The most cost-effective way to improve my WiFi set up?

BraXzy

Occasional Visitor
I only have surface level knowledge when it comes to WiFi technology and while I've done plenty of reading and considering various options, I can't decide what to do so I'm hoping someone can solve my dilemma.
I'm in a ~1100sqft brick house, across 3 floors. My ISP is Virgin Media with 1gbit speeds. Right now I am using nothing but the router provided by them (Hub 4). The main connection is on the bottom floor, but I've wired in my office on the middle floor.

While the router does the job, my main problems are:
  • My external devices (Ring Doorbell, Ring Floorlight camera etc.) have really weak signal.
  • On the top floor, the speeds drop a bit and the connection isn't as good.
  • The max speeds I get typically don't surpass 500mbit/s.
I'm torn between getting a router + AP combo, or getting a mesh set that I can wired backhaul and have less hassle (no need for PoE etc.)
I'm happy to spend money to solve the problem, and I want to get something that lasts. But I wonder if for my use case some of the options out there would be overkill?

Some of the things I've considered:
  • Eero 6+ (£200 for a 3-pack)
  • Linksys Atlas 6 Pro (£200 for a 2-pack)
  • Linksys Velop MX5300 (£220 for a 2-pack)
  • ASUS AX-86U (£270)
  • ASUS AX-82U (£160)
  • ASUS TUF Gaming AX5400 (£140)
  • Asus ROG Strix GS-3000 (£165)
  • Asus ROG Strix GS-5400 (£200)
Every time I think I might have found the solution, I find that it's not WiFi 6, or it's missing the 160mhz channel, or it's not 4x4 MIMO and I'm not knowledgable enough to know how important that is.
 
Last edited:

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
The max speeds I get typically don't surpass 500mbit/s.

If you are getting 500Mbps over Wi-Fi, this is about max speed to 2-stream common AC client. Replacing the router won't give you any improvement - you are limited by the client capabilities. Avoid "mesh" systems, more marketing than real mesh. 160MHz channel is not guaranteed - it uses DFS channels. May or may not work in your environment. MU-MIMO won't give you any measurable improvements either. AX86U is one of the popular models, but a new version AX86U Pro is coming in few months. You may want to wait and get the updated hardware one. Avoid "gaming" models - pure marketing BS.
 

alba666

Regular Contributor
Is the current router on the first or second floor?
How many walls/floors are between your router and the problem devices?
What are the wall/floor materials?
 

BraXzy

Occasional Visitor
Is the current router on the first or second floor?
How many walls/floors are between your router and the problem devices?
What are the wall/floor materials?
Current router is on the bottom (first?) floor - as it needs the fibre connection from the wall. This would of course become just a modem once I add something to the set up.

The Ring doorbell, which admittedly is less problematic and has fewer connection issues is through one internal wall and one external wall. Internal walls are plasterboard, external are brick and rendering (UK new build).
The Ring Floodlight camera is positioned halfway up the house on the outside so I guess it's going through one internal floor and the external wall.
There's two floors and not a lot else between it and the top floor as it's open plan up there.
 

BraXzy

Occasional Visitor
Is the current router on the first or second floor?
How many walls/floors are between your router and the problem devices?
What are the wall/floor materials?
Do you think since I'm wired into the middle floor, if I added just one router in the centre of the house it'd be enough? I'm still not even sure I need to have more than one node in total.
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
Do you think since I'm wired into the middle floor, if I added just one router in the centre of the house it'd be enough? I'm still not even sure I need to have more than one node in total.

Yes, I would try this first... one AIO in your office, perhaps with a 2nd wire down/up to a switch at a media center(?).

OE
 

BraXzy

Occasional Visitor
Yes, I would try this first... one AIO in your office, perhaps with a 2nd wire down/up to a switch at a media center(?).

OE
Ah I didn't think about the fact I'd lose the ethernet capabilities downstairs then. I've already got a switch at the media center...

Would the alternative be to add in one of the routers listed as an AP in the office and make do with the ISP router still as the primary?
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Would the alternative be to add in one of the routers listed as an AP

Yes, but you'll lose all the firmware features. Router in AP mode is just wired-to-wireless bridge and a switch with few Ethernet ports.
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture
Ah I didn't think about the fact I'd lose the ethernet capabilities downstairs then. I've already got a switch at the media center...

Would the alternative be to add in one of the routers listed as an AP in the office and make do with the ISP router still as the primary?

Someone here should comment on your ISP gateway make/model WiFi... it may not be worth keeping?

OE
 

OzarkEdge

Part of the Furniture

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Someone here should comment on your ISP gateway make/model WiFi... it may not be worth keeping?

With bits and pieces of specs information collected from few sources, it appears to be faster than many home routers with 2x 2.5GHz Intel Atom-based CPU cores, 1GB RAM, 3x3 2.4GHz radio and 4x4 5GHz radio, AC Wave 2. It may be hard to beat this one with just any router.
 

BraXzy

Occasional Visitor
Is it 1100sf total or 3x1100sf?

OE
Sorry to be clear that's total across all 3 floors, so maybe 360sqf per floor.
Amazon Prime Day just went live and I can get quite a few good deals from the shortlist I originally had... Doesn't make things easier haha.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Try one Asus GT-AX6000 for £237.99, send it back if it doesn't work as expected. It has to be on the 2nd floor though. If you don't care about firmware features and router on the 2nd floor is not possible, get one TP-Link Archer AX53 for £69.99 and use it as Access Point on the 2nd floor.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
You also have an option for Asus RT-AX86S for £146.99, but it has to be on the second floor too. You can use it as Access Point, the price is okay. It has the same performance radios as the popular RT-AX86U. The same firmware features like most high-end Asus routers, just a bit cheaper model.
 

BraXzy

Occasional Visitor
You also have an option for Asus RT-AX86S for £146.99, but it has to be on the second floor too. You can use it as Access Point, the price is okay. It has the same performance radios as the popular RT-AX86U. The same firmware features like most high-end Asus routers, just a bit cheaper model.
This doesn't support Merlin does it? I'm not 100% sure I'd make full use of it but I like the idea of having that as an option. I've just looked again and:

I can get the ASUS AX-82U for £125
or the ASUS GT-AX6000 for £238
or the ASUS AX-86U for £255

Either way I'd likely need to put this on the ground floor, which may suffice given the ISP router does a decent job already?
 

tgl

Senior Member
If you're going to be using this as just a wireless access point behind your ISP-provided router, then you should seriously question whether you want a router at all rather than something that's only intended to be an access point. A router in AP mode will work, but it's overkill, and the unused routing features may still contain bugs that cause you problems. Something like an Eero has got a ton of functionality you probably don't even want, but you'll be getting any associated bugs or privacy loopholes anyway.

There is not a lot of consumer-oriented gear that falls in this category, but you can get a low-end business-grade AP for more or less what you'd pay for a consumer-grade router. I've been pretty happy with a Zyxel NWA210AX, and there are other options out there.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
This doesn't support Merlin does it?

It is Asuswrt-Merlin supported. The same CPU as AX86U, but dual-core, 512MB RAM, no 2.5GbE port, the same Wi-Fi radios. AX86U and AX86S have the same wired/wireless performance for up to Gigabit ISP. AX86U has advantage above Gigabit aggregate traffic and if you run more scripts and VPN clients. You can get one and see what it can do for Wi-Fi improvement. If it doesn't work - AP on the second floor, as single AP for the house or as assistance to the VM Hub 4 Wi-Fi. There are options to explore.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
I'm in a ~1100sqft brick house, across 3 floors. My ISP is Virgin Media with 1gbit speeds. Right now I am using nothing but the router provided by them (Hub 4). The main connection is on the bottom floor, but I've wired in my office on the middle floor.

I would probably go with the Eero's if you get the 3-pack for £200...

Better than an all-in-wonder Asus that many here will likely recommend (who knows, maybe they're paid to do it as a sponsored post)
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Eero 6+ is dual-band. It will cut the satellites performance in half. Eero 6 Pro is a different story, but more expensive.
 

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