Question Need a router to replace my ISP's unit

tinpanalley

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The router that comes with my ISP is notoriously not great either as an individual device or for WiFi. But I don't know where to start in looking for a new one.

I get the highest up and downloads I can get where I live, 400down and 50 up. So I don't need a Gigabit capable router but if price isn't a factor, why not future-proof is my philosophy. Several LAN ports aren't really important because I'll be using my switch to get to the hardwired devices I need to feed. I will be using my existing Mesh system anyway for WiFi because it works with the layout of our apartment. But apart from that I just want to not have a router where someone in a tech forum recommends doing something with my router that it turns out I don't have the ability to do.

I see TP-Links like the Archer and the ASUS ROG Strix but I don't really know why they're so popular and how they would benefit me? Can anyone recommend something? Budget is hard to answer because I don't know what these go for anymore. I haven't had a wireless router since my Linksys WRT54G over ten years ago. Just give me prices that are reasonable for what I need.

Please, and thank you.
 
If you already have a mesh system. You already have your own router. Disable the routing capabilities of your ISP modem/router combo. So it just acts as a modem. Letting your mesh system do all the routing.

If you need a modem. We need to know your specific ISP, Internet type and country.
 

tinpanalley

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If you need a modem. We need to know your specific ISP, Internet type and country.
Unfortunately I can't change my ISPs modem. Only the router.
Ok, I have had a giant misconception, probably just out of ignorance... I thought one needed to connect a mesh system to extend the capabilities of a router. Not as a replacement. So, that's obviously my mistake. I do need to still use my switch however for a few hardwired things near the desktop. So I can just go modem to switch and to those devices and then also to the first mesh hub? And that would relieve me of needing the ISP router at all? What about guest network tools, better port control, QoS?
 
Unfortunately I can't change my ISPs modem. Only the router.
Ok, I have had a giant misconception, probably just out of ignorance... I thought one needed to connect a mesh system to extend the capabilities of a router. Not as a replacement. So, that's obviously my mistake. I do need to still use my switch however for a few hardwired things near the desktop. So I can just go modem to switch and to those devices and then also to the first mesh hub? And that would relieve me of needing the ISP router at all? What about guest network tools, better port control, QoS?
If this is an actual mesh system. You'll have one unit that acts as a router (base). It then can setup a mesh network with satellite units. Some manufacturers have a specific base and satellite units. Others allow any unit to act as a base or satellite. But you'll have at least one base unit.

As this base unit is a router when configured as one (don't use bridged mode). You would typically connect your modem to the base unit. Then your switch to the base unit. The base unit will then route all wired and wireless traffic between devices on your network and between your devices and the internet.

You could also connect switches to the satellite units. To wire devices without WiFi near the satellite unit. Which don't have a wired connection going back to your other switch. Also useful for older devices with some outdated wireless connection.

So...
Modem > Mesh Base (Router) > Switch > Wired Devices
Modem > Mesh Base (Router) > Mesh Satellites > All WiFi devices
 
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I am unsure if your current network is functioning correctly.

Do you cable the remote "mesh" units or are you using a wifi repeater to get to the remote location.

Most mesh systems since they are all proprietary require you to use their router and their remote devices, kinda the scam to get more money. You might currently have router behind router condition. Which means the devices on the "mesh" network can not share files with the ones you connect to the switch.

In any case if we ignore the 2 router issue the basic path must go

Modem--router--switch.

The modem only will give you a single IP address, it is the key function of a consumer router to share this ip address with all your devices in the house. So if you were to connect a switch to the modem only 1 device would get a IP and function.

In your case if all the wifi is being done by the mesh there really is no reason to replace the ISP router unless it is say for money reasons or you need some software feature the ISP router does not have.

Even a very inexpensive router can pass 1gbit wan/lan. Now the wrt54g is too old but almost all modern routers have a NAT accelerator so the CPU in the router can be bypassed to get full speed. If you are going to buy a router you could I guess buy one of the ones without wifi but it will likely be cheaper to buy anything that has gigabit wan and lan ports and just turn off the wifi radios. Note you have to have a gigbit router because the only other option is to run at 100mbps and you internet is faster. Of course you don't need the fancy ones with 2.5g or 10g ports.

My guess is you will see no difference at all replacing the ISP router. The ISP router also uses this NAT accelerator function. If you were to disable it your speed would likely drop under 300mbps so it is likely the ISP router can do full gigabit wan/lan
 

gggplaya

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1st step is to set your ISP modem/router combo unit into "Bridge Mode" or "Pass Through" mode. This will allow the ISP combo unit to act as just a modem.

Next, your MESH system likely has a built in router in the main base, but is usually very limited in software and features. If you just need a basic router, then it will be no different than the ISP router in terms of features.

If you want something with more power, you can get a ZIMABOARD X86 SBC($120) and install PFsense or OpenWRT on it. These will give you Traffic Shaping QOS control to manage bandwidth on your network. If someone is gaming, and someone else is downloading a large file or conferencing, it really helps shape traffic in an equitable manner. PFsense and Openwrt are for more advanced users. I'm going to try and load DDWRT onto a Zimaboard to test it out. But DDWRT is more user friendly for tech savvy novices.
 
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tinpanalley

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Do you cable the remote "mesh" units or are you using a wifi repeater to get to the remote location.
I think how I've used my setup in the past will explain things to people...

I used to go...
Former ISP modem-router combo --> 1: mesh
--> 2: switch (goes to three other hardwired devices via ethernet)
Mesh main pod fed 3 other pods in the apartment.
What I had to do was shut off the WiFi on the modem/router combo so that my mesh system could be used by the computer as (what I realise now to be essentially) a router and wireless devices could share folders (SMB).

Now... the new ISP doesn't have a combo modem/router. It has an actual router and an actual modem. Separately. So, I go online and everyone tells me, "That router your ISP gives you is crap. Get your own." So I start looking around. But it seems pretty unanimous that people are saying, if you HAVE your mesh system that works perfectly for you, and you DON'T do any heavy gaming or streaming online then you don't actually NEED what a better router would give you and you certainly don't need it for WiFi. Why not use your Mesh system that you already like as your new router?

If that's the case, where do I put my switch? On another port on the modem? Or coming out of the first mesh pod? And to what extent will I be able to control things like ports and QoS with the software for my tplink Deco M4 system? Is it considered thorough enough for that kind of thing?
 

gggplaya

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I think how I've used my setup in the past will explain things to people...

I used to go...
Former ISP modem-router combo --> 1: mesh
--> 2: switch (goes to three other hardwired devices via ethernet)
Mesh main pod fed 3 other pods in the apartment.
What I had to do was shut off the WiFi on the modem/router combo so that my mesh system could be used by the computer as (what I realise now to be essentially) a router and wireless devices could share folders (SMB).

Now... the new ISP doesn't have a combo modem/router. It has an actual router and an actual modem. Separately. So, I go online and everyone tells me, "That router your ISP gives you is crap. Get your own." So I start looking around. But it seems pretty unanimous that people are saying, if you HAVE your mesh system that works perfectly for you, and you DON'T do any heavy gaming or streaming online then you don't actually NEED what a better router would give you and you certainly don't need it for WiFi. Why not use your Mesh system that you already like as your new router?

If that's the case, where do I put my switch? On another port on the modem? Or coming out of the first mesh pod? And to what extent will I be able to control things like ports and QoS with the software for my tplink Deco M4 system? Is it considered thorough enough for that kind of thing?
Apologies, most ISP's give out combo router/modem units because it's easier for them to remote service and log into the unit to reset or fix things without the cost of sending a technician to your house. So that's why we all assumed that. But apparently, your ISP gives you separate units which is great. However, sometimes if you have VDSL and the modem is in pass-through, the router will need the ability to log into the ISP with credentials. If these credentials are in the modem, then great nothing you have to do besides replace the router.

If you have Fiber and the modem you speak of is actually the ONT device, then most of the time all you have to do is unplug the ISP router and plug in your own. Super easy.

If you're a gamer and want great QOS, then your Deco M4 won't be that great. The non-traffic shaping type QOS built into these routers and others like it are pathetic and don't work well. If you want great QOS, get a traffic-shaping QOS. However, these are very processor intensive and even expensive ARM processor routers will struggle to get past 300-500mbps top speed.

For the easiest solution, ASUS with Merlin Firmware(easy firmware update) will have an easy to configure traffic shaping QOS called FQ_Codel or CAKE. But you have to buy a compatible Asus router. The routers are listed here: https://www.asuswrt-merlin.net/
 
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You might as well get technical advice from facebook if you believe what random people say. They just hear ISP routers are garbage and repeat that without anything other than someone else told them that. This is the typical fake news.

ISP routers many times use exactly the same cpu and radio chips as some high end routers. The routers used by att and verizon for their fiber installs actually test better than some name brand routers.

What tends to be different is they do not contain very advanced software options say like VPN or NAS or some other fancy stuff. Performance wise most modern ISP routers are as good as other consumer routers.

The way you are going to have to make it work is

ONT---main mesh unit---switch---remote units.

Note because you are running ethernet to the remote units you are not actually running mesh...other than maybe ease of configuration. You are running remote AP. You likely could just remove the tplink router and plug everything into the ISP router and it will work fine. Not 100% sure because some of the vendors will try to prevent you from doing so people do not just buy the remote units and not their router. In any case I suspect you can just swap out the ISP router.

I would try everything without setting up any form of QoS. You should not really need it when you have a 400mbps internet connection. QoS is only used when the connection is running at 100% and a choice must be made between traffic.
Pretty much anything except downloads come nowhere close to use that much bandwidth. Trying to use QoS to limit downloads is the hard way. In most cases you can limit the download in the application. If you have a teen running bit torrent in the house even the best QoS will not stop torrents from using 100%.
 
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