HW for a mesh of three

fantom

Occasional Visitor
Hi, can the good folks here on the forum recommend the best routers to build a mesh of three nodes? I checked the supported routers and they differ significantly in price and specs. What would be the most optimal hw config? All three locations are wired and I hope Asus mesh supports a wired backhaul.

Update:
The ISP speed is 300/300 Mbps and no plans to change it any time soon (years)
Three levels (two + basement); ~1,400 sq ft each level
Construction is particle boards
50+ wireless devices; nothing wired
I hear that AX routers are better even for all AC devices, so I would go with AX to future proof.

I do have a network drop near the middle of the space, so maybe I do not need three.
 
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gatitofroilan

New Around Here
I have an AC88U as main router and AC86U as mesh node conected by cable to main router.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
What are your ISP speeds (what will they be in the near future)? What internal LAN devices do you have now or plan to use in the near future?

Why do you believe that you need 3 nodes?

What is the SqFt of the area to be covered? How many levels?

How many devices do you have online?

2x RT-AX86U's, strategically placed, can cover a lot (=>5K SqFt) and depending on the construction materials used, very close to Gbps speeds, throughout.

With WiFi, remember that less (AP's) is more.

I would not recommend mixing different models with different specifications together if you want the best performance along with the highest reliability of the network.
 

heysoundude

Part of the Furniture
Hi, can the good folks here on the forum recommend the best routers to build a mesh of three nodes? I checked the supported routers and they differ significantly in price and specs. What would be the most optimal hw config? All three locations are wired and I hope Asus mesh supports a wired backhaul.
Wired backhaul is the preferred setup for AiMesh.
I would think you should start with a router and a node and then scale up if wireless coverage is below expectation; Asus suggests that each of their machines of late is good for 2500+ sqft of coverage, which is more than the average NAmerican home. That will permit you to buy the newer hardware.
HOWEVER - see what the latest wireless capability of your wireless clients are to further narrow down your decision...hold off buying AX routers if you've only a few devices that are capable of using it and don't expect to be upgrading the rest in short order. the decision to go AC or AX also hinges on the package speed from your provider - a router that can throughput 2Gbps is a bit of overkill when your package speed is below 500Mbps, right?
 

heysoundude

Part of the Furniture
AX86U as main router. AX68U as mesh nodes. Other lower cost Asus routers could be used as nodes.
AC86 router with AC68 node(s) is also applicable if there are more AC-wireless clients than AX...and it gets you accustomed to Mesh Networking for the price of an AX86 (in my part of the world, at least) or below
 

fantom

Occasional Visitor
Thx for the comments. I have updated my first post with more details, that I should have provided from the beginning. Maybe I do not need a mesh after all....
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
There is no point in buying a new AC router today. The AX routers are honestly in another class. Even with 'only' symmetrical 300/300 Mbps speeds today.

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


The router currently in use isn't indicated... I am assuming it is the ISP-provided one.

With a central wired location available for the main router, a single RT-AX86U may be all that is needed to not only improve today's network setup but also far into the future too.

If you do decide to test a new router/network today, I would buy 3x of the same model (again the RT-AX86U is the price/performance king today). Only unbox them one at a time, and only if needed. Return the unused products.

AiMesh Ideal Placement


Further links that you may find helpful to get your router/network to its best-performing state.

Fully Reset / Best Practice Setup / More

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

Almost all L&LD Links

About L&LD
 

fantom

Occasional Visitor
Thx, but three RT-AX86U are expensive. The replies do indicate that one might be enough, though.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Everything good is expensive. But you're not forced to keep them if they're not actually needed.

In your use case, the RT-AX68U may be enough too. But it isn't a long-term product like the much better RT-AX86U is. Nor can I predict if it is better than the router you're currently using, but not willing to share the model number with us. :)
 

fantom

Occasional Visitor
A border router is OpenWRT to do CAKE, etc. (no wifi) and two or three google wifi packs (not Nest)
 

noah way

Regular Contributor
Mesh is good for centralized control of large networks. For a simple network with only a couple of APs using repeaters is more flexible, with more granular control, and provides exactly the same performance.

As to equipment I like to run older, cheaper, proven tech. My network uses two AC68Us. The router is on Merlin (for Diversion), the AP (150' away) is on an older stock firmware.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
I do believe that either the RT-AX68U or the RT-AX86U (or up to 3x of them) will be a significant upgrade over your current setup.

The only question remaining is your willingness to spend (to at least test) if new hardware is required today.
 

Viktor Jaep

Senior Member
@fantom ... I may be the only non-traditional crazy one in the group... but this is how I have things setup:

Border Router/Firewall: AC86U, running private 2.4/5GHz ranges
Mesh Network: Google Nest Wi-Fi -- "Router" hardwired into AC86U, with 3 nodes throughout the house, running the common household network that everyone and their mother of devices hooks into (at last count, 61 devices).

* NordVPN running on the AC86U router, through which all traffic from the Google Nest Mesh Wi-Fi flows. I make exceptions for devices that should not be running through the VPN by assigning them to the AC86U private network (like TV, Xbox, VoIP phone).

* Pleasant side-effect... This lets our family members use the Google smart home functionality with the Google Home app, and control devices through it, turning on lights, adding devices, playing music, like kicking kids off at a certain times, blocking devices, moving shady devices onto its guest network. And lets me keep the AC86U network lean for only those devices that need exceptions, or for me to experiment with.

* Another pleasant side-effect... The Google Nest devices manage themselves... they apply firmware themselves, reboot themselves... I literally don't need to worry about them or touch them. Unlike other setups that require separate manual firmware updates, reconfiguration, troubleshooting why they won't participate as a mesh member, etc... it's been extremely hands-off, and another thing I don't really need to concern myself with.

* Downside... visibility and management is split between the Asus router/devices and the Google router/devices. However, with the few static devices that are running on the Asus end, most of my interest and time is spent managing the Google Home end... which in the end, is extremely minimal. In other words, I'm not sad that everything isn't visible/measurable/manageable behind one pane of glass.
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
That is an example of another way. But allowing Google into your home (on purpose), and paying for the privilege? Shudder...
 

fantom

Occasional Visitor
I may be the only non-traditional crazy one in the group... but this is how I have things setup:
That is an interesting setup, but I am not into smart devices at all and some of my devices can only get a half of my ISP speed with google wifi while other devices get full speed.
This is a good quality Qualcomm IPQ4019 AC Wave 2 hardware. I would continue using it. It's more stable than Asus AiMesh.
This is the 2020 hw refresh and besides inconsistent speeds, I want to be able to create isolated work/school wifi networks, which to my recollection ASUS routers can do. And according to the comments above I can get away with a single unit, which would make things simpler.
If you need Wi-Fi only, there are better options. You don't need to buy Asus routers.
Can you elaborate?
 

Viktor Jaep

Senior Member
That is an example of another way. But allowing Google into your home (on purpose), and paying for the privilege? Shudder...
LOL :D ... told you I was the crazy one!
 
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Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Can you elaborate?

Do it properly with PoE access points and VLAN network separation. If you rely on AiMesh guest networks - read multiple threads on SNB how buggy and inconsistent it is for many users. Asus is trying to fix it for many months. AiMesh is a marketing name of afterthought solution with main goal to sell more Asus routers. It's no much different than wired access points or wireless repeaters and has design limitations. It uses the same channels (all nodes share the bandwidth) and you have no nodes power control (needed for better roaming tuning). Get the routers and test, but make sure you have the option to send them back. This is mostly Asus users forum and Asus is all you get. Don't limit your options to home routers only. Search and you'll find better.
 

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