T-Mobile.com has ASUS TM-AC1900 Wireless-AC1900 Dual-Band Gigabit Router (Rebranded RT-AC68U) on sale for $99 - $40 w/ promo code WIFI40 = $59. Shipping is free. Thanks Cmoney100g, DanHoo & itzlikedat [Discuss]
Editor's Notes & Price Research
For a review of this router, head over to PCMag and CNET. This router is also compatible with third party firmware such as DD-WRT, Tomato and Asuswrt-Merlin. This price matches our previous Frontpage Deal from August
Save $40 with promo code WIFI40
You can flash this router to an RT-AC68U: http://www.bayareatech
- Avoid CFE 22.214.171.124 from the RT-AC68P, as the newest Asus firmwares (126.96.36.199.384.20624 and later) detect this on the TM-AC1900 and revert the mod. Instead, use CFE 188.8.131.52 US AiMesh; it was dumped from an actual RT-AC68U by user goggles99 at SNB. The CFE generator by danielfeng has this version available.
- Some TM-AC1900 ship with a firmware version that allows SSH access. If you get one of these, you can skip steps 5-10 of the guide. To check if you have SSH available, go to Administration > System in the router configuration interface. If your firmware permits SSH, there will be a setting to Enable SSH. If so, choose Yes, then Apply. Move on to step 11.
- The T-Mobile certificates have to be wiped from the mtd5 partition. This can be done after all of the steps in the guide have been completed, but must be done before any newer version of ASUS firmware is flashed. As of this writing, the firmware included in the bayareatechpros guide is 184.108.40.206.376.3626, so the steps below should be performed when this version is running on your router.
Wiping T-Mobile certificates from the mtd5 partition
These instructions originally existed on SNB before that forum thread was shut down . Credit to XVortex and rdallen. After you've performed these steps, you can flash 220.127.116.11.384.21045 (and possibly newer) using the GUI.
# Backup MTD5 (dd produces identical bin) cat /dev/mtd5 > /jffs/mtd5_backup.bin # Copy mtd5_backup.bin from router using scp # From host: scp firstname.lastname@example.org:/jffs/mtd5_backup.bin ./ # Mount MTD5 mkdir /tmp/asus_jffs mount -t jffs2 /dev/mtdblock5 /tmp/asus_jffs # Copy mtd5 files from router using scp # From host: scp email@example.com:/tmp/asus_jffs/* ./ # Wipe mtd5 files and reboot rm -rf /tmp/asus_jffs/* sync && umount /tmp/asus_jffs rm -rf /jffs/.sys/RT-AC68U nvram unset fw_check && nvram commit && reboot
Note: SNB disallowed discussion about converting TM-AC1900 to RT-AC68U with AiMesh . Go to T-Mobile OEM to RT-AC68U for further discussion.
If you are having problems accessing the mini-CFE webserver this works:
- Power off the router using the power button
- Set your PC's IP to 192.168.29.2 (assuming the recovery mode is gateway is 192.168.29.1)
- Navigate to 192.168.29.1 using your browser -- the browser continue to try and access the page until it is available
- Press and hold the reset button while powering-on the router
- When the mini-CFE webpage appears on the browser, release the reset button
- As long as the browser status is still spinning -- looking for a webpage -- the mini CFE web page will load
Top 4 questions now at the top:
Q: I'm being charged for shipping! It said free shipping.
A: Get to the final checkout page where you enter your CC #. The shipping charge will be removed there as it suggests on the initial item page's banner: "Buy over $20 of accessories, get FREE SHIPPING at checkout".
NOTE: Not only is shipping free (once you get to the end of checkout) - but OVERNIGHT SHIPPING is also free.
Q: Will this work with [insert your cable provider name here]?
A: This is a router NOT a cable modem. It will work with ANY provider's cable modem.
Q: I just need a router -- do I need to worry about flashing this?
A: No! Do so only if you want: Newer/more frequent bug fixes, security patches, need features in the official or alternate firmware options. (See similar Q+A below for a more detailed answer)
Q: I've never upgraded firmware / a router before. Should I start with this one?
A: Probably not. It's more complex than most due to T-Mobile locking it down preventing 'simple' upgrades to alternate firmware. (See similar Q+A below for a more detailed answer)
Q: What makes this so slick of a deal?
A: Even though it is 3 years old, the router is currently rated the #1 AC1900 router [N600 Mbps (2.4 GHz) + AC1300 Mbps (5.0 GHz) speeds] available on at least one dedicated networking site review. The identical official ASUS router runs around $130, so this is less than half the price.
Q: What is missing with T-Mobile firmware? Can I use without flashing to ASUS/Merlin?
A: With stock T-Mobile firmware, you have default/forced Quality of service (QoS) optimized for T-Mobile and perhaps other carrier Wi-Fi calling. It is very stable and the performance is great. But you cannot use it as a repeater. (edit: port forwarding definitely works on T-Mobile stock firmware). If you need these features, you must flash other firmware.
Q: What's the difference between this and a N / 2.4 GHz router?
A: This router has 5GHz band which delivers much higher throughput, and less interference in WiFi crowded areas (apartments, tight housing area) since 5 GHz band has 23 non-overlapping channels (for comparison 2.4 GHz band has only 3).
Q: Why do I have horrible range on 5 GHz? Why is my 2.4 GHz network so slow? Is this router bad?
A: This happens to ALL 5GHz routers. The higher the frequency, the less it can penetrate solid objects such as walls, floors, carpet, furniture, TV's. Place your router in different locations , and adjust the antenna orientation .
2.4 GHz travels farther and through solid objects better, but is slower and gets a lot more interference from other routers and devices (remote control toys, microwaves, wireless speakers, baby monitors, etc..). If you have trouble with 2.4 GHz band, use tools like inSSIDer (Windows) or WiFi Analyzer (Android ) to find the least congested channel in your area. Stick to one of the three non-overlapping channels (1, 6 or 11) .
Q: My device only sees the 2.4 GHz SSID! Where is the 5 GHz AC?
A: Assuming 5GHz is still enabled in the Asus router (should have an indicator light), the client device probably does not have the right antenna + chipset to see or use 5GHz -- supporting only the older 2.4GHz standard. Many notebooks can have the WiFi module replaced with an upgraded card, but you'd want to research that particular model to make sure the antenna configuration supports 5GHz. Upgrade the wireless network card in your device or upgrade your device. Intel or NetGear cards run about $10-$20 on eBay and can sometimes upgrade a cheap laptop that only supported one band to others or upgrade from slower AC to faster AC. It's not just the router, it's the router + device that lets you get a certain level of speed.
Note: some devices can only connect to certain channels in 5GHz band so experiment with channels starting from 36 up to 165.
Q: Can I use this router with my current modem?
A: Yes. But make sure to turn off the modem routing functionality (if any) by switching it to "Bridge mode" to avoid conflicts .
Q: Can I reuse my old router to fill in Wi-Fi dead zones in my house/apt?
A: Yes. You can set it up as an Access Point (AP) per this guide .
Q: My T-Mobile order states that I'm receiving an ASKEY router. Isn't it supposed to be ASUS?
A: Askey is a subsidiary of ASUS. Everyone is receiving a T-Mobile branded ASUS RT-AC68U router.
Q: Mine worked for a few days now can't work even a few feet from the unit on one or both bands
A: You likely have a hardware failure especially if you've tried different settings, different devices and different firmware. Initiate a return or exchange. (Only a handful have experienced this and some have on other brands of routers too)
Q: Why do I need to worry about flashing this?
A: You don't. For many people the T-Mobile firmware will work fine. However it is known to have issues with certain functions in recent builds breaking compatibility with some devices (Xbox online gaming) and may be lacking in recent security fixes (hackers attacking the router itself not your computer). For those reasons it's suggested to consider going to the official ASUS firmware at a minimum, Merlin optionally or the many other open source ones listed below if you feel you are a power user and want extra functionality and tweaking ability.
Q: Why is it so hard to flash this unit? I've put open source firmware on other routers before in under 5 clicks/5 minutes..
A: The T-Mobile firmware disabled the emergency bootloader. That prevents you from putting any other firmware on it. Therefore the vast majority of the steps are about replacing the bootloader with an open one and increasing the size of the storage partition to accommodate newer firmware. Once you are through this part, putting other firmware on is going to be no different than any other router.
Q: Can you give a summary of what is being done by all of the steps documented below and throughout the thread by various people?
1) Replace the bootloader with the one from a regular RT-AC68U. The purpose is to allow flashing other firmware.
* This involves cloning the hardware information from your current bootloader into the one being flashed. It requires running commands directly on your router and copying files to it's file system.
2) Flash a specific version of the official ASUS firmware (376.3626)
* This will increase the partition size from 32 to 64 MB which allows you to subsequently upload any newer version.
* You will need to enter recovery mode first: holding down the reset button while powering on and continuing to hold it until the firmware is uploaded by the emergency recovery page.
3) Wipe all NVRAM settings. This clears out stale data from all firmware that has been on the device before.
* Turn off the router, hold down the WPS button while turning it on and keep holding it for about 15 seconds after power up, then reboot again.
4) Flash to a preferred firmware.
* If official ASUS or Merlin, can be done directly from the router's upgrade page.
* If alternate such as OpenWRT, DD-WRT, Tomato (any flavor), then you must use the recovery mode.
5) Wipe all NVRAM settings again.
This TM-AC1900 router is one of the few routers that supports most major 3rd party firmware. It can be flashed over to a ASUS RT-AC68U to support the following 3rd party firmware:
John's Merlin Fork
Tomato by Shibby
Open-WRT There is NO open source driver for Broadcom WiFi so Open-WRT cannot support Wi-Fi functionality at all.
DO NOT flash if you do not have the need to do so. This router will works FINE out of the box for the average person using stock T-Mobile firmware.
Note that there is a chance of bricking the router if you do not follow the CFE changing instructions properly.
VERY BASIC OUTLINE OF THE PROCESS
1) You will need to enable telnet or SSH on the router in order to send it commands. You probably can't enable them immediately on the firmware version it comes with. So you have the option of reverting to earlier firmware which lets you enable telnet or
2) Telnet or SSH into the router and extract a copy of your router's CFE bootloader.
3) Upload your router's CFE bootloader to https://cfeditor.pipeli
4) Use mtd-write to flash the now customized Asus CFE bootloader to your router. (Note there are 2 versions of mtd-write (v2 & v3) with slightly different syntax.)
5) Flash your choice of firmware using the Asus Restore Utility or MiniCFE web interface, generally choosing to first flash Asus firmware 376.3626 because it expands the rootfs partition from 32MB to 64MB and this is a prerequisite for many firmware.
DETAILED FLASHING INSTRUCTIONS
--- User Bootymonger's instructions using SSH and WinSCP - LINK.
--> Additional steps using some ASUS software (sushiserv) - LINK
--- User Stratuscaster's instructions (updated 12/28/2016). Based on Bootymonger's steps, but in more detail - LINK
--- User jasonbuechler's screen recordings and instructions (updated 12/23/2016). Sorta based on Stratuscaster's and munchy_cool's guides. (OS X + no USB + no hex editing + no new apps) - LINK
--- User Engineer's instructions using Telnet and a USB flash drive (use next link to enable telnet first) - LINK.
--- Old thread with telnet instructions in Wiki - LINK.
--- munchy_cool wrote an OS X CFE guide (thanks munchy_cool): https://mega.nz/#!rUdSDbRK!dmbn
--- Step-by-step video using Windows 10 and Telnet. Check comments if your T-Mobile CellSpot is on 18.104.22.168.376_3169. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_giMfT
Note 1: In the video the person doesn't transfer/copy over the WPS "secret" code, so don't forget to do that. Same process as transferring/copying mac except you search for "secret" which should be the WPS code on the back of the router.
Note 2: It's safer and faster to use the "cfe.exe" file which transfers the MAC addresses for you.
--- Another (original but outdated) guide by JSquare here: https://slickdeals.net/forums/showpost.php?p=
QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE FOR FLASHING OPERATIONS
This command shows the board revision
nvram get boardrev
This command shows the hardware revision
nvram get HW_ver
This command shows the bootloader version (CFE version)
nvram get bl_version
Hardware NVRAM Reset:
Turn power off to the router by disconnecting the power cable
Wait 10 seconds
Press and hold the WPS button
Restore power to router while continuing to hold WPS button
Continue to hold WPS button for 20 seconds
Place router into Restore / Recovery mode:
Turn power off to the router by disconnecting the power cable
Wait 10 seconds
Press and hold the Reset button
Restore power to router while continuing to hold Reset button
Continue to hold Reset button for 20 seconds
Different logins might be needed depending on FW
Default T-mobile Router IP is 192.168.29.1
Default Asus Router IP is 192.168.1.1
admin/admin; admin/password; root/admin
Different versions of mtd-write require different commands:
mtd-write version 2: ./mtd-write -i new_cfe.bin -d boot
mtd-write version 3: ./mtd-write new_cfe.bin boot
If you get a permission denied error when running mtd-write, run the following command and try again:
chmod u+x mtd-write
Link to CFE.exe utility which will copy and paste the MAC address and WPS code for you
To check your order status, click the "View Order" link in the top right of your email, or use:
If you are planning to use USB 3.0 device simultaneously with 2.4ghz devices keep in mind your range and speed may be reduced due to interference.
Reference below whitepaper from Intel for more details.
USB 3.0* Radio Frequency Interference on 2.4 GHz Devices
This router can be easily overclocked if you are using Asuswrt-Merlin. I think it can be done with TomatoUSB and other custom firmwares.
Step 1. Log into router via SSH
Step 2. get current clock settings (for your information only)
command: nvram get clkfreq
This will return two numbers. These are cpu clock freq and ram clock freq. Default is 800 for CPU and 666 for RAM.
Step 3. Set overclocked values
command: nvram set clkfreq=x,y
x is CPU freq: I went in steps to 1000, 1200, 1400. I hit instability like lost connections, reboot etc at 1400. I am running stable at 1200.
y is RAM freq: If you have upgraded the CFE during the unlock process, you should be able to go to 800 MHz
Step 4: Commit to nvram
command: nvram commit && reboot
Step 5: Login back into router after reboot and check clk settings as described in Step 2.
For those noting that the CPU and power amps are running hot -- they do, a lot hotter than most smaller routers. The fix that can drop the CPU temp by 60*F (190* to 130*) and the amps by 25*F (130* to 105*) is to plug in a USB fan meant for cooling laptops and place it against the back of the router. See this post for an image showing the reduction in temps in just 10-20 minutes: https://slickdeals.net/forums/showpost.php?p=
If you chose to overclock pay attention to the change in temperatures and compensate accordingly.
Note: Its temperature is perfectly normal so don't worry too much about the slightly high temperature!
No MU-MIMO support! (Note it's not just the router that needs MU-MIMO support, but the client needs it as well. While there are quite a few routers that support MU-MIMO, there are few client devices that currently implement the technology.)
Fine-prints on back of the router:
Property of T-Mobile USA, Inc. Not For Resale