Looking to upgrade your Asus router‘s firmware to unlock better performance, robust VPN support, and advanced customizations? Installing Asus Merlin firmware is an excellent way to unleash your router‘s full potential.
The process involves just a few simple steps:
Download the correct Asus Merlin firmware for your router model.
Access your router‘s interface and upload the firmware file.
Reboot your router to complete the install.
Customize settings and configure new features like VPN clients.
In this guide, I‘ll provide a full walkthrough of installing Asus Merlin, along with troubleshooting tips and post-setup recommendations. Let‘s dive in!
Why Upgrade to Asus Merlin Firmware?
Most people use the stock firmware that comes pre-installed on Asus consumer routers. However, while functional, the standard firmware is limited.
Asus Merlin offers significant benefits and upgrades:
Better Performance – Merlin improves WiFi speeds by 5-40% for many users through optimizations like FQ-CoDel QoS.
Enhanced Security – Extra protection like anomaly detection and blocklists make your network safer.
Powerful VPN Options – Robust OpenVPN and IPsec clients with advanced policy-based routing.
Greater Control – Unlocks extensive tweaks and settings for network customization.
Regular Updates – New features and improvements added frequently.
For example, in tests by SmallNetBuilder, Asus Merlin boosted the RT-AC86U router‘s WiFi performance versus stock firmware:
|Firmware||2.4 Ghz Speed||5 Ghz Speed|
|Stock Asus||101 Mbps||616 Mbps|
|Asus Merlin||141 Mbps (+40%)||653 Mbps (+6%)|
With a more efficient codebase and thoughtful customization, Asus Merlin unlocks your router‘s full potential.
Checking Asus Router Merlin Compatibility
Asus Merlin is compatible with most modern, higher-end Asus routers. But, it‘s important to verify your specific model supports it before installing.
The official Asus Merlin compatibility list contains all tested models. But in general, these product lines work well:
- RT-AC68U, RT-AC86U, RT-AC88U, RT-AC3100, RT-AC5300
- RT-AX56U, RT-AX58U, RT-AX86U, RT-AX88U
- GT-AC2900, GT-AX11000, GT-AXE11000
- ZenWiFi Pro XT12, GT-AX6000
Higher-end gaming and WiFi 6 routers have fewer limitations with Asus Merlin. The firmware utilizes advanced hardware capabilities.
If your router model isn‘t officially supported, check community forums like SNBForums or Reddit. Users often find workarounds for unsupported models. But stability may be limited.
Once you confirm compatibility, let’s move on to downloading and installing Asus Merlin.
Download Asus Merlin Firmware for Your Model
With hundreds of supported routers, getting the correct firmware file is crucial. Follow these steps:
Visit asuswrt-merlin.net and choose your Asus router model from the dropdown.
Click the “Download” button to go to the file list.
Choose the latest "Release" build for your hardware version. Avoid "Beta/Experimental" unless needed.
Right click the .zip firmware file and choose “Save Link As”.
When downloaded, extract the zip file. You‘ll get a .trx firmware file.
I recommend doing a factory reset on your router before installing major firmware updates like Asus Merlin. This clears any conflicts with old settings.
With the right firmware downloaded, it‘s time to install Merlin!
Uploading Asus Merlin Firmware to Your Router
Follow these steps to upload the custom firmware to your Asus router:
Connect your computer to your router via Ethernet or WiFi.
router.asus.comin your browser. Log into your router interface.
Navigate to the “Administration” tab.
Under “Firmware Upgrade”, select the "Upload" button.
Choose the Asus Merlin .trx firmware file from your downloads.
The router will now upload and flash the firmware. Do not interrupt this process.
The upload can take 5-15 minutes depending on your connection. Once complete, you‘ll see a “Firmware upgrade is done…” message. Almost there!
Rebooting and Accessing the New Asus Merlin Interface
After the firmware finishes uploading, reboot your router to complete the installation:
Unplug your router power cable and plug back in. Wait 2+ minutes as it restarts.
router.asus.comin your browser again and log into the interface.
The Asus Merlin UI will now load. Confirm the upgrade succeeded!
Consider updating to the newest Asus Merlin firmware version on the “Upgrade” tab if prompted. Then browse the menus and customize settings to your needs.
Asus Merlin vs Stock Asus Firmware
To understand the benefits of upgrading to Merlin, let‘s compare some key features against the stock Asus firmware:
|Feature||Stock Asus Firmware||Asus Merlin|
|User Interface||Standard Asus UI||Enhanced UI w/ dark mode|
|File Transfer Protocols||FTP only||SFTP, FTP, WebDAV|
|Network Monitoring||Basic||Robust traffic analyzer|
|Parental Controls||Limited||Expanded web filtering|
|QoS Options||None||Adaptive QoS, FQ-Codel|
|VPN Support||Basic||Advanced OpenVPN & IPsec clients|
|Customization||Minimal tweaking||Extremely flexible options|
As you can see, Asus Merlin provides significant functionality gains in areas like UI customization, file transfers, traffic monitoring, and especially VPN usage.
Initial Asus Merlin Setup Recommendations
Here are some tips for initial setup and configuration after installing Asus Merlin:
Update to newest firmware version from the “Upgrade” tab.
Review settings under “General” and “Administration” tabs.
Configure the traffic analyzer to monitor your network.
Consider installing Entware to add powerful Linux packages.
Check out recommended addons like ntpd, tmate, and awaytool.
Try out the Asia Merlin firmware mod for advanced experimental features.
Take time to dive into the various settings to customize Asus Merlin to your needs. The expanded options can be overwhelming at first!
Setting Up VPN with Asus Merlin
One of the most popular uses of Asus Merlin is configuring a VPN server on your router for secure access to your home network and improved online privacy.
The firmware makes VPN setup easy with powerful clients for protocols like OpenVPN and IPsec. Some benefits:
Secure remote access to your home network.
Route all traffic through the VPN tunnel for total encryption.
Works for devices like smart TVs that normally can‘t run a VPN app.
Policy routing to specify which devices use the VPN tunnel.
I recommend reading this overview to understand Merlin‘s VPN capabilities before you get started.
Here are guides to setting up popular VPN providers:
Configure the VPN client with the server credentials from your provider. Adjust firewall rules and policy routing to tunnel your desired clients/traffic.
With Asus Merlin‘s robust VPN support, you can easily achieve an encrypted network. Keep your data and devices secure.
Common Asus Merlin Issues and Solutions
Although rare, you may encounter some problems when installing or using Asus Merlin firmware:
Slow WiFi speeds – Try tweaking channels, enabling hardware acceleration, or using AiMesh bands for backhaul.
Reverted firmware – Settings like NAT Acceleration or AiMesh can cause reversion. Disable them before upgrading firmware.
VPN connectivity failures – Adjust firewall rules, reboot your router, and verify client configuration.
Unstable performance – A beta firmware or unsupported model can cause glitches. Try stable release or newer router.
Bricked router – Use the rescue/recovery mode and MicroSD firmware rollback if you encounter a bad flash.
For detailed troubleshooting, check the Asus Merlin forums. The knowledgeable community can help diagnose any issues.
With a compatible router model and some care during installation, the process usually goes smoothly! Just take your time.
Additional Asus Merlin Resources
Here are some recommended resources to help you master advanced Asus Merlin features:
Asus Merlin Wiki – Official wiki with incredibly detailed documentation.
SNBForums – Active help forums with a knowledgeable community.
Reddit – User tips and reviews about Asus Merlin.
SmallNetBuilder – Another great router focused forum.
Asus Merlin Blog – Commentary and tutorials from lead developer RMerlin.
Leverage these communities to unlock the full potential of your Asus router with Merlin!
Installing Asus Merlin firmware on your Asus router provides an array of benefits like better performance, robust VPN support, and tons of advanced tweaks.
This guide covered the full process from downloading the right firmware to uploading it to your router, rebooting, and initial configuration.
While the firmware offers powerful customization, avoid overcomplicating things initially. Get comfortable with core options like the traffic analyzer, QoS, and VPN setup before exploring more exotic features.
I hope this tutorial helped you successfully upgrade your compatible Asus router to Asus Merlin. Let me know if you have any other questions!