I have a RT-AC68U which I bought about 6 years ago. How often should we replace/upgrade our wireless routers?
When the regular security updates stop.
My old AVM Fritz!Box stopped getting updates after about 5 years, on the other hand, my Netgear only received 1 update in 2 years, so I replaced it with something from a company that takes wireless routers and networking seriously
I would evaluate what kind of router you have now (low, med, high), how it’s working, how many devices you added since purchasing, and how many devices will be replaced (with wifi 6) soon.
I recently replaced an AC router, low-ish end, with a more mid-tier consumer wifi 6. There were certainly poor signal areas in the house, plus I’ve at least doubled or tripled the number of devices since purchasing. I only have 1 device on Wi-Fi 6, but another is on the way. Even so, many of the devices seem a little snappier. My house isn’t too big, so I got away with a single unit, not mesh.
In an ideal world, stuff would last forever and security vulnerabilities wouldn’t be an issue. Unfortunately, in the land of home routers, we definitely aren’t living in that world. They run warm, but usually don’t have a fan, so they overheat and eventually I think that has a detrimental effect on their reliability and/or speed. Also, software in those routers is not what I would can built to last. If you check for a router firmware update, and there hasn’t been one in more than a year, it’s probably time to start planning for a replacement. It probably uses a version of Linux (like BusyBox) that was out of date when the device first went on sale, and who knows what fixes should have been subsequently applied but have not been.
If you’re technically inclined, you can separate the WiFi from the routing. A small box running pfSense that you can update on your own and a separate WiFi router running in Access Point mode (not being a router) is probably a more secure configuration, and although you then have two separate devices to eventually replace, you don’t necessarily have to spend as much on either, and maybe you upgrade less often when there are new features you desire.
At this point, I would make sure any WiFi device I got was 6E if possible, as the new Samsung phones have already announced they’ll support the ‘E’ mode. Also, you want to make sure it can do WPA3.
You could change firmware to DD WRT, ftp://ftp.dd-wrt.com/betas/2020/12-25-2020-r45109/