Best Mesh Router with Pi Hole very old (thick walls) and multi floor apartment

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maximillion82

Occasional Visitor
Hi,

I have a bidirectional 1 Gbit fiber connection and the current router doesn't even cover half of the apartment, because it's a very old building with very thick walls. I decided to purchase a mesh network, I looked at the Asus XT8, I also looked at the Orbi RBK53 (I know one is Wifi 6 the other isn't, but the Orbi costs the same as the Asus), currently there are no Wifi 6 clients and there are only 4 other networks that show up in the vicinity.

I also have a Raspberry Pi 3 Pi Hole running and I read somewhere that stock Asus firmware has some issues with setting DNS, first of all is that true, because the Asus seems like it's the better value for money. We have smart home devices (Hue lights, 6 Sonos speakers, 2 Smart TVs, 4 computers, 2 tablets and 4 smartphones).

Considering the 1Gbit fiber internet, the need of multiple access points (mesh) and a Pi Hole to work properly, ideally with Stock firmware, what mesh system would you recommend, I also would like to keep the budget below $500 it that's possible.
 

bbunge

Part of the Furniture
Asus does not have issues with DNS. I have run my AC86U and AC66U_B1 with a Pi-Hole on stock firmware successfully. The Merlin firmware for Asus does give you better control of client DNS requests and has a great add blocker add-on called Diversion.
From what I have read the XT8 routers are a great tri-band device. If you can run an Ethernet cable between the router and node a pair of AC86U's would work well and save a few bucks. The Asus CT8 is a tri-band and about $100 less than the XT8. If you do not need AX stay with AC.
 

maximillion82

Occasional Visitor
Ah thank you. I was reading multiple threads like the one here ( https://www.reddit.com/r/pihole/comments/atbebq ) and people complained having issues with their Pi Hole on Asus routers, glad that's not the case. I do have the option to run cables between the floors, but the CT8 sounds interesting. SoI won't need Merlin with that to run a Pi Hole reliably?
Sorry for asking this many questions, Asus is new to me, and I am installing this in my father's home, there is no way he can deal with a custom firmware and I worry about updates being missed. At my place I have a Netgear XR500 and all works well, but it wouldn't work at this place with those brick walls, I am more familiar with Netgear, but the Orbi is overpriced compared to what Asus offers.


Asus does not have issues with DNS. I have run my AC86U and AC66U_B1 with a Pi-Hole on stock firmware successfully. The Merlin firmware for Asus does give you better control of client DNS requests and has a great add blocker add-on called Diversion.
From what I have read the XT8 routers are a great tri-band device. If you can run an Ethernet cable between the router and node a pair of AC86U's would work well and save a few bucks. The Asus CT8 is a tri-band and about $100 less than the XT8. If you do not need AX stay with AC.
 

SomeWhereOverTheRainBow

Very Senior Member
Ah thank you. I was reading multiple threads like the one here ( https://www.reddit.com/r/pihole/comments/atbebq ) and people complained having issues with their Pi Hole on Asus routers, glad that's not the case. I do have the option to run cables between the floors, but the CT8 sounds interesting. SoI won't need Merlin with that to run a Pi Hole reliably?
Sorry for asking this many questions, Asus is new to me, and I am installing this in my father's home, there is no way he can deal with a custom firmware and I worry about updates being missed. At my place I have a Netgear XR500 and all works well, but it wouldn't work at this place with those brick walls, I am more familiar with Netgear, but the Orbi is overpriced compared to what Asus offers.
The biggest issues users have running pi-hole on merlin is that they miss configure something.

Here is how I have mine configured. (the most basic method).

LAN DHCP DNS 1 is set to PI-HOLES IP ( this is not WAN DNS1 which would send the routers internal traffic to pihole, flooding pihole with unnecessary router traffic and router lookups.)
DNS FILTER GLOBAL is set to ROUTER (this forces traffic to PI-HOLE LAN DHCP DNS 1 if hard coded DNS devices attempt to skip pihole).

script configured in /jffs/scripts/dnsmasq.postconf with this line added

Code:
#!/bin/sh
CONFIG=$1
source /usr/sbin/helper.sh
pc_replace "dhcp-option=lan,option6:23,[::]" "dhcp-option=lan,option6:23,[IPV6-ADDRESS of PIHOLE]" $CONFIG

This passes both ipv4 and ipv6 LAN to clients on the network.

NOTE: the most critical part that users may neglect it is critical to give your PI-HOLE a static IPV4 (and a static IPV6 address).
There are many ways to do this
I find the best way of doing this is by modifing /etc/dhcpcd.conf
on the raspberrypi itself.
add your modified version of the segment below.
Code:
interface wlan0 #this is for wireless PIHOLE
static ip_address=IPV4 PIHOLE/24
static ip6_address=IPV6 PIHOLE/64
static routers=ROUTERS IP ADDRESS


interface eth0 #this is for wired PIHOLE
static ip_address=IPV4 PIHOLE/24
static ip6_address=IPV6 PIHOLE/64
static routers=ROUTERS IP ADDRESS
 

maximillion82

Occasional Visitor
Thank you, that is very helpful. I will order the Asus CT8 and configure it this way. I update once it's done, it might take a while because I will also change the ISP the current one doesn't support third party hardware, the ISP box has no Ethernet ports and the Wi-Fi of the ISP box is an all-in-one with the TV receiver.
 

maximillion82

Occasional Visitor
The Eero pro look nice but Amazon doesn’t ship them to Switzerland.
I have a Netgear Router and yesterday installed PiHole on my Synology though docker. I’ve noticed a weird behavior of the Netgear XR500, even when I point the DNS to my NAS, it points it back to itself, so traffic goes back and forth creating latency. I checked NG support forums and the official reply of NG is, that it’s still working, and there is no need to change (fix the issue). At this point and with the already terrible experience with the XR500 I wouldn’t buy another NG product. Their hardware is top but their software is garbage and so is their support.
 

mister

Regular Contributor
Dear all,
I need your support as well. I installed on my pi4 the pihole and configured it as above. In the dashboard of pihole everything is green and running smoothly, but the raspberry pi itself is not able to update anymore.
He doesn´t get a name resolution if I write sudo apt get update ...

Any ideas why that is happening?
Pihole is not my dhcp server.....


Thanks a lot for your support.
 
Last edited:

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