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XT8 vs XT9, Decision

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Hi, I am looking to upgrade to a Mesh configuration.

Can anyone help me decide between XT8 and XT9?

My client list consists of 18 clients:
2 wired
7 5 GHz
9 2.4 GHz

I often stream HD movies and TV shows. My DVR says it is in Dolby Vision. I get very high quality video and 5.1 surround sound. I also do a lot of browsing and download of files, large and mostly small.

My internet connection is 1Ghz fiber but doing speed tests on my laptop is never that high. Typical download speed through my ASUS RT-AC86U is 350 Mpbs. This may be a limitation of my laptop, a ThinkPad X1 Yoga 3rd. It's network adapter is an Intel Dual Band Wireless - AC 8265
I have a version 1 set of the XT8s, though I have them wired together and don't use them in "mesh" mode. I like them very much.

Both models have 2.4 and 5 GHz radios predominantly used for clients and a better 5 GHz radio for communication between the routers themselves (though they can also be used for clients). The biggest difference between the 8s and 9s is that the "client" 5 GHz radio in the 9s can use more channels for higher bonded-channel throughput, but they're DFS channels so depending on where you live (on the planet) they may by regulation be available to use, or not. If so, if you're near weather or aircraft radar installations you may not get much use of the extra channels anyway.

In my opinion, if you can make use of the extra capability and the price difference isn't much more than ~ $30, the 9s would be the better choice. Having twice the channels to bond means you can theoretically have twice the throughput to a similarly-capable client, though in practice it usually falls a bit short of 2x.

So, can you actually use the "better" radio, and if so, where do you draw the line on that monetary value? That's what it boils down to. In every other respect you'd see no real difference between them.

Thanks for the detailed response.

The XT9 is about $100 more at Amazon. Perhaps there is not enough functional difference to justify that.

With my RT-AC86U I had to uncheck "Auto select channel including DFS channels" but I forget why. Something wasn't working right. I am very close to a small "puddle jumper" airport so maybe there is DFS interference from there. Can I assume both the XT8 and XT9 will have the same flexibility?

Right now, I have separate SSIDs for 2.4 and 5 GHz. Asus seems to encourage a single SSID for both. Any opinions on this?
So far my investigation, which involves fetching and extracting the firmware for comparison, indicates that which I stated above. In fact, within the build configuration file the XT9 is called XT8 Pro.

I would not value the functional difference nearly so high as $100 (as also stated above).

In terms of same / different SSIDs, I use the same for both 2.4 and 5-1 plus unique for 5-2. I do that to be able to isolate 5GHz clients (primarily the PCs) for better intra-network throughput, as well as assigning different channels on each unit for the same purpose. That last choice necessarily rules out AiMesh which to this point in time insists on all broadcasters using the same channels on the "same" radios system-wide. In my case the main unit is in the basement, where it sees virtually no competing systems while the slave unit upstairs in the living room can handily see several. I feel some reported issues with AiMesh performance could be averted if the controlling unit, whether better or any at all, took such consideration when auto-assigning channels for the entire system to use.

To be sure, mesh mode offers both more convenient system administration and the ready propagation of a guest VLAN, and if I needed either I might willingly trade away the better throughput. But if one has to rely on wireless to integrate the slave unit that's fairly a moot point.

I feel the same 2.4 and 5-1 SSID assignment allows me to only have to define one connection on any device and that device can choose whichever band it prefers at any given time.

These units, either, are highly functional and almost entirely unobtrusive in appearance. I'm a fan.
Glens, thank again.

Assuming I get two XT8s and I have wired ethernet (5e) available, should I set up wireless or wired backhaul?

I assume the default will be wireless. If it gets setup this way (wireless), can I simply plug the remote node into the wired ethernet wall port and make a simple settings change to activate the wired backhaul?
I believe in that situation they'll automatically use the wire.

If you have wire available, I highly suggest you compare system performance in both mesh and AP modes.
I believe in that situation they'll automatically use the wire.

If you have wire available, I highly suggest you compare system performance in both mesh and AP modes.
Ah. I was thinking that it was normal to set them side-by-side during the setup process and let the wireless be configured. I suppose I could run an ethernet between the two during setup.

Are you suggesting I use the second XT8 as a simple access point? Lets say I was moving from place to place with my laptop, would it automatically switch to the AP if that had the better signal? Or is the use of an AP more suited to static configurations?

Sorry for all the questions but I am getting good info!
For setting up mesh just use the method you'd like.

In AP mode (my preference for performance improvement) I use the same SSID on all 2.4 and 5-1 and a different one on all 5-2. Different 2.4 channels as well 5-2 channels. No way to do that under mesh. 5-1 have to be the same channels since that's all they'll do at 80 MHz bonding.

Roaming is indistinguishable in either mode.
One last(?) thing. If/when(!) you try AP mode on the second unit, you must not let the second unit "see" (wired /or/ wireless) the "router" unit running until you've got the second configured as AP (or media bridge/repeater, etc.), or you'll waste a lot of time.

Any time one of these boots up in an unconfigured state, if it detects another set up as a router, it'll configure itself as a mesh node before you can "get in" to it's interface and make an alternate use choice. Configure the AP before configuring the router or power off the router if it was done beforehand.
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