A Fine Mesh I'd Like To Be In (RT-AC86U)

MailManX

Occasional Visitor
I currently have (4) T-Mobile TM-AC1900 routers all connected by ethernet Cat6. I've had these old routers for years and love them. They give me the coverage and speed I want and have not given me any trouble. I have given each router it's own SSID so that I can tell which one to use in various parts of the house. HOWEVER, I hate the fact that moving to different parts of the house forces me to manually change to a different SSID. I've dropped numerous video conferences because of that. It is far from seamless.

I like what I've read about AIMesh being able to give all nodes the same SSID and allow the clients to seamlessly switch to the strongest signal as they move around the house. Since I like my old routers and the ASUS web interface, I have decided that I'd like to replace them with (4) of the Amazon "Renewed" RT-AC86U routers for $145 each: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K1QC9FX/?tag=snbforums-20. From all that I've read, this seems like a solid choice. In the past, I have purchased other "Renewed" items from Amazon without getting any lemons. I plan to sell my TM-AC1900 routers.

I have two questions for you:

1. Is AIMesh truly seamless? Can a tablet, for example, that is being used for a video conference, be carried around the house without dropping the call? Will it truly switch between nodes with no intervention by me? This is my number one priority. If it won't work that way, then I won't upgrade. I'll keep what I've got.

2. I have never dealt with Merlin before, but I would like to because I like what I've read about it. The additional control that it adds is really nice. Does Merlin play well with AIMesh?

I welcome any feedback or advice you have, especially on how, or whether, AIMesh allows moving around the house without dropping signal.That is my number one priority!

THANKS!
 

bbunge

Very Senior Member
I currently have (4) T-Mobile TM-AC1900 routers all connected by ethernet Cat6. I've had these old routers for years and love them. They give me the coverage and speed I want and have not given me any trouble. I have given each router it's own SSID so that I can tell which one to use in various parts of the house. HOWEVER, I hate the fact that moving to different parts of the house forces me to manually change to a different SSID. I've dropped numerous video conferences because of that. It is far from seamless.

I like what I've read about AIMesh being able to give all nodes the same SSID and allow the clients to seamlessly switch to the strongest signal as they move around the house. Since I like my old routers and the ASUS web interface, I have decided that I'd like to replace them with (4) of the Amazon "Renewed" RT-AC86U routers for $145 each: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K1QC9FX/?tag=snbforums-20. From all that I've read, this seems like a solid choice. In the past, I have purchased other "Renewed" items from Amazon without getting any lemons. I plan to sell my TM-AC1900 routers.

I have two questions for you:

1. Is AIMesh truly seamless? Can a tablet, for example, that is being used for a video conference, be carried around the house without dropping the call? Will it truly switch between nodes with no intervention by me? This is my number one priority. If it won't work that way, then I won't upgrade. I'll keep what I've got.

2. I have never dealt with Merlin before, but I would like to because I like what I've read about it. The additional control that it adds is really nice. Does Merlin play well with AIMesh?

I welcome any feedback or advice you have, especially on how, or whether, AIMesh allows moving around the house without dropping signal.That is my number one priority!

THANKS!
Since you have wired backhaul you should be good to go with the AC86U's on AiMesh. Yes, Merlin does do well with AiMesh as he is using almost the most recent code from Asus. And roaming around the house will not be a problem with most clients. I have heard of some devices that don't play well with any mesh system. I have also seen that some of the older AC86U's have some issues that seem to have been fixed in more recent production versions. And, you will want to use the Dual Band SmartConnect!
I have been switching between Asus and Merlin firmware on my AC86U for a couple of months. I seem to have the best success with stock Asus (my router lost connection the other night on Merlin..have not had that happen on stock Asus) and I am currently running 3.0.0.4.384_81992. I also use a Pi-Hole for DNS set up to use DoT.
Best of success!
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
I currently have (4) AC1900 routers all connected by ethernet Cat6. I've had these old routers for years and love them. They give me the coverage and speed I want and have not given me any trouble. I have given each router it's own SSID so that I can tell which one to use in various parts of the house. HOWEVER, I hate the fact that moving to different parts of the house forces me to manually change to a different SSID. I've dropped numerous video conferences because of that. It is far from seamless.

I like what I've read about AIMesh being able to give all nodes the same SSID and allow the clients to seamlessly switch to the strongest signal as they move around the house. Since I like my old routers and the ASUS web interface, I have decided that I'd like to replace them with (4) of the Amazon "Renewed" RT-AC86U routers for $145 each: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K1QC9FX/?tag=snbforums-20. From all that I've read, this seems like a solid choice. In the past, I have purchased other "Renewed" items from Amazon without getting any lemons. I plan to sell my TM-AC1900 routers.

I have two questions for you:

1. Is AIMesh truly seamless? Can a tablet, for example, that is being used for a video conference, be carried around the house without dropping the call? Will it truly switch between nodes with no intervention by me? This is my number one priority. If it won't work that way, then I won't upgrade. I'll keep what I've got.

2. I have never dealt with Merlin before, but I would like to because I like what I've read about it. The additional control that it adds is really nice. Does Merlin play well with AIMesh?

I welcome any feedback or advice you have, especially on how, or whether, AIMesh allows moving around the house without dropping signal.That is my number one priority!

THANKS!
It's worth trying... I doubt anyone will tell you that your clients will roam seamlessly in your house... you'll have to try them, but you might want to start with just two 86Us... they have more range than your AC1900s.

OE
 

MailManX

Occasional Visitor
Since you have wired backhaul you should be good to go with the AC86U's on AiMesh. Yes, Merlin does do well with AiMesh as he is using almost the most recent code from Asus. And roaming around the house will not be a problem with most clients. I have heard of some devices that don't play well with any mesh system. I have also seen that some of the older AC86U's have some issues that seem to have been fixed in more recent production versions. And, you will want to use the Dual Band SmartConnect!
I have been switching between Asus and Merlin firmware on my AC86U for a couple of months. I seem to have the best success with stock Asus (my router lost connection the other night on Merlin..have not had that happen on stock Asus) and I am currently running 3.0.0.4.384_81992. I also use a Pi-Hole for DNS set up to use DoT.
Best of success!
Thank you, sir, for the detailed answer. I hope that most of the portable wifi devices in my house will handle the automatic node-switching without any trouble. Unfortunately, I've read posts from people who say that, even with AIMesh, some clients try to hang onto a weaker node for WAY too long. I guess it will come down to experimentation and tweaking. I've dealt with computer software/hardware for long enough to know that NOTHING is a perfect solution.

Unfortunately, I am not as savvy about routers. I've only taught myself enough to handle basic and some optional settings in the OEM firmware. Pi-Hole is a new term to me. Well, sort of new. I've been told a few times over the years (way past) to shut my pie-hole. I guess that dates me a bit. I'm in my 60's. I just looked at the Wiki for Pi-Hole and am now intrigued. I will be researching it more.

Regarding older AC86U's with issues, that makes me a bit leery of buying the Amazon "Renewed" routers. Two days ago, I ordered (2) of them and they arrived today. I have not hooked them up yet. I want to carefully ponder whether I want to keep them or send them back. According to the label on the back, the HARDWARE VERSION is R1.5 and the FIRMWARE VERSION is 3.0.0.4.384. Unfortunately, there are no further numbers listed with the firmware on the label. The SN on one of them is L1IAHNKK0007. Do you know if it's possible to determine from any of those numbers whether this is newer hardware than the problem versions?
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
What year are those routers made in? If from 2018,i would probably be returning them.
 

MailManX

Occasional Visitor
What year are those routers made in? If from 2018,i would probably be returning them.
I'm not sure when they were made and I'm concerned. I will likely send them back. It's only a few dollars more for new ones. Since the main router needs to be the most powerful, I am strongly considering buying one AX88U as the main router since it has the 1.8Ghz quad CPU and 1Gb RAM. Then I'll maybe two or three of the AC88U's as nodes. However, this is just me talking based on looking at specs and reading reviews. If there are some models that play well with each other better than others, I'm open to suggestions.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
The RT-AC88U is not a recommended buy today. I would be looking at the RT-AX88U instead.

You should be able to see the date of manufacture right on the routers?
 

MailManX

Occasional Visitor
The RT-AC88U is not a recommended buy today. I would be looking at the RT-AX88U instead.

You should be able to see the date of manufacture right on the routers?
Since these are refurbs, there was a new SN label over the bottom of the original label on each unit. I used a flat razor blade to peel one of them back without damage. It said "Year of Manufacture 2019". Even though that's good news, I think I've gotten cold feet about them.

As for the RT-AC88U, that was a typo on my part. I actually meant to write that I'd consider adding a couple of RT-AC86U's. Those are easier on the pocket book. I had ruled out the AC88U's because they are too expensive for an AC router these days.

As much as I'd really love to buy three or four of the RT-AX88U's, that's over my budget. That's why I figured maybe ONE as the lead router. One router to rule them all - at least all the nodes on the system!

If I was going to buy extra AX routers as nodes, I'd be limited to the AX92U ($230) or AX3000 ($180). So I either go that route, or buy AC86U's as nodes and worry about upgrading those to AX in the future.
 
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bbunge

Very Senior Member
You are just a kid (I'm in my 70's). My AC86U was also a return to B&H Photo so I saved a few bucks. It was made in 2019 and works well. Plug it in and do a minimal setup and upgrade the firmware and try it out!
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture

MarkyPancake

Senior Member
I've got a HW Rev. 1.5 AC86U manufactured in 2017 and it's been solid and has seen over 26,000 hours of service and counting. I recently added my old AC68U, that the 86U replaced, as an AiMesh node upstairs. Both on Merlin 384.18. I don't use Smart Connect. All working great.
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
I currently have (4) T-Mobile TM-AC1900 routers all connected by ethernet Cat6. I've had these old routers for years and love them. They give me the coverage and speed I want and have not given me any trouble. I have given each router it's own SSID so that I can tell which one to use in various parts of the house. HOWEVER, I hate the fact that moving to different parts of the house forces me to manually change to a different SSID. I've dropped numerous video conferences because of that. It is far from seamless.
Would I be correct in assuming at least three of these routers have been configured as simple access points (APs)?

I too have been a fan of naming SSIDs so I can fine tune what I connect to / know what I'm connecting to. A client should roll from SSID to SSID as signal levels / bit rates indicate. (For that to happen the client must have been set to auto-connect to each SSID at some point in time.) I noticed some of my clients rolled over and some did not. (Some clients are recalcitrant.)

I then tried using the same SSID for everything (all radios, all locations). More, not all, but more of my clients rolled over as they should. (Less overhead for that type of switch over.) Fast forward a year and I think (no one's been complaining) all of my clients are rolling over as they should (client software tends to improve overtime).

Conclusion: Try a single SSID with your existing equipment, you might get lucky.
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I'm not sure when they were made and I'm concerned. I will likely send them back. It's only a few dollars more for new ones. Since the main router needs to be the most powerful, I am strongly considering buying one AX88U as the main router since it has the 1.8Ghz quad CPU and 1Gb RAM. Then I'll maybe two or three of the AC88U's as nodes. However, this is just me talking based on looking at specs and reading reviews. If there are some models that play well with each other better than others, I'm open to suggestions.
Sorry, I meant to type RT-AX58U in post 7 above over the RT-AC88U. :)

I feel that is a better match (for the price) given that you have an RT-AX88U as the main router.
 

MailManX

Occasional Visitor
You are just a kid (I'm in my 70's). My AC86U was also a return to B&H Photo so I saved a few bucks. It was made in 2019 and works well. Plug it in and do a minimal setup and upgrade the firmware and try it out!
Thank you my older brother - I appreciate that info. I have 90 days to make up my mind, so I can play around with one of them for a bit.
 

MailManX

Occasional Visitor

MailManX

Occasional Visitor
Would I be correct in assuming at least three of these routers have been configured as simple access points (APs)?

I too have been a fan of naming SSIDs so I can fine tune what I connect to / know what I'm connecting to. A client should roll from SSID to SSID as signal levels / bit rates indicate. (For that to happen the client must have been set to auto-connect to each SSID at some point in time.) I noticed some of my clients rolled over and some did not. (Some clients are recalcitrant.)

I then tried using the same SSID for everything (all radios, all locations). More, not all, but more of my clients rolled over as they should. (Less overhead for that type of switch over.) Fast forward a year and I think (no one's been complaining) all of my clients are rolling over as they should (client software tends to improve overtime).

Conclusion: Try a single SSID with your existing equipment, you might get lucky.
Yes sir, my four TM-AC1900's have been set up as one router and three access points with OEM firmware. I have a total of (8) SSID's set up: Each router/AP has an SSID for both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz. They work great other than the client switching. I have made sure that the clients are on auto-connect. However, recalcitrant clients persist. When my kids or wife fuss at me that they are losing connection on their device, I ask them which SSID they have. Once they tell me, I tell them which one to switch to depending on where they are (or intend to be). They are S-L-O-W-L-Y learning to do it on their own.

So now, I've gotten the bug to upgrade. However, the bug did not provide the funds. I need to find better bugs.
 
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Klueless

Very Senior Member
So now, I've gotten the bug to upgrade. However, the bug did not provide the funds. I need to find better bugs.
Now that is funny!

My house is smaller, just upstairs & downstairs, but I did similar. Upstairs Faster (5 GHz), Upstairs Further (2.4 GHz), Downstairs Faster & Downstairs Further. It was kind of self-documenting (thus empowering) and the family quickly adapted.

Later I set up one SSID that covered everything. That, for the most part, just works, for everyone. On the now rare occasion when someone has a problem they simply go back to one of the old SSIDs.

For the most part I'm noticing "WiFi problems" really aren't. It's perceptions. Like Fortnite where it's something else; like the gaming server is overloaded, or the gaming network is overloaded or one of their fellow gamers is on a slow network.

Or a car auction site / network that gets overwhelmed with too many other bidders.

Good Luck (and I'm still left wondering if you might just get lucky with one SSID for everything (and the others for "backup").
 
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MailManX

Occasional Visitor
Now that is funny!
Why thank you, sir! I enjoy a bit of humor from time to time.

Then I set up one SSID that covered everything. That, for the most part, just works, for everyone. On the now rare occasion when someone has a problem they simply go back to one of the old SSIDs.
That makes me very happy to hear. I will learn from your experience and try the same approach.

For the most part I'm noticing "WiFi problems" really aren't. It's perceptions. Like Fortnite where it's something else; like the gaming server is overloaded, or the gaming network is overloaded or one of their fellow gamers is on a slow network.

Or a car auction site / network that gets overwhelmed with too many other bidders.
Or trying to get an appointment for a Covid-19 test on a state, county or CVS website when none of them are working due to overload. Sheesh! It took me three days last week to land an appointment. It's too soon yet to have learned whether I'm gonna live.

Good Luck (and I'm still left wondering if you might just get lucky with one SSID for everything (and the others for "backup").
Thank you, sir! Some say it, but I will do it... I will post back to this forum what I finally buy and setup and how happy I am with it.

Michael
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
... trying to get an appointment for a Covid-19 test on a state
Uh, very sorry to hear you're going through that my new friend. I'll keep it short and simply wish you all the best!
... what I finally buy
I was kinda thinking try the single SSID with your old equipment? It's a long shot but it's free. (And if it doesn't work you'll feel a whole lot better about spending money on new : -)
 

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