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AiMesh Mix-n-Match RT-AC68U with AX/AXE

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vicharian

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I have a RT-AC68U (latest Merlin) as my main router (WiFi off) with TP-Link Deco M9 Plus mesh WiFi. The ASUS is there only because of software preference. ISP is Comcast Cable 1000Mbps

Things have been working OK. I don't get better than 250Mbps at any node. And all the cutting edge adopters here are already thinking 'this guy needs to ditch his 10-yr old router'. I agree, so started reading up on the best course of action.

The plan: Upgrade the main router to either GT-AX6000 or RT-AX86U Pro. Get rid of the Deco Mesh. And use RT-AC68U as an AiMesh satellite (to reach that one problem corner of the house)

The confusion / question: Is it possible to mix-n-match like that. https://dongknows.com/asus-aimesh-overview/ casts doubt, whereas https://www.snbforums.com/threads/aimesh-node-performance-ax86u-pro-ac86u-ax59u.87185/ seems to indicate that it's possible

The even bigger question: Should it be a stable AX router or an AXE main router? Or wait for WiFi 7? As you can tell, once I am done with this will probably only update firmware for another 10 years.
 
I have a RT-AC68U (latest Merlin) as my main router (WiFi off) with TP-Link Deco M9 Plus mesh WiFi. The ASUS is there only because of software preference. ISP is Comcast Cable 1000Mbps

Things have been working OK. I don't get better than 250Mbps at any node. And all the cutting edge adopters here are already thinking 'this guy needs to ditch his 10-yr old router'. I agree, so started reading up on the best course of action.

The plan: Upgrade the main router to either GT-AX6000 or RT-AX86U Pro. Get rid of the Deco Mesh. And use RT-AC68U as an AiMesh satellite (to reach that one problem corner of the house)

The confusion / question: Is it possible to mix-n-match like that. https://dongknows.com/asus-aimesh-overview/ casts doubt, whereas https://www.snbforums.com/threads/aimesh-node-performance-ax86u-pro-ac86u-ax59u.87185/ seems to indicate that it's possible

The even bigger question: Should it be a stable AX router or an AXE main router? Or wait for WiFi 7? As you can tell, once I am done with this will probably only update firmware for another 10 years.

Since we agree, then ditch the AC68U. Hanging on to it already has you lagging in the upgrade cycle by years.

Me, I'd prefer dual-band WiFi6 (all AX) with wired backhaul. If wireless backhaul, then you might want a dedicated band for that (not shared with clients); otherwise, live with the performance hit of a shared backhaul despite the ample (but likely asymmetric) 1Gbps cable Internet service.

New equipment may provide more effective coverage at distance, changing your AP layout requirements. You'll want to experiment incrementally in your radio space to determine this.

OE
 
Last edited:
Thanks OE,

You have the AX86U Pro and you too seem to be a 'pro' at setting up AiMesh (per https://www.snbforums.com/threads/aimesh-smartconnect-and-roaming-assist-best-practices.61898/) - so happy to have your attention/advice. My original question is partially answered in that it is possible to hook up an AC68U to a AX86U using wireless backhaul. One thing I did not get from that discussion is the difference between AP and AiMesh modes. Isn't AiMesh identical to 'AP with same SSID'?

BTW, most of the clients on the network are AC clients - TVs, thermostat, speakers, switches and even a few computers. Will I see any real gain in such a setup? A tech laggard like me would not get satisfaction just to be on the latest router; I would want to put the right configuration in to improve things for not just now but for many years before being compelled to upgrade only to meet the data hungry needs of the devices/applications in our future.
 
TP-Link Deco M9 Plus

This is a tri-band Wi-Fi system with dedicated wireless backhaul. Your wireless RT-AC68U AiMesh node will be worse. Think again before ditching the Deco. It is an older system indeed, but I wouldn't be surprised if it works better than mix-and-match AiMesh. No much Ai in Aimesh - it's a marketing name for Asus routers used as wired access points or wireless repeaters. Some newer Qualcomm based Deco are better.
 
Thanks OE,

You have the AX86U Pro and you too seem to be a 'pro' at setting up AiMesh (per https://www.snbforums.com/threads/aimesh-smartconnect-and-roaming-assist-best-practices.61898/) - so happy to have your attention/advice. My original question is partially answered in that it is possible to hook up an AC68U to a AX86U using wireless backhaul. One thing I did not get from that discussion is the difference between AP and AiMesh modes. Isn't AiMesh identical to 'AP with same SSID'?

I'm afraid to read what I wrote in 2020! :) I'm not a pro but may be able to help along with others here.

Yes, an AC node should connect wirelessly to an AX root node. How the firmware(s) handle the wireless differences like dual-band/tri-band, ac/ax, wpa2/wpa3, no smart connect/smart connect, no DFS channels/DFS channels, etc. remains to be seen, but could be worst-case common denominator and/or screwed up by the firmware(s) for some things. Simple solution in your case is to ditch the eol ac (maybe not needed with new coverage) and any such uncertainties/conflicts and move on.

An AP is wired and you can set its wireless parameters independently... use any SSID you want.

An AiMesh node can be wired or wireless, and gets its wireless parameters from the root node that you configure (central admin)... the 2.4 SSID is the same across all nodes, and the 5.0 SSID is the same across all nodes. Generally speaking, each node uses the same wireless parameters, subject to node capability. Having all nodes using the same band channel/frequencies is how the nodes communicate wirelessly when using wireless backhaul.

If there is no radio/band dedicated to the wireless backhaul (like there is with all the plug & play packaged mesh systems out there), then the node's WiFi capacity is shared/used for both wireless backhaul and wireless clients, similar to a wireless Repeater/Extender. Sharing the WiFi significantly reduces (~halves) throughput... older nodes with weaker performance will be the worse at this.

The term 'same SSID' refers to using the same SSID name for more than one band/WLAN (ex: 2.4 band and 5.0 band), typically in conjunction with enabling Smart Connect band steering/failover (not on your AC68U) to 'encourge' clients to connect/failover to the best band/signal/WLAN. Otherwise, you set 'different SSIDs' and you band steer/segregate clients/traffic by connecting them to a preferred band/WLAN.

BTW, most of the clients on the network are AC clients - TVs, thermostat, speakers, switches and even a few computers. Will I see any real gain in such a setup? A tech laggard like me would not get satisfaction just to be on the latest router; I would want to put the right configuration in to improve things for not just now but for many years before being compelled to upgrade only to meet the data hungry needs of the devices/applications in our future.

WiFi6 supports AC clients.

Real gain... satisfaction... right configuration for many years to come... compelled to upgrade... I suggest you set all of that aside and get back to planning your network upgrade, if that's what you want.

OE
 
Thanks Tech9 and OE, not only is this a wonderful discussion forum with great content but pragmatic advice is so generously shared. Really appreciate it. Would have taken me many hours to scour the posts here to distill as much.
 

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