Recommendation for an Access Point

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Unhumanje

New Around Here
Hi All,

I'm looking to purchase an Access Point for my apartment. I've drawn up my current setup on the diagram below (red AP doesn't exist today). Essentially, I have my router (AC86U) connected to a modem (bridge mode) that gets my internet connection (600mbps fiber). The router then connects by Cat7 cable to my TV/Chromecast. But in order to get a good stable connection (read constant stable low latency for gaming) for my gaming pc (far left side of diagram) I've used a powerline (gigabit PA7010P). This powerline only manages to get to ±150-200mbps most days (still haven't figured out exactly why, it used to do 300mbps!) and then connects to a gigabit switch which then connects to my PC by a Cat7 cable.

I now need to get proper wireless signal in the left side of the apartment in the diagram. There's 2 main reasons for this:
  1. In bedroom and PC room signal is super poor and sometimes not even reachable. I need to have decent wifi for my phones/laptops across the house.
  2. I'm now purchasing an Oculus Quest 2 (which is Wifi6 compatible) which I intend to use in wireless mode and stream content from my PC directly (not via internet). This will require a very stable wifi connection.
So my technical requirements would be:
  1. ±15 meters WiFi Range to overlap with AC86U and ensure wifi internet access across the apartment
  2. Very stable and low ping between the PC and the Oculus Quest 2 within ±5 meters and through at least 1 wall (PC <-> switch <-> Access Point <-> Oculus Quest2). This should be at at least 300mbps and stable.This is only local traffic (within AP/switch devices) - I appreciate the connection speeds for anything going back to the router (incl general internet connection) will still be limited by the powerline at ±150mbps and that's fine.
Given this and in order to future proof myself, my thinking is to go for an Access Point with WiFi6 capability. As such, I'm looking for a recommendation for a brand/model. If you feel that WiFi6 is an overkill for this setup and think WiFi5 (ac) is sufficient and would save me a few bucks that would also be most appreciated!

Thanks a lot in advance!

House Network.png
 

Trip

Very Senior Member
------- Tips --------

#1) Ideally, you want an AP with the same wifi chipset as what's onboard the Oculus, ie. Qualcomm (aka "QCA"). Matching AP/client chipset maker will often produce noticeably better packet flow fidelity (ex: Reddit post on Oculus specifically). And it's fidelity (latency/jitter/packetloss) that matters more than raw throughput for gaming/VR (even a typical 2.4Ghz link rate should offer more than enough bandwidth for an Oculus stream, to say nothing of 5Ghz).

#2) AC vs AX -- Almost all supposed link-layer benefits of AX aren't actualized in the real-world, nor will they be for probably the next year+, and both AC and AX will provide plenty of 5Ghz bandwidth. Further, you may actually suffer with AX due to less mature driver implementation on the AP (depends on the specific models in question and the development quality behind them).

#3) Spatial streams and antenna tech -- make sure you get an AP with at least 4x4 spatial streams in 5Ghz, for maximum receive gain, plus a model with good antenna decoupling for maximum ability to hold MCS rate as the headset moves around.

#4) If you can, get the AP into the same room as Oculus, to cut down as much on physical interference as possible.

------- Gear --------

If you're comfortable without seamless roaming, most any 4x4 QCA-based all-in-one router running in AP mode or purpose-built standalone AP would suffice. You might even look for OpenWRT-compatible models in order to get more solid behavior (only AC-class stuff is OpenWRT compatible at this point). AC hardware: Netgear R7800 (Nighthawk X4S), Zyxel NBG6817 (Armor Z2). AX: Netgear RAX120, TP-Link AX6000, etc. The only 4x4 (or higher) QCA-based Asus model is the RT-AX89X, but it's overpriced and under-stabilized.

Otherwise, for more officially-supported seamless roaming, central management and a standardized access layer for your entire apartment, I'd opt for a controller-based AP (Omada, UniFi, Cisco CBW, etc.). If you went this route, you'd eventually want to replace the 86U's wifi with an AP from the same ecosystem, then disable wifi on the 86U (effectively turning it into a wired router), eventually replacing the 86U altogether with a proper wired router (Ubiquiti, Mikrotik, Cisco RV, pfsense, etc.). The combo of all of that would give you a network that would function more like an appliance and less like a toy (higher performance/reliability from the sum of the parts). A good 4x4 AC option would be a Cisco CBW240AC. For AX, the EnGenius EWS377AP, latest version 3 if you can get one. The ultimate option for a purpose-built AP would be Ruckus, for their superior antenna tech (BeamFlex/PD-MRC really works); 4x4 AC models would be the R720 or R730, 4x4 AX would be the R750 or R850, but hope you're sitting down when you see the price -- they're exorbitant, to say the least. If you pay special attention in the used market, you might be able to find them at 50% or lower cost on eBay every now and then, in good working order.

TL;DR - Also, you'll eventually want to rip and replace the powerline adapters, for all the obvious reasons, in favor of MoCa if you have coax cable, or ethernet, however you have to do it (even surface-mounted).

----------------------

So there you go. That's how I'd approach it. Any questions, feel free.
 
Last edited:

Unhumanje

New Around Here
Hi Trip,

Apologies for the late reply! Ended up running away on holiday and just got around to reading this now :)

Thanks a lot for the super detailed post. The tips and the actual hw suggestions were extremely useful and informative.

At the moment I'm living in a newly refurbrished apartment (but in an old apartment block) which I just can't drill in/create new holes/ drag cables across or etc... (it's my girlfriend's own purchase...)... There is only 1 coax cable in the living room and no real way to pass a ethernet cable across the rooms apart from surface mounted (which I'm sure will not pass the gf's decoration criteria...).

Based on all of the info and the above, for the short term I'll keep to an all-in-one router as an AP based on Qualcomm and keep it simple. I think I'll go with the Netgear R7800 based on price, but will check how things go on Black Friday / Cyber Monday.

In my future house (once I buy one!) I'll definitely go for the 'network more as an appliance' solution and do it properly (and without powerlines!).

Thanks again! Will let you know how it goes in the coming weeks :)
 

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