What router stat should I look for if I want 4 clients to be able to stream 1080p content simultanously?

Bojamijams

Occasional Visitor
Does this mean I require 4x4 MU MIMO?

I don't have a big house (1600 sq ft) and my asus AC86U has enough coverage where it is located, but I do notice that my steam link starts stuttering as soon as 2 or more devices start streaming youtube/netflix.

As my household will not grow past 4, I really just want to make sure I can deliver 1080p-1440p content to 4 devices at any time.
 

Gouldin

Regular Contributor
As the 86u is a pretty decent router, I'd be inclined to suggest getting an extra access point and setting some of the devices to that. Otherwise you're pretty much into tri-band territory which means getting an AX11000 or alternative from another brand which becomes pretty pricey. (Though if you don't spending the cash is an excellent router, I used one myself for about 6 months)

After that, you're going to be looking into something like UniFi and adding a couple of AP's, which depending on your needs/ technical ability may be or may not be a good move.

Other question I guess also would be where are the streams coming from? Local plex/nas or over the internet? Also if over the internet, sure it's not just using all of your internet bandwidth?
 
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Trip

Very Senior Member
Enabling four (or more) clients to stream "simultaneously" is absolutely possible, but almost certainly not by just upgrading a single AP to 4x4. I'll explain:

First off, for that extra spatial stream to benefit simultaneous download ability, you'd need to have MU-MIMO properly implemented and working in the 86U and all clients involved, a very low probability (for more on why that is, read Why You Don't Need MU-MIMO). Even if that were possible, 4x4 would only allow up to one additional client to download at the same time, so only up to three clients total on that one 5ghz radio (versus up to two on the 86U). The easiest and most certain way to increase simultaneous wifi download (and upload as well) is simply by adding more radios (ie. a tri-band router, or potentially better still, multiple discrete APs), plus proper broadcast/channel management.

Looking at your gear in particular, beyond simple interference or signal quality issues, if I had to guess, the root of your client behavior will come down to poor/buggy code running on the Asus, possibly a dying 5Ghz/2.4Ghz chip (as much as people think this happens in consumer routers, I'd say it's actually very rare), certain service(s) on the router choking/stuttering the throughput, potential bufferbloat on the WAN and/or wireless interfaces (measurable with a DSLReports speedtest - test with a wired and wireless client separately), and/or potentially buggy/crappy wifi chips in any of your clients. Most likely, it probably 86U-related, and if you haven't already, I would factory-reset, load the latest, proven-stable Merlin build and re-configure from scratch, being extremely careful not to enable any extraneous services/features. Also, depending on the type and speed of your internet, and/or if your bufferbloat scores were a B- or lower), you may want to enable fq_codel on the WAN interface (search the Asus sub-forums on how to do that).

Beyond that, a change to a tri-band router may be the easiest way to minimize your issues. I also tend to find that Qualcomm wifi -- offered on certain consumer all-in-ones (which are unfortunately not most Asus models) and higher-end wired APs -- often provides a smoother simultaneous wifi experience in general, all other items held equal.

With all of that understood, there is a partial savings' grace here, which actually comes from how streaming data is downloaded by most modern apps: it's not truly continuous, but rather spaced-out into "chunks", with pauses in between (example: YouTube or Netflix streaming will display download "peaks" every few seconds, with valleys of almost no throughput in between). This helps to transmit enough data to clients, even in-serial, to allow what feels like "simultaneous" streaming to at least several devices at a time in most small networks. Provided you don't have a faulty device(s) in the mix, per what I suspected above.

Hopefully, some of that helps.
 
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L&LD

Part of the Furniture
What are your ISP speeds? What firmware version do you have installed? When was the last time you did a full/proper M&M Config?

The RT-AC68U can do what you want. The much better RT-AC86U isn't the bottleneck here.

Do you have any scripts installed? Depending on your ISP speeds, the ones to look at would be CakeQOS and FlexQOS.

The rest of your network needs to be up to par too. What client devices are handling the streaming? Do they have the latest wireless drivers? Have you ever reset their network settings to properly take advantage of the new routers you've used with them (or just simply used a new, never used, SSID)?
 

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
Consumer routers are not really built for load. Small business wireless and routers are more built for load. With that said you would think some of the gig consumer routers should be able to handle 100 meg + stream well without locks ups or pauses but maybe not. I don't know.

Sorry I was thinking 4K streams. 1080P is have the size but it is all high priority traffic so the programing needs to be good.

If your really want to test it add Wi-Fi calls on top and see if they drop. Wi-Fi needs priority over video. I would add Wi-Fi roaming as well with my multi-APs.
 
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avtella

Very Senior Member
Honestly your AC86U should be be easily able to do two or more 4K streams. What’s your ISP provisioned speed? Also are you using 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band?

You don’t necessarily need a triband, I have tested 4K streams on 5 devices at once on the RAX120 for example without issue even the R7800 was ok. If you’re looking for a mesh like setup and need an extra 5Ghz band for backhaul or you have way too many really old devices slowing you down then maybe triband but a dual band would do just fine otherwise.

I for example can max out my 1.2 Gbps connection to my ISP across multiple devices without issue on my dual band unit, when running downloads etc along side the 4K streams.

Any of the following decently priced dual band AC or AX router should do. ie AX88U, R7800, RT2600AC. The last two are Qualcomm based units, but the AX88U being newer probably has a longer support life.
 
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CaptainSTX

Part of the Furniture
You need to divide to conquer.

If possible connect one or more of the streaming devices using Ethernet cables to the router. Ethernet is the gold standard for streaming and it eliminates most of the stuttering and buffering issues that people complain about.

Consider adding an AP to split the WiFi traffic up. Let your AC86 handle up to two streams and then by using an AC68 or something similar, let it handle the remainder. You can even divide the traffic between the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz. If you set up an AP just be sure to use different radio channels on all radios and probably different SSIDs so YOU control which devices connect where and on what radio. Having a well placed second AP will also help reduce buffering by minimizing lost packets.
 

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
Honestly your AC86U should be be easily able to do two 4K streams. What’s your ISP provisioned speed? Also are you using 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz band?

You don’t necessarily need a triband, I have tested 4K streams on 5 devices at once on the RAX120 for example without issue even the R7800 was ok. If you’re looking for a mesh like setup and need an extra 5Ghz band for backhaul or you have way too many really old devices slowing you down then maybe triband but a dual band would do just fine otherwise.

I for example can max out my 1.2 Gbps connection to my ISP across multiple devices without issue on my dual band unit, when running downloads etc along side the 4K streams.

Any of the following decently priced dual band AC or AX router should do. ie AX88U, R7800, RT2600AC. The last two are Qualcomm based units, but the AX88U being newer probably has a longer support life.
So are your 4K streams wired or wireless? When you max out are you using any wired devices if so what?
 

avtella

Very Senior Member
5 Wireless devices, 4 Laptops and an Apple TV, and then a couple of downloads running. I used a mix of Netflix and YouTube streams for the test. Apple TV doesn’t support 4K YouTube yet and my Netflix UHD plan if I recall correctly is limited to 4 screens, hence a mix. Comcast’s gig profile ranges from 1-1.2 Gbps. Usually around 1.15 Gbps sustained. I should add the reason for the greater than gigabit speeds on WAN is due to the CAX80 modem that I received for evaluation that has an Nbase-T port.

I do have wired devices but those are mostly idle. In fact I should clarify I have my RAX120 running as an AP connected to a pfsense box via a Zyxel XS1930 switch. I have a work laptop connected via Ethernet, an Arlo base station and a NAS on the switch.
 

coxhaus

Part of the Furniture
I figured you had a dual port modem but Nbase-T port sounds interesting. What port speed do you connect at?
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
Your current router should have the chops (and is already 4 x 4).

I often spend a few minutes on basic troubleshooting so that I know what I'm trying to fix before I just throw money at the problem.

Four 1080P streams. HD is about 7 Mbps. Times four is about 28 Mbps.

First question; what is your Internet service speed? Are you getting it? (Needs to be greater than 28 : -)

Wireless. Let's call 2.4 GHz about 75 Mbps (> 28) and 5 GHz about double that. The further the device (from the router) the lower the speed. One far device will lower the speed for everyone.

So it could be as simple as one of your devices being "out of range". One naughty device can compromise everyone's airtime. You'll have to do some trouble shooting. Run speed tests from each TV. Maybe walk around the house with a WiFi analyzer checking signal levels. Maybe move your router to a slightly better location (sometimes just a few feet up and out can make a difference). Maybe temporarily move your TVs closer to your router (just for testing). Maybe scatter long lengths of Ethernet across the floor to see what happens if you direct connect a TV or two? Maybe force one of the more distant TVs to connect at 2.4 GHz (rather than 5 GHz)?

Once you've played a little you may find that the solution is as simple as tweaking "airtime fairness", or using a less congested channel, or changing channel width, or connecting a TV to 2.4 GHz, or adding an AP to cover a far corner of the house.

Maybe ...
 
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avtella

Very Senior Member
I figured you had a dual port modem but Nbase-T port sounds interesting. What port speed do you connect at?
It connects at 2.5 Gbps, the pfSense box has an Intel X710-T2L dual port 10Gbe card which just happens to support nbase-t.
 
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Trip

Very Senior Member
Your current router should have the chops (and is already 4 x 4).
The 86U is 3x3; not 4x4. Nevertheless, there are plenty more factors that will have a much larger impact on simultaneous streaming ability than the number of spatial streams offered by the router -- per my initial post above.
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
I know you so you are probably right but, in my defense, I lifted this directly from the Asus Website;

Antenna
External antenna x 3​
Internal 3dBi antenna x 1 for Wi-Fi Transmit/Receive​
MIMO technology
2.4 GHz 3 x 3​
5 GHz 4 x 4​
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@Trip, for the 2.4GHz band, it is 3x3:3. For the 5GHz band, it is 4x4:4 (with an internal, fourth, antennae).
 

Klueless

Very Senior Member
First off, for that extra spatial stream to benefit simultaneous download ability, you'd need to have MU-MIMO properly implemented and working in the 86U and all clients involved, a very low probability (for more on why that is, read Why You Don't Need MU-MIMO). Even if that were possible, 4x4 would only allow up to one additional client to download at the same time, so only up to three clients total on that one 5ghz radio (versus up to two on the 86U). The easiest and most certain way to increase simultaneous wifi download (and upload as well) is simply by adding more radios (ie. a tri-band router, or potentially better still, multiple discrete APs), plus proper broadcast/channel management.
That was a great catch. It was also almost three years ago. Even so THiggins noted that two 1x1 clients achieved 63% increase with one of the MU-MIMO routers. That would be my design goal, MU-MIMO sharing airtime more effectively with low end (1 x 1) clients. Maybe things have gotten better over the past few years? If so it sure could help with streaming four TVs. Maybe I'll run a few tests someday. You've certainly peaked my curiosity.
 

avtella

Very Senior Member
In regards to MU, on Broadcom AX router models (RAX80/RAX50) I’ve not noticed much improvement or loss, SNB tests if I recall showed MU to be best turned on when using Qualcomm based models like the R7800 (QCA9984 chipset) where there were decent gains, not BCM ones. Even some Broadcom MU capable WiFi clients like the Galaxy S6 if I recall correctly had an issue where with MU enabled they’d drop to a 1x1 mode.
 
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Trip

Very Senior Member
@Klueless & @L&LD - Guess it's me who stands corrected -- so a 4x4 "upgrade" could only occur in the 2.4Ghz band. I think, then, that makes looking at other variables even more paramount here.
 

Bojamijams

Occasional Visitor
What are your ISP speeds? What firmware version do you have installed? When was the last time you did a full/proper M&M Config?

The RT-AC68U can do what you want. The much better RT-AC86U isn't the bottleneck here.

Do you have any scripts installed? Depending on your ISP speeds, the ones to look at would be CakeQOS and FlexQOS.

The rest of your network needs to be up to par too. What client devices are handling the streaming? Do they have the latest wireless drivers? Have you ever reset their network settings to properly take advantage of the new routers you've used with them (or just simply used a new, never used, SSID)?
Hey there! Thanks for responding. To answer your questions:

ISP speed is 250/20. Merlin firmware 384.15. No idea what you mean by M&M config so.. never? :D

No scripts installed. I am running my own VPN on it but it has no clients connected to it when I'm home. I also don't have any QoS running at all actually but I've never had issues with my ping when Netflix/youtube is being streamed on my wired PC where I game, so I didn't bother enabling it.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
So, why are you running such an old firmware today? :)

See the link in my signature below for the M&M Config and other guides/posts too.
 

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