Hardware recommendations/opinions for upgrading an AI Mesh network

AnClar

Regular Contributor
So I'm going to the community for thoughts on what to buy to upgrade an AI Mesh network at my home...a house full of gamers. Here is my current setup.

Current setup:

AI Mesh 2 with three nodes in wireless backhaul configuration (has to remain wireless backhaul for various reasons).
Main router: RT-AC5300 running Merlin 386.4
Nodes: three RT-AC68U running Merlin 386.4

Cost is not a factor (assume staying with Asus and AI Mesh).

Thanks
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Two or three RT-AX86U's would be ideal. Even two or three RT-AX68U's may work (depending on your ISP speeds, etc.).

How big of a home, in SqFt, are you trying to light up with WiFi? How many levels? How many devices, total, for each band?

What are your current ISP speeds? What is the current performance of the routers you have in place now? What expectations are there for a new setup?
 

AnClar

Regular Contributor
Looking at 7500 sq ft + or - on three levels, cable Internet asymmetric gig. (940/40) pretty reliable. Devices are a mixed bag...say about 40-50 counting IoT, TVs, tablets, phones, laptops and desktop gaming rigs. The majority of devices live on the 5Ghz band, a few...no more than 10 are on the 2.4. System has started to slow some at peak usage times...especially when there's a combination of 4k gaming and 4k streaming going on. When they start yelling that games are rubberbanding, and video streams are buffering, my user base (wife & kids) can get erm...more impatient than my paying clients. I've checked for external and internal potential bottlenecks, and so far, when the slowdowns are going on, performance at the modem is good...I haven't done a detailed traffic analysis yet so I don't know if I might have some systems that are particular resource hogs (over and above the normal bandwidth consumption of the aforementioned concurrent gaming and streaming). I really wish I had fiber as an option in my area, but so far unfortunately not. My worry is that some of my issues are due to the upload speed. I'd hate to just throw hardware at a situation that might be more because of inadequate upload bandwidth than underpowered routers.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
From what I have seen, three RT-AX86U's will give a noticeable throughput improvement in your network (not just peak but sustained too).

The link below shows what the RT-AX68U upgrade did for a client from the best Asus AC class router (RT-AC86U) than what you are using today.

Report - 2x RT-AX68U upgrade over 2x RT-AC86U in wireless backhaul mode

The faster the WiFi, the more capacity the network has. And the more it will feel like each client device is the only one on the network (even when all clients are active).

The only way to know is to test it in your specific environment. But what you have shared so far only convinces me that an upgrade will be worthwhile and tangible for you too.

The following link suggests optimum placement of the routers in 3D space when wired or wireless.

AiMesh Ideal Placement


The following may be worthwhile to reuse the existing routers you have now (if you don't just sell them) for any wired-capable clients. Again, doing so will give you a faster overall network, because the wireless duties will be done faster (with 3 or 4 antennae on the Media Bridge enabled routers vs. the 1 or 2 antennae client devices).

Media Bridge Mode


Additional links you may find useful.

[Wireless] ASUS router Hard Factory Reset | Official Support | ASUS Global

Fully Reset / Best Practice Setup / More

Fully Reset Router and Network - for fully resetting your router/network.

Almost all L&LD Links

About L&LD
 

AnClar

Regular Contributor
Thanks for the great info! Looks like I’ll be going with the h/w you suggest. Would a ROG AXE-11000 be overkill as a main router? Some of my clients will be Wi-Fi 6E capable in the not-too-distant future.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I don't know of any AXE routers I would be willing to spend my own money on today. Even if I have a few AXE client devices too. The clients are cheap, the routers are not. And, they will be expensive and niche too. WiFi 6 is in a good place today, far superior to AC Class 2 networks, and not worth looking at the small/minor benefits WiFi 6E promises (but I don't see delivering, yet).

That will be a 'next step' for your network in some future timeframe. But I suspect that the one to jump to will be WiFi 7 (the one I'm waiting for) in the next year or so. WiFi 7 will be introduced before WiFi 6E is generally available (from all accounts). That is going to leave a lot of hardware orphaned and abandoned in the next few months. But don't worry about this 'roadmap' I'm painting in my head today. WiFi 7 Gen 2 hardware will be the real deal, of course. :)
 

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