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Router(s) for a 4000 sq ft house

Discussion in 'Wireless Buying Advice' started by asusclo, Sep 15, 2019.

  1. asusclo

    asusclo New Around Here

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    So one of my Aimesh routers (RT-AC86U) just failed. I still have two working, another RT-AC86U and an RT-AC68R. I've never been particularly happy with Aimesh (signal drops), but I'm still willing to try to make it work if you think it's my best option. I'm also willing to start from scratch. I'm looking for good coverage throughout the house and good speed. My budget is around $500. Any suggestions on a new router or system?
     
  2. dfarning

    dfarning Occasional Visitor

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    If your home requires multiple Access Points and you have above-average bandwidth usage. I would encourage you to look into an Unifi system by Ubiquity.

    I screwed around with multiply 'home' routers for several years before I went with the Unifi system. My initial concern was not so much raw speed as it was the ability of the system to handle several wifi clients who were data hogs + plus around 10 phones + IOT devices. Even the high-end 'home' routers would overheat and reset themselves once per week and the average life of a wifi router would be 6-9 months.

    About 18 months ago I switched to Unifi with 2 AP's and a Security Gateway(router) and have not regretted it. One of my 'old' routers still functions as the AP in the garage/workshop.

    BTW: I pulled cable between the router/switch and each AP so there would be a high bandwidth backhaul. Maybe it is old school, but it has been rock solid.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  3. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    Perhaps review your remaining 2-node AiMesh in view of my install notes. If you can tweak it to work more to your satisfaction, you might decide sticking with it for now.

    OE
     
  4. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    AiMesh can be decent enough, and as @OzarkEdge suggested, I'd assume you've done all you can do to make it work for you? If so, and you're still left desiring more performance and or better client behavior in whatever way, there are way more robust options for distributed wifi, especially with a $500 budget.

    That said, we need to confirm if you can get away with a wire-first/wire-only (WFWO) system, or if real mesh is necessary. The main question to answer: can you wire in all of your APs (via ethernet or MoCa)? If you can, then non-mesh centralized wifi would probably work well enough; stuff like regular UniFi, TP-Link Omada, Cisco small business WAP, etc. If you have to backhaul one or more APs via wireless, then you will likely want a true mesh product: Eero Pro or Netgear Orbi for consumer, UniFi Mesh for business grade, or for really-mature enterprise stuff where all core 802.11 protocols tend to "just work", Ruckus or Aruba.

    Without knowing your constraints or any other specifics such as internet speed, number of clients, bandwidth goals, etc., I'd personally scrap the Asus stuff, drop in a $60 Ubiqutui ER-X as your router, a sub-$100 web-managed PoE switch and invest the remaining $350 into wifi. Again, if it were me, I've grown to have zero patience for anything less than stuff that simply works as intended, so I try go with Ruckus every time, even if I have to go working-pull off eBay. If that's me being a fan boy and/or it's deemed total overkill, well then so be it, but the stuff simply outperforms anything else I've ever tried in most any real-life situation, especially when interference could be an issue and/or density is high, plus they seem to require fewer APs per LAN. And for anything from the R_00 units onwards, you can run them without needing a separate controller (yeah, I'm looking at you, Ubiquiti...) via the Unleashed firmware. I'm sure other systems like those I mentioned above would work well enough, presuming you've done your due diligence and know what capability you're buying into (and not).

    Hope that helps!
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
    MichaelCG likes this.
  5. dfarning

    dfarning Occasional Visitor

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    @Trip Does the rukus line have anything comparable to the basic Unifi security gateway + 8 port switch + Network Controller (mine runs on a NAS)?

    As someone who does not have the time/interest to become an expert network admin, I found having a single control panel to be a game-changer.

    I try not to be too brand dependant but I feel I am pretty locked into Unifi. It is getting time to upgrade the 8-port POE switch to 16 port....
     
  6. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    @dfarning - That, unfortunately, is the main issue with Ruckus. Their merits lie mostly in their APs alone. They don't have the vertical software/hardware integration or UI/UX appeal of Ubiquiti, HPE Aruba, etc. do have... Their ICX switches (formerly Brocade) are all Layer-3 (ie. expensive), don't integrate very well, and they don't have any solutions for routing/firewall. Nor do they have an easy-to-deploy (or free) controller to govern their switches and APs. They do have great solutions for the APs themselves, however, in ZoneDirector, SmartZone and Unleashed. So the APs are best utilized as a discrete part of a mixed-vendor stack. If a single pane of glass is super important for you, then yes, stuff like UniFi, or even Fortinet/Sophos for a more security-first approach, is going to be a much better fit. I personally could care less, because I value the sheer superiority of better connections to begin with, over fancy dashboarding and/or software, and don't mind managing my networks via SNMP and/or multiple control panels, but I understand each of us has our own preference.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  7. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    @dfarning - In short, they don't, and I supplied more details via another reply that is awaiting moderator approval (I accidentally used a "bad" word in that reply so it got flagged). Will chat more once that reply gets posted.
     
  8. dfarning

    dfarning Occasional Visitor

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    @Trip
    Thanks, I got your original message before it disappeared for moderation. Weird.

    Sounds like, if you have more time (or existing knowledge) than money the route you suggest is optimal. If you have a bit more budget and shortage of time (or existing knowledge) the vertically integrated network control system (Unifi) works well.... but beware you will be tied to a single vendor.

    I don't think I will be making an AP purchase until fall of 2020 when I look into WIFI 6. I'll revisit the issue then.
     
  9. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    Actually, I was thinking the OP may not have done all he can do to make it/AiMesh work. The 'signal drops' may be a symptom of the 'just failed router'. Now that the failed router has been removed, why not reconsider the AiMesh setup... maybe it can still serve and meet the OP's needs.

    OE
     
  10. blinton

    blinton New Around Here

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    I'm in the same boat with my 3 Asus RT-AC68U units. In traditional router mode, these units seem to work fine but setting them to AIMesh or Bridge mode has been more trouble than it's worth. I constantly battle with stability issues. I'm ready to jump ship for some high tier routers that aren't plagued with firmware issues. And I'd love to hear what is the "best" these days.

    So far these Asus routers don't really work in bridge mode, and it seems a fix isn't any time soon, if ever.
     
  11. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    @dfarning - Completely understandable on holding off. I would say if you can limp along with AiMesh, perhaps they'll flush out the bugs enough to pull even with the purpose-built products, at least on stability if nothing else. By that time, hopefully draft 1 of Wifi 6 / 802.11ax will be out in production and you can make the plunge to the next level of gear.

    @blinton - If you're ready to jump ship, I'd highly suggest discrete components; separate gear for routing, switching and wireless. A multitude of reasons as to why (can explain if you want). For routing, depending on the speed and services you want to run, I'd be looking into a 1Ghz+ MIPS box (EdgeRouter 4/6/12 or UniFi USG-Pro) or x86 (Qotom/Protectli embedded, or even just a SFF PC with a multi-NIC card) running whatever fw distro floats your boat (OpenWRT, Untangle, Sophos Community, etc.). If you want more security in a turn-key package, Fortinet. Sophos is decent. WatchGuard is also ok. For switching, if going all Ubiqitui on routing and wifi, then UniFi switches are passable. Otherwise, Cisco SG or HPE OfficeConnect / Aruba. If you want enterprise, Juniper EX all day long. For wifi, consumer AIO, APs and mesh products are there, but I think mostly all of them are under-developed (as you've discovered), so I'd skip to at least Cisco Small Business or Ubiquiti UniFi, or to ensure complete rock-solidness, go full enterprise, where Ruckus has the best radio tech, HPE Aruba arguably the best SDN and vertical integration (Cisco Aironet, too, but its insane expensive, for this demographic especially). That's my current take on things, anyways.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
  12. CrystalLattice

    CrystalLattice Regular Contributor

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    Hundreds of new routers and access points have been released in the last year since this site stopped posting & writing. I suggest using wirecutter for your network questions.
     
  13. dfarning

    dfarning Occasional Visitor

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    @CrystalLattice

    Yes, I was sad to see that the last major article on the site was several months ago.

    I didn't always find the reviews particularly helpful. I thought they overemphasized raw speed in a single client to a single AP configuration. Whereas, I felt like my network issues were almost always caused by contention between multiple clients for available bandwidth. A single slow client would slow the entire system down. Kind of like a herd of moose walking across a high way. In a network, managing those pesky moose is more important than raw speed.

    On the other hand, I really liked the forum. From a hardware standpoint, @Trip seems to be spot on. Many home and small office networks are getting complicated enough that a couple of multipurpose devices spread randomly around the house is not going to perform as well as a setup consisting of purpose-built devices correctly installed and configured

    In a perfect world, I would have the knowledge and patience to install my network device by device. In the meantime, Unifi provides a good (enough for me) middle ground built around a family of purpose-built devices united around a single network control system.
     
    Trip likes this.
  14. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    This. +1000. Should be sticky'd atop several sub-forums, if you ask me. :)
     
  15. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    I don't think so. "a setup consisting of purpose-built devices correctly installed and configured" should just be a set of wireless black box appliances you plug in and forget about. I don't think that is what you have in mind. Most homeowners... and I mean most... can't source and install the discrete wired hardware and management software you like to recommend, and they never will. I see no reason to dismiss them for it. Instead, we/the industry should strive to solve their home networking problem for them with due respect, and not by dissing the evolving consumer-grade mesh systems and up-selling them more expensive and more demanding solutions that are beyond them in ongoing cost of ownership and complexity of installation and maintenance. An 'if only you knew better' sticky that ignores their reality is not helpful. For many, good enough can be good enough until it gets better, all things considered.

    Pardon my advocacy! :)

    OE
     
  16. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    Yes, I went a little overboard there and you're certainly correct in the literal sense. My enthusiasm for sharing an alternate way to solve the problem of course doesn't need to be plastered all over the place, but it would be nice to maybe be able to point to a reference area where users could learn about more options to solve their issues, than just certain types of products/methods they've been apt to repeat. Probably means a blog of my own, more than a sticky atop an SNB sub-forum, I get that. Guess I just got caught up in a little bit of righteousness there. :oops:
     
    OzarkEdge likes this.
  17. coxhaus

    coxhaus Part of the Furniture

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    I kind agree in that the new required home wireless setup is becoming more like a small business and the average home owner is lost. Things are getting technical and the average home user does not have the networking skills to setup the multi-VLAN networks. This is especially true for the new wired homes with fiber to the house. A simple all in 1 router is becoming outdated with the new techy homes. What to do? Keep throwing money at the consumer grade gear every couple of years and hope for the best. And live with dead air space where your wireless is lacking. IT may get to a time where it is cheaper to pay someone to setup the home system once than keep buying a new expensive router every couple of years. The small business hardware is supported a lot longer than the consumer hardware. Security is also becoming key in all this. I am old and I have been running a home network for many years. I know my Cisco small business hardware has been supported a lot longer than any other brand of hardware I have run. I have run Linksys, Belkin, TP-Link in the old days. I don't think the future is going to be any simpler as the times have changed and if anything it will become more complicated.
     
  18. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    Indeed, I'm sure if there was a market opportunity to actual sell such a residential service, there would be a Geek Squad equivalent for it already out there dominating the space. Problem is the overhead of doing the actual servicing and follow up support. I'm not sure the potential customer base is strong enough. Perhaps I'm wrong.
     
  19. OzarkEdge

    OzarkEdge Very Senior Member

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    I think my next network will a 2xRT-AX* tri-band AiMesh with a dedicated wireless backhaul. If ASUS continues to smooth out the wrinkles, it should be pretty easy to install and use. As I get older, I am purposely trying to simplify my technology... WiFi doorbells are a younger person's folly.

    OE
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
  20. Trip

    Trip Very Senior Member

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    Mesh done right is a joy to use. I've been enjoying it for the last few years using enterprise gear, but as we said before, that won't fly for the average Joe for all the obvious reasons. It would be much nicer if the AiMesh's of the world did come to mature to a roughly equivalent level Hopefully that happens ASAP, and before the first generation of post-draft AX.
     
    OzarkEdge likes this.