Router recommendations

Hi. Can I have your thoughts please on how to improve my internet experience. I have a fibre connection (38Mbs max) with Plusnet but I feel the service is strangled because I’m using the ISP-provide router, a Technicolor TG582N FTTC. The time has come to upgrade but I don’t want to spend silly money.
My usage is email, browsing and some video streaming over my LAN.
What do you recommend?

For the video streaming, are you talking about streaming entirely within your LAN? i.e. from a NAS to a PC or TV? Or are you streaming from the internet to a device on your LAN a la Netflix?

I have a separate Cisco gigabit switch for all my internal LAN stuff which was quite cheap, then just the standard BT home hub for my fibre. I’ve been looking at a replacement myself but for a VDSL router they can be seriously pricey.

I’m streaming low-res avi’s from a disk attached to my upstairs pc. I might try Netflix which will demand more from the router. I’ve been looking at the TP-Link Archer C9 and it appears to tick all the boxes.

Let us know how you get on with it if you get one.

I’m tempted by the Netgear D6400-100UKS myself but can’t justify the cost at the moment

I’d go with Asus routers for their more feature packed firmware.

TP-link router firmware is very buggy, at least the N router I’ve tried. Netgear and Linksys routers are okay, but I always end up installing less stable DD-WRT on them for features. Asus router have Asuswrt-Merlin builds, which builds upon default Asus firmware stability and adds a few more features.

Do you know if you can set a permanent VPN on the Asus routers?

PPTP VPN server and client is available. OpenVPN server and client is also available on Merlin firmware.

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I use PIA which I believe uses OpenVPN for routers. I shall have to check these out

Actually looks like you don’t need the Merlin firmware any more as they have rolled the features into the main firmware

According to these specs anyway

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Ah okay. I didn’t know that, it started off as a Merlin firmware addition.

I’ve only ever used Merlin firmware on my AC68U.

Just placed my own order for that exact same one :smile:

Chaps, thanks for the input but it’s starting to get a bit too “techy” for me. However, I do note that Asus is recommended - I’ll take a closer look.

Yeah sorry, I kind of hijacked your thread here :flushed:

I’m picking up an Asus router tonight on my way out of the office so if interested I can let you know how I get on with it.

Yes please to the initial report. The AC68U has an inbuilt modem yet is about the same price as the RT68U which doesn’t. I have an OpenReach modem - why would I want to ditch it and buy a router/modem? Is the BT job flakey?

The Asus RT-AC87U AC2400 looks good to me - any thoughts?

Well its all set up already. Really easy if you have BT Infinity 2. Only slight issue is that the setup forces you to enter a password but BT doesn’t have one. Just enter “password” though and it will work.

Settings are all nice and clear with plenty of options (including a VPN client mode)

It has a built in VDSL modem so I can get rid of both the BT Cable modem and the crappy Home Hub 4 that was on its last legs. So less power drawing boxes cluttering up the lounge.

And its fast… page loads are definitely quicker than with the Home Hub 4 over wireless.

I definitely recommend it so far (based on half an hours usage anyways ;))

I think RT-AC68U is the one without modem. Codemonkey have DSL-AC68U for the one with modem. I have the one without modem, and I use the BT Openreach modem (not their Homehub router) to connect online. I just prefer having a modem just because I’ve always done it this way.

The thing with wireless routers is that you need to be aware of your clients, and don’t live on the bleeding edge as firmware is usually not stable yet. When I bought this router this time last year, I was going to go for AC56 to save on cost, but went for AC68 because I had cash. To be honest I don’t think I’ve taken advantage of the 3x3 configuration of '68 during my ownership of this router up to now, fastest client I have is Macbook air with 2x2 configuration. I wire most of my home, only lesser demanding laptop and mobile devices use wireless, they are usually 2x2 at most.

What you may not aware is that after Asus’ AC68 (aka AC1900 wifi standard), there is a split between how the speed is increased. AC2400 standard (used in Asus AC87) uses 4x4 configuration, to be honest we won’t see any clients with that configuration. At the same time, AC3200 (used in Asus AC88, Netgear R8000) uses a different approach, it has two 5GHz 3x3 and a single 2.4GHz, it is basically AC1900 with an extra 5GHz setup. Personally I feel this will be more future-proof because it means faster and slower clients are now on separate network. But AC88 just came out, its firmware is no where near stable yet. AC87 should be stable by now, so can be considered if you have the cash, but you probably will never see the speed benefit over AC68 because of the rare 4x4 configuration.

But then, on the same basis, AC1900 standard is overkill. AC1750 is all anyone would ever need. Only difference between 1900 and 1750 is the new 2.4GHz speed boost mode, which no client actually supports because newer clients already have much faster 5GHz radio. I spent more for 68 over 66 because of the upgraded CPU. After new firmware upgrade, you’ll get more advanced “adaptive QoS”.

Thanks for that wuyanxu. I think I have decided against the AC68 and AC87 because of the form factor and I had been studying the AC66. I need to be careful in my quest for future-proofing that I don’t end up paying for features that I’m never going to take advantage of. Perhaps I just need a faster “N” router…

In the end I bought a TP-Link Archer C9 and it was a trial getting it and Windows 10 (and its updates) and my networked BluRay player to play together but I’m there now (I hope). No spectacular increase in speed - the only worthwhile difference I’ve seen is that I can fast forward faster through a streamed media file without everything locking up. Why did I choose this particular router? Because (removed) were selling it at £90.

Thanks again for your assistance.

[please don’t reference competitors - many thanks]