Question WiFi & Router for Gigabit Fiber?


Sep 4, 2011

We finally have fiber available & it was installed today - (symmetrical) Gigabit. We live in an 850sq single story apartment in a building w/ 40 total units so definitely WiFi from others nearby. We currently have a nearly 4 year old Netgear R8500 (X8) router/wifi unit. It’s been having some issues off and on but we’ve been trying to limp along with it for as long as we can. 5ghz band can be difficult to get reliably at the other side of the apt.

We lived with it when we had 250/12 cable service but the router is really cutting down the internet speeds. Given that we’ve waiting for 7 years or so to get this, we’d love to be able to make the most of the speeds. :)

I think the truth is that the Netgear R8500 simply isn’t the best option for Gigabit. We’re not getting bufferbloat issues anymore, as far as I can tell but the router just isn’t pushing the speeds that it claims it should be able to - even in the same room only 8 feet from the router itself w/open line of sight.
Given that WiFi 6 is still too far off to be getting into it at this point, what would you get to make use of the newest speeds? Would you get...

  1. a decent but not too expensive AC router (TP Link Archer 4000 $149) or
  2. Eero or Orbi mesh (the Orbi has a slightly better processor, if I remember correctly) or
  3. Ubiquity gear or there’s another somewhat similar one that I thought was from Romania(?) or
  4. I’ve seen mentions of a what I guess is an open source OS that one installs on a box/mini computer for a router (can’t find the name even though I’ve searched) but it may be beyond what I want to do in complexity or
  5. Say screw it, keep what I have for as long as I can - not taking advantage of the new speeds (75% less than what we’re paying for) waiting till WiFi 6 is more mainstream
  6. Something else entirely?!?
Definitely feeling at a loss as to what to do. How important is SQM , given the high bandwidth we have now? I’ve seen some people saying it’s still really important. That would definitely change the options as I know very few can do true SQM.

I was told that using APs vs a mesh would increase my WiFi bandwidth/headroom. I don’t fully understand this and would love to, since it might be an important factor in deciding which way to go.

Lastly, we do have quite a few things connected at any given time between mobile devices, laptops, iPads, media server, smart home stuff (SmartThings, Hue, Harmony, Arlo, August, Google Home, etc), plus printers, scanners, etc. Minimum of 30 devices and easily up to 50 or more. There are more than 100 devices total but given that things like the lights are all connected to WiFi via the bridge, the router doesn’t “see” all those individual units, just the bridge. However, I know that’s more use than average. I’m trying to keep this short(er) but if you need more info about our setup, please let me know. Thanks so much!
Not sure what router you think is going to be better.

Your end devices likely can not use the feature of your current. Most the routes including your current one are using feature than almost no end devices support. Almost no device has 4 antenna so you can never use the 4x4 mimo. Many of these devices use non standard data encoding that is not part of the offical standards. This means there is limited support in end devices.

Pretty much the vendors are trying to trick people who think bigger number means better.

Your current router can easily pass 1gbit of traffic wan-lan. Even very inexpensive routers can. The nasty secret is to get these speeds you have to give up almost all advanced functions in the router. They use methods that allow the NAT function to bypass the main cpu and be done by asic chips. If you use many features this forces the traffic back to the cpu and you get your data rates capped in the 200-300mbps range even on the fastest router.

So even if you wanted to you can not use QoS features like SQM.

Mesh is all marketing hype it is just renaming technology to get people to buy new equipment. The main function that some units do a little better is the wifi repeater. You do not want to use any form of wifi repeater unless you have no other option. You now have mulitple wifi signals that can be interfered with and you are using up more wifi bandwidth to transmit the signals multiple times.

The other so called mesh concept is nothing new. If you use ethernet cable to connect the units all you are doing is running a AP which has been in use since the beginning of wifi. It is the solution used by corporations for years. You do not see these so called "mesh" units being used in commercial installs

If you feel you need better wifi coverage you can use a AP or really any router running as a AP connected via ethernet to improve your wifi for much less cost than some silly mesh system.

Still in that small of a apartment you should be able to use just a single router unless you have concrete walls. If you add a second or third wifi source you will just stomp on your own signals in addition to any interference you get from neighbors.


The only way you can utilize gigabit WAN speeds is with wired connectivity. All your stationary devices should be wired (obviously IOT may ONLY support WIFI). But PCs, game consoles, TVs and streaming devices should be wired. WIFI, especially in an apartment setting will not provide great networking. There is just too much interference from adjacent WIFI.
If you get 200Mbit performance with WIFI in the environment you have, you are doing pretty good, IMO.
If you want to run SQM over 100Mbs your options are extremely limited. ipfire on an intel is the best. You really shouldn't need it. If your wifi is super congested it could help there. Lets say your wifi can only do about 400Mbs you could run SQM @ 380 and small flows would be more responsive. This would take quite a bit of extra effort to push wifi only clients into SQM.