Access point recommendation - stable and inexpensive?

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debest

New Around Here
My current cheap access point (TP-Link TL-WA901N) is garbage. As the amount of wireless traffic in the house has risen, so has the instability (WiFi for all devices slowing down and freezing until rebooting the AP, fixes it for a short time, wash rinse repeat). Yes, the firmware is up to date. The speed and coverage aren't fantastic either, but frankly I can live with both (I only have a 50Mb connection, and a small house).

My two requirements are:
  1. Stability - I don't know if my existing AP is an abnormally crap unit, or if the model is so cheap they all perform poorly. Regardless, stability seems to be rarely mentioned in most reviews of WiFi equipment that I read. Is this because it's difficult to test this? Or is it generally thought of as a given that devices will work reliably under load these days? If stability is still something that needs to be taken into account, is there a minimum processor/RAM that I should look for? Are there brands known to be using more rock-solid firmware than others?
  2. Price - I've been out of work since COVID hit. Any expenditure hurts, so the lowest-cost option (while also stable) is what I need.
Again, I don't really care very much about speed and coverage, the bare minimum will almost certainly be fine. PoE and ability to upgrade to a mesh later would also be nice to have, but not required. Does anyone have any specific recommendations in mind (budget hardware that you have used and know to be reliable under constant use)? Thanks in advance.
 

cooloutac

Very Senior Member
here is it renewed for 10 dollars cheaper. 90 day money back. Amazon.com: TP-Link AC1200 Smart WiFi Router - 5GHz Gigabit Dual Band MU-MIMO Wireless Internet Router, Long Range Coverage by 4 Antennas(Archer A6) (Renewed): Electronics


here is an asus one $45 with prime. Amazon.com: ASUS RT-ACRH12 AC1200 Dual Band WiFi Router with Gigabit LAN Ports, 4 Gb LAN Ports, VPN, MU-MIMO, Gaming, 4K Streaming, Parental Control: Electronics;

I personally use a single asus rt-ac66U_b1 in my own home connecting 40 devices, most of which are wifi iot devices on 2.4ghz, a couple tv's, phones and tablets on 5ghz. 3 ethernet ports used and 3 more on a cheap 8 dollar tp-link switch. and its rock solid with very good range. 300/300 fios connection.
 
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cooloutac

Very Senior Member
also I don't know where you live. but always check prices of your isp. sometimes for the same cost, new customers get a faster connection. tell them you want to upgrade to that for the same price. tell them you see they offer such and such speed for such and such price. play dumb, tell them you are out of work cause of covid and are now using more bandwidths at home and need to upgrade.
 

debest

New Around Here
why not by an actual cheap router for the same price and then just set it in access point mode? Might work out better. you can get some good ones for around $50.
Can I assume that any router in this price range is able to be set in "access point mode"? It's been some time since I bought a router device, and this is not a feature that I ever see touted in specifications or on review sites. Sorry for being naturally skeptical, but it seems odd that hardware vendors would sell access points with less capability (no integrated switch) than routers for the same or more money, and then just let the router act in the same capacity. Why does the (non ceiling mounted) access point even exist if they end up being the same?
I personally use a single asus rt-ac66U_b1 in my own home connecting 40 devices, most of which are wifi iot devices on 2.4ghz, a couple tv's, phones and tablets on 5ghz.
Good to know, thank you. It's been stable for you, not needing to be rebooted all the time? I assume this router is able to be set in "access point mode"?
also I don't know where you live. but always check prices of your isp. sometimes for the same cost, new customers get a faster connection. tell them you want to upgrade to that for the same price.
I appreciate the advice :)
 

cooloutac

Very Senior Member
Can I assume that any router in this price range is able to be set in "access point mode"? It's been some time since I bought a router device, and this is not a feature that I ever see touted in specifications or on review sites. Sorry for being naturally skeptical, but it seems odd that hardware vendors would sell access points with less capability (no integrated switch) than routers for the same or more money, and then just let the router act in the same capacity. Why does the (non ceiling mounted) access point even exist if they end up being the same?

Good to know, thank you. It's been stable for you, not needing to be rebooted all the time? I assume this router is able to be set in "access point mode"?

I appreciate the advice :)

I would still make sure to check the manuals that they can do ap mode. And ya the ac66u_b1 is an amazing router. Probably the best router under $100 for sure. Best router I ever used in my lifetime to be honest, taking the crown and torch from the linksys wrt54g. I never have to reboot the thing, never see errors in the syslog and I've had it for almost 3 years. I have tons of devices and settings with most features enabled using stock firmware for a while or now using the merlin firmware which is based off the ac68u firmware. But the ac66u_b1 is 40-50 dollars cheaper for the same basic performance. I hope asus doesn't drop support for it anytime soon.

And Ya i did just that with my isp. upgraded from 100 to 200MBsfor the same price, but for some reason they giving me 300! :)
 

debest

New Around Here
I personally plan on getting this for a wireless ap Amazon.com: Ubiquiti UAP-AC-LITE UniFi AP AC LITE 802.11ac Gigabit Dual-Radio PoE: Computers & Accessories and will run the controller on my pi i have running pi-hole. just gonna connect it off the asus router for now and eventually once I get my old pc in my new place will use that as a pfsense router.
Interesting. That access point is about the same price as the Asus AC66U_B1 (which you have pointed out can be configured to be an access point). Other than the obvious differences (form factor and PoE), would you expect them to perform roughly equally as access points (stability, range, speed, etc)?
 

cooloutac

Very Senior Member
Interesting. That access point is about the same price as the Asus AC66U_B1 (which you have pointed out can be configured to be an access point). Other than the obvious differences (form factor and PoE), would you expect them to perform roughly equally as access points (stability, range, speed, etc)?

the ubiquiti supposedly can handle way more devices more reliably since it is entry level enterprise equipment. Meaning 100s. SO I would imagine stability would be way better. as far as range/speed I have yet to test it. I'm also looking at this long range model Amazon.com: Ubiquiti Unifi Ap-AC Long Range - Wireless Access Point - 802.11 B/A/G/n/AC (UAP-AC-LR-US),White: Computers & Accessories just seeing now the price really dropped, only 10 dollars more then the lite version now. Actually almost same price with one seller at $101. Will have to do more research between the two to see which is more reliable. There are forums dedicated to them.

I'm only getting it to improve wifi to my front yard. But that LR one might be able to do the front yard and the backyard from what I read about it lol. I live in a small single family.

Just to note POE is not the reason I'm getting them. they come with an injector but these models are ubuiquiti proprietary. The pro version has the standard poe which I believe doesn't come with an injector. I'm getting them strictly to handle more devices more reliably. My acc6u_b1 is rock solid right now. But I am steadily adding devices and worry I will eventually reach a point where it becomes limited. I got 40 devices connected right now at any time. and right now planning on connecting 5 more lol. Plus I want more range for outside.
 
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cooloutac

Very Senior Member
I'm also waiting a bit just to see what the prices are on the new wifi 6 ap's unifi coming out with next month for future proofing. I would get another asus router but i have found aimesh not very stable or reliable at all. Plus the asus firewall is very limited when it comes to vlans. with the pfsense box I would also have access to better IDS/IPS features as well.
 
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cooloutac

Very Senior Member
SO i just ordered the uap-ac-lr. the long range model for 96 bucks. 10 dollars off plus another 4 with prime. I saw that the price of the wifi 6 version for pre-order is 170 dollars. and the unifi 6 lite model is for 99. same as the wifi 5 lite version right now. So not sure what is up with that it seems unifi really pushes the unifi lite over the LR, and that is wha tmost people buy. probably cause they make more money when you buy two of those verse one LR. But thats just my conspiracy theory. The only negative claim against the LR is because that its long range it will attract more interference. Sounds like a bogus claim if you ask me, unless they mean more neighbors devices will be trying to connect a wifi that is now in range of them. I don't really see the logic in that. Feels like a myth. The common rhetoric is that it will broadcast further, but your devices can only reply back so far so they will receive it but it won't receive them. Which does make sense, but the lite doesn't fix that problem either so why not just get the LR anyways? I don't live in an apartment building. lol As far as channels go for your own devices it changes nothing with interference in that regard.

So I will see how it goes. I figure I don't have enough wifi 6 devices to wait till they are available since they are all sold out on pre-order right now. And like I said the wifi 6 LR version is over 70 dollars more then the wifi 6 lite version. It also has more bands which prolly factors into the cost, has a faster 2.4ghz on the wifi 5 models as well. And I have my mind set on trying out the LR instead of multiple lite versions. I'll let you know how it goes.
 

cooloutac

Very Senior Member
I canceled the order, it was taking way too long to be delivered. It never even shipped. Price was prolly too good to be true lol. I ended up just ordering the ax58u at a refurb price of $125. It has much better range then my ac66u_b1 which I still might use in aimesh mode. I figured if I'm going to order a a new wifi, it should be more future proofed and have longer support. so I went a little extra. I already had tried the ax58u previously paying $179 and found it to be a great router. The range on it is phenomenal compared to my ac66u_b1 and its just as stable. so far its working great and I'm happy with the purchase. I don't think it will handle 100s of wifi connections like the unifi ap, but that might be overkill for me anyways. I'm sure this will do 60 just fine. especially as more wifi 6 and mu-mimo devices become the norm. My ac66u_b1 can handle 40 without a blip.
 
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debest

New Around Here
Well my brother gave me a gift card to Amazon for Christmas, so I decided to use the credit on a TP-Link EAP245 access point. I could have gone with the re-purposed WiFi router as suggested above, but the wife didn't like the power cable that would have needed to be trailed to the location where the Ethernet cable pokes up out of the floor (where the previous crappy TP-WA901ND AP sat). Yes, it's designed to be wall or ceiling mounted, but the unit doesn't look too bad just sitting on a table. It was $90 Canadian (on sale from $100).

It's been running for 24 hours, and rock solid connectivity so far under pretty consistent use (including 2 wireless devices that stream video almost constantly). As a bonus, the coverage is far wider than the old AP, despite the new AP's lack of external antennas.

So far so good! Barring any issues in the near future, I can recommend this access point as a stable and (reasonably) affordable unit.
 

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