[SOLVED] Need suggestion for wifi setup. Mesh or AP? What works for my layout?

hunter1801a

Prominent
May 8, 2019
58
0
530
0
Refer to image of the layout of my home: https://ibb.co/RTRf4kt

Getting my home wired with ethernet this Sunday and I still haven't figured out what I want to do for wifi. I've been recommended either the Ubiquity UniFi or the Eero mesh system. Unify, while I know it would work, seems like it's not worth the price for me. It'll cost me $800 to have them install it all. Eero mesh seems better priced, but still seems like a lot. I was told to get a tri-band system, but the only Eero's with tri band are the Pro's, which are considerably more expensive than the dual band models.

What would you recommend I do to make sure all corners of the house get good wifi? Everyone will be working/schooling from their bedrooms. I work in the "Nook" area in the kitchen.
I've heard everything from you need mesh, you don't need mesh, you need tri band, dual band would work fine as long as it's wired, 1 router in the closet should be enough, 1 router in the closet will definitely not get signal into the nook area....so needless to say, it's all confusing.

Home layout:
  • Home is 1500 sq ft. It's built on a hill, so the upstairs and downstairs both lead to outdoors. The bottom floor is not an underground subfloor.
  • Network center (modem) will all be installed in the bottom floor room, inside a closet.
  • The red line on the image represents the same wall upstairs and downstairs that the wiring will be pulled through.
  • Light bulbs in image represent where ethernet jacks will be installed.
  • Wifi symbols in image represent areas where I am concerned about Wifi signal, because of distance from the main network "hub".
People in household: 4
Network demands: 2 work at home, 2 school at home. 1 gaming computer, 4 streaming TVs, 4 cell phones and some smart home things (a few lights and google speakers; nothing crazy).

ISP: Cox
Cable plan: 50Mbps (Works fine in current apartment, but considering moving up to the 150Mbps package)
Modem: Arris SB6183

 
I almost never give specific router recommendation unless you have a very narrow requirement.

All the chips that do the work are made by companies like mediatec or broadcom and 1 or 2 others. None actually make a router themselves. Almost all the wifi function is very similar on routers with the same number like 1200,1450,1950. All routers transmit near the maximum legal power so they have the same coverage. Coverage issues are normally related to your end device transmitting at low power.

The main difference is software features. Only you can decide if parental controls or vpn or data filters etc of value. I like to load third party firmware but you may not so it is hard to say what brand. The thing you want to look for is gigabit lan and wan ports since your internet will be above 100mbps

For which wifi number you pick it mostly depends on your end device. Some router might have stuff like 4x4 mimo but if your end device does not also have that feature it will not be used. The same as many other things like non standard encoding rate that most end devices do not support. They want to have the largest number on the box possible because most people will buy the biggest number even though it is no faster for them.

One of the big ones lately is wifi6. Many devices are just starting to support this but it is already obsolete with wifi6e coming to market. Unless you have devices today that can use wifi6 you do not want to spend the money because you will likely replace with wifi6e. Wifi6e is going to be a major improvement because has massive bandwidth on the 6g channel which will reduce the interference from neighbors.

For a AP device I would buy 1200 number routers with is your standard dual band 2x2 mimo which matches most end devices. Your main router does not have to be much better maybe 1750-1900. This supports 3x3 mimo which will run a bit faster if you device has 3 antenna. Tri band routers only work well if you manually allocate devices to the 2 different 5g radios. The routers that try to load balance do not take into account how much actual traffic is being used. You really only would need tri band routers if you have too much wifi traffic on one radio. Problem is tri band routers use 8 or the 9 total radio channels which makes the interference worse with your neighbors.....again this will be helped a lot with wifi6e. With only 150mbps of internet bandwidth that will likely limit you before wifi will even with a 1200 number.

It is going to come down to which router software you like best. Unless cost is a huge concern avoid the lessor know brands like belkin or buffalo etc. Even then most unkown brands work well because 802.11ac stuff is so mature. Wifi6 stuff is just starting to get stable so you want large name brand....but again do not buy wifi6 unless you can use it today.
 
Last edited:
You never want to use a mesh system if you have ethernet. You can connect a mesh system to ethernet but then they run as simple AP.....well most the time some are very strange. You are paying for something you don't need and they can be complex to setup correctly.

You do not need actual AP you can uses inexpensive routers since all you are using is the wifi radio in the device.

You really should be able to just place the single router downstairs. How well it works greatly depends on the materials your house is made out of. Concrete walls eat huge amounts of signal, non-insulated dry wall you lose much less. It also depends on how many neighbors are using wifi. A weak single will work very well if there is little interference.

I would try a single router and see how well it works. If it if not good enough just add another router as a AP. It is unlikely you need more than 1 extra AP

Since you have all that ethernet make sure you cable anything that can be connected via ethernet. In most cases you do not care if a wifi light bulb gets poor signal.
 

kanewolf

Titan
Moderator
You should put an AP where you have devices. Living room, master bedroom, kids bedrooms. Put all stationary devices on wired. TV = wired. Game console = wired. PC = wired. Save WIFI for mobile deivces == tablets, phones, laptops. All cameras should be wired.
If you want outdoor WIFI, then put in an outdoor AP.
If you buy hardware that is intended to be used in a multi-WIFI environment, like UniFI, then you TURN DOWN the power of the APs. You have several of them so a device is near one. You might even turn OFF 2.4Ghz radios to avoid overcrowding. Multiple WIFI sources with a wired backbone is how you get a great network.
 

hunter1801a

Prominent
May 8, 2019
58
0
530
0
You never want to use a mesh system if you have ethernet. You can connect a mesh system to ethernet but then they run as simple AP.....well most the time some are very strange. You are paying for something you don't need and they can be complex to setup correctly.

You do not need actual AP you can uses inexpensive routers since all you are using is the wifi radio in the device.

You really should be able to just place the single router downstairs. How well it works greatly depends on the materials your house is made out of. Concrete walls eat huge amounts of signal, non-insulated dry wall you lose much less. It also depends on how many neighbors are using wifi. A weak single will work very well if there is little interference.

I would try a single router and see how well it works. If it if not good enough just add another router as a AP. It is unlikely you need more than 1 extra AP

Since you have all that ethernet make sure you cable anything that can be connected via ethernet. In most cases you do not care if a wifi light bulb gets poor signal.
That makes sense. Any specific recommendations on routers? One for main, then if needed, a secondary. The main router of course would be the most important. Like I mentioned the bigger concern is getting signal to that nook area, so I can always get a cheaper router to use as an AP over there.

You should put an AP where you have devices. Living room, master bedroom, kids bedrooms. Put all stationary devices on wired. TV = wired. Game console = wired. PC = wired. Save WIFI for mobile deivces == tablets, phones, laptops. All cameras should be wired.
If you want outdoor WIFI, then put in an outdoor AP.
If you buy hardware that is intended to be used in a multi-WIFI environment, like UniFI, then you TURN DOWN the power of the APs. You have several of them so a device is near one. You might even turn OFF 2.4Ghz radios to avoid overcrowding. Multiple WIFI sources with a wired backbone is how you get a great network.
Too many APs I've heard can cause issues too though. With a router downstairs, then the living room directly above, would two APs so close together cause problems? Too much overlap I'm thinking.

Outdoor area isn't too large and I'm confident that as long as the far corner area inside gets signal, then I'll be fine with the area outdoor that I need. Definitely don't need long range outdoor. Just right outside doors for phones to connect basically.
 
I almost never give specific router recommendation unless you have a very narrow requirement.

All the chips that do the work are made by companies like mediatec or broadcom and 1 or 2 others. None actually make a router themselves. Almost all the wifi function is very similar on routers with the same number like 1200,1450,1950. All routers transmit near the maximum legal power so they have the same coverage. Coverage issues are normally related to your end device transmitting at low power.

The main difference is software features. Only you can decide if parental controls or vpn or data filters etc of value. I like to load third party firmware but you may not so it is hard to say what brand. The thing you want to look for is gigabit lan and wan ports since your internet will be above 100mbps

For which wifi number you pick it mostly depends on your end device. Some router might have stuff like 4x4 mimo but if your end device does not also have that feature it will not be used. The same as many other things like non standard encoding rate that most end devices do not support. They want to have the largest number on the box possible because most people will buy the biggest number even though it is no faster for them.

One of the big ones lately is wifi6. Many devices are just starting to support this but it is already obsolete with wifi6e coming to market. Unless you have devices today that can use wifi6 you do not want to spend the money because you will likely replace with wifi6e. Wifi6e is going to be a major improvement because has massive bandwidth on the 6g channel which will reduce the interference from neighbors.

For a AP device I would buy 1200 number routers with is your standard dual band 2x2 mimo which matches most end devices. Your main router does not have to be much better maybe 1750-1900. This supports 3x3 mimo which will run a bit faster if you device has 3 antenna. Tri band routers only work well if you manually allocate devices to the 2 different 5g radios. The routers that try to load balance do not take into account how much actual traffic is being used. You really only would need tri band routers if you have too much wifi traffic on one radio. Problem is tri band routers use 8 or the 9 total radio channels which makes the interference worse with your neighbors.....again this will be helped a lot with wifi6e. With only 150mbps of internet bandwidth that will likely limit you before wifi will even with a 1200 number.

It is going to come down to which router software you like best. Unless cost is a huge concern avoid the lessor know brands like belkin or buffalo etc. Even then most unkown brands work well because 802.11ac stuff is so mature. Wifi6 stuff is just starting to get stable so you want large name brand....but again do not buy wifi6 unless you can use it today.
 
Last edited:

hunter1801a

Prominent
May 8, 2019
58
0
530
0
Thanks Bill. That's essentially what I needed. Advice on what to look for. What's your take on TP Link products? They seem to be aiming for the budget market, but still have decent products from what I've seen. Amazon has an an AX1800 for $90.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08H8ZLKKK/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?tag=slicinc-20&ascsubtag=726802fe899911ebb0671ecc22d9047b0INT&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER&psc=1

Then again, for just $20 more, Asus has a 1900
https://smile.amazon.com/ASUS-Dual-Band-AiMesh-Router-AC1900/dp/B00FB45SI4/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=ac68u&qid=1616215115&sr=8-2
 
I am going to bet the asus will be a lot faster.

First you must have 802.11ax..ie wifi6 to make use of the top speed on the tplink. If you attempt to run the tplink in 802.11ac mode it is the same as buying a 802.11ac router with a number of 1200. It only has 2 antenna so it only supports 2x2. The asus supports 3x3.

If your end devices are 802.11ac with only 2 antenna they will run exactly the same speed. If you have 3 antenna the asus will be a bit faster.

Remember all these are going to likely be faster than your 150mbps internet connection. You many times can get 300mbps on a 5g connected to a router with a 1200 number.

................
In addition that particular tplink router is doing what you see many do. Yes it is wifi6 BUT it is only using 80mhz bands just like 802.11ac. The ability to use 160mhz bands is the key feature that makes wifi6 really fast. So a 1x1 wifi 6 router using 160mhz will greatly out perform a 2x2wifi 6 router using 80mhz . They do this because when you run 160mhz bands you need to have support than can avoid the weather radar bands. There are no contiguous 160mhz bands in the 5g radio range. They have to use the restricted ones also but it makes it more complex. Many wifi6 end devices also have this limitation.

This is a big part of why wifi6 is not massively better than wifi5 (802.11ac) in real world users houses. This is why there is so much excitement about wifi6e. If I remember correclty there are 9 160 mhz blocks that you can use. The actual data encoding is the same as wifi6
 

hunter1801a

Prominent
May 8, 2019
58
0
530
0
After looking into the router more, I think the AC68U will be pretty good. Worst case, I can add a 2nd as an AP in the furthest room.

The upgrade to this would be the AC86U. Would the features on this one give me better range than the other one, or just better performance? I'm not concerned about speed in general of the AC68U. Just the distance to one of the further rooms. Basically, it'll either be $236 for two AC68Us, or $160 for a single AC86U. If the later doesn't give me a better chance of covering the whole house, then it wouldn't be worth it, since I'll need a 2nd unit as an AP anyways.


AC68U
https://smile.amazon.com/ASUS-Dual-Band-AiMesh-Router-AC1900/dp/B00FB45SI4/ref=sr_1_2?dchild=1&keywords=ac68u&qid=1616215115&sr=8-2

AC86U
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0752FD3XJ/?tag=snbforums-20
 
The range will be the same. Range is purely a function of radio transmit power and that is limited by the government. The difference would be how much data they attempt to pack into that radio bandwidth. It gets extremely messy if you try to say at what distance do I get 100mbps.

Almost all the range problems are the end devices not the router. Many end devices put more value on small size antenna and low power battery saving transmitters than performance.

If you want a AP I would look at one of the tplink routers that have 1200 number. They have changed the models so I forget the details. Most are in the $50 range. Be sure to check they have gig ports.

I have the 86u. It is a 4x4 router which almost no end device has. The big feature it has the highest clock rate processor available and it has a hardware encryption accelerator. The software is identical since asus uses a single image for their routers. The reason I use this router is it can run a router based vpn at about 200mbps where almost every other router can only do about 30mbps. I also load merlin firmware on it.

Other than that there really is no good reason to buy the 86u over the 68u. You can load melin on the 68u also if you want but it has a slower cpu and no hardware accelerator.
 

hunter1801a

Prominent
May 8, 2019
58
0
530
0
How much does brand matching matter for the AP? Are you saying I should get a TP-Link as an AP, even if I'm getting the Asus 68U as my main router?
 
Should not matter. It is mostly the configuration menus are different. When you use a device as a AP you really can't use any of the fancy features. Pretty much you are only using the wifi radios and the settings involving those. Other than that you set a IP address for the device and your are done. If it does not has a actual AP mode then you would have to disable the DHCP server. After that you never touch the AP again.

In either case you would need to choose if you set the SSID the same or different.

Mesh system try to pretend that they can do magic roaming. The truth is the end device is in full charge and they can only hope to force it to connect where they want. In general the default roaming works well if you actually needed the extra APs. If you get fairly good signal form multiple sources the end device will not pick the best. You actually need to turn down the radio power on your ap/router so you get the least overlap for it to work well.

I tend to always set my SSID different so I can control what device connects where. A person generally knows what the best.

Then again you have people that do not want to learn anything. That is why many routers actually set the 2.4g and 5g SSID the same. A dumb person will just be happy it works and not care if it has optimum performance. In the case of 2.4 and 5g being the same it will almost always connect to the 2.4g because less is absorbed by the building even though a weaker 5g signal might be faster. This concept also applies when you have mulitple AP In the house. After some testing you will know what works best.

I would hope there are not many stupid people who actually try to watch netflix on their phone while they walk up and down stairs and expect no drops as it switches between AP.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS