Friday, April 23rd, 2021

Picking the Best Asus AiMesh Router Combos: The Real-World Experience

You’ll find the answers on picking the best AiMesh router combination that fits a particular station in this post. When through, chances are you’ll be able to build yourself a flexible, feature-laden, privacy-friendly Wi-Fi solution that’s also well-performing and reliable.

READ  Home Mesh Brands in Brief: AiMesh, Deco, eero, Orbi, Velop, and More

Unlike most canned mesh systems — like the eero, Netgear Orbi, TP-Link Deco, or Linksys Velop — AiMesh can be a bit hard to set up and use. It can also be buggy, especially when you pick the wrong combo, which is why I wrote this piece.

But AiMesh also has the most to offer among all home mesh options. You’re opting for a somewhat adventurous, albeit exciting, Wi-Fi approach here. It’s worth it!

Since I already have written extensively on this subject, consider this post the supplement to my take on Asus’s AiMesh as a whole. I assumed you had read that post. If not, you should do that when having e extra AiMesh-related questions.

READ  AiMesh in 2021: Asus's Ongoing Effort to Excellent Wi-Fi Coverage

Dong’s note: I first published this piece on February 28, 2021, and updated it on April 20 to add more relevant information.

AiMesh with GT AXE11000
My current AiMesh setup with the GT-AXE11000 as the primary router — not necessarily what you should get.

How to pick the best AiMesh Router Combos: The rules of thumb

Below is the list of existing Asus routers that can work as part of an AiMesh Wi-Fi system. It’s not complete and only includes broadcasters available in the U.S. market.

AiMesh hardware

The way it works, you use one router as the primary node, and the rest will work as a satellite node(s) to scale up the coverage. The primary router decides the features of your mesh.


Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) AiMesh broadcasters

Wi-Fi 6/E (802.11ax) AiMesh broadcasters


Technically, you can use a combo of any broadcasters above, arbitrarily, to create a mesh system, and it will work. It’s a matter of degrees. The point is don’t do that. Instead, follow these tips to make sure you get the best out of your hardware.

For the most part, though, picking AiMesh hardware is similar to that of any mesh system.

READ  Mesh Wi-Fi System Explained: How to Best Use Multiple Broadcasters

Wired backhaul is generally recommended

Like all home mesh systems, it’s best that you use the wired backhaul. That is when you use a network cable to connect the main router and a satellite unit.

In this case, you can use CAT5e (or higher-grade) network cables — Gigabit or faster wiring is a must. You can daisy-chain the hardware units or place (unmanaged) switch(es) in between them.

Generally, you don’t have the option of using a Multi-Gig connection as the wired backhaul yet. For that you’ll need a router with a Multi-Gig LAN port and a node with a Multi-Gig WAN and maybe a Multi-Gig switch.

With network cabling, you can use almost any router combo without worrying about performance or reliability.

That said, if you intend to mix hardware of different Wi-Fi grades or standards — dual-stream (2×2) vs. three-stream (3×3) vs. quad-stream (4×4), or Wi-Fi 5 vs. Wi-Fi 6 — then you should think about getting your home wired first.

By the way, “almost” is the key here. There are some specific sets that you might want to avoid using wired backhauls — more below.

READ  How to Get your Home Wired with Network Cables (Almost) Like a Pro

Tri-band hardware is generally recommended in a fully wireless setup

For the best performing system, you should consider tri-band hardware. Specifically, you want to use broadcasters with an additional 5GHz band that works as the dedicated backhaul.

In most cases, using dual-band hardware works, too. However, now you will get only 50 percent of the satellite (node) unit’s speed due to signal loss. So, if you don’t need the node’s top Wi-Fi speed, then dual-band hardware will do. The key is what type of performance you want.

Minimize mixing hardware

It’s always safest in terms of performance and reliability when you use the same routers across the entire system.

However, that’s not a must, and also not exactly economical. You want to mix a router with the best feature set with a more affordable node in many cases. Of course, in this case, you’ll get the Wi-Fi performance at each mesh unit according to their hardware specs.

Again, if you use wired backhaul, there’s not much concern here. But if you think of a wireless mesh, it’s best to use routers of the same Wi-Fi standard (Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6) and performance tiers for better reliability.

Specifically, if you use a 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 router as the primary node, the rest of the nodes should also be 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 hardware. The same goes for Wi-Fi 5 equipment.

Rules in mixing hardware

If you have broadcasters of different Wi-Fi standards and/or Wi-Fi performance tiers — often the case when you buy a new router and want to keep the old one as part of a mesh — then here is what you should do in this particular order when possible:

  1. Use wired backhaul. A mix of wired and wireless backhaul is still better than full wireless. In this case, the primary router unit should be wired to the first node, but you can also wire just the nodes together.
  2. Pick the best router for the primary node (this is the device that decides the features of your network):
    • It should be one of the highest Wi-Fi tiers, measured in the number of streams (4×4, 3×3, 2×2, etc.).
    • It’s the one with the most bands. So, pick the tri-band instead of the dual-band if you have both.
    • Use the latest router with the most feature. So pick the Wi-Fi 6 router if you also have Wi-Fi 5 broadcasters.
  3. Pick the right nodes (you generally have little or no control over the node’s feature or settings):
    • Wireless backhaul: Use nodes of the same Wi-Fi tier as the router, at least on the 5GHz (backhaul) band.
    • Wired backhaul: Use (dual-band) nodes with the performance (when working as a standalone router) of your choice.
  4. Expect some bugs: Since there are so many possible combos, mixing hardware arbitrarily likely will result in unexpected bugs. This is especially true when you use a fully wireless setup. Again, think about running network cables!
  5. AP mode (applicable only to a wired home): Consider using a node as a (non-AiMesh) standard access point (AP). While this setup will not give you a real mesh system — you can’t control the AP’s Wi-Fi settings via the main router — it’ll give you excellent performance, reliability, and more control. Specifically:
    • You can take full control of the hardware, including some extra features in the AP mode (Wi-Fi settings, USB-related, lighting, and others).
    • If your primary router is a dual-band and the node is a tri-band, you can then use the node’s 5GHz-2 band, which is not available in the AiMesh mode.
    • You can use a third-party router (or AP) or a non-AiMesh Asus router, such as the RT-AC3200.

With that out of the way, below are my experience with certain AiMesh routers and combos when used as a mesh.

Best AiMesh routers and combos: The battle-tested list

This part results from many hours — days, weeks, and months in most cases — of testing and real-world usage via dozens of AiMesh combos I’ve used (or had access to) since Asus first introduced this feature in early 2018.

Indeed, it consists of AiMesh routers and purposed-built systems together with my brief first-hand assessment on them after extended use from a couple to tens of months.

This list is sorted in the order of my experience, newest on top — the order is not meant to be the ranking. Go through them all, and you’ll find out which fits your needs and budget.

15. RP-AX56

Asus RP AX56 AX1800 Dual Band Wi Fi 6 Repeater Out of box
The Asus RP-AX56 AX1800 Dual Band Wi Fi 6 Repeater comes in the plug-in design.

The RP-AX56 is an extender (repeater) by design and can work with any router. But it works best as an AiMesh node, in a wired (recommended) or wireless setup.

Note, though, that this is a modest piece of hardware. It features 2×2 80MHz Wi-Fi 6 and therefore caps at 1.2Gbps at best. Most importantly, it can’t handle DFS or 160MHz channels and therefore won’t work with a router that uses these settings.

That said, this is a node for those using an entry-level AiMehs router or a high-end one set up in compatible mode.

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable).
  • Recommended router:
    • Wireless: Dual-band 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 routers without the use of DFS or 160MHz channel width.
    • Wired: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 routers. AP mode is avaiable.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes, but without a system-wide Guest network. (Currently running the initial firmware.)
  • Routers I’ve tried: RT-AX82U, RT-AX3000.

Asus RP-AX56 AX1800 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Repeater

$99.99
8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Ease of Use

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Reliable and relatively fast Wi-Fi with good coverage
  • Can work as an Access Point, a Media Bridge, an Extender, or an AiMesh node (via wireless or wired backhaul)
  • Convenient design, excellent web interface

Cons

  • No 160MHz bandwidth, modest specs
  • No Guest network when working as an AiMesh node (for now)
  • The Initial firmware is a bit buggy
  • Bulky
READ  Asus RP-AX56 Review: A Solid and Versatile Budget Mesh-Ready Broadcaster

14. RT-AX68U

Asus RT AX68U 3
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The RT-AX68U is likely one of the most affordable AiMesh routers.

The RT-AX68U is a bit special. It’s the only 3×3 Wi-Fi 6 router on this list, and it’s also quite affordable. It’s a better version of the RT-AC68U that came out a couple of years ago.

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 router with a 3×3 5GHz band, namely itself.
    • Wired: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with the initial firmware.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX68U, ZenWiFi Mini XD4 (wired backhaul).

Asus RT-AX68U AX2700 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

$199.99
8.9

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.5/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Fast performance, excellent range, reliable
  • Tons of helpful networking features and settings, including AiMesh 2.0
  • Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app
  • Excellent NAS performance and features when hosting a storage device
  • Comparatively affordable

Cons

  • No Multi-Gig ports or 160MHz channel width suport
  • Not wall-mountable
READ  Asus RT-AX68U Review: An Entry-Level Wi-Fi 6 Router that Won't Disappoint

13. GT-AXE11000

Asus GT AXE11000 14
Best AiMesh Router Combos: Avoid using the GT-AXE11000 in a wireless AiMesh setup, even if you have two hardware units.

While this is a bit premature — Wi-Fi 6E is not even fully here yet — this latest router is an excellent host for a wired AiMesh system. In this case, keep in mind that even though the GT-AXE11000 has three bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz), you would consider it a “dual-band” router.

READ  Dual-band vs. Tri-band Wi-Fi Explained: 2021's New Bandwidth Question

Notes on using AiMesh (if you can’t wait):

  • Backhaul: Wired only. Truth be told, you shouldn’t use this router at all, never mind as an AiMesh router until Wi-Fi 6E is fully ready. But if you can’t help it, use it as a standalone router or a WIRED mesh host. Don’t use it in a wireless backhaul, at least not before Wi-Fi 6E is certified — I’ll update its review and this post by then.
  • Recommended nodes: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 routers — since this is a wired setup.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with the initial firmware.
  • Nodes I’ve used: GT-AXE11000, RT-AX86U, RT-AX82U, RT-AX88U, RT-AC88U, RT-AC86U.

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000 Wi-Fi 6E Gaming Router

$549.99
8

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

6.0/10

Pros

  • Tri-band with Wi-Fi 6E support
  • Excellent 5GHz and 2.4GHz performance
  • Excellent set of game-related, online protection and monitoring features, full support for AiMesh 2.0
  • 2.5Gbps LAN/WAN port, Dual-WAN, and LAN/WAN Link Aggregations

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Wi-Fi 6E is not fully available
  • Only one 2.5Gbps port, no 10Gbps port
  • Slow 2.5Gbps speed when working as bridge or AiMesh node
  • Bulky design, not wall-mountable, buggy firmware (at launch)
READ  Asus GT-AXE11000 Router Review: Excellent, but Jury Is Still Out on Wi-Fi 6E

12. RT-AX86U

The Asus RT-AX86U is one of the best Wi-Fi 6 routers
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The Asus RT-AX86U is an excellent AiMesh host.

The Asus RT-AX86U is a safe choice to be an AiMesh host. It’s so far the best dual-band router on the market, after all.

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable when using same-tier routers).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers with a 4×4 5GHz band.
    • Wired: Any Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41535.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX86U, RT-AX82U, RT-AX88U, RT-AX58U, RP-AX56 (wired and wireless backhaul), ZenWiFi XD4 (wired backhaul).

ASUS RT-AX86U AX5700 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router

9

Performance

9.0/10

Features

9.5/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Fast performance, excellent range, reliable
  • Tons of helpful networking features and settings
  • Useful settings for online gaming
  • Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app
  • Multi-gig, WAN/LAN Link Aggregation support
  • Excellent NAS performance and features when hosting a storage device
  • Comparatively affordable

Cons

  • No support for WTFast Gamer VPN
  • Not wall-mountable
  • Gaming features turn Adaptive QoS off
  • The single Multi-gig port caps at 2.5 Gbps
READ  Asus RT-AX86U Review: Arguably the Best Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router to Date

11. RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U

Asus RT AX3000 RT AX58U Routers Top
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The Asus RT-AX3000 and RT-AX58U makes an excellent AiMesh pair.

The RT-AX3000 is virtually the same as the RT-AX58U, and the pair makes an excellent AiMesh setup, especially if you use the wired backhaul.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (not recommended).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router with a 2×2 5GHz band.
    • Wired: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers of the same tier or lower.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41700.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX58U, RP-AX56 (wired and wireless), ZenWiFi XD4 (wired), RT-AC86U (wired).

ASUS RT-AX3000 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

$179.99
8.5

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • 160 MHz channel support
  • Fast and reliable performance
  • Ton of useful features with excellent AiMesh support
  • Full web interface and well-design mobile app
  • Compact design, wall-mountable

Cons

  • No multi-gig port or Link Aggregation
  • Modest hardware specs
  • Relatively short Wi-Fi range
  • The Parental Control feature could use some improvement
READ  Asus RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U Review: A Cool Little Excellent AiMesh Pair

10. RT-AX82U

Asus RT AX82U Front
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The Asus RT-AX82U and its unique programmable front-facing Aura RGB lighting.

The Asus RT-AX82U is almost the same as the RT-AX86U above in terms of performance and features. The two share the same 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 band, which is strong enough to handle both backhaul and clients in most cases.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable when using same-tier routers).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers with a 4×4 5GHz band.
    • Wired: Any Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41700.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX86U, RT-AX58U, ZenWiFi XD4 (wired backhaul), RT-AC86U.

Asus RT-AX82U AX5400 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Gaming Router

9

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.5/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

9.5/10

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Beautiful design with tons of helpful networking, game-related features and settings
  • Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app
  • Comparatively affordable

Cons

  • No support for WTFast Gamer VPN
  • No multi-gig network port
  • Network storage performance (when hosting a portable drive) could use some improvement
  • Not wall-mountable
READ  Asus RT-AX82U Gaming Router Review: A Fancy Little Wi-Fi 6 Performer

9. RT-AX89X

Asus RT AX89X Hand
Best AiMesh Router Combos: That’s my hand on the Asus RT-AX89X Wi-Fi 6 router.

The Asus RT-AX89X is quite different since it’s the only Wi-Fi 6 router on this list that uses a Qualcomm chip. As a result, it doesn’t have the best support for AiMesh — it works best as a standalone router. But if you’re building a wired network, it can still work as an excellent host.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired only. I didn’t have a good experience using this router in a wireless AiMesh setup.
  • Recommended nodes: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Partially with the latest firmware. No system-wide Guest network yet.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX88U, RT-AX58U, ZenWiFi XD4, RT-AC86U.

ASUS RT-AX89X AX6000 Dual Band WiFi 6 Router

9

Performance

9.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

9.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Excellent Wi-Fi performance
  • Uniquely cool design with two 10Gbps network ports
  • Eight Gigabit network ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation
  • Super-fast network attached storage speed when coupled with an external drive
  • Tons of useful features, including free-for-life real-time online protection, and AiMesh

Cons

  • A bit buggy at launch, relatively expensive
  • Smart Connect setting not available at launch
  • Tweaking required to deliver top Wi-Fi 6 speeds
  • Bulky physical size with internal fan
  • Web interface needs work
  • Not wall-mountable, no universal backup restoration
READ  Asus RT-AX89X Review: Most Wi-Fi Bases. Covered. And More!

8. RT-AX88U

Asus RT AX88U
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The RT-AX88U comes in a traditional design of a Wi-Fi router.

In many ways, the RT-AX88U is the Wi-Fi 6 version of the RT-AC88U, which is an excellent router. The two look almost identical and share a lot of similar features, including the eight Gigabit LAN ports, and the lack of a multi-gig port.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable when using same-tier routers).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers with a 4×4 5GHz band.
    • Wired: Any Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41700.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX88U, RT-AX86U, RT-AX58U, ZenWiFi XD4 (wired backhaul), RT-AC86U (wired), RT-AC88U (wired).

ASUS RT-AX88U AX6000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

$310.99
8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Fast Wi-Fi performance
  • Tons of useful features
  • Eight network ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation
  • Universal setting backup and restoration
  • Fast network attached storage speed when coupled with an external drive.
  • Merlin firmware support

Cons

  • No multi-gig network port
  • Buggy firmware (at review)
READ  Asus RT-AX88U Review: An Excellent Incremental Wi-Fi 6 Upgrade

7. RT-AX92U

Asus RT AX92U 2 Pack
Best AiMesh Router Combos: A 2-pack Asus RT-AX92U makes an excellent wireless AiMesh.

A 2-pack Asus RT-AX92U makes an excellent AiMesh wireless mesh system. It also supported wired backhaul well. In many ways, it’s the mini version of he GT-AX11000 below.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired or wireless (tri-band routers only).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 routers of the same tier, namely itself. 5GHz-band works as the dedicated backhaul.
    • Wired: Any Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers. In this case, the 5GHz-2 band is available only at tri-band nodes.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41712.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX92U.

ASUS RT-AX92U AX6100 Tri-Band WiFi 6 Router

$219.98
8.5

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Ease of Use

8.0/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Compact design, tri-band specs
  • Good performance, large coverage
  • Excellent set of features, including online protection, WTFast VPN for gamers, and system-wide Guest network when working as a mesh
  • Link Aggregation and Dual-WAN support, wall-mountable
  • Comparatively affordable

Cons

  • No Wi-Fi 6 when working as a wireless mesh
  • No Multi-Gig port
READ  Asus RT-AX92U Review: A Cute and Effective Little Odd One Out of AiMesh

6. GT-AX11000

Asus AX11000 Top 1
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The Asus GT-AX11000 is a massive Wi-Fi 6 router.

The GT-AX11000 is the full-size version of the RT-AX92U above. It’s an excellent full-feature AiMesh host.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired or wireless (tri-band routers only).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 routers of the same tier, namely itself or the RT-AX92U. In this case, the 5GHz-2 band works as the dedicated backhaul.
    • Wired: Any Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers. In this case, the 5GHz-2 band is available only at tri-band nodes.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41712.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX92U, RT-AX88U, RT-AX86U, RT-AX58U, ZenWiFi AX XT8, ZenWiFi XD4 (wired back), Lyra (wired), RT-AC86U (wired), RT-AC88U (wired), Blue Cave (wired).

ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Gaming Router

8.3

Performance

8.0/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

7.5/10

Pros

  • Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance with excellent range
  • Lots of useful features for home users
  • Unique and effective settings for online gaming
  • Multi-Gig network port, Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation
  • Mesh ready

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Bulky design, loose antennas, non-wall-mountable
  • Fewer LAN ports than previous model
  • Long boot-up time, buggy (at launch), fluctuating Wi-Fi throughputs
READ  Asus GT-AX11000 Wi-Fi 6 Router Review: A Pro Gamer's Delight

5. ZenWiFi AX XT8

ZenWiFi XT8 Box
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The ZenWiFi AX XT8 includes two identical routers.

This is the first purpose-built tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AiMesh set. As such, it’s designed primarily to work as a standalone wireless system (no network cables or other hardware involved.)

As a result, while this set support wired backhaul well, using a network cable to connect the two might cause issues when new firmware is released or deliver worse performance. This has happened multiple times since its release.

Important note: Unless you have issues, don’t update to a new firmware immediately (especially if you use wired backhaul). Instead, wait for a subsequent version. When running into issues after an update, revert to the previous firmware version.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (with caution) or wireless (recommended).
  • Recommended nodes: Itself.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Partially. No system-wide Guest network yet.
  • Nodes I’ve used: 2-pack set.

ASUS ZenWiFi AX Whole-Home Tri-Band Mesh WiFi 6 System (XT8)

8.9

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Fast Wi-Fi performance and large coverage at a comparatively affordable cost
  • Improved and flexible AiMesh
  • Lots network settings and useful features, including free real-time online protection for life
  • Full 4x4 dedicated backhaul band with optional wired backhaul support
  • Multi-gig WAN port with Dual-WAN and WAN link aggregation

Cons

  • No 160MHz 4x4 support for Wi-Fi 6 clients, in a wireless setup
  • No multi-gig LAN port or LAN link aggregation
  • Only four network ports on each hardware units
  • Firmware can be buggy
READ  Asus ZenWiFi AX XT8 AX6600 Review: The Best Wireless AiMesh Set to Date

4. ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4

Asus XD4 Mesh
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The XD4 is the first complete AiMesh combo.

As the name suggests, the XD4 is the mini version of the XT8 above. It works best in wired backhaul setup, either as a standalone system or the nodes of another dual-band router among those mentioned above.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommend) or wireless (OK with low performance).
  • Recommended nodes: Itself.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes, with a system-wide Guest network, right out of the box.
  • Nodes I’ve used: 3-pack set.

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) AiMesh Wi-Fi 6 System

8.1

Performance

8.0/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

7.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Reliable performance
  • Improved AiMesh feature
  • Guest networking works throughout the system
  • Useful network settings and feature

Cons

  • No dedicated backhaul band or 160MHz channel width support
  • No multi-gig port, Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
  • Stripped-down, borderline useless QoS and Parental Control features
  • Limited number of network ports, switch needed for a complete wired backhaul setup
  • Non-pre-synced hardware, not wall-mountable
READ  Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) Review: The First Complete AiMesh Set

3. ZenWiFi AC CT8

Asus ZenWiFi CT8
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The ZenWiFi CT8 mesh Wi-Fi system.

The CT8 is the Wi-Fi 5 version of the CT8 above. It should be used as a standalone mesh set by itself via the wireless backhaul. While it supports wired backhaul, using a network cable to link the hardware might cause firmware-related issues.

Speaking of firmware, certain sets (not mine) have been reported to automatically update their firmware, which can be a headache if the new firmware is buggy.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (with caution) or wireless (recommended).
  • Recommended nodes: Itself.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Partially. No system-wide Guest network yet.
  • Nodes I’ve used: 2-pack set

ASUS ZenWiFi AC CT8 Whole-Home Tri-Band Mesh System

8.3

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

7.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Significantly improved AiMesh feature
  • Fast performance, excellent Wi-Fi coverage
  • Tons of useful features and settings, including free network real-time online protection for life
  • Fast dedicated backhaul, wired backhaul supported
  • Helpful mobile app

Cons

  • Web user interface doesn't always work as intended (bugs)
  • Only 3 LAN ports per router
  • Not enough setting instructions
  • Guest networking still has issues
  • The combo of buggy firmware and auto-update
READ  Asus ZenWiFi AC Review: A True, and Improved, Wireless AiMesh System

2. RT-AC88U

Asus RT AC88U
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The Asus RT AC88U is an all-around great router.

This one is the Wi-Fi 5 version of the RT-AX88U above, and that’s the only difference between the two. In an AiMesh system, though, the RT-AC88U, when working as the main router, should host only Wi-Fi 5 nodes unless you use wired backhaul.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable when using same-tier routers).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 routers with a 4×4 5GHz band.
    • Wired: Any Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41535.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AC88U, Blue Cave, RT-AC86U.

Asus RT-AC88U Wi-Fi Router

9

Performance

9.0/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

  • Fast Wi-Fi performance with excellent coverage
  • Tons of useful features including the ability to guard the network against online threats
  • Eight LAN ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation
  • Excellent support for Asus's AiMesh
  • Merlin firmware support

Cons

  • Awkwardly placed USB 3.0 ports
  • Slow network storage speed when coupled with an external hard drive
READ  Asus RT-AC88U Revisited: A Fine Wi-Fi 5 Router that Ages like Wine

1. RT-AC86U

A Pair of Asus RT-AC86U Routers make one of the Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems
Best AiMesh Router Combos: A pair of RT-AC86U units will make a great Wi-Fi AiMesh system.

This router is the first that supports AiMesh. In other words, together with it, Asus released these mesh features, paving the way to scaleable home Wi-Fi.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable when using same-tier routers).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 routers with a 4×4 5GHz band.
    • Wired: Any Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.40451
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AC86U, Blue Cave, Lyra Trio (wired).

Asus RT-AC86U

8.4

Performance

9.0/10

Features

8.0/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Excellent performance both as a single router and as part of an AiMesh system
  • AiProtection security for the entire network
  • Plenty of useful features for home users as well as gamers
  • Can be restored with setting backup files of other Asus routers

Cons

  • No extra network ports like other high-end Asus routers
  • Not wall mountable
READ  Asus RT-AC86U Review: A Path to the AiMesh Wi-Fi Holy Grail

The takeaway

There you go. Pick a combo mentioned above (using the recommended backhaul), and I can almost guarantee you’ll get yourself an excellent mesh system.

Keep in mind that there might be other excellent combos I’ve not tested, and also, I haven’t used all the different scenarios of those mentioned here. The key is not to mess around too much when everything is working. Keep that in mind, especially when you choose to use the Asus mobile app.

80 thoughts on “Picking the Best Asus AiMesh Router Combos: The Real-World Experience”

  1. Hi Dong,
    Amazing site. Thanks for your efforts. I’ve spent several hours reading your articles and have decided I want to go with an Asus (privacy, features, quality) wifi6 router and/or 2 node Aimesh system.

    I’m looking to upgrade a budget netgear dual band ac1200 r6220 router requiring frequent resets and terrible range to significantly improve the range, Improve network performance and take advantage of my wifi 6 devices and am stuck on wether triband is the way to go (house not wired) or whether sub 200 MB internet makes having a dedicated wireless backhaul channel irrelevant and a dual band ax wireless mesh is good enough.

    I’m not opposed to spending a bit more for unused specs, leaving “room to grow”, but I don’t want to throw money away for zero benefit. Any advice or alternate ideas would be greatly appreciated.

    I’ve been looking at the zenwifi ax or maybe 2x RT-AX3000’s or ?

    Current setup/use:
    I have a personal cloud wired to router that I access frequently with photo and video editing, some other client to client data transfers, video conferencing frequently, streaming to multiple devices (some 4k), 6-10 smart devices and growing, multiple iphones, iPads etc., some occasional online gaming. I’m currently at about 20 connections but expect this to increase. I do see significant slowing the more devices we have connected.

    It’s a very small house ( ~1200 sq ft 1 1/2 story) but it’s old (plaster walls) and the modem needs to stay in a bad location at very front of house. This means bad connectivity to the back of the house and none outside in the yard/patio.

    Reply
  2. Hey Dong,

    I’m hoping you can help me with a replacement for my Orbi RBR50 with two wired RBS and one wireless RBS in my 9K sq ft house. The Orbi does an adequate job of covering my house, but I don’t like Orbi’s slow clumsy, difficult to manage Static IP Addresses software, nor its unreliability.

    I have a Control4 Smart Home with 67 devices and have Cat 5 & 6 run all over the house, but not in the garage where I need WiFi for the Sprinkler System and Garage Door Openers. I was thinking of four ASUS ZenWiFi XT8 AX6600, but this appears to be an overkill since I have wire in all but the garage. I have 200Mbps Internet Service and want a dependable, speedy wifi system with forward looking compatibility. What would be your recommendation?

    Reply
  3. Dong,

    This is unbelievable work you’ve written and organized. I’m an old school “IT/Computer build/troubleshoot/tweak/etc” that grew up as a 10yr old running a BBS on my 2400 Baud modem (upgraded to 14.4 in time).. Through highschool I was running 56K and used to bond two phone lines/modems for ~112Kbps (Yeah I was getting 11+ KB/s on my music downloads lol). This was late 90’s, and soon I acquired Charter Broadband… the old Sharkfin modem and I want to say it was ~1.5Mbps cable coax connection in early 2000’s.

    Anyhow point is,.. I appreciate text based, written word, kind of Internet 1.X. It’s a lot of work.. you’ve tested and written comprehensive reviews and guides of all of these Routers, explored combinations etc – Then linked them all for those seeking some direction in AIMesh and potential combinations and info.

    Question:

    I have a GPON Fiber connection (1,000/1,000) running to an Asus RT-AC88U Router. This is the only router I have running for a 3,000 square foot , 2 story home. The AC88U runs the network wired/wireless and is located on 2nd floor on one end of home. (Yes I realize this isn’t the ‘optimal’ location but it’s where the primary office/computer server room/and subsequent location of where I ran multiple Coax cables, and now Cat 6 dedicated lines from the ONT in Garage downstairs.

    As expected the downstairs, other end of home doesn’t get exceptional Wireless speeds. I primarily want to enable improved Wireless sustained speeds/reliability of connectivity but have reasonable expectations. Just enough speeds to support some mobile phones, ipad, and very importantly — Roku (Streaming) at a 4K bitrate sustained/reliable. So let’s call this 20Mbps or greater TRUE speed to the Roku device wirelessly.

    Right now it varies and might sustain a weak connection of ‘speed test results internally’ of 10 Mbps give or take.

    So my question is :

    1) What is your best recommendation for this scenario to AIMesh with my RT-AC88U wirelessly across the house to place in that furthest/downstairs bedroom? Should I just grab an AC68U? Another AC88U or? I don’t want to blow money on a 400-500$ router just to attempt to bump wireless speeds with a ‘wireless backhaul’ on a dual channel setup. Something cheaper but willing to spend what is best to achieve ~50Mbps or so to wireless devices at furthest point from AC88U on a Gigabit WAN fiber connection.

    I researched Power of ethernet, wifi extenders, etc.. basically the conclusion I came to was none of it was reliable and trying to run hundreds of feet of Ethernet cable to establish a wired connection was the only possible solution.. even though I only need 5% of my connection speed (40-50Mbps) in this location. I have to specify that some devices will get 800Mbps connections that will drop to 5Mbps connections at the drop of a hat in this end of the house.

    You get the idea – If you so happen to read this – I appreciate your response and again .. thank you for your obvious hard work on your website here.

    Take care,

    Jared

    Reply
  4. UPDATE: Right after posting my comment I actually just got the dedicated backhaul to connect at 160 MHz by selecting channel 100 and 160 MHz in the 5GHz-2 band, so it does work! Also, I ment to type that I get 1200 Mbps on my gig speed connection thanks to the GT-AX11000’s awesome WAN aggregation! Thanks again for your writings, no response to my comments needed.

    Reply
  5. After reading your well-written, informative articles, I bought two GT-AX11000 routers with the desire to set up an AiMesh network using 160MHz 5G as the wireless backhaul in my home. I can get 160 MHz 5G speeds when my laptop connects directly to the main unit, and it is absolutely wonderful, especially with the port aggregation that bumps my gig speed connection up to 12000 Mbps. But whenever I connect to the AX11000 that’s set as the mesh node I lose half my speed becuase the dedicated backhaul never seems to be at anything other than 80 MHz. I am located inside the US and not right near an airport so I should be able to access 160 MHz on the higher channels used in the dedicated backhaul. Are you aware if it is possible to set the dedicated wireless backhaul to the 160 Mhz frequency between two of these? Because without it, I am better off only connecting to the main unit even if it is further away than the mesh node since the main router is the only thing that seems to allow a 160 MHz connection. I feel like this makes the mesh node worthless since it is slower even when it is closer to me than the main router. Do you know of anyone who is able to set the dedicated wireless backhaul of two GT-AX11000 units to 160 MHz, even occassionally?

    Reply
  6. Hi Dong,

    You might want to check out the rundown for the ZenWiFi AC CT8. It instead repeated the rundown for the ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4).

    Regards,
    Stig

    Reply
  7. Hi Dong,

    I was searching for the best possible networking solution by reading numerous materials, and your independent reviews are a good read. (I read most of the articles pertaining to ASUS AiMesh.)

    Wired is not an option because our house is built without ethernet cables in mind. My intended setup will be as follows: ZenWifi CT8 (I got this one on sale for approx. USD 259 here in the Philippines), then add RT-AX92U (1-pack if it will be available here) in the future.

    This combination is chosen with the best performance/price ratio in mind, considering a tight budget. Only one device in our household is WiFi-6 capable (iPhone SE 2020), reasons why I chose WiFi 5 standard. The RT-AX92U’s 2nd 5GHz band will be operated as dedicated backhaul in compatibility mode.

    With that combination, some questions come to my mind regarding various backhaul configurations.

    The dedicated backhaul takes the second 5GHz band, leaving clients with the 2.4 GHz and the 5 GHz-1 bands for connection to the accessible node in range.

    It is without a doubt that a WiFi 6 backhaul (think RT-AX92U and XT8) will perform better than the one with a WiFi 5 backhaul (RT-AX92U with second 5 GHz band operating in compatibility mode with CT8).

    The question: will the WiFi standard used as backhaul be noticeable to end-clients? (There goes the saying that the speed is just as good as the speed of the connection between the node and the client).

    Your additional insights, when and where applicable, will also be appreciated.

    Best regards,
    Stig

    Reply
      • Hi Dong,

        Thanks for the brief yet helpful reply. Just a clarification for my questions:

        1. I do not mean to mix WiFi standards. I intend to stick with WiFi 5 standards. The RT-AX92U’s second 5GHz band will be set as dedicated backhaul, operating in compatibility mode (WiFi 5 instead of WiFi 6 because the CT8 only supports WiFi 5).
        2. Noticeable to end clients: significant enough for connected devices in terms of latency (online gaming) and throughput (FTP/Media Sharing).

        Best regards,
        Stig

        Reply
        • I don’t think you can pick the band that works as backhaul, Stig. Read the review again. It will work, just not well. Don’t do it or do it at your own risks.

          Reply
          • Hi Dong,

            Thanks for the quick reply. I highly appreciate the time and effort you put into writing articles like these, while patiently answering queries.

            Yes, I am fully aware that I will not be able to pick the band which will be used as backhaul. It will use the second 5GHz band by default.

            I might have overlooked something. I might as well reread the review of the RT-AX92U.

            Again, thanks a lot, and more power to you.

            Best regards,
            Stig

  8. Dong,
    Firstly thank you so much for such a detailed and well structured set of articles. They really helped me navigate my way around the whole WIFI AIMesh.

    I am a somewhat beginner when it comes to networking. I purchase to RT-AX88U router. I have dead spots upstairs so looking to use Mesh to overcome this. Looking at the compatibility options you suggest one option of using ZenWiFi XD4. I cannot use a wired backhaul.

    I read earlier in this article that you should not combine a dual band router with a tri-band node. But is this not what the AX88U & XD4 will lead me to do? Sorry if I misunderstood.

    Best Regards
    Amin

    Reply
  9. Hi Dong,
    Been going round and round for a few weeks now when I decided to upgrade the wifi in the house. I have been reliably using the RT-AC68U for years and love the Asus granular control, USB integration, DDNS support etc. I live in a ~2500 soft ranch and for years this setup has worked. With our growth of wireless and new devices and kids home school etc, I decided to upgrade the house to AIMesh. I chose the XT-8 and had nothing but trouble from the start. It crashed over and over again until I finally returned the set. I don’t know if it was a fluke or if the Zen is just not there yet.

    However, after reading all of your posts on the subject, I think maybe that system is over-done for my situation. I have wired backhaul and will definitely use it. My internet speed is about 500mbps which is totally fine. So curious what your recommended setup would be for a good upgrade to AIMesh. I definitely want guest wifi support on the entire system as well.

    Thx Much,
    Tony

    Reply
      • Thank you for the quick reply. Couple of follow ups that I missed in my original post. So with the 86U you are not recommending Wifi6? I figured for future proofing I would go there. Also, smart connect is important to me so we don’t have to have multiple main networks for 2.4/5ghz…so I don’t think I can leave my 68U in service since it doesn’t support smart connect right?

        Reply
        • The RT-AC86U supports smart connect, Tony, though you can always just use the two bands with the same Wi-Fi name and password. If you want to go with Wi-Fi 6 that works, too, but for your needs, it’s not necessary. If you have more questions on how AiMesh works, check out this post. Make sure you *read* that before asking any more questions.

          Reply
  10. Thanks Dong for this article! I currently have XT8 routers but want to extend some of the dead spots in the house. Will the RT-AX92U work with them?

    Reply
  11. Hi Dong, Thank you for the thorough and thoughtful articles.
    I have the ZenWiFi AX6600 setup with wireless backhaul.
    I have a dead spot in the basement and want to add a 3rd wireless device to extend the range. Any thoughts on the best device?

    Reply
  12. Dong, your last reply to me is very confusing. I have not skimmed over anything. I have been reading your posts and all of the comments in great detail. I have also followed your advice.

    I will repeat the situation again:

    1 – wired house
    2- you/your posts said dual band wifi 6 with ethernet backaul
    3 – you said option 3 in my post should work – which is “1 x RT-AX82U @ 259 + 2 x RT-AX56U/CA @ $129 = $517”

    So, I have followed all of your advice. Nothing I have done is inconsistent and I have not skimmed anything.

    So, then I posted this:
    —————————-
    I understand the limitations of speed tests that you have written about. However, standing near the 82u in the basement, I get 750-800mbps and standing near either of the 56u I get 75-200mbps on the same iPhone (within minutes of testing).

    On this basis I do not believe I’m getting the performance that I need.

    Am I doing something wrong?

    Should I swap out the entire configuration for 3x92u models or something else?
    ————————–
    Your response was that I should get the house wired. It is wired, as I mentioned already. If you can provide an answer it would be much appreciated. Your posts say that a ‘lesser router’ should work as well, so not sure why I get slower speeds. If I need to replace the 56’s, just say so.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Neal.

      0. (This post), here’s on picking hardware.
      1. Here’s about testing.
      2. Here’s about roaming and the expected speeds.
      3. Here’s about Wi-Fi bandwidth in general.

      For your situation, it’s not about replacing the hardware, but making sure your phone connects to the right node and right band when you test it. Also keep in mind that using the phone to test is not ideal, which you already know. Also know that Wi-Fi is about degrees, I did say it’d work and it’s working. You just wanted it to meet YOUR expectations which I had no way of knowing how they’d be. So, if you want to make sure, read the top part of the post again and follow the rule in getting all the same routers, did you miss that part?

      Reply
      • Thanks.

        No, I didn’t “miss that part”, I’ve actually summarized it in my initial post to you:
        ———————-
        Hi there, I’m in Canada (our prices are sky high on some things!) and I live in a 3-storey house with wired CAT 5e throughout.

        I have read your articles and heed the following advice:
        -it is best to use the same hardware for AI mesh
        -dual band is best for wired backhaul

        Therefore, I have settled on 3 x RT-AX82U routers. I should say the main connection comes into a room in the basement.
        ————————

        Reply
        • Sure, Neal. Keep in mind that I have a lot of questions a day, and I don’t answer them by looking at the threads under each post — that’d take too much time, and I’d not be able to embed the link, etc. — but within the site’s backend. As a result, I might not know what’s already been talked about in the same thread. The point is don’t expect me to be your personal advisor who can tend to all the details you’ve talked about. Even if I wanted to (which I don’t) it’s impossible to be that of EVERYONE who posts a question.

          Reply
          • Yeah fair enough, appreciate the help and the quick responses. Thanks to you, I’m still miles ahead of where I was before (with the eero).
            Cheers

  13. Dong – thanks a ton for all of the info you share here, it’s unbelievably helpful. I’ve spent hours reading your site to get my network fine tuned, I’m close but have one issue I was hoping you could help with.

    The basics – I moved last year and my new house is 3 levels /4500 sq ft. Heaviest traffic is in my basement office and the 3rd floor (teenagers/1 gamer). I have an Asus RT-AC3100 and added the RT-AC68U after moving, and set up wireless AIMesh with the AC3100 as the main router. It’s worked fairly well but I recently started my own business and want to improve consistency, speed, etc. I initially just upped my xfinity to the gigabyte service – then after reading your articles, I decided to run ethernet between my routers and so far so good for the most part. My main router is in basement office with the AC68U on the 3rd level. Speed in the basement and 3rd level have been solid but not the improvement I’d like. And streaming quality on our 2nd floor tv has definitely suffered.

    I plan to buy a new main router and hope you can offer some feedback on my proposed setup and options for what device would work best…if I understand your research correctly, I plan to buy another dual band device as my existing routers are both dual band. It will have better specs so I’d make it the main router in my basement and move the AC3100 to the 3rd level with a direct ethernet to the main router. Then I’d move the AC68U to the 2nd level – it would remain wireless unless you think that would cause issues, slowdowns, etc. For the new router a few questions:

    1. Am I correct it should be dual band?
    2. If it’s WiFi 6, will I see benefits (or issues) from the other nodes since they are both WiFi 5?
    3. If my 3rd node is wireless, does that impact what I should purchase to fit best as the new main router? (I’d rather pay to hard wire it if keeping a wireless node will limit the entire network)
    4. Any specific recommendations?

    Thanks in advance for any insight you can share!

    Reply
    • You got things right, John.

      1. Yes.
      2. Yes, if you have wired backhaul, which you do.
      3. No, only the wireless backhaul to that node is affected, so make sure it connected to another Wi-Fi 5 node (and not the Wi-Fi 6). Also expect its speed to be slow for connected clients due to signal loss. If you have a lot of clients connecting to this one, it’s best to get it wired.
      4. Make sure you get a 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 router (the 5GHz band that is.)

      Reply
      • Wow, thanks for the quick response! One quick follow up to your #3 response. Maybe this will be obvious when I’m setting this up, but you said to make sure the 1 wireless device is connected to the Wi_Fi 5 node.

        Can you advise how to accomplish that? Does my 2nd router (that will be hardwired to the main) need to be in router mode too with the wireless device set as AIMesh node to connect to it? I have a feeling that isn’t right but I’m not really sure – any guidance on where/how to configure that would be super helpful! Thanks again

        Reply
  14. Hi there, I’m in Canada (our prices are sky high on some things!) and I live in a 3-storey house with wired CAT 5e throughout.

    I have read your articles and heed the following advice:
    -it is best to use the same hardware for AI mesh
    -dual band is best for wired backhaul

    Therefore, I have settled on 3 x RT-AX82U routers. I should say the main connection comes into a room in the basement.

    Alternatively, I was looking at one RT-AX82U as the main router and two RT-AX56U/CA which I understand is also dual band Wifi 6. This option would be cheaper.

    All of the models above are on sale.

    I have gigabit internet service so would want to get solid consistent speeds.

    Reply
      • Thanks!!!! OK I need you to tell me what to do here…
        86U is $329
        Which of these is best bang for buck in my situation?
        3x RT-AX82U @ $259 each = $777
        1 x RT-AX82U @ 259 + XD4 @ $385 = $644
        1 x RT-AX82U @ 259 + 2 x RT-AX56U/CA @ $129 = $517
        Should I add the $70 for the 86U in any of the above configurations?

        Reply
          • Thanks! Went with option 3. Took some time to set up but I think it runs well. I get this error message when I enable wired backhaul in the app. Any idea what I can do?

            * The following node(s) do not fully support this feature temporarily.
            RT-AX56U (Bedroom), RT-AX56U (Living Room)
            Your configurations might not work as expected. Please regularly check your firmware version of the node(s) are up-to-date.

          • Hi Dong,

            So I’ve tried that option and here’s my setup.

            ISP modem comes into a room in the basement. That’s where I have the 82u. To 4 LAN ports I plugged in the ethernet cables that go to other spots in the house.

            I have one 56u on the main floor (front of house) and another 56u on the top floor (front of house). I do not have any wired ports at the back of the house unfortunately.

            I understand the limitations of speed tests that you have written about. However, standing near the 82u in the basement, I get 750-800mbps and standing near either of the 56u I get 75-200mbps on the same iPhone (within minutes of testing).

            On this basis I do not believe I’m getting the performance that I need.

            Am I doing something wrong?

            Should I swap out the entire configuration for 3x92u models or something else?

          • That’s normal, Neal. The 56U is a low-end 2×2 unit. You can’t expect the same performance. You also need to get your home wired or a tri-band set. Read the post again — I mentioned how to pick hardware at the top part.

          • My home is wired, so based on the thread history (see above) I was under the impression that it doesn’t matter if I get a lesser router.

            Would upgrading the 56’s to something else work?

          • I don’t have all the answers, Neal. It’s impossible since you can only tell me either what you want or what you see which is not necessarily what happens if you know what I mean. *Pay attention to the posts here*, you’ll find the answer. Don’t skim over them.

  15. Hello Dong,
    What a great site and resource. Pitch perfect for us minimally tech savvy people. I have a large (Cat5 wired) home that is barely covered by a couple of old Linksys routers. Sub Gig internet serves us fine now but thinking about the inevitable increase in demand and devices. Having decided to replace them and want to use a NAS for backups, I am unsure if I’d be best served by a pair of AX92U’s, an AX86U and less expensive WiFi 5 or 6 node or just a couple WiFi 5 routers for now. I think I may be overthinking this as the AX92U pair is less $$ than other combos.

    Reply
      • I opted for the recommended router and picked up a Blue Cave for the wired mesh node. Now nearly in every corner of my house I have ethernet speeds on WiFi. But that’s using the RT-AX86U alone! When I have the Blue cave active on the AiMesh, it slows WiFi considerably in the room where it’s placed. Turns out, I don’t need a Mesh anyway.

        Reply
  16. I current own the RT-AC500 with an AC-3100 as a mesh node. My ISP offered a deal for the eero pro (not 6) at like @20 a month. I am not a fan, particularly since certain devices such as my smart TV’s non longer allow me to “send” video from my phone to the TV. It simply does not see them anymore. I am considering replacing my 5GHZ setup for a 6GHZ, but I still do not have a clear picture as to what would be the best option. Right now I am considering the RT-AX92U. Thoughts?

    Reply
  17. hi,
    i read your article on mesh systems and i find it extremely interesting.
    i have the new verizon G3100 WiFi6 router. will any or all of the tri band mesh systems u discussed work with this router?
    when u discuss setup straight or daisy chain, with my router wont one of the hubs need to be placed next to my G3100. if so how can one set it up to avoid the daisy chain setup?

    Reply
  18. Dong-
    I recently setup a pair of CT8 units. To extend coverage to a detached garage, I wanted to add a third CT8 node. Unfortunately, ASUS doesn’t sell single CT8 units. Would adding a single GT-AC5300 or RT-AC5300 as a node be recommended? Or is it better to use the GT or RT unit as the router and used the two CT8’s as nodes?

    Thanks for providing such an excellent resource.

    Rich

    Reply
  19. Dong,

    What do you think of a Asus ax11000 with XT8 wireless combo?

    Reason for asking, a local ISP is offering me a good price bundle with Ax11000 to sign up.

    Reply
  20. Thanks Dong for your amazing topics!!!!!
    a question, currently I have ax88u, if i get a triband router and use it as a satellite node and keep the ax88u as the main router, in that case, I will be getting 50% as well from the satellite node?

    Reply
  21. Dong – Your website is a fantastic resource, thanks for putting so much time into the quality content you have.

    What would you recommend as the best solution if looking for the best performance with wireless backhaul only? For various reasons, I cannot wire the house with ethernet, so can only rely on wireless backhaul only.

    I currently use three RT-AC68U in AiMesh duty, but find them frequently dropping connection. I’m wondering whether more recent hardware would be more stable for wireless backhaul?

    Reply
  22. I currently have two ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 routers in my home that have a wired backhaul. It is 3 stories and I have had no AIMesh problems but there are still some areas of my home where the signal does not reach. I just ordered a pair of ASUS ZenWiFi AX XT8 routers to extend WiFi to these areas. I was planning to use wired backhaul for all of them until I read your article. Can I use the XT8’s with wireless backhaul while still using the AX11000’s with wired backhaul? Should I return the XT8’s and get another AIMesh router to extend? Thanks for a terrific article.

    Reply
    • Yes you “can”, Ken. But I’d return them and get another router. Any really. Pick one with the performance you like.

      Reply
      • I have not received the XT8’s yet, but saw this on its latest firmware update. FYI
        Version 3.0.0.4.386.41793
        2021/02/01 72.67 MBytes
        ASUS ZenWiFi XT8 Firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41793
        1. AiMesh 2.0
        – System optimization: one click in AiMesh to optimize the topology
        – System Ethernet backhaul mode, all nodes will only connect by ethernet, and all bands can release for wireless clients.
        – System factory default and reboot.
        – Client device reconnect, make the device offline and online again.

        Reply
        • I’m aware of the firmware, Ken. But like I said, it’s a good idea not to use this set with wired backhaul. Go with another combo if you have wired your home. There’s a chance the XT8 will work out fine with wired backhaul, but it might not.

          Reply
  23. Hey Dong hi,
    I just want to say thanks for the great site and content. I am trying to pick a wifi 6 mesh system and have read a lot on the topic in the past few weeks. I found I always came back to your site checking out what you say about stuff I read elsewhere. Really quality content you have here. Many thanks.
    Rez

    Reply
  24. Have the Asus ZenWiFi AX that I’ve been using with wireless backhaul since I got it. Very impressed with the wireless backhaul performance, but decided to try out wired backhaul. Last night I flashed firmware 41793 to get AiMesh 2.0, and connected and turned on wired backhaul. I was really unimpressed, a little less speed than with wireless backhaul.

    Is there some tuning that I can do with wired backhaul to get it to perform better? When I used wired backhaul with the eero pro 6’s, really performed a lot better than wireless backhaul immediately, so I’m wondering if I’m overlooking something basic here?

    Thanks!

    Reply
      • Many thanks for another great article. So XD4 is recommended wired backhaul and new firmwares have no caution as it’s dual band so by design will prefer wired and has no hidden radio out of the box? But xt8 may have issues as it may possibly want to re link wirelessly on the fast 5g-2 radio? Is that why we should be careful with wired xt8??

        Reply
        • That’s correct Cah. Generally use dual-band routers if you have wired your home. The XT8 was designed to be a wireless system, so the firmware might not be tuned for wired backhaul.

          Reply

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