Question Advice on new router. Mesh or access points?

jm88

Commendable
Jun 18, 2020
72
0
1,530
0
I have an Xfinity 1.2 gig plan and just upgraded my modem to an Arris S33 and get great speeds now on my wired connection but want to boost the WiFi signal. The main floor of my house is about 1800 sq. ft. and the basement is about 1200 sq. ft. but my router is in the basement under the stairs which is near the center of the house. It has to be there because the modem is there and that is where the cabling is for 3 wired ethernet ports throughout the house. I currently have an old Asus RT-AC68 router and would like to replace that. What are my options? Should I upgrade that router in the basement and put wireless access points on the main floor? I do have ethernet ports on the main floor at opposite ends of the house, which is about 75 feet long. Or is a mesh system better?
 
Mesh/repeater systems should always be you very last choice. The performance is very poor compared to using AP. You have 2 radio signals that can get interfered with rather than just 1. No large companies install silly mesh systems this is only something sold to home users.
In someways it would be nice if everyone did not put so many radio units in their house. For most people the signal covers the whole house it is just not strong enough to be usable with all the interfering signals.

What you want to do is buy another router of some kind and use that either as your AP or replace you ac68 with the new router and use ac68 as the AP. It mostly depends on if you have a end device that can use newer wifi. The ac68 although old still supports the most common form of wifi encoding found on end devices.
Most end devices would have a "1200" number if you compare them to routers.

If there is some other software feature only you can say on the values. Be careful about he big number trap. Again end devices are 1/2 the connection and they must also have matching features. I would avoid buying wifi6 even though lately it does not cost any more than wifi5. It also does not perform much better than wifi5 for most people because of the lack radio bandwidth. You can consider wifi6e. It seems to work faster but you would have to have end device that can use it.

For most people you do not need super high speed wifi. Most applications that run on wifi only devices are maybe 4k netflix which might use 25mbps. Since you have ethernet cables you can cable any device remote device that needs to do large downloads
 

jm88

Commendable
Jun 18, 2020
72
0
1,530
0
Mesh/repeater systems should always be you very last choice. The performance is very poor compared to using AP. You have 2 radio signals that can get interfered with rather than just 1. No large companies install silly mesh systems this is only something sold to home users.
In someways it would be nice if everyone did not put so many radio units in their house. For most people the signal covers the whole house it is just not strong enough to be usable with all the interfering signals.

What you want to do is buy another router of some kind and use that either as your AP or replace you ac68 with the new router and use ac68 as the AP. It mostly depends on if you have a end device that can use newer wifi. The ac68 although old still supports the most common form of wifi encoding found on end devices.
Most end devices would have a "1200" number if you compare them to routers.

If there is some other software feature only you can say on the values. Be careful about he big number trap. Again end devices are 1/2 the connection and they must also have matching features. I would avoid buying wifi6 even though lately it does not cost any more than wifi5. It also does not perform much better than wifi5 for most people because of the lack radio bandwidth. You can consider wifi6e. It seems to work faster but you would have to have end device that can use it.

For most people you do not need super high speed wifi. Most applications that run on wifi only devices are maybe 4k netflix which might use 25mbps. Since you have ethernet cables you can cable any device remote device that needs to do large downloads

Great advice. The more I think about it, that seems like the easy way to go especially since I already have ethernet ports at opposite ends of my house. If I put an access point at each end of the house, in addition to the main router in the basement which is more centrally located, that sounds like it will cover the whole house pretty well, right? One thing to note though, the ethernet port at one end of the house is where my TV is. So there is the TV, receiver, speakers, gaming system, etc....all those electronics there. Will that affect having an access point there? It would be a nice spot because it would be hidden amongst all that other stuff.

If you were suggesting staying on wifi 5 so I can keep my current router, it is not a problem to replace that totally because I can use it at my parent's house so it won't go to waste. I don't mind updating to the latest tech. As far the speeds though, I agree nobody needs 1 gig speeds for streaming or anything like that. But now that I have these high speeds, I feel like I want to take advantage of them! Seriously though, we do share files off of a desktop in the house though so it would be nice to have fast speeds for file transfer. Anyways, can you throw out some good recommendations for a router and access points?
 
You don't need actual AP unless you want to say power them over ethernet. Almost any modern router has a AP mode and it gives you the advantage of having extra ethernet ports in the remote room and not having to use a switch. Real AP generally only have 1 ethernet port.
Then again you can mount a AP in the center of the ceiling where there is no power if you want.

If you are going to buy something better that your current router look at wifi6e. Unfortunately these are still pretty expensive but at least there are more models that silly $700 routers. Wifi6e should get to be very common it is a required feature in the chipset that supports the latest intel cpus. The boards will have a wifi chip or a m.2 slot.

How well wifi6e will work we will see I guess. The main problem with normal wifi6 was there was not enough bandwidth on the 5g band. They had to do stuff like run on the same radio bands as weather radar but if was detected they have to stop. The complexity of this lead to many vendors not supporting 160mhz radio channels so it didn't run any better than wifi5 which can also use 80mhz bands. Wifi6e runs on the 6g band where at least for a while there is enough bandwidth for you and your neighbors to have 160mhz to themselves.

In general it depends on what features you actually need on your main router. This is all a software thing which only you know what features have value. For the AP you need the simplest routers you can find. All routers with the same "number" will more or less perform the same. There are only a couple of chipset manufactures and all the router manufactures buy the same chips so the wifi itself will not be that different.
 

jm88

Commendable
Jun 18, 2020
72
0
1,530
0
Thank you for all of that. That is great info! I guess I just figured I should replace it before it goes out because it is 6 years old now and my other one didn't last that long, and I figured a better one might have a slightly better range to cover the basement, although this isn't too bad. So as far as the numbers go...the Asus I have is 1900. So does that mean theoretically, it can transfer files on the local network at speeds of 1.9 gig? If I get other routers for access points, do they all have to be the same number or will they just work at the speed of the lowest one? If I am getting wired internet speeds of 900 right now, how come I don't get that same wireless speed when I am right next to the router (I just did a speed test on my phone right next to the router and got 550)? Of course that is plenty fast, I am just wondering why it doesn't get the full speed.

That makes sense about the POE access points too. Now I see the difference. I guess that would be nice to just mount that on the ceiling in the middle of the house, but if regular routers serve the same purpose, I will do that for now. Maybe when I remodel someday, I will run some cabling to install those in the future. Will the electronics interfere with the AP? If not, it will be great to just put one there by the TV because I already have a switch there so that can just replace it. And the other room has an ethernet port kind of hidden behind some shelves so I can just put there and it will be hidden too. I know how you said mesh is not good because it is just like a repeater, but what if you connect the mesh systems to an ethernet port? Will that get full speed like a regular router, or are there disadvantages to that? I am just thinking that you can get like a 3 pack of TP Link Deco for a decent price, and they look a little nicer and are smaller if you have to put them out in the room.

One more thing. The modem I just bought (Arris S33) has a 2.5 gig port. I know that is overkill, but Xfinity keeps increasing their speed so just to take advantage of it and for the future, should I get a router with a 2.5 gig port? The access points probably don't, because since my house is older, I believe the wiring is just Cat 5 to the areas where I am going to put the access points.

You don't need actual AP unless you want to say power them over ethernet. Almost any modern router has a AP mode and it gives you the advantage of having extra ethernet ports in the remote room and not having to use a switch. Real AP generally only have 1 ethernet port.
Then again you can mount a AP in the center of the ceiling where there is no power if you want.

If you are going to buy something better that your current router look at wifi6e. Unfortunately these are still pretty expensive but at least there are more models that silly $700 routers. Wifi6e should get to be very common it is a required feature in the chipset that supports the latest intel cpus. The boards will have a wifi chip or a m.2 slot.

How well wifi6e will work we will see I guess. The main problem with normal wifi6 was there was not enough bandwidth on the 5g band. They had to do stuff like run on the same radio bands as weather radar but if was detected they have to stop. The complexity of this lead to many vendors not supporting 160mhz radio channels so it didn't run any better than wifi5 which can also use 80mhz bands. Wifi6e runs on the 6g band where at least for a while there is enough bandwidth for you and your neighbors to have 160mhz to themselves.

In general it depends on what features you actually need on your main router. This is all a software thing which only you know what features have value. For the AP you need the simplest routers you can find. All routers with the same "number" will more or less perform the same. There are only a couple of chipset manufactures and all the router manufactures buy the same chips so the wifi itself will not be that different.
 
Last edited:
You must learn what the lies mean. First they add 2.4g and 5g together even though a single device can not use both radios. So that is 600 and 1300. Now the 600 is using a non standard data encoding that most device do not support so it is really 450.

Next 1300 number they are adding transmit and receive speeds together. This would be like calling a 1gbit ethernet 2gbit BUT ethernet can actually do that because it is full duplex. Wifi is half duplex and only 1 device can tranmit at a time so you basically get 1/2.
Next this also assume that end device has 3 antenna so it can run 3x3, most only have 2. Most times you get 300-350 unless you are very close to the router. That is pretty much the expect results.

That is the nice thing about fcc certification of devices. They will not interfere with the wifi. They might block the signals. It varies a lot by materials. Your microwave oven put out 1000 times the power on the same 2.4g and the amount allowed to leak is a tiny fraction of what a router is allowed to transmit. You can still see though the glass window but the energy can't get out.

You can hook most "mesh" systems up via ethernet but they just run as simple AP. You are paying for all the repeater software that you are not using. All home networks are technically a "mesh" no matter what equipment you use. All devices can talk to each other no matter how they are connected.
The only advantage I guess is some mesh systems make it easier to configure the AP rather than doing each individually. Its not like your a company with 100 of them you will likely set them up and then never tough them again.

I have 3 or 4 asus ac68 because I had networks in 2 houses when I was moving. They all seem to work ok yet. I use 2 all the time. You can get merlin firmware for them but the very latest versions are too big to fit in the memory.

I have not seen the standard for 2.5g and what exact cable it runs on. It will of course run on cat6a but it seem to also run fine on cat5e or cat6. I think the distance is less on cat5e but again I have not seen the official documents and you can't always believe people selling cables.

You are going to need a very fancy router to actually get more than 1gbit. Now they make routers with faster wan ports but if you plug a device into a lan port a 1gbit that is as fast as it can go even if the wan is 2.5. You could run multiple machines each at 1gbit at the same time to get 2gbit but most people do not think of it that way.

To really run faster than 1gbit you need a router than has multiple faster ports. It gets very expensive fast. In general it doesn't matter. Only downloads use that high bandwidth and sites like say steam have artifical limits. I many times do not even get close to my gigabit internet downloading from steam.
 

jm88

Commendable
Jun 18, 2020
72
0
1,530
0
You must learn what the lies mean. First they add 2.4g and 5g together even though a single device can not use both radios. So that is 600 and 1300. Now the 600 is using a non standard data encoding that most device do not support so it is really 450.

Next 1300 number they are adding transmit and receive speeds together. This would be like calling a 1gbit ethernet 2gbit BUT ethernet can actually do that because it is full duplex. Wifi is half duplex and only 1 device can tranmit at a time so you basically get 1/2.
Next this also assume that end device has 3 antenna so it can run 3x3, most only have 2. Most times you get 300-350 unless you are very close to the router. That is pretty much the expect results.

That is the nice thing about fcc certification of devices. They will not interfere with the wifi. They might block the signals. It varies a lot by materials. Your microwave oven put out 1000 times the power on the same 2.4g and the amount allowed to leak is a tiny fraction of what a router is allowed to transmit. You can still see though the glass window but the energy can't get out.

You can hook most "mesh" systems up via ethernet but they just run as simple AP. You are paying for all the repeater software that you are not using. All home networks are technically a "mesh" no matter what equipment you use. All devices can talk to each other no matter how they are connected.
The only advantage I guess is some mesh systems make it easier to configure the AP rather than doing each individually. Its not like your a company with 100 of them you will likely set them up and then never tough them again.

I have 3 or 4 asus ac68 because I had networks in 2 houses when I was moving. They all seem to work ok yet. I use 2 all the time. You can get merlin firmware for them but the very latest versions are too big to fit in the memory.

I have not seen the standard for 2.5g and what exact cable it runs on. It will of course run on cat6a but it seem to also run fine on cat5e or cat6. I think the distance is less on cat5e but again I have not seen the official documents and you can't always believe people selling cables.

You are going to need a very fancy router to actually get more than 1gbit. Now they make routers with faster wan ports but if you plug a device into a lan port a 1gbit that is as fast as it can go even if the wan is 2.5. You could run multiple machines each at 1gbit at the same time to get 2gbit but most people do not think of it that way.

To really run faster than 1gbit you need a router than has multiple faster ports. It gets very expensive fast. In general it doesn't matter. Only downloads use that high bandwidth and sites like say steam have artifical limits. I many times do not even get close to my gigabit internet downloading from steam.

Thank you for educating me. I think that makes sense regarding the two band routers. You mentioned something about WiFi 6E earlier being the only worthwhile upgrade. What about something like THIS to cover the whole house. It is on sale for $269 now. Unless I am missing something, wouldn't that even be cheaper than buying two or three new routers?

If you think this is overkill or I am better off with something else, I am a little lost. You have given me a lot of information and it sort of makes sense, but I am also getting a little more confused. If you were doing this, what specific equipment would you buy? I will need something to access as two separate access points, and at least one will sort of be visible in the living room near the TV equipment, so it might need to look somewhat aesthetically pleasing. And possibly a new main router as well, since I might utilize my current one elsewhere. What two access points and router can you recommend? I appreciate all the help but I am starting to get overwhelmed. Thank you!
 
Last edited:
Not sure what you linked something wrong.

There is no magic device that will send signals farther than others. There is a legal limit on transmit power and almost every router transmits very close to that limit.

Now wifi6e uses the 6g radio band In theory at least you can get by with a weaker signal because there is less interference from other people. How long that lasts is hard to say I suspect 3 to 4 years from now it will be as massively overcrowded as the 5g band. I am sure someone will invent a router that attempts to use every possible channel on the 6g radio band just like they do on the 5g band.

I know very little about how well the 6g radio works. It is very new. It should in theory not go as far since air absorbs more signal the higher the frequiency but it is too complex to say when you have walls/floors. Also from what I can tell you are allowed to transmit at 4 watts rather than 1 watt in most countries so that should increase the range....BUT the other fine print talks about this only being the router and not the end devices. So it does little good since the device can hear the router but the router can not hear the response from the device. I have to do some more reading I guess.

Unless you have a need for some fancy wifi in the remote rooms I would just buy a $50 router and use it as a AP. You likely only need a device with a 1200 number but ones with up to 1900 cost about the same.
In general most wifi use is on portable devices or maybe something like a tv or silly smart lights. None of these need huge data rates. At most you would say watch 4k netflix which only need 25-30mbps.

For a device say like a game console or desktop pc I would use a ethernet cable. Both because it allows faster download of games but much more important it keeps the latency very consistent which important to online games.
 

jm88

Commendable
Jun 18, 2020
72
0
1,530
0
Sorry, THIS is what I linked above.

Anyways, I do have one computer wired and the ethernet port that I was going to put an AP on is by the TV so I have a little switch there connected to my TV and gaming console so that is taken care of. I do have a couple of laptops, phones, and multiple silly smart devices like switches, plugs, etc. :) So that is all I need is to buy a couple of cheap regular routers to use as APs and then another router if I want to replace my AC68? Any recommendations (especially to one that is maybe smaller or looks nicer since it will be out in the living room, as opposed to something large with antennas)?

Something with a 1200 number has a theoretical transfer rate of 1.2 gigs, right? If so, I see why you don't need much faster than that because the internet is not faster than that, but you could still get that transfer speed of files between local computers, right? The one concern I have read about is when moving around the house with a phone, that it may lock on one of the AP's and not move to the closer one with the stronger signal. Is there a way to make it do that? Unless I am misunderstanding, it sounds like with a mesh system, it looks like one big network and it won't jump from device to device. Thanks again.
 
No the 1200 number is another lie number.. It is 866.7 on 5g which they round up to 900 and 300 on 2.4 which they add together to get 1200.
In real life many people get about 300mbps on these.

I am a function over appearance kind of guy. I would buy the ones with the biggest antennas if they work the best. I do not put led on my computers either.

You can look at actual AP. Normally I recommend something like ubiquiti but their product is hard to get lately, it is very hit and miss. Many consumer companies now make AP, this is one example
https://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-EAP225-V3-Wireless-Supports/dp/B0781YXFBT/ref=psdc_1194486_t1_B07NMZR3F1?th=1

This you could mount on the ceiling and it can be powered by the ethernet cable if you want.

There are 2 problems with roaming. The first and most important one is the end device not the network is in full control. Since it is using the radio to communicate it can not scan for a better network. They basically have a setting that they do not check until the signal level gets below a certain level. You can change it on most devices but then you run the risk of it jumping back and forth all the time. Wifi unlike say a cell network was never designed for mobility so it is very basic in its ability.

The second related problem is this happens when you have too much wifi in your house. You have to get the very minimum overlap between the radios but still get good coverage. There are people who make their living designing this type of stuff for business.
You will need to turn the radio power down on the units. Not all consumer device have this option.

In general by the time you walk between rooms it will switch as long as your overlap is not to great. If not you stop and start the wifi client and it will generally quickly connect to the correct wireless source.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY