AiMesh Review: Asus’s Journey to Fast Wi-Fi and Excellent Coverage

Asus RT AX3000 and RT AX88U Routers
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech You need two or more supported Asus router to form an AiMesh system.

AiMesh is a free feature Asus brought to most of its routers in early 2018, and it has proved to be one of the best ways to build a home Wi-Fi mesh system. I’ll explain it all in this post.

Dong’s note: Since I first published this post on February 24, 2018, I’ve been using/testing more than a dozen AiMesh routers — in too many combos to count. In the past two years, Asus has released many firmware revisions with numerous changes, bug fixes, and, for the most part, improvements on this feature. This update, posted on February 13, 2020, aims to reflect the latest state of Asus’s AiMesh, including the support for Wi-Fi 6.

Asus AiMesh Wi-Fi System

8.6

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Easy of use

8.0/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • The most flexible way to build a robust, scaleable home Wi-Fi mesh system
  • Excellent performance, top-notch feature set
  • Built-in online protection
  • No vendor login required or other privacy risks
  • Comparatively affordable

Cons

  • Certain routers combos can be buggy
  • Guest network not (yet) supported
  • No auto firmware update
  • Hardware units can be bulky

AiMesh review: It’s like no other mesh

Available almost all Asus routers, AiMesh allows for combining any two or more routers into a single mesh network, similar to the Netgear Orbi or Google Wi-Fi. Over time, it has proven to be Asus’s most important home networking feature.

It’s important to note that AiMesh is not a plug-n-play Wi-Fi solution like other canned systems on the market. It requires some work — or maybe even a lot of work in certain situations — before you get it the way you want. So, it’s not for everyone. But if you don’t mind tinkering with your hardware, chances are you’ll love it.

To use start with AiMesh, you need to get a couple of supported routers. Most, though not all, Asus routers support this feature.


Asus’s current AiMesh-ready routers


Like most mesh systems, you use one as the primary router (or primary node, per Asus), and the rest will be satellites (or nodes). AiMesh nodes automatically replicate the Wi-Fi settings of the primary router and extend the coverage, either wirelessly or via network cables.

READ MORE:  Asus RT-AX89X Review: Most Wi-Fi Bases. Covered. And More!

And an AiMesh system can offer a lot more.

Flexible hardware setup

First of all, AiMesh enables you to scale up your Wi-Fi network as your needs grow. You can start with a single router; then, later on, add a satellite or two. It’s also an excellent way to re-use your old Asus router, as a node, when upgrading to a newer one.

Most importantly, AiMesh allows you to pick and choose a mesh system that fits your needs and budget.

You can get two affordable Asus routers and build a budget mesh. Or get two high-end ones to create a high-performing system. And of course, you can also mix a high-end router with a low-end node.

Generally all AiMesh routers will work with one another, but certain combos will work better than others — more on this in below.

Asus ZenWiFi AX vs ZenWiFi AC
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech Here are the back of the ZenWiFi AX XT8 and that of the ZenWiFi AC CT8. Look closely and maybe you can tell them apart.

All the features you’d need and more

An AiMesh system has all the features and settings of the primary router. And since Asus routers currently offer the most features on the market, none of the other home Wi-Fi systems can compete on this front.

In short, AiMesh is the only way to have a mesh that gives you the same feature set as even the most feature-rich standalone router.

Examples of these features include AiProtection (online protection and parental control), Traffic Analyser, Adaptive QoS, VPN (client or server), and an excellent dynamic DNS. And if you use high-end routers like the GT-AX11000 or the RT-AC5200, you’ll also get special features tailored to online gaming.

There are also tons of networking settings and tools that you can use via the web interface, including Wake-on-LAN — the ability to turn on a computer within your home network remotely.

What’s more, you have the option to use the Asus Router mobile app to manage your network on your phone. It’s the only app on the market that has the options for remote management without you having to register an account and log in with the vendor.

Asus router’s core feature set

To sum it up. Here is the general list of what you can expect from any Asus router, and therefore from any AiMesh combo.

  • Universal setting restoration: Asus routers can use the setting backup files on one another. As a result, when you upgrade from one to another, just back up the old router’s settings to a file, then restore it to the new router. Most of your network’s configurations — including those of an AiMesh system — will remain the same with the new router. Note, though, that it’s always better to set up the router from scratch to avoid possible setting conflicts.
  • A robust full web interface: Asus’s web user interface is one of my favorites. It’s intuitive and allows for in-depth customization. But the interface can be overwhelming for novice users.
  • Helpful Asus mobile app: Alternatively, users can use the Asus mobile app to manage and set up their router. It’s a well-designed app with decent access to the router. You can also turn on the Dynamic DNS-based remote access without having to have an account with Asus.
  • AiProtection: This feature includes a free-for-life real-time online protection powered by Trend Micro and a decent Parental Control engine. I’ve used AiProtection for years, with many different routers, and it proved to be quite useful. Parental Control, on the other hand, could use some improvement. The way Asus define categories for web-filtering is a bit vague, and you can’t block a specific website, which is a significant shortcoming.
  • Adaptive QoS: A quality of service engine that allows you to prioritize Internet traffic to support different applications or services. Adaptive QoS requires minimum work from the user and is effective. It also includes Bandwidth Monitor in case you want to know who uses the most Internet at all and Web History that shows web sites a client has visited.
  • Traffic Analyzer: A set of tools and statistics in case you want to find out what’s been going on in the network in a set amount of time, and in real-time.
  • USB-related features galore: When hosting a storage device, the router has all the features you can imagine — from data sharing (locally and over the Internet) to backup (including the support for Time Machine), to a personal cloud. You can also use the router’s USB ports to host printers or select USB cellular modems.
  • Frequent firmware releases: Asus regularly pushes out new firmware updates to improve its routers. For the most part, this is a good thing. However, once in a while, new firmware can cause issues. In this case, you should downgrade the router to the previous stable version and wait for the next release. (Asus routers don’t auto-update firmware by themselves.)
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Asus Router mobile app is fun to use and helpful when it comes to firmware update.

What you can expect from an AiMesh system

Other than the features mentioned above, you can also expect the following from an AiMesh setup as a mesh Wi-Fi system:

  • Dedicated wireless backhaul: When you use tri-band routers, like the RT-AC5300, RT-AX92U, or GT-AX11000, one of its 5Ghz bands, the 5GHz-2, will work as the dedicated backhaul band.
  • Wired backhaul: Router and nodes can link to one another via network cables. When having multiple nodes, you can mix wired and wireless connections.
  • No hard limit: There’s no official max amount of routers you can use in an AiMesh setup. However, in a wireless setup, Asus says realistically you shouldn’t use more than five hardware units or three if you use dual-band routers.
  • Third-party switch supported: For wired backhaul, you can use switches in between nodes. For best performance, make sure you use Gigabit (or faster) switches.
  • Auto-sensing WAN ports: Only on the router unit, the WAN port function as one — it needs to connect to an Internet source. All network ports on satellite units work as a LANs.
  • No vendor account required: Again, no account with Asus is required to use AiMesh, even when you use the Asus Router mobile app. For remote access, Asus uses Dynamic DNS. So, AiMesh is less of a privacy risk compared with other systems.
  • Access point (AP) mode: An AiMesh system can work in access point mode, meaning you can use it with an existing router to extend the network.
  • Here to stay: This is an ongoing feature, future Asus routers will support it.

How tri-band routers work in an AiMesh system

Generally, you want to use the most powerful (newer) router as the main AiMesh router and a lesser (older) router as a node. But if you choose to use tri-band routers, there are a couple of things to keep in mind.

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First, for best performance, definitely consider tri-band routers if you intend to have a wireless AiMesh setup. And in this case, it’s best to use tri-band hardware throughout, both as the primary router and node(s).

How to manage the dedicated backhaul band (5 GHz-2)

As soon as you set up a tri-band unit as the primary AiMesh router, it will automatically dedicate its second 5GHz-band (a.k.a 5GHz-2) as the dedicated backhaul.

It does this by:

  1. Creating a separate network on this band exclusively for the job of linking the routers in the mesh system. And:
  2. Keeps the SSID (network name) hidden so that general users won’t see it.

As a result, 5GHz-2 band is generally not available to clients, even when:

  • A dual-band router participates as a node. In this case, this node will connect to the 5GHz-1 band.
  • You choose to use wired backhaul for the entire system. In this case, the 5GHz-2 remains a standby backup backhaul that kicks in if you remove the network cable.

You can leave this 5 GHz-2 band alone, and all is well. However, if you wish, you can make it work for end-clients, too. Here’s how:

  1. Unhide SSID and give it a meaningful name — the default name is a string of random numbers and letters. This new name has to be different from that of the 5GHz-1 and 2.4 GHz bands even when you use these two in a Smart Connect setup, where they share the same name. And:
  2. Pick an easy-to-remember password for the 5 GHz-2 band’s SSID. The default password, again, is a long string of random numbers and letters. It’s too impractical to use.

Now, this band (5 GHz-2) can still work as a wireless backhaul, but it’s no longer a dedicated one. And when you use wired backhaul, it’ll work only for clients, and be available throughout all tri-band hardware units within the mesh.

By the way, if you want to switch from wired backhaul back to using the 5GHz-2 as the dedicated backhaul band, just make sure no clients connect to it anymore. You can do that by changing the SSID and hide it. And then unplug the wired backhaul cable.

AiMesh wired backhaul vs. dedicated backhaul (tri-band)

Generally, wired backhaul delivers the best performance. So always use it when possible. And then keep the following in mind.

  • If you have run network cables, it makes a more economic sense to go with dual-band routers for your AiMesh setup. Using tri-band routers, in this case, is unnecessary. But it does give you the option to have an additional 5GHz-only network if you don’t mind setting that up manually.
  • You should make the 5GHz-2 band available to users only when the wired backhaul is available throughout the entire system. If you have even one tri-band wireless node, you should leave this band alone. Otherwise, the mesh still works, its backhaul band is no longer dedicated.
  • Using a tri-band node with a dual-band primary router means you will likely not make use of the node’s 5 GHz-2 band at all, in both wirelesses and wired backhaul configurations.

AiMesh’s shortcomings

Like all mesh systems, AiMesh is not perfect. Below is the list of what that could use some improvement. While it seems long, most of the items are rather minor.

  • Some router combinations might be buggy. Considering there are so many routers involved, it’s quite hard for Asus to make all work consistently in all scenarios. At times, a new firmware release that fixes one combo might causes issues in others. In most cases, though, I find that resetting your router and setting up your mesh from scratch helps.
  • No support for WPA3 for now. While most of Asus routers now support WPA3, if you choose to use it, your AiMesh system will stop working. Considering WPA3 is so new, this might change in the future.
  • Guest networking is not supported — the Guest networks remain at the router unit. Initially, Asus said it would fix the issue by the end of 2019. Now it looks like this might happen eventually.
  • There’s no way to manually set a band of your liking, 2.4GHz or 5GHz, to work as the backhaul.
  • You can only access the web interface of the main AiMesh router. (If you try accessing a node via its IP address, you’ll reach the interface of the router). Among other things, this means you generally can’t manage certain features of the node, including its USB ports, unless you use the ZenWiFi hardware throughout — more on this below.
  • Firmware updates of the nodes are only available via the interface of the router unit, and you’ll need to download the firmware on your computer manually first. Currently, there’s no auto-update — this is true for all Asus routers — so you’ll need to manually check for new firmware using the interface once in a while. Firmware update works better on the Asus Router mobile app, which allows you to perform the update, of both router and node units, via a few taps.

The ZenWiFi family: The latest of AiMesh

Asus announced the ZenWiFi family at CES 2020 that, for now, includes the ZenWiFi AX and ZenWiFi AC.

ZenWiFi products are those built with AiMesh from the ground up. It’s now a central feature and not an add-on one.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech A ZenWiFi router has a brand-new AiMesh section.

For this reason, the Wi-Fi 6 ZenWiFi AX is arguable the best AiMesh system on the market, while the ZenWiFi AC is the best AiMesh setup among Wi-Fi 5 routers. Neither is perfect, though.

Among other things, a ZenWiFi setup includes the following improvement:

  • A new AiMesh section within the web user interface, which makes managing the feature easier.
  • You can now use the web interface of a ZenWiFi router unit to control the USB port and lighting of a ZenWiFi node unit.
  • WPA3 support, (only if all involved routers in the mesh are ZenWiFi.)
  • The likely support — it’s not a sure thing — for the Guest network feature at the ZenWiFi node. (But not at a none-ZenWiFi node, for now.)

Again, ZenWiFi hardware will work with other AiMesh-ready routers, in the role of the main router or node. But in a mixed setup, you won’t have the benefit of some or all of the improvements above.

Asus AiMesh: Excellent performance

I’ve tried many combinations using a dozen of models, with the latest being the RT-AX88U, GT-AX11000, ZenWiFi AC, RT-AX92U, ZenWiFi AX, and RT-AX3000.

Generally, all Wi-Fi 5 router combos worked well, though not completely bug-free. By the end of 2019, AiMesh on Wi-Fi 6 routers was buggy.

In early 2020, Asus released a new round of firmware updates, which makes them work much better, though still far from perfect. And you can expect even more firmware releases in the future.

That said, AiMesh will always have some flaws, but so do other mesh systems. Any AiMesh combination, though, can beat other similarly-priced purpose-built systems in performance and features.

Below are the charts of the real-world performance that shows how AiMesh’s nodes stack up against the satellites of other mesh systems, both Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5. I tested all of these systems in a wireless setup.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

On the Wi-Fi 6 chart, keep in mind that the ZenWiFi AX cost hundreds of dollar less than all other competitors, namely the Orbi RBK852, the Alien Kit, and the Arris SURFboard mAX. Also, Asus said it would release new firmware “in weeks” to double the ceiling speeds of the ZenWiFi AX.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

Keep in mind that your mileage will vary depending on the combo you pick. However, even when you use the most affordable Asus routers, your AiMesh system will likely be at least as fast as any other mesh of the same price, plus it will have a lot more features.

READ MORE:  The Right Way To Do an Internet or Wi-Fi Speed Test

Conclusion

In my experience, AiMesh is one of the best — and fun — solutions for advanced users who wants to build a scalable, robust Wi-Fi mesh system, without compromising their privacy.

Most importantly, again, it can beat all other similarly priced purpose-built systems on the market in both performance and features. In return, it requires a bit more work to set up, and a large number of settings and features can be overwhelming.

The only true competitor I can think of is the Synology Mesh. Unfortunately, Synology hasn’t released more mesh-capable routers — there are only two, the RT2600ac and the MR2200ac — nor does it have any that support Wi-Fi 6 yet.


Getting an AiMesh system of your own

You need at least two routers to create an AiMesh system. No matter what combo you get, generally the setup process is the same, and it will work.

How to pick the best AiMesh combo

However, in my experience, certain router combinations work better than others. Depending on your situation, picking the right combo can be the key to getting the best performance, and stability out of your hardware.

Wired backhaul is the best

Like any mesh system, wired backhaul is the best way to go. That said, if you have wired your home with network cables, your chance of success is high.

In this case, you have more liberty regarding the hardware. Just use the latest or most powerful router as your primary note, and connect the nodes’ WAN port to the network.

If you’re thinking of a wireless mesh, however, things can be tricky.

Asus RT AX300 vs RT AX58U routers
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech A pair of the RT-AX3000/RT-AX58U makes a great AiMesh system for a wired home.

Use the same routers or routers of the same Wi-Fi tiers

It’s best to use the same routers in an AiMesh system. This helps make sure there are no complications.

If you can’t use the same routers, or if that doesn’t make an economic sense, try using hardware of the same Wi-Fi tiers.

Generally, it’s not a good idea to mix tri-band and dual-band routers. And when possible, tri-band routers are the way to go in if you plan on using them wirelessly thanks to the dedicated backhaul.

AiMesh routers: Wi-Fi 6 vs. Wi-Fi 5

I have tried many combos with routers of mixed standards. Again, in this case, it’s best to run network cables to link them.

But if you can’t, make sure you use the compatible Wi-Fi setting for the Wi-Fi 6 router when using it as the primary node. So, in a mixed setup, chances are you won’t be able to use it in the venerable 160 MHz channel width, which is required for it to deliver top Wi-Fi 6 speed.

AiMesh hardware placement

An AiMesh system follows the same rules of hardware placement as those of any other mesh and applies only to when you don’t use wired backhaul.

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Specifically, place a node some 40 ft (12 m) from the main router if there are walls in between. If there’s no wall, you can increase this distance to around 75 ft (23 m). When you have more than one node, place the nodes around the main AiMesh router.

On the other hand, if you use network cables to link them up, it doesn’t matter how you arrange the nodes.

Steps to set up an AiMesh system

If you get a 2-pack ZenWiFi system, keep in mind that the hardware units are pre synced. In this case, set up one as your network’s router, the way you do any other routers with a web interface, and your mesh is ready — you won’t need to add the second unit manually.

That said, these steps apply to when you use at least one non-ZenWiFi router in the system.

1. Update all involved routers to the latest firmware from Asus. (Third-party firmware Merlin supports AiMesh in only a few routers but will work, too.) Then, set up the main AiMesh router as a regular standalone router. This process is similar to setting up any router with a web interface.

2. Reset the router(s) that’ll you use as AiMesh node(s). You can do that via its interface or by pressing on its reset button with a pin. For more details on how to reset a router, check out this post.

3. Place the node router(s) within 10 feet (3 m) from the primary router

Note: Generally, you should use Wi-Fi for the setup process. But with the latest firmware, I was able to add nodes by connecting their WAN port to a LAN port of the main router (or of another node or switch) using a network cable. In this case, you can place the node wherever you want.

4. On a computer connected to the network of the primary router, open a browser, log into the main router’s interface by going to router.asus.com (or its IP address) and click on Network Map, then on the AiMesh icon. Click on Search. After a few seconds, the node(s) will appear.

This step’s progress is shown in two screenshots below.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech To start, click on “Network Map,” then on the AiMesh Icon, and then on “Search.”
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech Within a few seconds, you will find all the AiMesh nodes, click on the one you want to add.

5. Click on a node, a pop-up prompt will appear. Click on Apply to confirm. Now, wait about a minute for the adding process to complete. This step’s progress is shown in three screenshots below.

Note: During this time, in my experience, you must not navigate to a different part of the web interface. Doing so might cause the setup to fail, and you’ll need to try again from step #2.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech Click on Apply to confirm.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The adding process takes about a minute.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech You will see the confirmation when the node has successfully joined the router.

And that’s it! Repeat from step #4 to add more nodes, else, mission accomplished.

Note: When adding more nodes at a later time, make sure you first update firmware for all AiMesh members (main router and nodes) again.

Once an AiMesh system is ready, you can always log in to the router uint’s web interface, go to the AiMesh section to manage the nodes, including updating its firmware. You can also do that via the Asus Router mobile app.

The extra screenshots below show what you can do with an AiMesh setup.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech You can click on any node to view its information or change the name of its location as well as the backhaul type (Auto/Wireless/Wired).
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech For the best performance, you can use a network cable to connect a node to the main router. Note how the connection icon next to the node changes to show the type of backhaul it uses.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech In an AiMesh network, you use the primary router’s web interface to manage the node(s), including firmware updates.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech AiMesh allows for mixing routers of all types into a single network.

Asus’s roaming assistance

In a mesh system, as you move around, you probably want to make sure that your phone (or your laptop) automatically connects to the closest Wi-Fi broadcaster to get the best connection speed, instead of to the one that’s farther away. And that’s called roaming assistance or seamless hand-off.

Before we go any further, though, keep in mind that it’s always the speed that matters. If your connection is fast enough for your task at hand, there’s no need to concern about which node your device connects.

Also, for roaming to work, the clients need to support that, too. Specifically, they need to feature 802.11k/r/v standards. The good news is most Wi-Fi hardware released in the past decade has at least one of those.

So, most of the time, the default hand-off settings work out just fine. And in fact, many purpose-built systems don’t even give you the option to change this setting.

But you can do this with an AiMesh setup. And that can be quite useful.

How to set up roaming assistance in AiMesh

The act of adjusting the roaming is easy and fast. How to figure the correct values, however, is a different story entirely.

Here’s how to customize seamless hand-off with AiMesh:

  1. Log in the interface of the primary router, navigate to the Wireless section (under Advanced Settings) then to Professional tab
  2. Pick the band you want to customize (2.4GHz or 5GHz).
  3. Locate the Roaming assistant setting; you’ll note that there’s a default value already in place, something like -70 dBm.
  4. Change the value to a new number that fits your situation — more on this below. Then click on Apply.
  5. Repeat from step #2 to #4 for the other band
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech To customize the seamless hand-off, you need to understand dBm.

Wi-Fi dBm explained

To know what fits your situation, you first need to understand dBm, (short for decibels relative to a milliwatt). Here are what you should keep in mind about dBm:

  • We are dealing with negative numbers, so the lower the number, the higher the value, hence the stronger the signal.
  • dBm doesn’t scale like most measurements (weight, length, etc.). It’s not linear and consistently incremental. Instead, it’s logarithmic and spiral — it’s curvy. As a result, the gap between -30 dBm and -60 dBm might not be more significant than between -60 dBm and -65 dBm, if at all.
  • Generally, meaningful dBm values range from -10 (optimal signal) to -90 (unusable signal or no signal at all). Still, the useful range that applies to each router varies.
  • Depending on the environment, a router picks a dBm value that works best. Consequently, you’ll find this number different from one router to another, but you can use it as the base to adjust roaming assistance to your liking, generally within plus or minus five dBm points.

My test routers automatically pick the dBm value of -70, so I’ll use it as the base.

Pick the right dBm value

In my experience, where I live, that number is equivalent to about two bars of Wi-Fi signal on the client — an OK signal. That means -65 dBm is now an excellent signal, and anything below -70, like -75, is probably no good.

At this threshold, a client would disconnect itself from the current node when the signal strength gets weaker than 2 bars, and it detects another node with a stronger signal nearby. It then connects itself to the closer node.

So, if you want the hand-off to take place at a higher threshold (like 3 bars), increase the dBm value a few points from the base (-67 or so in my case). Now, your phone won’t wait till the signal gets as low as two bars before it jumps.

If you change it to an even higher value (like -60 in my example), hand-off might happen too frequently, which can be a bad thing, especially when you stay right in the middle of two nodes.

The reason is each jump takes a bit of time for the client to re-authenticate with the new node. Hence, too many of them close to one another can cause interruption.

On the other hand, if you change the value to lower than -70, hand-off might not happen at all, and your phone remains connected to a node until there’s no signal from it.

But, generally, I’d keep the value of dBm between -60 (less clingy, faster speed) and -75 (more clingy, slower performance).



AiMesh roaming assistance: The takeaway

It’s important to note that there’s no precise measurement for Wi-Fi range and signal strength since they vary a great deal depending on the environment.

That said, what mentioned above are my estimates applicable to my situation. The actual numbers that work for you depend on your environment and the routers you use. It’s a matter of trial and error.

Also, roaming is tricky since it depends more on the clients than the router. Networking vendors can’t test their products with all existing equipment. As a result, at times, it’s a matter of luck. One thing is for sure, you can always turn your device’s Wi-Fi off and then back on to get it connected to the closest broadcaster.

Ω Found a typo? Please report it by selecting the text and pressing Ctrl + Enter. Thank you! ❤️

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About the Author: Dong Ngo

Hello! My name is Dong Ngo. Technology is my passion, and I do know it. | Follow me on Twitter, or Facebook!

415 Comments

  1. Dong,

    I’ve been following your advice for years now. I still have your cnet articles about home networking from back in 2013 bookmarked for when I don’t feel like explaining it to relatives.

    Anyway, I’ve been following the updates on this article for a couple years now. I have a wireless mesh setup, so I went with your early suggestion and paired an RT-AC86U as the primary router with an RT-AC5300 as the node. It worked great for the first few months. My node was connecting to the router over a 5GHz band and broadcasting 5GHz at great speeds and I was getting 5GHz at every corner of my house and at ok distances out to my yard. Then one of the firmware updates (can’t remember if it was router or node) just broke everything. Devices started dropping intermittently and the node started only connecting to the router over the 2.5GHz band. I would perform some reboots and reflash the firmware and it would seem good again for a day or two, and then it would quickly degrade back to garbage. I tried multiple factory reboots and network rebuiIds, setting up the mesh network from scratch over and over, but it never came back to normal. I gave up and just used the 86U by itself (mainly because the 5300 is a monster that my wife didn’t want in our bedroom). Every once in a while I boot up the 5300 and update the firmware in hopes that my mesh system will work again, but it just doesn’t. Now the node connects to the router via 5GHz, but it only picks up 2.5GHz clients, and even those have connection issues. It also makes 5GHz mostly unusable.

    It appears that you don’t suggest this setup anymore, as you’ve stated that, “First, for best performance, definitely consider tri-band routers if you intend to have a wireless AiMesh setup. And in this case, it’s best to use tri-band hardware throughout, both as the primary router and node(s).” Is this because, as you later mention, “Using tri-band nodes with a dual-band primary router will result in no dedicated backhaul band at any hardware unit, and you’ll likely make no use of the nodes’ 5GHz-2 band?” Really, I would just love to get my mesh system back up and running. Can I make it work wirelessly (wired not an option) with the hardware I have, or do I need to purchase another tri-band router to make this work? I’m open to any suggestions to get my mesh network back. I appreciate the years of informative articles, and I appreciate any advice on this long and wordy hail mary.

    1. Thanks for the on-going support, Aaron.

      Yeap, at one point, Asus updated AiMesh, and using a dual-band router with a tri-band node is not a good idea anymore. It should still work, though, just slightly different from how it used to be. That said, here’s what you should do:

      The parts in () are related, consider them together.

      1. Update both routers to the latest firmware — Google their model and “firmware” then download the firmware and update manually.
      2. Remove the RT-AC5300 from the AiMesh, that will reset it, too. This effectively dismantles your current AiMesh setup.
      3. Reset the RT-AC86U to default settings. (If you have lots of network settings, you can make a backup of the RT-AC86U first.)
      4. Set the RT-AC5300 as the primary router. (You can restore the backup file of the RT-AC86U on this router to save yourself from having to program everything from scratch). Check to make sure this router works as you’d like a standalone router. You can use Smart Connect, which combines all three bands into a single network. (Now backup the RT-AC5300’s setting, reset it again and then restore it from that new backup file. I know it seems redundant, but you should do it if you have restored the settings form the other router on it.)
      5. Now add the RT-AC86U as a node.

      That should fix it. Good luck!

  2. Dong, thank you so much! That makes perfect sense now. However I have a cat5e connection for a wired backhaul. I have a Netgear R7800 X4S and an EX8000 and I am fed up with their firmware, lack of support and the connectivity issues I am having and want a real mesh system. But I want it to be very configurable so I think AiMesh is ideal for me. I have 1Gb internet service, but most of my devices that need fast speed are wired (with the exception of one laptop). Do you think a pair of RT-AC86U or RT-AC88U would be a good fit? Both are 4×4 5Ghz and 3×3 or better on 2.4GHz. Or do you think with 1Gb service I should drop the major $$$ for a pair of AX routers?

  3. I’m confused, why wouldn’t he want the AX92U. It is a tri-band WiFi 6 router. Does it not support wired backhaul or have some other issues?

    Also, why is the RT-AX92U shown in the Wi-Fi 5 performance chart?  The Wi-Fi 6 chart has the RT-AX92U (Wi-Fi 5 Client), but doesn’t show it with a Wi-Fi 6 client.  It makes me think that maybe the RT-AX92U listing is in the wrong chart.  Thanks.  

  4. I had a closer look. I’m super green with PoE so I really need to do my own research. The questions are indeed answered and the MacOS question is moot given that it’s browser based interface. Thank again for the input!

  5. Thanks for the prompt feedback! I got it set up last night and it seems to be working and covering the house well. The AC5300 is a couple years old so that is sunk cost. I could return the AX11000, but I’m eager to be ready for WiFi 6. Plan at this point is to eventually replace the AC5300 with a more feature limited WiFi 6 tri-band router once they come down in price.

    Additional question about the Asus setup. Do you see any reason other than development cost for Asus not to offer the 2nd 5 GHz network as part of the mesh to users employing a wired backhaul?

    On the TP-Link solution…

    1) I’m not sure if my main switch supports PoE. I’d have to do some research. It’s a Netgear ProSafe Plus 24-port switch through which all of the ethernet ports in the house are run.

    2) I run MacOS exclusively in the house. Does the TP-Link solution you suggested support MacOS for the setup?

    Thanks!
    -Pat

    1. Read the review again, Pat.

      1. The TP-Link APs each comes with a PoE injector, meaning you don’t need a PoE switch to use them. Again, I mentioned this in the review.
      2. Honestly, only Apple can answer this question. I don’t recommend Apple stuff. But chances are it will work, just like any other solution.

  6. Hello Dong

    Great arcticle which has helped me alot, I am using a AC5300 as my main router and have CT8 as my nodes in a star pattern.
    1. one of my nodes keeps dropping to 2.4ghz uplink type on a daily basis, how can i resolve this and i get regular 1 – 2 min disconnects.
    2. I have not reset the AC5300 when setting up the mesh, would you advise i do this and redo the system for more stability?
    3. Should i use the AC5300 as my main router or the CT8
    4. I dont have dedicated wireless backhaul enabled as the 5.2ghz signal seems to be stronger with faster speeds, would you advise i dedicate this anyway?

    Thanks
    Asif

    1. 1. See 2.
      2. Yes, reset and set up from scratch.
      3. Either way is fine.
      4. You need to leave this band alone in a wireless setup. Keep it as dedicated backhaul the way the system wants it to be.

  7. Thanks so much for the quick reply Dong.
    I have it setup as an extender, but I was wondering if it can be setup as a mesh. Netgear describes the EX7500 as a “ Tri-Band WiFi Mesh Extender”… is there a special “Mesh” setup.

    And More broadly, does the mesh system work with devices from different manufacturers? Or do you need devices only of same brand?
    Thanks,

    1. That was just a marketing tactic. There’s no specific setup called “mesh” on that one.

      Generally, you only achieve a real mesh system using hardware of the same vendor. There’s been talk about a new standard called EasyMesh but it hasn’t really come to fruition yet. Vendors don’t seem interested.

  8. This is fantastic information. I got a new GT-AX11000 to replace my RT-AC5300. I was hoping that would improve coverage across the house, but the quality of connection further away (upstairs) from the AX-11000 actually seems to have degraded.

    I’d like to use the AI Mesh feature for better coverage upstairs and am considering moving the AC5300 up there to do this.

    Here’s the issue. I have an Untangled u50 box that I use as my router as I really like the parental controls. I’d like to continue using this as my router and use both Asus products as access points.

    Any issues with this setup?

    Main Floor (and most clients): AX11000 in Access Point(AP) mode / AiMesh Router in AP mode
    Upstairs (fewer clients): AC5300 as an AiMesh node

  9. Hi Dong,
    We’re renovating a 4-floor house with thick concrete walls and floors. We have run ethernet cables throughout the house, and included ports in the center hallway on each floor for a mesh setup with wired backhaul. My problem is that the internet comes into a corner of the basement, which is where all the network cables terminate, and I think that means I will need 5 routers (1 main in the basement corner, and 4 in each floor hallway) because the network cables are not linked directly between the 4 node points, but I don’t need the additional router.
    1) Is there a non-wifi router that can link with wifi routers and act as the main?
    2) Would it make sense to run an additional cable between the basement node point and the basement corner? That way I could connect the modem to the main router in the hallway, and then the second cable (from the main router back to the corner) to the other three routers via a switch.
    Once I figure out the topography, then I can sort out what equipment to install, although I’m leaning towards Asus based on your articles.

    Thank you for the help, and for providing so much good information!

    Randy

    1. Hi Randy,

      Most home routers are Wi-Fi-enabled these days. You can always turn the Wi-Fi part off. But for your situation, I’d recommend getting a full-feature routes, like one from Asus, and a few access points like the ones in this review.

      The other question is too specific for me to answer. I’m not there, but for more, you can check out this post.

      Good luck! 🙂

  10. Hi Dong, congrats for your fantastic website, a well of knowledge.
    Question: is it possible to setup Asus aimesh (RT-AC88U) to work with other mesh devices (eg, Netgear EX7500)?
    Thanks,
    Pato

  11. Hello ! Thank you for your continuous insight to the Asus router mesh system. My brother being a network admin isn’t a fan due to their lack of support of https parental controls and domain blocking. However I found that if you look hard enough you can find solutions to minor inconveniences everywhere ( I am using OpenDNS for that unless there is a better suggestion?). I have been an Asus router user and fan since 2011 (N66R/U) and have never come across anyone who gives so much info about the products I already own and have tinkered with for many hours throughout my days. I run the two tri band routers in my small home connected through ethernet. AX11000 and RT5300. I was using Merlin’s for awhile before I opted to utilize mesh and wanted to keep it simple stupid. Open DNS hasn’t given me any issues but I also disabled Trend Micro security just in case not wanting a tug of war issue. I am glad you covered the Asus router app and how it is better capable of updating AiMesh firmware. The low star ratings scared me away for a long time but you convinced me otherwise. I was scratching my head every time I would try to update the node through the web GUI on my desktop and eventually gave up. Then I ran across this page. I need to follow your work on all the platforms I am very impressed with your in depth trial and errors that you share with us the readers ! I am now following you on any platform I can find you on LOL. THANK YOU !!!

    1. Thanks, Joe. Glad you’re here. I agree with your brother. But at the same time I think the ineffective Parental Control is a small sacrifice. Asus routers offer a lot of it’s quite understandable that they can’t deliver on all fronts. But if you have time and are willing to work at what you need, you’ll note that they are far superior to others (while far from perfect, too.) Networking is a complicated thing.

  12. I am getting 500Mbps near my single router and around 150Mbps in my bedroom. If I add an AiMesh node in my bedroom, can I expect better than 150Mbps speed after adding one?

  13. Hi Dong, good article there and I definitely learnt a lot on AiMesh.

    I am now looking at setting up AiMesh for my place and I was hoping you could comment on my setup plan.

    I currently have a RT-AC88U (great device for the past 4 years) and is looking at getting a new Asus GT-AX11000 (as part of the plan for my broadband).

    I was wondering if I used the AX11000 as the primary router while connecting to AC88U via wired backhaul, would it be a feasible setup?

    I am thinking of getting AX11000 mainly to use the wifi 6 feature to maximise the speed of my mobile devices and since I have an old AC88U, I was thinking why not use it as a mesh device to increase my WiFi speed in my living room.

    Looking forward to your hearing your opinions on this.

    Cheers!

  14. Hi
    Can u please elaborate more when u said
    Certain routers combos can be buggy On the Asus WiFi mesh . Do u mean software or hardware ??
    I bought the combo and at first everything was perfect after two firmware upgrades problems started. The base and the mesh nose are connected to internet but the devices connected to mesh cannot access internet.
    After raising a tech support ticket , Asus suggested sending the equipment for evaluation. I send them the logs ….
    I appreciate more input from what you heard or tested when you said Certain routers combos can be buggy…
    Thank you very much

    1. What I meant was that certain routers don’t work well together, especially in a wireless setup, Moe. And generally, that’s always software issue.

  15. Hello Dong,

    Thank you for your website. I’ve read all your posts about Aimesh but I can’t decide what I should buy to enhance my network. I live in a quite big old house with thick walls. For the moment I use :
    – 1 RT-AC88U as main router on the ground floor,
    – 1 Netgear wifi repeater on the 1st floor,
    – 1 Devolo Magic2 (PLC) dedicated for the garden and for another small annex building.

    Unfortunately today I have 3 different wifi networks and can’t walk around the house without being disconnected all the time. That’s why I was thinking of adding some more Asus hardware and create a strong Aimesh network.

    I will use Ethernet wired backhaul within the house : 4 cables go from the RT-AC88U to 4 rooms. But in the annex building I must use wireless mesh because I can’t pull a cable there.
    So here are my questions 🙂

    1. Should I keep the RT-AC88U as main router or is it worth enhancing to wifi6 with RT-AX88U ? I don’t have any Wifi6 material yet but my next smartphone will be wifi6 certified for sure.

    2. I want to add 2 remote nodes (wired). Is the RT-AX92U ok for that ? I can buy it at the moment at a good price in Germany ($160 for one unit). Or is there a better option than the RT-AX92U ? I’d like to avoid compatibility issues and I know you’ve tested many Asus models.

    3. For the 2nd building and the garden I need a last node. This one should be linked wirelessly to the previous one (RT-AX92U or something else you advised me). In this building when I check with my phone I don’t get a better connection than 175 Mbits donwload link in wifi 5GhZ. Is that enough to add a new node, or should I stick with my PLC Devolo ? (the Magic2 synchronises up to 450 Mbtis but I won’t have mesh and still2 different ssid)

    Thank you again
    Greetings from France

    1. Salut, Sebastien!

      Generally, extenders are no good. But in your situation, you can configure it to have the same Wi-Fi name and password as that of the router. That will help a bit. Also it might have Access Point mode, in that case connect it to the router using a network cable. That will help a lot. More on extenders vs. APs here.

      1. It will make much of a difference, if at all if you get the RT-AX88U. But it doesn’t hurt to do so.
      2. Since you have wired backhaul, there’s no need to get a tri-band router. So a few dual-band routers will do. And the RT-AX92U (as well as the Lyra, not the Lyra Trio) is among the least stable AiMesh I’ve seen. You can make it work but it might take quite a bit of tweaking.
      3. I’d stick with PLA until I can run a network cable.
      3.

  16. Hi Dong. Awesome articles. Very insightful. Here’s a question for you. I have a 3 story home. 4000+ sq feet. Google fiber in the house. The google WiFi is shut off and i use a ASUS RT-AC68U as my main WiFi router. The router is on the main floor in the middle of the house. The house is also wired. I have a wired connection from the ASUS router that runs to the basement panel where i have a netgear gigabit switch that handles all the wired connections. WiFi throughout the house is acceptable. We just got an outdoor projector that we stream movies on with a fire stick and the coverage gets a little spotty when I’m out on the patio or in the driveway. So I have been thinking about a mesh setup. Newegg has a refurbished Lyra 3 pack for $170. Seems like a good deal. Here are my questions.

    1. I have read that I can set up the Lyra as nodes to my main RT-AC68U. If I do this do I have to place a Lyra next to the AC68U and leave it wired or can I just place it elsewhere in the house once the mesh is established and it’s connected as a node?

    2. Since my house is wired I feel I should use Ethernet backhaul. Here’s my concern. The places i would put the nodes already have other devices plugged in to the Ethernet. In one case a Mac and in the other case an Xbox. If I connect the node to the Ethernet and connect the device to the node via Ethernet do i still get wired speeds?

    3. Assuming that I have no issue with the Ethernet connections does it matter where I locate the nodes? Do they still have to be 30 feet or so from the main hub or the closest nodes or can I locate them anywhere?

    Those are my questions. I appreciate your insight and opinion if you think this is a good solution!

    1. Thanks, Mike.

      1. No, you can get away with connecting the node’s WAN port to the router. Make sure all routers using the latest firmware though.
      2. Yes.
      3. No. You can place them however you want, you can also daisy-chain them. More on that here.

  17. Got it. Thank you again. It seems that from reading and looking at videos. The ASUS Roaming Assistant signal or adjusting power levels could be critical to a client connecting with the ‘best’ access point or router.

    1. Sure, Mike. Yes, that’s the most tricky part, but I’d say if the speed is OK at the time, don’t get too hung up on to which hardware a client connects.

  18. Is it okay to purchase and use some older ac routers as remote access points? NetGear AC1750 and/or TP_Link AC1200 as AP to the central AC86U?

  19. Thank you for this. I’ve got a setup where I just added the XT8’s and was thinking of adding the ax11000 as the main with those as the satellites. My basement is wired and my upstairs is not, so Tri-Band is important. I will probably test this still because I’m a glutton.

  20. i have 2 x AC68U (wifi5)which i connect via Aimesh wired backhaul. The wifi speed from my node is as good as the speed when i measure next to the main router (about 200Mbps up down on 5Ghz signal)

    If i upgrade my router to AX58U (wifi6) and reuse my AC68U (wifi5) as node using the same wired Aimesh setup, would the node’s speed be faster becos of the better main router? Or it would fall down to wifi speed which is around 200Mbps?

  21. Hi Dong, do you know if I setup AiMesh without an ethernet backhaul whether I can use the switch ports on the satellite device to connect hard-wired,non-WiFi devices?

  22. Also, is it better to invest in the future and purchase a main like AX-88U? However, I don’t need the speed. I have a single highspeed provider and uplifts on service are expensive. I have seen the ac86u is excellent for broadcast power and VPN. Two things important to me. You have set me on a good track. I apologize for the other main post instead of threaded.

  23. Thank you Dong! I should not have said ‘I have the money’. My wife approves tech but she knows that I care and will splurge for the right stuff at that knee of the tech $$ curve. Amazing the TP-Link AP is about $58 each where I live. Interesting your lean towards AP instead of AiMesh. Do the AP use a different SSID? How will a client device know when to choose AP 2.4 or 5 or switch to the main router 2.4 or 5 if same SSID name? I thought AiMesh was great for small networks and handles that so well. I suppose I could get a few used RT-AC66U B1 and use as access points — that may be money thrown away. $138 each may be overkill for the ac68u. I have a primary area downstairs. Would it be best to have ac86u upstairs main area coverage, aimesh ac68u in downstairs main area, and then use two TP links in bedroom and small in law area. I’ve been using N66U for 7 years with merlin and it has been solid. Though only 40Mb down on usually 2.4G in the bedrooms and nearby outside. I suppose I need to study more on how AP handoff and setup should be. I am very techie and have setup repeaters and AP in the past but only for temporary use. I have not studied using same SSID or separate for things. Peace.

  24. Hello Dong, What a fabulous article and your kind replies. You may have answered this and I have already read significantly. I have a 2 floor house with significant in floor duct work etc between the two main floors. 2200 sq feet on each floor with garage. I have an older RT-N66U router that it is time to upgrade.

    I was thinking an RT-AC86U on the main floor in my office, and then on the other end, I need a remote node near the bedrooms, and and one downstairs. What is best performance for the money in the remote nodes? We have an inlaw quarters downstairs.

    Using Comcast at 300Mbps down and 10 up.

    I was thinking ac86u as main router, and then perhaps 2 ac68U (bedrooms and downstairs), and perhaps making the N66U an access point in our in law quarters.

    Any commentary or recommendations? I have money but I really like to be price performance conscious. If there is a better central router I should splurge for and cheaper remotes that is fine.

    I have a wired house from when I built it. I could do all the backhauls via ethernet.

    Thank you kindly for any responses.

    1. Since your place seems very large and lots of thick walls, Mike, wired backhaul is a must. That said if you want a reliable affordable setup, I’d recommend getting the RT-AC86U as the main router and two TP-Link access points (you can skip the controller). You’ll need to program the APs separately but the setup will work very well.

      Or you can also use other AiMesh routers as nodes, but that’s a lot more expensive.

  25. Hello,

    I recently purchased an Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 for my Gaming/Wifi needs. I quickly discovered the need for AiMesh. Which router would you recommend I pair up with the AX11000? If possible, I would like to add another tri band router. Thank you!

  26. Hi Dong. For about a year now I’ve had a pair of RT-AC86Us set up in an aiMesh network. Generally, I find it works very well, but there are the occasional issues. Every couple of weeks or so, I find that devices are connecting to the wrong router/node and not handing over as they should. I have discovered that the way to solve this, is to go into the web interface and change the dBm setting in the Smart Connect rule. For example, mine is normally set at -58dBm, so I change it to -59dBm, for both the 2.4 and 5 networks, save the changes and all works well again. Well, it does for a week or two, until I have to go and change it back to -58dBm for it to work properly again!
    If I were to take the plunge and upgrade to a pair of ZenWiFi AX XT8s instead, do you think it’s likely that they will just work properly all the time, or am I likely to still have to faff about every now and again to get the things to work as they should?
    Thanks…

    1. A quick answer is no, Gordon. What you’re experiencing is just the nature of Wi-Fi so there’s no guarantee that a more expensive set will work better in this regard. It might or might not. Generally, if the speed is fast enough for the application at hand, don’t worry too much about what unit the client connects to.

  27. Hello Dong, stumbled upon your website while searching for solutions to my issue of not being able to connect node to AiMesh. Have learned a lot in the last 45 minutes. We just purchased the Asus AC3000 Zenwifi pair to improve coverage in our 3 story home. Wifi connections have been cutting out on video conferences in my office on 3rd floor so looking to get more stability. The zenwifi pair synced fine. Old setup was Asus RT-AC66U B1 router with Netgear extender located in office. Looking to use the AC66u as a node but zenwifi can not find AC66U node. I have upgraded firmware to 385….., reset settings to factory default, and selected the operational mode on the AC66U as node. Any thoughts on what I may have overlooked? We upgraded to Gig internet service and our ISP provided a panoramic modem/router. We have no use for the router piece of the ISP provided hardware, but do not think we can deactivate it. Could the ISP router be creating noise/conflicts that is causing the network to drop? Appreciate any insight you can provide. Thank you!

    1. Glad you’re here, Lynn.

      You should read this post, it applies to your situation.

      About the RT-AC66U:

      1. Upgrade the RT-AC66U to the latest firmware (download it from Asus’s website and perform manual upgrade).
      2. Reset it to default factory settings.
      3. Use a network cable to connect its WAN port to a LAN port of the ZenWiFi router unit. Now perform the AiMesh setup. That should work. After that, you can remove the cable and place the RT-AC66U where you want.

  28. Hello Jay, Did you ever buy your 68u? I have one for sale, almost new if interested. Its currenty connected to my 86u and works with wired or wireless aimesh backhaul without issue. I just determined my place isnt really big enough to warrant a second router

  29. One other question – Now that I have one of my three ASUS RT-AX92U units in wireless router mode, is there a way I can set the IP addresses of the two mesh nodes?

  30. Optimum Online came today and claims to have put their router (UBEE) into bridge mode. However, it is still working in double NAT despite their claims. Any idea how I communictae this to the ISP. Their internal information maitains the router is set to bridge, but here is the tracerouet to 8.8.8,8 and it is clearly doing a two local hop thing:

    1 rt-ax92u-11a0 (192.168.1.1) 1.954 ms 1.592 ms 1.643 ms
    2 docsis-gateway (192.168.10.1) 3.410 ms 3.532 ms 2.892 ms.

    1. Tell your ISP to make their UBEE router work like a modem so that your router gets the WAN IP directly, Perry. But you can log into that gateway using the 192.168.10.1 IP address and change it yourself. I believe it’s the Gateway -> WAN -> Operating mode section. (Note: I edited out your WAN IP address in your question. Don’t give that out too easily!)

  31. Hi, first of all have to say this is a great website. Many thanks for that!
    Now, to my questions:

    1. I have presently configured RT-AC88U as main router with two CT8 as AI mesh nodes. Would it be more advisable to take CT8 as main and RT-AC88U and the second CT8 as nodes? Would that be better for configuring AI mesh?

    2. one of the CT8 (at home office) nodes sometimes changes from connection to main RT-AC88U to the other (closer) CT8. When that happens, video conferencing (Teams, Windows 10) becomes instable at the home office location and drops frequently.

    3. I do have an old RT-AC68U as spare and am not using it as I believe it would drag down performance of the rest of the system. Is that a correct assumption?

    Many thanks!

    1. Glad you’re here, Marc.

      1. No, the current setup is fine.
      2. Yes, that’s to be expected. You need to place them in a way so that they use the star topology. That’s a must if you want to reduce lag.
      3. No, it won’t drag the system down. At most, devices connecting to it will have slower speeds than when connecting to there nodes.

  32. I posted a question earlier but have since answered my own question, so thought to share it. I have the asus ax11000 as my main router and pair of asus xt8 nodes, set up using AiMesh. I can confirm the first 5ghz channel on the ax11000 is restricted to 80mhz when paired with the xt8’s (I was hoping the router would broadcast 160mhz with the nodes at 80mhz but that is not possible). Also the nodes join individually, not as a pair.

    As for gaming, having the ax11000 as the main router actually makes this worse if you have an Xbox. With the xt8 as the main router the Xbox has an open NAT. When you set up the ax11000 as the main router the NAT becomes strict (when wired, open when wireless) on the Xbox. I’ve tried various trouble shooting but it remains strict when on a wired connection.

    In my limited experience I would only recommend AiMesh if all your routers and nodes are the same make and model. If you mix you will gain some features, lose others and encounter new problems. In conclusion the xt8’s gain the software benefits of the asus ax11000 and the ax11000 loses its hardware advantages over the xt8’s when it is used as the main router.

    1. Thanks for the input, Darren. You’re right. But I’d also say that AiMesh is hit or miss depending on the combos. If you use wired backhaul, it tends to work much better when you mix different routers. Speaking from experience. 🙂

  33. If I use the ZenWiFi AX (XT8) to create a mesh WiFi in my house, can I hang a guest network off of one of base unit’s Ethernet ports? An older, pre-AImesh, unit, RT-AC87R, will be at the other end of the Ethernet cable.

  34. Similar question. I have gt-ax11000 with a wired main house. I have an unwired cottage. I want to plug one router into the wired part of the house closest to the cottage for a wired backhaul. Then a second router purely acting as a mesh in the cottage using the 5 ghz backhaul. This should give me max speed to the cottage which is only 10-15 feet away but through two concrete walls.

    Should I get ZenWifi AX for tri0band or go with two cheaper dual band?

    1. Since you already have the GT-AX11000, the ZenWiFi AX makes more sense, Einar. Using tri-band routers in a wired home is a bit of a waste (it doesn’t hurt), you do have the option of creating a separate 5GHz band exclusively for Wi-Fi 6 clients, however, which is nice. And yes, you can mix wired and wireless nodes together in a system.

  35. Really great content. I’ve been looking for the information on AiMesh and came across your website. This is definitely the best one. Thank you so much.

  36. Okay… wanted to give the setup several days to be sure, but bottom line (at least for my setup),
    Merlin version 384.17 works perfectly using AiMesh…

    I had no issues upgrading both my ASUS RT-AC5300 and RT-AC1750-B1 to Merlin’s latest firmware. To upgrade the 1750, you have to use the Merlin version for the AC68U.

    I now have “unbelievable” bandwidth in nearly every corner of my home, way way better than before with only the RT-AC5300.

    When I say unbelievable, you have to understand my situation.

    I live on a mountaintop in the middle of the Pike’s National Forest in Teller County, Colorado (on the outskirts of Woodland Park). Because our neighborhood is on a granite mountain outside of any incorporated area other than a large rural county, there is no cable or fiber anything that comes to our neighborhood. We barely have decent phone service and the fastest phone (I assume copper) to our neighborhood is around 25Mbps! My house has no landline to the property at all, so the only internet options are Satellite (can’t wait for the Musk interweb universe!) or microwave / LTE antenna service!

    Bottom line is that my local county ISP’s best speed offered over antenna is “up-to” 75Mbps, which, of course, I feel lucky to get even 50Mbps out of that considering the mountain terrain and massive pine trees everywhere around my antenna.

    SO, with my RT-AC5300 connected to very slow internet which also has a lot of built in latency thanks to microwave antennas, I have my office on one end of my house and my AC5300 on the other end. Long story, but this is an older house, and not built with the Internet in mind. Running CAT-5/6/anything else highly unlikely…

    In my office, I was getting anywhere from 1 Mbps to occasionally 8 or 9 Mbps. Whereas at the router, I could get a fairly solid 25 to 30Mbps and rarely up to 50.

    Now that I have set up the AiMesh with the RT-AC1750-B1 in my office, I am now getting around 30+Mbps in my office, and I am not even sure why since I do not have Ethernet backhaul and the 1750 is only dual band… I have multiple devices in my office such as a Dell XPS laptop running Win10, a Raspberry Pi 4B, and a Roku… all telling me I’m getting 30-35Mbps download speeds using the ISP’s speedtest, Speedtest.Net, speedtest-cli on my Pi, etc.

    Finally, if you read Merlin’s detailed notes on AiMesh, he explains that he uses the stock ASUS AiMesh, since it is proprietary binary and ASUS does not share the code. For those who use Merlin’s firmware, there are a lot of reasons why and they are listed on Merlin’s site. It is the same as the ASUS firmware with quite a few additional tweaking options, and he tends to keep the internal software like Nano editor, OpenVPN, and several other things more up-to-date than that in the stock ASUS firmware. He has also greatly enhanced options available for running OpenVPN on the router in either Server or Client mode. I moved to Merlin when I decided to run VPN to NordVPN on the router and wanted to tailor my network routing to go around the VPN for certain things. I’ve been running Merlin for years now and have not had any issues on the AC5300.

  37. Hi, I’m contemplating using a asus ax11000 as my main router with a pair of asus xt8’s as nodes. I have a few questions which I haven’t been able to find the answers to. If the ax11000 is broadcasting both 5ghz bands at 160mhz then how will the xt8 respond to that, as the 1st 5ghz band can only go up to 80ghz?

    Also will the xt8’s join AiMesh as a pair or do they need connecting one at a time?

    Thanks.

  38. Hi! I just recently got ATT fiber 1000 in my 2k sq ft home. I am torn in between getting a mesh zen wifiax or a single gt-ax11000. I have a mac desktop without access to a wired network that is around 25ft away from the router. Which would deliver a faster speed for my mac- zenwifi ax node where connected via ethernet on the mac or wireless signal from the gt-ax11000?
    Thank you for all the info you provide us.

    1. I don’t know what your Mac is Russel, but at that distance, the GT-AX11000 sure will deliver faster speeds. Basically, if you have used a single router/gateway before and that worked, the GT-AX11000 will suffice. But if your previous single router didn’t deliver enough coverage (I’m not talking about speed) then you might need a mesh. In that case, consider the ZenWiFi if you intend to have a wireless mesh. If you have wire backhaul, then get the GT (or the RT-AX89X or RT-AX88U) and another dual-band AiMesh router.

  39. I have asus RT-AC3200 router, If I buy a new router which supports AI mesh, will I be able to use the AI mesh with my old router RT-AC3200 or I have to buy two routers which support AI-Mesh

    1. All routers involved need to support AiMesh, Ravi. The RT-AC3200 is one of a few that don’t. But you can use it in an AP mode if you have wired backhaul to archive a similar effect in Wi-Fi coverage.

  40. Two questions: (1) Can you comment on the advantage of conneting 3 units with “mesh” as opposed to making 3 AP’s? and (2) assuming I can deal with the port forwarding, what do I lose by using double NAT? Does it affect network speed?

  41. I hate to use double NAT because I will lose the ability to port forward and access my system from other locations. If I make each RT-AX92 an indpendent AP, don’t I lose the “Mesh” functionality? If I call each wireless network by the same name, how does the handoff work from AP to AP? When I have tried this in the past, my wofe has connected o the weaker AP and gotten angry.

    1. You’re in a pickle, Perry. I think you should use double NAT but set up the port forwarding twice for any server applications. For the router interface remote access, you can forward the remote management port form the gateway to the IP of the router. It’s a bit of work but that works.

  42. Hi: I have three RT-AX92 units. I have used them for 2 weeks now with minimal issue. The base usnit is a mesh AP and the other two are mesh nodes. My provider, Optimum Online, provides their own router that I could not bypass so it does DHCP. I have a wired backbone for all the units, and they are set in auto mode. Yesterday, one of the Rt-AX92 units acted up. First my speedtest result went from consistent 900 readings down to 600. Then it gave a weird error message about a filter and speed went to 10 ish. After that, it stopped working entorely. I could get the computer to work perfectly if I took the wired connection off the RT-AX92 and attach to PC, but the AX92 was stuck connecting wirelessly and did not maintain good connetion at 5gHz to the mesh AP node (and woudl get slow). I finally have the third unit working in AP mode – so off the mesh with the other two AX92’s functioning as its own network, wired. Any attempt I make to make this a node brings down this part of the network. I have no idea what happened or how to fix. Ideas?

  43. I’ll be finding out today. I’ve been running Merlin firmware on my RT-AC5300 for at least three years now and it works excellent. But I stopped upgrading when he moved to his new-generation firmware a while back. So I’ve been stuck at release 380.xx for almost two years.
    Today, I am upgrading to the new gen firmware (384.17 was released last night just after I posted my comment above!), and I’m implementing AiMesh (hopefully!)
    I have an RT-AC1750 B1 that’s been gathering dust in a closet for a while. My understanding is this is just a souped up 66U/68U. So I’m upgrading both routers to the latest Merlin and setting the 1750 as an AiMesh node in an upstairs bedroom where I do a lot of tinkering with various models of Raspberry Pi with not so good bandwidth coming from my AC5300 in the kitchen downstairs and on the other end of the house. I’ll let you know how it goes for me after I’ve used AiMesh for a while on Merlin.
    Personally, I have always found Merlin’s firmware to be better than the stock ASUS firmware because he fixes known (and unknown) bugs in the ASUS version and also keeps the Linux internals at a newer level of software (like OpenVPN for example). Not sure if you knew that ASUS takes updates from Merlin and vice versa.

  44. Dong,
    Thank you for the fast reply and suggestions. Is there any from Netgear that you would recommend that may suit my needs better? Going to start pricing these and see whats available near me.

    Thanks again,
    Brett

  45. Hi Dong,
    I hope you can give me some advice as i am a novice to all of this and reading and reading but having trouble deciding on what to do. I currently have a Asus RT-AC1900P and am looking to add another router. Unfortunately it will be hard to run any Ethernet cables at all ” without a lot of work ” so strictly WiFi.
    We run 2 PS4’s ( 1 downstairs and 1 up ), multiple PC’s ( 2 gaming ), and a handful of wireless devices. Most of the time 2 gaming systems at the same time.

    Would you recommend dual or tri band and maybe a recommendation of what router along with the best way to mesh my RT-AC1900P. I am looking for the best performance i can get whether a stand alone or mesh setup.

    Thank you,
    Brett

  46. Hi Dong,

    Wow thanks for the great review!

    I am currently using 3 Asus ROG GT-AX11000 in Aimesh mode with CAT7 Ethernet as the backhaul and they’re connected to a central Gigabit switch.

    I live in a rather large 3 storey house and I have the routers placed in the center of the house in every storey. I am happy to report that it has been working very well so far and I’ve yet to discover any dead spot in the house.

    Lately, I’ve upgraded the switch to a multi gigabit as I want to take advantage of the 2.5G port of the router and I recently have a NAS installed so with 2.5G connectivity I can benefit from faster speed transfers from my other wired devices who is also running on multi gigabit connection.

    Now, as for the other 2 nodes of the AX11000 where I am using the wired backhaul, in Aimesh mode it has to be plugged into the dedicated WAN port for it to work. I’ve tried plugging it in to the 2.5G port and it doesn’t work. When I do so, the nodes immediately uses the wireless as the backhaul.

    It is unfortunate the location where I placed the router I only had 1 physical cable pulled to it, hence I cant take advantage of the 2.5G port on the rest of the nodes. And it makes no financial sense for me to just install a 4 port multi gigabit switch at the location of the nodes router so that I could plug another cable to the 2.5G port.

    I am wondering if I plug the LAN cable to the 2.5G port on my 2 nodes, and have the nodes uses wireless backhaul for Aimesh, would the nodes then instead use the 2.5G connection for transfer rather than the wireless backhaul instead?

    I’ve yet to try this and I intend to do so, but if you’ve had any experience in this I’d be happy if you could share!

  47. Dong, would you say the Asus firmware has advanced to a point where you would recommend using it over 3rd Party firmware like FreshTomato? If I understand correctly there are now features of these routers, such as AiMesh you’ve described here, that are only available if you use the stock Asus firmware. Is that correct? Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    1. As a single router, you can use whatever firmware you’d like, Mike. But for AiMesh to work you must use stock firmware. And I’d say Asus’s firmware is among the most advanced in home routers.

  48. Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, I’ll have the GT-AC5300 as my base router and I’m deciding between another GT-AC5300 or an RT-AC5300 for the mesh node. It definitely won’t be a wired backhaul but I will be plugging an xbox one-x into the node unit.

  49. Thanks for this fantastic and informative article! I just got a GT-AC5300 and I’m planning on using that as my primary router but I’m not sure what I should get to be the remote node. I obviously want good coverage and speed but I definitely want to make sure the ‘smart WiFi’ feature works so I don’t have to broadcast separate 2.4 & 5 GHz channels. I currently have an AC68U but that doesn’t seem to support that feature. I’m deciding between the RT-AC5300 or another GT model. Is there any performance disadvantage of going with the AC vs the GT?

    Thank you!

    1. You just need a tri-band router. I think you mean the difference between RT and GT. GT is a model for gamers, and it’s only applies to the router unit. As a node that makes no difference. What does is tri-band if you use a wireless setup – so the RT-AC5300 is a good choice. If you use wired backhaul, a dual band router, like RT-AC86U, will work, too.

  50. I’ve just installed my Asus ZenWifi AX, works great so far. But, whatever I do, the connection between main router and node is a single green line: 5GHz-2 uplink. It does NOT use the ethernet link, also not with the short supplied wire.
    I’ve tried three different cables.
    I’ve tried connection-priority ethernet in the settings.
    No luck.

    What can I do to fix this?

  51. Jojo
    No I didnt – only thing is working fine is wired connection – I connected UTP cat. 5E both routers and now in every place at home I am getting max speed possible. If you can wire 2 routers – do it will see much different.

  52. Done – Excellent article and I learn a lot.
    I’m currently using AC88U as my primary router and AC68U as node. Recently, I signed up with a new network provider and the deal come with a new AX92U (2 packs). Should I change my primary router to AX92U or remain using AC88U as router? I will use other routers (AC88U, AC68U and the second AX92U) as nodes if I change my main router to AX92U. Are these routers compatible with each other (wifi5 & wifi6)? All nodes will be connected through Cat 6 cable. Thanks. Andy

    1. Yes, Andy. Since you have wired backhaul, it will work well. If you use the 92u as the main router, make sure you manually change its 5GHz-2 band to a new SSID for Wi-Fi 6 only clients. That band likely won’t work well with Wi-Fi 5 clients as you will notice.

  53. Dong – looks like you are expert of aimesh
    May I ask why after making aimesh network – my speed went down so bad? One touter asus AC88 will get almost max. 250MB/s, when I connected in mesh Asus AC-1900U, I am getting only 90-100Mb/s. Is it normal in any cases?
    Thank you for your response in advance

  54. Hi Dong,

    Many thanks for your article – incredibly helpful. I followed your guide with my 2 x RT-AC68Us configured for AiMesh. The firmware is current on both as of 12th April 2020 (3.0.0.4.385_20253). Backhaul is via Ethernet. On the AiMesh node I see clients attaching (roughly 30-35 out of the 96 or so clients). Then after 30 seconds or so the clients as reported in the primary router’s web interface (and the Asus mobile app) go to zero on the node and on then on the primary. After another 30 seconds or so the client nos. start to build again on both the primary and the node before again dropping instantly to zero. This cycle repeats endlessly. Connectivity on the network is disrupted so I believe the disconnections being reported are real. If I disable the AiMesh, connectivity to the primary is fine and clients remain connected. Any observations you might have on the problem would be gratefully received.

    You can find a video of the issue here – https://photos.app.goo.gl/fW9z6yy2TxtQFyjE6

  55. THANK YOU & THANK YOU again!! I’ve read it now I’ve set aside the next 5 hours to attempt it. Took almost a whole hour to get a response? I can’t answer the front door that fast. You are my…Geek God; I hope that’s PC.

    1. You’re welcome, David. 🙂 I actually just updated the post with a few extra screenshots to make it easier for you. You might want to refresh the page (Shift + F5). Have fun!

  56. Hi, I’m a “techtard”. I received an ASUS RT-AC 5300 for Christmas and managed to get it working! Almost as difficult as rebuild my transmission on my Chevelle in 1967. Well my grandson thought I needed more so he bought me a GT-AX1000. I’ve read everything you’ve written but how do I “add” this via AImesh? I guess my biggest concern is do I have to go through setting up the new 1100 as “main new” then add the 5300 as a node. Or is there a way to copy ALL my work from the 5300 to the 1100? Kind a like plug n play?
    Thank you for everything even if you don’t answer this question…you are outstanding!

    1. My hats off to you, sir. I tried rotating my MDX’s tires at home once and it took me most almost two hours, half of which spending on figuring out how to open the nut locks without understanding the idea of a nut knock.

      That said, the answer to your question is yes. You can add the GT-AX11000 (it’s an awesome router) to the GT-AC5300. I wrote the instruction in the 2nd “How to set up an AiMesh Wi-Fi system” part of the post. I used some different routers in the example, but all AiMesh routers (both of yours are) share the same process. For your case, you can start from step #3 and add the GT-AX11000 as a new “node” of your system.

  57. Dong,
    I ave a AX-88U and a AC-88U and plan to connect into a AIMESH network. My modem is in the basement in a large home. The majority of wireless connections will occur to the node which I will likely place in the main level (kitchen). Is it better to connect the AX-88U to the modem as the higher speced unit, OR place the AX-88u as the node being it will provide the most connections and has WIFI-6

    Thanks

    1. It probably won’t be much of a difference, Matt. What WILL make a big difference is that you use a network cable to connect the two vs. using them wirelessly. If the latter, consider a tri-band set.

  58. Thanks, I got it set up with wired backhaul and it seems to be working pretty good. I also have a netgear AC2200 Wifi Range Extender. Is there any issues with using that in conjunction with the mesh system. I thought of putting it in the garage to round out the house. Not sure if another Asus router is needed, just happen to have the extender.

  59. Dong,

    Excellent article! Hoping you can offer some advice for my setup. I work from home and my cable modem is in my office at the far end of a 2700 square foot home. I have a single cat 6 run to the center of the home. I have placed my new ROG GT-AX11000 in the center of the home. I have 40+ devices connected to my network. The signal in my office is ok for my MacBook (work system), but my gaming system and lights have intermittent connectivity issues. In addition I have issues in my bedroom as the signal is going through a brick wall (fireplace). I’m considering either purchasing a second GT-AX11000 or a 2 pack of the AX6100s.

    Option 1
    Place a GT-AX11000 in my office as the primary router and use the cat 6 for the backhaul to the other GT-AX11000.

    Option 2
    Leave the GT-AX11000 in the center of the home and place an AX6100 upstairs (to add signal) and place the second AX6100 as close to the office as the system will allow. This would use the second 5G wireless as a backhaul.

    Is it possible to connect the modem to the AX6100 (node) in my office and then use the cat 6 run to connect to the GT-AX11000 (primary) then have the second AX6100 connect via WiFi?

    I’m open to any other suggestions. The only purchase at this stage is the initial GT-AX11000 router.

    Thank you,

    Joe

    1. Go with option 1, Joe, but you can use a dual-band router there, so the RT-AX89X or RT-AX88U will do. But you can also use a Wi-Fi 5 router, like the RT-AC86U. But if you want to go with Optoin 2, mixing wiring and wireless in an AiMesh sytem is fine, and you can get just one RT-AX92U for the wireless node, as long as it connect to the GT-AX11000 directly.

  60. Hi Dong,
    A question I can’t seem to get straight with ASUS please: I have a mesh setup using an AC RT-5300 as the anchor and two 1900Ps as nodes. Should I use a single SSID and enable Smart Connect across the mesh… or leave Smart Connect off and assume that because I setup a mesh all will work for the best? It’s confusing to other people in the house to have one SSID per band and half the time they end up on the SSID that I suspect the mesh uses for backhaul (is that the 5G-2 band btw?).
    Thanks!

    1. In your case, Max, the 5GHz-2 band on your anchor router will always be on its own, no mater if you use Smart Connect or not, which you should use. I actually mentioned your situation in the post.

  61. Hey Dong, I just recently started following you’re website and I remember you from CNET. Thank you for the insightful articles, it has been by far the best I have read on networking thus far. I do have a question for you. Mid last year, my 802.11n router died on me and I replaced it with the ASUS AX11000 router which I feel has been somewhat of a mistake. It works really well but I unfortunately have a very long home and this router is located one side of that home…so you can imagine the other side of the home gets little to no reception. Now I wish I purchased the Zen AX but it wasn’t out when I needed a new router. I am curious what your thoughts are on my scenario. Should I try to sell my AX11000 router on ebay and replace with the Zen AX or add on a AiMesh Node. The problem with the AiMesh Node from the articles that I have been reading is that I would need another tri-band AX router so that I can have dedicated back-haul that will support AX which means I am buying another AX11000 and lets face it…its super expensive. That is another 300 dollars which I do not want to spend. Any thoughts on my predicament?

    1. Glad you’re here, Mike. I feel you. Yes, getting another GT is a bit over the top. Using a dual-band AiMesh router will work for your situation, even though it’s not ideal. That said, you can get a used RT-AC86U or AC68U or Blue Cave. You can find quite a selection of them on eBay. But swapping the GT for a 2-pack AX set is a good idea, too.

  62. Hey Dong, great write up. I have one question, I currently have an ax88u and was wondering if I should stay with ax or is ac ok for an aimesh node? I’m between the ax58u and the ac86u. Is there a huge difference between the two when paired with ax88u?

  63. Hi Joe,

    Due to the high cost of the Asus routers, if possible, I would recommend buying one and testing out Asus’ aimesh implementation. A couple of posts down, Dong acknowledged some of the issues I had with iOS devices. Very frustrating (pretty much show stoppers) issues. I went all in with Asus and am past the return period, so experimenting with other mesh implementations is to costly for me.

    I did have some luck with specific settings which seem to have made the system much more usable. I meant to message Dong the changes I made to see if they make sense to him. Nonetheless, I shouldn’t have to spent so much time searching for a solution and then happen to stumble on a forum with someone’s recommendations to get the Asus aimesh to work as one would expect. It should just work out of the box…

  64. Hi Dong – most excellent review, thank you. I currently have xfinity gigabit internet, ARRIS – SURFboard 32 x 8 DOCSIS 3.1 Cable Modem, and an ASUS Rapture GT AX-11000 as my main router. I am thinking of added on some nodes to make a mesh system, bc my smart devices (ring doorbell, arlo cams) occasionally loose signal. My residence is 2200 sq ft, and 4 floors – the main router is on floor 2. So, i would like to add 2 nodes, on floor 1 and 4, to reduce interruptions. I wonder if you could make a recommendation: Should i get another 2 AX-11000’s, or would the ZenWiFi AX 6600 mesh be good enough? i have about 15 smart devices, and other usage is for streaming movies, internet browsing, and virtual conferences/ facetime. I just want something strong and reliable so my devices don’t cut out. Any recommendations on nodes would be greatly appreciated. thank you! joe

    1. You’re welcome Joe. Since you already have a tri-band router, I’d recommend a 2-pack of the ZenWiFi XT8 and use them as nodes. Note, though, that, for now, the XT8 caps at 867 Mbps for Wi-Fi 5 clients in a wireless setup. But that’s more than fast enough because your broadband connection is shared between devices, so it’ll never get to 1Gbps at one individual device anyway. Also, you might want to reset the GT-AX11000 before setting it up as the primary router in an AiMesh with the other two. Alternatively, another two GT-AX11000 will also work, and deliver the best performance, if you can stomach the cost.

  65. Dong,
    I have an RT-AX88U 6000 as my main router. I bought aRT-AX58U as the node. Hooked it up as instructed and worked ok. However, the node keeps disconnecting and re-connecting, disconnecting, etc. I took it back and got a different one. Same thing. I do not have them wired with a ethernet, however when I do that it still does the same thing.

    1. If you noted, Tracy, I haven’t posted a review on the RT-AX58U. That’s to say I don’t have any experience with it. But it is indeed a budget router designed to work more as a single router.
      Here are what you can try:

      1. Make sure both routers have the latest firmware.
      2. Reset the 58U and try to hook it up again.

      If that doesn’t help, maybe you should return it, or contact Asus and give them an earful. 🙂

      -Dong.

  66. Hi Dong, thank you for another great review! I have a quick question: Does Ai-Mesh or any other Mesh WiFi work well in Linear (i.e., daisy-chain) topology? Thanks again.

    1. Sure, Jonathan. Generally, daisy-chain is never good for a wireless mesh system (it’s totally OK if you use wired backhaul, however). But if you use a tri-band system, the daisy-chain setup is more tolerable. In the end, it’s all about the speed you need. If you just want to share a typical Internet connection that’s not faster than 200 Mbps, it doesn’t really matter. If you need a specific recommendation, check out the ZenWiFi.

  67. Dong,
    Holy Moly – I’m starting research on mesh systems, wish to beef up my home system and I ran across your site. wow I am impressed with the in-depth reviews, writings, and tests… I just wanted to give you some kudos that your work is really top notch..

    thanks!

  68. Great write up! I have an aimesh setup at home. My main router is a RT-AC68P, while the other two AI Mesh nodes are RT-AC68U. All three routers are connected via ethernet (ethernet backhaul). I have roaming assistant set to -70. I have a ring door bell 2 (don’t get me started on that) reporting an RSSI of -66, so I’m afraid to lower the roaming assistant to -60 or -65. My main motivation for going the mesh network route is to avoid the constant hiccups/disconnects when walking around the house while Skyping/Facetime, etc.

    I had already setup the aimesh network prior to finding your website. Thankfully my setup matched your advice/recommendations – so no changes necessary.

    My main issue is I still have hiccups/disconnects when using Skype or Facetime. It is especially frustrating on iOS (12 or 13) devices. It is hit or miss. Sometimes the switch occurs without incident (perhaps a very brief pause in video). Most of the time, Skype or Facetime will report “bad connection” and eventually disconnect. A quick look at the iOS network setting reveals that the iPad (in this case) is no longer connected to the network at all! I guess no surprise because the roaming assistant disconnected the iPad. When I manually try to reconnect to the network, it prompts me for a password (that’s odd, it should have saved it). When I type in the password the iPad reports the password is incorrect! Only way to recover is to restart the iPad or forget the network and then reconnect.

    With android devices, there is still a hickup/pause when switching mesh nodes, but at least it reconnects after a few seconds (still not seamless – but at least it doesn’t drop the call entirely).

    My experience is so frustrating I’m constantly looking out for deals on Linkysys or Google’s options.

    My main question is if you have experimented with iOS devices and android devices. Do you by any chance have similar issues to what I’m experiencing above.

    thanks

    1. Hi Clem. I’d say that happens a lot to Apple’s products. For some reason, iDevices are behind others in supporting 802.11r/k which is required for seamless handoff to work well. Also, even when working well, seamless handoff doesn’t guarantee smooth real-time communication, so what you experienced with the android devices was close to the best you’d get. That said, check to make sure your routers have the latest firmware. After that, maybe back up the main router’s setting, reset everything to default and set up the mesh from the beginning. Leave the dBM at default and see how it goes, or you can restore the setting fro the backup file.

  69. Hi, Dong. Thanks for this. I added an RT-AC86U to my existing, older, updated, excellent RT-AC68U, and initially added the new/better router as a wired access point using the same SSID. Coverage was fantastic. Later, I turned on AiMesh, and reversed their locations to make the stronger 86U the router, according to instructions. Performance and coverage are not as good. the AP/node location is best for coverage, but the router is in a corner basement office near the DSL modem. I am tempted to turn off AiMesh and restore original configuration. What do you advice? Nick

  70. I am a newbie to aimless and I am wondering if I put a network adapter card ( PCE AC88) in my desktop, can I use that as my second router. I have one router already (AC-RT3100) which works really well but I am moving to a larger house and will need to expand my wireless range. If not I was thinking of getting another router to match the one I have. Please help. Thank you in advance.

  71. Goodmorning Dong,
    I noticed a comment which express that in order to become Wifi 6 certified the XT8 needs to support WPA3 (among other things of course). In AiMesh the XT8 doesn’t support WPA3

    Is Asus planning to support for WPA3 in the AiMesh mode? I find support for WPA3 quite important seeing that security is becoming more and more important nowadays. If not most important.

    1. All Wi-Fi 6 routers from Asus have already or will support WPA3, Marcus. It’s just a matter of firmware updates. Its AiMesh feature doesn’t work with WPA3 yet, though, so the XT8 will not work with WPA3 if you use another router with it. As a pair WPA3 will work.

  72. Hi Dong,
    I have a AC86U and its great although I lose signal in the far corners of my house so have just purchased a pair of the new Zenwifi CT8’s to use as AIMesh. The CT8 will be the router and one of the nodes and I’m wondering if its ok to set up the AC86U as another node or if this would mess things up as its only dual band and I can’t use wired backhaul at all without my home looking a mess with wires everywhere!!
    Any advice would be useful as I’d like to use all three devices if possible to give me the best coverage but could sell the AC86U if its going to mess up the two CT8’s.
    Thanks, Ian

  73. Thanks Dong. That’s what I had done at one point and placed the router in the DMZ to try eliminating the double nat situation. Problem is that you lose some FIOS TV capabilities like viewing the DVR flicks on your iPad. I’ll try again with the latest firmware and let you know how it goes. BTW is the AC88U a better device to place as the main router with the 86u as nodes or should I make one of the 86u the main router? I understand the 86u is the newer of the two routers even though its a lower number.

  74. I tried AIMesh and it is the most unreliable piece of software I’ve ever come across. Random restarts, random de-auth, dhcp stopping working, randomly stopping forwarding traffic. Honestly, I’d not buy Asus in the future.

  75. Hi Dong, I have a 6500 sf home and tried running a FiOS quantum gateway as the main router with an AC88 (primary mesh AP) and 5 AC86U (nodes). They’re all connected using wired backhaul. Usually after a few days, the devices would start to drop off a lot of connections and have to be rebooted. I finally gave up trying to get the AiMesh feature to work and reconfigured them all as plain old access point nodes connected by Ethernet. Do I have too many nodes? What’s the real advantage of AiMesh vs using them as plain access points?

    1. I think that’s because you use the system in an AP mode. Try using the AC88U as in the router mode. You can have the system as a double NAT or you can configure the Fios to work as a modem (more here.) Using the node as regular APs works fine but you’ll have configure each individually, and you might have a lot of interference. So here’s what you should do:

      1. Upgrade all routers to the latest firmware.
      2. Reset them all to default
      3. Set up the AC88U as the main AiMesh router.
      4. Connect the AC86U to the router (or switch) using their WAN ports (you can daisy chain them)
      5. Set them up as an AiMesh system.

      That will work well.

  76. Your information has been very very helpful. I’m more tech savvy than the average person but you have enlightened me much more. I have 1 gig internet through AT&T and wired in it works as advertised getting almost 1G up and down on my desktop. In terms of wi-fi, I’ve been using the Netgear RBK40 mesh setup and really have not had the best mesh experience (Just recently disconnected it and went back to the standard AT&T wi-fi modem) It seemed like the speed was good for a few days and then boom it would be very spotty. Also they dropped connection way too much for my liking and made my streaming buffer a lot so overall I have not been impressed with mesh. After reading up on the Wi-Fi 6 standard and so much on AiMesh, I just purchased the AX-11000 and a pair of the AX92U (before I knew more about the XT8) I also have a pair of TP-Link AV2000 Powerlines that I run to my PS4 and Apple TV in the deep corner of a room that was having trouble getting wireless signal. What would be the best setup here? Also, should I return the AX92U to switch them out for the XT8 to complete the AiMesh setup or am I good with the AX92U?

    1. Hi Mem. The RBK40 is definitely NOT for the Gigabit-class internet. It’s for something of 100Mbps or slower. You don’t want the AX92U, either (I’m testing it, by the way, and will publish the review soon). You want a Wi-Fi 6 system or a 3×3 Wi-Fi 5 system that supports wired backhaul. So yes, the XT8 will work well for you, but I highly recommend running a network cable to link hardware units, when possible.

  77. Dong, yesterday I tried to add an Asus AC1200 Repeater, but as an AIMesh Access Point using the AIMesh enable firmware. I got it setup, connected as a node to the my Asus 3100 main router. It appears to work, and started accepting clients, but the clients on the 2.4 band started freezing up and overall made the entire network buggy and unstable.

    Not sure if this combo is buggy or if the factory settings just need adjustment.

    Dong, Have you had any success using the AC1200 with wired backhaul as an AIMesh Node (acting as an access point)? I like the product is only $55 on amazon, and want to use it to get WIFI access on the street in front of my house.

    1. You shouldn’t use repeaters (extenders), Dave, if you want good and reliable performance. But if you have to, use them in Access Point mode when possible. That will work. More on that here. And yes, you can use the device AC1200 in AiMesh with a wired backhaul.

  78. Hi Dong!
    A million thanks for your thorough article on AiMesh.
    Just moved from a nice wooden house to a nice concrete house meaning that my awesome GT-AC5300 isn’t enough to fix the WiFi. Got hold of a pair of RT-AX92U for a reasonable price. Question is which one to use as the primary router and how the nodes will behave regarding backbone transfer speed.
    Will the two AX units have a higher transfer speed, leaving the AC with lower speed or will the entire Mesh use AC speed?

    1. Sure, David. For a concrete house, it’s best to use wired backhaul. If that’s not possible, use the GT-AC5300 as the main router. It won’t make much of a difference the other way around in terms of speeds but you sure will lose a lot of features.

    1. There’s no hard limit, Ronnie. I’ve used like 10 but just because I ran out of space to place the routers. Generally, if you use dual-band routers, you shouldn’t use more than 3, though.

  79. Thanks for the info! On the node, can you utilize the ethernet ports. Let’s say my wifi router is downstairs and the node is upstairs near my PC. Can the mesh still work, while plugging the Node’s ethernet into the node vs WiFi?

  80. Hi Dong, any idea if getting 2 x Asus AC86U and setting up as AiMesh will be better than Google Nest Wifi (Router + point) in terms of stability, speed, reach? SNBforum seems to have a few posts on stability issues in AiMesh, not sure if its old firmware though.

    1. Sam, with AiMesh you’ll ALWAYS have to deal with firmware issues. Depending on the combo, you might have more or fewer issues. That’s because it has SO much more to offer. The only way to have almost no issue with AiMesh (as well as any other mesh systems) is using wired backhaul.

      If you drink beer, you can think of Google Wifi as Budwiser, you know exactly what you get each and every time but then the only thing worth noting is the number of restroom visits. AiMesh is like a local craft IPA. 🙂

  81. Hi! I’ve got hardwired AC5300 with to AC68U nodes – about a year or so as mesh. It has worked well (mostly, some updates not so much…). However, the last couple of months the wifi is starting to struggle. Normally fine the beginning of the week. Reboot normally do the trick, but it seems it is escalating and now asks for password quite often, but usally wifi signals just drop out. I update the router and nodes through the app.
    Firmware main: 3.0.0.4.3854_81219-g78687a (updated status)
    Nodes firmware: 3.0.0.4.385_10000-gd8ccd3c (updated status

    Appreciate any nod to the right direction 🙂

    1. I feel you, Stan. Here’s what you can do.

      1. Back up the setting of the router.
      2. Reset the router to default factory settings.
      3. Set up the router and restore the setting from the backup.

      That should help. Better yet, and if you have time, just reset the entire system and set it up from scratch.

  82. Hey Dong, thanks for the review. I got a AIMesh system I’m am generally happy with it. The one feature I’m missing is extending the Guest network. You mentioned that ASUS is planning to add support for that in 2019. I can say that this did not happen for the RT-AC68U. Is there any news on an update which enables this?

  83. Hi Dong I have two ASUS RT-AC68U routers which I am about to install as mesh but also have a Netgear AC1900 Dual Band WiFi Mesh Extender, Model EX6400, and a Netgear Powerline WiFi 1000 (PLW1000v2 and PL1000v2) available. Is it a good idea to use an Extender and/or Powerline devices in a mesh installation?

    1. It’s not a good idea to an extender with a mesh, Gary, though you can. The powerline kit can be used as a backhaul for the mesh. It’s not better than using a network cable but better than wireless, especially if you have a lot of walls. More on that here.

  84. I have an ‘odd’ situation, and I can’t seem to find a correct answer. My ‘home’ network is broken into 4 VLans and on 3 of them I have individual wifi access points that each transmit their own separate SSID. I have a rather large house, so depending on where I am some of the access points are better than others – so I would like to get a mesh system that can handle 3 separate (actually prefer 4) SSIDs and VLAN each segment off to the correct network – is this even possible with ASUS AIMesh – or do I need to stay with 3 separate/individual access points?

  85. Kind of a novice as networking goes. Previously, I wanted to expand my network which included 2 Rt-AC68u routers in an Aimesh network. I wanted to add an RT Ac 86u as the main Asus router. When connected, neither 68u would receive the 2.4 ghz signal. I promptly returned it for a replacement. The replaced item when received and installed did not work either. Same problem, a weak or non-existent 2.4Ghz signal. I returned it as well. Is there a chance that I can make this combo of routers meld to form a working aimesh system? 2 Nodes(RT AC68U) + Asus Master (RT AC 86U)

    1. They should work, Jay. I actually tested AiMesh with the same setup. I’m not sure what you meant by “neither 68u would receive the 2.4 ghz signal”. Something is missing there.

  86. Appreciating the hard work you put into your site and detailed information you present. It’s nice to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  87. I have three RT-AC1900P routers. One set up as primary and two as nodes. My question is, does AiMesh work as daisy chain hops. As in. Can I place node one 40-75 feet from the main router and node 2 another 40-75 feet from node 1? Or do I need to have both Node 1 and Node 2 within 40-75 feet of the main router. I’ve been noticing an issue where it’s not handing off to node 2, when Im standing right next to it, 100 feet from the primary router, but only 50ish feet from the Node 1

  88. Hello Dong,
    I have the Asus AC3100 as my router (bought 2018). My home is around 4400 sq/ft. I am debating on a mesh system as Im using the other side of my home now. I recently bought (yesterday) the ASUS 1900p at best buy because my signal drops on my labtop when in a “dead-space”. I have about 20 devices connected to my network. (TV’s/lights/locks/computers/thermostats/cameras).

    Should I:
    A.) make the ac1900 the node and “extend my signal” with aimesh?
    B.) return it and purchase a Tri band?
    C.) Purchase a Mesh system?

  89. Hey Dong,

    I just purchased an Asus ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 to add to my network, and I already had an Asus RT-AC3200.
    Right now I left my RT-AC3200 as the primary router upstairs connected to the modem and have the GT-AX11000 downstairs connected by ethernet.

    Current Router Modes:
    RT-AC3200 in Wireless router mode (Default)
    GT-AX11000 in Access Point(AP) mode / AiMesh Router in AP mode

    1) Does it matter which router is the primary router?
    AKA would there be any benefit in having the GT-AX11000 as primary router?

    2) How do the different modes for each router compare?
    Should RT-AC3200 be in Access Point(AP) mode? Any benefit in having GT-AX11000 in Wireless router mode / AiMesh Router mode (Default)? Or in AiMesh Node mode?

    I have a lot of smart devices and would like for all of them to “talk” to each other. Please advise! Thank you!
    -Michael

    1. The RT-AC3200 doesn’t support AiMesh, Mike. In your case, you should use the GT-AX11000 as the router (default) and the RT-AC3200 in the AP mode. Set both to have the same Wi-Fi network name(s) and password(s) and you’ll have a decent network. You might not have a very robust handoff but things should work well.

  90. Hi Dong,
    I have a mesh system with an AC68U as the main router, a second AC68U wired for ethernet backhaul, and a third AC1900P router in AIMesh mode. My question is, do the routers work in a daisy-chain fashion, or does each extra node need to be connected to the main router? i.e, I seem to have trouble getting the wireless node to connect unless it is placed near the main router, it registers as offline if is only put near the secondary wired node. It’s a very large house and I’m trying to have 3 zones of Wi-Fi coverage with the third zone extending to a planned Nest outdoor camera up at the end of the driveway, and I’m having a lot of trouble making it work. Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks.

    1. You need to configure the router that uses wired backhaul as an AiMesh node, too. In your case, it doesn’t matter to which other two devices, the router or the 2nd wired node, the third router connects, but yes, it will work in the daisy-chain. Again, make sure you have one Main AiMesh router, and two AiMesh Nodes FIRST, before placing the nodes as you wish.

  91. Hi Dong,

    I’ve had a mesh system with hardwired backhaul for about a year (direct wire between units no switching). In the last week, I had connections to the mesh node (ac68u) start showing “connected no internet” on my phones.

    Last time a reboot of the router seemed to clear things up. Now it’s doing the same thing. I rebooted the router and both mesh and router are showing wireless as working, but I can only connect wirelessly to the internet on router.

    Connecting to the mesh node still said “connected no internet” (signal strength on the mesh node is -26 dBm from where I normally sit). From the mesh node the ASUS app says “failure to connect”.

    Logging into the router shows firmware 3.0.0.4.384_81049-gbd61205 on both nodes, with no connections to the mesh node. So the Router seems to be seeing the mesh node, and when I turn the mesh node off the router see’s the mesh node and reports “offline”. The wireless lights are all on on both devices.

    After repeated rebooting of the mesh node, the node finally came up normally. I can’t figure out why the system would be acting this way, I thought it might be a firmware upgrade, and some discussion in SNBforums indicated it might be the case but they are years old.

    The logfile from this morning is showing a TON of similar entries.

    Sep 12 13:11:53 syslog: WLCEVENTD wlceventd_proc_event(386): eth2: Deauth_ind B3:F1:DA:B3:23:2D, status: 0, reason: Class 3 frame received from nonassociated station (7)
    Sep 12 13:11:53 syslog: WLCEVENTD wlceventd_proc_event(420): eth1: Auth B3:F1:DA:B3:23:2D, status: 0, reason: d11 RC reserved (0)
    Sep 12 13:11:53 syslog: WLCEVENTD wlceventd_proc_event(449): eth1: Assoc B3:F1:DA:B3:23:2D, status: 0, reason: d11 RC reserved (0)
    Sep 12 13:16:10 syslog: WLCEVENTD wlceventd_proc_event(420): eth1: Auth E0:3G:49:F1:A8:11, status: 0, reason: d11 RC reserved (0)
    Sep 12 13:16:10 syslog: WLCEVENTD wlceventd_proc_event(449): eth1: Assoc E0:3G:49:F1:A8:11, status: 0, reason: d11 RC reserved (0)
    Sep 12 13:16:10 syslog: WLCEVENTD wlceventd_proc_event(420): eth2: Auth E0:3G:49:F1:A8:14, status: 0, reason: d11 RC reserved (0)
    Sep 12 13:16:10 syslog: WLCEVENTD wlceventd_proc_event(449): eth2: Assoc E0:3G:49:F1:A8:14, status: 0, reason: d11 RC reserved (0)

    There is nothing hardwired to the mesh node but the backhaul.

    Really hoping this is not a bizarre hardware failure, therefore I’m hoping it’s a firmware issue.

    If you know anything about this I would really appreciate some help!

    1. I believe you since it has happened to me, too, the past two days, and I use the latest routers. If you have a setting backup file, just retore the router and it will fix it. If not, make a backup and do a restore. I know it doesn’t make sense, but somehow that worked, for me at least. I have contacted Asus on the issue, and hopefully, there will be a permanent fix or explanation.

    2. Saving and restoring did seem to solve the issue. Then I looked for a manual update and it looked like a more recent manual update existed.


      Version 3.0.0.4.384.81049

      2019/09/05

      ASUS RT-AC68U Firmware version 3.0.0.4.384.81049

      Bugfix
      – Fixed block internet access problem when clients connected to AiMesh node <- This seemed important
      "

      So I tried applying a manual upgrade on the router and the mesh unit (router is ac68P and mesh is ac68U), I applied the specific upgrade for each even though they had the same MD5 hashvalue. The GUI reported an update date of
      "Updated : 2019/06/27 04:03" which was the same as before I manually updated both devices.

      This seemed to cause all wireless to fail (maybe should have left it alone!) .

      So I removed the mesh unit, rebooted the main router and that seems to be working for now.

      I have a saved .cfg from prior to manual upgrade and after. When I get more time or ideas I might try more.

      Would gladly issue a bug report as this must be affecting more than I.

      thanks!
      John

  92. Hi Dong, I have a situation that I’ve planned over and over again but wanted your technical expertise input. The basic question I have is: Can I turn a non-aimesh Asus router into a wired Access Point connected to an Aimesh Primary router? I have two physically different locations I want to have wifi connectivity. Building A has the AC5300 in Aimesh router mode. I have the Asus RT66U (a non-Aimesh router) in Building B. If I made the RT66U into an Access Point with the 2.4 mghz band with the same User Name and same wifi password as the Aimesh Primary router in Building A, and did the same with the 5.2 bandwidth, can it physically connect to Aimesh Primary router and operate as a fully functioning Access Point? Without actually doing all this I have the feeling that the RT66U cannot be used as the Access Point in an Aimesh network, but maybe there is a workaround.

    1. Yes, you can, it will work just like any access point — don’t expect seamless hand-off and there might be bad interference. You can even use the second router in router mode (not access point mode). The result is that devices connected to the 2nd router won’t “see” those connected to the first router, but all of them can access the Internet.

  93. Hi Dong, I am using an Asus RT-AC86U as my main router downstairs and an Asus RT-AC68U upstairs. Both of my routers are updated with the latest firmware; however, my AC68U often disconnects intermittently and I lose internet connection. Have you heard of this happening with Asus AiMesh routers?

  94. An update of my experiences with the AiMesh approach to Mesh systems. I posted here back in September 22, 2018, after I did a search of AiMeash networks and came upon Dong Ngo’s detailed column. By the time I found Ngo’s column I had already installed my own Aimesh system. Initially it was the primary router AC86U with second AC86U as the node. The first system worked well enough that I decided to add more nodes. This was back in late 2018 and there were still readily available used AC68U routers inexpensively since people hadn’t caught on of upgrading their AC68Us to be AiMesh compatible. I bought several of the old AC68Us for about $50 or less.

    I upgraded my first system to a “second system” that now has TWO more nodes by adding two hardware upgraded AC68Us to the AiMesh capability. The second system now contains a primary AC86U as the router, a second AC86U as first node, a first upgraded AC68U as the third node, and a fourth upgraded AC68U as the fourth node. The system worked perfectly and I was able to extend wifi signal throughout my 4,000 square feet two level plus basement home and beyond.

    Comfortable with the wifi strength and reach I then did what I have dreamt of for years: add wifi cameras throughout the house and beyond. After obtaining good results with Ring Always at Home doorbells I now have three Ring doorbells and one Floodlight camera added to the Aimesh system. After working out some bugs the attached Ring cameras to the AiMesh system worked very well.

    In early 2019 I realized the AiMesh system was going to be taxed a lot so I decided to change the primary router of the AiMesh system to the more powerful tri-band Asus ROG AC5300. The ROG has eight ports instead of the conventional four ports to connect cat cables to, which was a great selling point. I added the ROG router in April 2019. I installed a device which shut off the power to the router and the ISP modem at the same time, but then would power up the modem first, wait a fixed ONE minute time passage to power on the router. This device allowed my modems and router to be rebooted every day at a fixed time (about 4 am local time when the internet wasn’t being used). Reliability of internet service is still buggy and a physical reboot of modems and routers will resolve those issues the best. Upon rebooting the modem and the primary Asus ROG AC5300 I found one particular node that would fail to reconnect wirelessly to the AC5300 about two out of five times. I moved that router to different locations but it still wasn’t able to reconnect as an AiMesh node about 40% of the time; when it failed to do so I would physically have to shut down the node and reboot it to a successful connection. Upon rebooting the connection was 100%. This was annoying to me so I plugged that problematic node to a wifi controlled outlet which could remotely shut down power to the outlet which supplied power to the problematic node. This solved my problem.

    Once I was comfortable with the expanded Aimesh system I added Blink cameras. These are wireless cameras which uses the 900 band wavelength as a “backhaul” to communicate with identical cameras, but uses the 2.4 band to communicate outside of the Blink cameras system. Since then I have added five Blink cameras to the system. The Aimesh network is so strong one Blink camera is installed outside of my home next to my mailbox which is about thirty feet from my front door.

    The combined Ring, Blink, Asus system has been working well for the last month or so. I just planned another system for my other property. A second ROG router will go into the other property and will be main router in a AiMesh system.

    One little trick I learned was creating a Guest network using the 2.4 band. This Guest network is dedicated to the Blink and Ring devices. Once I hooked these cameras and doorbells to the Guest network, I then made the SSID invisible. Making the SSID invisible prevents any wifi device from connecting to it. In a way I created my own private back haul for the Blink and Ring devices. Asus as far as I know hasn’t made the Guest access part of the Aimesh network but based on what I’ve read they will do so in later updates.

  95. Hi Dong,
    Great review and inspired me to buy the Ax11000 – now I need to setup a Mesh WIFi so I can play my PS4 in the basement as well. So I have got an ASUS – AC2600 Dual-Band Wi-Fi Router – Blue/white to setup as a Mesh node and keep the AX11000 as the main router. Any hints or suggestions before I open the blue cave? Should I consider a different router as the node to get better performance?
    Thanks a lot!!!

    1. Considering you have the GT-AX11000, you might want to use the same units for your nodes, which is going to be very expensive. Other than that, the routers you mention will work fine, too. I actually use a GT-AX11000 myself as the main router and a Blue Cave as a node and they work well together. I use wired backhaul, however.

  96. Hi Dong,
    First of all, thanks for the great article. I am currently planning an AiMesh setup consisting of a router and 2 or 3 nodes. I like the idea of using Asus Lyra (the big round AC2200 version, not the trio or mini) for the nodes (because of the unobtrusive look, and the tri-band support). For the main router, I’m thinking about getting an Asus RT-AC86U or RT-AC88U. I’ll have to use wireless backhaul, but since the nodes are tri-band, a dedicated 5GHz backhaul should be possible. Am I right in assuming that since all router and all nodes support MU-MIMO, the router should have two 5GHz antennae available for clients at all times (with the other two used for the backhaul)? Do the clients need to support MIMO or even MU-MIMO as well for this to work? What are your thoughts on this setup?
    Regards,

    1. Hi Mich,

      Your assumption is correct. Backhaul works by band, so one of the two 5GHz bands on the nodes will work solely for backhaul. If you use a tri-band router as the main router, during the setup, when you choose SmartConnect (which you should), the system will tell you which 5GHz and it will use for backhaul. In your case, the node will do that automatically. Most clients support MIMO (unless you have REALLY old ones), many support MI-MIMO but they don’t need to support either to work with the system.

      One thing to note: The Lyra is a bit of a pickle in my trial (note that I didn’t review it), it can be a pain to set up and during previous firmware releases it wasn’t very reliable in an AiMesh setup. However, it seems it works better now with the latest firmware. That said, make sure you update the firmware to the latest before doing anything.

      Hope this helps! Good luck!

      -Dong.

    2. Hi Dong, thanks for your answer. It seems AiMesh support in the Lyra is still pretty new. So I suppose the smart thing to do is wait a little longer for it to mature. Knowing Asus, it will get there eventually. I guess I’ll just start with the router and my existing 802.11n access points, and work my way up from there.

  97. Hi Dong,

    First — Love your site — always impressed by your analysis. Now on to my issue 🙂 I have a RT-AC5300 and 2 AT-AC86U in my mesh and seemed to be constantly having issues with my Sonos and Canon MF733CDW printer in terms of not seeing things! Is there some setting I need to adjust? Canon tells me the printer and my PC/laptop need to be on the exact same node for it to work…. THANKS!

    1. Thanks, Peter. Canon is right, generally, devices need to be in the same subnet to see one another. That said, make sure you use the three routers in an AiMesh setup — one router and two nodes — and not as three individual routers. Also, reserver the IP address for the speaker and the printer. That should fix it.

    2. Thanks. I do have them set up as one router and two nodes. My PC keeps wanting to connect to the router while the printer wants to connect to one of the nodes (both same 2.4 network). If I unplug the node that the printer likes, things work fine. Will reserving the IP lock the printer into using the router? (Sorry for the silly question!)

      1. No, reserve the IP only makes sure that the printer will get the same IP every time. It seems your network is fine. Try updating the printer’s firmware, too. Restart it.

  98. I just want to say THANKS! This entire post answered EVERY question I had and concern. “Blown Away” Either you a engeneer ASUS or just really freaking smart either way I am and I’m sure many are very grateful for your time and energy in answering ALL our questions

    Thank U!

  99. Hi Dong,

    Thank for your extensive reviews! I’m finally about to upgrade our AirPort Extreme+Express setup in our three story row house to something a bit more up to date. I’ve been considering a dedicated Mesh system, but these newer “meshable” routers-extenders, such as AiMesh seem to be the way to go.

    If you look purely at an ease-of-use and stability point of view, I.e. set-and-forget, would you rather recommend an AiMesh System based on the AC86U+BlueCave (or 86+ 2 Lyra trio), or a Synology mesh (AC2600+MR2200)?

    What about longevity, I.e. presumed/foreseeable lifespan of the hardware?

    Best regards,

    Gus

    1. Hi Gustav, I’d go with the Synology solution since it has fewer variations and therefore fewer bugs. (I haven’t tested the Blue Cave and Lyra Trio combo, for example). However, both should work well in long term use.

    2. Hi Alain Dong,
      Which router did you use as base in the Lyra-Aimesh tests – the -86 or the -88?
      I’m considering these from a (wall) placement point of view…
      /Gus

  100. Hi Dong,

    Big fan on your articles and reviews. I currently am planning a RT-AC86U / RT-AC68U setup with a hardwire connection between them. However, I’m wondering what you recommend to connect the CAT5e wiring throughout the home that terminates in the basement – is there an switch that works best with this setup: modem -> router (main) -> switch -> router (node)?

    1. Hey there! Thanks. That’s a great setup! You can use any gigabit switch. Just pick an unmanaged switch (most of them are — unless they are labeled as “managed”) and you’ll be a happy camper!

  101. Hey Dong, I have a mesh setup using an RT-AX88U as the main and an RT-AC68U as the node. My question is will everything still work if I activate the 802.11ax support seeing that the AC68U is not equipped to handle it? Thanks

    1. Yes, “everything” will still work, assuming you use SmartConnect (using both bands with the same Wi-Fi network). However, you will NOT get Wi-Fi 6 speed out of the 68U (obviously). Chances are you might not have Wi-Fi 6 speed out of the 88U, either, since it works in compatibility mode. But if you do NOT have Gigabit-class Internet, or if you don’t have many Wi-Fi 6 clients (which is likely the case since nobody does), then you’re fine. 🙂

      Short answer: Yes, you’re fine.

  102. Hello, I set up 2 AC68U routers as a mesh system and it seems to be working. Should I see the internet led lit on the node to confirm wifi reception of the node? Or do I have to hit the wifi button on the node? The only buttons lit on the node are power, 2.4 and 5g. Thanks.

    1. Don’t worry about the lights, Dave. You can check the status of the AiMesh using the Network Map in the web interface of the router. It’ll show the connected AiMesh node(s).

  103. The ASUS AiMesh AX6600 was recently announced and I am still getting used to the AX6100 I got a couple weeks ago! Ha, I should’ve heeded your words and just waited. I do like the AX6100 though, it was so easy and painless to set up and the +15 WiFi devices throughout my house haven’t dropped connectivity so far.

    But I really didn’t think a new mesh router from ASUS would come out so soon! Is this a normal trend? Or by announcing a new Mesh router did ASUS think the AX6100 was a mistake?

  104. Hi Dong,

    My Setup:
    I have an ASUS Blue Cave and 3 – RT-AC68U’s Nodes. I use the BLUE CAVE as my main router and my RT-AC68U’s as Nodes about 30-35ft apart with walls between. One is hard wired to the Cave and two are wireless. Everything is at the latest firmware. Currently the BLUE CAVE is 3.0.0.4.384_45708-g6c4a2e4 and the AC68U’s are 3.0.0.4.384_45717-gadd52a8. Normally they match but the latest firmware has them out of sync. Regardless Ive been through 3 bios versions with a similar wireless disconnect issue that spreads. The Blue Cave is on a UPS and so is one of the nodes and I can rule out power blips. I can see a few other neighbors wifi’s but their signal strength doesn’t appear to be an issue we live on 1/2 acre lots and I dont believe that we are conflicting with neighboring wifi chatter but I could be wrong.

    What Changed:
    I began having constant problems when I introduced the Blue Cave but the problem did exist before not as frequently. About every 2-3 days I have to recycle all my routers to get both wired and wireless working again. I did just notice that 2.4ghz Roaming assistant signal DB possibly from a firmware flash or the introduction of the Blue Cave got set to -55db and I just changed it to -67 and 5ghz was set to -70 which I also changed that to -67. to see if that improves things. But that is right now I might not know for 2-3 more days if this helps..

    How the problems Start:
    It generally starts with my daughters iPhone 6 unable to connect to wireless (Latest IOS) then usually my wife’s wireless pc. Both hit opposite nodes which made me think this is some sort of DHCP problem. One node is wireless (Daughters area) the other node is wired (Wife’s PC). Both iPhone and pc devices are wireless. Then it hits a few other wireless devices like Alexa and eventually wired sometimes goes with it till we recycle things. Once alexa starts flashing red we know we have to recycle.

    Things Ive Tried.
    I have attempted to change channels but none of them seem to improve the problem.

    I have replaced some of the problem Wi-Fi devices with newer Wi-Fi devices. Like USB 2.4ghz or Internal Wi-Fi with updated 802.11ac USB devices. Only one device is no longer having a disconnect issue.

    I hard coded a few of the wireless devices the IP addresses on a few devices hoping that would improve things as I have heard of people saying they have problems with DHCP. It seems to have helped but its still occurring. I have not see conflicting IP addresses.

    I’m also using a 192.168.50.* IP range to try and ensure were not conflicting with neighbors using the default 192.168.1.* range.

    QUESTIONS:
    1.) Does the Roaming assistant signal strength also apply to the nodes? On some occasions I notice that a node is offline and I’m amazed that even the wired one has done it and I’m unsure why they dont seem to re-establish or self correct without a recycle. Right now I see one node 5ghz with full bars and the second with 3 bars 5ghz. Could the node be dropping and keeping the clients on it from connecting? Might this cause some sort of cascading issue? I also sometimes see

    2.) I am curious to know what settings you use for AI Protection and Network Protection? Right now I have everything green but I have read of other people having issues with some of these settings blowing things up.

    Open to any suggestions as I’m at a loss. I’m tempted to go back to just AC68U’s but then the problem was weekly or bi-weekly but I also recall I set the Roaming assistant to -65 off the top of my head. Its possible my 2-3 day issue began when that got reset to -55.

    Thanks,
    Mitchell

    1. Hi Mike,

      Sorry, you’ve been having issues. At this point, I’d recommend:

      1. Try using one of the RT-AC68Us as the main router instead of the Blue Cave.
      2. Make sure you connect the wired node to the router using the node’s WAN port.
      3. Resetting all of them and setting them up from the beginning.
      4. Placing the nodes around the main router (or the node that’s wired to the router.)

      As for your questions:

      1. Yes, also the default number varies so use the one the router automatically picks as your base to adjust.
      2. I have everything turned on except for Router Security Assessment where I use port forwarding and remote web management.

      Hope this helps,

      -Dong.

  105. Thanks for ur reply Mr Dong , May I ask u another question , which the best modem can I use it with the Asus Router ( ASUS AC2900 ) I have Huawei HG532e Can I use it as a Modem ?

  106. Thank you for this very informative article! I just got the ASUS AX6100 (RT-AX92U) Triband Mesh router a few days ago and was planning to use my old ASUS AC1900 as another node but it looks like it’ll be best used as the main router instead. But I think I’ll just wait until the price comes down on other ASUS Triband routers though. There’s a lot of router settings to play with and I have no idea what I’m doing, heh.

    Do you plan on reviewing the RT-AX92U in the future?

    1. Yes, I plan to review it, MT, I’m waiting to get a new Wi-Fi 6 client. For your situation, it’s a bit tricky since the AC1900 doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6. You should use the RT-AX88U as the main router instead. Using the AC1900 as the main router will work for now, but when you have Wi-Fi 6 clients, or when you have a gigabit-class Internet connection, the router will slow them down big time.

  107. Hi Dong , Thanks for fantastic review , I have a question , can I use this router as a modem , because I don’t wanna use a modem and I want to use this router as a modem , can I Put the Wan port to the phone cable ?

  108. Hi Dong. Thanks very much for your excellent review. I decided to take the plunge and bought two ASUS RT-AC86U and set them up as you suggested. Absolutely brilliant! I’ve had them for about six weeks now and haven’t had a single issue.
    When I first set the system up, after updating the firmware on both machines, I went into the settings and noticed that the Roaming Assistant setting was set, by default to -55dBm. This seems to be quite a bit higher than you suggest. Having said that, it hasn’t caused me any issues whatsoever, all my devices seem to connect to either the router or node as I thought they would.Although I am a great believer in the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” school of thought, I wondered if you had any thoughts on this?

    1. Hi Gordon. Thanks for your input. Don’t worry about it. That’s your base dBm number. If it works for you just leave it alone, or you can adjust it within 5 points or so either way.

  109. Hi Dong,
    Is there any way we could choose 5ghz as the backhaul? And is there any performance difference if the backhaul chosen is 2.4ghz or 5 ghz? My devices are all connected via 5ghz wireless.

    1. Hi Nathan,

      The system picks 5GHz automatically as backhaul when that’s possible. It only switches to 2.4GHz when you place the node too far from the main router. There’s no way to pick that manually, however. The fact that your devices connect via 5GHz doesn’t necessarily mean the 2.4GHz is used as backhaul. Generally, if you’re happy with the speed, don’t worry about it. 🙂

  110. Hi Dong, Thank you for this awesome review. I have followed your reviews on CNET before and they are very well done. I am writing to find out how I can reach >600mbps WiFi speed on my Ai Mesh using two Asus RT AC86U? My current setup is pretty straight forward: One 86U (main router) is connected to modem (gigabit fibre optic internet) in the lower section of the house (I live in raised ranch styled house) and another 86U as node on the main floor. Backhaul is through Cat6a (550MHz) ethernet cable running between the node and router. I have not messed with router settings (stock router firmware which has been upgraded). The best WiFi speeds I am getting are 320mbps down and ~350mbps up. I have 1 GB down and 750mbps up fibre optic plan through my ISP. Wired connection works as expected; full speed for down (986mbps) and up (720mbps). Do you have suggestions on how I can improve the speeds to atleast ~600mbps on WiFi? I have checked my internet speed on LG G7, Dell XPS 9550 with upgraded intel AC9260 160mhz WiFi card and samsung s9+ using speed test by ookla and dslreport speed test. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thanks Dong.

    1. Hi BE,

      It’s very hard to get >600 Mbps with an 802.11ac router. This is because it’s more than the real-world Wi-Fi in most cases. The only way you might be able to get close to this is to use a 3×3 Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) client. Most clients (laptops, tablets etc) uses 2×2 Wi-Fi which caps at 867Mbps on paper, this means you’ll get around 400Mbps in real-world usage.

      To really get Gigabit Internet in full, you’ll need Wi-Fi 6.

      -Dong.

    1. Thanks! It’s automatic. There’s a way to configure the band steering but it’s a bit vague and I have to admit I haven’t been able to figure it out completely.

  111. Hi Dong

    Thanks very much for your info!

    I have three questions to ask for your advice:

    1. Must setting up aimesh nodes be done through wifi, or is it possible that ethernet also works now? I know ethernet backhaul can be used, what about during the moment of setting up?

    2. If i set up the main router as AP aimesh router to connect to the gateway modem-router, do the other aimesh nodes need to connect to the aimesh router through ethernet? Or is it possible both the wan port of the router and the other nodes connected to the gateway modem-router?

    3. Do you know, if i have already set up 4 nodes in aimesh router mode, and now i switch to ap aimesh mode, will the 4 nodes still remain after switching?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Bong,

      1. You have to set it up using Wi-Fi. Follow my instructions on page 2.
      2. You must set up the whole AiMesh system first. After that, you can switch the main router into AP mode. All of the AiMesh nodes will connect to the main router (or another node), wired or wireless.
      3. Yes, see number 2 again.

      Hope this helps.

      -Dong.

  112. Hi Dong, Great write up. I’ve been messing around with AiMesh as of late as well and can’t bring myself to buy purpose built mesh network hardware. Having read your blog, I’m happy to know that AiMesh APs are coming – now I just need to wait for a decent triband aimesh node APs before I can achieve full coverage. I originally opted for a cheap AC66U B1, but I couldn’t quite work past the latency/connectivity issues I was having despite placing the node in as close to optimal positioning as I could (inSSIDer heatmaps are useful) and setting roaming thresholds – gaming on my PS4 which was connected to the AiMesh node was fairly horrible.

    Anyways, I just wanted to chime in to say that while the backup/restore process for ASUS routers is nice, clean and simple, VPN certificates change and so, if you do migrate, you’ll need to export the new router’s VPN configuration (not sure if anyone else noticed this).

    I also wanted to hear your thoughts on the relationship between ASUS smart connect and roaming thresholds. I didn’t spend much time determining the correlation between the two since I read an article that put me off using smart connect, but imagine that with some time, and future updates, it could be quite useful.

    1. Hi there. I think in your case, you should use a cable to connect the RT-AC66U to the main router. And thanks for letting me know about the VPN export. That makes total sense. The roaming thread hold (band-steering) of Asus router is very vague. In fact, I’ve been asking them to give me some specific guidelines on how to configure this but they don’t have any themselves. So it’s mostly trial and error. I personally use SmartConnect, though, it’s more convenient that way. 🙂

  113. Hi Dong, after successfully connecting an 86U as an aimesh router and an 68U as an aimesh node using a wire, I streamed Spotify using wifi with full bars but it was choppy even though I have QoS enabled in Media Streaming mode. What setting should I adjust to prevent choppiness? Thanks.

  114. Hi Dong, I just purchased an RT-AC86U to replace my RT-AC68U as my main router. Both units have firmware supporting aimesh. I set the new router to be the aimesh router and connected the 68U via a wire and set it up as an aimesh node. The main router is working as expected with the devices connected wirelessly to it as well as the other wired connections. However, I am having trouble getting the aimesh node to work. I have a PC wired to it and it does not have internet although the aimesh router does.Please advise.

    1. Tony,

      Make sure you set up the node using Wi-Fi before hooking it to the main router (via its WAN port). Also, make sure you update both routers to the latest firmware manually.

      -Dong.

  115. Hello Dong,

    I recently purchased another RT-AC86U to run as a mesh. However, the only problem I have is that the 5 Ghz is giving me issues with or without running them together as a mesh unit. Even when I don’t use them together in a mesh setup, I still get this intermittent issue using either of them as the main router. It won’t even connect to the 5Ghz band at times, but 2.4 ghz works. I’ve tried different channels, but to no avail.

    I tried contacting Asus, but they can’t help me resolve it. Any ideas what could be causing this? Thanks!

    1. Hi Dough,

      The RT-AC86U should work well. I speak from experience. That said, you can try updating the router’s firmware to the latest. If that doesn’t help, chances are it’s your client (the device) that’s the problem. Try updating the software driver (or the firmware) for the device itself.

      Hope this helps,

      -Dong.

      1. Thanks for your response. All my devices and laptops, including the routers, are up-to-date. FYI…all the devices go out at the same time when there is something wrong with the 5 Ghz band. Gosh, this one is hard to figure out as to what settings might be causing this issue.

  116. Thank you for the review. I have a 4500 sq ft three level house and am wondering how to set up my mesh. I have to have my router in the corner of the top floor. I am also fortunate to have at my disposal three Asus routers: GT-AC5300, RT-AC5300 and an RT-AC86U.

    1.Which one should I use as my main router on the top floor?
    2. I am thinking that I could use an Ethernet backhaul from one node (second floor) but otherwise it would have to be wireless backhaul. What options should I consider?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Erle,

      You have a great set of routers!

      a. If you can use an Ethernet back-haul from the main router: Use the GT-AC5300 as your main, then RT-AC86U and wire it to the main router. You can place the third wherever it makes sense.
      b. If you cannot use an Ethernet back-haul from the main router: Use the RT-AC86U as your main router. Place the rest where it makes sense.

      Hope this helps,

      -Dong.

      1. One more question… Should I separate the 2GHz and 5GHz bands or leave them as one? I do have a couple of legacy clients that can only connect to 2GHz band (Ring doorbell for example).

  117. Hi Dong,

    What do you think? Is it still worth it to buy Asus AC86U now since it was released around 1,5 years ago? Is there gonna be another new routers that performs better than AC86U?

    Another stupid question, what is the standard ping to router with distance around 3-8 meters? I am getting 4-20ms to my gateway.

    1. Hi Don,

      Yes, it’s totally worth it, especially considering it’s more affordable now. There will always be newer and better one but you only need what work for your situation and the 86U will.

      I’m not sure about your question re: standard ping. Locally, there shouldn’t be any delay at all.

      -Dong.

      1. Thanks for the answer! What I mean is when I ping to 192.168.0.1 (gateway) via command prompt, mine got time 4-20 ms via wifi with distance around 3-8 meters. Router AC68U

        I am also planning to use aimesh, but I read if I use merlin, aimesh feature is gone. Is that article is still true since the article was wrote in early 2018? Also which firmware version do you recommend for rock solid result with AC86U?

      2. Yeah, sorry, I missed that part (was using my phone and the lower part was cut off). Anyhow, you need to use Asus’s firmware for AiMesh to work. I always use the latest firmware that’s available. 🙂

  118. Hello –

    I currently have the Asus RT-AC86U as my only router with a 300gb service from my cable company. I want to extend my network/Wifi across my house and out to my patio. I already have a CAT6 ethernet run to where I would put the second router for creating the AiMesh and it’s in the room I access my patio from, so close. I’m looking at the RT-AC68U for my mesh node and having it hardwired to the 86U. Does this sound like the best way to accomplish expanding my Wifi network so my patio and garage have access? NOTE: Part of this is that I am installing speakers out on my patio that will run off an Echo DOT/amp set up and I want to have Wifi for streaming music.

    Thanks

  119. I set up an AIMesh using a brand new GT-AC5300 Rapture and an RT-AC66U-B1 as the node. I only had it running for a short time before I became frustrated with the whole thing and removed it. Went back to using a Repeater instead of the AIMesh. The setup was easy, it worked as advertised but it killed my network speed both internally and from the Internet. I have a 300Mbps internet connection that I have always been able to get full speed from to my laptop (ROG G522 with Intel 7265 Wifi). As soon as the mesh was up and running the best I could do from ANY device in my home both wired and wireless was 130Mbps. My network speed from my laptop to my Server went from 75 MBps to 32 MBbs. I would have to conclude that the mesh setup may work but be aware that there are significant differences to you network speed if you use it. I was not aware it would be as bad as my tests have shown. Perhaps a newer router than the AC66U-B1 would give better performance but I won’t spend any more time or money on it. My RE650 as a repeater works a lot better.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Ron. Yes, I think with the RT-AC66U, you need to use a wired back-haul. Using a wireless setup, the signal loss will be quite significant. Also, in your case, it’s likely the 2.4Ghz was used as the back-haul.

      1. I looked at what band was being used and found it pulled one of the 5GHz bands for the backhaul. That of course means all connections to the AC66U node would be 2.4 GHz only. I guess some of the comments from others saying use Tri Band devices at both ends of the mesh so you do not lose the 5GHz band to the Mesh. It might function OK using a wired backhaul but my whole reason for doing the network wireless is because it would involve ripping out a ceiling to feed wires. I had hoped it would perform as well as the RE650 repeater did but it was not even close, The overhead using Wi-Fi for backhaul in the GT-AC5300 must be extremely significant since using the mesh really messed up transfer rates from any WIFI connection to and other device on the network. My IP cameras could not be reached consistently from the internet (or internally). The GT-AC5300 router also stopped showing and connection speeds for any Wi-Fi device. There is no way to display the amount of data being sent to the Nodes as the stats panel seems to totally ignore the mesh node in the stats. I am very disappointed in the AIMesh experience so far.

      2. No, the 5GHz on the RT-AC66U is still available for clients, just at much slower speeds… I haven’t tried AiMesh with this combo so don’t know what to tell you. But maybe try upgrading the firmware. Download it from Asus’s website and flash the routers manually. Maybe that’d help.

  120. Hi Dong, I have a WiFi mesh with RT AC5300 as primary and RT AC1900 as secondary router connected via ethernet for dedicated wifi backhaul. Since past 2 days I have noticed that my two Motorola XT1575 phones constantly drop and pick up wifi connection. All other clients are working fine in the network. Do you suggest any tweaks that could be made to correct this issue. BTW – your blog in a treasure trove of knowledge! – Jai

  121. I recognize that running cable would optimize my speeds, but I am not yet in a position to do so. That being said, I have 1 gig internet service through my carrier and and am able to maintain reasonable speeds on WiFi. My problem is that there are more than 10 devices connected at any one time. Will I be stepping my potential speeds down by using the AC86U as the primary and the RT-AC5300 as the node over getting a second RT-AC5300?

    1. Hi Jeffrey,

      Yes using the dual band router as main and the tri-band as node will help with the speed, better than the vice versa. I don’t think you’ll need a 2nd tri-band, though that doesn’t hurt.

      -Dong.

  122. Hello, Dong. Glad to have ran across this article. I know from your CNET days you’re wisdom can be trusted. I’m helping a non-profit upgrade their wifi and am considering a couple of options – one of which is the Asus AiMesh. I’ve had nothing but positive experiences with my personal Asus routers over the years. So, they currently have 3 Netgear WNDR3400v2 routers spread across the building and all have Ethernet cable to them. Looking at 3 UniFi UAP-AC-Pro’s, a Unifi USG and UniFi Cloud Key or 3 TP-Link Omada EAP245’s with the USG and Cloud Key or 3 Asus RT-AC68U’s in AiMesh. As a non-profit, cost is a huge concern. Estimated costs: UniFi @ $650, Omada @ $450 and Asus @ $330. Any suggestions so far? If we go the AiMesh route – using Ethernet for the backhaul – we should expect to get the same speeds from the nodes as at the main unit – correct? Some of the other things I’ve read about AiMesh are that it’s a bloody mess of signals not having the units work together efficiently to provide connection from the strongest signal. Is that still a concern or have the updates to AiMesh made it more cohesive? Your testing results are the first ones I’ve seen that indicate AiMesh is actually faster than something like the Orbi RBK5X systems. I’d love to jump right in to the Asus system, but I don’t want to create something that is slower than expected and that requires more regular maintenance to keep online. My personal Asus experience has been they are always online and running well, with no need for regular restarts like so many other brands seem to require. Thanks for your advice!

    1. Thanks for your continued support, Douglas 🙂

      Yes, if you go with wired back-haul, there’s no signal loss between units at all. In fact, if the office is not super huge, two units might do in this case if you can place them at optimal locations. As for the “blood mess of signals” issue, it’s just a matter of configuring the Smart Connect rules (Networks Tools -> Smart Connect Rule) and Roaming Assistance (Wireless -> Professional) using the main router unit’s interface. By the way you can also program the system to restart by itself once in a while. (Administration -> System -> Reboot scheduler).

      Hope this helps,

      -Dong.

  123. I appreciate all the work you’ve put into this. I have some questions that as of yet, I’ve not seen any good answers.

    I need to upgrade my network here and have what I believe is a bit different environment. My internet entry is from Comcast and comes into a metal cabinet. I presently have a ASUS RT-AC87U acting as both a firewall and in-house wireless. I have 2 AP’s, an ASUS N12 and a. Belkin AP.

    What I need to do is have a network firewall/router in the cabinet feeding a mesh network that would cover my home plus a workshop about 200′ away. All devices are connected with Cat5e/Cat6 cable.

    My questions are:
    1) Can I load the ASUS Mesh firmware on my current router? I can’t find a definitive answer on the ASUS site.

    2) I believe I need at least 2 or probably 3 AP’s to cover the house (the walls are wire reinforced plaster) with another AP out at my workshop.

    How would it be best to start into this on a phased basis. I’ve looked at other vendors but ASUS and Ubiquiti are the only 2 that I think will work. I want the seamless handoff between AP’s and to speed up the existing network.

    Thanks

    1. Thanks for your reply. It did bring up a second thought. My experience has been in the high-end commercial IT world (42+ years), most of which was in the network arena.

      I had been looking at the ASUS, Ubiquiti, and briefly at the Synology units. I like both the ASUS and Synology (I have a Synology 1812+ storage server already). My training and experience indicates a firewall between the Comcast input and my network but that is a problem in that most of the equipment I looked at is also WiFI capable. Am I wrong in assuming that most of the vendors do not have dedicated (other than Ubiquiti) firewall units.

  124. In a story large 2 story house with stairs in the middle and ISP modem at backroom at 2nd story, 1 main router will be place there and the node placed at middle of 1st floor (near the stairs).

    Is it better to get AC86u as main and AC5300 as node OR both AC5300 as main and node OR both AC86U as main and node?

    1. It’s a good balance of cost and performance to have the RT-AC86U as main and the RT-AC5300 as node. It doesn’t hurt (other than cost) to have both using the RT-AC5300 but it doesn’t help much, either. Both using the RT-AC86u will probably do fine, too, unless you have A LOT of simultaneously active Wi-Fi clients (like a dozen or more.)

      1. Thank you for the fast response. For Ac5300, although it has 2 5ghz band, does the router auto use 1 5ghz for backhaul or it might be possible, it will switch to 2.4ghz due to stronger signal range as the distance between the router might be further with 1 or 2 wall separating them?

        If that happen, then there is really no point to have 5300 as the node in my case. However if it does force 5ghz as backhaul, the using the 5300 is worth it as it free up the 2.4ghz channel. There might be some legacy devices that hoard 2.4ghz bandwidth around the node.

        Is 86u broadcast signal stronger than Ac5300? If 5ghz channel is stronger with the newer 86u, then it might be an advantage to use 86u for both if 5300 does not dedicate 5ghz for backhaul. Having 2 channel of 5ghz is overkill if 2.4ghz is clog up. The Internet plan is around 500mb to 800mb.

      2. Yes, there’s the chance the 2.4GHz is used, but only if you place the node really far from the main router. That will likely not happen if you lace the node 75 feet or shorter from the main router. Also if you have that fast an Internet connection, using network cables to connect the main router and nodes is a must. Else, you won’t be able to enjoy that speed in full.

  125. Hi Dong,

    Currently I have 2 ac68u units running on wired connection via regular AP mode. Questions:

    1. Are there any benefits to switching to Aimesh or can I leave my setup alone?
    2. Is it possible to add a 3rd party (ie. TP-Link) repeater to Aimesh system? Not as an Aimesh node, but just as its actual purpose to repeat and extend an existing wireless signal.

    Thanks!

  126. Hello Dong.
    Thanks for the great advise and help to so many of us.
    Recently I upgraded my home network and purchased two routers ASUS GT-AC5300 and RT-AC5300. The GT-Ac5300 was purchased to take advantage of the new VPN Fusion that allows for selective tunneling. All devices connect directly to the internet and only my mediastreaming devices like Apple TV uses the VPN tunnel. However the official released firmware from ASUS Version 3.0.0.4.384.32799 has many issues. When you enable the VPN Fusion the internet connection drops. It only works if all devices go through the VPN tunnel or all devices directly to the internet. I tested a beta firmware from ASUS forums Version 3.0.0.4.384_44603 and it solves the problem with internet disconnects but the AIMESH functionality has disappeared. I no longer have this option under network map.
    Wondering if you or other users of GT-AC5300 have experienced this problem and any advise on resolution.

    1. Thanks for your input. Sorry that happened to you. No I don’t use the GT-AC5300. If that’s the case, chances are Asus will release a new firmware to fix that soon. In the meantime you can flash the router back to the firmware version that works.

  127. Hello

    Been looking through here, and the suggestions are so good. Thanks so much!

    I’ve recently invested an ac86u as main router. I am considering getting a ac5300 as aimesh node in addition to several other ac68u nodes on other floors of my office. Would like to ask several questions:

    1. Ac86u has smart connect function. Will this extend to the ac68u nodes?

    2. Since ac86u is only dual band, will this waste the extra band on ac5300 as a node?

    Thanks!

    1. Sure, Bong. Glad you found them helpful. Regarding your questions:

      1. Yes, that node will have the same Wi-Fi networks for both bands.

      2. No, one of the two 5GHz band will be used as the dedicated back-haul that connect to the main router.

      Hope that helps! 🙂

      1. Thank you Dong!

        What if i use ethernet to connect the ac5300 to ac86u? Will the tri-band ac5300 have more bandwidth for its wireless connections in this case?

        Thanks very much for your advice!

  128. Hi Dong
    I have a RT-AC3200 which I have setup in the basement where my Verizon Fios comes into the home office. As you can imagine I have very spotty service on the main floor and worse on the 3rd. I want to set up an aimesh hardwire from the basement with cat from the absent to the 1st floor. What would a compatible setup be?

    1. Hey Kevin, I totally hear you. I actually have the same issue (though I use a different ISP.) I don’t think the RT-AC3200 supports AiMesh. That said, you should replace it with one that support AiMesh. Or, just get the RT-AC68U and use it in AP mode with the existing router. Good luck!

  129. Hi Dong
    In the DMZ settings on the ISP gateway I see the possibility of selecting the Mac address / IP address of the ASUS router

    DMZ On Off
    Input Mode MAC Address or IP Address

    Should I turn on the DMZ and associate the Mac address to expose the ASUS LAN IP to the internet.

  130. Hello Dong
    This is further to my question earlier of how to configure the Asus RT-AC86U AImesh router with the WAN IP address. I logged into my ISP Gateway, This shows the DHCP config as follows:
    DHCP Server On
    LAN IP Address: 192.168. 2. 254 Subnet Mask: 255. 255. 255. 0
    DHCP Start IP Address:192. 168. 2. 1 DHCP End IP Address:192.168. 2. 200
    ISP DNS: Off
    Primary DNS: 192.168. 2. 254

    It has the option of DHCP Binding where I can associate a mac address of the ASUS router to a IP address of the gateway.
    Is this the means of assigning a WAN IP address to the secondary router from the ISP gateway.

    Should the DNS from ISP remain turned off?
    Thank You

    1. No it’s not that part. You should leave it alone if your internet is working fine. What you want is the setting that pass the WAN IP to the LAN IP of the ASUS router. Like I said, it varies gateway by gateway, even the name of that setting. It tends to locate in the Advanced or System section. You can also the DMZ setting of the gateway if it has one to expose the ASUS routers LAN IP to the Internet. Sorry I can’t be any more specific.

  131. Great work, Dong!

    Helping friends who have a two story, wide footprint house with a RT-AC68W in an upstairs office. They’re on an Xfinity internet 150 Mbps plan.

    Their kids play Fortnite on a downstairs PC with wifi connection. Seems to suck bandwidth dry.

    We’re thinking of using the AiMesh capability by adding a RT-AC88U, downstairs connected by Ethernet cable to the upstairs AC68U.

    Any thoughts on which router should be configured as main and which should be the node, keeping in mind that the hungry gaming takes place downstairs?

    What have I not considered yet or gotten wrong to this point?

    Thanks,
    Tim

  132. I have an RT-86U as the router and another RT-86U as the AiMesh node. Do you recommend using Smart Connect or having separate SSID for 2.4 and 5.0GHz bands?

    By the way, I’m having a terrible issue with the latest firmware where my 2.4GHz band has erratic throughput, from 40Mbps suddenly down to almost zero at times. My Homekit devices sometimes have their connection fall off resulting in NO RESPONSE. Read online the latest two firmwares from Asus are causing this. Have you had any experience with this issue as it appears you have the same AiMesh setup.

  133. Hi Sorry to confirm. The WAN IP address that I find on the ISP gateway (84.86.243.154) should be set as static IP on the ASUS RT-AC86U (currently 192.168.2.36) on the ASUS WA-Intenet connection screen?

    1. No, that won’t work. Leave the WAN setting of the Asus router to take the IP automatically. You need to program the IPS gateway to pass that WAN IP to the Asus router for the VPN to work. It varies gateway by gateway but all has a setting for that.

  134. Hello Dong. Thank you for the valuable advise you have been providing on the forum. MY home setup has an ISP router gateway modem with 500mbps service. I have an ASUS RT-AC86U as primary aimesh router and RT-AC5300 as Aimesh node. The rt-86U is also setup as a OpenVPN Client.

    Additionally I have another Netgear Orbi RBK50 and 2 satellites RBS50 as a second LAN that does not use VPN.

    The wireless on the ISP gateway is disabled but DHCP is enabled. The Orbi is setup as access point and not as router.

    Should I setup the primary AIMesh router RT-AC86U as access point or as a router? I am unable to put the ISP router in bridge mode

    1. You should use the main AiMesh as the router and use a modem to connect to your ISP. If a modem is not an option (and you must use a gateway, which is a modem/router combo) then just connect the WAN port of the RT-AC86U to a LAN port of the ISP’s gateway. After that, configure the gateway to:

      1. Give the RT-AC86U the WAN IP address.
      2. Turn off its Wi-Fi.

  135. Dong, forgot to make another comment about your thorough research.

    Bought several dedicated Mesh Networks. Installed them and the wireless transmission speeds were alarmingly slow as I was expecting the speeds to be much faster because of the mesh typology. Put those units on storage as I was not willing to put up with such slow speeds. Better for me to wire a second router and use that as the node since I would get faster speeds than the dedicated Mesh Networks.

    You thorough delineation of mixes of routers shows the dedicated Mesh Networks underperforming compared to AIMesh is absolutely true. Again, I wish I had read your article before I invested time and money playing around the other dedicated Mesh Networks.

  136. Hi Dong,

    My friend is using AC86U as router and AC88U as node. He is having the problem that WiFi camera is only connected to Router which has a lower signal. Do we have any solution that could force camera to connect to node which has stronger signal?

    Thanks.

    1. Yes, here’s how:

      First, make sure all devices involved are updated to the latest firmware. Check their support pages to be sure. If that doesn’t help. Do the following:

      1. Log into the interface of the main router.
      2. Go to Wireless (under Advanced Settings) -> Click on the Professional tab -> change the value of “Band” to the band that the cam is connected to, likely it’s the 2.4GHz.
      3. Change the value of “Roaming assistant” to “Enabled”
      4. Change the value of “Disconnect clients with RSSI lower than” to a different number, generally just lower it by 5 points or so. -> Click Apply.

      Repeat step 4 until it works.

      Hope that helps. 🙂

      -Dong.

    1. If you’re using DSL and don’t have a separate modem, you’ll need to use the dsl-ac68u as the main router. Otherwise the 86u is much better as the main router. I’m not sure the dsl-ac68u can work as a node though since I’ve never used one.

  137. Hi Dong,

    I am setting ROG GT-Ac5300 as the router and RT-AC86U as the node. Do you suggest to switch GT as the node to get better performance?

    I am quite confused why the better performance GT AC-5300 to be the node rather than the router. But for RT-Ac5300, I understand as it has lower spec.

      1. Okay. I will switch AC86U as the main router and GT-AC5300 as node. I don’t use link aggregration and I wish this will improve the performance.

        Meanwhile, do you suggest to have both AC86U for router and node, instead of AC86U as router and GT-AC5300 as node?

  138. You know though, my home isn’t that big but because of walls I loose signal or it gets week in a shorter distance, before I actually buy a third router I am going to try to reconfigure where my main router is and see if it works. Hopefully it does and I am satisfied. Thank you .

  139. Hi,

    So I have 2 ac3100 right and I am thinking of adding a third. but I was thinking of getting an ac1900.

    My question is and I am surprised I have heard someone ask this yet,how will the ac1900 affect the speeds considering it is a slower router?

    1. Hi Steve! It will not affect the speeds of other routers in the mesh, though it, by itself, might be the slowest one. This means, generally, clients connect to it might get slower Wi-Fi speeds than when connected to others. In all though, chances are you won’t see a big difference because most clients don’t have the 4×4 specs of the AC3100.

      1. This depends on what kinds of clients you have and how many. Generally is the RT-AC86u is the latest and has more features. Overall, you won’t likely see any difference.

      1. Question please 😀

        Well do you think that Aimesh WI-FI is going to be around in the sense more expandable than the basic mesh systems? ASUS has done a decent job building this set up and I think it will continue to expand, but is it best to have powerful system as a set up or just use the basic routers in your set up?

        And in my set up if you could only have one hardwired Backhaul and the other Wireless Backhaul would you use the AC1900P or the AC3100 ?

        Thank you very much for your time and help.😀

      2. Question

        How much of a difference does it make in performance when using cat5 versus cat6 in my setup? Or does it really make a difference if you are on much high band with with your service provider?

        Thank you

      3. I have the AC 3100 in my system and I did hardwire it, all now are connected by Ethernet cables from my AC5300.

        Question would be if I choose to move the 1900 and the 3100 and switch where they are at, would it effect my Aimesh system?

        Thank you

  140. Dong,

    I have the main router set up using my AC RT5300 and the node as a AC1900P which is hardwire back haul. The 5300 is down on the main floor in my entertainment room and the 1900p is upstairs in the office and I have roaming assistance turned on, and the 2.4 band set to -55 and the two 5.4 set to -70 and that seems to work, but do you feel I need to set them differently or what app is best to see what’s the sweet spot for this setting?

    Also I was thinking of adding another node to my living room because that seems to still be a bad spot for a strong signal. I have another router it’s the AC3100 that I could use in there, not sure if I can hard wire it or have to use wireless back haul.

    Your thoughts please.

    Thank you very much for your help! 😀

    1. Your setup is fine, Mark. If you add another node, it’s best to use a network cable to connect it to the main router (or the other node). Make sure you update the firmware of all of them before adding, however.

  141. Dong,

    Quick question for setting up AiMesh, do the router/node have to be on the same channel? Obviously they will have to be on SAME SSID. Is it a good idea to use same SSID for both 2.4 and 5?

    Also, if I have 2 RT-AC5300, I assume I can mesh those 3 bands, right?

    Thanks.

  142. Great Review and instruction. I have 86u as router and rt5300 as the node. I don’t get the clients that I think I should on node. They are located closer to the node than to the main router. Is there a way to force a client to be on the node? I have 2 Nest cams that will occasionally show up on the node (they are closer) but will seem to spend the majority of the time on the main router….signal strength is lower though. I’m trying to get the most out of the Aimesh system. Would enabling Smart Connect help? Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Brian. About your issue, check the following:

      1. If the performance of the cams are OK, there’s no need to worry much but try turning them off and back on.
      2. Upgrade firmware of all devices involved. For the routers, make sure you check the firmware yourself (Google them using their model number and “firmware”).
      3. If you have a relatively new smartphone (like no more than 2 years old), try moving it from one router to another to see if it switches on its own (normally it takes a few seconds). If so, the hand-off works and that means the cams don’t support 802.11r or 802.11k. In this case, there’s no way to fix that, other than number #1.

      Hope this helps! 🙂

      1. I have Comcast coax-cable coming in my basement, where I put the modem.
        When I built the house, had 4 rooms hard wired and connected in the basement.

        Currently, I have a Linksys router in the basement (wifi turned off, connecting to the modem and 4 rooms), then I put 4 Asus routers at each end (none of them are AiMesh ready!!!)

        One option is to get 86u in the basement (very corned of the house) to replace the linksys. Then get a AC5300 as node on 1st floor (center of the house). Should I need another 86u on 2nd (another side of house)?

        Thanks.

  143. Thanks Dong..So I followed your advice and bought 2 ac-86u’s for AiMesh. The performance is incredible. I am getting 586/500 mb down on the satellite I am getting like 320 mb down. I get a great signal in what was problem areas. If someone is close to a micro center they have 2 ac-86u’s for 299.99 right now. It’s a very good deal.

    1. Deandre….I also bought the same pair of ac86u’s from Microcenter for 300 bucks. I got them yesterday and they absolutely smoke the Orbi RBK53 and the Velop 3 Pack Triband. Dong does know!!!! Thanks Dong!!!

  144. So Dong….which one….a pair of Blue Cave or a pair of rt-ac86u? Mostly interested in wireless performance and mesh coverage. I have some cinder block walls in my basement that I’d love to penetrate thru with 2.4? Which pairing is better for AIMesh?

    1. Here’s my order: RT-AC86U -> Blue Cave -> RT-Ac68U. However, if you have very thick walls, none of them might make a difference. Maybe you should think about running cables over or through those walls.

  145. AIMESH does not play well with Repeaters . I have a 3 router AImesh system and a RP-AC68U. The repeater does connect to the AIMESH but the connections seem to roam from node to node. As an example my 5G connection to the mesh will be 500Mbs but my 2.4G connection will be 13Mmbps . Originally those values were swapped .

    There is no way to lock your repeater to an individual node . Hopefully ASUS will release a repeater with AIMESH or add the functionality to the RP-AC68U.

  146. Hello I am currently using a ac5300 as the main and a ac1900p for 1 mode, and a ac88u as another. Have a network drive on the ac5300. Should I be using the ac1900 as the main? I can hook the ac5300 and the ac1900 together with cat5 if needed. The ac5300 and ac1900 are 150ft apart and it seems to work well.

    1. If you can hook them up using network cables, any of them can be the main router, but it’s best to use the setup you have right now. Otherwise, you should use the RT-AC88U as the main.

  147. So i did what you said, except i did not buy the node, the range on AC86u is incredible (2.4ghz wise), 5ghz, range is obviously going to be low but other than that its amazing, will be buying a node at a way cheaper price.

  148. Hi Dong,

    I returned two Orbi RBK53 because of constant issues with their networks having to be re-setup after power outages. I also had a velop system before the Orbis but it seemed slower than the Netgear mesh network offering. This AIMesh looks interesting. If 400-ish dollars was a budget and I wanted to take advantage of wirelessly transmitting as much of my Verizon Fios Gigabit service as possible, which Asus routers would you recommend? I saw that the Blue Cave and the RT-AC86u are similar. Blue Cave is a bit less expensive. Any thoughts and would the AIMesh rival the RBK53 or perhaps beat it?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Armando. You can’t get 1Gbps with a wireless setup, period. For your Internet speed, you should think about running network cables to link networking hardware together. However, a set of two RT-AC86u units will outdo any mesh of similar price. You can also try the ASUS Lyra Trio. Don’t get the Blue Cave for AiMesh yet. Though it works, I’d wait till a next firmware update before counting on its AiMesh feature.

  149. I wanted to ask you, with this AiMesh system merging two router to create one single access point, will this slow my speeds down or boost it a little bit? Currently, i just bought a Asus AC3200, does not support AiMesh but it has a tri band, thinking of returning it and getting the ASUS RT-AC88U that supports the AiMesh, and then getting another router ( perhaps the ASUS AC3100 or AC1900 that’s provided by T-Mobile, i believe you did a review on the AC1900), and merging it to get better range. I mostly need my routers for streaming on my Smart TVs, firesticks, iDevices, and mostly gaming *HIGH PRIORITY* and also 9 HD video cameras installed to view live from your phone (uses a lot of internet), don’t really care about download speeds. With the AC3200, i bought a netgear x4s mesh range extender one name access point, reading some forums i heard extenders like that slice your speeds in half and it actually did lower the speeds, once disconnected that netgear device, speeds were better. So my question is to you, 1- will the Aimesh cut my speeds down or boost a little or stay the same using a wireless connection? I know using ethernet will obviously boost it. hopefully boosts or stays, i don’t want no slow speeds and 2- will this extend range more? thinking of putting the secondary router near the wall that goes to my patio (kinda close to where the primary router is) to get range wifi outside.

    1. Hi Oz! If you intend to connect the node to the main AiMesh router using Wi-Fi, generally you’ll lose some bandwidth. To avoid this you can use a tri-band router as the node (hence have one band dedicated as the back-haul), or use a network cable to connect the two. In any case, it’s always better to use AiMesh than using a router and an Wi-Fi extender. Hope this helps!

      1. Now the AC3200 (tri band router ) does not accept the Aimesh technology, but in oyur case lets say you have the router i do, what would you do to extend range (POWERLINE is not a option), do you buy 2 routers the primary the best in its class and the second one gets the job done also but its not as expensive. Let me know

      2. If i go with your options, and connect them via wireless together instead of ethernet cables, do you think i would drop speeds but get more range or get both range and speed the same or higher? so many questions im sorry just a tech geek running out of options.

      3. This depends on how far you put the two apart (find out more in my post). But if you use the tri-band node, your speed will be very good.

      4. Dong, very good advice. I had set up the RT-86U as the primary router and another RT-86U as the node in an AIMesh system.

        Then I bought the RT-AC3100 and firmware upgraded it to the version that turned it into an AIMesh router. (The RT-AC3100 is a 4 LAN port wireless router as opposed to the RT-88U (which is basically an RT-AC3100 with EIGHT LAN ports; I don’t know what ASUS was thinking at the time). I made the firmware upgraded RT-AC3100 as the primary router and the RT-86U and noticed there was slight wireless speed degradation compared to my first set up which was RT-86U primary to second RT-86U as node.

        It took some time for me to set up the new AIMesh so I’ll just leave it as is, with the slighter wireless speed. Too lazy. But I will set up a second systerm with the RT-86U as primary router and the firmware upgraded RT-AC3100 as the node.

        I observed what you wrote, when setting up the AIMesh node you can’t do harwired but only wirelessly.. Also you noted you cannot address the node directly, period. All modifications to the primary router are “duplicated” by ASUS software to the node. These are observations I made trying to access the mode directly and wasting over four hours.

        You certainly know your stuff. Thank you.

    1. The 86U is faster and has more features than the the 68U, Patrick (read my reviews!). That said, you’ll likely have a more powerful mesh using the 86 as the main router and even faster if you also use one as a node. If you just want to share a modest Internet connection, though, chances are you won’t see much of a difference.

  150. Hi Dong, I recently purchased AC68P to replace my router. I am really happy with my purchase as both signal strength and speed have improved with all my wifi connected devices. I have 2 older computers in my study that is connected with 802.11g and n adapters. I would like to improve the connection speed even more so I can transfer files from those computers to my NAS which is connected to my router. My question is will I get better performance to install both computers with AC adapters? Or should I purchase another aimesh router and hook up both computers with cable to the new router and let the new router link up with the main router wirelessly. those computers are about 25ft away from my router with 2 walls in between. Connecting the 2 routers with cable is out of the question. I believe it is cheaper for me to get another AC68P than 2 AC adapters. Is there any downside to the 2 router solution?

    1. You have a good setup there, Keith! Yes, if you get those two computers each an AC adapter, you’ll get faster speed. In this case make sure you set the Wi-Fi security to use WPA2 encryption method with AES (and not TKIP-AES). There’s no downside to getting a second router (cost aside) but no upside either, you wouldn’t get any faster speed considering the environment.

  151. Hi, I have been using AC68U and and just bought AC86U to set up AiMesh. Have also been using TP Link powerlines adapter for upper floors of my house. Can I use these TP Link powerlines to connect to the LAN ports of both AC86U and AC68U for the backhaul purposes of the AiMesh network?

  152. Hi Dong..Thanks for the post. I have a asus RT-68P as my main ASUS router and 2 flashed TM -AC1900 as my aimesh nodes. I am able to get stable WiFi ( after few tweaks) throughout my 2000 sq ft house but when I run iperf from a 2016 macbook pro on the second floor to my hardwired desktop (gigabit NIC )in the basement, my effective throughput is only about 100Mb/s on a gigabit internet plan. Is there any way i can bump up this performance? I saw that each of the nodes ( when they were working as a wireless AP), the receive rate was about 500 Mb/s. So I was expecting to see atleast 200-300 Mb/s wireless with aimesh.

    1. If you have that fast an internet plan, you need to use cables to link the units together! Also make sure your desktop has a gigabit networking port. 100Mbps is about right btw since you have to factor in the signal loss, however. Most mesh systems has the “good” threshold of just 50Mbps.

  153. Hello, thanks for advices.
    Question: asus RT-AC88U has 8 network ports. If I connect 2 of them by ethernet cable and set up them as AiMesh, will all combined 16 lan ports will be on the same network (that wired devices could see each other) ?

    Is it possible with this setup to combine 2 internet sources (lets say 2 LTE modems from different providers) into one internet source for home networking ?

    Thanks.

    1. Other than the WAN port on the main router, the rest of the ports will work as LAN ports. And yes you can set up Dual WAN on the main router unit to support another internet connection. Cellular can use a USB port.

  154. Hey

    I currently have an Archer 2600 setup as my main router. I have two AC68u routers sitting around. Is it possible to connect one router as an extender then second via aimesh?

  155. Hi,

    Currently I am living in a 4000 sqft 2 storey home, I am considering between the Netgear Orbi Kit (RBK50) (Orbi Router (RBR50) + Orbi Satellite (RBS50)) vs two Asus AC86U with AiMesh. Which set up would you recommend more? Am a bit concerned with the dual band system of the AC86U

    1. I would totally recommend the ASUS AiMesh. It’s best if you use a dual band router as the main and a tri- band router as the node. However, even if you use two ac86u units, the setup will be better than the rbk50. Among other things, you have the option to connect them using a network cable later on.

      1. Thank you so much Dong. Went and bought 2 AC86U’s. Now not only does my house no longer have any more blind spots, I am able to enjoy consistently strong speeds which I was unable to previously (previously had a repeater set-up). Also, I am finally able to enjoy working in my garden patio. Plus point, the AiMesh function also enabled me to prolong the life of my old AC68U router which has a damaged WAN port as I can use it as another node.

  156. Hi,

    is there any way to only setup aimesh for the 2.4 gh only and not the 5ghz Im using a ROG gt AC5300 ROG and a RT-AC86U as a node. I only use 2.4 for wireless cameras in my house . The 2 cameras and the far side of my home have bad wireless connection. This is why i need the extra node for these cameras. I would like to keep the 5 ghz off the aimesh.

    1. The two bands are separate, Ken, so there’s no need to turn the 5GHz off. But you can name the 5GHz band with a different name from the 2.4GHz if you want to completely separate them.

  157. I have a RT-AC68U as my main router. I would like to add two nodes for basement and upstairs mesh coverage. Are there any small, inexpensive, attractive models that I can use as nodes (kind of like the Lyra devices)?

  158. Excellent hands-on review. Thanks for doing the “heavy lifting” of performance testing & comparison with competition. I too am running Asus, & was considering AI Mesh. Your article convinced me: I’m getting a second Asus router.

  159. Yesterday, I configured GT‑AC5300 and RT‑AC5300 in a mesh setup (aimesh). First I set up the GT‑AC5300 as my main router/aimesh router node and then I set up the RT‑AC5300 as a slave AiMesh node. When I started both of them (connected to LAN and internet), they both updated automatically to the latest firmware (mentioned below). I have been testing their AIMESH functionality and the VPN functionality and they both seem to be pretty good. One thing I have noticed that having these 2 routers too close to each other can cause AI mesh to work in a hopping confused way (which is probably expected). So increasing the distance between the 2 helped with having the clients stick to the main or node. Also for the backhaul I have the node connected to the router via ethernet, which I believe they both consistently connect at 300mbps. I am pretty pleased with these 2. The cost however for having these 2 in a mesh setup is pretty high and probably justifiable on a very large home…bigger than 3000 sq feet. Hope this helps a bit for anyone considering AIMESH specifically with these 2 routers.

    RT‑AC5300 Version 3.0.0.4.384.21045 released 2018/06/12
    GT-AC5300 Version 3.0.0.4.384.21045 released 2018/06/01

  160. Thanks Dong,

    Every article I read recommends to use the strongest/most expensive router as the primary/main so I got very worried whether if I should went for double 86u or a single ac5300, now you’ve cleared my doubts (and saved me the trouble of returning it since I already ordered yesterday)

    Thanks again.

  161. Hi Dong, i have a unique problem (not really) but here it is.

    I’m trying to setup the asus aimesh system in the new house i am moving in currently. The problem now is that all the cables and cctv and main switch and etc all have to be house in a cabinet at the entrance of the house.

    BUT! Being a VERY ASIAN house, the entrance walkway is shaped like a fengshui bagua map (the bagua center is the center of the house so imagine it) so essentially even the living room next to it have very subpar signal (2 bars only if the cabinet is closed and the glass door to the living room is closed)

    What i have now is an Asus RT- AC-1900 that i bought last year that was just right for the old house i lived in. So i purchased another GT-AC-5300 but am unsure what to do.

    Q1: Should i place the AC5300 into the cabinet ? and move the AC1900 out to the living room or 1 of the rooms upstairs to boost the signal ? (via CAT6 lan cable in the rooms)

    Q2: Or if the AC1900 is powerful enough to act as the primary/main and let the AC5300 boost the signal in the living room as the secondary/sub?

    Q3: All 3 questions are the same actually, its just whether the main has to be the most powerful router or not ? mind that the entire house have lots of IOT devices and people using them, roughly 50+ and i plan on getting more up to 100+ throughout by setting up sensors and IP-CCTVS as secondary security other than the cable CCTVs.

    Cheers.

    1. Hi Sim, since you’re using a cable to connect the two, it doesn’t really matter which to use as the main router. You’ll have a fast Wi-Fi network, either way. That said, if you want to support lots of Wi-Fi devices, use the RT-AC1900 as the main router. Considering the house, that’s the best setup. Good luck!

      1. Hello Dong, I am going the same situation as Jetson. I have a RT-AC86U and RT-AC5300. I contacted Asus, and they recommended that I use the 5300 as the main router. I’m not too sure about this since the AC5300 has an older processor. His argument is that it is higher since it’s a AC5300 and that it also handles bandwidth better. I am now confused. What are your thoughts still? Thank you!

      2. Unless you need port aggregation (combining two LAN ports into a 2Gbps connection), use the RT-AC86U as the main router and the AC5300 as the node, Doug.

  162. the RT-1900 is a supported model. Can anyone confirm if the SRT-1900 (asus version of Google onHub) is also supported? I can’t find any clear statement if it is or is not. Thanks.

  163. Hi,

    Did you experience the Ethernet backhaul yourself (ref. “Router and nodes can link to one another via network cables. In this case, just connect the WAN port of a node to a LAN port of the main router, or another node”).

    Because accordind the my own test, the LAN port as well has to be use on the node for the Ethernet backhaul to work.

    Regards,

    1. Yes I did with two RT-AC86U units, but not with many other combinations. I guess this might be different depending on your routers. Thanks for the input, that’s good to know. I’ll check with Asus.

    2. I checked with Asus. They confirmed what LAN and WAN ports on the nodes are auto sensing. But there might be a bug since it’s hard to check all possible combinations.

  164. Hi!
    I was considering buying another Asus router to try out AiMesh but then started to wonder what the difference really is between AiMesh and simply running an ethernet cable from the main router to another unit (set as an AP) like I have (AC88U linked via ethernet to a cheaper AC58U working as a 5GHz-only AP, and getting pretty decent [450/500Mbit/s] speeds off it [ISP is 1Gbps/200Mbps, measured on my fastest AC device – iphone 7 plus].
    And having both units share the same SSID and channel on the 5GHz band actually gives me fewer drops when moving around the house (200sqft), and pretty much a steady, low latency connection (3ms).
    How does the AiMesh (via ethernet) compare?
    Thanks!

    1. Yes, you can use the cable. In fact that’s the best way to deliver the fastest performance. Since the backhaul is handled by the Ethernet connection, there will be no signal loss. The AiMesh setup will still work the same, meaning you still can control your Wi-Fi network via the interface of the main router and you will still have seamless handoff etc.

      1. Yeah, if you’ve got the ability to run copper, a cable is vastly superior to Wifi to Wifi via any Mesh network. No RF bandwidth contention, full 1 Gbps bidirectional full-duplex, and no channel crowding. Mesh is what you use when you DON’T have a cable, or can’t run one.

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