802.11ac AIMeshed with 802.11ax - how does that work?

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iadjunct

Occasional Visitor
802.11ax and ac work fundamentally differently. With a single-AP configuration, the ax will talk to ac clients in an ac mode and, when it talks to ax clients, tells the ac clients to effectively shut up for a bit.

In a mesh situation, where I have two 802.11ac ASUS routers, if I add the 802.11ax router into the mix, should I even keep the old two on the network? How does the mesh work when they're all on the same channel but sometimes a single router talks 802.11ax?

For reference, I have two RT-AC66U_B1 units and one RT-AX88U unit.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I don't believe its as simple as you stated?

When on the same channels, the AX router and clients will talk much faster and for substantially more 'data' shared to each other than when the AX router is connected and talking to AC clients. The time slices shared should be equal in total, I believe.

This is true of not just an AX router within an AiMesh mixed network, but also when it senses other routers on the same control and upper/lower channels it needs/uses too.

An AX router 'talking' with an AX client will seem faster because it transfers more data for the same time slice. But all have to share those timeslices within the local, limited WiFi 5GHz spectrum that they are in.

In your router and for the foreseeable future, you shouldn't have to worry about any of this.

There are not that many AX client devices around. :)
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
oh I was answering that the OP's AX device would work well with his AC clients because 802.11 ax is backward compatible with 802.11 ac

That was very cryptic of you! ;)
 

iadjunct

Occasional Visitor
I don't believe its as simple as you stated?

When on the same channels, the AX router and clients will talk much faster and for substantially more 'data' shared to each other than when the AX router is connected and talking to AC clients. The time slices shared should be equal in total, I believe.

This is true of not just an AX router within an AiMesh mixed network, but also when it senses other routers on the same control and upper/lower channels it needs/uses too.

An AX router 'talking' with an AX client will seem faster because it transfers more data for the same time slice. But all have to share those timeslices within the local, limited WiFi 5GHz spectrum that they are in.

In your router and for the foreseeable future, you shouldn't have to worry about any of this.

There are not that many AX client devices around. :)

My main issue stems partly from the fact that the AIMesh already uses the same channel on all APs, even when they're connected via a wire. This limits my bandwidth to the max bandwidth of a single channel instead of using two, and there seems to be no way to change that without turning it into just a normal AP and not an AIMesh node.

Then add in ax capability and you have a case where *one* AP speaks ax and *two* APs speak ac... Which device to clients connect to? If the ac appears slightly stronger and coaxes all my ax devices to connect to it instead, then I've completely given up all ax capability - and even for the other devices, all the advantage I could get by having predominately ax communication is sacrificed by having to share even more time with the ac devices.

It seems the AIMesh is a very performance-limited way to extend a network which has very limited usefulness for any other purpose, and can interfere with efficient operation...
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
The common issue here seems to be AiMesh? As implemented, it doesn't seem to be able to give any convenience benefits and the maximum performance possible at the same time. Ignoring AiMess for now (for me and my customers).

Your assumptions that a router speaks AX or AC is fundamentally incorrect. Even if we had AX clients to use in our networks today. An AX router is not capable of being backward compatible with AC clients unless it has actual AC hardware/logic. It will either 'see' or not 'see' a client device, based on that.

When we have more AX clients this conversation will be more interesting. Right now I think that a non-draft AX router will have features and configuration capabilities that will address these type of situations more directly.

Going back to your original post, I prefer building networks for my customers with a single router. If your network environment allows you to do the same, that is what I would suggest as your goal too.

Having exhausted all possibilities of having just a single router (including moving the router to a more central location, having it at least 10' above ground level, having at least 3' free air around it in all dimensions, positioning the antennae optimally, etc.), then I would add another router as an AP and readjust 'everything' to have even coverage with minimal overlap between the routers in all main gathering/living areas.

Adding a 3rd AP is something I'm called in for which results in me usually simply getting rid of the 2nd AP instead. Resulting in a less complicated network, a faster overall network and a much more stable network too.

If you are really required to use the main router and 2 additional AP's, then I would physically set them up so that the AX router is in the physical location where it will serve the most AX clients for most of the time.

Yes, trade-offs. This is WiFi at it's 2019 best. :)

Here is a crude diagram of what I envision, assuming the main router and the 2nd AP are the furthest from the most lived in area(s) that will be served by the AX router/AP:

Corner/BSMT ~15'/Wall(s) BSMT Living RM ~30'/Walls/Floors
Main RT-AC66U_B1 ==========>2nd AP RT-AC66U_B1==========================3rd AP 'AX'


Note that this is not in any AiMess configuration. This is strictly wired AP mode. :)
 

iadjunct

Occasional Visitor
The common issue here seems to be AiMesh? As implemented, it doesn't seem to be able to give any convenience benefits and the maximum performance possible at the same time. Ignoring AiMess for now (for me and my customers).

Your assumptions that a router speaks AX or AC is fundamentally incorrect. Even if we had AX clients to use in our networks today. An AX router is not capable of being backward compatible with AC clients unless it has actual AC hardware/logic. It will either 'see' or not 'see' a client device, based on that.

When we have more AX clients this conversation will be more interesting. Right now I think that a non-draft AX router will have features and configuration capabilities that will address these type of situations more directly.

Going back to your original post, I prefer building networks for my customers with a single router. If your network environment allows you to do the same, that is what I would suggest as your goal too.

Having exhausted all possibilities of having just a single router (including moving the router to a more central location, having it at least 10' above ground level, having at least 3' free air around it in all dimensions, positioning the antennae optimally, etc.), then I would add another router as an AP and readjust 'everything' to have even coverage with minimal overlap between the routers in all main gathering/living areas.

Adding a 3rd AP is something I'm called in for which results in me usually simply getting rid of the 2nd AP instead. Resulting in a less complicated network, a faster overall network and a much more stable network too.

If you are really required to use the main router and 2 additional AP's, then I would physically set them up so that the AX router is in the physical location where it will serve the most AX clients for most of the time.

Yes, trade-offs. This is WiFi at it's 2019 best. :)

Here is a crude diagram of what I envision, assuming the main router and the 2nd AP are the furthest from the most lived in area(s) that will be served by the AX router/AP:

Corner/BSMT ~15'/Wall(s) BSMT Living RM ~30'/Walls/Floors
Main RT-AC66U_B1 ==========>2nd AP RT-AC66U_B1==========================3rd AP 'AX'


Note that this is not in any AiMess configuration. This is strictly wired AP mode. :)

Interesting...

I was being slightly careless with words earlier. When I say an "ax AP," I really mean "an AP capable of hosting AX clients," which usually also has support for AC clients using different logic (and possibly a different radio altogether). I believe the RT-AX88U is described by this, or else I am terribly confused as to why my ac device can talk to the ax AP.

And this is where my description of "switching" comes in - an AP which supports both AX and AC will necessarily have to switch back and forth (which is where I was going when I said that they "work fundamentally differently" in the OP) because, unlike ac/n, the ax router can't just talked slower and slightly differently to an ac client like an ac host can to an n client. And thus was born my question: is there any point to having AIMesh set up mixed with AC/AX. Or, more fundamentally, is there any point in AIMesh/AIMess at all?

And this seems to be where you and I both ended up (for me, it was after I learned that I couldn't tell them to be on separate channels): there's no point, and if we need that coverage we should enable an additional AP. Both my RT-AC86U devices are now offline as the single RT-AX88U seems to be able to handle it, though signal in a far room is somewhat weak (which is leading me to need to figure out how to coax the iPhone into telling me what its current TX rate and MCS is).

Anyway, thank you very much for your responses!
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Interesting...

I was being slightly careless with words earlier. When I say an "ax AP," I really mean "an AP capable of hosting AX clients," which usually also has support for AC clients using different logic (and possibly a different radio altogether). I believe the RT-AX88U is described by this, or else I am terribly confused as to why my ac device can talk to the ax AP.

And this is where my description of "switching" comes in - an AP which supports both AX and AC will necessarily have to switch back and forth (which is where I was going when I said that they "work fundamentally differently" in the OP) because, unlike ac/n, the ax router can't just talked slower and slightly differently to an ac client like an ac host can to an n client. And thus was born my question: is there any point to having AIMesh set up mixed with AC/AX. Or, more fundamentally, is there any point in AIMesh/AIMess at all?

And this seems to be where you and I both ended up (for me, it was after I learned that I couldn't tell them to be on separate channels): there's no point, and if we need that coverage we should enable an additional AP. Both my RT-AC86U devices are now offline as the single RT-AX88U seems to be able to handle it, though signal in a far room is somewhat weak (which is leading me to need to figure out how to coax the iPhone into telling me what its current TX rate and MCS is).

Anyway, thank you very much for your responses!

Wait, so you actually have an AX client device or two?

I've already stated that AiMesh is not what I would be spending any significant time on. It simply doesn't work how I want it to (i.e. reliably or logically).

The speeds that both AC and AX can 'talk' to client devices is extremely fast. There should only be an overall benefit from mixing these two types of routers in a logical way within a single network. AiMesh doesn't offer that as you've verified.

The most logical way to utilize both routers (and I'm assuming that all connected devices will have access to all resources available on this network) is to assign AC clients to the AC router and AX clients to an AX router.

Anything else is less than optimal in my experience (with 'G', 'N' and 'AC' WiFi).

The time slice sharing will still happen just as it should for WiFi to work. But the end result will be that the AX clients should be getting the higher throughput and responsiveness of the total available on the network.

Glad that you have a single router that is capable of covering your home. How weak is that iPhone signal? Does it even matter for what you can do on it?
 

Dan Nelson

New Around Here
I have an AX11000 (AX spec) and an AC86U (AC spec) using AiMesh (wifi connection backhaul to router) - Asus devices that can deliver AiMesh with AX are very very limited - unless you really really want to drop serious coin. AX6100 not yet released - no idea on pricing for it either.

I needed to upgrade my home network to handle all of my wifi security cameras and streaming TV reqs... I even had quotes for cabling guys to install cables across my house if this AiMesh didn't work out as advertised. I only have those two devices across a pretty large house. 60 or so clients (2/3 of which are wifi) - I have 10 1080p wifi streaming cameras in the mix.

I just set the AiMesh up this weekend and I've NOT found any performance lag for any of my devices. Great coverage. No lag. No issues. The AX11000 is a beast! The two devices really cover my 2 story house very well. I can't speak for any other config, but I really LOVE how this is working out for me. I know there aren't many AX devices out there, so I'm not really in a big rush. I know I have future proof HW, so I'll be happy for time to come. If I need to add more clients - maybe I'll add another AC86U, but right now my performance is pretty fantastic. Cost was high, but it was a LOT cheaper than having guys run cable across my house.
 

RKG81

Occasional Visitor
For what it’s worth, I am running two XT8s and two CT8s and we have two iPhone 11 pros (wifi 6) here and even though I have set the firmware setting for the 5ghz-2 band to AX Only, non AX devices are still able to connect to the 5ghz-2. Could this be a glitch?

I have set the 5ghz disconnect to -55db to facilitate better roaming, and I have turned OFF smart connect and enabled OFDMA/MU-MIMO and I can report that I get a steady 750mbps download speed as I walk all over my property and I never see any drops. (I pay for 600mbps) My phone (ax) roams as it should. Aimesh has worked just fine for me so far, but I’m still not sure how it handles my iPhone 11 with AX because there’s no way to tell which wifi standard is being employed, from what I can see. All I know is I’m getting wired speeds all over my house and back yard and it jumps to the next node seamlessly as I move around.

So far the only way I found to restrict the 5ghz-2 band to AX devices only is to change the encryption to WPA3 Personal. That way, all other devices stay off that band except for the two iPhone 11 pros (the only two AX devices here)
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@RKG81, AX is just AC with enhancements for AX clients. With 160Hz bandwidth set on an AX RT-AX88U, even 54G clients can connect, so it's not a glitch, its a feature. :)
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Not 160MHz channels, 160Hz bandwidth. :)

Backward compatibility trumps strict performance as 'defaults'. :)
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
No, I didn't. You didn't know? :)
 

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