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ZEN Wi-Fi XT8 Mesh is overwhelmed...Looking for advice

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RobJack

Regular Contributor
Hi Folks, looking for some sage advice here concerning my title. I have three XT8s covering a 5000 sq ft, three story house, and an outdoor woodshop located about 30 feet from the house. Due to various constraints, I'm forced to employ a wireless backhaul for both nodes. I use the DFS channels for the backhaul as I have no radar interference in my area, and the backhaul is rock solid. No drops, hiccups, or any other anomalies. One node is consistently connected at around 2Gb, while the other connects at around 3Gb. My ISP provides me a 1 Gb connection. The construction of my house is standard wood studs and drywall, with a stucco exterior using a steel mesh backerboard (basically a big ol' Faraday cage).

So far, so good, right? Good ISP connection, great backhaul speed, and on GNUton's latest fork, which has also been rock solid. The problem? My client devices are seemingly exceeding the capacity of the primary XT8. I'm currently at around one hundred devices (mostly IoT - smart plugs, switches, and lights) with 3 laptops, 3 phones, 2 printer/scanners, 1 fax machine, 6 TVs (one is in the outdoor woodshop), 2 Home Theater systems with Wi-Fi amps, etc., etc. Music is usually streaming all day long, Probably 6 hours of 4k TV streaming, sometimes 2 TVs streaming simultaneously (especially during football season, then it's 2 TVs streaming for 10 to 12 hours every Saturday and Sunday). No gaming except when the grandkids visit. During the Christmas season, the number of devices jumps up to around 120 or so with the additional devices consisting of mostly smart plugs.

So what's happening? Well, the nodes seem fine, but the primary just seems to slow to a crawl at times, and then it suddenly ramps back up. My wired connections (TV and HT Amp) on the primary will randomly drop, and then reconnect after a few seconds. Pulling up the RAM and CPU monitor shows huge CPU spikes, usually redlining for several seconds, but rarely dropping below 50%, and the RAM usage varies between 90 and 100%.

So it seems I need to either upgrade my primary, or scrap the whole XT8 mesh and rebuild with a more robust solution. This is where I need advice. The XT8s weren't cheap, so I'd hate to throw out all three, but will if that's the consensus. I'd like to keep the 2 nodes and possibly replace the primary with a ZenWiFi Pro XT12. It has 1 Gb of RAM versus the XT8's 512 Mb, and I believe (?) it has a faster processor. If not the XT12, what do you folks recommend I do to solve this problem?

I know this has been a long post, but I wanted to give y'all as much information as possible. Sorry if it's TMI !!

Thanks in advance!!
 
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I recommend this:



With your growing number of Wi-Fi devices buying more consumer products is throwing money in temporary fix.
Thanks Tech9. Without going the business route, is there any "Prosumer" solution you might know of? As far as growing the number of devices, I think I reached the end of that journey, as every possible switch, light, major appliances, etc. has already been upgraded.
 
If you want to experiment and keep what you already have - run your IoTs off dedicated business class APs offloading your XT8s used for higher bandwidth devices. I've seen folks around using this approach with some cheaper APs like EAP115, but your success depends on multiple factors and there is no universal best solution for all. With your network though I would be looking at SMB solution in a long run. AiMesh expansion (especially wireless) sooner or later results in total AiMess situation. Your XT8s are expensive mainly because of the looks. They have weak entry-level CPU inside.
 
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I agree on the weak CPU...I've always been an early adopter, and not always, but often enough, it bites me in the butt. This time was one of them. As I've said in the forum several times, my XT8 mesh has been pretty much worry-free for most of its lifespan, but the weak CPU is now killing it due to my client numbers. As for the APs, do you know of any SMB APs that can be implemented wirelessly? I know as a rule, an AP must be wired, but I think I've heard that there are a few out there that can be connected wirelessly?
 
Hi Folks, looking for some sage advice here concerning my title. I have three XT8s covering a 5000 sq ft, three story house, and an outdoor woodshop located about 30 feet from the house. Due to various constraints, I'm forced to employ a wireless backhaul for both nodes. I use the DFS channels for the backhaul as I have no radar interference in my area, and the backhaul is rock solid. No drops, hiccups, or any other anomalies. One node is consistently connected at around 2Gb, while the other connects at around 3Gb. My ISP provides me a 1 Gb connection. The construction of my house is standard wood studs and drywall, with a stucco exterior using a steel mesh backerboard (basically a big ol' Faraday cage).

So far, so good, right? Good ISP connection, great backhaul speed, and on GNUton's latest fork, which has also been rock solid. The problem? My client devices are seemingly exceeding the capacity of the primary XT8. I'm currently at around one hundred devices (mostly IoT - smart plugs, switches, and lights) with 3 laptops, 3 phones, 2 printer/scanners, 1 fax machine, 6 TVs (one is in the outdoor woodshop), 2 Home Theater systems with Wi-Fi amps, etc., etc. Music is usually streaming all day long, Probably 6 hours of 4k TV streaming, sometimes 2 TVs streaming simultaneously (especially during football season, then it's 2 TVs streaming for 10 to 12 hours every Saturday and Sunday). No gaming except when the grandkids visit. During the Christmas season, the number of devices jumps up to around 120 or so with the additional devices consisting of mostly smart plugs.

So what's happening? Well, the nodes seem fine, but the primary just seems to slow to a crawl at times, and then it suddenly ramps back up. My wired connections (TV and HT Amp) on the primary will randomly drop, and then reconnect after a few seconds. Pulling up the RAM and CPU monitor shows huge CPU spikes, usually redlining for several seconds, but rarely dropping below 50%, and the RAM usage varies between 90 and 100%.

So it seems I need to either upgrade my primary, or scrap the whole XT8 mesh and rebuild with a more robust solution. This is where I need advice. The XT8s weren't cheap, so I'd hate to throw out all three, but will if that's the consensus. I'd like to keep the 2 nodes and possibly replace the primary with a ZenWiFi Pro XT12. It has 1 Gb of RAM versus the XT8's 512 Mb, and I believe (?) it has a faster processor. If not the XT12, what do you folks recommend I do to solve this problem?

I know this has been a long post, but I wanted to give y'all as much information as possible. Sorry if it's TMI !!

Thanks in advance!!
I know you said that the wireless backhaul isn’t a problem, but I wonder if indeed it is since the primary would have to manage that. My setup is not much more different than yours, but I use the coax in my house to run the backhaul over MOCA and never have the issues you do. I also have around 100 clients covering most of the things you do. If you do have unused coax in your house, you might want to consider trying that.
 
You may find this post useful.


I would add a wired, RT-AX68U, RT-AX86U, or GT-AX6000 into your setup (AiMesh or AP) in the main house, at the opposite end (and on different floors) of where the main router is now.

If you have any old routers on hand, I would also put them in service as Media Bridges to any of your wired capable client devices too (this will knock a few devices off the main router as it will only see the one Media Bridge).

With your (wireless backhaul) constraints, a couple more XT8s may also do the trick for you too.

Place them where they will get around 1/3 of the client devices, and try to adjust the radio strength on the nodes too (to contain the signal as close as possible around the router/node you want to be used in those areas).
 
I know you said that the wireless backhaul isn’t a problem, but I wonder if indeed it is since the primary would have to manage that. My setup is not much more different than yours, but I use the coax in my house to run the backhaul over MOCA and never have the issues you do. I also have around 100 clients covering most of the things you do. If you do have unused coax in your house, you might want to consider trying that.
I do have coax, but unfortunately, the one outlet in proximity to the primary is already in use by my ISP's cable modem. Since I'm now thinking of (per Tech9's suggestion) using an AP for the IoT stuff (which is almost all 2.4Ghz), I wonder if the performance over a powerline adapter would be sufficient to accommodate all the IoT clients. Any thoughts or recommendations on this?
 
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You may find this post useful.


Thanks for this! Since I'm now thinking of (per Tech9's suggestion) using an AP for the IoT stuff (which is almost all 2.4Ghz), I wonder if the performance over a powerline adapter would be sufficient to accommodate all the IoT clients. Any thoughts or recommendations on this?
 
As for the APs, do you know of any SMB APs that can be implemented wirelessly?

I do, but you don't need this and none are your AiMesh setup compatible. If your wireless backhaul is running properly and you are happy with it - just wire the AP(s) to the XT8(s) and offload the IoTs on separate radio(s). Otherwise both Ubiquiti UniFi and TP-Link Omada (more affordable for home use options) offer wireless "mesh" APs. Nothing beats wired connections though and you have to explore your options. Your XT8s are dealing with both clients and the wireless backhaul. Just don't build AiMess with more Asus routers. AiMesh is a marketing strategy aimed at selling more routers as repeaters or access points. In reality your wireless AiMesh "nodes" are glorified Repeaters with minimum control.
 
I do, but you don't need this and none are your AiMesh setup compatible. If your wireless backhaul is running properly and you are happy with it - just wire the AP(s) to the XT8(s) and offload the IoTs on separate radio(s). Otherwise both Ubiquiti UniFi and TP-Link Omada (more affordable for home use options) offer wireless "mesh" APs. Nothing beats wired connections though and you have to explore your options. Your XT8s are dealing with both clients and the wireless backhaul. Just don't build AiMess with more Asus routers. AiMesh is a marketing strategy aimed at selling more routers as repeaters or access points. In reality your wireless AiMesh "nodes" are glorified Repeaters with minimum control.
Ok, so it seems like you're saying I can wire the AP to one of my nodes vice the primary. I always thought the APs had to be connected to the router itself vice a remote node. Not true? If it does have to go to the primary, then it really won't be in a central location as the primary sits at the far end of the house, but I guess as we're dealing with 2.4Ghz clients (longer range at that freq), this shouldn't be an issue for connecting a bunch of IoT things, right?
 
Not true?

An Access Point is a wired-to-wireless bridge. You can connect it anywhere you have access to LAN port on your network. It will get connected to the main router anyway and get an IP from DHCP. Clients connected to it will also get IPs from main router DHCP and remain on the same network. This is all temporary fixes though with limitations. If you continue digging deeper into AiMesh you are approaching the dead end faster. The only true fix is complete system overhaul with better hardware with more clients per AP support and better AP control. AiMesh with home routers doesn't have that.
 
You may want to read this as well:


I'm not against tech. I'm one level above with custom built house and locally managed home automation by design.
 
An Access Point is a wired-to-wireless bridge. You can connect it anywhere you have access to LAN port on your network. It will get connected to the main router anyway and get an IP from DHCP. Clients connected to it will also get IPs from main router DHCP and remain on the same network. This is all temporary fixes though with limitations. If you continue digging deeper into AiMesh you are approaching the dead end faster. The only true fix is complete system overhaul with better hardware with more clients per AP support and better AP control. AiMesh with home routers doesn't have that.
Got it. So here is what I think I'm going to do. Dump the whole XT8 mesh. Purchase another router with at least twice the amount of RAM and the fastest quad core processor I can find. Purchase a business class AP that supports a minimum of 100 clients and connect via the best powerline adapter I can find so I can locate it in a central part of the house. I can also likely repurpose one (or 2) of the XT8s as media bridges if needed.

Does this sound like it will solve the problem? I really appreciate all the advice.
 
Throwing mere money at a problem rarely solves anything in a good way.

Try the steps I've suggested first to at least know a little of the constraints right now in your setup.
 
Does this sound like it will solve the problem?

Power Line Adapter is something I don't like in this plan. I would build a new system on stages. First you have to start with the infrastructure. Ethernet will improve what you already have. Then you replace some of the "nodes" to APs with PoE injectors. Observe the behavior and if the result is positive - PoE switch with needed number of ports. When Wi-Fi part is stabilized you find a proper router for your needs. This done DIY way will take time and perhaps few hardware purchases and returns. If you don't know what are you doing my advice is to hire professionals and explain what do you need and expect. They build the system for you based on your requirements and you enjoy your life. It costs more, but it's done once. This forum is not the right place for entire home system project. No one here knows your place and all the suggestions are just guessing. Since you are paying the bill - no one cares what you are going to buy and experiment with. Keep this in mind before you ask your next question and receive more suggestions.
 
As I previously stated, lots of constraints around running ethernet cables around the house, hence the powerline adapter option. I'll first try to hardwire the AP in the same location as the router, but as that's at the far end of the house, I'll have to see how well that handles all the IoT stuff with some of it being at the opposite end of the house, around 80 feet away.
 
You perhaps understand I'm not trying to offend you. I'm straight and honest, used to build networks in the past. I don't want to waste your time and money. The process starts from a visit and requirements assessment. There is a unique approach in every project. Forum members here have some bits and pieces only - not enough to solve your puzzle. You already followed someone else's advice and got here. XT8 is overpriced underpowered system with lots of complaints. You got 3x units despite all the information available. Don't do this mistake again with any of the equipment you see mentioned here. You know how to solve the issue or you don't. If you don't - you need help there, at your home. Not here in this forum.
 
I'll first try to hardwire the AP in the same location as the router, but as that's at the far end of the house, I'll have to see how well that handles all the IoT stuff with some of it being at the opposite end of the house, around 80 feet away.

This is not even worth trying.
 
Does your electrical system include arc fault breakers ?
Powerline, of any of the spec families, is usually not compatible with those.
Old wiring / devices can also cause issues due to oxidation of the connections.

Coax (RG6) is your best bet for existing wiring repurposing. Maybe you can get a new dedicated run to the cable modem (if DOCCIS 3.1 or 3.0 a must due to band overlap with MOCA2/2.5) and isolate the existing cable layout. Then it is a matter of replacing splitters with MOCA2.0/2.5 compatible and installing MOCA modems where needed. Any TV boxes (TIVO, sat, etc) will be an issue as they either use moca or occupy similar bands.
i have my 2 story, 3000 sqr ft house set up this way with MOCA 2.0/2.5 backbone and 4 AC level APs on 5GHz only into a CiscoRV325 router implementing VLANs for isolation. The RV325 is behind the ISP ONT+Router double NAT. No issues with 2 adults and 3 adult kids working from home/gaming/streaming.

Getting signal out to your shop should be straight forward with either external point to point wireless or a bridge pair inside with line of sight through a window.
 

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