AC5300, AC88U, AC86U & AiMesh, which should be main?

snovvman

Occasional Visitor
I read that one should use the "highest spec" device as the main AiMesh node. By spec, should I consider CPU, radio, or something else as highest spec? I have a dedicated firewall and router, so AiMesh will run in AP mode. Based on what I know, the 5300 has more antennas, 2 5Ghz bands. The 88 has more antennas and more simultaneous streams(?*) than the 86. The 86 has a fastest CPU.

With one 5300, 2 88U, 1 3100, and 1 86U at my disposal to cover ~5000 sqf. across two floors using wired Ethernet as the backhaul, which device should I use as the main?

Thanks!

*I haven't researched the simultaneous streams. I do have ~30 2.4Ghz devices, around 10 are cameras.
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
I read that one should use the "highest spec" device as the main AiMesh node. By spec, should I consider CPU, radio, or something else as highest spec? I have a dedicated firewall and router, so AiMesh will run in AP mode. Based on what I know, the 5300 has more antennas, 2 5Ghz bands. The 88 has more antennas and more simultaneous streams(?*) than the 86. The 86 has a fastest CPU.

With one 5300, 2 88U, 1 3100, and 1 86U at my disposal to cover ~5000 sqf. across two floors using wired Ethernet as the backhaul, which device should I use as the main?

Thanks!

*I haven't researched the simultaneous streams. I do have ~30 2.4Ghz devices, around 10 are cameras.

I'd try the AC86U as AP and add the AC3100 or an AC88U as node, if needed.

"Highest spec" could mean compare apples to apples where it matters for the application in view of the tradeoffs. To which I'll add, don't install more WiFi than required.

OE
 

snovvman

Occasional Visitor
I'd try the AC86U as AP and add the AC3100 or an AC88U as node, if needed.

"Highest spec" could mean compare apples to apples where it matters for the application in view of the tradeoffs. To which I'll add, don't install more WiFi than required.

OE

Thank you. I'm curious to understand the reasons and meaning of highest spec. Presuming that the main AP would be doing most of mesh management, it would make sense to use the device with the most CPU, which is the AC86U. Under this scenario, would each node still participate while fully utilizing their respective radio capabilities such as the tri-band for the 5300 and four antennas on the 88?

I'm not clear what you meant by "compare apples to apples where it matters for the application in view of the tradeoffs". What would be the tradeoff by using the AC86U as the main AP versus, say, the 5300?

Your point about not adding more WiFi than required is understood, though, with 5Ghz having inferior penetration when compared to 2.4, I presume a pure 5Ghz network can benefit from a more dense mesh network?

Thanks again.
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
Thank you. I'm curious to understand the reasons and meaning of highest spec. Presuming that the main AP would be doing most of mesh management, it would make sense to use the device with the most CPU, which is the AC86U. Under this scenario, would each node still participate while fully utilizing their respective radio capabilities such as the tri-band for the 5300 and four antennas on the 88?

I'm not clear what you meant by "compare apples to apples where it matters for the application in view of the tradeoffs". What would be the tradeoff by using the AC86U as the main AP versus, say, the 5300?

Your point about not adding more WiFi than required is understood, though, with 5Ghz having inferior penetration when compared to 2.4, I presume a pure 5Ghz network can benefit from a more dense mesh network?

Thanks again.

If you have the equipment already, you could simply try it to know for sure how the current firmware will setup the AiMesh. Adding nodes is simple. Until you do, you won't really know what the given firmware will do in your configuration.

If two 5.0 WLANs broadcasting from one AP is important to your application, then the AC5300 would be your "higher spec" router... but if stronger processing, hardware encryption, or ~20% better WiFi range is the priority; then the AC86U would be your higher spec router. If you want to enjoy longer/stronger firmware support including fixes, security patches, and AiMesh improvements; then the newer AC86U might arguably be the higher spec router. You decide for your needs... but compare apples to apples... if you need 20% better WiFi coverage from your AP, don't give it up for a hamstrung second WLAN crammed into the narrow/DFS-restricted 5.0 band that you may not need or which could unnecessarily complicate your radio network and its administration.

A strong laptop client here on the AC86U 5.0 WLAN out performs the 2.4 WLAN at 300+ feet from the AP. I suggest adding nodes is more about compensating for weak router/client hardware or radio path obstacles in the home (masonry, etc.) than it is about increasing radio density (one decent WiFi signal is enough... two in the same air space is too much)... one AP in a phone booth is sufficient... adding 4 more will destruct the radio network and increase all overhead (more cost, more admin overhead, etc... for less/poor WiFi performance).

As long as the AP has as many antennas as the client (or enough to match those on wireless nodes for maximum wireless backhaul performance), I would not worry about the number of antennas. The AC86U has 2.4x3 and 5.0x4 (the fourth 5.0 antenna is internal)... plenty.

Install a WiFi Analyzer app to 'see' all WiFi signals around you... only add nodes to extend signal coverage/distance, not signal density... too much signal overlap is too dense.

OE
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
The best router is the RT-AC86U. This should be your main. If you decide to stick with this mix of routers.

To get the most out of the remaining hardware, you may have to use them in AP mode (and not in AiMesh), to be able to fully use all the bands.

What I would suggest if possible? Buy 2x or 3x RT-AX68U or RT-AX86U's instead and sell what you now have. Only unbox and test them as needed (2x of the above may be all that is needed with proper location placement).

Report - 2x RT-AX68U upgrade over 2x RT-AC86U in wireless backhaul mode

And as @OzarkEdge mentions, do not overdo it with the WiFi. Less is more.
 

snovvman

Occasional Visitor
If two 5.0 WLANs broadcasting from one AP is important to your application, then the AC5300 would be your "higher spec" router... but if stronger processing, hardware encryption, or ~20% better WiFi range is the priority; then the AC86U would be your higher spec router. If you want to enjoy longer/stronger firmware support including fixes, security patches, and AiMesh improvements; then the newer AC86U might arguably be the higher spec router. You decide for your needs... but compare apples to apples... if you need 20% better WiFi coverage from your AP, don't give it up for a hamstrung second WLAN crammed into the narrow/DFS-restricted 5.0 band that you may not need or which could unnecessarily complicate your radio network and its administration.

OE

This is the part about AiMesh that I seek to better understand. To carry on your analogy, I have apple, orange, and pear. In AiMesh, does each fruit bring the best of itself to the party? The 86 has a better CPU and possibly more patches when compared to 88 or 5300, which makes it an ideal root AP. In this scenario, will the 5300, as a participating node, still provide two 5Ghz networks?

Notwithstanding the reliability or effectiveness of SmartConnect, I plan to test it and see how well it works. Restating the above, with AiMesh and SC interoperating among 86 (as root), 88, and 5300, will it fully utilize each of the device's unique hardware advantages? That is, 86 being leveraged as the best mesh "processor" and offering 3x3, 88 offering 4x4, and 5300 offering two 5Ghz, etc.?

I would hope that AiMesh would operate as I imagined. It would be silly to only be able to use the 5300's two 5Ghz if it were the mesh root, or enjoy the 88's 4x4 if it were the root. With SC, one would hope that the client will be steered to the best 5Ghz network.

Your point about not adding more network than required is well heeded. These are more academic questions to better understand how AiMesh works among disparate hardware and how to best leverage each node's capabilities--assuming, for example, that the two 5Ghz can be a benefit to my setup as well as the faster CPU of the 86, 4x4 of the 88.

I'd appreciate your thoughts, OE.
 

snovvman

Occasional Visitor
The best router is the RT-AC86U. This should be your main. If you decide to stick with this mix of routers.

To get the most out of the remaining hardware, you may have to use them in AP mode (and not in AiMesh), to be able to fully use all the bands.

What I would suggest if possible? Buy 2x or 3x RT-AX68U or RT-AX86U's instead and sell what you now have. Only unbox and test them as needed (2x of the above may be all that is needed with proper location placement).

Report - 2x RT-AX68U upgrade over 2x RT-AC86U in wireless backhaul mode

And as @OzarkEdge mentions, do not overdo it with the WiFi. Less is more.

Thank you, @L&LD. I was replying to @OzarkEdge before seeing your post. Please see my post above as there is relevance to your comments. I have dedicated router and firewall, so the Asus devices will only be used as APs. Are you saying that if I use the 86 as the root mesh, the second band on the 5300 will be disabled? I assume that each device will still offer its maximum streams regardless of which one is the root?

Once you read my post above and consider my question posed here, please let me know what you think.

Many thanks.
 

anonimo

Occasional Visitor
When I went to setup my home network I started with an RT-AC5300 as it had the widest coverage offered at the time (few year ago). I figured I’d see what it would do, then purchase what else may be needed to cover my entire house. The RT-AC5300, centrally located, covered the entire house so an AIMesh wasn’t needed at all. Surprising since my house contains two large internal adobe (radio-blocking chicken-wire/plaster covered) walls.

Since less Wi-Fi is more, I’d try the tri-band RT-AC5300 by itself and if that doesn’t cover the entire house try the dual-band RT-AC88U as they’re noted as having similar [~5000sqft] coverage. That may be all you require. If not, those are the two routers to use on an AIMesh.

(Note that a 2.4GHz band is more than sufficient for WiFi lights, cameras, TV, etc.)
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
This is the part about AiMesh that I seek to better understand. To carry on your analogy, I have apple, orange, and pear. In AiMesh, does each fruit bring the best of itself to the party?

No, discrete boxes generally do not integrate into a comprehensive system. AiMesh is more likely to shed individual box functionality to make the integration of varied hardware and firmware into some sort of 'system' possible. Generally speaking, this is one part of the AiMesh development/marketing challenge, imo. Another is WiFi in general... radio is hard.

And with so many variables in play, you pretty much have to try it to be sure of how it will operate... today... with any given hardware and firmware.

The 86 has a better CPU and possibly more patches when compared to 88 or 5300, which makes it an ideal root AP. In this scenario, will the 5300, as a participating node, still provide two 5Ghz networks?

I don't recall what others have reported regarding this... it's possible you may need to use wired APs (no AiMesh) to have the third band on nodes. You can test this in minutes on your end.

Given WiFi5 AC product, one school of thought is to prefer wired dual-band nodes... this gives you a robust wired backhaul and does not squeeze an unnecessary 2nd WLAN onto the already channel- and DFS-constrained 5.0 band. This would be my approach... stick to what is practical... subject to any unique requirements, of course... unique in that you really need a specific solution and are not just trying to collect as many bells and whistles as you can because you assume it will be "better"... it will likely not be "better".

Notwithstanding the reliability or effectiveness of SmartConnect, I plan to test it and see how well it works. Restating the above, with AiMesh and SC interoperating among 86 (as root), 88, and 5300, will it fully utilize each of the device's unique hardware advantages? That is, 86 being leveraged as the best mesh "processor" and offering 3x3, 88 offering 4x4, and 5300 offering two 5Ghz, etc.?

SC is supported on each of your boxes, so you can try using SC with same SSIDs. SC is node band steering... clients are 'encouraged' to connect to the best band/signal. SC has little to do with how AiMesh chooses to integrate discrete routers into a so-called "mesh system", so nothing much to do with fully utilizing each device's unique hardware advantages.

I would hope that AiMesh would operate as I imagined. It would be silly to only be able to use the 5300's two 5Ghz if it were the mesh root, or enjoy the 88's 4x4 if it were the root. With SC, one would hope that the client will be steered to the best 5Ghz network.

Imagine and hope, but I suggest you get going on trying things out and revisit this thought after you've realized/learned a few things.

Your point about not adding more network than required is well heeded. These are more academic questions to better understand how AiMesh works among disparate hardware and how to best leverage each node's capabilities--assuming, for example, that the two 5Ghz can be a benefit to my setup as well as the faster CPU of the 86, 4x4 of the 88.

Rather than hope for and expect the Swiss Army Knife of mesh systems, I suggest you aim to meet your basic networking needs and then take it from there as you go along.

Why do you want two 5.0 WLANs... what need will this satisfy in your application?

OE
 

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