Question Back-hauled mesh system or Router with AP?

Wort

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I currently use 2 different routers, 1 from ISP set as main router, and there is another one back-hauled with ethernet cable on the other side of the house. I'm looking for new setup as this one is quite slow (reaching 40 and 120 Mpbs on 2.4 and 5Ghz).
At the moment I'm looking at 2 different possibilities. Either 1 Main router + 1 AP (connected via ethernet cable) or dedicated mesh system (again, backhauled with ethernet cable) like Deco X60.

In either case, I would prefer to have the system set so there is seamless switch between APs and router whenever the signal strength changes. My ISP provides me with 1000Mbps/100Mbps. There are always 20 devices connected to WI-fi network. Your recommendations would be well appreciated.
 

Ralston18

Titan
Moderator
This:

"so there is seamless switch between APs and router whenever the signal strength changes "

I believe that you may be referring to Roaming Aggressiveness.

FYI:

https://www.makeuseof.com/windows-roaming-aggressiveness-guide/

Read through the guide.

Then, if and as necessary, add to your post regarding the wireless problems being encountered.

There may indeed be other factors and considerations involved but the bigger picture needs to be understood.

Especially with 20 devices "roaming about".....
 

Wort

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Dec 14, 2013
381
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18,790
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This:

"so there is seamless switch between APs and router whenever the signal strength changes "

I believe that you may be referring to Roaming Aggressiveness.

FYI:

https://www.makeuseof.com/windows-roaming-aggressiveness-guide/

Read through the guide.

Then, if and as necessary, add to your post regarding the wireless problems being encountered.

There may indeed be other factors and considerations involved but the bigger picture needs to be understood.

Especially with 20 devices "roaming about".....
Thank you for your reply. When it comes to laptops, I don't care about seamless changing of the router/AP. For mobile devices, however, that's a different story. I would prefer my Wireless network to work in a way that even though there are multiple APs set across the house, a phone (which is the only device really, that you often carry from one room to another WHILE using it) automatically changes to another AP within the same SSID.
 

faalin

Illustrious
I would say forget using your router as a AP and get two Ubiquiti UniFI6 Lite units. That will allow you to move throughout your house and your devices will just switch between APs without issue.

The UniFi6 lite will allow 5Ghz 1.2Gbps and 2.4GHz 300Mbps with up to 300 clients


I run 2 unifi6 lites at home with a Access Point AC Mesh Pro outside. The Mesh pro is set to guest internet on its on Vlan and MAC address locked. I can roam anywhere in my house and yard without dropping internet and my phone will just switch to whatever ap it needs to keep using the internet.
 
Mesh does not really fix the roaming issue even though the vendors want you to think it does. The network unlike a cell phone network has no idea what the signal levels the end device is seeing and it really has no way to tell the device where the better radio source is. Some use a hack and force the device off the network and hope it then picks the better source.

The end client is always in charge of what radio source it connects to. That is what the roaming aggressiveness setting refers to but it is called different things on different devices and on some you can't change it.

The problem is the client only has 1 radio and if it scans for a better radio source it will cause small interruptions. Rather than do that it just uses the signal level and if it drops below a certain level it then scans. What this can cause is the device stays connected to the first source and even if you put it on top of the second radio source it will stay with the first. You could change this level it checks for but then you run the risk of it constantly jumping around if you set it too low.

What you need to do to get optimum roaming/handoff is to adjust the radio power on your ap/router so there is as little overlap as possible but still have good coverage. Lots of trial and error, and why guys who setup commercial wifi network get paid well.

Mesh is all marketing. The multi AP design and roaming issues have been around since the beginning of wifi. The manufactures want to sell more hardware so they convince the home users that randomly putting multiple magic boxes in their house they will get better network.
I guess they got tired of putting "turbo" or "new and improved" on boxes and now they put "mesh" and "gaming".
 
Last edited:
A second note there is almost no need for so called seamless roaming. The only application we used to use it for was voice over ip calls. Now days with unlimited call phone minutes it is kinda silly to go to a lot of trouble to setup a network when it just works with the cell phone network.

What I always laugh about is the advertising from some of the vendors that shows people going up stairs starring at their phone. I guess their lawyers were sleeping. Some idiot is going to try to watch netflix and falls down the stairs, idiots already walk out in front of cars.
 

Wort

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Mesh does not really fix the roaming issue even though the vendors want you to think it does. The network unlike a cell phone network has no idea what the signal levels the end device is seeing and it really has no way to tell the device where the better radio source is. Some use a hack and force the device off the network and hope it then picks the better source.

The end client is always in charge of what radio source it connects to. That is what the roaming aggressiveness setting refers to but it is called different things on different devices and on some you can't change it.

The problem is the client only has 1 radio and if it scans for a better radio source it will cause small interruptions. Rather than do that it just uses the signal level and if it drops below a certain level it then scans. What this can cause is the device stays connected to the first source and even if you put it on top of the second radio source it will stay with the first. You could change this level it checks for but then you run the risk of it constantly jumping around if you set it too low.

What you need to do to get optimum roaming/handoff is to adjust the radio power on your devices so there is as little overlap as possible but still have good coverage. Lots of trial and error, and why guys who setup commercial wifi network get paid well.

Mesh is all marketing. The multi AP design and roaming issues have been around since the beginning of wifi. The manufactures want to sell more hardware so they convince the home users that randomly putting multiple magic boxes in their house they will get better network.
I guess they got tired of putting "turbo" or "new and improved" on boxes and now they put "mesh" and "gaming".
I don't mind having "short interruptions" when phone actually changes AP. For example, when I'm at work I can freely walk across our huge facility and my phone will constantly reconnect to the AP with the best signal within the same network. At home, however, my phone would just hold on to the AP until there is no signal left, or until I switch off WIFI and turn it back on, so phone manually connects to the nearest AP. However, I have to do this again when I move back to the opposite side of the building. If I could somehow eliminate this step, that would be a bonus. So to my understanding, routers with mesh capabilities do that, but I could be wrong?

So long story short, if I invest in new setup for home, I would prefer to have a setup which allows me to switch AP automatically (even with short interruptions, I don't mind)
 

Wort

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A second note there is almost no need for so called seamless roaming. The only application we used to use it for was voice over ip calls. Now days with unlimited call phone minutes it is kinda silly to go to a lot of trouble to setup a network when it just works with the cell phone network.

What I always laugh about is the advertising from some of the vendors that shows people going up stairs starring at their phone. I guess their lawyers were sleeping. Some idiot is going to try to watch netflix and falls down the stairs, idiots already walk out in front of cars.
I definitely agree with you. But sometimes I'm browsing on my phone in a bedroom, then go downstairs to the living room where I continue browsing internet and the browser is unresponsive as it still holds on to signal from upstairs, even on minimum, when in fact, I'm in a living room 2m away from my router set as an AP. Then I have to switch WIFI OFF/ON to reconnect to the closest router.

Don't get me wrong, it's not something I'm dying over, but it would be nice if this additional step was eliminated completely. That's why I'm saying... would be a nice feature, but it's not a must.
 
Turn the radio power down on the remote unit this will cause less overlap.

Generally by the time you walk to the new location the phone will figure it out and change over. Although there is likely a small handover time you will not see it because it will be complete before you use the device.
 

Wort

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Dec 14, 2013
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18,790
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Turn the radio power down on the remote unit this will cause less overlap.

Generally by the time you walk to the new location the phone will figure it out and change over. Although there is likely a small handover time you will not see it because it will be complete before you use the device.
Gotcha!

Now to the "better" part. What router would you recommend? Surely, I would like to replace both.
 
It all depends if your end devices can actually use a better router. They sell all kinds of fancy routers but many end devices will not support it so it negotiates to the slower rates. One very obvious one would be something like wifi6.
The deception though is much more advanced by router manufactures. Many routers support things like 3x3 or 4x4 mimo. Most end devices, like cell phones, only have 2 antenna so can only run 2x2.

So you can buy some fancy router with a number like 2500 but since most device are equivalent to a router with a 1200 number you have pretty much wasted your money. Even the 1200 number is a lie because that is adding 2.4 and 5 together so the actual encoding rate is now 867 and you only get a small fraction of that, maybe 300 if you are very lucky.

It comes down to first look at the end devices you have currently. Then look at your current routers it is highly likely they are wifi5 (ie 802.11ac) and run at least a 1200 number already.

If you plan to upgrade end devices and routers I would look at wifi6e. The wifi6e stuff is now priced very similar to high end wifi6. The problem with wifi6 is that the cheap stuff can not use the 160mhz wide bands so it is not much better than the older wifi5. Even the higher end wifi6 stuff can not always run the 160mhz radio bands because of weather radar and since the price has gotten so similar to wifi6e you might as well go with wifi6e and get the new 6g radio band, they of course support all the older devices and radio bands also.
 
You will likely see no difference. I think the only difference is second one supports 4x4 mimo. It is very rare for end devices to have 4 antenna, most only have 2. This means you spend more money and the device just drops back to a lower encoding rate just like a cheaper router.

You really shouldn't buy wifi6 stuff it really doesn't perform better than wifi5 for most people. If you are willing to spend the money wifi6e is your so called "future proof" option. We will see if asus starts to drop their prices on wifi6e now that tplink has started to sell equipment.
Tplink has started to sell their axe5400 for about $200 which is less than half of cost of many asus models. I have not done the research yet but I strongly suspect they use the same wifi radio and cpu chips as asus. Last time I looked there were only 1 or 2 router chipsets being sold.
 

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