Taking the next step beyond consumer routers?

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New Around Here
Hi everyone,

My R7000 is starting to get a bit glitchy (on both FreshTomato and the stock FW) and with my wife and I both working from home for the next several months I'd like to get something to replace it soon before the problems get worse. My setup is pretty simple: I have a 300/300 FiOS connection with the ONT feeding ethernet into my router's WAN port. In terms of devices, I have a USB hard drive plugged into the router, along with a desktop through ethernet; everything else is on WiFi - four laptops, a Roku, a Chromecast, a Google Home, two WiFi cameras, two smartphones, a TV, and a printer. Everything but the cameras and the printer is on the 5 GHz band. My apartment is 1200 sq ft, and the router is relatively centrally located - I don't have any range issues. I get the full 300/300 speed on 5 GHz, 2.4 GHz is a lot more congested and I test around ~40 Mbps after adjusting my channel and some advanced settings for interference mitigation (on FreshTomato). I don't know if my 2.4 GHz speeds would be better on stock firmware because I couldn't maintain a stable 5 GHz connection on it so didn't use it long.

I don't have a need for more than the 300 Mbps of my internet speed, so I think any AC1200 and up device is fast enough for me, and would likely have enough range too. What I'm looking for is stability and durability - I don't want to pay $100 for another router that dies after a couple of years, which from reviews it seems most of the consumer routers do. Browsing through threads here and on other forums I've seen suggestions to move to SMB networking gear - separate routers and APs, from Ubiquiti or Mikrotik or other brands. So I have some questions:

1) First, am I on the right track? Is it true that the SMB-focused gear will last a lot longer? And give me reliable uptime without needing restarts etc? Again my main concern is stability and long-lasting equipment - I'd happily keep using the R7000 if it kept working in a stable manner.
2) I know that a setup like this won't be nearly as plug and play as a consumer router. I'm not totally new to networking, having run various flavors of Tomato and DD-WRT on past routers, and I'm comfortable with assigning IP addresses, forwarding ports, choosing wireless channels, etc. That's about as deep as I've gotten - will I be totally out of my depth with one of these options? I'm comfortable following tutorials online, and using a command line if need be - but I'm worried about being overwhelmed.
3) If I do proceed down this path, what exactly would I need to buy? I assume a router (something like a Mikrotik Hex) and then a separate AC1200+ AP? Specific recommendations would be great - I'm looking to stay low in price as I don't believe I need very advanced functionality for my setup.
4) Would it be a mistake to get something like a Mikrotik hAP ac2? Seems like it's substantially cheaper than buying two separate devices. How much would I miss the AC wave 2 features on something like this for my usage?
5) Is there a general tutotial somewhere for a basic setup like this?

Thanks for any advice!

Clark Griswald

Senior Member
Similar to the line from the Matrix Movie "There is no future proofing"

I had an R7000, then AC88U, and now have the AC86U (see sig). I have had both my routers since their respective release dates. If you have been satisfied with the R7000, then the performance increase of the AC86U/AX88U will definitely be an improvement.
I would recommend an AC86U or the AX88U. The scripts that are available for the RMerlin fw and either of the two routers should be enough to do whatever you need, and the SNB Forum members are extremely helpful with any installation questions.
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Mr. Easy
Staff member
If you're really happy to stay with your R7000, invest $15 or so on a new power adapter. Many times, a failing wall-wart makes a router look flaky.

The tough part is finding one with the right tip. Adjustable voltage supplies typically come with a tip assortment. Just make sure that the supply you get supports enough amperage.

That said, I think it's reasonable to spend $100 or so every, say, 5 years on a piece of gear that is so essential to your life.


Very Senior Member
1) SMB-focused gear [...] reliable uptime without needing restarts [...] stability and long-lasting equipment
Yes, more often than not, community/SMB-grade gear will give you a network that functions more like an appliance and less like a toy, with longer support life-cycles, plus fewer compounded points of failure if you segregate roles to individual components.
2) [...] will I be totally out of my depth [...] I'm comfortable following tutorials online, and using a command line if need be
You'll be just fine, provided you're willing to put in the time and effort, and honestly, with the amount of how-to's available on official KBs, YouTube, forums, wiki's, blogs, etc. you won't lack for material.
3) [...] what exactly would I need to buy? [...] Would it be a mistake to get something like a Mikrotik hAP ac2 [...] would I miss the AC wave 2 features on something like this for my usage?
At bare-minimum, you'd need a router, switch and wifi AP. Very often the level of router you'll be looking at will come with a switch built-in. The AP includable in an AIO (like the hAP ac2), or discrete. Separate components would offer easier upgrade-ability, but if you know your environment is not likely to change for some years, an AIO may just as well suffice.
5) Is there a general tutorial somewhere for a basic setup like this?
Your best bet is to focus on tutorials for the actual gear you're going to use. That gets you to a real-life production config that much faster.

You might want to come at this in stages. Make the initial purchase of a wired router, be it a Mikrotik, EdgeRouter, Cisco RV or x86 box, then re-purpose your R7000 as just a wifi AP (with a factory-reset, re-flash, and optional replacement AC adapter per Tim's suggestion). If the R7000 is still too flaky, you can replace it with another AIO running in AP mode, or a purpose-built AP. Do note, most APs broadcast at noticeably lower power than consumer-grade all-in-ones, but it shouldn't be that big of a deal for 1200 square feet, provided the AP is higher spatial stream (3x3 or 4x4) and/or ~20 or higher dBm output in both bands.

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