Looking for super stable router for Dad

Discussion in 'Wireless Buying Advice' started by CBRworm, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. CBRworm

    CBRworm New Around Here

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    Hi - long time lurker, first time poster. My dad has an old Belkin F5D8230-4 Pre-N MIMO router which has been working fairly well for many years, combined with a Netgear WNDR2000 repeater.

    He has 3 iPads, an 3 iPhone 4S's 1 iPhone 5, and three laptops with Intel 6300 cards in them in use in the house most of the time.

    He also has a Sony smart TV connected via WiFi.

    He recently added an AppleTV to a downstairs TV (1 floor directly below the router) and has found that he cannot reliably stream a Netflix or iTunes movie.

    After the AppleTV was installed he mentioned that his internet has really been quite poor for about 1 year. I used inSSIDer to verify that he has good signal strength and that there are not many other devices infringing on his frequency. Just to be safe I switched his stuff from channel 6 to channel 11. His house is about 6,000 sq. ft under air and is on a couple acre waterfront lot - no other networks were in range with a signal above about -86dbm.

    If I connect directly to his comcast modem I get consistent 25mbps downloads and about 4mbps up. Through the wireless with only one client attached I get about 2mbps down and almost no upstream speed. It used to be the same as a direct connection to the modem.

    I have a Linksys E4200 that has been fairly stable, but it slows down occasionally on the 2.4ghz side which can be fixed by going into the router utility and deleting any single client DHCP reservation - about once every few months.

    I see a lot of love for the ASUS routers, but I don't know if the people using them are more tech savvy that don't mind being on the bleeding edge of technology, or if they are truly better than the current Linksys stuff. I have had bad prior experience with Netgear routers that keeps them off my list. I see a lot of good reviews for ASUS, but there seem to be a lot of firmware issues. I see a lot of disdain for Linksys, but I wonder if the expectations are higher from non-techy people with the linksys gear. Apple gets no love...

    I am going to put my E4200 in his house temporarily to see if it solves the problem, but ultimately I want to have a 5ghz network set up for the TV's and maybe the iPad 3s, and a 2.4ghz network for everything else - basically that is how I have my house set up.

    My options as I see them:

    Asus RT-N66U or AC66U - concerns - long term stability - there will be no ability to reset or update firmware once installed.

    Linksys EA4500 or 6500. I don't know which is better, same restrictions apply as to no resets or firmware updates allowed once installed. The EA4500 is appealing because it is essentially the same as what I have, which I know works acceptably (it could be better)

    Apple Airport Extreme - the advantage I see with this one is that I know a few people who have them and they say it is truly set it and forget it. I am sure the range would be lower than the others - this may be an issue. Ideally I would like to get rid of the range extender.

    The Belkin router he is running now literally had not been power cycled in 5+ years up until we connected the AppleTV - I can't put something in that is less reliable.

    Thoughts - other recommendations?
     
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  3. stevech

    stevech Part of the Furniture

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    ASUS router might be overkill/too complex.

    Sounds like a $75 11n router will do. Apple WiFi, it seems, and as you'd expect, it harder to work with for non-Apple user devices, as I've read. I had one experience myself with that, and it confirms.

    I'll leave the specific recommendations to others. And you can read the reviews on the main web page here, and read reviews on newegg.com (toss out the highs and lows and those written by dolts).

    I'd also try to get the TV off of WiFi and use a cat5 connection, or HomePlug or MoCA.

    The new downstairs AppleTV gizmo.. may be getting a weak WiFi signal. A new router won't cure that, but either of the two in the preceeding paragraph will.
     
  4. jakewash

    jakewash New Around Here

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    Not true, router wifi signals have varying strengths at different locations, hence the checks at locations A, B, C....... a new router just might have an effect on that lone location but there is a possibility of weaker signals else where. I would agree for intensive streaming nothing beats a wired connection.

    Any chance of locating the router in a different/closer location that might allow better reception at the location causing problems?
     
  5. CBRworm

    CBRworm New Around Here

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    The signal strength is excellent at the AppleTV, it is just the piece that broke the camel's back. It highlighted the fact that my Dad's internet to wifi connection doesn't work for long under high load conditions.

    At my house I have 4 MOCA nodes that work great (truly excellent), but my dad is just looking to get his wireless back for ~$200. I want to go dual band so I can put his high bandwidth devices (TV's) on 5.4ghz where they won't be affected (or affect) if someone comes in and connects an 802.11b laptop at the other end of the house.

    The distance between the router and the AppleTV and the Sony Smart TV are all within 20 feet, but it is not feasible to run Ethernet cables. There are client devices though, that are on the edge of 2.4ghz range - so I don't want to make it any worse than what he had - and his old Belkin Pre-N router actually had pretty good range.
     
  6. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    If I'm not mistaken, the F5D8230-4 used Airgo's pre-N chipset, which I found had excellent range. Qualcomm purchased Airgo years ago and that was the end of that.

    A 6,000 sq ft house should have a few access points connected via Ethernet. That will provide higher throughput than a repeater and handle more clients.

    My general advice is to stay away from draft 802.11ac routers for now, especially if you want trouble-free operation. You are more likely to run into compatibility issues with older clients and devices with a draft 11ac router than with 802.11n, So that means an EA4500 not an EA6500 if you are considering Linksys.

    Keep in mind that the Linksys EAs can be remotely managed if you opt into the Smart WiFi features.

    It's possible that it's not the addition of the AppleTV that was the last straw. Very possibly it's just the wireless radio in the Belkin that has been failing. Or, since it was pre-N, just incompatibilities with actual 802.11n that have been holding link rates down.

    Speaking of which, get a laptop in there and check to see what your actual best-case link rates are. And you should be using WPA2/AES encryption to get the higher (> 54 Mbps) link rates.

    I can't speak to long-term reliability for any routers, since I don't use them that long.
     
  7. Andrew911tt

    Andrew911tt Occasional Visitor

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    I gave my dad Dlink DIR-655 (I also have one) and have not had a single call about it
     
  8. CBRworm

    CBRworm New Around Here

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    Yes, his does use the Airgo pre-N chipset and it's range is quite good, if it weren't for that, I would just get him the AirPort Extreme (since most of his client devices are Apple), except I suspect it might not reach as far as his current one.

    I am fairly certain that the router has been degrading for some period of time and the addition of the AppleTV just brought it to light. According to one of my brothers, it hasn't worked properly in two years. On the other hand, my parents iPads and laptops are attached only to wifi and they have no complaints other than Netflix and now the AppleTV.

    Maybe I should give him my E4200V2 and buy myself a new router...at the very least I may let him borrow it to see if his problems go away.

    I am not interested in any of the cloud services or cloud control of the new equipment. I was fine when I had to use serial cables to configure access points. I shouldn't say that, the web interfaces are great, but I have no interest in utilizing the cloud - or the internet in general - to configure my router or their router. I just want to put something in place that will work for many years at least as reliably as their old one, and have some additional bandwidth for the TV's.

    Due to the layout of the house, running ethernet is not likely. Luckily 95% of his wireless requirements are all in about a 2,000 sq-ft area with only two regular users at the other end of the house - and then only at night.
     
  9. varxx

    varxx New Around Here

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    See my post here.

    Other than a Macbook owned by my daughter, who's normally away at college, my entire network is PC (either Windows or Linux). Still, it's the Apple Airport Extreme Base Station (5th gen.) that has been by far the fastest and most reliable wifi router of the half-dozen that we've tried. The range is plenty good, too. It's providing wifi for two desktops, several laptops, at least three smartphones, one tablet, and a TV that streams Netflix.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
  10. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Amen - the AP Extreme might not be the most fully featured device out there - but it does what most people need...

    Don't need a Mac/iDevice to use one...
     
  11. CaptainSTX

    CaptainSTX Very Senior Member

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    For Stability Consider a UPS

    Regardless of what router your select connecting it and your modem to a UPS can improve stability. A surge protector doesn't condition the power and only does what its name implies protect from over voltage situations.

    The everyday glitches in electrical power can cause all sorts of problems with maintaining network stability and or connectivity.

    I was losing Internet connectivity every four of five days. This required me to power cycle first my modem then the router. I changed out my router twice and still had problems. I finally plugged both the modem and my router into a UPS. No more problems.

    I have been using both the routers that I replaced as APs and they work fine so it wasn't a hardware problem but basic electricity 101.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 30, 2013
  12. Wizard19

    Wizard19 New Around Here

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    I would suggest the ASUS RT-N65U. The performance (routing and wireless range) is excellent. Not sure it would reach everywhere in a 6,000 sq ft house but, as mentioned previously, maybe you can use some LAN cable or powerline connections for the hard to reach spots. I recently upgraded from a Dlink DIR-628 to the N65U and the set up took just a minute or two. It is easy to administer and the preformance is incrediable. (I then switched to the RT-66U, just for the option to load some alternative firmware, but the N65U was great and easy to use). It probably is a little overkill and will probably be in the low $100's for price.
     
  13. zer0nix

    zer0nix New Around Here

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    what kind of upsses would you recommend to a complete noob on the matter?


    seems like there are a number of different technologies and a lot of reading to do:
    http://www.smps.us/uninterruptible-power-supply.html
     
  14. CaptainSTX

    CaptainSTX Very Senior Member

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    UPS Recommendation

    I use units from APC. I have a 350 VA (200 watts) unit which is enough for my modem and routers. There are other UPS makers. Look for what is available locally and buy on sale. With the heavy batteries free shipping for a UPS is difficult to find.

    The size UPS you select will depend on what you want to accomplish. What you stated you are looking to do is increase the stability of your network equipment by reducing fluctuations in the input power. In addition you will get a few minutes of run time for your modem and router before they blink off when the battery draws down if you select a 350 VA unit. Buy a 550, 750 or 1000 VA unit if you want longer run time.

    If you have a laptop with a decent battery and a larger UPS you might be able to surf the web for an hour or more.
     
  15. CBRworm

    CBRworm New Around Here

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    So, I have been letting him use my E4200V2 for a few weeks now and all his problems are resolved - he is happy.

    Now, do I leave him with my working router or get him something else that may work better, or not as well.

    I think I will just let him keep my E4200 for a while.

    His network stuff (and his DVR) are on a UPS. The DVR solely because it takes so long to reboot after a power glitch.
     

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