AIMesh on a budget

AnClar

Occasional Visitor
I'm thinking about ditching my old (non Asus) repeaters in my house and going to AIMesh. I'm tired of messing with multiple SSIDs, and my wife, a non-techie, is tired of always winding up on the wrong network as she moves around the house, and having little to no signal. My main router is an RT-AC5300 on RMerlin 384.18. I'm considering two AC68Us as AIMesh nodes. What's the consensus on the 68U as an AIMesh node? In addition, I've seen differing reports on whether the 68U will support SmartConnect or not with RMerlin 384.18 or in the alpha .319. Yea or nay? Also been watching the forum trying to figure out how stable AIMesh and SmartConnect have gotten to at present. Any and all opinions appreciated. Thanks.
 

JDB

Very Senior Member
I can say AiMesh with Merlin latest (and for the last 6 months) is super stable with SmartConnect enabled.

I have an RT-AC86U master, 2x AC5300 nodes and an AC88U node.

I did temporarily run a 68U as a node which doesn’t support Smart Connect, however saw no adverse affects. It still broadcast the same SSID on both 2.4 and 5Ghz. The only difference is it was presumably not actively steering clients between the 2 bands. My experience was my clients did as I wanted anyway (and selected 5Ghz 95% of the time as it was the strongest signal).

I can’t comment on if the latest f/w somehow enables SC on that router as I no longer have one. What I would say is, given AiMesh steers clients between nodes it is conceivable the same steering mechanism is used for between bands as well when used as a AiMesh node, even if the standalone router doesn’t/didn’t technically support SC.

Personally I’d suggest getting an 86U and making it your master (far more powerful router than the 5300), demoting the 5300 to the most used node and maybe adding a 68U or 66U_b1 if needed after that as the least used node. If you get a used one and decide it’s not working with SC as you want you can always punt it on with no financial loss and get a node that does support SC.


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Lurkmaster

Occasional Visitor
I have an AC86U as the main router and two AC68Us as Aimesh nodes connected with ethernet backhaul. I've been running this setup for about a year now and it has worked flawlessly. I do not use SmartConnect but I do utilize the roaming assistant found on the Wireless->Professional page. This is set to disconnect clients with an RSSI lower than -55 dBm. On its face this sounds like too high a setting but it causes my devices to switch to a closer node quite nicely without being too active about it. YMMV. I should mention that one node is 45 feet from the main router with three walls in between and the other is ~70 feet away with two walls.
 

AnClar

Occasional Visitor
Appreciate the comments. I'd be inclined to keep the 5300 as the master router since it is tri-band. The 5300 should, if I understand this correctly, be able to use its second 5GHz channel for a dedicated wireless backhaul. Since the house doesn't have wired ethernet throughout, I'm going to have to use wireless backhaul between the master router and the nodes. It would seem to make sense to have that dedicated channel on the master router, but I guess I'll find out. I'm not going to add tri-band nodes, even though that sounds ideal because of cost for now.

Also, from what I'm reading, it is suggested to keep stock ASUSWRT f/w on the nodes, and RMerlin on the master router. Is that still the recommended configuration? And is it because of the ability to update the node f/w from the master, or are there other consderations. I thought I saw somewhere that RMerlin was recommending that the nodes stay stock ASUSWRT.
 
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JDB

Very Senior Member
You get the DWB on the 5300 even if it’s a node. Without having tri-band for all routers (or Ethernet) it makes no real odds to performance which side of the equation it sits on as the dual band end is still going to be using 1 channel for clients and backhaul. It makes sense to have the 5300 as whichever router has the most clients connected - be that a node or the master - as then it can make use of separating client and backhaul traffic most effectively in your mesh.

I would strongly recommend using the same Merlin version on all devices. For 2 reasons;
1. It ensures you are using the same base GPL (and so AiMesh) code version on all routers. This aids stability massively in my experience.
2. You can run custom scripts etc on the nodes (not a big deal for most but I use the ability)


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bbunge

Very Senior Member
You may want to look at the RT-AC66U_B1. It is the same hardware as the AC68U in a different case with non-detachable antenna and runs a faster processor than the AC68U. Also a few bucks cheaper.
 

MarkyPancake

Senior Member
I believe the AC68U does not support Smart Connect, regardless of firmware version.
 

Phil Outram

Regular Contributor
You might want to consider the AX56U over the AC68U. It's newer, wifi 6 capable, cheaper, better cpu and ram compared to the AC68U. The AC68U is quite an old design now.
 

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