Why I prefer Wifi 5 routers over 6/6E! Fast, cheap and fun

peaks

Occasional Visitor
Hi Everyone! I've been a fan of SNB for years--maybe over a decade--but I've never shared my network. Since I'm very proud of it and I think YOU could easily replicate it, I wanted to take you through it.

For starters: I have an EE degree so I can get in the weeds, but I will make it as simple as possible to understand. I have 400Mbit Spectrum service, and I live on a hill. To get good performance everywhere, I use 5 APs. We live in LA so 2.4 is pretty useless for anything but IOT, there's so much interference. With 5GHz there is less interference, but the default 36 and 149 80MHz channels are pretty crowded. They work well indoors, but not out. My property is 7000 sf and we use all of it from the garage at the top to the pool at the bottom. Outdoor speed is just as important as indoor, as we spend much of our time outside doing WFH. With the current all Wifi 5 network, I get a minimum of 250Mbit and a max of 470mbit (Spectrum provides 400+) everywhere on my property from my iPhone 13 Pro Max and my MacBook. And my network only cost me a couple hundred MAX.

Ok here's a pic:
Screen Shot 2022-02-15 at 2.23.46 PM.png


As you can see I use every single 80MHz channel in 5GHz, and in 2.4 I have 3, but the center channel should be on 6; its hosted by an AP that will only do AUTO CHANNEL (bleh).

All of the gear on my network is purchased USED for as little as possible on ebay or Amazon (just for the sake of it! and I'm cheap lol). Whenever possible, I flash it with DD-WRT or another Open Firmware, so I always research old routers first to make sure there's a working build out there before I buy it. EG I got my TP C7 for $35, it's running LEDE; $34 for my Netgear AC1450 that I first flashed to R6300v2 (makes it AC1750) and then put a Kong build of DD-WRT. All APs have 1GBE connections. Most of the APs are old routers from 2016 or earlier; I even have a 2015 cable modem and the core WAN router is a 2013 AirPort Extreme that's still also running Wifi 5. Because the gear is so cheap I can do things like mount the TP c7 under an awning and voila, its a 3-antenna AC1750 outdoor AP...for $35. I put directional antennas on it so it beams signal to the pool area from the deck. You get the idea--its cheap gear that I do not baby at all, and it never has any hiccups aside from when Spectrum goes out.

As a result, I have 5 APs running 6 different 80MHz channels (one AP is TriBand, hosting 1/36/149) covering my property, 2-stream or 3-stream, and this is how I get excellent bandwidth everywhere, for all our devices, at the same time. I can use the DFS channels fully because of the power of open firmware. Why is it better than wifi 6? Well, no wifi 6 routers support open firmware, and most seem to be very stingy with DFS, either ONLY providing 36/149 (the horror!) or making DFS an uncontrollable all-auto thing or at the very least something that resets itself to ch 36 all the time (damn airports!) and never goes back to the DFS channel. As a result, if I ran 5 wifi 6 APs, they would mostly be stumbling over each other on 36/149, and the multi-AP architecture would not perform nearly as well due to my own interference. Yes, there might be a benefit to running the faster wifi 6 protocols, but when they are all running on 36, you will get better performance from a clean wifi 5 channel, say ch 100.

And wifi 6E? well, the focus is on the 6 GHz channels of which there are more than ever, and that's cool but...literally NOTHING I own runs 6E (and I have so many many devices). So all those clear channels will only be usable by FUTURE gear, and pretty much only within the same room as the router, due to the worse through-wall performance of 6Ghz. And the 5GHz section on 6E routers is basically the same issue I outlined above with Wifi 6 routers. No open firmware, stingy DFS, and with 6E, EXPENSIVE AS HELL.

Using wifi 5, you can use old gear with open firmware to get a cheap 6-channel 5Ghz network that works with all (well, most) of your existing gear AND it goes through walls. I get great performance for my needs; I don't have anything I do that even requires 470Mbit, so I don't care about higher performance yet, and don't foresee it being an issue for...maybe 5-8 years. Its been a real joy building/managing this network and getting futuristic performance from throw-away gear. I highly recommend this path if you are so inclined, you get 5 APs for less money than 1 fancy router, and really more APs on clean, separate channels is the ULTIMATE way to make a great network.

Thanks for reading, I hope this was useful. If anyone has any questions, lmk.

-PEAKS

Here's the network with all my neighbors visible too. Smooth sailing in 5Ghz! 149 is only inside so I can't actually see the other 149s from there; this scan is outside:
Screen Shot 2022-02-15 at 2.21.26 PM.png
 

Tech Junky

Very Senior Member
Screenshot_20220201-081825.jpg


AX isn't all that bad w/ 160mhz bandwidth if you have the proper channel selected and push your neighbors to the high band.
Screenshot_20220126-231740.jpg


2.4 on AX isn't bad either with more bandwidth over AC.
 

peaks

Occasional Visitor
Hi Tech Junky- Yeah only my phone is wifi 6. Everything else, including the entire IOT infrx (cams and sensors) runs on wifi 5 (or worse!), so I would have zero benefit from the faster 2.4 or the 160Mhz 5ghz wifi 6 Channels. Maybe a few years from now. One day I will upgrade but only once actually good wifi 6 routers are selling used for $35 lol. Meantime I get my full 470mbit from my phone in most locations so I’m good for years, and latency is great because there is no interference. Your 160Mhz is using 36, which is my worst region of 5ghz, so it would probably be spending time waiting for other networks and/or dropping to 80Mhz often.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
I use 5 APs. We live in LA so 2.4 is pretty useless for anything but IOT, there's so much interference. With 5GHz there is less interference

Ah... so you're "that guy" I guess... the guy that takes up all the channels for the neighbors on either side of your location (and the folks across the street as well)

You could probably knock out 2 to 3 of those AP's and still have a decent network - and one 2.4GHz is probably all you need there.
 

sfx2000

Part of the Furniture
Meantime I get my full 470mbit from my phone in most locations so I’m good for years, and latency is great because there is no interference

No interference for you perhaps - but you're likely jamming the heck out of your neighbors
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
No interference for you perhaps - but you're likely jamming the heck out of your neighbors

Probably not, because his AP's are not active most of the time. I wouldn't give an example of a network with old AC Wave 1 routers though. I also use AC Wi-Fi system, but AC Wave 2 with the same PoE AP's, central management, guest network, VLAN's support, etc. The price is different, but it's much better.

using 36, which is my worst region of 5ghz,

You have no other visible networks on lower 5GHz channels. What is so bad? Visible networks doesn't mean no available bandwidth.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
@peaks I can't say I agree with your conclusions. Except maybe for the (low) total cost.

Is Wi-Fi 6 Worth It

Wi-Fi 6 Pt 2


And just look what an affordable and current single AX capable router can do for even a 5-year-old, one-time, champion (2x RT-AC86U).

Report - 2x RT-AX68U upgrade over 2x RT-AC86U in wireless backhaul mode


The network you have is far from optimal (vs. current/recommended hardware), and the needless load on your immediate wireless environment (and hence, your neighbors), is a cost in itself.


Also, 5 AP's for only 7,000 SqFt is more than likely, not needed (at least not with current hardware).

RT-AC3100 Report https://www.snbforums.com/threads/s...-go-with-the-rt-ac1900p-v3.34748/#post-281391


Again, for only 'a couple of hundred bucks', it is great what you've accomplished.

But if I had a home with a swimming pool, I would be looking for much better network infrastructure today. :)
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
@peaks I can't say I agree with your conclusions. Except maybe for the (low) total cost.

I agree with @L&LD. If staying with AC, at least AC Wave 2. A bunch of old mixed routers is only cheap, not good.

Enough for @peaks doesn't mean it's a good example of a network to replicate. It's something blasting Wi-Fi on all channels.

But if I had a home with a swimming pool, I would be looking for much better network infrastructure today.

Indeed. ;)
 

peaks

Occasional Visitor
Ok guys so, how would doing what you say improve my experience? I don’t even need to pay attention to my network. I only upgraded to 400mbit last month and instantly had most of it available everywhere. Not sure how or why wifi 6 would improve those numbers.

I am shedding a tear for my neighbors, all of whom use 36/149 aside from the ghost networks that the cable company puts out for their own purposes. If I’m not seeing their networks, I’m not interfering with them, 5ghz doesn’t propagate like that ie 2.4. Yeah I’m that guy, the one who has great internet speed in every corner of my convoluted property.

only one network is outside and uses directional antennas that hit the ground on my property (yes by the pool). There’s no bleed. You guys are hilarious! I appreciate all the responses. Yeah wave 2 why not? Just haven’t needed to upgrade. I don’t care about theoretical wifi capabilities, just real world throughput and I’m beyond pleased with it how it is. But I’m always down to consider upgrades; so far, haven’t seen any reason. Lmk!
 

peaks

Occasional Visitor
the scan I posted was in my front yard which doesn’t have other 36 activity rn but the back yard has a lot—a few neighbors have horrible mesh networks blasting huge numbers of identically named networks on 36 and 149. If I run those outside my bandwidth drops by at least 50%. I use 36/149 indoors, so MINIMAL interference with the KNOWN NETWORKS of my neighbors. My dfs channels are empty aside from the ghost stuff and not much of that, one DIRECTV appears occasionally on 100 or 52.

i did already consider what you all wrote. I just don’t need to follow any of it. And no, a single 5ghz AP or even 2 would absolutely NOT give me 400+mbit everywhere. I know that because that was how I started. As for 2.4, I have a lot of IOT on there so if one net goes down I need failover. That’s 2 channels—why not add a 3rd? I have zero 2.4 running outside so that helps my sad neighbors.
 

L&LD

Part of the Furniture
Not needing to upgrade isn't a reason that your reasoning is correct.

Only by doing, will you know. Right now, you know only what you have.

Reading the posts I offered (if you indeed read them), and ignoring them, isn't helping you understand either.

The 'scan' you do in your front yard from a client device doesn't mean anything. What matters is what the router sees. That will affect your environment (and your neighbors).

You don't need to follow anything. But your first post isn't as informative (or unbiased) as it can be either.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Ok guys so, how would doing what you say improve my experience?

You have more cables (5x power adapters with 5x power outlets), no central management, no guest network, different specs radios, with lack of 802.11k/v/r no proper roaming, no network stats, mostly untested beta firmware upgrades.

have horrible mesh networks blasting huge numbers of identically named networks on 36 and 149.

Huge number of SSID's doesn't mean no available bandwidth. When I get to my condo I can show you a screenshot of 550Mbps transfer over Wi-Fi on channel 36 with at least 10 visible networks with control channel 36. Your old AC Wave 1 routers cripple faster with interference. There is a reason they are sold for $35 a piece.
 

peaks

Occasional Visitor
I will read those posts, haven’t had a chance but enjoying the back n forth. I hear you about the overall efficiency, probably using a few extra dozen watts. Again, because I get great speeds everywhere I just don’t see why I would need to upgrade? Central management ok—I ran corp IT for a Fortune 500 co and I can get down with that too. But at home I like to hack together cheap networks with old gear. If anyone else likes that, this can inspire them to have some fun for cheap and get a very high performance network. But most people would certainly prefer one super router or serious it folks like central management, “roaming” (still mostly client controlled) etc.

i used to have a 3 antenna laptop but when I “upgraded” to a new MacBook it was only 2 antennas. So the truth is I really only need 2 antenna APs. That said, most are 3 antenna, and maybe there’s some beam forming benefit.

but guys: isn’t user bandwidth the most important thing at home? And central Management only matters if you need to regularly manage. Which I don’t. As for guests—what are those again? Been locked down for 2 years lol I turned guest network off March 2020.

also fwiw none of my ddwrt or lede builds are beta, and if I don’t have any issues I dont change the firmware; they are behind a firewall and secure enough.
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
I have a lot of IOT on there

So you perhaps spend regularly hundreds of dollars on mood lights, switches, power plugs and who knows what else IoT and all they rely on $35 second hand router? This is strange. I would start with a proper expandable and upgradeable network first. You just limit yourself with this old equipment. But it's your house and your choice.

also fwiw none of my ddwrt or lede builds are beta

DD-WRT is automatically generated and untested on actual hardware perpetual beta shapshots. LEDE doesn't exist since 2018. It's 2022 now.
 

peaks

Occasional Visitor
Not needing to upgrade isn't a reason that your reasoning is correct.

Only by doing, will you know. Right now, you know only what you have.
This is true. But I read reviews and don’t see better performance.

The 'scan' you do in your front yard from a client device doesn't mean anything. What matters is what the router sees. That will affect your environment (and your neighbors).

I have scanned from all the APs. Same basic information.

You don't need to follow anything. But your first post isn't as informative (or unbiased)

ok but biased? I LOVE wifi just like y’all. Every time I read a review of new 6/6E gear on Amazon, the complaints are endless. And the happy people talk about “upgrading” from AC to 6E and being psyched they get 100Mbit in their garage when they used to get 25mbit or something. I get 470 in my garage using AC so I’m baffled by those reviews. Keeps me coming back to SNB for smart informed people and reviews, but also makes me feel like most sub $200 routers, and many of the pricey ones, are likely frustrating lemons. And for what? I’m not interested in dealing with that. Especially because the newer gear locks you out from all the real controls like DFS or simple channel selection.
 

peaks

Occasional Visitor
So you perhaps spend regularly hundreds of dollars on mood lights, switches, power plugs and who knows what else IoT and all they rely on $35 second hand router? This is strange. I would start with a proper expandable and upgradeable network first. You just limit yourself with this old equipment. But it's your house and your choice.
I’ve accumulated lots of smart devices over the years, but it mostly runs on 2.4N so…yeah don’t need any new tech there. I get about 35mbit per antenna in 2.4. Fine.

DD-WRT is automatically generated and untested on actual hardware perpetual beta shapshots. LEDE doesn't exist since 2018. It's 2022 now.

Good point! But since it’s an internal AP behind a firewall, and it delivers eg 400mbit on channel 100…why toss it? Love the landfill??
 

Tech9

Part of the Furniture
Good point! But since it’s an internal AP behind a firewall, and it delivers eg 400mbit on channel 100…why toss it? Love the landfill??

Volvo 200 series is very reliable. Manufactured from 1974 to 1994. It can run above the current speed limits. Just giving you an idea.

Love the landfill??

At the same time I agree with you. I won't change my AC Wi-Fi system until I see real use bottlenecks. No such signs for now - it stays.
 
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peaks

Occasional Visitor
Volvo 200 series is very reliable. Manufactured from 1974 to 1994. It can run above the current speed limits. Just giving you an idea. ;)
Unsafe and probably awful mileage. Ugly too. I don’t see the comparison.

Really, you all seem very biased toward the new tech, but I see bandwidth as the be all/ end all for my needs and…I’m at 470mb over 7000sf with 7-9 year old gear. We’re I to upgrade…nothing would change but my wallet would be lighter and I’d have some less time-tested gear to worry about.

don’t forget I’m an EE. I love tech and protocols too. But can’t see the reason to upgrade yet and I also haven’t heard a cogent argument for it. Maybe I will find it in the links L&LD posted.
 

peaks

Occasional Visitor
I should add that had Wave 2 been around when I got this gear I would have gone that way. But it wasn’t, and I’m ok with the throughput I get for me and my 2 other family members. We are usually each on our own zero interference 80Mhz channel, even in the same room. Blissful!
 

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