AX88U - no 5 GHz radio with 384.14 but fine with 384.15 alpha

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neil0311

Regular Contributor
Received my RT-AX88U (hardware version A1.1) and updated it to Merlin stable build 384.14 with a full reset to factory settings. Configured the 2.4 and 5 GHz networks and other settings from the setup GUI, and rebooted the router.

During reboot the 5 GHz radio LED lights up but the turns off. Under "sysinfo" and temps, the 5 GHz radio shows "disabled" and if I toggle it on/off from the wireless menu, it comes on for a second or two and then turns off. I assumed I might have a hardware problem with a defective 5 GHz radio.

Before I went down the road of hardware replacement, I upgraded to the 384.15_alpha1-gd9c8b621c5 build and did a factory reset. Everything is fine. Both networks are working.

Was there a change in the wireless driver or other reason why this behavior would change so drastically between these two builds? Is it safe to assume the hardware is not the problem (as it doesn't appear to be)?
 

Makaveli

Very Senior Member
Did you set a channel for it or left it to auto?
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Depending on the original firmware that was installed, you may have seen the same results if you had flashed the v384.14 again, followed by another full reset to factory defaults too. :)

Depending on what options you left enabled or changed if you were more patient, the 5GHz band may have eventually shown up again too. Depending on the client device, of course. :)

Using Auto Channel is the worst culprit here. ;)
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
No. Auto, with a fixed channel. ;)

In most of mine and my customer's installations, the lower channels offer a much more lag-free and higher throughput internet experience vs. the higher channels.
 

Gar

Very Senior Member
I always get greater 5g signal strength with higher channels (161 now) so set it there. Can throughput still be better no matter the signal strength, is one independent of the other? Never really thought about it. Maybe I should try a lower channel?
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@Gar, when I began trying to get my head around networking and its ins and outs, I thought that signal strength (along with the least number of adjacent AP's) was king. I was proved wrong. :)

A customer complained that the network I had just set up a few days ago was laggy and very inconsistent with regards to throughput. After thoroughly double checking my work and reporting the same to that customer, I finally saw the issues he had reported to me firsthand. It wasn't a matter of simply finding the highest throughput (there, highest signal strength is best), but rather finding the channel (and width) that gives the best real-use results, which may or may not be the highest signal strength in all cases, but will give a much more consistent and responsive experience instead.

While many factors come into play here, including factors which we cannot measure directly without expensive equipment, the responsiveness of the network is what I tune the networks I setup. This ensures that all factors are taken into account (including the 'invisible' ones) just by simply testing each channel for an appropriate time frame in multiple locations in the area of coverage that is needed.

Sure, it takes a little longer and you're seemingly doing it 'blind' (no apps needed, just a browser to surf the 'net with!), but the end results are always more than satisfactory.

What I have learned since then is that I don't take anything for granted in networking. Each and every setting and assumption is open to be questioned and put to the test when all other 'sensible/logical' choices don't give the expected results. :)
 
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Gar

Very Senior Member
Aside from interference problems with my neighbors I never experimented much. I'd try to find a consistently usable channel and leave it there. I think the neighbors probably have done the same as things have improved a lot over time. But, in so doing, I have ignored the lower channels because they were of lower signal strength...yikes! And I still have ocassional issues. Now I have another challenge, but it may result in improved satisfaction so I'll look into it asap. Thanks for your detailed reply.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
In my own home, I test 3 to 5 specific 'spots' which I use a handful of devices at that I test with the device in question being (usually) in a very specific orientation and using a specific power plan (usually, Highest Performance, while plugged in).

I use at least two browsers (Edge and Firefox) in each location and with each device and I also do a quick speedtest (fast.com) as a sanity check too. I simply browse my normal sites, connect to my NAS and download and upload a few test files and keep an xlsx file of the results for each client device I test with.

While many times the channel and width that gives the highest throughput is also the one that has the highest responsiveness in my testing as described above, it is not a given. As neighbors have moved in and out and/or made upgrades to their wireless networks, the channels I use have changed.

But what has stayed consistent in my home is that with the routers I have had (RT-N66U, RT-AC56U, RT-AC68U, RT-AC3100, RT-AC86U and currently the RT-AX88U), the lower channels invariably give better (i.e. 'more consistent') performance than the higher channels do. Even if the higher channels give higher, peak, throughput numbers.

So, get yourself a beverage of choice, pick a few spots around the house you normally use your wifi devices at and use a spreadsheet (or notepad) for notes and see if this method gives you a better overall network experience too. :)
 
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