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New wireless router for under £150 ($180)

Discussion in 'Wireless Buying Advice' started by Corbula, Apr 8, 2020.

  1. Corbula

    Corbula Occasional Visitor

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    My current router keeps losing wifi and have to reset maybe once twice a week. It's also gone very slow on the wifi side down to around 15-20mbps.

    I'm in the UK and on fibre broadband at 80/20mbps. There's no heavy streaming, YouTube once in a while or Plex, that's about it. It's just me and my parents and they only use it for web browsing and such usually. I game a fair bit though but seeing as heavy usage isn't an issue bufferbloat shouldn't be either.

    Now while my parents get internet in the room they use most (which is only 10metres away) when my sister stays and uses her iPhone she connects, but it's hardly usable and much easier and faster to use 4G. I did buy an EAP225 last year but that was pretty much the same except for the disconnects so I sent it back.

    In terms of obstacles there is the kitchen with granite worktops and a former external wall (it's an extension). The router can't really be moved either.

    So I'm looking for a new wireless router, I'm not really looking for a mesh as it's overkill for us just a faster stronger wireless router. What would you recommend?

    This is my first post here so let me know if I've missed anything. Thank you.
     
  2. ColinTaylor

    ColinTaylor Part of the Furniture

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    If you tell us what your current router is we will have something to use as a comparison.

    It's unlikely any other device would be significantly better as all devices are subject to the same power restrictions. How were you using this device? Was it ceiling mounted and centrally placed within your house?
     
  3. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    With same issues with both Router WiFi and Access Point WiFi I would point my attention at Modem and Router parts of the network first. Could be a change in WiFi environment too, a neighbor's router jumping on the same WiFi channels, for example. Most routers run on Auto channel and switch channels automatically, but you never know.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2020
  4. Corbula

    Corbula Occasional Visitor

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    The current device is a little known router called netduma R1 which I bought years ago for gaming purposes. Its just a 2.4ghz n. The other router I've got is my isp one.

    The Eap225 was connected via ethernet to the router about a metre away. Not centrally but you can't really get central in the house and it's only say 1400sq feet maybe slightly more. It was just on the desk not ceiling mounted.
     
  5. Corbula

    Corbula Occasional Visitor

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    Sorry it was the same in terms of signal not bandwidth, that was higher. When I look on WiFi analyzer our neighbours WiFi is stronger than ours.
     
  6. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    The Netduma R1 is nothing more than a Mikrotik RB951G-2HnD with a skinned and locked-down version of OpenWRT, plus some packages to fancy it up a bit (SQM, etc.). Not a bad product overall, but nothing that isn't augmentable with separate wifi, or replaceable outright.

    Moving on to the wireless issue itself, as Val said, the behavior and repeated nature of it would suggest neighboring co-channel interference. Are you making sure auto-channel selection is turned on for whatever is serving as your AP?
     
  7. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    I don't know what your WiFi environment looks like, but in many urban places 2.4GHz band is hardly usable these days.
     
  8. Corbula

    Corbula Occasional Visitor

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    Yes I know, I've had it for 4-5 years now.

    I've stayed away from auto for a while as i found it kept using ones that others were using.
     
  9. Corbula

    Corbula Occasional Visitor

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    It's a quiet area with mostly retired couples, there's maybe 4 other wifi networks that are close to us.
     
  10. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    Changing the router with something more modern may solve the WiFi issues you have, but only if your devices support 5GHz band. Newer routers offer fast 5GHz connections, but don't really shine much in 2.4GHz band. Popular no-frills TP-Link budget routers are Archer C7/A7 models, about £70. Popular ASUS router in budget segment is RT-AC66U B1 model, for less than £100. A good high-performance WiFi TP-Link router is Archer C2300, it's £115 currently on Amazon UK. Also popular ASUS high-performance WiFi router is RT-AC86U, it's £160 currently on Amazon UK. There are options to chose from with your budget.
     
  11. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    That's I needed to see. Even with only a handful of neighboring networks, that could be very well be enough to make 2.4Ghz more or less unusable. That, and your current AP may just be choosing poorly in its attempt to find the most usable channel space. Aside from a more intelligent / interference-penetrating AP, 5Ghz may be your only answer.

    I would either replace with a new all-in-one that sports 5Ghz, per Val's suggestion, or if you want to keep your R1 as your network core for whatever reason, hard-disable wifi on it, then re-add a discrete AP with 5Ghz and good auto-channel functionality for 2.4. A TP-Link EAP should function well enough under most circumstances.
     
  12. Corbula

    Corbula Occasional Visitor

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    Thanks for the suggestions. Yes there is 5ghz devices. If new routers don't really shine in 2.4ghz wouldn't that mean newer routers are actually worse in getting through walls and things that older ones?

    Do external antenna actually make a different or is it just design?
     
  13. Corbula

    Corbula Occasional Visitor

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    I'm not too fussed about keeping the R1 anymore, the wired connections are actually quite good but it doesn't handle PPPoE very well so needs something else before to do that part and don't want loads of different devices.

    I did have one of the Tp-link Eap225 but it went back as around 10metres away iPhone users struggled to use it. I didn't see any improvement like I would expect from my current router.
     
  14. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    That means don't expect miracles on 2.4GHz band, even if you go with high-end £250 consumer AIO router. How well your devices will work in your place depends on many factors like where the router is located, how high the router is off ground, what the physical layout of the place is, what building materials are used, what signal obstructions you may have (large metal objects like fridges, stacked washer/dryer, metal mesh door/window screens, etc.), available throughput in WiFi channels, overall WiFi interference levels, etc. Newer routers use newer generations radio modules with better sensitivity and in general offer better range and throughput. For example, in my suggestions above Archer C7/A7 and RT-AC66U B1 are at least one generation behind Archer C2300 and RT-AC86U. The newer models may achieve up to 30% better WiFi performance in some cases.

    Newer V3 version of EAP225/245 access points offer very good WiFi range and throughput, actually, for an AP. Keep in mind AP based small business WiFi solutions work best with multiple APs with overlapping coverage and roaming technologies. Single AP signal strength is usually lower than most consumer AIO routers. Signal strength measurement only though is not a good indicator how reliable WiFi is and what total combined throughput is expected.
     
  15. Corbula

    Corbula Occasional Visitor

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    Thanks. I'm not sure which version of the Eap225 I tried, it was the ribbed textured one so maybe v3. Anyway I'm thinking if that didn't really improve signal any I think it must be the obstacles in the way. If any other router is going to be the same I'm probably best just sticking with my isp router instead in that case.
     
  16. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    Your current router is from 2013, has 2.4GHz band only and you have to reboot it often to keep it going. I would replace it just because of reboots needed, something is obviously failing there.
     
  17. Corbula

    Corbula Occasional Visitor

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    Sorry, my isp router. Its from a few years before that, has 2.4ghz but doesn't need rebooting. It doesn't seem something like a AC86U is going to improve the signal strength any in my situation from what I've learned without going to some sort of mesh or dual WiFi system, which is overkill and not worth the cost for its needs.
     
  18. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    I strongly believe RT-AC86U is going to be a HUGE improvement in both WiFi range and throughput over early 2000’s ISP provided combo modem/router. Wouldn’t be surprised if 5Ghz range is also better. Same applies for Archer C2300, build on the same hardware platform as RT-AC86U. I don’t know why you want to stick to 2.4GHz band. Even if you have 30% signal strength connection on 5GHz it will be much faster than 100% signal strength connection on 2.4GHz.
     
  19. Corbula

    Corbula Occasional Visitor

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    OK, if the range is better this would be over line of sight range or would you say it will be better all over the house, through obstacles?

    There's a little price difference, not huge and from around the same time. Is there any major differences I should know about that you're aware of?
     
  20. Val D.

    Val D. Very Senior Member

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    5GHz WiFi is not line of sight only, the signal does travel through obstacles. I personally had an RT-AC86U router before and my backup router now is C2300. In my place both can reach 2 rooms away from the router (>10m distance) through 2 walls on the way (1 concrete + 1 drywall), in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. Routers based on BCM4365(6)E radios currently offer one of the best AC WiFi performance. Again, if one of those can't do the job, then you definitely need more than one APs. The best WiFi coverage AC router is probably Netgear R7800, but it's above your budget and it's just a bit better then similar class products, not like "Wow!" of a difference.

    RT-AC86U has more frequent firmware updates compared to Archer C2300, the firmware offers more options, it's the more popular router. This forum offers great community support for it. The reliability rating is not as good as previous ASUS routers, but it's covered by ASUS warranty. There is an still unresolved intermittent software reboot bug, but simple rower cycling the power button is all that's needed. It happens rarely, you may not even see it, some people don't even know about it. Just avoid remote updating/rebooting of this router. Get one from Amazon (it's currently on sale), see what it can do in your place, if it doesn't work as expected send it back.