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Range improvement required - upgrade from D-Link DIR-880L or set-up mesh or something else?

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New Around Here
Current Situation
Cable ISP: Rogers 150 down/15 up
Rogers provides Hitron combined modem/router but I turned off router and use D-Link DIR-880L (stock firmware)
Cable enters house in one corner on the main floor and I don't believe I have the ability to hardwire it elsewhere
3 story house with drywall
~1,100 square feet per floor
Devices: 2 Wi-Fi TVs (mostly Netflix)
4 laptops, 4 smart phones (very simple!)
No need for VPN, child controls...

There are a few spots in the house where connectivity is intermittent or completely dead - and weak at the best of times. Sometimes I wonder if it's just crappy ISP or whether it's our network set-up. Not really sure how to determine the same. I do get full 150 Mbps download when next to the router or hard wired. What I don't know is whether that is consistent or whether it's actual the provider that is dying on occasion. Any recommendation on how to monitor consistency of ISP connection would be appreciated.

Not a major priority, but the deck on our pool deck is about 100 feet from our router, and the signal there is extremely weak - if existent at all.

I tried adding an AP (ASUS RT-N10P) but it didn't seem to make much of a difference - and if the client doesn't flip over to it, not overly convenient. Throughput was very slow even though I had it located in a reasonably optimal location.

I've tried d-link powerlines but the speed I get when hard wired into the powerlines is about 15Mps. Not sure why so slow. House is about 35 years old.

Anyhow, looking for a simple solution. Although I'm comfortable using custom firmware..., don't want to get overly complicated.

I was considering something as simple as the MeshForce Whole Home Mesh system for $230 (Canadian) or TP-Link Deco M4 $170 or M5 $230 - all for 3 unit packs. I did a bit of research and unless I'm reading things incorrectly, there are drastic throughput drops on these devices?

Hoping to spend no more than $250 (Canadian).

Happy to try different options and return if necessary but would obviously like to start out with the most probable solution.

Step #1: would an upgrade from my current DIR-880L potentially make a material difference - or maybe a different firmware? If so, perhaps I should start by simply trying a new router or changing the firmware

From digging around in SNB, it seems that AC86U for $249 might be a good option Staples AC86U


AC66U_B1 for $99 Was thinking of this one in case I want to buy a couple of routers and use AiMesh Stapes AC66U_B1

If you think it's possible that a simple upgrade to our router might help, might try that first. Given our situation, be interested to know which router might make sense.

Step #2: If it sounds like I need more than one router, are MeshForce or Deco units worth considering or would it make more sense to try AiMesh - maybe with a couple of AC66U_B1 units? (Whatever the solution, they'd need to be connected via Wi-Fi and not cable.)

Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to offer.

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