box Office (the wireless of which is junk), and I don't think either supports WMM though I can find no documentation either way. My Galaxy S3 and Asus laptop have the same issue up on the top 2 floors.

I just think it's a combination of a really solid house (seriously, it'd take a nuke to knock this place down) and a less than stellar router.

Mike
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wasHighwire

@teksavvy.com
reply to quickdry21
The latest ASUS firmware for the AC66U is 3.0.0.4.345 which came out on March 22. I was disappointed that the stock ASUS firmware doesn't provide daily, weekly, and monthly stats of data usage (especially since I have a usage cap). I have a lot of devices in my home network, and found the limit of 32 clients of static IP (with no device naming) to be annoying as well.

I flashed the Merlin F/W (built on ASUS firmware 3.0.0.4.270) which provides usage stats, ups the limit on static IPs to 64, and provides device naming. I highly recommend it. I have no idea if Merlin intends to continue improving the firmware though.

got_milk

join:2007-08-22
Georgetown, ON
said by wasHighwire :

The latest ASUS firmware for the AC66U is 3.0.0.4.345 which came out on March 22. I was disappointed that the stock ASUS firmware doesn't provide daily, weekly, and monthly stats of data usage (especially since I have a usage cap). I have a lot of devices in my home network, and found the limit of 32 clients of static IP (with no device naming) to be annoying as well.

Just a bit off topic, I'd suggest avoiding the 3.0.0.4.345 release as I've had some issues with some devices after upgrading (it uses a newer Broadcom wireless driver). My Galaxy Nexus and two iPhone 4s devices were constantly dropping off the network. I dropped back to 3.0.0.4.270 and everyone's happy again.

said by wasHighwire :

I flashed the Merlin F/W (built on ASUS firmware 3.0.0.4.270) which provides usage stats, ups the limit on static IPs to 64, and provides device naming. I highly recommend it. I have no idea if Merlin intends to continue improving the firmware though.

RMerlin is digging through the new code at the moment and will be integrating it into his builds. He's definitely still working on it!

got_milk

join:2007-08-22
Georgetown, ON
reply to El Quintron
said by El Quintron:

Full disclosure:

I flashed it the minute I bought the router, so I can't how it compares to stock, but I live in a four floor backsplit, with full brick and plaster walls, and my router is in the basement.

I can still get wifi all over the house and stream 1080p over wifi when I have tried, but I haven't tried on the top floor where I have Ethernet jacks.

EQ

In a situation where throughput doesn't matter all that much then Tomato is a perfectly viable choice, but I find myself moving files across the network wirelessly every now and again and while I don't mind waiting the extra speed is nice. On stock firmware in good conditions I was pushing 240Mbps at one point during file transfers, on Tomato I was struggling to break 110Mbps. More than enough for a couple of 1080p streams for sure but not so hot for file transfers.


joeybee
Joey
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join:2003-08-12
Hamilton, ON
reply to quickdry21
I just had the same choice to make myself. I chose not to go with the AC and got the N instead. I only really use wifi for a couple devices and don't see them needing AC anytime soon. So far its a rock solid router. I'm running the latest Merlin build on it.
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El Quintron
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reply to got_milk
said by got_milk:

On stock firmware in good conditions I was pushing 240Mbps at one point during file transfers, on Tomato I was struggling to break 110Mbps. More than enough for a couple of 1080p streams for sure but not so hot for file transfers.

Fair enough, I certainly haven't benchmarked my network enough to be able to give you those kinds of numbers anyway.

My house is actually wired with ethernet jacks all over the house, so files transfers usually get done with NFS shares over wired connections.
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got_milk

join:2007-08-22
Georgetown, ON
said by El Quintron:

My house is actually wired with ethernet jacks all over the house, so files transfers usually get done with NFS shares over wired connections.

Ahh, I'm jealous. One day, one day...


El Quintron
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said by got_milk:

Ahh, I'm jealous. One day, one day...

Interestingly enough...

The last time my wife got pregnant we came to the conclusion that there was just too much cabling snaking all over the house, which was a hazard to her, and future children.

So the case was pretty easily made for an install where we'd have Cat6/RG6 jacks in all the rooms with either a TV or a Computer, eliminating a whole mess of cables.
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GreenEnvy22

join:2011-08-04
St Catharines, ON
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reply to got_milk
I did this when we moved into our new-to-us house last summer. I ran 15 (so far) cat6 cables throughout the house. Have them all come to a patch panel in my furnace room.
This summer I plan to run 2 out to my garage. I'm currently using a powerline network to get service out there (for VoIP phone).