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

In this post, you’ll find the answers to picking the best AiMesh router combination that fits a particular situation. 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.

Unlike popular 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.

Read this  Best Home Mesh Brands in Brief: AiMesh, Deco, eero, Orbi, Velop, and More

It can also be buggy, especially when you pick the wrong combo, which is why I wrote this piece — make sure you read the top part where I’ll explain the best way to pair AiMesh hardware.

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 have already 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 running into additional AiMesh-related questions.

Dong’s note: I first published this frequently revised piece on February 28, 2021, and last updated it on October 9 to add more relevant information.

AiMesh with GT AXE11000
Here’s an AiMesh setup with the GT-AXE11000 as the primary router. It works pretty well via wired backhauls, but still, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Read this  AiMesh in 2021: Asus's Ongoing Effort to Excellent Wi-Fi Coverage

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


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

Technically, you can arbitrarily use a combo of any broadcasters above 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.

Wired backhaul is generally recommended, especially for Dual-band (or Wi-Fi 6E Tri-band) hardware

Like all home mesh systems, you should 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.

By the way, I talked about Multi-Gig wired backhaul AiMesh combos in this post.

Read this  How to Build a Multi-Gig Wired Backhaul AiMesh Combo that Works Today

Extra: 6GHz wireless backhaul is no good in an Asus AiMesh setup

If you can’t run network cables and think the new 6GHz band of the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard will bail you out, you’ll be deeply disappointed. (This applies to other non-Asus systems, too, such as the Linksys AXE8400.)

After trying out two GT-AXE1100 units, the 2-pack ZenWiFi ET8, and a combo of these two, I can say for sure that you can’t count on the 6GHz band as backhaul in an AiMesh setup at all. Its range is just too short.

Chances are a Wi-Fi 6E AiMesh wireless system will use the 5GHz or 2.4GHz band as backhaul when you place the hardware units father than 50 feet away from each other or if there’s a wall in between them. As a result, you’ll get a system with much inferior performance to a traditional tri-band alternative, such as the ZenWiFi XT8.

Again, the point is this: Don’t count on the 6GHz unless you’re live in a small or open space.


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

(“Almost” is the key here. There are some specific sets that you might want to avoid using wired backhauls — more below.)

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.

But generally, if you use dual-band hardware or mix Wi-Fi grades, it’s best to use wired backhauls. And vice versa, if you have wired your home, there’s no need to use traditional tri-band hardware.

Finally, wired backhaul is necessary if you use Wi-Fi 6E hardware — namely the GT-AXE1100 or the ZenWiFi ET8. My general recommendation is that, for now, you should wait a while before getting Wi-Fi 6E mesh hardware at all.

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

Traditional tri-band hardware is generally recommended in a fully wireless setup

In a fully wireless setup, you should consider tri-band hardware. Specifically, you want to use broadcasters with an additional 5GHz band that works as the dedicated backhaul. (Again, Wi-Fi 6E hardware doesn’t apply.)

In most cases, using dual-band hardware works, too. However, 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. Sometimes, you want to mix a router with the best feature set with a more affordable node. 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 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. If not, make sure the main router and the satellite node use the same Wi-Fi standards and tier.
      • When mixing Wi-Fi standard (Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 5) you have to use the higher standard hardware in the compatibility mode. Else, they can’t connect reliably if at all.
    • Wired backhaul: Use (dual-band) nodes with the performance (when working as a standalone router) of your choice. (The AP mode mentioned in #5 below gives you more options.)
  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 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 satellite hardware, including some extra features available in the AP mode (Wi-Fi settings, USB-related, lighting, and others).
    • If your primary router is a dual-band and the AiMesh satellite 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 combos.

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, all after my extensive first-hand experience from a couple of weeks to tens of months.

I sorted this list in the order of my experience, newest on top — the order is not the ranking. Go through the entire post, and you’ll find out which fits your needs and budget.

16. ZenWiFi XD6

The Asus ZenWiFi XD6 AX5400 Dual-band Mesh WiFi System
The Asus ZenWiFi XD6 AX5400 Dual-band Mesh Wi-Fi System includes two identical dual-band routers.

If the ZenWiFi XT8 (below) is the AiMesh choice for a wireless home, the ZenWiFi XD6 is the wired alternative.

This dual-band purpose-built mesh system is ideal for a home already wired with network cables. Sure, it’ll work well in a wireless setup, but if you want the full Gigabit performance, getting your house wired is the way to go.

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable, only as a 2-pack).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 router with a 4×4 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.
  • The ZenWiFi XD6 works best as a wired system by itself (you can use up to six hardware units) or the satellite for a simiarly-specs or higher-tier router, such as the RT-AX86U, RT-AX82U, GS-AX5400, RT-AX88U, or the RT-AX89X.

Asus ZenWiFi XD6's Rating

8.9 out of 10
The Asus ZenWiFi XD6 AX5400 Dual band Mesh WiFi 6 System 11
Performance
9/10
Features
9.5/10
Design and Setup
9/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance

AiMesh 2.0 fully supported

Lots of network settings and useful features, including free real-time online protection for life

Compact design

Presynced hardware, 160Mhz support

Cons

No Multi-Gig or Link aggregation

No USB port

Read this  ZenWiFi XD6 review (vs ZenWiFi XT8): An Excellent (Wired) Mesh Alternative

15. GS-AX5400 (or GS-AX3000)

Asus GS-AX5400 vs GS-AX3000
The Asus GS-AX5400 (left) and GS-AX3000 works well in an AiMesh setup.

These two new gaming routers are the alternatives to the RT-AX82U and RT-AX3000 mentioned below. And they are excellent AiMesh members.

The two are very similar in terms of design and features — they are part of Asus’s new ROG STRIX gaming series. However, the GS-AX5400 is a higher-end version with a stronger 5GHz band and better performance, especially in a wireless mesh setup.

Since these two are dual-band broadcasters, it’s best to use them (either as primary routers or satellite nodes) in a wired setup. But a wireless configuration works, too, especially in the case of the GS-AX5400, which has the top-tier 5GHz band. themselves

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 router with a 4×4 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: Themselves, RT-AX86U.

Asus ROG STRIX GS-AX5400's Rating

8.8 out of 10
Asus ROG STRIX GS AX5400 Gaming Router 3
Performance
9.5/10
Features
9.5/10
Ease of Use
8/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Excellent overall performance

Complete AiMesh 2.0 support, including system-wide Guest network

Robust web interface, well-designed mobile app, no login account required

Lots of useful features, including those for gamers

Cool Aura RBG lighting

Cons

No Multi-Gig port or Gamer VPN (WTFast)

Performance as a NAS server could be better

A bit boring

Read this  Asus ROG STRIX GS-AX5400 Review (vs RT-AX82U): An Excellent Alternative

14. 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 a 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 won’t work with a router that uses these settings in a wireless setup.

That said, this is a node for those using an entry-level AiMesh router or a high-end one set up with wired backhaul or in the compatibility mode (wireless backhaul).

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 available.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes, with system-wide Guest network (with the latest firmware.)
  • Routers I’ve tried: RT-AX82U, RT-AX3000, RT-AX89X.

Asus RP-AX56 Repeater's Rating

8.4 out of 10
Asus RP AX56 AX1800 Dual Band Wi Fi 6 Repeaters Left Side
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8.5/10
Ease of Use
8/10
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

The Initial firmware is a bit buggy (at launch)

Bulky for a snap-on device

Read this  Asus RP-AX56 Review: A Solid and Versatile Budget Mesh-Ready Broadcaster

13. 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's Rating

8.9 out of 10
Asus RT AX68U
Performance
8.5/10
Features
9.5/10
Ease of Use
8.5/10
Value
9/10

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 support (at launch)

Not wall-mountable

Read this  Asus RT-AX68U Review: An Entry-Level Wi-Fi 6 Router that Won't Disappoint

12. RT-AX86U

The Asus RT-AX86U is an Excellent Gaming Router
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.

On top of that, this router is an excellent Multi-Gig satellite when working with the RT-AX89X.

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, ZenWiFi XD4, GS-AX5400, and GS-AX3000.

Asus RT-AX86U's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus RT AX86U 12
Performance
9/10
Features
9.5/10
Ease of Use
8.5/10
Value
9/10

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

Single, low-speed (2.5Gbps) Multi-Gig port

Not wall-mountable

Gaming features turn Adaptive QoS off

No support for WTFast Gamer VPN

Read this  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 when 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).

Read this  Asus RT-AX3000 Review: An Excellent Wi-Fi 6 Little Performer

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, RT-AC86U, GS-AX5400 and GS-AX3000.

Asus RT-AX82U's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus RT AX82U 19
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 this  Asus RT-AX82U Gaming Router Review: A Fancy Little Wi-Fi 6 Performer

9. RT-AX89X

The Asus RT AX89X Router Entennas Folded
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. In fact, when coupled with the RT-AX86U (as a satellite), the RT-AX89X is one of the best router options to build a Multi-Gig AiMesh network.

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: Yes with system-wide Guest network (via latest firmware).
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX88U, RT-AX58U, ZenWiFi XD4, RT-AC86U, GS-AX5400 and GS-AX3000.

Asus RT-AX89X's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus RT AX89X Folded
Performance
9.5/10
Features
9/10
Design and Setup
9/10
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

Bulky physical size with an internal fan — potential heat issue in hot environments

Web interface needs work

Not wall-mountable, no universal backup restoration

Read this  Asus RT-AX89X Review: All 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 many 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's Rating

8.4 out of 10
RT AX88U 2
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8.5/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
8/10

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 this  Asus RT-AX88U Review: A Router for Gigabit Internet

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 the 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's Rating

8.5 out of 10
Asus RT AX92U Cuteness
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8.5/10
Ease of Use
8/10
Value
9/10

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

Wi-Fi 6 available only on one of the 5GHz bands

No Multi-Gig port

Read this  Asus RT-AX92U Review: A Cute and Effective Little Odd One Out of AiMesh

6. GT-AX11000

Asus GT AX11000 2
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, such as 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 (dual-band) 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 GT-AX11000's Rating

8.3 out of 10
Asus AX11000 Top 1
Performance
8/10
Features
9.5/10
Design and Setup
8/10
Value
7.5/10

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance with an 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 the previous model

Long boot-up time, buggy (at launch), fluctuating Wi-Fi throughputs

Read this  Asus GT-AX11000 Wi-Fi 6 Router Review: Gamers' Delight

5. ZenWiFi AX XT8

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

This set is the first purpose-built tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AiMesh set. As such, it’s intended 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, which has happened multiple times since its release.

Important note: Unless you have issues, don’t update to a new firmware immediately. Instead, wait for a subsequent version. When running into problems 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: Yes (vis latest firmware). with system-wide Guest network.
  • Nodes I’ve used: 2-pack set.

Asus ZenWiFi XT8's Rating

8.9 out of 10
ZenWiFi AX
Performance
8.5/10
Features
9.5/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
9/10

Pros

Fast Wi-Fi performance and large coverage at a comparatively affordable cost

Improved and flexible AiMesh

Lots of network settings and useful features, including free real-time online protection for life

Full 4×4 dedicated backhaul band with optional wired backhaul support

Multi-Gig WAN port with Dual-WAN and WAN link aggregation

Cons

No 160MHz 4×4 support for Wi-Fi 6 clients, in a dedicated wireless backhaul setup

No Multi-Gig LAN port or LAN link aggregation

Only four network ports on each hardware unit

Firmware can be buggy

Storage performance (when hosting an external drive) could be better

Read this  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 the 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's Rating

8.1 out of 10
Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 12
Performance
8/10
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 this  Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) Review: The First Complete AiMesh Set

3. ZenWiFi AC CT8

Asus ZenWiFi CT8
Best AiMesh Router Combos: You should use the ZenWiFi CT8 mesh Wi-Fi system in a fully wireless setup.

The CT8 is the Wi-Fi 5 version of the XT8 above. It would help if you used it as a standalone mesh set via the wireless backhaul without other AiMesh routers. While it supports wired backhaul, using a network cable to link the hardware might cause firmware-related issues.

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

Read this  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 primary 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's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus RT AC88U 1
Performance
9/10
Features
9.5/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
9/10

Pros

Fast Wi-Fi performance with excellent coverage

Tons of valuable 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 this  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's Rating

8.4 out of 10
Asus6
Performance
9/10
Features
8/10
Design and Setup
8/10
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 using backup files of other Asus routers

Cons

No extra network ports like other high-end Asus routers

Not wall mountable

Read this  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.

☕ Appreciate the content? Buy Dong a Ko-fi!

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

  1. Is there a config where the ASUS router can be used as a router alone without Wi-Fi but then have other routers connected to them with WiFi and mesh enabled?

    Reply
    • Yes, Abbas, you can just turn its Wi-Fi radios off, one band at a time. You can do that using its web interface: Wireless -> Professional tab.

      Reply
      • Thank you. I should have described in a bit more detail. If I turn the radios off on the main router, can I still use AIMesh with other ASUS nodes connected to it?

        Reply
          • Gotcha. So if I wanted to go ahead with ET8s with a wired backhauld as nodes and use all three bands for WiFi (2.4/5/6), which router would you recommend I use as my main? One thats compatible with Merlin as it will replace FWG.

            Appreciate your help.

  2. Hi Dong,

    I have Asus AXE11000 with two AX92U working as nodes in a mesh. When I set them up it configured the router with 3 wifi channels 2.4, 5 and 6Ghz.

    I have the AXE11000 setup downstairs and one node upstairs and one in my garage. Works pretty well but I connect my iphone to the 6ghz in the garage where I work and it stays connected fine and when I go upstairs it is fine there. But when I go down to where the axe11000 is I lose signal even though I am just a few feet away. Its like it is not broadcasting from the main router. It seems t broadcast the 5ghz network from there okay. Would this be normal or did I miss something?

    By the way I came across your site looking for information and I very much enjoyed reading through some of your articles. Very informative with very good real world information along with enjoyable reading style. You have a new fan!

    Thank you,
    Steve

    Reply
    • Thanks, Steve. Happy to have you! 🙂

      I assumed you mean you set up three bands as three SSIDs. In that case, the 6GHz is only available at the GT-AXE11000 location. If so, your case is not normal, the 6GHz band should work better when you’re close to the router. However, if you set up the three hardware units in a wireless configuration, things can be unpredictable. The GT-AXE1000 should be used in a mesh only if you have a wired backhaul as I mentioned in its review. More about AiMesh combos in this post.

      Reply
  3. I am considering the Asus BRT-AC828 Dual WAN AC2600 for the primary and my existing AC86U as a node. Anyone have any experience with this combo? I will have a wired backhaul connecting these two routers. Also, open to other suggestions. I have no need for AX/WIFI6 for the near future but Dual WAN with failover is essential. TIA.

    Reply
    • Most Asus routers support failover Dual-WAN. I haven’t tried the BRT-AC828 but if it features AiMesh then the combo you have will work well via the wired backhaul. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to use the RT-AC86U in the AP mode and that should work out well, too.

      Reply
  4. Hi Dong,

    I am in need of some mesh advice though before I get there into the details, please take note that a wired backhaul solution would not be possible given that I am staying in a rental home and as such would like to look at a wireless option.

    What AX-based Asus main router and node (1x) combo would you recommend if one has Gigabit internet connectivity? I know that realistically it will be difficult to attain Gigabit speed at the wireless clients’ ends due to several factors, though which setup would get me close to it (700-900Mbps) in real world scenarios for clients connecting from the node with a wireless backhaul in between ?

    I looked at the RT-AX92 as an option given the strong wireless backhaul though I am of the understanding that the other 5Ghz band only supports WiFi 5 (AC) which would give a theoretical throughput of ~800Mps, though will likely be quite a bit less.

    Many thanks!

    Reply
    • Read the post, Charl. You’re at the right spot. The entire post is my advice to you, so make sure you pay some attention.

      Reply
  5. Hi Dong… thanks for this article. Based on your experience, I have a proposed solution to my networking issues.

    I currently have a network in a 3-story home (5,500 sq.ft.) that is limping along. My main router is the Asus RT-AC86U, and I have 1 Apple Airport Extreme and 3 Apple Airport Express routers in bridge mode all using the same SSID. I have been using this setup (with earlier Asus routers) for several years as my form of mesh system.

    I am now looking at getting the Asus RT-AX68U as my main router and using the RT-AC86U as a node, plus adding in the 3 pack of ZenWiFi XD4 as additional nodes. My house is wired (Cat5e) so connecting them together is not an issue.

    My main issue, with the current setup, is that recently I seem to have a lot of dead WiFi spots that are a problem when we are on our iPhones or iPads! Since every room is wired, our direct connections to computers continue to work well

    Does this setup make sense?

    Reply
  6. Hi Dong. Thanks for sharing your valuable knowledge and experience! I have an RT-AX86U and now need to strengthen my wifi signal on the other end of my house for a newly installed Ring Floodlight Cam Pro. It isn’t going to be easy to run a wired backhaul and in the short run, I may have to go wireless. I’ve read your article but still not certain which aimesh router would be a good option for me. I’m looking for something less expensive than my AX86U, preferably $150 or less. I have 1 gig AT&T fiber coming in to my AX86U. Do you have any suggestions or can you point me to one of your articles that might help me decide? Thanks!

    Reply
      • I appreciate your reply Dong. Lot’s of info in those articles, some of which I know plus lots of new stuff. Thanks for sharing your knowledge & expertise. I’m pretty sure I’ll be looking at the RT-AX58U/AX3000 or if I want to spend a little more or get refurbished, the AX82U. More than likely I’m going to get the AX58U. I guess I’ll give it a try in wireless mode recognizing it will hurt my WiFi speed but perhaps the drop in performance will not make a big difference for how my network is used. If it does, in the short run, I can just get a very long patch cable and temporarily run it across my house until I can get a professional wiring job done. I knew this was going to be an issue for me when I chose the 2-band router rather than a more expensive 3-band router but I’ll just need to make the best with what I have for now.

        Reply
  7. Thanks for all your posts. Really helped me decide on the Zenwifi XT8 for my setup having just moved house. It is definitely overkill as fibre to property hasn’t reached my area yet but I am getting the maximum speed over most of the house now.

    I would like to set up some PoE cameras monitoring the garden from the outbuilding and was wondering if I could use a much cheaper XD4 node for this instead. Now I know you recommend not pairing the XT8 with a dual band node, but would it work if I turned off the wireless signal for the node and purely used it for an ethernet connection to a network switch to power the cameras? Slightly out of the box but seems a lot simpler than running a lots of cables outside.

    Reply
  8. Hi Dong,

    Since you’ve tried both these options for the Asus ax11000, which would you suggest as nodes for aimesh?

    XT8 or AX92U

    Thanks

    Reply
  9. Hi Dong,

    I’m trying to decide between an XD6 Zen Wifi setup OR an AX82u (router) and AX3000 pair (node). My home is about 3500 sf, 3 stories, and wired with cat5e, so I plan to use wired backhaul. Internet service is 1Gig and I have a synology ds220+. I think the only thing I would be missing with the Zen wifi setup is the link aggregation to increase throughput to/from the NAS. However I think 1gbps would be sufficient for my wired devices (desktop, printer, NAS, and wired backhaul to the node).

    Is there any reason that you feel i’d be better off with the aiMesh setup with the pair of routers vs the Zen wifi setup? Based on your reviews, it appears that the XD6 seems to be a fairly robust system in terms of speed

    Reply
    • I’d recommend the 82U as the main router and the XD6 as the satellites, Dominic, that’s if you need three units. But your option works, too. The only thing better to go with the ZenWiFi is the lower cost.

      Reply
      • Hi Dong,

        I’ve got a very similar set up to Dominic with 3,500 sqft over 2 levels with 3 x Cat 7 cables to key rooms in the house (1 to the office and 2 to TV rooms). Before I found your site (brilliant btw!) I was planning to go with the Asus Zenwifi XT8 (one as the main router and one as a node one level up to act as a wired backhaul). But now I’m thinking it might be better to go with an AX86U as the main router downstairs and 2 XD6 satellite units (one as a wired backhaul upstairs and the other as a mesh satellite at the other end downstairs towards the kids rooms).

        Does that sound about right?

        Reply
  10. hi dong,

    thanks for all the great articles.
    i wanted to see your opinion on possibly replacing my asus ax11000/asus gt 5300 combo with either an axe11000 or 89x. i am going to keep the ax11000 and the setup would be in our new home when we move in is to use it as a wired backhaul mesh setup since our new home will have wired access throughout but would still want wifi access/coverage. thanks

    Reply
  11. Hi Doug – really helpful info as I’ve recently taken a Fibre to the property connection of 550 Gig and can expand to 900gig in future.
    I’ve currently got Google Wi-Fi / Google Nest Wi-Fi with 8 nodes (all bar 1 are on wired back haul).
    As the Wi-Fi performance is not able to match my new service and having read your articles, the XD6 seemed to be the way to go given all bar one of my end points can be wired. I have a couple of questions..
    1 – As only 1 node location (basement) would be likely reliant upon a mesh connection (from node in room directly above) would you still go for the XD6 (it might prove that if this has a stronger signal – I can do without the basement node
    2 – I note in this article you state XD 6 – maximum of 6 nodes…. If I can’t cover all of the property without more than this and if XD6 can’t do more than 6 – can one put say the RT-AX86U router as the main point and then run 6 x XD6 nodes downstream or does the AI mesh system limit all combinations to a maximum of 6 units?

    Many thanks
    Stuart

    Reply
    • The name is Dong, Stuart.

      1. You should read the top part of this post again, closely.
      2. Generally, you should use more than 3 hardware units in a wireless setup — more in this post. AiMesh allows for a maximum of 7 (including the router) — more in this post. If you need to use lots of hardware units, use an enterprise solution, like this one, instead.

      Reply
      • Many thanks Dong for the additional links and reading – most helpful

        Apologies for the error.

        Much appreciated

        Stuart

        Reply
  12. Hi Dong, I have been using an AC68U for a couple of years and I’m thinking of expanding my network setup with the AX86U as my main router and use the AC68U as a mesh node. I understand AC68U don´t support the Smart Connect feature by itself. Could I expand the use of Smart Connect from the AX86U when they will work together?

    Reply
    • YOu should do that only if you use wired backhaul, Alejandro. And, no, but you can use the two bands separately but with the same name and password.

      Reply
      • Thank you Dong for your quick answer. I intend to use a wired backhaul. If I use your suggestion how the system will decide the best connection. Will be this a sort of smart connect anyway?

        Reply
        • Smart Connect is not that “smart” since it tends to use the 2.4GHz which always has stronger signal. It’s more of a convinience. I personally always separate them as two different networks to have better control of which I connect to.

          Reply
          • But that way you are not able to use the stronger /faster signal when you move around your house.

          • That’s right. You can’t have everything. SmartConnect doesn’t work consistently, and when it doesn’t, you CAN’T pick and choose, which is more important to me. When you have multiple broadcasters, chances are the 5GHz band has enough coverage anyway.

          • Right now I have a tplink extender to expand the coverage of my asus router on the far end of my apartment (kitchen). When I near the router my tablet connects to it but if I move to the kitchen it lose connection and it is not able to automatically connect to the extender that have better signal in that place. I have to manually disconnect from the router signal y connect to the extender. This is the situation I want to avoid with the use of smart connect (band steering) and the reason to purchase a new router. Dou you have any suggestion to solve my case?

  13. Hi Dong, I’m thinking of getting the AX86U as my main router. My ISP offers a contract bundle that pairs it with a “free” WTFast Gamer VPN subscription. But I noticed that you mentioned that the cons of the AX86U is that it has “No support for WTFast Gamer VPN”. What are the implications if I decide to go ahead with the bundle? (Sorry if it’s a silly question. First time on your site/such a site, and am a tech noob)

    Reply
    • That means the WTF will only work at the PC level and not the network level, Milton. Check out the review of the GT-AX11000 for more. But you’ll be fine with the 86U.

      Reply
  14. in response to your comment about not being a good combo: I know the higher rated router should be the primary and I am working on that with a GT-AX11000 soon…
    but I would appreciate your comments on accessing the current correct/mesh-modified IP using “nslookup hostname” or its Powershell equivalent. I know the long way around digging through the router.

    Reply
    • Actually no, your current router is great, Jim. You’ll know why it’s not a good combo if you read this post. But here’s the gist: you’re mixing dual-band and tri-band, and since you have wired backhauls, tri-band is unnecessary. It seems you don’t like reading and only focus on what you want to believe (which is not necessarily how things are supposed to be.) I’d not bother with nslookup and other tools, in your case. For one, it’s not working out. The “long way around” that you “know” might just be the shortest way. Just follow the link I mentioned, or not, but I’m not here to give you comments to validate what you want to believe. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Hey Dong, thanks for the awesome article!

    I have a GT-AC5300 and a RT-AC5300 meshed atm but it’s not enough in my two storey home for good coverage in some corners of my home. I have no option for a wired backhaul. The two routers are about 30 feet apart across different floors. (dedicated 5ghz-2 wireless backhaul connect seems okay)

    What would you do to improve my setup?

    Option 1 = Add GT-AX11000 as the new main router with the other two being nodes

    Option 2 = Scrap both existing routers, and get two GT-AX11000.

    Option 3 = Add RT-AX92U (2-pack) to the existing mesh setup. (will end up with 4 all up) (Reason being this 2-pack is cheaper than a single GT-AX11000)

    Option 4 = Something else you rather recommend.

    Thanks!

    Reply
      • Is there no good wireless solution out there for multiple stories? I’ve run into your articles a couple of times when googling for it. Each time it has been someone asking about multiple stories, each time you have answered in a way that a cable is the only good solution.

        Reply
    • Hello Dong,

      I have a AX86U working well, but I got poor reception on second floor and was considering getting another AX86U as node. With the current main router location, it would be difficult to have wired backhaul connection. After reading all your post, I think this should be an okay combination, but the problem now is AX86U is out of stock everywhere, and Amazon has increased the price by almost $100, which makes it not that good of a deal. Do you have any other suggestions?

      Thanks
      Ivan

      Reply
  16. I’ve done alot of reading and have narrowed it down to either the AX92u or AX82u (due to a combination of current promotions and your guides). I plan to get a second one down the line if needed for AIMesh running wirelessly but will start off with just 1 unit for a 1900sqft home. Which would you recommend?

    Reply
  17. I do have fiber internet and currently have the nighthawk X6S R8000P. I would like to upgrade to WI Fi 6.

    If I wanted the best of the best performing Aimesh combo with no budget what would it be?
    Would this combo better performing than the Orbi 6 RBK852 AX6000 or a single Rapture AX11000?

    My home is about 2000 sq feet, with a bunch of smart devices(ring, security cameras, gaming pc, multiple cellphones and laptop etc…) I do have cat 5e running through my wall jacks in my home. I can hardwire my satellites.

    Thank you!

    Reply
  18. Dong, I do greatly appreciate your expertise. These articles are fantastic in their breadth and depth. Really, nothing exists like it. It’s an invaluable resource.

    Would you agree that this is a good solution?

    Main Router: AX11000 (tri-band because at least one node will be wireless and I want the most effective backhaul possible)
    Wireless Nodes: XT8
    Wired Nodes: AX88 or AX86

    (As mentioned in my previous comment, I’m still puzzled why you exclusively recommend the AX92U for *wireless* mesh with AX11000 instead of or in addition to XT8.)

    Reply
    • That’s was my REAL-WORLD experience, Ira. “Exclusively” where? I didn’t test all and every scenario as I mentioned at the bottom of the post. Did I mention that you should READ?

      Reply
      • I’m sorry if I’m annoying you. I’m really not trying to. I’m just trying to get to the bottom of your experience before I shell out a few hundred bucks on a collection of routers.

        IMHO this point was left a little ambiguous in the article and I’m just trying to clarify after reading.

        This is in your “Notes on AIMesh” section for the AX11000:

        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 (dual-band) 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).

        You mention that you tested the AX11000 with the XT8 in “Nodes I’ve used,” but you only *recommend* using the AX92U or another AX11000 as a wireless node.

        My questions are arising from a careful reading of your words, not from a lack of reading.

        Reply
        • I got it!!! That part was meant to include single routers. At the time, there were only two. The XT8, when I tested it, was only available as part of a 2-pack, and I added it later as I updated the post. I can see why it can get confusing there. I should have updated the wording… and will do that later.

          Reply
  19. Hey would love to get your recommendation. I currently run an AC86U as my main router (with a VPN) and a Google Wifi Mesh system as a double NAT. I want to do away with the Double NAT and upgrade my system with a few new ASUS routers to use AIMesh.

    If money were no object, which of the above would you recommend to buy as a main router and 2 nodes? I need to run Merlin on the main router (Going to use the YazFi script to allow VPN filtering by SSID so family members can choose to use or not use the VPN easily). Is there any benefit to the AX11000 in terms of range (or anything else non-gaming related)? Or if we’re not gamers, is the AX88U or AX86U an equivalent replacement? And then for the nodes, 3 will be backhauled with Ethernet and will probably need to backhaul another one with Wifi. For one of these, I’ll use the current AC86U that I have. What do you recommend for the others?

    THanks so much!

    Reply
      • Thanks, Dong. Just went through both posts. Quick follow up – why don’t you recommend using ZenWifi XT8s as nodes (both wirelessly and via ethernet) with an AX11000 as main router?

        Reply
          • Hey I really don’t mean to be a pain. I did read. Let me sharpen my question.

            You wrote above regarding recommended nodes using the AX11000 as the main router: “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.”

            You mention later in that section that you have connected to the AX11000 with an XT8 in AIMesh, but it’s not in your “recommended” section.

            According to your information, though, using the AX92U as a mesh with wireless backhaul will allow wireless clients a ceiling speed of 867 Mbps. (As per your ax92u review).

            According to your XT8 review, in a wireless mesh set up, WiFi 6 clients can get up to 1200 Mbps.

            So based on your info, the XT8 should be more recommended than the AX92U , so I guess what I’m asking is why don’t you recommend it? Is the XT8 truly not in the “same tier” as the AX11000 as you imply or was this just an oversight?

  20. Ty for having such in-depth writeups.

    Chanced upon the website while searching for a specific requirement. I am moving away from the Orbi 854 since their latest firmware has turned it into a disaster.

    A friend suggested i should check out Asus, and having had a good time with them in the past, i decided to get the XT8s (two sets). While doing so it did not occur to me to check, if the second set would even function as nodes. Thankfully your review clearly mentioned that they do putting my mind at ease.

    Thanks

    Reply
  21. Hello Dong,

    I currently have two RT-AC68U routers but one has died. Thinking about upgrading to Wi-Fi6 but not sure if I need to. My home is around 2400sq ft. I was thinking either getting the RT-AC86U or the RT-AX68U to pair with my existing router. Which would you recommend?

    Reply
  22. Dong,

    Thank you for the great information! I have an Asus RT-AC66U (not B1) and just discovered it wont work as a node for the RT-AX88U I just ordered since it is not a B1 model. Also seems like it might not be best to pair anyway from your articles. I had been planning to hold out for a 2.5G+ LAN router but the wireless issues have been bugging me lately so I am ready for mesh.
    I have a 2200 Sq ft house including an FROG and back yard to cover (FROG Router currently covers yard). Existing AP in living room covers 90% downstairs. When Router was downstairs it covered better but I moved to be by my Gaming PC. All APs wired. Devices hang between APs sometimes when in between them.

    Now I need to decide from a few options. After reading your advice so far I have a few options I am considering and would appreciate your recommendation.

    1. Use RT-AX88U as router and FROG AP, existing RT-AC66U in AP mode downstairs (same SSID?).
    2. Purchase RP-AX56 for downstairs in Mesh mode.
    3. Purchase RT-AC86U for downstairs in Mesh mode (a little better coverage/speed?).
    4. Add AX1800 XD4 or return RT-AX88U and use XD4 with existing Router.

    TIA

    Tom

    Reply
    • Your options don’t seem exclusive, Tom. That said, I’d go with #1, and/or #2, and/or #3. In any case, you’ve got the right assessment. Just get the hardware that fits your need. The APs option will work out but not ideal, you can try that out first.

      Reply
      • Appreciate the quick response, I think I will try #1 first before buying additional equipment. If I dont get good results then I will go for #2 or #3.

        You have been a great help, thanks again!

        Reply
      • Dong,

        I setup the new RT-AX88U, transferred my config from old router and changed RT-AC66U to AP mode and put it downstairs. So far everything is working great, full coverage around house, phones, tablets and laptops have no issue going between rooms!

        Thanks again for the advice!

        Reply
  23. Hi Dong,

    Will the RT-AX86U AiMesh pair or the AX3000 AiMesh pair be faster than the XD6 or XT8, assuming all of them on wired backhaul?

    And which is the fastest AiMesh pair you’ve tested for Wifi 6?

    Thanks,
    Richard

    Reply
    • They will be the same if you use a wired backhaul, Richard. You can check their reviews and use the router charts as their mesh speeds. Via the wired backhaul, the satellite will deliver the same numbers.

      The fastest would be a combo of the RT-AX89X (router) and a few RT-AX86U units (satellites) and a Multi-Gig switch in the middle. That’s what I’ve been using. More in this post.

      Reply
  24. Hi Dong,

    I’d like to set up my house with a pair of Asus XD6s, wired backhaul. However, my only service provider option is 4G/LTE. Currently, I’m using a TP-Link Archer MR400 4G router.

    What is the best way to connect 4G/LTE into a XD6 mesh? Should I just use my TP-Link router as a 4G modem (with all of its WiFi, router, DHCP, etc. features turned off) or should I instead consider the 4G-AC68U for the modem and router and some other Asus router as the node? Or something else?

    I’d like a relatively future proof WiFi6 AiMesh setup with Parental Controls.

    Thanks,
    Erik

    Reply
    • I just realized that the 4G-AC68U is not WiFi6 so that is out. I guess I could just continue to use the TP-Link or maybe the Asus 4G-N12 B1 as the modem.

      Reply
      • I think I should simplify my question as I now see that my current TP-Link MR400 router is not able to just pass on the 4G connection without it being a router, too. At least that is my understanding.

        Dong, if that is the case, can you suggest a 4G modem to be used with the Asus XD6 mesh? Or am I on the wrong track completely?

        Thank you,
        Erik

        Reply
  25. Thanks, Dong, for the really helpful article. Just to confirm, what exactly do you mean by “same-tier routers”?

    Reply
  26. Hey Dong, love your writeup on mesh systems!!! However, it’s a lot of data to comb through and process for those of us that aren’t as big brained. I’m really looking for a “simple” (plug and play) mesh system that will do both wired and wireless backhaul reliably. Super fast speeds are not as big of a deal for me, but reliability is. Additionally, I’m looking for a system that can also support 3, 4 or 5 satellite units, most with wireless backhaul, but a couple wired. Can you help?

    Reply
      • New ZenWiFi XD6 (4) node system installed and working! The setup was a little bit of hassle as the Bluetooth feature wouldn’t seem to work so had to connect via WiFi. The setup instructions that came in the box were virtually useless as there were multiple configuration setup steps that weren’t referenced anywhere. All in all, I consider myself more capable than the average person and I was a bit annoyed at the setup process. Non-techy individuals would probably have a difficult go at making these work. However, I got it all working in about 45min beginning to end and both wired and wireless backhaul work great. I’m a set it and forget it kind of guy so as long as it doesn’t give me any issue with connectivity or hardware failure, I’ll be happy as a clam with this product. Thank you Dong!!

        Reply
  27. Hi Dong!
    I have just bought the RT-AX86U and setup as main router and my old RT-AC66u B1 as the node. I connected the router and the node with wire. I checked the speed and max 72MB/s via mesh setup with wire. Of course without wire it drops down. When I use the AC66U B1 as AP, the speed is on gigabit, so 112MB/s.
    Why in aimesh with wire the speed is so bad? I am roaming in the house, so I was hoping that with mesh I will not lose connection but if the speed drops like that then mesh is not the way to go but AP mode.
    Thanks for your support!
    Krisztian

    Reply
    • Hi Krisztian,

      1. Check out this post on testing. It looks like you used the Interest to test the speed of your local network, that’s almost never correct.
      2. In the AiMesh node role, make sure the AC66U is using its wired connection (and not one of its Wi-Fi bands) as the backhaul. You can do that in the AiMesh section in the web interface of the RT-AX86U.
      3. It’s OK to use the AC66U as an AP. This is an old router so its support for AiMesh might be limited, and you’re mixing Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 anyway. There’s a chance things don’t work as intended.

      Reply
      • Hi Dong!
        Thanks for your reply.
        I did not use the internet. Simple picked one big file and tried to copy from my desktop to my NAS. I even used my direct host IP of NAS, so stayed within my home network.

        On the AX86U in the AiMesh system setting menu I could also found the “Ethernet backhaul mode”. I even turned this on. It is suppose to use the backhaul and not wifi. This did not help either. I assume you were refering to this option in your point 2.

        So, I can only think that this is what AC66U can do. I am very much thinking to invest into a Zenwifi XT8 or XD4 to replace the AC66U.

        Reply
  28. I have Asus RT-AX88U as my main router in the living room and planning to add a node in my bed room.

    I think of Asus RT-AX3000 or ZenWifi Mini XD4(AX1800) in my mind! but feel Mini would be better choice?

    do you think XD4 would work well with AX88U as a node? I already have wired lan cables going to all the rooms, so node will be connected via ethernet to Main!

    Reply
    • Both will work well via wired backhauls. As for how well, check out their reviews, you’ll get the performance of the router units, even at the satellites’ locations.

      Reply
      • Thanks Dong for your quick response.

        One more query i have, I bought this RT-AX88U as my main router because of the 8 LAN ports which i will use it connect to my 3 bed rooms via LAN cable. So is this fine to use the router LAN ports to connect to devices or this will overload the router process?

        I was earlier thinking of going with other models which has only 4 LAN ports and add a switch to connect to the devices. But dropped the plan because of power fluctuation in my area where I don’t want to keep backup options for 2 devices instead of giving the backup option for only Router.

        So need your honest opinion on RT-AX88U, where I will connect around 5-8 devices MAXIMUM via LAN cables and all other devices will be connected via WIFI. So this AX88U will manage the load of WIRED + WIRELESS connections?

        If not, please suggest for me better combo in this regard, My flat is around 2500 sqft single floor with 3 bed rooms where i have lan cables in all the areas.

        Reply
  29. Hey Dong,
    Just wanted to say, your advice helping me set up my AIMesh system (AX Mini XD4 3-pack) with wired backhaul was so helpful, and my family is very grateful! Thanks so much!
    Jay

    Reply
  30. Hi,
    I’ve a Asus ZenWiFi AX XT8, and I can’t use a wired backhaul in my appartment. (I wired coax and not Cat6 when I renovated…)

    Will a ASUS RT-AX68U work sufficient over wireless as a node?
    Or do I need to bite the bullet and just get another XT8.

    Reply
    • If you read the top part of this post, Simen, you’d come to the conclusion that getting the XT8 is the best way to go in this case. Do it!

      Reply
    • Consider getting someone to replace your Coax cable with CAT-6A.
      Alternatively, especially if the Coax is in use, you can purchase a couple of MoCA 2.5 adapters (supports up to 2.5Gbps).

      Reply
  31. Hi Dong, great info and very well written, many thanks for that!

    Given that the ISP only provides 100 Mbps, what would be your recommendation on the budget, yet reliable Wi-Fi 5 setup?

    1. RT-AC86U as the main router with ASUS ZenWiFi AC Mini (CD6) (3pack) acting as nodes – two wired to the main router and third node connected wirelessly?
    2. RT-AC86U as the main router with 3 other RT-AC86U acting as nodes, two wired and one wireless?

    The first option is 35% cheaper than the second one. Blue Cave and Lyra are not on sale presently where I’m at, and I don’t really want to gamble with second-hand equipment.

    I’m open to other options as well. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
  32. Hi Dong, I am doing rewiring for my new home.

    I was thinking of using RT-AX92U as my main router, and 2 XT8s as node.. The reason why I want to use RT-AX92U as the main, is because I have a NVR that needs to be connect to the main router and RT-AX92U also has more LAN ports for future proof (just incase I want to connect more stuff in the future).

    I already read in your post that for RT-AX92U, both wired and wireless or fine.. for XT8, wireless is recommended.. I love to try wired first, reason is because the main router will be hidden in a wooden cabinet together with all electronic devices, and if backhaul is wireless, I am just afraid the signal will not be as good as wired.

    Correct me if I am wrong, I common sense tell me that as long as there is a barrier (however thin) in between the main router and nodes. Wired backhaul is the way to go.

    Would like to hear your advice. Is my combo ok? Wired or wireless?

    Reply
  33. Thanks for posting. Very helpful, but I’m still trying to figure out what I should go with in adding a new router to my system. I currently have 2 RT-AC68Us that I intend to daisy chain with ethernet cable as the backhaul, and use whatever new router I choose as the hub. Seems like getting one of the newer AX routers might make sense for some of the additional features, but obviously they are quite a bit more expensive than AC routers, and may not provide much upside. Any suggestions, or other words of advice?

    Reply
  34. Hey Dong – love the site and I’ll be buying through your links… Would welcome your advice. I have a large home, with 1GB up and down. I can get to most critical locations with a wired connection.

    I currently am using a Ubiquiti Dream machine as primary router, with a couple of WiFi 6 APs from ubiquiti. Ubiquiti is great, but get occasional hiccups in service and while the features are great – it’s fairly complicated around parental controls (important) and something a bit easier to use.

    I’m tempted to get the XD6 (two sets) with 3 of the 4 being wired or one set of the XD6s and a 82U or something along those lines.

    Price is less important than 1) reliability – most important and 2) parental controls and features.

    So question – stick with my current setup, go with option outlined above or do you have a different suggestion 🙂

    Thanks!

    I’ve got about 100 items connected at any point (half of which are low bandwidth).

    I’m tempted to go with

    Reply
    • Hey Dong – love the site and I’ll be buying through your links… Would welcome your advice. I have a large home, with 1GB up and down. I can get to most critical locations with a wired connection.

      I currently am using a Ubiquiti Dream machine as primary router, with a couple of WiFi 6 APs from ubiquiti. Ubiquiti is great, but get occasional hiccups in service and while the features are great – it’s fairly complicated around parental controls (important) and something a bit easier to use.

      the XD6 (two sets) with 3 of the 4 being wired or one set of the XD6s and a 82U or something along those lines.

      Price is less important than 1) reliability – most important and 2) parental controls and features.

      So question – stick with my current setup, go with option outlined above or do you have a different suggestion 🙂

      Thanks!

      Reply
  35. Thank you for the very comprehensive review. id like to seek your recommendation. i currently have the blue cave as my main router and and im planning to use it as a node on an ai mesh setup due to occational signal drop on some of the rooms in my 2nd floor after some renovations. tuf ax5400, ax86u and ax55 are currently available in my local store. what would be a good combination given that i plan to use them in mesh; temprorarily in wireless mode but i plan to set it up wired in the future?

    Reply
      • Thanks for the reply Dong; I’ve read the whole article (including your aimesh overview) before seeking the advice; though you mentioned it’s not a good idea to mix wifi standards, i thought that this is the part where ‘compatiblity mode’ on the main router comes in; since you mentioned that in your node selection section:

        “When mixing Wi-Fi standard (Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 5) you have to use the higher standard hardware in the compatibility mode. Else, they can’t connect reliably if at all.”

        Anyways, looks like i have to start setting up the wires sooner than expected. 🙂

        Reply
  36. Hi Dong, thanks for the post, been reading a lot of your pieces as I’m researching on setting up my first AiMesh for a new place. I plan to do wired backhaul and am trying to figure out a good combination that will work for me.

    I’m a little torn between AX86U and AX88U. The former has the 2.5gb port whilst the latter has WTFast. So I’m wondering, if it’s possible to get both and enjoy both benefits? or should I stick to 2 of the same?

    Currently, i’m thinking of connecting it this way:

    Modem AX88U AX86U PC

    the 2.5G is for my PC to send higher volumes of data to the AX86U to broadcast over Wifi6 to my VR headset. And I was hoping that my PC would still benefit from WTFast since the AX88U is part of the setup.

    What are your thoughts on this setup? do you have any suggestions on better combinations/other routers?

    Reply
      • I just upgraded my network to 2.5 ghz on my computers and switches, also Xfinity has boosted my internet speeds to 1.2 down. I have 2 Zen AX XT8’s with wired backhaul to the node. To get the faster speed I was looking at getting the AX86U has my main router and using just the node AX8 node in a mesh. My modem is a Netgear 1150V which is capable of 2 ghz internet speeds. Would this work like I think it will? Thanks in advance for any info.

        Reply
        • If I caught your drift, Ken, no.

          1. You need a router with two Multi-Gig ports, one for the WAN and the other for the LAN sides. The only Asus option for now is the RT-AX89X.
          2. The XT8 only works well in your case if you use them in the AP mode — it’s not a good idea to mix tri-band and dual-band in an AiMesh setup. More in this post on AiMesh combos.

          Reply
          • Thanks for the quick replay, isn’t the Ax86U capable of “True 2 Gbps wired and wireless speeds – Aggregated 2 Gbps WAN connection and the 2.5 ghz port configurable to be a lan or wan port? Thanks again for any info. By the way my 2 Zen AX XT8’s, have been rock solid in the wired backhaul, I must be the lucky one. Have patience with a old man….LOL

          • I’m also using my ZenWiFi AX with wired backhaul. The way that I configure it is to not turn on “smart connect”, and use the 2.4GHz. and 5GHz-2 radios as my client-facing radios. Works very well, fast and stable, faster than it is using wireless backhaul. I’ve verified on the client list that all mobiles and wireless clients are connecting to the 5GHz-2 radio.

            I have the 5GHz-1 radio disabled, since I’m not using it, but I still see it transmitting on “WiFi Analyzer”. Looks like a longstanding bug. I’ve also renamed the SSID for the 5GHz-1 radio to a random name that I don’t use on clients *smile*. So no problem with it.

          • Yes, that’d apply to the #1 if your ISP gives you the WAN LA option. With #2 you need a tri-band router — that’s unless you’re OK with losing one of its 5GHz bands. The XT8 works fine with wired backhaul generally but new firmware might break that as I mentioned the review.

  37. Hi Dong,

    Your and reviews have been an amazing reference for me in planning my first ai mesh system. Thank you!

    Unfortunately I’m running into a little trouble and wonder if you can lend your opinion?

    The system is using an AX86U as the main router with the latest Asuswrt Merlín firmware and then 3 AX89X satellites connected in star configuration back to a QNAP 10GBase-T switch. The router is using its 2.5G port to connect to the switch and the satellites are connected to their 10G ports for wired back haul.

    Everything connected up fine although the connection process seemed a little buggy (router became unresponsive a few times and needed to be reset) I also didn’t do the factory reset because all were new routers and managed to upgrade the firmware for each of the satellites once they were connected as part of the mesh (I think the old firmware caused the router crashes because they stopped once this was done).

    Now initially I was trying to adjust the wireless assistant because most devices were mainly using the main router instead of connecting to the closest satellite. When this was happening I had about -35 dbm to the closest satellite and about -56 dbm to the router and -60 to -80 to the other satellites. I adjusted the assistant down to -45 but still without much luck. Should I be adjusting the power to the antenna down to create more of a difference in levels? I would prefer not to have to do this. Should I not go below -60 dbm?

    I have been reading about the different settings on the professional wireless settings tab. Some say to turn off wireless assistant altogether. They also say to turn off beamforming on both bands which I have tried. I will be giving it another go tomorrow at adjusting settings but so far wireless speeds have been slow and unreliable. I also have occasionally gotten an issue where there appeared to be two identical ssids that seemed to conflict with each other because the computer would attempt to connect and then disconnect repeatedly until I restarted the router. I don’t know if this could have to do with the guest network I setup before setting up the ai mesh and will disable it and start over tomorrow.

    Do you have any articles on the proper settings for the professional tab?

    Do I need to forgo using the multi-gig ports on the router and satellites for now?

    Any help is appreciated!
    Kindly,
    Jeremy

    Reply
    • First off, Jeremy: You can’t mix firmware and expect things to work the way you’d want. It’s impossible to troubleshoot in this case. You should spend time figuring things out before making assumptions and then expect things to work just how you’d like. Networking is not like building a car or a house. There are a lot of things you don’t see. Let me put it this way: What you’re experiencing right now is a part of the learning process, and that’s fine until you start insisting on getting what you’d assumed. Keep at it, and maybe you’ll have something very cool to share with me and others. 🙂

      Reply
      • Thanks for the words of wisdom
        Dong! I agree I am still very much in the learning phase 😊

        So the issue with slow speeds turned out to be a botched installation by the ISP that they came and fixed (improperly terminated coax cables in two different points).

        I have also double checked all the cabling (cat 8, shields properly grounded) and all seems correct.

        Everything appears to be working now except that on one MacBook computer running Catalina things will be working fine and then all of a sudden the computer will list two identical wifi ssids and connect to one and then disconnect continuously. Restart of the computer doesn’t fix it, only unplugging the satellites from the router and connecting to the main router wifi.

        This could be a firmware compatibility issue I guess or an incompatibility with Catalina and wifi 6 perhaps fixed by an upgrade to Big Sur, but I am wondering if anyone else has experienced this and if it instead could be related to some setting in the wifi settings? I need the Merlín firmware for its vpn capabilities and there isn’t a version for the X89X probably due to the Qualcomm chipset.

        In the router all the satellites are visible and appear to be working fine in the ai mesh tab and correctly list 10gbe backhaul.

        Can anybody point me to proper settings for the wifi settings/professional tabs to try to eliminate that from the equation?

        I would prefer to try this prior to upgrading the computer or changing the firmware if possible.

        Thank you!

        Reply
        • Since you mentioned wisdom, get a Windows or Linux computer, I’d say, Jeremy. Or go hang out at Apple’s Genius Bar. Not everything that happens on a Mac is your router’s fault. I don’t do tech support here, especially not Apple tech support. 🙂

          Reply
  38. Hi Dong, I learn a lot from your amazing articles but I do still struggle with my best option to pick from because my brain doesn’t understand this technology.

    I have gig speed internet and I’ve wired my large home, shop and smaller shed with cat 6 cable. I have over 100 devices (I love cameras and smart lights, etc.). I’ve already bought the RT-AX89X as the main router and I use the RT-AX88U up in my shop. I bought the ZenWiFi XD4 but I’ve noticed it doesn’t have the 160MHZ channel. I want to switch to either the ZenWiFi XD6 or should I just get something like 2 or 3 more RT-AX3000’s? Please help me decide. Thanks again for all your help.

    Reply
      • Yes, I took your advice and ran cat6 wires since my shop is so far away. Which leads me to another question if you don’t mind…. Since my shop is over 300 feet away I put a gig switch in-between to break up the distance. Would I be better off using the XD6 rather than the gig switch? I come out of my main router which is the RT-AX89X and then to the gig switch and then to my shop which has the RT-AX88U. Thanks again for your time and valuable opinion.

        Reply
        • So currently you have 150ft to a switch then 150ft to XD6 in your shop? For that use case I wouldn’t put an XD6 instead of the switch. I would probably have a straight run of 300feet to a switch in your shop, or used sfp cable, or instead of a switch had an ethernet repeater.

          Reply
          • Sorry, Dong, I should’ve explained myself better. I have 150 feet to a little shed that I have the switch in and then 300 feet to my shop. That’s why I need so many Asus routers. I ran two wires to the little shed that I put a router on and a gig switch to the shop. Sorry, I can’t explain it very well.

  39. Hi Dong,

    Your page is awesome. The amount of technical information that you put in each review I have not seen on any other website or in videos.

    Until a few days ago I had a Netgear mesh system, the Orbi RBK353. A disaster. Constant disconnections, basic admin page that does not allow to do anything … I was able to return them and now I want to switch to Asus. I have known its administration for a long time. But I don’t know what to choose. I have quite a few home automation devices that only use the 2.4 network. With the Orbi, many did not connect to the network if the 5Ghz network was not disabled (Orbi not allow to separate bands with difeerent SSIDs). I have ethernet cables as far as possible satellites would go. I have looked at the Asus XD4 and in your review you put them very well. The XT8s seem much better but as I read not work ok with wired backhaul and I only have one device that has wifi6. Another option would be to buy two RT-AX92Us and use a wired backhaul. What do you recommend me? I value more than support quite a few devices and stability at incredible speed over wifi6. Thanks!!

    Reply
    • The Asus are great, but if you expect the stability issues with IoT devices (especially ESP-based) to go away, you might be disappointed.
      There are numerous advices out there on how to make them stable. My issues were gone only once I added an old router as an AP, running on a different channel and SSID.

      Reply
        • I did that, unfortunately they still fell off the grid every day or two.
          I read somewhere that these devices do not work well when WiFi 6 is enabled, yet I wouldn’t want to disable WiFi 6 on my main 2.4GHz entirely, and the configuration for Guest Network does not have a toggle for it.

          Reply
          • It can be an issue with the devices themselves, too. And you can disable Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) on the 2.4GHz band. It’s in the Wireless section.

  40. hi, I have a GT-AC5300 but the signal is bad at my bedroom due to a few walls in between.
    should i get a pair of ZenWiFi AC (CT8) and use it as a node?
    thanks!

    Reply
  41. Thanks for this. Decided to use Aimesh for wifi at my dads house, thanks to your post. They were on a tight budget so went with 2x AX55, setup was so easy and quick (as opposed to zen ax mini’s)
    I’m pretty impressed thus far and I have not had any complaints.

    Reply
  42. I have a RT-AC5300 and I was going to buy a second since it’s in an awful spot and the 5GHz bands slow down a ton by the time it gets to the TV and I want that 4k signal! Would I dedicate one of the 5GHz bands for the backhaul? Is getting a second router overkill?

    Reply
  43. Hi Dong,

    Thank you for putting together this fantastic post on AIMesh, I’ve found it very helpful. I am currently in the process of updating my home routing solution – currently 1 AC68U. I’m looking to implement mesh and will have a wired backhaul. I was initially leaning towards an AX86U as primary and the AC68U in mesh, however you advise against running different wireless technologies.

    If I am going to buy a router for mesh, would I potentially be better off investing in something like an XD4/XD6 kit, as opposed to an AX86U – as I’d likely need to buy two wifi 6 routers anyway for best performance. Either way retiring the AC68U?

    Reply
    • It’s impossible to answer you question, Dom. Seriously, read the top part of this post again — really read it! At the very least, you’ll have a better question. You’re not on one of those fake “tech blogs” where you can jump to want you want.

      Reply
  44. Hi Dong.

    I’m getting rid of RT-AC5300U and will introduce AX wifi tech at home this week. Two (2) scenarios I am considering and I would just like to ask your opinion which would be a better choice? Home is 1F, < 100sq.m.
    1. RT-AX86U x2
    2. RT-AX86U x1, RT-AX92U x1
    Either scenario will be a wired backhaul. Thanks.
    of two (2) options under consideration. Will be wired backhaul < 20M. which is the better option to select. This will be home environment < 100sq.m. all one floor,

    Reply
  45. Hi Dong,

    Thanks a lot for your helpful articles.
    I am going to use the AX92U-2 package at home as an AiMesh system. If that’s not enough, do I need a third AX92U as an additional node or can/should I use a different model as my primary router. Is it have to be three-band model like a nodes? What model do you recommend? Thank you in advance.

    Reply
    • You need another tri-band unit, Alexander, especially if you go full wireless. I mentioned that in detail in the first part of this post. Give it another read!

      Reply
  46. Hi Dong,
    I’m currently using a pair of ZenWifi XT8, as my apartment does not have Ethernet wired up.
    As I intend to move to a new (bigger) apartment, that will have Ethernet wired throughout, I’m considering buying the RT-AX89X as the main router, along with a 10G switch, to allow for a 2.5Gbps backhaul from the XT8s.
    Will that setup work? Will AiMesh be able to match the 160MHz 5GHz-2 band with the one of the main router, even with a manual configuration?
    I know that in a wired setup it’s better to just use dual-band routers, but given my existing investment, I’d rather continue using them.
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • You need another tri-band router, there, Dror, either another XT8 or the GT-AX11000. If you use the RT-AX89X, you won’t be able to manage the XT8 satellites’ 5GHz2 band at all — this band will not be used. That’s UNLESS you use the XT8 nodes in the AP mode. Read the top part of this post again.

      Reply
      • Thank you Dong.
        It seems silly that Asus treats the superior 5GHz-2 band (that supports 160MHz) as an “extra” for the case of an ethernet-based dual-band/tri-band mix, rather than the lesser 5GHz-1.

        Reply
  47. Hi Dong!

    Longtime reader; your articles have been incredibly helpful and pointed me toward the AX86U as my primary (and until now, only) router. However, I’m wanting to add a mesh node so I can get better signal for media devices. Here’s the issue:

    Internet comes in on second floor, modem, AX86U, switches, etc. I can’t run a wire to the first floor or else I wouldn’t need to attempt this. My plan was to have an RT-AX55 with a wireless backhaul act as a mesh node, and then I could wire my console and media PC to it. Essentially, it’s acting as a big wifi antenna for a couple of devices.
    I have updated firmware (Merlin on AX86U, stock Asus on AX55) to the latest versions. I can only add the AX55 as a mesh node IF I have it connected via ethernet cable. If it’s connected, devices can connect to it over wifi (on the 5ghz channel at least), but obviously this doesn’t help when I place it in its intended location. If I disconnect the cable, it’ll drop even though it is set to use 5G Wi-Fi first, with the AX86U as the preferred uplink. The app says it’s connected over 5ghz, but as soon as that cable is gone, it all goes away.

    Any ideas on settings that might cause this? Could it be a hardware failure of some sort and be worth trading for another AX55? I was hoping to avoid an AX56 since I don’t have a lot of power plugs available, and it’d be nicer to have two ethernet cables out so I don’t have to switch devices.

    Thank you, and keep up the great work!

    Reply
    • You need to change the 5GHz Wi-Fi setting of the 86U to match that of the 55, Dimc. Specially, you can’t use DFS or 160MHz channels. If that doesn’t fix it, change to Asuswrt firmware first.

      Reply
      • I did turn off the 160mhz channel on the AX86U. I also have it operating on Control Channel 161; I believe this is what the DFS refers to?
        AX86U is on Asuswrt-Merlin; I don’t think the AX55 has Merlin available for it, but I did upgrade both firmwares to the latest.

        Reply
        • More on DFS here, Dimc. And yes, you need to use 80MHz or narrower channel width for the 86U. Basically, the wireless mesh won’t work if the node can’t connect to the main router due to Wi-Fi incompatibility. This is why I recommend using nodes of the same 5GHz specs as mentioned in this post. Spend some time and try to understand instead of asking questions hoping you’ll get what you want without using compatible hardware :). Also, it’s impossible to know for sure if you use two different firmware.

          Reply
          • I ended up getting it connected as a Media Bridge router instead, which is honestly more what I wanted from the get-go, I just didn’t know that was an option.
            There isn’t a lot of data on the AX55 yet; I picked it for what appeared to be a bit more functionality over the AX1800/AX56. I did get my console connected and online, and will try messing with other devices soon.
            Thanks!

          • Yeap, it’s the lowest-end hardware so it doesn’t have a lot of options. Glad you had things worked out!

  48. Hi Dong, I had written to you last time on AiMesh in August and I have some interesting discoveries. But first , let me tell you on my network config. I have 2 ISP providing me Optical Fiber Broadband (they provide the Router too) and these 2 ISPs provide me 300 Mbps each. I have wired the whole house with Cat6 cabling. Now, I have connected the 2 ISP Routers into a CISCO Dual WAN Load Balancing Router for automatic failover. I have two RT-AX3000 (call it A and B) and I had one RT-AC86U (call it C) purchased earlier.
    I have connected RT-AX3000 (A) to another RT-AX3000 (B) and RT-AC86U (C)in Star topology. So, one Cat6 ethernet cable emanates from CISCO Lan port into one RT-AX3000 (A) WAN port. Another Ethernet cable from LAN of RT-AX3000 (A) is connected to a Switch far end and RT-AX3000 (B) and RT-AC86U (C) are connected to their WAN ports from that Switch. The “interesting” part is , The first RT-AX3000 is configured as an ACCESS POINT and I have made B and C as AiMesh Nodes to the AP. Also in Professional Settings, I have configure the Master AP to disconnect clients whose RSSI is less than -50 DBm and enabled OFDMA DL/UL + MU-MIMO. AP mode for Master Node (A) prevent Double NAT. This actually works BUT there are 2 odd shortcomings in it
    *****FIRST Observations. If you bind the clients to specific AiMesh nodes, when one node goes down , the clients do NOT automatically fall back on the other node even tough the node is in range. This is more prominent with IoT Switches e.g. Alexa Smart Plug. I have tons of them and they don’t automatically fall on the other node even though signal strength is above -60 db. If they are unbinded, then they work nicely but the AiMesh does not balance the load, either all of the 32 switches will fall on Node A or Node B and there is no equitable distribution. If you force them to bind, fail over is not seamless. BUT if A is in ROUTER mode, this issue is not there. Which means AiMesh is more attuned to work in router mode and not in AP mode.
    ******Second observation : if I speedtest my WiFI 6 mobile on Node B, I get a solid 300 Mbps both down and up, which is my ISP speed as well. But if I do the same on the Master AP A, the same will be 250 Mbps Download and 300 Mbps Upload. Even if I interchange the AX3000 models, the same thing happens. This intrigues me a lot.
    *******Third Observation : RAM consumption in AP mode is 60% and in Router Mode minus AiProtection is 65% and Router mode plus AiProtection is 75%.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing, Anish. And yes, you need to use the router to make things work well. That’s to be expected.

      Reply
  49. Thanks for the info and reviews, Im in the mist of getting the Asus RT-AX92U dual pack for a start, to cover the 450m square double storey house.
    initial plan was Modem Gateway Connect to one of the AX92U as a rounter on the upper floor and another AX92U as a Node, do you think its sufficient?
    Site note, i have 3 data Wallplug using Cat6 Cable, or its better for me to use the access point instead?

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  50. Hi Dong!

    Fully wireless setup (rental, so no wiring allowed) , 3 storey townhouse with 1Gig fibre modem on the first floor, where router also sits. My AX86U struggles with both garden and top floor signal provision.

    You seem to alternate between recommending XT8s and two AX92Us for wireless setups, which one has the edge for my setup? I’m also tempted to just add a AX82U that’s currently on sale, but signal loss will inevitably occur…

    Reply
      • Thanks, Dong. I’ve read most of your articles, so am realistic about Gig not being available without full eth wiring. My main desktop PC is next to the router, connected via CAT8 and the test on our article shows 890 down/940 up.

        As the 3 options are relatively close in terms of performance (I suspect a pack of 92Us will be the fastest?), the pricing is as follows:

        1. 86U + 82U = £320
        2. 2-pack 92U = £270
        3. 2-pack XT8 = £300

        With this in mind, which do you think offers best value for money here?

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          • Thanks, I managed to grab the last 82U from an eBay offer here for £110, which will be joining the existing 86U router. Since I got both for very good prices, even if I need to sell on, I’ll likely break even. Will go for XT8 if I feel the range/performance of these bad boys isn’t what I require.

            Sent over some Kofi for you, Dong. Cheers.

  51. Hi, thanks for the website and all the content you create. I see a lot about wired versus wireless backhand, and it is clear when using one *or* thr other. But what about the scenario where you have wired backhaul for all nodes except one that is in a tricky location? Will using dual-band everywhere be limited as soon as you spin up the node with wireless backhand? How would you handle this situation? Thanks again!

    Reply