AIMESH or Two Networks?

Abbas

Occasional Visitor
I ordered a couple of 86U routers and they've come in today. I am planning on connecting the two using a wired connection between them.

For setting them up, I could either set it up as AIMESH or have the first router connected to my ISP and have a WiFi Network created and then the second router connected to the first router and create a separate second network with it's own WiFi.

Which one would you guys recommend?
 

Abbas

Occasional Visitor
I've set them up with AIMESH. Let's see how goes. I am a bit surprised on it's coverage. It appears as though my Eero (Gen 2) was reaching my gate doorbell better than this ASUS is.

I do have a question- I wanted to use Roku with it but since I'm not in the US, I have to use a US DNS provider. Roku doesn't allow me to modify DNS settings and it needs to be on the router. But I don't want ALL traffic from all my devices going through the US DNS. So can I create a guest WiFi and have that WiFi's traffic go through the US DNS and my main WiFi uses my ISP's DNS?
 
W

wpc

Guest
why don't you just manually set your roku ip and dns and you're done?
 

st3v3n

Very Senior Member
Abbas, You can still get some use from your Eero, just assign it to it's own guest doorbell network; jest kidding.

Have you considered looking at the features present in Asuswrt-RMerlin's firmware for your new routers?
https://asuswrt.lostrealm.ca/features

We haven't decided to use AIMesh (yet) until after the release thoroughly settles down; it's really new but many people are testing and giving it a work out. Asus is following the threads and judging from reading the feedback that has been written, it' MHO you should definitely get better coverage than the routers are providing. This always depends on factors not in your post, i.e., the distances involved, how many square feet you have to cover, and much more. In your country you may not have the same power/transmission limitations as the US. AiMesh may take additional tweaking before you get it dialed in.

RMerlin hasn't announced whether he'll include AIMesh in the fork, but it's early; if he does, the extra features in the fork will make it a must have. We use one of our routers as primary, the 2nd is extended, bridge or AP; only you can decide if that might work for you. If you tried it that way, in the LAN-DHCP server section for the primary router, assign your Roku to it's own static IP, then in the VPN client to your US VPN/DNS servers. For the 2nd router, depending which way worked best, you'd use the LAN > Route tab to assign the 2nd router to the local ISP's servers/DNS, so you'd have separate Wi-Fi with you local DNS, or any DNS you like, and you aren't limited to only one configuration. We get excellent coverage without AIMesh in 2000 square feet in 2.5 stories. Curious that two identical routers with AIMesh aren't covering your area, but that's 'unknown-unknowns' at work and no one sees or knows your area like you. Good luck and Cheers.
 

Abbas

Occasional Visitor
Appreciate your response Steven.

I will definitely check out RMerlin's firmware but my only concern is that I'm not 18 and single anymore. Work requires frequent travels and my wife and three kids shouldn't have to worry about troubleshooting. During my younger days of DD-WRT, I remember lots of troubleshooting so I'm a bit concerned about that now.

I have about 4000 sq ft between two floors and then the doorbell. While the ASUS definitely has a lot more features to play with, the coverage and speed is the same as my 3 eeros. I would like to extend the WiFi to the doorbell and it seems that a Ubiquiti outdoor AP might be the way to go.
 

st3v3n

Very Senior Member
Abbas, glad to help. It gives me a chuckle to see the 3's in the handle converted to Es, they're just numbers, no significance or cryptic meaning, so much better than "'sQuirrel,8O9ij&Ze03 for a name or handle.

Being older means owner/admins are forced to dedicate ever more time working with our grownup toys, but really they're easier to work with than ever before; don't worry too much about learn newer methods. Asus and Asuswrt-RMerlin builds are easier to deal with than back in the olden days when DDWRT was the way to make a low-end router more functional or secure. All routers and firmware have as many different points and as many devotees. I retired well beyond the half-century mark so jobs, wife and kids no longer keep me from working on our router. Even when that was the case, it was still necessary to devote the time; there wasn't a choice, the devices need a human touch. If AI takes over the world, look out for AHnald or Cylons. If you're familiar with the Asus GUI, you'll be able to tweak the added features and AIMesh. Wives and older kids can learn and be of great assistance with the router if you're away and something should happen. Kids don't find learning tedious or boring and it teaches them responsibility.

Once you have the routers set up where they give you the correct coverage, they'll seldom need upkeep, except for the occasional security/firmware updates, but they'll never truly be plug and play. Over the years, RMerlin's fork has come to be the first thing many people think of when they buy a new Asus router. Merlin has fixed so much of Asus's code, Asus has adapted much of his work. One thing hasn't changed; router companies want to sell new routers but these days you won't have to be a wizard to tweak them; time is relative. The new Asus firmware is at least partially closed-source, but with RMerlin, we have a very secure firmware that offers great features without a steep learning curve. These days Asus seems to be taking security more seriously. Even so, without RMerlin's work, who knows how long it would've taken for OpenVPN clients/servers to have been added to the official build?

Unless you have particularly dense construction materials in your residence, there's no reason your routers can't cover 4K square feet depending on your floor plan. Placing each router 1/3 in from (equidistant) the outermost walls should provide a good signal throughout for indoor requirements. There's not any outdoor distances mentioned for what AIMesh should bring, but each country has different laws regarding wireless interference. Your gate-bell can be added securely so no would-be WI-Fi gate attacker can access your system. A separate infrared motion-detector for your drive might be something to add. We once had a wireless gate-buzzer that was more of a nuisance than anything, but the motion detector was as dependable as the dog:) It seems everyone now wants multiple cameras pointed at their doors, drives etc, which adds to the WI-Fi interference and security demands.

The wireless security aspect of the outdoor elements such as your gate-bell will never be as secure as I'd prefer, not that it can be. When WI-Fi and devices are inside where transmission power doesn't have to be at the maximum power level, security is easier for the average owner to work with; outdoors, is a different subject; with increased power levels, neighbors become irritable. The further outside the wireless extends, the more your research and judgement matters. It's a convenience and headache we all have to deal with. I still enjoy being able to plug our wireless gadgets in for speed and security while everyone else wanders around. Good luck.
 
Last edited:

scajjr2

Regular Contributor
I have 2 AC86Us, one set as an access point, hardwired from the other AC86U set as router. I get excellent coverage over both floors of the house and out across the yard as well.

Sam
 

Abbas

Occasional Visitor
The issue I probably have that could be different is thick concrete walls. Very thick concrete walls. The outer perimeter of the house has concrete walls that are about 18-inches thick while indoors and between rooms, they're half that size.

I find it very interesting that the ASUS with such thick three antennas provides the same coverage as my 2nd gen Eero with no antennas sticking out. They're both in the same spot and I measure using Ring's app which shows the network strength to the doorbell. With eeros, it was between -66 to -71 and with ASUS it's -68 to -72.
 

maxbraketorque

Very Senior Member
The issue I probably have that could be different is thick concrete walls. Very thick concrete walls. The outer perimeter of the house has concrete walls that are about 18-inches thick while indoors and between rooms, they're half that size.

I find it very interesting that the ASUS with such thick three antennas provides the same coverage as my 2nd gen Eero with no antennas sticking out. They're both in the same spot and I measure using Ring's app which shows the network strength to the doorbell. With eeros, it was between -66 to -71 and with ASUS it's -68 to -72.

Signal strength is only part of the story. Speeds are also affected by the quality of the electonics and the optimizations.

Just a quick note that the AC86Us can be run in main+AP configuration (not AIMESH) as a single network with the same SSID. This is what I did. My house is about the same as yours in sq ft and number of floors, and this setup is working well. Most wifi devices will readily select the stronger network if the signal is appreciably stronger. Android is the exception. It tends to stick to an AP until the signal gets really weak. There will be a momentary loss of signal as a device moves from one AP to the other, but it hasn't been an issue for me. It may be an issue if you wander about your house while using the internet for something like VoIP.

Are you using the 5 GHz band or the 2.4 GHz band as your primary?
 

Abbas

Occasional Visitor
Are you using the 5 GHz band or the 2.4 GHz band as your primary?

I've enabled Smart Connect - I'm guessing that puts both bands to use. According to control panel, my 22+ devices are connected using a mix of both bands. The troubled doorbell is connected via 2.4 GHz.
 

st3v3n

Very Senior Member
Abbas; Voila, Smart Connect was the missing link and to the rescue. Your thick concrete walls would intimidate me if I were a router, no matter how long my antenna or what brand is stamped on my box. Long day, small humor. Still, there's impressive tech inside your and all the crop of mesh routers. Mesh catch up is never played well from behind but as Max noted signal strength isn't everything and size of antenna sticking up may/may not tell the tale. I didn't locate any tear-down photos, not that they'd reveal coils of antenna loops that account for the signal strength at work in your Eero. https://www.custompcreview.com/reviews/eero-review-2nd-generation/

Multiple large antenna poking out always makes for impressive photos. Discounting James Bond or secret government tech that's always 10-years ahead what you can get at retail, if then, or even old satellite burst transmitters the size of a toothpick or pinkie nail, mesh tech is overdue, but the nail isn't in the Asus coffin yet. Analogue cell phones seemed magical and horribly expensive and their digital cousins still are. If Eero matched Orbi's raw performance and added a few Ethernet ports, that would be a race worth watching for mesh. When AIMesh finally settles down I want to play with it. Smart Connect was something we tested for awhile but tweaking our RT-AC3200 for primary did all we asked out to 100 feet .

Eero and Orbi's R&D and engineering is impressive; when they doubled the power between first and 2nd Gen with the 5.8 GHz band, with the insides makes yours effective with not only the door/gatebell but all of your other devices, despite the concrete. Do you have the Pro 1+2 beacon package. Have you compared readings with different devices between rooms not counting the door/gate bell? I had pictured 100 feet at least. Your Eero/Asus readings aren't different enough that would make me forsake Asus for WiFi, since it's a relative new-born in the mesh game. I tested all of our Asus, Apple Airport and Express routers last year as well as a lonely Linksys, the differences most looking black and white (color-wise), for WiFi the Asus topped Apple. When you have the time to tweak your Asus you'll have fun with it, so hang onto your Eeros for the gate-bell. Cheers.
 

Abbas

Occasional Visitor
Abbas; Voila, Smart Connect was the missing link and to the rescue. Your thick concrete walls would intimidate me if I were a router, no matter how long my antenna or what brand is stamped on my box. Long day, small humor. Still, there's impressive tech inside your and all the crop of mesh routers. Mesh catch up is never played well from behind but as Max noted signal strength isn't everything and size of antenna sticking up may/may not tell the tale. I didn't locate any tear-down photos, not that they'd reveal coils of antenna loops that account for the signal strength at work in your Eero. https://www.custompcreview.com/reviews/eero-review-2nd-generation/

Multiple large antenna poking out always makes for impressive photos. Discounting James Bond or secret government tech that's always 10-years ahead what you can get at retail, if then, or even old satellite burst transmitters the size of a toothpick or pinkie nail, mesh tech is overdue, but the nail isn't in the Asus coffin yet. Analogue cell phones seemed magical and horribly expensive and their digital cousins still are. If Eero matched Orbi's raw performance and added a few Ethernet ports, that would be a race worth watching for mesh. When AIMesh finally settles down I want to play with it. Smart Connect was something we tested for awhile but tweaking our RT-AC3200 for primary did all we asked out to 100 feet .

Eero and Orbi's R&D and engineering is impressive; when they doubled the power between first and 2nd Gen with the 5.8 GHz band, with the insides makes yours effective with not only the door/gatebell but all of your other devices, despite the concrete. Do you have the Pro 1+2 beacon package. Have you compared readings with different devices between rooms not counting the door/gate bell? I had pictured 100 feet at least. Your Eero/Asus readings aren't different enough that would make me forsake Asus for WiFi, since it's a relative new-born in the mesh game. I tested all of our Asus, Apple Airport and Express routers last year as well as a lonely Linksys, the differences most looking black and white (color-wise), for WiFi the Asus topped Apple. When you have the time to tweak your Asus you'll have fun with it, so hang onto your Eeros for the gate-bell. Cheers.

You, sir, have a gift for writing. I'd reply just to read what you write back!

I have one second gen eero with a beacon and a couple of first gens. I'm using the second gen as my main router which is also the one closest to the gate- about 50 feet away behind wooden doors and concrete walls.

Orbi was also on my list and so was Amplifi HD. In fact, I might have access to the Amplifi and see if that works better for me than the ASUS and eero. I hear they can cover almost 20,000 feet which is double of what my property is.
 

st3v3n

Very Senior Member
Abbas, nah, shucks, it's only dictation, my typing left me long ago, but thanks:) With 20,000 feet you'll be able to set up your own mesh territory and charge discretely for all your neighbors, if the kids aren't already begging for admission:) I'd still like to see what's in one of those but someone is bound to turn out a photo before long. Whenever you get tired of any of those mesh toys, they make great gifts! Cheers.
 

RogerSC

Part of the Furniture
Abbas, nah, shucks, it's only dictation, my typing left me long ago, but thanks:) With 20,000 feet you'll be able to set up your own mesh territory and charge discretely for all your neighbors, if the kids aren't already begging for admission:) I'd still like to see what's in one of those but someone is bound to turn out a photo before long. Whenever you get tired of any of those mesh toys, they make great gifts! Cheers.

This article has pictures of the inside of the eero gen 2. You can expand the pictures quite a bit by some judicious clicking:

https://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/33125-wi-fi-system-roundup
 

st3v3n

Very Senior Member
Thank you RogerSC, for this by Mr. Higgins. My search-fu for unknown reasons fails on site, but external searches will sometimes lead back to the forum where an article has been sitting all along, this since last August. Tim's photos are revealing and his review as always well-done. Most honorable wife has dibs on the next go-round of personal budget appropriations/expenditures, so perhaps I'll get to play with the winner next year. Still looks like Orbi won that round.
 

BobbyFlobby

Occasional Visitor
I had 2x 68u, one as the mian, and the other in repeater mode via Wifi due to distance and structure, and now have two 86u with the same setup but using the Mesh tech, and its working just as well, if not better than before.

To get the best connection between the two, I set the second one up as repeater and then adjusted their positions until the noise was as low as possible, then switched it to the mesh.
 

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