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

Asus RT AX3000 and RT AX88U Routers
You need two or more supported Asus routers 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 most versatile 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 to — for the most part, though not always — bring in 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






Ease of Use





  • 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


  • 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 Linksys Velop. Initially released as an add-on feature, over time, AiMesh has proven to be Asus’s most impactful 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.

List of Asus’s current AiMesh routers

There are tri-band and dual-band broadcasters. As a rule, for best performance, in a Wi-Fi mesh system, you want tri-band for a wireless setup. For a home wired with network cables, it makes more sense to use dual-band hardware, though either will likely work well.

Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) AiMesh broadcasters

Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) AiMesh broadcasters

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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.

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.

Best of all, 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 routers of different tiers.

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

Asus ZenWiFi AX vs ZenWiFi AC
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.

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 all AiMesh combo.

  • Universal setting restoration: You can restore the backup settings of most Asus routers — so far, among those support AiMesh, all but the RT-AX89X and the Blue Cave — interchangeably. As a result, in an upgrade, you won’t need to program the new router from scratch. Most of your network’s configurations — including those of an AiMesh system — will migrate from the old router to the new one. 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 as the way Asus define categories for web-filtering is a bit vague.
  • 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.)
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. In this case, it’s recommended that the WAN port of a node is used for the job. When having multiple nodes, you can mix wired and wireless connections.
  • Third-party switch supported: For wired backhaul, you can use switches in between nodes. For best performance, make sure you use Gigabit (or faster) ones.
  • Auto-sensing network ports: Only on the router unit, the WAN port functions as its designated role — it needs to connect to an Internet source. After that, all network ports in the mesh system, those of the router and nodes, work as a LANs. That’s generally true in either a wired- or a wireless-backhaul setup.
  • 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.
  • 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 (if at all) compared with other systems.
  • Access point (AP) mode: As a Wi-Fi system, AiMesh can work in access point mode — not to be confused with the AP mode of an individual router. This means and AiMesh system with an existing router purely to extend the network.
  • Here to stay: This is an ongoing feature, future Asus routers will support it. In fact, so far, all Asus Wi-Fi 6 routers have supported it right out of the box.
AiMesh Nodes
There’s no hard limit on how many hardware unit you can use in an AiMesh system. Here’s one with seven units in a mixed wired and wireless setup.

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, 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. For now, 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.

(Note: In the future, it’s highly likely that Asus will release firmware with the option to group all three bands into one network via Smart Connect when the wired backhaul is used. But that’s the future.)

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 is 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, but its backhaul band is no longer dedicated.
  • Mixing 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. Also, 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, ZenWiFi AC, and ZenWiFi AX Mini.

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

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:

  • Better interface: There’s a new AiMesh which makes managing the feature easier.
  • Better node control: 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: You can use this latest Wi-Fi security method, but only if all involved routers in the mesh are ZenWiFi.
  • Guest network: The ZenWiFi AX Mini is the only set that supports Guest Wi-Fi fully. Other sets might follow suit, again, only if you only use ZenWiFi hardware.

Just to be clear, 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 get some or all improvements mentioned 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, RT-AX3000, RT-AX89X, and RT-AX86U.

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 still 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.

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.

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.

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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.

But AiMesh is far from perfect. For one, requires a bit more work to set up. Also, a large number of settings and features can be overwhelming. And finally, certain combos can be problematic and firmware updates don’t always mean improvement — sometimes they break things. In other words, it’s a work in progress and has been so since day one.

Nonetheless, the only true competitor to AiMesn in terms of features and settings is that of Synology. Unfortunately, Synology hasn’t released more mesh-capable routers for a couple of years now — 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 — almost all routers will work well with one another. Just use the latest or most powerful router as your primary note, and connect the nodes’ WAN port to the network.

Wired backhaul: AiMesh vs. AP mode

There are more benefits in using wired backhaul than just performance.

For one, you now have the option of using the nodes in the AP mode. In this case, you don’t have a real mesh system since you’ll have to manage the node separately using its web interface. But in return, you can rest assured that any hardware combo will work well, and you can make use of the AP’s USB port and control its Wi-Fi bands individually.

What’s more, you can also use non-AiMesh routers, including those from a different hardware vendor. In my trial, using the satellite units in the AP role is far more reliable than using them as AiMesh nodes. So, consider this as an alternative when you have issues with a pure AiMesh setup.

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

Asus RT AX300 vs RT AX58U routers
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 broadcaster when using it as the primary router.

So, in a mixed setup, chances are you won’t be able to any of the broadcasters in the venerable 160 MHz channel width, which is required for it to deliver top Wi-Fi 6 speed.

In other words, if you mix Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 in a wireless setup, expect the entire system to be Wi-Fi 5.

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 also supports AiMesh and will work, too. You can mix routers running Asus’s stock and Merlin firmware.) 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 (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.

To start, click on “Network Map,” then on the AiMesh Icon, and then on “Search.”
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.

Click on Apply to confirm.
The adding process takes about a minute.
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 unit’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.

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).
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.
In an AiMesh network, you use the primary router’s web interface to manage the node(s), including firmware updates.

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
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.

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647 thoughts on “AiMesh Review: Asus’s Ongoing Journey to Excellent Wi-Fi Coverage”

  1. Since “An AiMesh system has all the features and settings of the primary router” is there any reason not to buy an entry level ASUS Router for the node?

    If I connect a wifi 5 router as a node to a wifi 6 router will all of the wifi be wifi 6?

  2. Hi, and thank you for the fantastic articles and reviews!

    I would like to create an AiMesh network using a WiFi 6 (AX series) device as the primary router, and one or more WiFi 5 (AC series) devices as nodes.

    I’d like to save some money in the short term by using less expensive WiFi 5 nodes (until I upgrade them later to WiFi 6), but not if this is going to lead to a lot of problems/headaches/time spent on solutions, which I would like to avoid.

    I read your article carefully a few times, and I know that you recommended keeping the devices matched, but I also read in a previous response that you posted (on August 15, 2020 at 9:15 am), that AiMesh networks will work with a mix of WiFi 6 and WiFi 5 devices.

    My questions are:

    1. Did you experience any connectivity issues when transitioning from a WiFi 6 session on your primary router to a WiFi 5 session on your nodes when you were conducting your tests?

    2. Should I expect to run into any annoying or odd problems if I mix things up?

    3. Is AiMesh just using the available radios on the nodes to extend the mesh network, but using the primary router to manage all aspects of the sessions?

    Keep up the great work!

    • The tricky part is the backhaul link, Frank. It’s always a hit or miss when you mix two Wi-Fi standards. Clearly, when that works, it’ll be Wi-Fi 5, so the Wi-Fi 6 router will need to work in the compatible mode. Depending on the routers you use, chances are things will work, just not ideal. If you use wired backhaul, though, then the issue is minimal, if at all.

      • I have set up a mesh using AC88U as the primary and the AX86U. I have noticed devices connecting then disconnecting. I am not sure why. Both routers are using latest firmware and are connected via wired cat 6. They are in different rooms but on the same floor. I have had the set up for about a week and didn’t notice until today. I have had this happen on a PC and an iPhone XS. When I use the app I see both routers active with devices connected. No more than 10 devices currently in the house as we are not fully moved in yet.

          • I have the node (AX86u connected via Ethernet to the Primary (AC88u). I’m using Ethernet cable from a lan port on the AC88U connected to the Wan port on the AC86u. Isn’t that the correct way to create the back haul?

  3. Dong,
    Thank you for the wonderful writeup. I am not a tech person and can understand much of what you are explaining. We have a 3600 sq ft home with 2100 sq ft on the main floor. On one side of the home is my office with the modem and our rt-ac5300. Performance in that room of course is fine. On the other end of the home is my husbands office, and he has a difficult time playing any online games. A wired backhaul is not the easiest to achieve.
    In between the two offices is one of our nest doorbells (outside on brick) that constantly drops signals.
    I would appreciate your input as to what equipment to use for an aimesh system. Should I upgrade my rt-ac5300 to the gt-ac5300 and use my current rt-ac5300 as a node in my husband’s office? I appreciate and look forward to your input. I am trying to look for a smaller footprint in his office, but want the best performance throughout the house. Thank you, Regina

  4. Doug,
    Great review !
    Two questions:
    – is it possible to configure the mesh so that it is a bridge or not a “router” in order to use it behind another combo router/modem which provides the routing/NAT functionality toward internet? It would be either a ZenFi AX or AX1100.
    – Can the ZenFi AX8 be configured in a wired mesh so that the 5Ghz-2 band is visible and useable by client devices like the AX1100?

  5. Doug, great review indeed, I have a few questions.
    1. Is it possible to setup a mesh and have the main “router” or mesh system being configured as a bridge so that there is no routing/NAT on the mesh system? That would allow to have the mesh system behind a combo modem/router such as a comcast business gateway. Would this work with either a ZenFi AX or AX11000 mesh?
    2. With the ZenFi AX, is it possible to use the 5GHz-2 band for wireless clients in the case of a wired backhaul? I believe you said that this would work with a AX11000 mesh right?

    • 1. Yes, I mentioned that in this post, that’s called the “Access point mode” by the way.
      2. I also answer that in this post, in great detail. Check out the Tri-band part.

  6. Great article Dong!

    Could you help me choose efficient and cost effective solution for my home network.

    I have a house with 5 floors of residence + 1 floor of maintenance. I have ISP modem on maintenance floor with Cat6 running to all 5 floors from this maintenance floor. Each floor’s of 2300sq. ft. The entire house’s on automation with app. 100 lighting automation circuits, 50 IOT devices such as IP cameras, security, sensors and 50 personal devices such as mobiles, PCs, TV, etc . I’m planning to install a WiFi6 mesh system with smooth handoff and multi gig support for a long lasting solution.

    A router can be placed on maintenance floor, connected to a gigabit switch and further 5 nodes connected to this switch. So, which model shall I proceed with? I’m looking for something which is a true mesh network with extensive and easy customisability for a home network.
    *Note gaming isn’t a preference as such


  7. Hi Dong – firstly, many thanks for writing such an informative and interesting article, it’s much appreciated. I had a couple of questions 1) I was hoping to build an aimesh network with a gt-ac5300 as the main router. What would be your suggestion for the best so node with this setup a) if I was to use a wired connection and b) for a wireless connection between the main router and node? Also I was planning on connecting a backup device to the node and carry out nightly backups from a NAS drive connected to the primary router. Would I be able to access/control a usb device on the aimesh node (sounds from you article as if I may not be able to do this?). Maybe I would be better connecting a NAS to the aimesh node instead of a usb drive?

    • There are answers to your questions in the post, Ian. Do me a favor, read it again, and pay a bit of attention. You won’t get a different answer from me just by asking the question directly. 🙂

      • Thanks Dong, I’ve done my homework and read the article again – still learning more each time I read through, but there are a few things I am a bit confused with. If I physically connect a PC directly to the LAN port on an aimesh node, and enter or, does it bring up the web page for the primary aimesh router (rather than the page for the node)? It sounds like once aimesh is set up, the router takes over the nodes and you get a single view of everything (except the USB port on aimesh nodes, which is disabled).

  8. Planning to use an RT-AX88U as router, and single XT8 as node. I’m wondering if I can use one of the radios on the XT8 node just for backhaul, or is AiMesh not flexible enough to do that with a 2 radio router? I’d like to try the AiMesh functionality, even though I have MoCA to use the XT8 as in AP mode.

    Thoughts on whether this might work well with AiMesh?


    • AP mode is the way to go, in this case, Doh. Else you won’t be able to use the XT8’s 2nd 5GHz band at all. More here. But an AiMesh setup will work well, too, just make sure you upgrade the XT8 to the latest firmware first (one of the old versions has a bug that causes the wired backhaul not to work.)

  9. Hi Dong,
    Thanks for your answers, I have 1 last but a bit complicated question:
    the vdsl modem is located in a closet. I also have ethernet port in each room which provides connection to modem’s lan ports. For example, if I connect the main unit to an ethernet port in my room, then connect the second unit in same way in another room, is it possible to have a wired-mesh system?
    I’m not a native English speaker, hope that I could explain the situation well.
    Thanks again for your effort.

  10. First of all, thanks for those grate articles!
    I want to setup a mesh system with ax86u and ax56u. Is this combination fine?
    Second question, is it possible to use the lan port instead of wan?
    Thanks again

    • Yes, that combo will work, especially if you have wired backhaul. And yes, you can use a LAN port on the node, though the WAN is better as backhaul.

          • Thanks for your answers, I have 1 last but a bit complicated question:
            the vdsl modem is located in a closet. I also have ethernet port in each room. For example, if I connect the main unit to an ethernet port in my room, then connect the second unit in same way in another room, is it possible to have a wired-mesh system?
            I’m not a native English speaker, hope that I could explain the situation well.
            Thanks again for your effort.

          • Here’s the diagram, Cagri: Modem -> (WAN) router (LAN) -> other wired devices. You can’t put anything between the modem and the router (other than the network cable, which can be of almost any length). By the way, English is not my mother tongue, either. 🙂

  11. Hi, we’re going to be moving into a 6,750 sqft house plus garages. I’d like to have full coverage throughout the indoor space (Tesla in garage) as well as the pool and backyard areas if possible. What do you recommend for that type of large property? Thanks!

  12. Hi Dong,

    So glad I found this page, super helpful how you break down some of these features from Asus.

    I’ve had 2 RT-AC68U’s (one main router, one as hard-wired AP) for quite a few years, without having upgraded the firmware to the latest version supporting aimesh. Have more going on in the house now with myself/kids working/schooling from home. I upgraded the firmware and find it much more useful to understand what devices are using the most bandwidth etc. Also now have support for the mobile app which is fun to play around with.

    I configured Aimesh and it seems to be working as advertised, with wired backhaul… but the prior setup seemed ok too. I assume with Aimesh it is more actively managing client handoffs between the router/node, and managing whether a client is connected to 2.4 vs 5Ghz.

    Turning on Aimesh hasn’t changed the fact that there are some low-reception zones in my house. Part of the issue is I have the main router in a closet with the modem and some other peripherals (NAS etc.) to just have them out of the way. It is in the center of the house in the basement, but still the signal strength is fairly low.

    I’m considering adding another node to the current 2x RT-ac68U setup. What would you recommend? I’m really just looking for better overall coverage within the house, and I have some options to locate a node that I think will achieve that (with wired backhaul). Speed/bandwidth of the existing setup really isn’t an issue.

    • Happy to have you, Tim. Since you have wired backhaul, just get another RT-AC68U. But if you want you can use a better router as the main router, like the RT-AC86U, or even the RT-AX86U. Those will give you more features. As for AiMesh vs AP mode, among other things, the former allows you to change the Wi-Fi settings just at the router units, while with the latter, you have to manually change that at each AP. Hope this helps.

      • Sure, that would be the safe play, definitely wouldn’t have any compatibility concerns. But the RT-AC68U is getting a bit old, isn’t it? Just wondering if I should be investing in something a bit newer, future-proofing if you will… while still maintaining compatibility with my existing hardware.

  13. Would it work to use the following wired network path? Cable modem to switch to two ai mesh routers. Or does the primary router have to be directly wired to the secondary router?

  14. Hello
    As I have AC68U router as main which has been running for 6 years. It’s also connect to AP RE450 via lan as 2nd wireless access point in 3rd bedroom which has 20cm thick concrete room & another gigabit hub at 2nd bedroom for wired network.
    I wanted to know which router to buy as main router AC or AX ?
    The AC68u to be as a aimesh node or ap connect to backhub via wired lan to main router.
    As have 15-20 devices connected. All the walls are bricked also one room is thick concrete wall where the AP is. The main router is at Kitchen open space to living room.
    At 2nd bedroom I get no 5G signal from main router,only 2.4G getting -71dBm, can get 5G signal from AP at -65 dBm.
    Main bedroom can getrouter 5G at -71 dBm & AP -68dBm.
    So what are the best router to suit for better signal range through the whole home.

  15. Thank you for the article! It’s very helpful and I just bought the Asus ZenWiFi AX8 last month. It’s been good. Just a note, I am able to update firmware on Asus mobile app without going through desktop web download flash process.

    • Yeap, Andy, the mobile app is better with firmware updates. However, don’t mess too much using the app, you might create issues inadvertently.

  16. Hi Dong,
    1st of all I love your articles!
    I have a situation at home that drives me crazy. I have bought RT-AX88U and it seems to have very weak signal. Standing 1m away from it and using Samsung Note10+ with WiFi Analyzer I see -38dBm on the 5GHZ and -41dBm on the 2GHz4 channels. when I move away for about 7-8m (~24ft) I am loosing another 20dBM. It is open space and it seems odd. What do you think?
    I am also considering creating aimesh. The house I live in (rented) has an U shape. Living room is on one arm of U on the ground floor and offices and sleeping rooms are on the floor above in the other U arm. The 20dBm drop of signal is on the path that follows U shape from my AX88U located in the living room toward the “bottom of U”. The aim is to have new node that would cover the upper floor. Wired back-haul is very difficult to achieve as landlord objects. What would a good partner device for the AX88U? My aim is to have preferably both 5GHz and 2GHz4 signals in the office and sleeping rooms. I am also rather excluding another AX88U. Potentially I would rather go for ZenWiFi 6. Though I am not sure if this routers are as powerful as AX88U in terms of advanced features (must have req for me is two Open VPN tunnels one with Nord VPN and another to different house to extend LAN with another subnet [on a side note I would love Asus to include Preshared Key site to site VPN in their Home solutions]).

    • A couple of things, Piotr.

      1. dBM is NOT linear, it’s logarithmic, so the difference in numbers doesn’t mean much. More here. You need to do a real test to know how the connection speed truely is.
      2. Get another RT-AX88U (or any dual-band AiMesh) and place it at the bottom of the U. But a 2-pack of the ZenwiFi AX, or RT-AX92U will do too.
      3. VPN is more tricky than you think. More here.

      • Hi Dong,
        1. I know it’s log10 (I am electronic engineer working in Cyber for years with little love for EM fields). I think it is still very low to have ~-40dBm just 1m (3.2ft) away from the signal source, isn’t it? I would expect something in the range -30dBm to -25dBm.
        2. 2xAX88U is about 650EUR bit expensive; 2xZenWi AX us about 400 something, so way better. The thing is that nobody does any comparison between non mesh features, so hard to say how they would fare (better or worse in the areas of interest).
        3. I have no problem with VPNs, just with their buggy implementations 🙂 Obviously I am more accustomed to pro equipment but I can handle home grade and OpenVPN, no worries there.

  17. Hi Dong,

    Thanks for the article and explanations. I have a question regarding whether adding a rarely used AiMesh node via non-dedicated wireless backhaul will slow down my main router’s single 5GHz band? I have a RT-AX86 as a main router on the 2nd floor of my house, which is linked via wired backhaul to the other side of my house with a RT-AC86 in AP mode. This gives pretty good coverage but it’s weaker in some parts of my fairly long basement. I get good 5GHz signal on one side of my basement from the RT-AX86, and I was thinking of using a spare RT-AC68 in the basement as an AiMesh node to get better coverage in the basement. However, it’s not a place that is frequently used and I did not want to slow down the single 5GHz band on my main router. Will maintaining the connection with my rarely used AiMesh node in the basement via 5GHz wireless backhaul have much of an effect on overall 5GHz throughput on my main router?

  18. Hi! great post!!….wondering if you can help:

    I have a 3300sq ft house…I re-purposed phone jacks to be ethernet (luckily they ran cat 5e!)….I currently have 2 AC86u’s running using wired backhaul aimesh…have about 80-90 devices connected….and have gigabit Xfinity…I still don’t get a very good blanketing of wifi in the house because of many walls and stuff….if I were to add another aimesh node, is it best to stick with a wifi 5 asus router and run it as a node? or should I get a wifi 6 model and make it the main router, and the 2 ac86u’s as the aimesh wired backhaul nodes?…i also have one of those tmobile routers but don’t think it runs aimesh anymore…should i run it as just a wired AP, or is it best to stick to just aimesh? THANKS!

  19. Hi Dong, I’m having terrible trouble with my ASUS / AiMesh setup and I am hoping you might be able to help me… Based on reviews/discussions, I purchased 3 AC-RT1900P routers to blanket my home with good wifi. I have the main router upstairs and two nodes (wired backhaul) downstairs at opposite ends of the house. When I am stationary, things work well for the most part, but my issue is with wireless calling on my cellphone. Whenever I move around the house I drop calls, or there is a delay of silence when I can’t hear anything. Often times the wifi will drop me to the cellular network and will not simply transfer me to the node with the strongest signal. It’s really annoying and I am at a loss as to what to do. I’ve tried using the normal ASUS firmware with AiMesh and Roaming Assistant turned on, I’ve tried using Merlin in both AiMesh and AP mode. I’ve also experimented with turning Roaming Assistant off. Nothing seems to work. Just lots of dropped calls and/or cutting out. I tried adjusting the signal strength down to 60 for Roaming Assistant, and that made “Microsoft Teams” on my laptop unusable. The machine would keep disconnecting me from the closest node and defaulting me to the main router upstairs. Putting it back up to 67 solved that issue, but I still have the cellphone Wifi Calling problem. I have QoS turned on also. I have a 600Mbps connection and can get over 300Mbps consistently when running a speedtest anywhere in my house. Should I sell my ASUS routers and get something else? Please help me 🙂 Thanks, Matt.

    • You need to stop moving around, Matt. No system, even the most expensive one, can support Wi-Fi calling as you move around. When hand-off takes place, there’s always a brief disconnection.

      • I never have any problem roaming while on WiFi calling using my Orbi system either wireless backhaul or wired backhaul. I believe most mesh systems or access point systems with a controller should handle WiFi calling while roaming without any issues. Dong, are you saying the Asus mesh systems don’t do that? Plenty of others do.

          • I’ve actually used separate access points which aren’t controlled by a controller in the exact same locations as the orbis and the WiFi calling drops happened all the time when roaming. We use WiFi calling daily and never have any problems with it’s the orbis no matter where we go and we have almost 5000 sq ft covered by only two orbis.

          • That’s great, but generally, in my XP, Orbis are not as good as others in terms of lags. Also, discontions will happen in a hand off, but different clients will experience that differently.

      • Hi Dong, I can handle the 3 seconds of silence, but what really annoys me is the dropped calls. When I turn Roaming Assistance off it’s totally useless, with it on, it seems to be OK, but I will open get dropped calls. I think it has something to do with the -dBm setting. Is there anyway to measure my dBm signal in different parts of my house? I know where the trouble spots are. I can shut off one node at a time and see what the signal strength is of each of the trouble areas. This will tell me how to set the value. Conversely, I didn’t feel like I had this issue with my old Google Wifi. My speed sucked, but I never dropped wifi calls when walking around my home. Would going to back to stock firmware from Merlin help?

  20. Hi,
    I needed to upgrade my wireless router due to an increase in Smart Connected devices so, after reading many articles on your site, I went with an ASUS GT-ax11000 as the main router with an ASUS RT-ax92u as the satellite in a mesh configuration. My house is wired with coax and cat5 to all the main areas but the cat5 cables all terminate in the furnace room in the basement under stairs with metal runners. I have a gig switch at that location. I wanted to do wired back haul and didn’t want the connection limited to a gig from the switch so I purchased a set of paired MoCA 2.5 endpoints to handle the back haul. I came out of the multi gig port on the ax11000 through the MoCA 2.5 system and into the wan port of the ax92u. Everything is running stable. It was a little more expensive but I didn’t want to limit the speed of the satellite node.
    I am wondering though how to check if I’m using the 160 MHz channel?

    • A couple of things, Tom:

      1. MoCA can’t give you a faster speed than 1 Gbps, Tom. No matter how fast the endpoints are claimed to be, the speed is limited by their Gigabit network port (as well as those of the routers). So definitely return those, you’re neutering your network for no reason.
      2. Gigabit backhaul is fine since it’s full-duplex and Wi-Fi is half-duplex, (so is MoCA). Again, NOTHING can beat network cables, and CAT5e is fine. It can deliver THE SAME speed as CAT6.
      4. Your setup certainly is NOT working in 160 MHz channel. That’ because the majority of devices you have at home don’t support this channel width. That said, don’t worry about it.
      5. In your case, using tri-band routers is not necessary, but you can turn the 5GHz-2 band into a separate 5 GHz-only SSID. In this case, by the way, you can set it to work exclusively in 160 MHz channel width for supported devices.

      • Thank you for your reply and the informative articles.
        The new MoCA 2.5 are full-duplex (confirmed with the company) but you are correct that the network ports are only 1 Gbps so I could just use the hardwired cables and go through my switch saving myself some money.
        I realize tri-band and WIFI 6 are not necessary at this time but since I needed a new router I figured it would be best to prepare for the future instead of updating now with a dual-band mesh arrangement and then updating again in a couple of years to tri-band.
        I have to figure out what all the settings are in the AX11000 to make sure it is set up correctly. My initial setup was just to follow the basic prompts.

  21. AMAZING write up, thank you. Can you still use wired lan ports on an aiMesh Node like you would in media bridge mode for non-wifi clients? I’m planning to use my ac1900 as a mesh node and get a zenwifi for my new router. Sorry if I missed this somewhere in the comments

  22. Quick question hoping you can help. Currently have 2k square foot home with ax11000 and modem on other side from kids room and master bedroom. Having some issues since we have about 20-30 devices on network usually. What’s best option to pair with the ax11000 being the main router? Can’t do wired backhaul so would probably need matching triband router

      • I couldn’t figure out how to post a question… But I am going to set up a mesh system. I have moved to a larger home (two floors) total about 3800 Sq feet. I was looking at the AC88U or the AX3100. I know this is wifi 5 vs wifi 6, but most if not all my clients are wifi 5 anyway. I will connect them via ethernet back haul. I can’t seem to find any comparison of wifi 5 mesh and wifi 6 mesh or direct comparisons of these units. If there is one, I apologize. But, if price is the same, which of these would serve better for range? I think the speeds should be fine as I will still connect my primary PC’s via gigabit ethernet.

      • In the article you mentioned when using wireless backhaul it was best to keep with the tri-band routers. If I used a dualband router would it decrease network performance? I’m trying to get better signal across the house so open to not just the aimesh but anything that helps boost the performance of the ax11000 I have.

        • That’s right, Andrew. More here. Dual-band will work but not as well as tri-band if you want the best performance. Getting your home wired is always the best, though (and use dual-band in this case.)

  23. I’m in the market to finally upgrade my RT-N66U; probably with an AC 2900.
    I realize that the 66U is not AiMesh supported, but could it be effectively utilized as a node in an AP Mode? It would be wired.
    And how difficult is it to set up AP Mode? (I’m not a tech novice, but I’m no networking guru by any means.)

    • It would, Skip. And that’s super-easy. Just set it up as a normal router (like it currently is), now log into its web interface. Go to Administration -> Operation mode -> Access Point mode. Now, connect its network port (any) to your new router. That’s it.

  24. Hi Dong,
    I’ve read many of your related post to Ai-mesh and XT8, but I still need some advice from you pertaining to WiFi coverage for my 1.7k sqft single-story rectangular-shaped non-hardwired apartment.

    Currently I only have a Asus RT-AC87U placed at my living area which is one end of the apartment, and I faced slight signal dropping issues 2 bars signal after 13m 2 walls Away in my toilet, and almost losing connection after 15m 3 walls in my 2nd room. So my 3 rear rooms with at least 3 walls away near the other end of the apartment is losing connection at most times unless we are lucky, but speed is very slow as well even if it is connected. My 2.4ghz speed test within 3m from my router is only clocking in at about 80-100mbps even though I have a 1gbps network to my apartment. 5ghz speed test at around 200mpbs only.

    So I’ve decided to upgrade to wireless mesh. I’m not sure if the XT8 will be sufficient to solve my issue as it is 2 pack only and I can only place the node in my 1st room i.e 1 wall at about 10m away as this room will have decent signal. Or I should get the zenmini 3pack or even the Deco X60 to serve the purpose of coverage but at the expense of drop speeds due to 2nd node in place. Do note that besides wired connection to main router, I can only rely on full wireless network and wireless backhaul throughout my apartment.

    Appreciate your professional advice, Thanks!

    • A couple of things, Jay.

      1. The 2.4 GHz band is generally slow. Even new routers won’t give you much more than 100 Mbps.
      2. Depending on how you test, the number you see might be that of the client and not the router itself, since the speed between a pair is that of the slowest party. More here.
      3. Walls are ALWAYS problematic. Some types of walls can block signals up to 100 %. More here.

      That said, the 2-pack XT8 will be better than the RT-AC87U for sure, that’s not to mention you can still reuse it as an additional node. How much better depends on how you arrange the hardware units. More on that here. So I’d say go ahead with the XT8 (or even the CT8 if you want to save). After that, keep in mind that you likely won’t get 1 Gbps to your end-device. Good luck! 🙂

  25. Hi Dong thanks for the thorough review and article super helpful. I currently have a GT-ac5300 and am looking to add on a tri-band ai-mesh node. I was leaning towards the rt-ax92u as it seems like one of the most cost effective options, but I saw some mixed feedback on other sites if it would be compatible. I also saw your guidance of not mixing AC and AX routers. Would the 92U work with the GT-AC5300? Would it be better to get a RT-AC5300 or spend even more on the GT-AC5300 (which seems a bit overkill)? Any other things I should consider.

    Thanks in advance

      • Thanks for the quick reply and for confirming my fears, I’ll stick to wifi 5. Going wired is pretty challenging given the house set up but something for the future. Do you think the gt-ac5300 would have a noticeable performance win over the rt-ac5300?

  26. Great article!
    I am looking to get a second 86U as a wireless aimesh Node on my 3rd floor.
    One thing I did not see mentioned, can the open LAN ports on the AIMesh Node still be used when participating as a wireless node? I understand you may not get top notch speeds as its still a wireless node but this would be greatly beneficial for a few devices without wifi(or outdated wifi options).

    Is there any speed gain when hardline to a aimesh node over Wifi or at that point would it be the same?

    Thanks Dong! Great stuff.

  27. Hi Dong

    We are now supporting distance learning with two work-from-home parents, plus three kids running day-long zooms on my wifi. I currently have a RT-AC88U as my router that is connected via ethernet to my modem. I want to purchase a 2nd router to setup as my first node and enter into the AiMesh world. What router should I purchase to be the first node? Please note that I have a 3500 sq ft house and my RT-AC88U is in the downstairs corner of the house. The dead zone is in the upstairs, opposite corner of the house, where I’d like to place the node.

    Leveraging speed tests, I get ~320mb/s when standing next to the router and ~30mb/s when standing in the dead zone. How can I increase the dead zone speed closer to ~300mb/s?

    Do I purchase the same RT-AC88U router again and set it up as a node. This is not the economical choice. Or should I purchase a RT-AC1900 and set it up as a node. I will set this node up wirelessly and it is not in any location to be hard wired.

    I’ve already determined that I should stick to dual band and wifi 5, since the RT-AC88U is both dual band and wifi 5.

    Thanks for any insights!

    • We’re about the same as you, Brian (OK slightly better — only two toddlers). So, I’d recommend getting your home wired, maybe with just one cable. After that, you can get another RT-AC88U, or an RT-AC86U, or even a RT-AC68U and you’ll be OK. If you want to go full wireless though, any of the mentioned routers will work but cut the speed of the node in half. For more, check out this post. Hang in there!

      • Dong – Thank you for the quick reply. I don’t think wiring my house is an option. Therefore, if we stick with wireless, why do you recommend cutting the speed in half and how do you do that?

        Also, knowing that I’m staying wireless and that I have an existing RT-AC88U, should I look at buying one of the ones you recommend above; or should I look at upgrading the entire mesh to ASUS ZenWifi AC3000, 2pk. It comes with tri-band (vs I currently have dual band) and it comes with wifi 6 (vs I currently have wifi 5). I’m not wanting to invest an entire day of reconfiguring to only receive a slight uptick in performance so which is the best option from an labor ROI perspective? Thanks again, this has been very helpful!

        • It’s called signal loss which always happens with dual-band mesh systems. More on that here, Brian. The ZenWiFi AC3000 is NOT Wi-Fi 6 (any that has “AC” in its name is not Wi-Fi 6.) I’d just go with another dual-band router for now. But the XT8 will be better overall.

  28. Thanks Dong for all the great content and articles. Wanted to get your opinion on two directions. I have a 3600 sq ft single story house with about 30 clients consisting of entertainment, smart, & security (none Wifi 6 yet), 1Gb connection, and am currently running only the ASUS RT-AC86U which hasn’t been horrible. Looking at upgrading and future proofing for 6. Read your articles on RT-AX86U, XT8, & AiMesh. Very interested in going to AX86U based on performance results both on 5 and 6 and then using my existing router as either a mesh or hardwired node (house not currently hardwired). If understood correctly, are there risks of meshing the 5 & 6 models? You stated that hardwiring is extremely beneficial in strength and reliability, in my scenario, would hardwiring resolve the issues of having the 5 & 6 models paired and would a powerline extender work almost as well or is directly hardwiring the best practice? Planning as I won’t be hardwiring in Phx anytime soon. The 2nd route is the XT8 but I read its drawbacks and if I read correctly, didn’t perform as well with Wifi 5 and many of my clients won’t be upgraded anytime soon. How would these two scenarios compare? With scenario 1, I have the option to upgrade my node to 6 when it makes sense – either direction, would be in about $500. A lot here, but if you could weigh in and help me sort it out and provide other facts to consider, would greatly appreciate it!

  29. Hi Dong. I live in a 5500 sqf house with 3 floors. I place my main router on the 3rd floor. I have wired connections throughout 3rd and 2nd floor. No internet problems. But on the 1st floor signal suffers. Poor signal and unstable. I currently have one AP on the 3rd floor and 2 APs on the 2nd floor. I can’t put an AP on the 1st floor as there’s no ethernet wiring in that floor.

    What do you recommend regarding the 1st floor problem Dong? Thank you so much.

      • Before I can figure it out myself, my question is this: for AiMesh node with wireless backhaul are they able to communicate with each other when placed on different floors? You wrote recommended distance between nodes is 12 meters with walls, or 23 meters with no walls. Can i assume walls also applies to floors? 🙂. If they can then my thought is to place an AiMesh node (wired backhaul to main router on 3rd floor) then another AiMesh node on the 1st floor backhauled wirelessly to the node on 2nd floor. What do you think Dong?Thank you so much.

        • Sorry. I realize I’m not being very clear in my description. Let me clarify. So my idea is:
          1. Asus RT-AX58U as main router on 3rd floor
          2. RT-AC86U as AiMesh node on 2nd floor (wired backhaul)
          3. Then get a Lyra for the 1st floor node backhauled wirelessly to RT-AC86U on the 2nd floor.

          What do you think Dong? Thanks!

          • You don’t want to use a tri-band (Lyra) in the mix, Albert. For one its the worst router, also it’s 3rd band will not be used at all. Again, just to be clear, I can’t go into specifics since I’m not there.

            Also, if you actually read the posts in their entirety, you’ll already know the answers. This is my last reply to this thread.

  30. Hi dong. I have an RT-AC86U which cannot connect to the internet. If i’m lucky it connects for 2 minutes. It’s very very unstable. But it works well as an AP. My question is
    1. can i use this an AiMesh node? Wireless or wired backhaul? Because i read for wired backhaul you’ll need to connect to the WAN port. Will it work?
    2. Is it feasible to repair the router? It’s out of warranty.

    Thank you .

    • Albert,
      1. Yes, either will work but wired backhaul is the best. You can use any port but it’s recommended you use the WAN port. If you use the LAN port, it might take a bit longer (up to 5 mins) to establish the connection, during this time the entire network might be offline.
      2. If the WAN port is broken, chances are you can’t. If not, try putting Merlin firmware on it.

  31. My current setup is an AC3100 for the host and an AI mesh node of an AC5300. I’m looking to start using WiFi-6, and so am thinking about replacing my main node with an AX11000, and retain the AC5300 node. Will this set up be compatible? I’m not sure how wifi 5 and wifi 6 routers interface with each other in an AI mesh node

  32. Hi Dong,
    I’m still considering going with either wireless access points to some parts of my house or going with a mesh system like the AIMsesh, but one of the things that I “think” is different between a wired Mesh vs wireless access points is the channel overlap. In other words, all the nodes/devices on the 5ghz would be on channel 36 and all of the 2.4 ghz would be on channel 6 just to give an example of what I’m talking about. I would think wireless access points all setup on non-overlapping channels would provided better performance than a Mesh system with multiple nodes all on the same channels.

    Do you know if the AIMesh system uses the same 2.4 and 5 ghz channels for all nodes?


    • If you leave the settings at Auto (which you should) the channels will change depending on the environment on each unit, Sean. If you put them in manually, they will (likely) remain the same across the mesh (not a good idea). But you can find out quite easily. More on that in this post.

      • Thanks Dong for the quick reply.

        I believe the Orbi will use the same channel across all mesh nodes. Are you saying the AIMesh system will use different channels for each mesh node if their is interference at that node location? That’s pretty cool.

          • That’s cool and that used to not be the case according to a another forum post. If the auto setting allows this, why can’t I manually set each node to whatever channel I want?

          • You can, just not on each unit individually — you can’t configure a node directly in an AiMesh setup. But isn’t the best performance what you actually want? 🙂

          • Thanks again for your advice. Yes that makes sense and I definitely want the best performance. 😀

            I like the idea of having the nodes in a mesh or wireless access points on different channels from each other. If they are all on the same channel, they do have some overlap on the channel causing some congestion but I know I’m being picky here.

            I’ve considered Going with access points running with a controller to manage them, but most of the tp link and Ubiquiti access points are all ceiling mounted and I don’t want to run wires up to the ceiling. I already have wired my home using standard wall jacks. The ceiling mounted access points have the best performance when on a ceiling or placed strategically on a wall, and I want to place them on a table instead. There are some table mounted ones but they are either too expensive or not capable of being controlled by a software or hardware controller.

            Of course, I could just keep my current Orbi rb50 system which is great but I’m antsy to tinker a bit more. 😀

  33. Thank you for a thorough review.

    I have a 9000 sq ft house and am looking to do a wifi only mesh upgrade. Somehow, I have gotten better than you would think coverage using a nighthawk xr700 with two ex8000 extenders perfectly placed. I was thinking of upgrading this with 4-6 zen wifi routers in a wifi only mesh system, or using 4 zen wifi xt8 and an ax 88u as my the main node. Your review above makes me think sticking to the same routers through the aimesh is the best option. I’m trying to get the best combination without having to tear down walls and do wiring.

    What I am looking for is better coverage at the margins of the house, and more flexibility of where I can place the satellites. One ex8000 is placed where i need an ethernet connection, and i have sacrificed significant mbps by putting it there.

    Also, can aimesh routers be daisychained? I am okay with it loosing speed further out as some places only need 3-4 mbps. Asus makes it seem like they can but then they don’t come out and say it.

    • For a home that large, Adeel, running network cables, at least for a part of it, is a must. Tri-band hardware helps but setting them up in a daisy chain topology is never a good idea. That said, what you have right now is about as good as can be in terms of speed.

  34. Thanks for a comprehensive dive into Asus’ AI Mesh. My main router is the AC-RT88U and I’m thinking of getting something else to create the mesh but don’t want to spend too much because my house isn’t too large, and the only reason I need a mesh is that only one part of the house suffers dropout. I was thinking of getting a single Lyra Trio. Would love your feedback or alternative suggestions.

    • The Lyra Trio will work, David. It will work really well if you have wired backhaul. You can keep the 88u as the main router.

  35. My house isn’t huge, but being tri-level I have dead spots from the central router.

    The Asus Lyra mesh is only $99 for 3 refurb units on Amazon right now. Could it be coupled with Asus Blue Cave ($136) to get a 2-band/3-band combo, something like the Synology RT-2600ac/2200ac pair? I realize Synology has more Pro features, but I’m not so sure that I need them.

    Elsewhere, you mention that “in a wireless mesh setup, the RT2600ac will create a virtual 5 GHz network that works only as the backhaul band.” Can these Asus pieces be tweaked to do that?

      • I just got my new modem (Moto MB8600) connected to Comcast. I’m starting with one Synology MR2200AC. Internet performance is vastly improved over the stock xFi gateway (Arris TG1682G). I had a lot of problems with intermittent data flows and am very happy with the change. I’ll add a second MR2200AC if it becomes necessary. Thanks for the solid advice.

  36. Hello!
    I have just setup a new AIMesh system using a GT-AC5300 and RT-AC3100 that I recently acquired. I understand the issues with mixing bands, and have the GT is the primary and I’m using wired backhaul to the 3100.

    I already had all three bands setup on the GT individually not with Smart Connect as it has been my primary router for a few years. Am I correct in assuming the 3100 will offer the 2.4 and 5.1-1Ghz SSIDs backhauled to the GT, and the GT also the 5.1-2GHz for any device in its range in this configuration?

    I wasn’t sure if I should turn on the Smart Connect or leave it as is.

    • If you use wired backhaul, Bob, then the RT-AC3100 will not use any of its bands as backhaul. In your situation, you can use Smart Connect, however, the 5GHz-2 band of the GT-AC5300 will likely be available as a separate SSID.

      • Thanks. The 3100 is wired. And the 5Ghz-2 band is also available as you said as a separate SSID. It’s labeled as backhaul in the GUI fwiw, but I can connect to it np.

        Could I add a Lyra Voice AC2200 as a wireless mesh node and then use the 5Ghz-2 band as the backhaul?

        I think the way my house is layed out there is still one spot that might have a need…and that would cover everywhere.


        • Yeap, that’s how it works, Bob. And yes, you can use the Voice as a wireless mesh node. It will automatically use the 5GHz-2 as the backhaul.

          • Hi Dong,

            I’ve been experimenting with a setup in a new home. The home is wired with CAT6 an unmanaged switch.

            I recently purchased the 2 pack of the ZenWifi XT8. Setting those up with my 1Gbps connection was impressive. I got 500-700mbps both ways in most of my testing throughout the house. That was with a 2020 iPad Pro which supports WiFi 6.

            My problem is I don’t want to keep one of the XT8 units near my media panel. I have an ASUS RT-3100 in my old house that I was thinking I could keep in the media panel. I don’t need to use Wifi at all on that unit. I just want it to be a router and manage the PPPoE and vlan tag with CenturyLink. It will then be the uplink to my 8 port unmanaged switch that wires the house.

            When I set this system up via AiMesh. My top connection speeds dropped down to below 200mbps. I confirmed I had smart connect disabled. This is even with the 2.4ghz + 5 Ghz radio disabled in the professional tab.

            Is this a lowest common denominator problem with AiMesh and WiFi 5 vs 6? Is there anyway to utilize the AiMesh system to backhaul to my 2 XT8’s and have them exclusively provide WiFi 6 bands?

            If I set the 3100 up as a standard non AiMesh router and disable WiFi I still have to figure out some wiring/port scenarios to do the backhaul between the two switches. Not as clean as the AiMesh would have been.

            I’m also questioning if I should just return the XT8’s and get the 3 pack of ASUS AX Minis? I think I could live without the switch ports on the XT8’s. The mini’s don’t have the 160hz band though according to your review so feel like I’m capping myself? Or is that not important with a wired backhaul?

          • The main router determines most aspects of the AiMesh system Brent. So it’s not a good idea to use the oldest router at the position. But yes, getting the XD4 is a good idea. You can even get a combo of the RT-AX86U (as the router) and the XD4 as nodes.

          • Wow thanks for the super fast reply and confirming what I thought. Allows me to move forward with things faster.

            Per your review, although the Mini’s do not support the 160mhz it doesn’t seem to restrict performance and even gets faster than the XT8 in some of your tests. Is the 160mhz band used mostly for the 5ghz backhaul channel that minis don’t include?

            If I got 500mbps plus with any device I think I would be happy enough, even with the reduced management features of the XD4. Now I just hope I can fit it in my media cabinet.

            Love the site. Miss you Cnet videos! Will recommend this site to anyone looking for detailed reviews.

  37. We are in the midst of an extended power outage, and also no cable, so I’ve been running our network off of my Android phone thethered via USB to the RT-AC66R. which all of a sudden makes me want to always have an ASUS router. So maybe I just do as you say, get a new AIMesh capable headend router, and move the RT-AC66R to my wife’s office. I have another AP on the main level in old school AP mode, so maybe I really don’t need a real mesh system for now. Thanks.

  38. It seems that I won’t be able to use my RT-AC66R as it’s too old to upgrade to AIMesh (correct me if I’m wrong). I would like to do this on the cheap if I can, and I’d like the main router, plus two satellites. I have a wired Ethernet on each floor. On the 3rd floor, I’d love a pass-through situation, whereby the wired Ethernet connects to the satellite, but I can still plug my wife’s computer via Ethernet. Any recommendations? Would these do the trick:

    • Since you have wired your house, you can still use the RT-AC66R in the access point mode, Kenny. Just set it up as a normal router, then change the Operating Mode into “Access Point” then connect its WAN port to your main router. That will give you similar effect as AiMesh. And yes, the one you linked will get the job done. You can also put Merlin firmware on it, too.

  39. Dong – amazing site and incredibly insightful/thorough analysis – thank you so much for your efforts. Here’s my issue:

    I have a 4000sqft 3.5 story brick house, and elected to go with full tri-band mesh setup — Asus GT-AX11000 as primary router with AI mesh setup for a RT-AX92U node. Although I will eventually use wired ethernet for backhaul, I went with wireless backhaul to start while we are still getting settled in the house. Generally very impressed with signal quality and throughput throughout house (I have 500Mbit fibre into house). One issue that has been popping up is with Sonos and Airplay wifi connectivity to various tvs and speakers (all bot within last year). It has worked seamlessly at times, but other times I’m not able to connect. When I check on things from the Asus Router app, it appears like issues arise when one of the devices is connected to the node at a time when the device looking to stream is connected through the primary router (or vice versa).

    Is this a common issue? Any ideas on how to prevent this from happening? I have latest firmware updates applied to each router as well as the speakers and tvs.

    ***Please note that I followed your suggestion and changed the name on the 2nd 5Ghz network — so it is not dedicated for wireless backhaul — doesn’t sound like this should be causing my problems but I mention just in case it is a factor

    Any ideas appreciated!!!

    • Apparently not insightful enough since you still have questions, Geoff. 🙂

      In your case, most of the time is the IoT devices’ fault. They are rigid in terms of what Wi-Fi settings they can work with. That said, use your Wi-Fi settings in a compatible mode (or you can use a separate network for them, use one of the Guest networks but turn on the Intranet access — more here.) Name this network simple both in the name and the password. Make the name something sort with just a few letters, no number, spaces, or special characters (like “DKT” and NOT “Đông Know Tech”) and the password a string of numbers.

      Don’t use the app, use the web interface instead.

      • Thanks Dong. I am setting up a simply-named guest network with intranet access this weekend (using the web interface, not app;). Is the idea that all my problematic IoT devices (smart TVs and Sonos) use this Guest network exclusively? Now what about the devices doing the steaming – will they also need to be on this guest network all the time to avoid hiccups, or can I leave on regular wifi? Thx!

        • Generally, Darling (I couldn’t help it! :)), you don’t want your IoT devices to be isolated (some might not work). So if you use the Guest network for them, make sure you turn on the Intranet access. Streamers that do NOT stream from a local source (like your NAS server) can be isolated, else they need to be part of your Intranet, too. More on that here.

  40. Hey Dong, first let me say that you have one of the best sites out there for wireless solutions. I have a question that maybe you can help with. I purchased a zen wifi ax system that is giving me a lot of trouble and Asus support can’t figure it out. The main issue is that the node doesn’t seem to connect with anything but the couple wired devices I have near it. Everything else connects to the main router no matter how poor the signal or slow the speed. Unfortunately I have no option for a wired backhaul at this time so I guess no AP mode. Do you have any tips for improving this? I’m open to suggestions on either network or client side. I’m at a loss and currently regretting not just buying one powerful router (especially since neither Newegg or Asus will refund me so I’m out almost $500 if I can’t find a usable solution).

    Thanks in advance!

    • I’d recommend you update the system to the latest firmware, then reset it and set it up from the beginning, Stephen. After that, refrain from making too many changes, see how it works before further customization, and do that one step at a time.

  41. Thanks. Follow-up question: Since (A) is non-mesh, can it be set up as an access point without being wired to the main router? Or maybe more generalized: can any of these nodes be AP’s without being wired? I didn’t know you could do that. I thought (probably wrong) that was the whole point of Mesh — you could have multiple “AP” nodes without having to wire them.

  42. Hello. Thanks for a VERY thorough write-up. I wanted to ask your opinion about best way to set up my hardware.
    I have:
    A) RT-AC1750-B1 (non mesh)
    B) RT-AC86U (mesh)
    C) Two “Blue Cave” AC2600 units

    I have a wired connection from location of cable modem / router to back of house. Currently running (A) and (B) this way, with (A) as main connected to cable model and (B) as an AP via the wired connection.

    Now wanting to add the two AC2600’s as additional wireless mesh nodes.

    Any suggestions here?

    I’m suspect that the first (based on your article) is: Move the RT-AC86U to the be the main one connected to cable modem. Then, probably replace the RT-AC1750-B1 with one of the AC2600’s. Then use the other 2600 wirelessly. And just get rid of the AC1750-B1 ?

    Or is it OK to leave the non-mesh as the main, which would put the AC86U in a wired config as an AP, driving the mesh connection to the two wireless 2600’s ? Would that create a problem with overlapping signal from the mesh-capable 2600’s to the main non-mesh at front of house? Will they handoff OK?


    • You can always use A as an access point (if you need another broadcaster), Geoff. Use B as the main router unit. Use the rest as AP or mesh node. Cable as backhaul is recommended. Hand-off is always hit or miss.

  43. After your thorough review I took the plunge… got the GT-AX11000 paired with RT-AX92U running AiMesh for the first time via ethernet backhaul. Seems to be working alright, but not sure if related— my VPN client on the router cannot seem to connect to my VPN provider (NordVPN in my case). Before I bought the AX92U and ran the AiMesh I had no problem connecting the AX11000 to my VPN to enable all connected devices to work through it. Is this a known issue? Thank you!

  44. Thanks Dong for a great review.
    I have the following setup:
    ASUS RT-AX88U as the mesh router at and
    ASUS RT-AX86U as the mesh node at
    I have them meshed via an Ethernet back haul and so far they are working well together.
    When I try logging into the GUI of the mesh node it redirects me to the GUI to the RT-AX88U.
    Is this meant to work like this? I am not supposed to log into the node directly once it is part of the mesh?
    If I reset the dBm value on the mesh router, will this be replicated on the mesh node?
    Thank you.

  45. Thanks! I’ll give it a shot later and test the speeds out. Currently my desktop (wifi6 enabled) in my room is far away from the main router position, and couldn’t benefit from the 5G network. Hoping to see that I can get wifi6 in my room now

  46. Hi Dong Ngo,

    I have a ASUS RT-AX58U(wifi6) and a RT-AC86U (wifi 5).Both are dual band and I’m currently using the 58U as the main router. Now I can get wifi 6 bandwith when I’m near it (58U), but I’m wondering if it is possible to swap things around? Say to use the 86U as the main router, then use 58U as the aimesh node. Will I then get wifi 6 when i’m around the 58U?

    • In any case, Y, you can get Wi-Fi 6 speed when you use a Wi-Fi 6 client and connect it to the RT-AX58U, Y. And yes, you can switch their position around. Keep in mind though, in a wireless setup, the speed of the node unit (the extender) will be cut in half. More on that here.

  47. Dong, nice article and helpful tuning point on signal hand-off between nodes. I would note that sync’ing the nodes was more of an adventure than I expected with a 5300 and Zenwifi AC where I only got it to work when using ethernet cable between units (upgraded to latest firmware for all with reset); it never worked with wifi even though signal was great and units were right by each other. Another thing Asus should put in their Aimesh FAQ on when things don’t work.

  48. Allen Lai: I can tell you that dual RT-AC1900P routers with AiMesh and Merlin firmware have worked very well so far for me in two different homes I’ve set this up in. The routers can be bought more affordably than some of the newer ones but they are great performers. I’m using wired backhaul for the AiMesh node in both cases I’ve bought these for.

  49. Dong, what a brilliant review and “how to”. Informative and real world which is so important for people who want to go into things with their eyes open. Thank you SO much.

    I’m about to embark on my 3 yearly home network upgrade, the $AU is not great bow days and being semi retired cost is a factor. I have a large two level home, I run a full domain with all the associated servers and have foster kids (5 currently) which adds up to 10 or more hardwired desktops and servers, a couple of games consoles and who knows how many mobile devices at any one time so I need plenty of routing power and good wifi coverage and dead spots have been an issue at times. I’ve been running multiple APs but it’s clunky.

    After your great work here the plan is to install a RT-AX88U as the primary router and two RT-AC66U-B1 as nodes with wired backhaul. I realise it’s not going to be plug and play buts that’s all part of fun right?



    • Happy to have you, Ari. Your setup will work well. I’d recommend trying Merlin firmware on those, too. Have fun! 🙂

  50. Ahhh right.

    I am struggling to choose between the ZenWifi AX XT8 and two RT-AX88U for a wireless backhaul mesh. The main reason being your reported speeds for Wi-Fi 5 clients connected to the satellite. The AX88U boasts 615 Mbits at 40ft while the XT8 is at 403 due to the XT8’s 5GHz-1 being 2×2; About a 25% drop. While the 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client performance is about equal, all of our devices are 2×2 and 4×4 Wi-Fi 5. I don’t know how much of a real-world effect this difference would have. It’s unlikely there will ever be more than 1 bandwidth hungry device connected to the satellite.

    Currently, two RT-AX88U would cost $620 and a set of XT8 is $450. $170 difference. I am also considering the CT8 since it has very similar numbers to the XT8 for Wi-Fi 5 clients but for $330. However, the satellite may be a bit further than 40′ from the primary router and I know the backhaul over Wi-Fi 6 4×4 will help overcome the distance.

  51. In your AC-XT8 review, you report 792 Mbit for a Wi-Fi 6 client at 40 ft. Here you report 826 Mbit for a Wi-Fi 6 client at 10ft from the satellite router which is 40ft from the main router. How is this possible? The satellite router is a Wi-Fi 6 client (of the main router) at 40ft, right? Presumably this would mean it would have a speed of ~792 Mbit. So how is it possible to deliver a higher speed of 826 Mbit to its clients?

    I think I am missing something there.

  52. I’d like to stay within a <$500 budget, so I was thinking of getting the RT-AX88U as the primary router and the RT-AX58U as the satellite. Together, it comes out to around $489 ($310.68 + $179). Thoughts? Would you recommend a different combo?

  53. Now I’m really confused because the AC68 and AC86 each have two filters, one for each band, with the option to allow or disallow based on mac.

  54. Susan – see my set up (Dong’s recommended mix) – GT-AX11000 (beast) as primary router along with XT8 as two nodes. Consider XT8 devices as nodes. And an extra XT8 few weeks later or so.

  55. Update on Zen XT8 with GT-AX11000 (as primary router) – almost 10 days of continuous network with zero downtime, stable internet throughout the house and seamless switching between nodes. Super happy with the set up and thanks to Dong. He is the Tech Guru!

    When the prices come down and the units become more available, I want to add an extra node of xt8.

    Current firmware versions appear to be stable at least with my wired backhaul.

  56. Thank you, Dong, for all this information. I am very grateful for your knowledge!

    We have an Asus ZenWifi AX XT8 pair, working well, but our house is L-shaped and multistory, with many stone, brick, and metal obstacles, so we are still having trouble getting wifi to certain corners and I’m interested in additional nodes. Do I understand you correctly that it would be best to select another ZenWifi triband product (and should it also be WiFi 6?)? If so, this seems to limit me to the XT8 and CT8 models (the AX mini is dual band). I assume adding another XT8 would be the simplest route, but I’m wondering if the less expensive CT8 will work just fine–can you advise? Thanks again.

    • It’ll work, Susan, but unless you use wired backhaul (in which case the Mini is great!) mixing Wi-Fi standards in an AiMesh system is generally not a good idea.

  57. I may very well be confused regarding backhaul but earlier you also noted under AiMesh’s shortcomings:
    “There’s no way to manually set a band of your liking, 2.4GHz or 5GHz, to work as the backhaul.”
    What I’m wondering is if using the MAC filter to restrict a device(s) to 2.4 or 5g would work?

  58. Thank you Dong. Your responses are greatly appreciated. Day 2 and still no connection issues or lags or downtime etc. Working flawlessly.

    I think having a wired backhaul is probably removing some of the issues others are reporting about connection losses, lags on AiMesh infrastructure.

  59. AiProtection takes away half my WiFi speed. Is that how its supposed to work?. Another thing is how do I get rid of all those Offline devices that I no longer have in the Asus Router app? I managed to delete them on the Web UI but not on the app. Thanks Dong and have a great day

    • Nope, that shouldn’t be the case, Peter. And I’m not sure how to do that. I don’t use the app at all. I’d rather use the mobile browser and the regular interface instead.

  60. Hi Dong – Rocky here. I received my Zen XT8 last evening and set up it as two nodes to my GT-AXC11000 creating Aimesh. Since my whole house is wired, I connected the nodes to the router directly using a wire. Updated the firmware on all. So far, the connection seems stable but its only been 12 hours.
    For security – Disabled UPNP, WPS, changed default admin and password names, changed default LAN IP, and not connected to Trend Micro given their questionable data collection for QOS etc.

    1. On the Aimesh page, I clicked on each node and under the connection priority type, removed Auto and clicked “Ethernet” for each of the two nodes. Is this now a wired backhaul?
    2. The second 5 Ghz band – I have unhidden it and chosen the option of “AX Mode only” /”Wifi 6″ – it works but then I notice that my old laptop with N mode wifi also connected to it. So, am I missing anything
    3. Any specific setting I should do to make Wifi more streamlines – I saw a Smart Connect enabled and clicked on it and it took me to a page with a lot of jargon. Anything I should do here.
    4. Would it make a difference in one of the nodes speed if I connect the 2.5 Gigabit port on ax11000 to one of xt8 nodes. I did this but then the nodes was showing as wifi and not wired for some reason
    5. Also, i did not create a separate 2.4 and 5 ghz channels. Just one SSID for both. Is this a good idea.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Rocky,

      1. Yes. You’ll also see a wired icon next to each node on the list.
      2. That’s probably because the AX-only mode doesn’t propagate to the nodes, or it’s just wrong reporting of the interface.
      3. Nope, just ignore those.
      4. I haven’t tried that but stick with the Gigabit port for now.
      5. That’s fine. You do have the 3rd band separate, that’s enough.

  61. I just want to say thanks again for this great guide and information. I’ve setup an AiMesh network now using the latest ASUSWRT-Merlin firmware release with two Asus RT-AC1900P routers. I like the single interface for both devices and seeing the devices transfer to the closer/strong signal router right in the GUI. With Merlin supporting AiMesh as of last year there is no longer any reason to pick between the stock firmware to get AiMesh, and going with the more functional Merlin firmware.

  62. I had the same problem and adressed it to Asus, also the backhul degraded itself to 2.4. An engineer contacted me soon and offered a beta firmware with a fix. Installed and now I have the star topology steady as a rock ánd on wifi6 (5.2 ghz). He said next firmware the fix would be incorporated

  63. Rats! I hadn’t clocked that the RT-AX88U was only dual band. Had I known that at the time I would have spent the extra £80 and got the GT-AX11000… however I’ve just noticed that I can return my RT-AX88U up until the 31st of July. Amazon to the rescue! Thanks Dong…

  64. Hi, and thanks for the very comprehensive review.
    So I took the plunge bought a RT-AX88U a couple of months back which has been working great.
    However we’ve just moved to a bigger house in the lsat week and a half, so I got a twin pack RT-AX92U to use as an AiMesh system (intended to run over wi-fi) with the AX88U connected to the modem. The set-up seemed very easy via the ASUS Router app, but I’m finding that when my devices connect via the 92U’s they seem to intermittently lose internet connectivity. It was actually better when I switched them off!
    Where do I even start to try and figure out what’s wrong?

    • As I mentioned in the post, Paul, it’s not a good idea to mix tri-band and dual-band in a wireless setup and is a terrible one when you use the dual-band as the main router in this case. (Read the post again). You can try using one of the 92U as the main router. Or better yet, get your home wired and get a couple of dual-band AiMesh routers.

  65. I have a tri-band Asus AX89X router as my main router and want to set up in an IMesh network using a dual band ASUS AC88U as the slave node using an Ethernet backhaul . Is there anything I have to adjust on the AX89X for this system to work well?

    Thank you

  66. Dong, that’s great info. I have an Aimesh setup in a small building. I have 1 router and 4 nodes – all are RT-AC68U models. I notice that the nodes just seem to randomly connect to another node instead of the node closest to it. Is there a way to configure them so that the nodes will connect in a linear formation? For example: Router sends signal to the 1st node that node passes the signal to the next closest and so on. I can see on my Asus Router app on my phone that the nodes are not connecting to the node that would serve it best and in some cases, it connects to a node that’s the farthest away from it. Thanks.Jim

  67. I have a RT3100 and want to add another router as a node (satellite). Any recommendations for something under $100?

    Also, are the LAN ports in the back of the node active? I have a device that will be near the node that has to be hardwired for internet.

    • There’s a list at the top of the post, Joe. Pick one that fits your budget, or you can get a used/refurbished one. And yes, you can use the network ports in the entire mesh as mentioned in the post.

  68. Great posts, thanks for all the ASUS advice so far in helping me with my purchases of new network equipment t to wifi6. My question is that if the Ethernet backhaul connection is a max speed of 1GBS on a gigabit connection from a ASUS AX6000 router to another ASUS router to create the AiMesh system, is there any point in the node router being able to deliver more than 1GBS via its Wi-Fi? I’m looking at the AX3000 router over the AX1800 router as a second node and am thinking the AX3000 would be a waste of performance in the set up as the most I could ‘feed’ into it would be the 1GBs from the Ethernet backhaul? I’m I missing something here? Would there be a be if it of the AX3000 over the AX1800 as a node point when using a Ethernet backhaul connection? Thanks in advance for your comments.

  69. Hi, found out what the problem was, it was the firmware on the main router rolled it back to previous firmware and its now working. Thanks for the reply though.

  70. Hi, I have a gt-ax11000 as the primary router as soon as I add a zenwifi ct8 as a node the asus app no longer works. Its says its doing it ie rebooting router, but nothing happens. Any ideas please.

    Thanks Andy

    • Restart your phone, maybe, Andrew. But honestly, I don’t use the app. I only use the interface. You can use the interface with the phone’s mobile browser, too, much better that way.

  71. Dong, Thank you for this amazing detail. I have been following this page for some time and finally pulled the trigger on a AiMesh system. My main router is an RT-AX56U and I recently purchased two RT-AC66u_B1 units. I have everything setup from following your walk-through.
    My other issue/concern is some of my Nest cameras are still showing 1/2 bars of signal strength when connected. I have reset the cameras thinking it was still connected to my main router and its still an issue.
    The odd thing is out of 36 wireless devices – one B1 has two devices and the other has 11 then my main is handling everything else.

  72. Hi Dong. So here is the setup I have: 2 GT-AC5300 Tri Band Routers. Now, a couple of things. The main router I am using (as the “Control Router”) is not in the best place, but I have no real choice. It is in my office (bedroom 3, I suppose). It is at least in an open space away from my Desktop and Laptop, and on a sturdy desk. My house is what you would call “Medium Sized”…not sure about the square footage, but I can find out. Anyways, the second GT-AC5300 is oh 15-20 feet away in the living room connected to my consoles and my Dish network Hopper. The XBOX ONE X and PS4 Pro, and a Nintendo switch are all connected to the node router with ethernet cables, but the connection between the source and node is still “wireless”. So, I am not the most tecnical guy on this stuff, so please bear with me. My XBOX One X…when I do the speed analysys on it, goes from a low of 326 to a high of 650 mps. I have used two different “WiFi Anaylzers” to figure out the best consistent channel and the green bars on the router node page of ASWRT show full 4 green bars. So it looks like the connection from the node is as good as it can be. My question to you (sorry if I gave way to much detail here)…is, with comcast’s 1Gig service, what would you expect say the Mps to be on say my XBOX ONE X…the other console connected is a PS4 Pro, it varies from say 127 mps to a high of 230 mps. I have NO idea if this is what I am supposed to be getting, or if I should be getting more. I am sorry this is a long message, I know you are a busy person, but if you could take the time to just let me know if this sounds right, or I am doing something wrong…I would very much appreciate it.

    PS. By the way, I thought about doing a “wired Connection” to the GT node, but I would be using power line adapters. My house has “looped Wiring” and so I am unsure if that would or would not interfere with said powerline adapters, any thoughts on that?

    Again, any help would be great, just whenever you get a chance. Thanks very much Dong:)

    Devin Leonard

    • The distance is not as important as the stuff you have in between the routers, Devin. More here. Also, it’s generally not a good idea to use the internet to test your Wi-Fi speeds. More here. I’d be more concerned if you have bad online experiences, don’t get too hung up on the numbers.

  73. Okay, thanks for your info re: requiring a single main router to connect to the ISP. I was hoping AiMesh would be a suitable replacement/upgrade to my aging OpenMesh/CloudTrax wireless ‘g’ (OLD) mesh that was capable of dynamically routing traffic across 8 notes and multiple ISP connections. Really liked the ‘self healing’ aspect (i.e. if a node went down, it would find another path within the mesh to reach the outside world)

  74. First time considering AiMesh– does the tech allow for different nodes within the same AiMesh to connect to different internet sources (ISP)? I know I can dual-wan on a single unit for load balancing, but I’m thinking of plugging in different nodes into two separate ISP internet sources within my same house.

    • No, Limbo. You can think of AiMesh (or any home mesh systems) as a single router plus some extenders. Everything is handled by the router unit, other units are just there to expand the network.

  75. Dear Dong Ngo,

    Should I get Asus Zenwifi XT8 or get of AX58u/ax56u combo aimesh? This is for a double storey house. Does the 802.11ax really make a difference? Or just get the Deco M9 plus without 802.11ax will be just as good? Main applications are web browsing, video/music streaming and some gaming. Appreciate your inputs. Thanks so much!


  76. I have been using Asus router and access points for many years without an issue. For roaming assistant, I usually set the values around 70dBM.
    Last year, I changed to Asus AIMesh, and found it is not very stable, sometimes devices disconnected. AIMesh still needs roaming assistant, but it can only be configured at main router with one fixed value. I prefer to have different value on router and nodes, so, after 2 months, I changed back to Access Point mode. (main router kept in AImesh mode, does not matter).
    After reading your review of AIMesh, I decide to give it another try last week. And after just 3 days, I had to changed back to AP mode.
    I guess the main issue is that under AIMesh, router and nodes are sharing the exact same control channel, devices interfering with each other.
    With AP mode, I can customize each individual nodes channel, avoiding conflict with my neighbors channels.
    Most people choose AIMesh are tech-savvy, and they can handle most settings, I assume mesh network works for those who are not familiar with router setting. Anyway, they still need to configure the main router, which is the most challenging task.

    • Your observation is on point, Brian. Thanks for sharing. AiMesh generally works better when you use the same routers or routers of similar specs.

  77. Bugger, missed that. So I’m really limited for a tri-band wireless mesh setup to another 5300 then?
    Maybe I can find another one for a decent price…

    One more question if I may. Why are there so few tri-band routers? Is/was it just overkill?
    And would two 5300s perform better then say the AC88U and say the AC1900 extender? I’m guessing yes.

    Thanks again for your time and insight!

  78. I have another question for you. AIMesh mode vs AP Mode STA roaming. I know this also heavily dependent on the client if they support 802.11k/v/r/. Have you tested roaming hand-off between AIMesh and AP Mode? Mostly how well each mode handle WiFi VoIP.

  79. Dong – Thanks for all your effort! You clearly know your tech!

    I’ve read through most of this and wanted to confirm my suspicions.

    I have the ROG GT-AC5300 (got a great deal on it, otherwise I would not have purchased it, very $$), that is in AP mode. I have an OPNsense firewall as my main router. My house is a split level and the GT is on the lowest level in the center next to the stairs, so the signal can reach most areas.The GT has worked great as an AP, and I haven’t had any real wifi issues. But with the pandemic we are using it much more in all areas of the house. While it reaches everywhere, there are some areas where it doesn’t reach well.

    If I want to setup a mesh system, I don’t see setting up a wired backhaul realistically, so am thinking I need to be looking at a tri-band router as it would be a wireless system. The most cost effective tri-band router seems to be the RT-AC3200.

    Have you by chance tested the GT-AC5300 and the RT-AC3200 together?
    AAIMesh is also an option in the router menu, even though I have it in AP mode. Should the GT be the primary, RT the node?

    Any insight is most appreciated!

    • The RT-AC3100 is not a tri-band router, Neill. It will work with the GT-AC5300 in an AiMesh system, but it’s not ideal unless you can run a network cable to link the two. You should get the RT-AC5300 instead. You should use the GT as the main unit, for your setup, check out this post if you’re thinking of a double NAT setup.

  80. Dong, looks like you have a LOT of experience with the AIMesh. I have a question that I couldn’t find an answer from anywhere else.

    I am planning to use 1x RT-AX89X as the main router and 2x RT-AX88U as Nodes (Or I might end up using 3x RT-AX88U). Do you happened to know if the RT-AX88U in AIMesh Node mode loses the Link Aggregation support?

  81. How to setup roaming block list in AiMesh? I put the MAC number of device in the main router, than these devices only connect to main router. How about those devices should be connected to a node, but I cannot not edit the configuration page of a node. Thanks!

    • MAC filtering is always at the router level, Brian. That’s where the DHCP server is. Also, it’s not effective, many devices can now automatically change its MAC temporarily when connected to a new Wi-Fi network. More on MAC here.

  82. Dong, Thanks for the instructions (enjoy some coffees on me). I now have my 5300 set up as the router and the 86U as the node. Both are on the most recent firmware, and both were factory reset. I saved my 86U settings in case I wanted to copy them over to the 5300, but I didn’t have any complex or time consuming settings to worry about and I wanted to start from scratch to avoid any setting mistakes I may have made. Anyway, the setup went smoothly enough. I’m now set up with a wireless mesh network using Smart Connect.

    However, Smart Connect has some curious results. First, I have a lot of smart devices (Google Homes, Kasa smart switches/plugs/bulbs, garage door opener–getting a stable and reliable connection on all of these is what drove me to a mesh network) and there were a lot of minor connections issues with the multiple bands/single network setup of Smart Connect. The smart switches/bulbs/plugs required a few tries to get them to connect properly, and the Google Homes kept telling me to disable access point isolation on my router (which was obviously not enabled). I never had this issue with these same routers when set up with an individual SSID for each frequency band. In the end everything got connected and working.

    Now the only issue I have is with how Smart Connect works. According to the GUI (both in app and in browser) it appears that all 2.4GHz clients are on the 5300 (router) and only 5GHz clients are on the 86U (node). Also, when I perform speed tests on the 5GHz connected devices (laptop or phone) I am not getting quite the speed that I was when set up without Smart Connect, and I don’t get quite the speed I did on 5GHz when I first set up the mesh network in 2018 (with the 86U as the router and the 5300 as the node–I could get 70-90Mbps up/down on the node). I have a fiber 150Mbps connection, and when connected to 5GHz previously (a few days ago without Smart Connect or Aimesh) I could get the full speed up and down when within 10 feet of the router. Now no matter where I’m located within the house I get 50Mbps when connected to 5GHz, and only on the node. I can stand right next to the 5300 (router) and my phone/laptop will stay connected to 5GHz on the 86U (node) 40 feet away. My wife and I can lay in bed next to each other on our phones, 10 feet from the router–her S8 will stay on 2.4GHz on the router and my Pixel 2 XL will stay on 5GHz on the node 40 feet away.

    I guess my question is, is this normal and the expected way for Smart Connect to work? I don’t necessarily need the full 150Mbps at any given time, but I like to know I can access the full speed I pay for when I do need it without having to connect an ethernet cable to the router. Also, I know I can tweak some Smart Connect rules to possibly change it to work as I’m assuming it should, but do I need to? It just seems odd that the router would carry 20 2.4GHz clients and no 5GHz ones, while the node carries 10 5GHz clients and no 2.4GHz ones. Previously (2018), it seemed like they “shared the load” much more evenly as far as number of 2.4GHz/5GHz clients on each. I’ve done a few days of periodic google dives into Smart Connect, and it seems there are many people lost in the weeds with it. Some say they left the default settings with no complaints, others claim they had to heavily tweak the rules to get the results they were looking for. My setup should be fairly basic. Just streaming devices, tablets, smart devices, and a couple computers doing light work. I would think the default rule settings would serve me just fine.

    Anyway, again if you could point me in the right direction I’d appreciate it. I’m just not sure if I’m worrying about something I shouldn’t, and that maybe Smart Connect is working fine–or if the discrepancy in 5GHz speed and number of 2.4GHz/5GHz clients on each router/node requires some rule adjustments to get straightened out.

    Current Smart Connect Rules (set to default): 2.4GHz / 5GHz
    –Steering Trigger Condition
    Enable Load Balance: No / No
    Bandwidth Utilization: 0% / 0%
    RSSI: Greater -62 dBm / Less -82 dBm
    PHY Rate Less: 0Mbps / 0Mbps
    PHY Rate Greater: 0Mbps / 0Mbps
    VHT: A11 / A11
    –STA Selection Policy
    RSSI: Greater -62dBm / Less -82dBm
    PHY Rate Less: 0Mbps / 0Mbps
    PHY Rate Greater: 0Mbps / 0Mbps
    VHT: A11 / not-allowed
    –Interface Select and Qualify Procedures
    Bandwidth Utilization: 0% / 0%
    VHT: A11 / A11
    –Bounce Detect
    Window Time: 60 seconds
    Counts: 2
    Dwell Time: 180 seconds

    • I’d recommend stop using Smart Connect, Aaron. Use 2.4 for your IoT and the 5 GHz for the rest. You mix tri-band and dual-band, thing will not work as you might think.

  83. Hi Dong,

    I have an ax11000 with 2 XT8s as mesh nodes.

    I have a device wired in to one of the mesh nodes on a 1GB link but wanted to bond 2x 1GB links together, do you known if this is possible on a mesh node? The ax11000 has the option but being the central router it is nowhere near the device I want to bond.

    Thanks for the great writeups and reviews, current setup wasn’t cheap but definitely the best combo, and I’ve tried lots of Asus routers over the past few months, in various configurations.

  84. Hi Dong!

    I would like to ask if i can access the router or use the app from outside the network without using dyn dns? My isp is using cgnat so ddns dont work well. Does the app connect like decos or synology?

    Thanks for the great article!

  85. 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.

    • 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!

  86. 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?

  87. 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.  

  88. 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!

  89. 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?


    • 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.

  90. 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?


    • 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.

  91. 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?

    • 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.

  92. 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

  93. 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!


    • 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! 🙂

  94. 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)?

  95. 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 !!!

    • 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.

  96. 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?

  97. 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.


  98. 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

    • 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.

  99. 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

    • 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.

  100. 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!

    • 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.

  101. 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.

    • 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.

  102. 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?

  103. 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.

  104. 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?

  105. 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?

  106. 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

    • 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.

  109. 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!

    • This depends on your needs or if your house is wired with network cables. But, generally, anther GT-AX11000 will do, Jose.

  110. 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?

    • 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.

  111. 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!

    • 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.

  112. 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

  113. 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?

  114. Unfortunately, Optimum has their own page override the UBEE native settings at I cannot get to make adjustments.

  115. 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 ( 1.954 ms 1.592 ms 1.643 ms
    2 docsis-gateway ( 3.410 ms 3.532 ms 2.892 ms.

    • 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 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!)

  116. 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!

    • 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.

  117. 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.

    • 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. 🙂

  118. 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.

  119. 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?

    • 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.

  120. 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.

  121. 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.

  122. 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?


  123. 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.

    • 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.

  124. 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

    • 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.

  125. 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?

  126. 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.

    • 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.

  127. 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?

  128. 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.

  129. Actually, Merlin added support for AIMesh in July of 2019 in release 384.13. Current release of Merlin for most ASUS routers is 384.16

    • Interesting. I’ll check that out. I can’t imagine it’ll work well, though, but it’s worth a try. Thanks for the input, Dave.

  130. 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,

  131. 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,

  132. 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!

    • Sure, Chang. Generally, you need to wait for a bit, like 2 mins, for a LAN port as backhaul on a node to take effect. But I haven’t tried your setup myself.

  133. 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.

    • 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.

  134. 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.

  135. 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!

    • 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.

  136. 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?

  137. 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.

    • That depends on your needs, Dawn. Read the reviews and you’ll come up with your own conclusion. 🙂 But, generally, I’d go with the latter.

  138. Hi, I’m in the same case, when I connected my second Mesh router I’ve only 90-100Mb/s, Piotr, have you resolved ?

  139. 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

    • 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.

  140. 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

    • Many things can be the cause, Piotr but in your case, that’s likely due to signal loss. That’s true with any dual-band wireless mesh systems.

  141. 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 ( 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 –

    • Never seen this, Neil. Try keeping the roaming assistance value at default, and/or maybe use an older version if the firmware.

  142. 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.

    • 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!

  143. 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!

    • 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.

  144. 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


    • 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.

  145. 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.

  146. 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,


    • 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.

  147. 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?).

    • 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.

  148. 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?

    • 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.

  149. 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?

  150. Hi Dong and Clem – thank you for taking the time to reply with your advice and recommendations. i will give the Zen XT8 a trial run and see how that works.

  151. 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…

  152. 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

    • 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.

  153. Been using an rt-ax88u with rt-ac86u as a node since Sept 2019 with great results. I also have Metronet fiber 1Gb service.

  154. 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.

    • 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. 🙂


  155. 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.

    • 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.

  156. 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..


  157. 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.