Any non-ASUS solutions for full-home WiFi with many Ethernet devices on different levels of the home?

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pcb

Occasional Visitor
I live in a 3-story condo and I have multiple Ethernet-only devices on each level of my home that require WiFi access. Re-wiring for in-home Ethernet is not an option.

I own an ASUS RT-AC5300 as my primary router (on 2nd floor where the single fiber Internet connection is) and have two RT-86U units set up as media bridges, one on each of the other floors.

I tried AiMesh for almost a year. It is slow and extremely unreliable. (Client devices connected to mesh nodes kept losing internet access.) *

In my current configuration (1 router, 2 media bridges), any device connected to the media bridge eventually loses its internet connection, and rebooting the media bridge and/or router is the only thing that will fix it.

Are there any RELIABLE devices/ecosystems that will allow me to deliver WiFi to my many Ethernet-only devices? I don't care about cost if it works.

* A while back I actually worked for two years on a competing mesh networking technology that never made it to market, funny enough. It is extremely difficult work. Even though our own mesh technology sucked, we were comforted by the fact that all our competitors' products also sucked (either incompatible, unreliable, slow, short-ranged, or some combination of the four). Asus made the best of the competing products, which is why I use them now. But they still suck and now that I'm in the market for such a thing because I'm working from home and I NEED CONNECTIVITY to put food on the table I'm really disappointed that I haven't found a good solution.
 

pcb

Occasional Visitor
Do you have any coaxial cable in your home that could be used for either MOCA or DECA connections?
Good question- there are coax connections in two of the three rooms where I need connectivity. One of the ports is even in a good location (the other is not, but perhaps usable with some shuffling of devices and yet another big ugly cable in the living room). So we would still need an all wireless solution for the bottom floor.
 

CaptainSTX

Part of the Furniture
If you don't subscribe to CATV or satellite then DECA is a good option. If you do have a video service then MOCA can work very well and a downside is that the adapters are more expensive than DECA.
 

krkaufman

Senior Member
Coexistence concerns and cost aside, MoCA 2.0/2.5 offer much greater throughput:

DECA (MoCA 1.1): <100 Mbps (limited by FastE adapter NIC)
MoCA 1.1: <170 Mbps (or 100 Mbps if FastE adapter NIC)
Standard MoCA 2.0: <400 Mbps
Bonded MoCA 2.0: <800 Mbps
MoCA 2.5: <2000 Mbps shared bandwidth; so GigE full duplex

edit: NOTE that the MoCA 2.0 max throughput values would see a 25% bump in an isolated 2-node setup, what the spec called "TURBO" mode.
 
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Trip

Very Senior Member
eBay the Asus beta-ware for sure.

Wired Backbone -- If you can, do it, with MoCa if necessary, using GoCoax WF-803M's ($60 ea.) and a MoCa-compatible splitter(s). Regardless of the gear you choose to put on top of it, you'll benefit from the stability of having at least a partial wired backbone at your disposal.

Gear -- Since all but one AP location would be hard-wired, you actually have two options:
1) SMB-grade discrete components -- wired router, optional switch and wire-first, controller-based APs, most of which support wireless uplink.
2) Consumer mesh, specifically Eero (more on that below).

If your skill set is up to it, I would go with option #1. It will provide more total fronthaul capacity and usually better roaming behavior, because consumer mesh requires all nodes use the same fronthaul channel in each band, effectively capping wifi capacity to one channel/AP's worth of throughput/airtime, regardless of how many nodes you scale to; plus, some endpoints may not roam as cleanly when all APs are using the same channel. Additionally, with SMB-grade discrete components, your network will function more like an appliance and less like a toy. A good example setup would be a Cisco RV340 router and three Cisco CBW140AC APs, one per floor (or the CBW145AC, plug/wall form-factor mesh unit in the basement).

If all of that sounds too daunting, and you just want the ability to pull a single product out of the box and use it, then Eero is your play, and IMHO it's the only consumer mesh product worth considering when wireless uplink is a factor. Why? 1) It's actual mesh, 2) it has QoS that actually works, both between nodes and out to the internet, 3) it automatically adjusts radio roles (fronthaul/backhaul) per node in accordance with traffic needs and 4) re-channelizes the entire mesh to compensate for wifi interference, all in real time. No other consumer product does any one of those nearly as well, let alone all of them, and added together they make a huge difference in the "it just works" factor. If you're internet is on the slower side (<500Mb), make sure to enable "Optimize for Conferencing & Gaming" during setup (Eero's layman's term for SQM QoS plus automatic speedtest-based shaping adjustment). If you need more ports at any Eero location (they only have 2 ports per unit), simply wire in a $20 8-port switch at any location.

So that's your decision flow. Either option, properly installed, will solve your issues for good. Any questions, feel free.
 
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pcb

Occasional Visitor
Thanks for the very thoughtful replies. I am glad to know the Eero devices have Ethernet ports (something I was looking for on the Nest Wifi devices). I have Ethernet switches out the yang, so that wouldn't be a hardship to set up. I've been concerned about range with all these little things that don't have outer antennae, but I guess if you have enough of them...

I prefer a solution that doesn't involve cables since a cable run's not possible to our lower level and I wish to have one solution for the whole home.

Over the weekend I factory-reset then flashed my AC5300 and two AC86Us with the latest stable Merlin FW, and set the AC86Us back up as Aimesh nodes. The performance is a little better than when I was running AiMesh with the ASUS FW, and so far no glitches. It will be a couple of weeks before I know whether this configuration is stable. Fingers crossed!
 

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