Looking for Wifi6 Mesh - No Orbi!

John_88

Occasional Visitor
Hi folks,

I am happy to have found this forum and have already read several hours.

At the moment I am using a Netgear Orbi RBK-753. Since months I am spending countless hours with investigating my network issues. With every firmware-update things get worse and I am totally fed up with their forced firmware updates. Netgears support is sadly a joke and couldn't provide any useful information or attempts to solve my issues. iOS-Devices are badly slow while browsing, wifi-devices are roaming without any sense, security-cameras are disconnecting, stereo hompods are acting up. The issues change a bit with every update. So I am done with netgear support and their orbi system. Also the administration surface is bit "weak".

My network requirements are not extraordinary:
  • wifi 6(e)
  • mesh
  • stable, because we work from home with a lot of video calls
  • 200+ MBits in every room
  • 4k video-streaming with sound via airplay (homepods)
So I am looking at Asus Zenwifi Pro XT12, which provides a lot of features for administration, which looks nice!
I am very unsure if I should buy the XT12 or ET12 version, while I read, that ET12's backhaul is weaker because of the new frequencies in comparision to the XT12 version. Can you provide more information about that? I couldn't find proper information about that.

My home is a L-shaped Bungalow with about 135 qm (~1500 sqft). The internet-connection is in the "corner"of the L, so i placed the Orbi Router in my office. My wifes office is at the longer end of the L. In her office we have a NAS and a printer which both are connected via wire to one mesh-router (Orbi satellite). The second satellite is in the living room to provide strong wifi to all our entertainment stuff and the terrace. My entertainment stuff sometimes roames between the router in my office and in the livingroom, which makes no sense... I played a bit with the signal-strength, but orbi does not allow to adjust the signal-strength on the satellites.... Nevermind, maybe we don't need the satellite in the living room. For a better understanding see my picture attached, my english is maybe not that precise.

So my thoughts are going to buy a Zenwifi XT (ET)12 with only 2 accesspoints. Maybe the XT8 with 3 router is an option, too. Normally I am using this kind of hardware until it dies or can't keep up with my requirements. Because of that I am interessted in buying peak technology, which is the XT12 and not the XT8 ;) But I am receptive for good arguments!

Best Regards,

John!
 

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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Welcome to the forums @John_88.

Opinion: I would hardly consider the Zen product's peak technology!

Current Order of Recommended Routers Late 2021

And I would begin with a single router (RT-AX86U would be my choice for a single router) and only add another identical model (i.e. 2x RT-AX68Us, for example) if actually required.

The links in the post below may be helpful too (please read my other posts in that thread too).

 

John_88

Occasional Visitor
Welcome to the forums @John_88.

Opinion: I would hardly consider the Zen product's peak technology!

Current Order of Recommended Routers Late 2021

And I would begin with a single router (RT-AX86U would be my choice for a single router) and only add another identical model (i.e. 2x RT-AX68Us, for example) if actually required.

The links in the post below may be helpful too (please read my other posts in that thread too).


Hi and thank you very much for your answer. A single device (tested with avm fritzbox and Orbi RBR750) is not able to provide fast and stable wifi in our home. We have like about 20 active wifi-clients which need to have reliable access to the network. Since day 1 in this house we need to have at least 2 accesspoints. Even if I use 2 RT-AX86U, the dualband will probably not be enough, especially if I need a wifi-backhaul.

Opinion: I would hardly consider the Zen product's peak technology!
I meant Wifi 6(e) and the mesh-technology for "consumers". I know there are better and faster solutions, but they have to be affordable ;) The Zenworks look like a good substitute for my unreliable Orbi... Are there any reasons against my proposal? I try to understand why you proposed to choose the RT-AX86U ;)

But thats what a dedicated backhaul is for? Correct me, if I am wrong. But there shouldn't be a big slowdown, because the mesh-devices have a quad-band wifi and can "sacrifice" a 5ghz band for the backhaul... I don't want a repeater ;)


Best Regards!
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
but orbi does not allow to adjust the signal-strength on the satellites...

The same as AiMesh. Read around SNB Forums how stable wireless AiMesh is and think again. Every time a new XT8 firmware arrives the first question is how stable the setup is. XT12 is a new product and you'll be the beta tester. AiMesh is not a mesh, but a marketing name. If you want stability, explore Ethernet backhaul options and look at Small Business access points. For 1500sqf you need only two. Careful with Asus fans around. ;)
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Why do I suggest an RT-AX86U (or two)?

RT-AX86U vs. RT-AX88U

386.1 Final 2x RT-AX86Us 2.5GbE Backhaul


I don't know the Orbi line at all (except by heresy), but compared to an RT-AX86U, they are not in the same league, I'm sure. :)

There are no quad-band WiFi mesh devices that I know of (yet; the GT-AX16000 will be the first, I believe). Using multiple bands/channels within your home for a mere 1,500 SqFt coverage area isn't being nice to your neighbors and won't help you get top speeds either. With WiFi, less is more. Particularly with a time-shared medium like WiFi, is.

Ask any further questions you want to, but really, further discussion isn't necessary. What is necessary is testing this in your own home.

Forget what your current expectations are. Buy either 2x RT-AX86Us, 2x RT-AX86s, or 2x RT-AX68Us and only open one box to first test with inside your home. I believe you may be pleasantly surprised.
 

tgl

Regular Contributor
I hear you. About a year ago I bought a full kit of Orbi RBK850 nodes, and I was fat and happy for a month or two, until they pushed a forced firmware update that substantially reduced reliability for me (multi-second service outages, problems when roaming from one node to another, and I forget what else). There was no option to revert back to the old firmware, which had been stable for me. I limped along, hoping for an update that would fix it, for several months. That ended when I woke up one morning to a bricked base unit: flashing red LED, no data passing through, and power-cycling it didn't fix it. I was able to restore service via a hard reset and reconfigure, but the moment I had connectivity again I started shopping for a replacement.

I landed on the ASUS XT8 units. If I'd been aware of these forums at the time, I would have known that that was jumping from the frying pan into the fire. ASUS are even less competent at basic software quality control than Netgear. If you want to get work done with ASUS WiFi gear, you'll be well advised to watch the per-release threads here and not update until there's some consensus that a new release is stable ... and always, always be prepared to revert back to the prior firmware. (At least with ASUS, that is an option, as long as you save the firmware files.)

I've currently given up on both of those lines and am using Zyxel NWA210AX units. These are just access points not routers, but that's fine by me because I'd been running the other gear in access point mode anyway --- all of my LAN is behind an ISP-provided router, and I'm not paranoid enough to want a double layer of NAT. I do not want to give the impression that Zyxel are perfect, because I've hit a couple of glitches in their gear too. But the mere fact that the gear does so much less means that it has less surface for bugs. Try to avoid buying a router if all you need is an access point.

If you are more interested in tinkering with your WiFi gear than in "it just works", I will say this for ASUS: they expose a lot more knobs than Orbi does. I went back to take another look at the Orbis' configuration options a little bit ago, and was kind of horrified at how neighbor-unfriendly they are: they basically want to chew *all* the available non-DFS bandwidth in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, and it's very difficult to alter their RF configuration in any significant way. If I'd known then what I know now, I'd have been upset about that too. (And in hindsight, I'm wondering if the problems I had with the units had anything to do with interference from my neighbors' WiFi.)

Independent of which gear you choose, wireless backhaul is a problem masquerading as a solution. You will find it far more stable and performant if you can manage to run an ethernet cable to each wireless AP that you need. I concur with @L&LD's point that you probably don't need as many as you think.
 

tgl

Regular Contributor
Independent of which gear you choose, wireless backhaul is a problem masquerading as a solution.

BTW, if you choose to ignore that sage(?) advice, I think there definitely is a case for choosing the ET12 over the XT12. The fundamental problem with wireless backhaul in the WiFi 6 environment is that it has to compete for extremely scarce spectrum. There are only two clear 80MHz channels in the 5GHz band unless you're willing to risk using DFS channels. If you live someplace that's densely-populated enough that you can get internet speeds that justify any of this discussion, then you probably need to stay out of the DFS channels (because airport radar) and you probably have to share airtime with some near neighbors too. Those things create huge problems for wireless backhaul, because it automatically doubles the amount of airtime/channel bandwidth needed for every transmission. There's noplace to get that for free.

In theory (I have no experience with the practice, yet) WiFi 6e should greatly alleviate this problem by opening up a bunch more non-DFS spectrum in the 6GHz band. So if you intend to rely on wireless backhaul, ISTM it'd be worth springing for 6e-capable APs even if you have no 6e-capable clients yet. Putting the backhaul into that free spectrum would be worth the price of admission all by itself.

Having said that, I still stand by the point that you shouldn't buy a router if an access point would do.
 

avtella

Very Senior Member
@L&LD The highest end Orbi 963 being sold for the past few months is Quadband 2.4 Ghz/ 2x 5Ghz/6Ghz (1 5Ghz band is used as backhaul) with 1x 10Gbe and 1x 2.5 Gbe ports on main unit plus plus 1x 2.5 Gbe on the satellites aside from gig ports. Pretty high retail $$$ for the 3 pack though. Granted I got mine as a tester last year, it has been extremely stable thus far .
 
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John_88

Occasional Visitor
Thank you guys for that detailed discussion! as soon as the RT-AX86U is available on amazon I will give it a try. I am very curious if it can reach all important spots at my house ;)
 

John_88

Occasional Visitor
Okay, I couldn't wait and really really want to get rid of this Orbi-Garbage... I ordered a rt-ax68u...
I just need it as access-point. Do I lose some functions while using it just as accesspoint?
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Yes, you lose all functions when used as an Access Point. However, you should be able to reap most/all the benefits of the superior RF design/hardware and SDK's used. ;)
 

John_88

Occasional Visitor
Ok, I am very curious:)
Compared to the orbis the functions and options from that asus-gear are huge! A shame that I will not be able to use them. Sadly the AX86U has no modem, so I need to use another router in front of the asus router. Double-NAT is maybe not the smartest option ;) But actually my goal was to replace the orbis (ap-mode) which I will try at first. Also I have ordered only one out of optimism ;) I will report to you!
 

John_88

Occasional Visitor
Hi again. Hardware arrived today, but after the first steps I am not really happy.
Terrace and bedroom just get 0-3 mbit/s. One can barely open a website.

For a test I fixed the 2,4 ghz to channel 1. None of my devices found the 2,4ghz wifi and all devices which connected to the 5 ghz net and the speed was fine. But some of my devices can not use 5ghz. After correcting my "mistake" and changed back to "auto" older devices or smarthome devices could connect again. A lot of devices more far away are now using the 2,4 ghz again, which is pain in the ass slow. This is not enough to watch netflix in the bedroom.

Any suggestions? I uploaded the network map.
Outside on the terrace I see a lot of networks, see also attached. Maybe this is the reason, why I can't use my wifi on the terrace. But this problem didn't exist with the orbi, because the signal was strong enough.

firmware: 3.0.0.4.386_45375-ge5f218b

Edit:
After it settled a bit, the perfomance looks better. But the terrace is definitely a new "no-wifi" zone.
Are there maybe some settings which can help?
Is there somewhere a configuration guide? As I can see 2.4 ghz and 5 ghz have very different configuration in default for example:
- Enable TX-Burst
- Multi-User MIMO
- Beamforming (ax/ac ; explicit ; universal)
- etc

Maybe I can improve my performance.
 

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Poseidon

Senior Member
Okay, I couldn't wait and really really want to get rid of this Orbi-Garbage... I ordered a rt-ax68u...
I just need it as access-point. Do I lose some functions while using it just as accesspoint?
Orbi garbage? Lol. Just wait until you get the Asus Mesh set up. You’ll be running back to the Orbi. They are, by far, the best home mesh system to date.

I had the RBK852 series and it was flawless. Blistering speeds inside and out of my place. Got rid of it because it was too much for my small condo. Needed a simple single router. Got the Netgear RAXE500 and it’s been kicking ass for almost 9 months now with gig HSI.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I also have one Orbi to play with, the older RBK50. It’s also way more stable than AiMesh. I don’t know if Orbi is the best, but it’s a solid performer. Different people in different environments may have different experience.
 

John_88

Occasional Visitor
After testing the whole evening, I went back to the orbi. With the orbi-mesh I get better coverage and better speeds. My security-cameras just ping ponged from online/offline even more often. The RT-AX86U can't compete the single RBR750. I really wished it would, but it didn't. A second wouldn't help, because the Terrace will still have no wifi at all. So I keep the netgear URLs blocked to keep any forced update away from bricking my orbis.

I would love to see some of the asus-options in netgears firmwares, like the "roaming blacklist" and stuff like that.

I am open to some more testing, if you can provide any further tips or information. The asus is going back next week.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I don't have a newer Orbi hardware, but play with the channels you use. Don't follow 1-6-11 on 2.4GHz, find the channel with most available bandwidth. For 5GHz use non-DFS 36-48 or 149-161 to avoid radar transmission interruptions. Disable in settings everything you don't need or use.
 

avtella

Very Senior Member
If you have neighbors with decent WiFi signals parking outside of 1/6/11 can be an annoyance. From experience…
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
In condominium buildings most routers run on Auto and occupy every single available channel on 2.4GHz spectrum. The neighbors may be very nice people, but don't expect everyone to know how Wi-Fi works. Channel 1-6-11 only when you have control over the APs. When you don't - best available bandwidth channel works best. I can have ~40Mbps on 2.4GHz only on Channel 4 in my downtown apartment, for example.
 

tgl

Regular Contributor
I dunno, that does not match the advice I've read from people whose competence I trust. That advice says, if you live in an area with lots of 2.4GHz WiFi users:

* Stick to the 1-6-11 channel usage pattern (assuming your neighbors mostly do likewise). If you choose an intermediate channel, you won't magically find some free bandwidth there. Instead, your transmissions now overlap the frequencies of two sets of neighbors not just one set. That means double the opportunity for collisions and forced retransmissions, degrading the WiFi experience for both you and your neighbors.

* Don't use a 40MHz channel. Again, doing so means you're conflicting with twice as many neighbors as otherwise, degrading the experience for everybody.

You can get away with ignoring these guidelines if you have no near WiFi-using neighbors. But if you do, and choose to ignore them anyway, all I can say is I am very glad I am not your neighbor.

One of the things that horrified me (after I knew better) about my Orbis' default setup is that they seemed to ignore both these guidelines. They definitely enabled 40MHz on 2.4GHz by default (and made it pretty obscure how to disable it), and while I don't have them turned on at the moment to check, I think they defaulted to channel 3, meaning that they overlapped all three of the standard channels. I will need a brown paper bag to put over my head if I ever discuss WiFi channel usage with my neighbors.
 

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