AIMESH or Access Points.. ???

Jonathan Tipping

New Around Here
Hi all,
first up apologies if this topic gas already been covered, but having searched this forum the info I need is a little inconclusive, so would appreciate any recommendation or advice for the members who are much more technically savvy than me.

OK we have a brand new Virgin Superb 4 all wired up to their 1gig fibre, I was all set to establish an AIMESH system with the SuperHub 4 in modem mode and using a new AX88U as the main router with 2 x ac68U's as nodes.

Then I started ready so many reports and reviews that AIMESH isn't really ready for prime-time with a heap of issues, including constant disconnects and drop outswhich kind of spooked me, especially as I work as a digital designer so a relabel connection is paramount. So at the moment I've left the Virgin SuperHub 4 in router mode and set the other ASUSrouters up as access points using Devolo Magic 2 power lines as a wired backhaul connection. It's all working OK but the bandwidth is pretty patchy.

So if any of my fellow members have any advice based on their experiences as to whether I should bite the bullet and set up the AIMESH system, or just leave things as they are until hopefully the AIMESH issues are resolve d somehow in future updates.

Again apologies in advance for binning a bit of a technical 'dipstick' but and advice or recommendations would be very gratefully received.

Cheers all
 

Kanji-San

Regular Contributor
I use two RT-AC68U with AiMesh, with Ethernet backhaul, and it works well and is stable. I used to run the second one in AP mode. Performance-wise I don't see a difference however there are some differences between AiMesh and AP.

Biggest plus for AiMesh is the central management. Settings of the router are copied to all nodes which means you also have less flexibility to configure the nodes individually, e.g. you cannot set the node wireless channels independently. Guest network does not work at all with the nodes.

If AiMesh works reliably with your AX88U, I cannot say. However if you have bandwidth problems, it is much more likely to be related to your power line wired backhaul.
 

Jonathan Tipping

New Around Here
Cheers Kanji-San, much appreciated. I just need to pluck up the courage to go through the possible 'pain point' should it all go horribly wrong. As you say the powerlines are the weakest part of the link, do I definitely need to utilise these to set up an AIMESH network or can the wifi from the main router 'talk' to the nodes essentially just extending the network?
 

Kanji-San

Regular Contributor
Cheers Kanji-San, much appreciated. I just need to pluck up the courage to go through the possible 'pain point' should it all go horribly wrong. As you say the powerlines are the weakest part of the link, do I definitely need to utilise these to set up an AIMESH network or can the wifi from the main router 'talk' to the nodes essentially just extending the network?
You can use WiFi instead of the powerlines. Give it a try and compare: Click on the AiMesh Node icon, select the node on the right, click More Config, select Connection Priority : Auto. You need to disconnect the Ethernet cable from the powerline adapter. This will force it to use the WiFi connection.
 

Freddi

Occasional Visitor
I personally use AP mode. Tried AImesh for a while, but really didn't see any advantages. It's really not that hard to manage AP's independently. (I prefer it, after doing a software update via AIMESH once... and getting into never never land.)

I switched back to AP mode, because I can select separate channels for each AP, as to not have them stepping on each other. (I have A LOT of Clients, having 4 kids, and a wife) Maybe I'm off base, but I couldn't figure out how to have AI mesh, and separate channels.

That said, I do have Cat6 backhaul between the main router and the AP units. I'm not sure if not having that would change my mind.
 

eibgrad

Senior Member
I don't really see the value in a mesh network for your typical home or small business environment. It's always been my understanding that mesh networks make sense in *large* environments, w/ lots of APs, and where the possibility of having APs fail, or certain routes become congested, is very likely (e.g., football stadium). The mesh network can easily reroute traffic and is self-healing. I think the reason it's become so popular in home and small business environments has less to do w/ its efficacy and more to do w/ it's just the latest cool new thing.
 

Kanji-San

Regular Contributor
I don't really see the value in a mesh network for your typical home or small business environment. It's always been my understanding that mesh networks make sense in *large* environments, w/ lots of APs, and where the possibility of having APs fail, or certain routes become congested, is very likely (e.g., football stadium). The mesh network can easily reroute traffic and is self-healing. I think the reason it's become so popular in home and small business environments has less to do w/ its efficacy and more to do w/ it's just the latest cool new thing.
I agree. However for the typical non-technical person, mesh networks should be simply plug'n'play, so the selling factor is simplicity and as you said it's cool:cool:
 

AnClar

Occasional Visitor
I just set up an AImesh system in my house to replace a system of an RT-AC5300 router and two Netgear AC repeaters. My ISP is Charter Spectrum, and I'm on their Gig tier using a DOCSIS 3.1 cable modem. I've got a fairly large house with a couple of bad dead spots, so I had been running the repeaters to fill in coverage. I have a very non-techie spouse, and about 20 clients, between gaming, video streaming, smart TVs, computers, iDevices, etc, etc.. The repeaters were a PITA to manage, and there were multiple SSIDs to contend with. Also, as we move about the house, there is the issue of having to check and manually switch over to one of the repeaters as we move out of range of the main router, or into one of the dead spots. That was a source of great annoyance to my wife, and I was always having to switch her devices over to the correct wifi network when she moved from her office in the house to the rec. room, or the bedroom.

So I set up an AImesh system with the RT-AC5300 as the main router, and two RT-AC68Us as nodes. All devices are running RMerlin 384.18 FW, and I'm using dedicated wireless backhaul. So far, it has been trouble-free, and a huge improvement, both from a user perspective, and a management standpoint. There is now only one SSID to deal with, and with Smart Connect and Roaming Assist enabled, my wife and I can move about the house and the clients switch over seamlessly to the strongest signal, as needed when signal strength drops.

This was an easy setup for me, as I'm a career IT and networking professional, but I would not call it plug-and-play that a novice could set up easily by any means. You need to have at least a basic knowledge of networking, and be comfortable configuring routers. I've read a lot here and elsewhere about the issues with AImesh, with clients, especially 2.4GHz clients disconnecting, but I only have a small number of 2.4GHz clients, and haven't had any random disconnects thus far. So for my needs, this configuration fills the bill nicely, while not breaking the bank. It may not be for everyone, but it works for me.
 
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K-2SO

Very Senior Member
Recently replaced 2 Asus RT-AC86U with Intel based pfSense router and Omada WiFi. I have similar system in my office with UniFi WiFi equipment. Omada idea came from SNB. SG180PE PoE switch is feeding 2 PoE EAP245v3 and Omada PoE OC200. The x86 router is killing Asus in both processing power and options. Omada is killing Asus in both WiFi performance and roaming capabilities. It's more expensive than any AIO router, but it's on another level. The roaming is the most impressive part. Clients switch APs in seconds. I think faster than UniFi. Full coverage Guest Network is one click deal.
 

Freddi

Occasional Visitor
There is now only one SSID to deal with, and with Smart Connect enabled, my wife and I can move about the house and the clients switch over seamlessly to the strongest signal, as needed when signal strength drops.
Neither of these is exclusive to AIMesh. I also have one SSID, for both bands and all 3 routers. I also use SmartConnect, and my clients all switchover flawlessly, moving around the house, and yard. (Using AP mode) This includes several apple devices, android devices, NS gaming systems, Firesticks, and Dell Laptops running VPN tunnels to work.

But, because I'm not on a single channel, i don't end up saturating that one 40mhz (or 80) channel when a lot of devices are all pulling from the internet. With the amount of users and devices I have at any given time, AIMesh just doesn't make sense.
 

Smokey613

Senior Member
I just set up an AImesh system in my house to replace a system of an RT-AC5300 router and two Netgear AC repeaters. I've got a fairly large house with a couple of bad dead spots, so I had been running the repeaters to fill in coverage. I have a very non-techie spouse, and about 20 clients, between gaming, video streaming, smart TVs, computers, iDevices, etc, etc.. The repeaters were a PITA to manage, and there were multiple SSIDs to contend with. Also, as we move about the house, there is the issue of having to check and manually switch over to one of the repeaters as we move out of range of the main router, or into one of the dead spots. That was a source of great annoyance to my wife, and I was always having to switch her devices over to the correct wifi network when she moved from her office in the house to the rec. room, or the bedroom.

So I set up an AImesh system with the RT-AC5300 as the main router, and two RT-AC68Us as nodes. All devices are running RMerlin 384.18 FW, and I'm using dedicated wireless backhaul. So far, it has been trouble-free, and a huge improvement, both from a user perspective, and a management standpoint. There is now only one SSID to deal with, and with Smart Connect enabled, my wife and I can move about the house and the clients switch over seamlessly to the strongest signal, as needed when signal strength drops.

This was an easy setup for me, as I'm a career IT and networking professional, but I would not call it plug-and-play that a novice could set up easily by any means. You need to have at least a basic knowledge of networking, and be comfortable configuring routers. I've read a lot here and elsewhere about the issues with AImesh, with clients, especially 2.4GHz clients disconnecting, but I only have a small number of 2.4GHz clients, and haven't had any random disconnects thus far. So for my needs, this configuration fills the bill nicely, while not breaking the bank. It may not be for everyone, but it works for me.
Since the RT-AC68Us do not support Smart Connect it is interesting that you are having success using it.
 

AnClar

Occasional Visitor
Neither of these is exclusive to AIMesh. I also have one SSID, for both bands and all 3 routers. I also use SmartConnect, and my clients all switchover flawlessly, moving around the house, and yard. (Using AP mode) This includes several apple devices, android devices, NS gaming systems, Firesticks, and Dell Laptops running VPN tunnels to work.

But, because I'm not on a single channel, i don't end up saturating that one 40mhz (or 80) channel when a lot of devices are all pulling from the internet. With the amount of users and devices I have at any given time, AIMesh just doesn't make sense.
There are many paths to take that will work for many different configurations. I'm not suggesting a mesh network is a one size fits all solution. Since I don't have many devices sucking up bandwidth at the same time, saturating the single 5GHz channel has not been an issue for me. If it gets to that point, I'll consider different options, like going to wired backhaul and freeing up the second 5GHZ channel. But this turned out to be workable for me for now. What I really wanted to accomplish was getting rid of the repeaters, and this configuration accomplished that for me.
 

AnClar

Occasional Visitor
Since the RT-AC68Us do not support Smart Connect it is interesting that you are having success using it.
Is it possible that the 68U doesn't support Smart Connect as a standalone router, but does when it is a node in an AImesh configuration? And there is some ambiguity in Asus's own documentation: https://www.asus.com/us/support/FAQ/1039646/ When I initially set up the AImesh, I still had the three SSIDs. That config did not change over until I enabled Smart Connect on the RT-AC5300. At that point, the second 5GHz channel on the RT-AC5300 now shows as being used as the dedicated backhaul channel, and I was able to config Smart Connect rules. My clients are definitely switching nodes based on signal strength. Am I missing something here? Note that in the Asus FAQ, it definitely lists the RT-AC68U. Since Smart Connect is related to what band the client connects to, and Roaming Assist controls node changes based on signal strength, I'm even more puzzled as to what is actually going on.
 
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JanL65

New Around Here
I might have a helpfull input:
LAN-Cables to both units. Is annoying at start - but will make wifi-roaming (which the Aus-Routers also do) work faster and extremely stable.

I have not used this solution, though.
My solution is an Asus-Router wifi-roaming solution - but it is one made out of the legendary "Asus RT-N66U (N!)", which I was using until 2019, plus an RT-N18U (also N!). It was for me a "free solution" (zero-bucks, because I already had these 2) - and close to zero bucks, if bought second-hand.

This solution has now (for 1½ years!) given me - with LAN-cabling and setup in AP-mode - a solution, in which we Wifi-Roam seamless, in our 144m2 house - stable and with fast wifi (no wifi-Mesh decrease).
It will (just like Ubiquiti-Unifi etc) not work in all situations - because of Mobile-Unit compatibility (r, k, ?i? - roaming-issues).
We have Samsung-S7's, iPhone-SE-2016's, PC-windows-10, iPad-Pro-10,5 - which all roam seamless with the Asus's!
Only downside is, that we must live with wifi-N ... which is actually very okay for us (long-distance vs. AC) ... but might be a problem in high-density domestic areas (2,4G disturbance). [our speed varies from 230Mb/s to 25Mb/s inside our house, and the 2 AP's reach all our 800m2 garden-area, with a video-ok signal-throughput ... we even have 5 wifi-security cams continously "stressing" the AP's!! (with 4 of these streaming video to our NAS 24-7)].

AND EASY-Setup: Very fast to setup - only a very few (2) advanced parameters has to be "adjusted": "Roaming", and "handoff dB level".
Which in in "big contrast" to for instance Ubiquiti's extremely "confusing & spread-around" setup-"possibilities", which leaves me (right this moment) in big doubt, if my Unifi-test-setup "just lacks" 1 parameter-setting, in order to work (I cannot get roaming to work - the mobile-units "stick to first AP" like small Ducklings!)
 
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fritzk3

Occasional Visitor
I have an RT-AC86U as my main node, running Merlin 384.18, and was trying to run an RT-AC68U (also running 384.18) as an AiMesh node with only wireless backhaul as an option. I've tried two different locations in the house for the extra router, and in both cases I find that the RT-AC68U frequently disappears from the mesh network or goes into "Offline" status. No warning, just conks out. (I should note I also run several of the common scripts like Diversion, Skynet, etc. on the main router.)

Also, strangely, I am frequently unable to see the 5G SSID of the main router, especially from the furthest points in the house away from the main router.

Has anyone else experienced this behavior, and found a solution? Does this issue disappear if I am somehow able to establish a wired connection between these two routers?
 

Livin

Regular Contributor
I tried AImesh twice... All mobile devices worked fine but I have a lot of 'non-mobile' cams and AImesh was 100% non-functional for them. Tried once with AC68Ps and again with AC86Us always ethernet backhaul. My 10 Wifi Cams that must work (watching kids, front door, etc) and AIMesh never worked with them. It was a nightmare. I have the two AC86Us in the same spot and they work flawlessly as Router+AP. I tweaked the Professional settings per an old article around here, and set the channels (only because the cams didnt like higher # channels), and excluded some of the cam MACs from specific radios since they'd try to connect (usually fail) to a faint signal in some cases. Rock solid now.
 

fritzk3

Occasional Visitor
I tried to set up the 68U as an Access Point and it would not cooperate. I did a hard reset, and it would go through the setup wizard, but then get hung up and I could not log into the GUI to set the mode as an AP. I tried two or three times and always got the same behavior. I was trying to do this with a 68U that had already been flashed to Merlin 384.18, maybe that's part of the issue.

I also noticed that once I plugged in a cable from the main (86U) router, the 86U started showing strange results on its home page: no client list, maxed out Internet Traffic bars for both upload and download, and very hyperactive CPU cores, with one or both frequently spiking to 100%.


EDIT: Tried again today using a different laptop to log into the 68U for the setup process, and all is well. I think the CPU spike was related to a script (specifically uiDivStats) because once I uninstalled that, the CPU levels returned to normal. So far, so good with the 68U in AP mode!
 
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