Question 2 x Asus ZenWifi AX (XT8) - AiMesh Connection and Dropout Issues

rozel

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Hi
First my Broadband:
Sky Superfast : FTTC /LLU : max "guaranteed" speed - 60mbps : OpenReach box = Mk4 with separate sockets for Phone and Broadband cables : installed in 90's std brick 4-bed detached property
Using 3 x Android S10+ Smartphones, 3 Android Tablets, Nest, Amazon Alexa's x 3, 2 Windows Laptops and 1 Windows PC, Home Entertainment Kit - various.

I have set the 3 x SSID's on each of the 3 Bands: - the 2.4GHz and the 1st 5GHz named the same as before "SKYxxxxx" and "SKYxxxxx 5GHz", for ease of re-connection with the new Asus new kit, with the 3rd "SKYxxxxx 5GHz-2". Not sure if this is the source of my issues - see below. Not currently using the 5GHZ-2 Band - not even sure if the AiMesh recognises it to maximise coverage etc.

I had been having major difficulties using WiFi and took the liberty of buying two Zen XT8's and a TP-LINK TD-W9970 modem to replace the Sky SR203 router and the SE210 booster. It was relatively easy to set up, using the "Option 61 String" in the Router's WAN settings. That said it took me 3 to 4 days of constantly switching off the Sky kit and turning back on again in order to fettle the Asus Router and this probably triggered Sky's DLM to think the line is unstable. It has been up and running now for almost 5 days. Before disconnecting Sky's kit, I was almost getting 59.7mbps download speed using their "Maintenance Statistics". These don't appear to be available now so I am wondering if the Asus Router/Node can give me similar information? I have searched through the various GUI screens after logging into the Router but nothing it seems gives me figures to compare with. My PC is connected to the Router via Ethernet (it doesn't do Wireless) and a test today using speedtest com is showing download speeds of 55mbps - up from 50mbps after first testing 5 days ago. So this seems to show things are improving and I'm getting Wireless speeds of 30 to 45 mbps depending on the room when testing.

However the issues are: -

1. Sky Mini Box Droputs - there are 4 mini boxes in the house and you can be watching satisfactorily then suddenly the picture freezes, then a blue screen suggesting the Network is reset. Leaving things alone at this point usually results in normality after a minute or so - this continues several times.

2. When connecting to websites wirelessly there's a minute or so before connection is made. It is the same when trying to connect devices wirelessly, they tend not to initially respond but if you try again after a few seconds it results in connection.

When using Sky's kit, we had issue 2. but even worse but not issue 1. which is now probably due to the Sky mini boxes now using the 2.4 GHz Band rather than the former 5GHz mesh. The Sky Q box is ethernet connected.

I think both these issues are related and may be due to me not connecting up the new AiMesh correctly and/or not naming the SSID's in the correct manner. After setting up the Node it is now wirelessly connected to the Router and positioned where I previously had the Booster.

Please can someone comment on my issues, how to get "Line Stats" - do I need to access the Modem? and how to set up the AiMesh for optimal coverage through my house. Given the cost of the 2 Zens and the TP-Link (almost £400) I would expect better than I'm getting. Apologies for the length of this post, just wanted to make sure all information is available.

Thanks
 
I really hate repeaters...which is just what they renamed mesh lately.

Your best option for wifi is always to get the signal directly from the main router. The new problem is not so much that the signal level does not reach the remote rooms in most houses it is that the neighbors wifi signals are stomping on the signal so you need much more to over power this.

This is made much much worse by everyone putting in mesh systems to "solve" this and you now have every house trying to use every possible wifi channel allowed.

Key with mesh/repeaters is the placement. You can't just stick them in the remote room and by magic it solves the problem. It will take some very careful testing. It must be placed in a location that it get strong signals from the main router but can still provide the repeated signal to the remote room. This is a trial and error thing and it may take a couple tries because you never know when you neighbors are using their wifi.

Wifi6 and mesh is a big joke. To get high speed wifi6 needs to use 160mhz channels. You are going to be very lucky to get just 1 of these blocks....ignoring that your neighbors all use the same block. To work well the repeater/mesh must use a different radio and set of channels to talk back to the main router. I do not know if your asus devices do that. They do have 2 5g radios so in theory it could use 1 5g radio to talk to the main router and the second to talk to end users along with the 2.4g radio. The big issue is because it will likely drop back to use 80mhz radio channels to get 2 of them it will not be any faster than the older wifi5 (802.11ac). You still get even more reduce bandwidth because of using a repeater function. Mesh and wifi6 will not likely work well until we get wifi6e stuff will the multiple 160mhz radio blocks that can be used on 6g

The problem you describe are pretty typical when you have repeaters. You have a very complex thing with multiple wifi signals that can be damaged by interference. In most cases this is related to the placement of the repeater. It is hard to troubleshoot wifi does not give you much help in saying what actually caused the drop.

My primary recommendation is to not use mesh unless you have no other option.

Best of course is to use ethernet to the remote rooms, you can still use your "mesh" boxes as AP in the remote rooms. Without ethernet the other options are MoCA if you have coax cables between the rooms. Moca can get gigabit speeds. If that is also not a option then you consider powerline networks. The newer units that have numbers above 1000 work fairly well in most houses. You might get 300mbps on the best units but even if you get only 100mbps it is still faster than your internet connection.
 

gggplaya

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What's your channel width set to on the 5ghz SSID's? Is it 80mhz or 40mhz? See the picture below, but with 80mhz there's only 6 available channels. If you have 2 SSID's and there's backhaul channels being used between nodes or you have neighbors that live close to you. Then your 5ghz spectrum may be saturated. You can try setting them to 40mhz to free up channels.

Also, ASUS routers have really good wifi radio circuitry. Depending on how big your house is, you may have too much wifi overlap between nodes. You can try turning down the TX power on each node to reduce overlap.



 

rozel

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@bill001g A tremendous response for which I'm indebted to you - thank you. More cabling (ethernet or Coax) though is not an option. Powerline plugs may be a solution though - I will bear that in mind.

@gggplaya A very technical and I'm sure helpful response. I'm a novice though. Could you please explain, step by step how to find out what you are asking please? I don't think the issues are down to the neighbouring properties though. And I have 1 Router and 1 Node in the AiMesh. Thanks
 

rozel

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What's your channel width set to on the 5ghz SSID's? Is it 80mhz or 40mhz? See the picture below, but with 80mhz there's only 6 available channels. If you have 2 SSID's and there's backhaul channels being used between nodes or you have neighbors that live close to you. Then your 5ghz spectrum may be saturated. You can try setting them to 40mhz to free up channels.

Also, ASUS routers have really good wifi radio circuitry. Depending on how big your house is, you may have too much wifi overlap between nodes. You can try turning down the TX power on each node to reduce overlap.
Since my last post I have been poking around in the Router's GUI and can see information about what you are saying. However I didn't spend a long time as my better half is in hospital suddenly and my time was taken up elsewhere. I shall have another look later today. In the meantime, last night I repositioned the Node and placed it upstairs, thinking if "overlap" was occurring downstairs then this will be less now and will strengthen the signal upstairs, where 3 of the 4 mini boxes reside. So far, so good :)
 

rozel

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@gggplaya I didn't know that, in fact there is so much I don't know and to learn. Up to earlier I hadn't seen an issue. But I was updating my TomTom before a trip this weekend and noticed that the ethernet connection to my PC seemed unstable. I was watch BBC iPlayer at the same time and it kept stopping and starting until I disconnected the satnav. Never seen that happen before. But I'm now getting 57/58 mbps downloading files etc so can't be all bad. It would be helpful if you could help me with my line stats - do I need to test through the Modem or is there another part of the Asus Router's GUI that I'm missing?
 

gggplaya

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Seems like it's using 2.4ghz for backhaul.

I would try keeping the 2nd node upstairs, but move it closer to the main router. You probably want it halfway between the main router and the other end of the house.
 

rozel

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@gggplaya Right, I'll try that. My PC doesn't do WiFi, just Ethernet. What about the Line stats and can you explain what's meant by fronthaul and backhaul please?
 
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gggplaya

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The Asus XT8 has six 5ghz radio's built internally. It has a 4x4 5ghz an a 2x2 5ghz radio. They also have a 2x2 radio for 2.4ghz. I'm assuming it's probably using the 2x2 5ghz or 4x4 5ghz radio for a dedicated backhaul. This backhaul radio does not communicate with any client devices, it's only job is to communicate with the main router and as such all of it's bandwidth is dedicated for backhaul work.

Cheaper mesh systems do not have this many radios. So they'll use the same wifi radio's it uses to communicate with client devices, to also communicate with the main router. This drops bandwidth in half because every data packet your phone downloads, the radio must touch it twice. Once to receive it from the main router and the 2nd time to transmit it to your phone. With a backhaul, the XT8 will download it through the backhaul radio, then internally move the packet to the other radio to transmit to your phone.

I think what's happening in your case is that the 5ghz wifi backhaul is not connected. So it's using the 2x2 2.4ghz radio to communicate with the main router, which will be slow, and even slower if the client device also has to use 2.4ghz because that same radio must touch the data packets twice. 5Ghz has much less range than 2.4ghz.

With the price of these Mesh systems being so high due to all the internal radio's, if you ever decide to upgrade your wifi equipment in the future, I'd consider paying a professional to run a dedicated ethernet wire from one side of the house to the other, or upstairs. A few hundred bucks for that is better than paying the extra money for a high end mesh system. By using an ethernet wire backhaul, you don't need the 2x2 backhaul radio. You can get away with a much cheaper wifi system with less radios and have much better performance.



For clarification, the 2x2 means 2 transmitters and 2 receivers. A 4x4 means 4 transmitters and 4 recievers. A 1x2 means 1 transmitter and 2 receivers, which means it can only transmit half as much bandwidth as it can download.
 
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rozel

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@gggplaya - That sounds so interesting to check up on. How do I check if the Backhaul is connected and again may I ask how do I check the Line stats please?

Thank you
 

gggplaya

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The easiest way to check line stats is to run a speedtest at speedtest.net.

If you want to check full bandwidth, you want to connect a laptop on each end of the network to each node. Then do a large file copy test to see what the average speed is.
 

rozel

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@gggplaya I'm grateful once more - I'm running speedtest net tests - maybe I didn't make myself clear - it's all the stats such as mainly the noise margin & the line attenuation. I could get these from Sky's Router but don't seem to be able to get them from the Asus, which is why I'm asking if I should check through/via the Modem?
 

gggplaya

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@gggplaya I'm grateful once more - I'm running speedtest net tests - maybe I didn't make myself clear - it's all the stats such as mainly the noise margin & the line attenuation. I could get these from Sky's Router but don't seem to be able to get them from the Asus, which is why I'm asking if I should check through/via the Modem?
You won't be able to with a 3rd party router, you would need to log into your modem to see the line stats.

Try 192.168.0.1 with admin for username and admin for password.

Otherwise, you'll need to disconnect the router and plug your laptop into the modem directly.
 

rozel

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Hi @gggplaya - sorry to come back once more but I'm still having connection difficulties using our wireless devices. It has been just over a week since moving the Node upstairs and whilst it has made some improvement upstairs, the connection difficulties are still prevalent.

I'm attaching some screenshots after logging into the Router: -

AiMesh Map

Wireless General 2.4GHz

Wireless General 5GHz-1

Wireless General 5GHz-2

I'm hoping the settings shown in these screenshots will help diagnose. Specifically using our Smartphones, it can take up to 30 seconds to connect to a website or interact with another device wirelessly - eg Google Nest / Amazon Alexa etc. It is worse in our downstairs Living Room than Upstairs but even Upstairs these issues are prevalent. Speed isn't an issue as once connected we are getting what we previously had.

I am rather useless with Router Settings so when you suggest I change something, more often than not, I don't know how lol. Each of the 3 bands have different drop downs regarding Channel Bandwidth but at least you can see the current settings. I don't think neighbouring channels are interfering with ours but if you think anything other than Auto may work better then please advise.

As said earlier, I really do not understand what "Backhaul means" despite you advising me lol! Within the AiMesh Map (not shown above) it says: -

"5 GHz-2:
5 GHz-2 is now used as dedicated WiFi backhaul under AiMesh mode.
If you want to change wireless settings, please go to here."

What does this mean? When I click "here" all it does is take me to the screens above. In the mesh's settings it does have an option to enable "Ethernet Backhaul Mode" but as my Node connects to the Router Wirelessly, this is not an option, even if enabling it would improve things. Getting an Ethernet Cable to the node from the Router would be very difficult indeed.

I am thinking of getting another Node (another XT8) but I really don't know at this stage whether this would help as something more fundamental may be the reasons for my issue.

These connection difficulties/delays are driving us all insane - please help me .

Thanks again
 

rozel

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Realized I had a typo, "TURN *OFF" is what I meant.
I realised what you meant :) So far a massive improvement but early days. But I've just noticed I only disabled the 2 beamforming settings on the 2.4GHz band. We have 4 Sky Q mini boxes on this band (if you don't use the Sky Router, then 5GHz is not seen by the boxes) so it will be interesting to see if they work as they should. Maybe I'll disable beamforming on the other 2 bands if things don't continue to work satisfactorily. But fingers crossed for now 🤞
 
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rozel

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@gggplaya Ok Things are better now than they ever have been - thank you so very much. We still get a few disconnects with our devices (Google Nest and Amazon Harmony in particular) but otherwise all is fine.

As mentioned above, I've only disabled the settings on the 2.4GHz band so far. I don't really understand what these settings are for so wonder if you could explain for me please and say whether you would disable on the other 2 5GHz bands as well.

Thanks
 
It all depends on what band your devices are using. If they are using 5ghz then maybe you benefit by turning it off. Wifi is very much trial and error because your house and end devices are unique.

All these fancy wifi features have not really lived up to the hype. Many actually cause a lot of problems because the router is trying to be too smart.

In theory at least beam forming lets equipment adjust the output power between multiple antenna to increase the transmission power in a particular direction. It is all based on very complex math related to the interference patterns between radio waves.
Now this might be good if you lived in some house that was 1 massive open room with no walls. What many people are surprised to learn is the wifi signals in your house do not most times go directly they bounce off walls and ceilings. Try to look at the signal levels in a room with the door open and closed.
What you will find is the wifi signal is actually not going in straight paths through the walls it is bouncing around and coming in through the open door.

Beamforming though is not free, the complexity in general and having multiple devices will cut the overall performance.
 

gggplaya

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You don't need beamforming since you have 2 units that can cover the house with normal wifi radiation. I would turn it off on all frequencies.

Beamforming makes all the antennae transmit at the same wavelength and phase to give a much stronger signal to your client device. The problem is your client device can't do the same so it thinks it's still connected, but the router can't receive the weak response signal from your client. That's why there's a long delay when trying to browse webpages. I've seen this problem before on my old netgear router.
 

rozel

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Nice one @gggplaya . You have been fabulously helpful and have made life so much easier for myself and family, especially during the run up to the festive period.

Have a very merry Christmas and a properous New Year!
 

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