Mesh routers

Asus routers (stock and custom flashed) have been rock solid for me for years. But a few recent events have me thinking about whether or not it’s time to switch systems. My house require multiple access points, no residential router is going to have the power to cover everything no matter how well I can place it, and re-wiring the house is pretty far down the (fairly long) todo list, so it’s got to be a wireless access points.

There are some obvious big-names that come up a lot, but even those seem to have some drawbacks/detractors, so I’m wondering what network systems others have had success (or terrible trouble) with recently.

In Germany, AVM Fritz boxes are very popular routers. Carriers also provide them quite often with their offerings.
They also have a very solid Wi-Fi mesh implementation to work across their range of routers and repeaters and can mesh using Ethernet, too.
You can also use older-gen routers as repeaters so you have a spare for your main router on site, too, just in case. Their long term support is great, I have a 6yr old repeater (i.e. older than mesh) that became part of my mesh with an upgrade. And it’s still getting updates.
Re-wiring all of the house for IP isn’t needed when AP interconnects are wired.
Either way, make sure to get your future mesh from one vendor. Stay off interoperability hell.

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Assuming you could go ahead with a wired (maybe not the whole house but at least parts of it), I’d recommend running a proper firewall (OPNsense or similar) and then Ubiquiti to handle the wifi. It’s super nice to be able to just plug in a new access point in a new spot for improved coverage and have it automatically pick up the configuration from the controller.

In case of a pure wireless option, OpenWRT does support mesh networking. I haven’t tried it, so I cannot comment on how well it works, but it would be worth giving a shot assuming your existing hardware is supported.


Need more info. What do you want to run as router? How are your current routers installed?
Can you route cables to all of the devices you have?
What connection speed you looking to have? Inside / outside.

Me personally, I’m running unifi access points (the lowly ac lite ones give you 500 megabytes of Wi-Fi speed, the new Wi-Fi 6 are even better), all connected to an ASUS ac68u.
Eventually, when I get the last ap I need (lacking two) I will replace the ASUS and buy a mikrotik RB5009 router. Might also need a switch for 10gb connectivity to the server. Haven’t decided yet.
Everything is cabled directly.

I learned that lesson many years ago…the hard way… :cry:

Alas, the location most in need of extra coverage is two floors down and a couple rooms over (unless I want to go through the garage slab). It’s a very open-floorplan house so there are not a lot of wall options in the main and second floors and its an older house with full size joists in all the ceilings. So, any cabling at all is nearly equivalent to a complete rebuild…

You know, I haven’t looked into OpenWRT in a couple of years, that’s an interesting place to start.

I do like my ax88u which, despite being 3+ years old, still packs a fairly top-of-the-line punch. @mstormi point about the dangers of interoperability is well taken, but I hadn’t thought about keeping the asus as the bridge and building a separate mesh. Interesting idea.

Just turn off the Asus wi-fi and it’s good :slight_smile:

I’ve been happy with my triband Orbi RBK50 and satellite. They’ve come up with at least two new models since I bought these but I’ve not had the need to upgrade. I’m in a 3200 sqft house on three levels and have only one satellite and have great coverage in the house with less good coverage outside the house.

There’s only three of us and only two TVs total but we’ve had two TVs streaming HD (not UHD or 4k mind you) as well as a Zoom session open, all wireless and all hugging along happily.

I run in strictly AP mode and use opnSense as my gateway so beyond occasionally upgrading the firmware these are set-it-and-forget-it for me. YMMV.

If you are not running it on a triband router using the third band as the uplink you will probably be disappointed. I ran that way for a long time using my old netgear nighthawk and a really cheap netgear??? as the repeater but because it was using the same N band for both device communication and backlink the overall bandwidth was underwhelming.

Once you have a triband router, if you plan on running them in AP mode, there really isn’t much reason to put OpenWRT, DDWRT, or Tomatoe on it. All the smarts are in the gateway.

Sounds like a very similar situation to mine, then.

It was actually my experience with one of Netgear’s old nighthawks that caused me to switch to asus routers to begin with. It’s good to know that they’ve gotten better with the Orbis. I do like the form factor of the Orbis.

If I recall you were running opnSense on a NUC something similar, is that still the case?

I don’t know if I’m mainly been lucky but I’ve never had problems with Netgear. It’s D-link that always gave me troubles. But they are all Cisco now anyway. :person_shrugging: Since it’s just the AP, almost everything else is shut off so there isn’t much software wise to get in the way.

Something similar. I’m running on one of these: I didn’t want to pay as much as a NUC would cost and wanted at least three ethernet ports to work with. At the time I was running pfsense and the big thing to pay attention to was the hardware support for AES encryption which not all of these little passively cooled jobs support. I’ve since moved to opnsense because I didn’t like the direction that pfsense was going and the HAProxy version they supported was ancient and way more difficult to set up.

Were I to do it over again, besides choosing opnsense to start with, I’d get a slightly bigger hard drive (25 GB is really small when all is said and done). I’ve had to turn the logging way down on it to avoid filling up the space (not that I was looking at it anyway except in a few cases).

It might be worth mentioning the unique part of my setup. After lots and lots of back and forth with Xfinity it was determined the coax leading from my garage to my office was the thin crappy kind of cable and was limiting our download to about 75 Mbps instead of the 1 Gbps we were paying for.

So the cable modem, gateway, and main Orbi device is on a shelf in my garage. The satellite is in my office and my computers and my wife’s desktop are wired to the satellite. I need to get an electrician out to run a new better coax from the garage to my office but for now, internet speed tests show I’m getting the full speeds from my office with the current setup. I made it through the winter like this so I know it can handle the cold. We’ll see if the hardware can handle the heat of summer. If so I might just leave it where it is and build a better cabinet to keep it in to keep out the dust. The fact that everything is passively cooled helps tremendously.

Might sound daft, but maybe, just maybe an outdoor POE WiFi access point, located at the room (outside) where you need WiFI and wired back to a switch in your attic (all wiring outside)? Just a thought

Being network enthusiast I can recommend looking into ruckus and unleashed. It’s genuine enterprise gear (compared with unifi which would be prosumer). It’s easy to set up works very well. You will have to resort to ebay to get them for reasonable prices and due to their popularity. The prices on eBay has gone up.

see this thread for more info if you are interested

I have also created a unleashed binding for openhab.

Best regards s

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Since it has not been mentioned so far. I would highly recommend looking into the Unifi EcoSystem. They offer enterprise netwerk / Wifi Sollutions for Premium Home solution prices.

Rock Sollid in large scale enterprise enviroments. So sweet to use at home. You can do anything you desire and mix and match the components. A little higher purchasing price will give you an enterpise grade enivorment at home. The also offer meshing thru their Accepoints where a specific band is then reserved for Backbone traffic. It really works very well!! Switched from Asus Routers to Unifi couple of years ago. Loving it so far!

You could grab a USG (Secure Gateway) as a router, and hook up a couple of Accespoints (either wired or Meshed). Install the conroller software and enjoy!

To be clear unifi is not Enterprise they target private consumers. Regarding prices unifi is cheap compared to proper enterprise.
The most problematic part with unifi is their software, they tend to break functionality on stable releases. They systematically letting the consumers test and find bugs for them on “stable” releases.

I still manage a couple of unifi installations and it is always a 50/50 if things will break when you upgrade.

This is not the first time I’ve heard this about Unifi. I try pretty hard to keep my network up-to-date, so that kind of roll of the dice sounds a little frustrating.

It’s true though. The way I do it is, I never install the latest update when it releases. If it’s working don’t touch it mentality.
Once in a blue moon, or when I check the release logs I’ll feel inclined to update.
Not the best solution tbh but hey haven’t had issues in the last two years.

I never had any issue’s with updates, software for the controller of firmware for the individual equipment. I use the easy update script that is provided and maintained on the unifi forums. Creates backups and updates the controller. Im in the stable release on multiple installations. Never had any mayor breakdowns or issue’s. Anyway, i cant be more than happy with the service that it provides for me and share my thoughts. I have no share’s in the company :slight_smile:

Ironically enough I do have stocks :blush:

It’s not all bad just wanted to highlight some of the problems with unifi. Esp when people say it is enterprise, it’s not. They fill a role I networking hardware for sure.

Best regards s

I’d recommend having a look at mikrotik. They have inexpensive gear, that requires some more skills than the average consumer gear to set up, bur you can do a lot of things with them.
I am using them as access points and main router, with separated ssids and networks for Home automation, I thermal use and guests.

Does your current Asus router/wifi AP support AiMesh? Personally I have been using Netgear orbi rbk50 with two satellites. I’m looking at getting this Asus GT-AXE16000 as an upgrade.

Wow. For the price you could get a mikrotik router and 4 access points instead…. Why ASUS??