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AIMesh mixing dual-band and tri-band

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Regular Contributor
I've recently got FTTP broadband, currently 400Mbps but capable of up to 800Mbps. I want to replace my dusty old AC86U with something WiFi 6 capable, and also extend/improve wireless signal and transfer speeds around the house. I have also for some time been keen to try out AIMesh. (I appreciate that there seem to be mixed views on AIMesh here.)

Wired backhaul isn't really feasible, so I'd been keeping an eye on tri-band routers, so that I can have a dedicated wireless backhaul.

As Merlin's firmware has now been released for some of the newer tri-band routers, I recently got a bit carried away and picked up 2 x XT12s that were on sale, without realising they don't have a USB port to install entware onto a flash drive. I can return them, so it's not a big issue, but the XT12s were the only tri-band routers I could see that would fit into the available space I have for the main router, next to the modem. The other tri-bands all seem to have a much larger footprint.

I next looked at the GT-AX6000, just on the chance it might have sufficient range on its own to fill the dead/slow spots without needing mesh, but it's a big beast of a router, and although smaller than things like the GT-AX11000, it still won't really fit in the available space - there's just not a lot of room in the only suitable spot close to where the fibre modem is installed. But it did get me wondering if I can get by with a dual-band router connected to the modem, but still use AIMesh.

So now I'm trying to work out if it's possible to still use a tri-band AIMesh system throughout the house, but only have a (smaller) dual-band router connected to the modem. I'm not sure how AIMesh behaves when tri-band and dual-band are mixed together. Can you connect the dual-band router to the backhaul band, and leave the mesh nodes to provide fronthaul? Would it even make sense to do so? Or is AIMesh smart enough so that devices will always find the optimal node to connect to, and I should just let it do its thing?
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Regular Contributor
A bit more reading suggests that mixing dual-band and tri-band may be a bad idea, you can't really control what each band on each device is doing. On a dual-band node, the 5GHz band will be both fronthaul and backhaul.

Having experimented a bit, I've found a location where I can get between 500Mbps and 1Gbps from the modem over Powerline. So now I'm wondering whether I should:

a) put a new Wifi6 router in the new location, linked back to the FTTP modem over Powerline, and see what sort of signal/speeds I get throughout the house, adding AIMesh nodes as required,
b) leave my AC86U where it is, turn off the Wifi, and link it over ethernet/Powerline to a Wifi 6 device in AP mode in the new location, and create a mesh from that. I believe it's possible to use AIMesh mode with devices in AP mode, have I got that right?

However the wide variation in reported Powerline speed is giving me pause.

A 3rd possible option is to get an XT8, plug that into the modem in the main location, and install gnuton's Merlin port. The XT8 does have USB (which is why I incorrectly assumed the XT12 would), but while the XT8 has 4x4 backhaul, it only has 2x2 for fronthaul. I don't think there's any way to have it act as a router with only a backhaul network and no fronthaul, and I don't believe I can control which clients connect to which node using AIMesh. (The other option is to abandon the idea of a mesh and just have different SSIDs.., but I'd prefer to keep with the mesh idea for now.)

And possibly I'm either massively understanding something here, or massively over-complicating things...

(Also still rather gutted that the XT12, with it's beefy CPU and RAM, doesn't have USB so I can't run anything requiring entware on it.)


Occasional Visitor
. I don't think there's any way to have it act as a router with only a backhaul network and no fronthaul, and I don't believe I can control which clients connect to which node using AIMesh.
XT8's 5GHz-1 (2x2) band can be disabled in the settings individually for each node (like all the other bands),
Stock XT8 Asus firmware allows AiMesh wifi clients to be binded to specific nodes.

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