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Is Amplifi WiFi a mesh system or not?

Discussion in 'Wireless Buying Advice' started by hifiguy, Aug 18, 2016.

  1. hifiguy

    hifiguy Occasional Visitor

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    I have been thinking about getting one of the new WiFi "mesh" systems for my home. Eero was going to be what I was considering to get, but now I see there is the new Amplifi system by Ubiquiti. Where I am confused is if is a mesh wireless system similar to Eero, or is it a hybrid mesh/repeater system.

    The reason I ask is I've read and seen conflicting info on exactly what kind of system it is. On their site they say it's a mesh system, but I think I read somewhere here at SNB that the 2 units that plug directly in the wall are just repeaters. I've also seen different terminology on youtube.

    Can anyone clarify on if it is a full mesh system? Thank you for your help.
     
  2. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Good question. When originally announced, the system was strictly central router and conventional repeater.

    I've been told "mesh" features have since been added. But I can't confirm this until I test the product. I'll get a first look next week and see what's up.

    What do you think is the difference between mesh and "hybrid mesh/repeater"?
     
  3. hifiguy

    hifiguy Occasional Visitor

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    I have no idea, lol. I just thought because I've seen some refer to it as a mesh system and some as repeaters perhaps it is some kind of hybrid system if there even is such a thing. I am hoping it is a mesh system like Eero, as it is less expensive and seems to have certain capabilities the other mesh systems don't such as being able to access info through a web browser in addition to a phone app, has more radios I believe for the HD model, and the HD system says it covers up tp 20,000 ft I believe.
     
  4. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Be wary of any distance or coverage claims because you never know how they are measured. "Covering" X sq. ft can mean you get a signal in that area, but you may not get any usable throughput at the edges of coverage.

    If you want a "mesh" system like eero, but want to spend less, there's Luma.
     
  5. Senna1

    Senna1 New Around Here

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    New guy here, with the same question/interest as hifiguy.

    I've had several chats w/ Amplifi support trying to make a buying decision, one on this very topic. They're very sketchy about revealing any technical details, but their staffer did acknowledge that chaining the 'mesh points' to reach a 2nd story (rather than individually linking each mesh point to the central router) was possible, but would decrease performance by 'about 40%'.

    Take that FWIW, but to me that sounds like a typical repeater behavior, if it's true.

    OTOH, I've read one review of the Amplifi system compared directly to Luma and eero in two different home environments, with the result being that the Amplifi (HD) was the fastest system overall in both cases; despite the fact that both eero and Luma claim/appear to be doing some level of active radio backhaul management. This was from the WSJ, so it wasn't a technically comprehensive review, just one of the few currently out there.

    I'm very tempted, but I think I'm going to wait a couple months to see how these systems shake out in reality. I've been dealing with my 2.4G N only network for a while now, a few more months won't kill me, and I only plan to spend the money upgrading my wireless network once.
     
  6. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Senna1: I think you're wise to wait. All these systems are works in progress.
    Any of these systems, "mesh" or not, will suffer a ~50% throughput hit when a radio retransmits.

    None of these systems has dedicated backhaul radio(s). But eero does split 5 GHz into low and high band radios, so has one more option for managing backhaul and client traffic.
     
    sfx2000 likes this.
  7. Senna1

    Senna1 New Around Here

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    thiggins: I look forward to any testing you get done with the Amplifi.

    The Ubiquiti HD system starts with an inherent radio advantage over the others (3X3 vs 2x2), I believe, which might be why it's still faster even after a substantial throughput penalty for the wireless hop.

    I was on the verge of simply buying a traditional big honkin' AC router, and I'm pretty convinced of the advantages of multiple APs over that way now. The decision now is to roll my own (in a house that isn't currently wired for ethernet), or whether any of these 'easy button' systems will be good enough that I don't feel compelled to start testing out PLCs, MoCA adapters, etc in lieu of fishing cable through two stories.
     
  8. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    I set up Amplifi in my office at one end and lower level of house.

    I put one "mesh" point (MP) a floor above and over the router. Connected ok.

    Put the other MP in my kitchen dead zone, one floor up and opposite end of house.
    It does not connect.

    Moved the first MP on same upper floor to middle of house. It connects fine. Kitchen MP still doesn't connect.

    That tells me that Amplifi ain't doing "mesh". MPs, can connect only to the router.

    So the system works as originally described. It's a router with pre-paired extenders.
     
  9. whsbuss

    whsbuss Senior Member

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    Interesting find. However I saw somewhere that the MPs can cascade connect at a cost of bandwidth. See if there's anything in the user manual or chat with them. I'm sure I saw this

    EDIT: on page 12 you can change the mesh band from default 5g to 2.4g which can help. But I'm sure you can set it up for cascade operation.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  10. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Yes I saw that. But there are no controls to enable mesh points to connect. Even the diagram in the app has the router in the middle of two mesh points.

    I've questioned Ubiquiti multiple times on this and have not received a response.
     
  11. whsbuss

    whsbuss Senior Member

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    Okay good. I will continue to look for that cascade I read somewhere. I know the app shows the router are the connection point. Is it possible to place it centrally so both MPs connect? That's what I plan on doing if/when I get mine.

    Check pg.15 on the AmpliFi quick start guide. Clearly shows multi-point connection.

    https://amplifi.com/docs/AmpliFi_HD_QSG.pdf
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2016
  12. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Yes it does. But my experiment shows it doesn't work, at least not with default settings.
     
  13. whsbuss

    whsbuss Senior Member

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    Probably because the default setting for the MP is 5G. Try the 2.4G setting to see if they cascade.
     
  14. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    I've put enough time into it for now. I'll wait until Ubiquiti provides the explanation I've asked for about their "mesh" claims.
     
    whsbuss likes this.
  15. sfx2000

    sfx2000 Part of the Furniture

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    Seems like "mesh" is the current/hot marketing buzz word these days...
     
  16. Spencer Davidson

    Spencer Davidson New Around Here

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    Are you running updated firmware? App? I got my system a couple weeks ago and have a narrow home with modem connected in my office at one end of my home. So, I have a mesh point in the center of my house and another one at the far end where my bathroom is (Main > Mesh > Mesh) I took out the middle mesh to test if the furthest one would connect to main unit - and surprisingly it still did, but with a low signal (30%). When I plugged back in middle mesh - signal jumped to 80%. When you set yours up, does it look like this?
     

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  17. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Running 1.2.1 0-g0b588ce on router and mesh points.

    Your experiment isn't the same as mine. I purposely am locating the second mesh point where it can't communicate with the router. If "mesh" is working, the two MPs should be able to connect so that the router can do what it needs to do to optimize the far MP connection.
     
  18. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    I'm not imagining the problem. Ubiquiti confirmed it's a problem with the HD model. They sent it to me for review, but it's not released for sale yet. They're supposed to get me a fix later this week.

    I'm also asking for a regular Amplifi unit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2016
  19. whsbuss

    whsbuss Senior Member

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    Thanks Tim. Hoping they fix this as I'm wanting an HD unit. Wonder if the LR unit has the same issue.
     
  20. thiggins

    thiggins Mr. Easy Staff Member

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    Problem is said to be only with the HD, which is not yet shipping.

    HD is the only one with 3x3 mesh points.