Asus Rt-ac68u Is Slow All of a Sudden After Firmware Upgrade

Asus Rt-ac68u Is Slow All of a Sudden After Firmware Upgrade

No, I’grand not talking almost wizards, but just regular Wi-Fi tech, which is cooler than magic anyway.

So yes, if yous’re interested in making your Asus router (even) better, y’all’re reading the correct post. It’s all well-nigh getting your router the Merlin firmware treatment.

Dong’s note:

Putting tertiary-party firmware on a router, among other things, can be tricky and fifty-fifty cause the router to die if yous don’t do it right.
Consider yourself warned.
By the way,
I take no amalgamation with the maker of Merlin. The information posted here is from my personal experience and in no way means I endorse Merlin. Use it at your ain risk.

Asus Rt-ac68u Is Slow All of a Sudden After Firmware Upgrade
The
RT-AX86U
is the latest Asus router to become the Merlin treatment.

What is firmware?

Firmware is like a mini operating organisation. Every slice of tech gadget or electronics has to have run on a slice of software. So firmware to a router is kind of like Windows x to a computer. It decides how (well) the router functions and dictates what you tin can practise with it.

Firmware vs operating arrangement

Both firmware and operating systems are software that manipulates the hardware to evangelize specific results. But they differ in nuances.

Specifically, firmware has low-level — more direct and crude — admission to the hardware. It’s geeky and closely related to a device’due south physical components.

On the other manus, an operating system has higher, safer, and more refined admission to the hardware. It’s user-friendly and about giving users what they want instead of dealing with hardware components’ bones functions.

A crude analogy

Firmware is similar the wiring and switches under the hood of a motorcar, while the operating system consists of the driving bicycle, control buttons, and other shiny things inside the cabin. Nearly drivers only care about the latter and take no interest in the former, which, amongst other things, volition make their easily muddy.

On a computer, the motherboard itself uses firmware,
chosen BIOS, that decides what kind of computer information technology is and which operating arrangement — Windows, Linux, or macOS, for case — you lot can install on it and how.

In some situations, though, the line between firmware and an operating organisation is blurred, and you can call the two interchangeably. For example, the firmware of
Synology
routers or Netgear’s
gaming ones
is and so advanced that folks call those operating systems.

But more often than not, devices with limited functions, like the Cyberspace of Things (IoT) gadgets, apply firmware. And advanced devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or computers, utilize an operating organisation (on acme of a firmware layer).

So, for the well-nigh part, Wi-Fi routers use firmware. Only if yous want to call that an operating organisation, that’s fine with me, too.

Asus WebUI Main
Here’due south the web interface of an Asus RT-AC88U running stock firmware. Note the differences when it runs Merlin firmware below.

Stock router firmware

By default, the networking vendor ships their routers its firmware already installed. That’s called “stock firmware,” and in near cases, you can’t modify it.

Y’all may be able to upgrade the firmware to a newer/improve version once in a while, but for the nearly part, the router’s features remain the same for the rest of its life.

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Asus’s stock firmware, called
Asuswrt, is used in all Asus’south dwelling house routers released in the past decade. (By the way, WRT stands for
Wireless Receiver / Transmitter. It’due south a mutual acronym in Wi-Fi broadcasters.)

Merlin: Special third-party firmware

With some routers, you can put third-party firmware on them. Popular open-source router firmware, such as
DDWRT, tin can piece of work on (select) routers from
multiple
networking vendors. They tend to be completely unlike from the stock firmware and, therefore, quite hard to handle.

On the other paw, Merlin is the third-party firmware available
simply
to sure Asus routers. It’s also very similar to Asus’s stock firmware. In fact, you can meet information technology equally an
enhanced version
of Asuswrt. What’s about important, for the nigh part, Merlin is as piece of cake (or hard, depending on who you inquire) to use as Asuswrt.

Merlin Web UI Main
Here’south the interface of the RT-AC88U running Merlin firmware. Annotation the Merlin logo.

The list of Asus routers that can run Merlin

Here is the list of current Asus routers that you tin put Merlin on.

  • Wi-Fi five routers:
    GT-AC2900 (beta), RT-AC66U_B1, RT-AC86U, RT-N66U, RT-AC1900, RT-AC87U, RT-AC5300, RT-AC3200, RT-AC3100,
    RT-AC88U, RT-AC68U, RT-AC66U, and RT-AC56U.
  • Wi-Fi vi routers:
    RT-AX56U,
    RT-AX58U
    (a.k.a RT-AX3000),
    RT-AX88U,
    RT-AX86U,
    RT-AX68U, and
    GT-AX11000.

So, equally you tin meet, not all Asus routers can run Merlin. There sure volition be more in the time to come.

In my feel, the RT-AC88U and RT-AX88U are currently the best Merlin options since they have the about to offer. Simply all the to a higher place will piece of work similarly in terms of settings and features.

Merlin firmware vs Asus stock

Asus builds its Asuswrt using Linux via the
GNU Project
and shares its source code via GNU’s General Public License (GPL). Then, the Merlin grouping, led past
Eric Sauvageau, changed the source lawmaking to create a meliorate alternative. For free. (They do accept support
via donation.)

In other words, Merlin is based on the stock firmware and, therefore, always becomes bachelor, if at all, (long) after the release of a router.

Still, it’south not surprising that its official name is
Asuswrt-Merlin, though some might call information technology MerlinWRT. I’d call it Merlin for curt. Merlin itself is also open up-source software.

That said, generally, Merlin has all the settings and features of the stock firmware and and so some. In other words, for a particular router, Merlin encompasses its stock firmware.

Merlin firmware’s features

Merlin TOR
Merlin has more features and in-depth settings than the stock firmware, including the support for TOR.

Here’southward the
consummate list of Merlin’s features, simply the shortlist of benefits includes:

  • Ameliorate VPN support, which, among other things, has the ability to route certain clients via VPN or globally.
  • More than flexible DNS — y’all can fix the DNS server for individual clients or globally.
  • Built-in TOR support for privacy, with the individual client control, tin can road certain clients via TOR or globally.
  • More frequent firmware updates, especially when information technology comes to addressing bugs.
  • Meliorate stability.
  • Lots of command, feature, and automate options via
    user scripts
    and add-on packages.
  • AiMesh support (starting with version 384).

Notes on moving between Asus stock firmware and Merlin

More often than not, Asuswrt and Asuswrt-Merlin are very friendly toward each other. That ways:

  • You can movement a router betwixt these two firmware options at whatever time. Specifically, you lot can wink a router from Asuswrt to Merlin, and all of its settings will remain the same. The other way effectually, though, only common settings between the 2 will remain.
  • You can restore a router using a setting fill-in file of either firmware. And, just similar stock firmware, you can restore the settings of one router to some other. In this instance, though, depending on the routers involved, some settings might
    not
    exist carried over.
  • The Asus Router mobile app (made by Asus) besides works with a router running Merlin.
  • Overall, Merlin’s web interface looks and feels the same as does Asus’s stock firmware. You might non even notice that you’re using Merlin.
  • The
    AiMesh feature
    is available in Merlin (starting with version 384), and you can apply routers of
    either
    firmware together.
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Merlin firmware and AiMesh

Note, though, that you generally want to apply AiMesh with the same firmware (Asuswrt
or
Merlin). Mixing the 2, understandably, might lead to unexpected problems. Besides, AiMesh is developed by Asus, so Asuswrt is naturally amend and more predictable.

Just in my cursory testing, things were fine when I used Merlin in the primary router, regardless of the nodes’ firmware.

When I used Asuswrt in the primary router and Merlin in a node, the performance was fine, but information technology was impossible to update the node’s firmware successfully.

In this case, I’d accept to reset the node, load the new firmware in the router mode, and then re-add information technology back to the mesh. Information technology was a bit of a pain.

But that was well-nigh the only shortcoming of using Merlin in my brusk experience, which wouldn’t be if you use Merlin throughout or at least in the primary router. Also, the functioning of a hybrid organisation proved to exist fast and reliable in my brief trial.

Nevertheless, retrieve that mixing hardware of dissimilar versions, permit solitary variants, will likely result in unexpected issues. And I didn’t exam all possible scenarios.

Asus’south take on Merlin

Asus didn’t give me any stance on Merlin. Instead, it only said it provided Asuswrt’due south lawmaking every bit an open-source under GPL, every bit mentioned higher up.

Simply the company did tell me 1 crucial affair: Putting Merlin on Asus hardware will not affect its warranty. Specifically, a representative told me:

“[…] as long as the router does non break/fail during the firmware change process, we will still provide the warranty for the hardware. The 3rd political party software is non tested by ASUS, so we practise not provide the warranty for the tertiary party software.

In curt, there’due south no adventure in using Merlin every bit long as you don’t mess upwardly the firmware migration process or expect tech support from Asus. And that’due south a fair game.

RT AX88U vs RT AC88U 4
The
Asus RT-AX88U
(left) and
RT-AC88U
are fantabulous candidates for Merlin.

How to manually flash (Merlin) firmware on an Asus router

The good news is that flashing your router from Asuswrt to Merlin is the same as manually upgrading the stock firmware. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel enough.

All you have to do is download the firmware and load information technology on the router via its spider web user interface, merely like the
firmware update process

of whatsoever standard router.

The following are detailed steps to manually flash a Merlin or stock firmware file on an Asus router. I used an
RT-AC88U
unit, but you tin can apply them to flashing any other model using stock or Merlin — the process is the aforementioned, pick the hardware and firmware of your pick.

1. Download the (Merlin) firmware for your router

Hither’due south the
Merlin link for all supported routers. You desire to download the latest
Release
version, though y’all can also endeavor the beta if you want to be adventurous.

(If you desire to utilise stock firmware, Google the router’s model plus “firmware,” and you’ll find the download page for the router from Asus’due south website.)

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The download file comes in the .zip format, a compressed folder. Y’all offset demand to open this file (double-click on it) and then get the actual firmware file out. The file you want is named afterwards the router’due south model and the firmware version.

Merlin Firmware Extract
It’s like shooting fish in a barrel to extract the firmware file from a Zip folder. Notation the router’south model number in the file proper name.

In my example, I dragged and dropped the file onto a binder chosen “Merlin” on my Windows 10 estimator’south desktop. The point is y’all demand to remember where you put this firmware file.

2. Log in to the router web interface

From a continued computer, log in to the Asus router’southward spider web interface. You lot can practice this past navigating a browser to its default IP address, which is often
192.168.50.1, or
router.asus.com.

RT AC88U Firmware Update
On the interface of an Asus router, you tin can quickly bound to the firmware upgrade section past clicking on the firmware version itself at the top of the spider web page.

Yous’ll be asked for the username (“admin” past default) and password, which is the one you created when you first prepare the router. Once logged in, go to:

Administration
->
Firmware Update

Alternatively, you can click on the firmware version at the top of the interface’s webpage to jump to the firmware update department. Now yous’re set up to perform the firmware migration in the next footstep.

3. Upload the Merlin firmware

Click on the
Upload
button (see screenshot below). A dialog volition pop upward for you lot to navigate to the location on the estimator that holds the firmware file. In my case, the location is the “Merlin” folder on the desktop, equally mentioned above.

RT AC88U Firmware Upload
Navigate to the location of the Merlin file and choose to open it.

Now double click on the (Merlin) firmware file, or select it and and then click
Open. The flash process will start immediately.

Notation:
This process will have a few minutes. During this time, make sure y’all leave the router and the web interface solitary. Don’t unplug the router or the computer from the power!

RT AC88U Firmware Progress
The upgrade/migration process will have a few minutes and needs to be left solitary.

After that, the router will restart itself, and the webpage will go dorsum to the login page. Log in to the interface once again, and you’ll at present see the Merlin logo on the height left corner of the web page. You’re almost at that place.

asuswrt merlin
The Asuswrt-Merlin logo.

Finally,
manually
restart the router 1 more than time past unplugging information technology from power for a few seconds, then plugging it back in. (You tin can probably skip this footstep, but in my feel, a manual restart is always helpful subsequently a firmware change. Then practice it!)

And that’s it. Mission accomplished.

If, for some reason, y’all want to switch dorsum to Asuswrt, repeat the steps above, using the router’south stock firmware. Again, either mode, the settings will (largely) remain.

Merlin firmware: The takeaway

Everyone will enjoy the better stability Merlin brings to an Asus router. Merely for the most part, Merlin is a geeky choice for advanced users. It opens upward many possibilities. In return, it requires a bit of networking know-how handle. Almost importantly, it’s
not
a must-use, nor is it an
upgrade
to Asuswrt.

But I know many advanced users who only buy an Asus router after Merlin is available for it — and I don’t blame them. If you can appreciate even just one of the many benefits this culling firmware has to offer, such every bit the vastly more than advanced VPN characteristic, information technology’southward tough to get dorsum.

One thing is likely: If you have a supported Asus router that doesn’t work as well as you’d like, putting Merlin on it volition, well, magically make information technology a lot better. Try it. You have zilch to lose.

Asus Rt-ac68u Is Slow All of a Sudden After Firmware Upgrade

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