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Choice of router/mesh point

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Well, I can certainly recommend 'em except for the fact my white XT8s came with black power cords, hahaha!
I can certainly recommend 'em

If you certainly recommend 'em why you're running Router + AP and not the default AiMesh configuration?

Over the vast majority of time they were (aren't) being used as a "mesh" but instead as "router" and "AP."

Recommending something without sharing all the details around it is kind of providing misleading information, no? This XT8 set is perhaps the one with the most complaints around AiMesh quirks. Folks around used to hunt for a stable AiMesh firmware for years. Some give up already and replaced 'em with something else. Do you have XT9?
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Straw man argumentation? The units themselves work quite well in whatever role I've ever assigned them. You know why I run them as router / AP instead of "meshed", but I'll reiterate. Firstly because I'd dropped ethernet, thus totally freeing up all radios for client use, and secondly because "mesh" severely limits inter-client (and simultaneous-client) communication by utilizing its "same channel everywhere" mentality.

There's obviously little wrong with your memory except perhaps regarding the timeline distribution of "the problems," which were predominantly earlier-on.

It's good-looking and well-performing hardware, and at current prices is to be recommended. I paid $350 for my pair, was happy then, and am still happy about the acquisition.
Straw man argumentation?

Not even close. I don't like when someone is providing information and saving some of the important details in the process. Router + AP is proven much more stable configuration than AiMesh with pros and cons. The reason you have less issues with your XT8 set. If the wife acceptance factor wasn't limiting @dwl99 choice very few people around would recommend XT8/XT9 sets. They are entry-level RT-AX58U hardware with one extra radio. Except for the looks there is no much value there.
One very good extra radio - don't leave that part out. Plenty of value for the use-case. And the "entry-level" radio does quite well in itself, providing useable service through roughly 70' of interior with various walls at shallow angles, some of which have tile and/or large mirrors, out through the exterior brick, through a row of mature American pines another 30' away, to another good 60' to the rear deck of the house next door. But my experience is indeed limited to just one pair; I suppose it could be a fluke...
roughly 70'... another 30' away

This is another piece of information with missing important details. You are in the US and have routers preset differently for your specific region. Your Wi-Fi experience with this specific hardware doesn't apply to someone in different region. The routers are the same model and look the same, but wireless channels availability and Tx power limits are all different. Add on top different less RF transparent building materials in the EU/UK. Do you have any experience with XT8/XT9 limited to 200mW on the only available non-DFS range 36-48 and on the 2x2 radio? In the EU/UK this extra very good radio in DFS range only may be totally useless.

But my experience is indeed limited

This is correct.
I've had a chance to play around with the RT-AX5400 as the router and the TUF Gaming AX3000 V2 as the AIMesh point. Firstly, it's wayyyyyy better than the Vodafone PoS router. I have around 55 device clients connected (most of them low bandwidth) but a few devices seem to randomly disconnect from time to time, including my NAS which is connected via ethernet. I SSH'd into the router and it apparently supports up to 128 clients. I'm thinking about an upgrade to see if that would help. The 3 routers you mentioned, the RT-AX88U Pro, GT-AX6000 and RT-AX86U have all failed to secure spousal approval as they are apparently too ugly to sit out on our hall table. I'm thinking about getting a pair of XT9's (the XT12 got the thumbs down too) instead. Do you think this would fix the disconnection problem and how would you rate the XT9?


I can't rate the XT9s (or any ZenWiFi models, for that matter) as I've never had a reason to use/test them. But just that fact speaks to what I think of them.

Getting something like a wireless network to work in a home isn't up to a wife to decide if she thinks 'pretty' is what works.

I recommend models based on their performance, reliability, and stability.

I wish you good luck with your (non) choice.

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