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Best Asus AiMesh Router Combos: The Sub-Gigabit Real-World Experience

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Looking for the best AiMesh router or wondering if the one you have is an excellent fit for your need? You're reading the right post.

You'll find here specific AiMesh routers and my recommendation on how to pair them with others to form a robust Wi-Fi system that can handle sub-Gigabit bandwidth needs, which is the case for most homes.

This piece is part of my series on Asus's AiMesh. Check out the related post below if you have other questions.

Dong's note: I first published this piece on February 28, 2021, and last updated it on April 18, 2023, to add more relevant information.

Best AiMesh routers and combos. It can be challenging.
Best AiMesh routers and combos: Flexible in hardware use, AiMesh makes picking the right combo challenging.

Best AiMesh routers and combos: The battle-tested list

This selection results from many hours—days, weeks, months, and even years in many 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.

It consists of AiMesh routers and purposed-built systems, all after my extensive first-hand experience from a few weeks to tens of months.

It's important to note that for AiMesh to work well, especially in mixed hardware setups, using the correct firmware version is critical, as mentioned in the setup guide. If you're unaware, the drawer below will give you some highlights.

AiMesh and firmware

Considering the vast number of hardware options, most of which can be combined into a mesh system using the AiMesh feature, firmware can be tricky for Asus, especially with hardware running firmware versions that start with the 3.0.0.4 kernel.

AiMesh was first added as a major feature via firmware version 384 in early 2018—represented by the RT-AC86U. It was buggy at first, but it became stable with the latest minor updates. In early 2020, Asus released version 386, which was also buggy in the early stages, to add AiMesh 2.0 via the introduction of the ZenWifi product line. By late 2022, version 386 had become fully mature, and Asus released version 388 (dubbed Asuswrt 4.0) to add better VPN support, triple gaming/protection levels, and more. This version became stable by late 2023.

When it comes to updating—especially in an AiMesh setup of mixed hardware units using wireless backhauling—keep the following three items in mind:

  1. Avoid the initial major release: This is the first firmware version of a model where the middle three digits of the firmware version change, such as from 384 to 386 or from 386 to 388. Generally, things start to be good with the first minor update to a major firmware release.
  2. Avoid using Auto-Update for firmware: Instead of letting the hardware update itself, you should update the firmware when you see fit. (It's OK to choose Auto-Update for the security-only updates when that's an option.)
  3. Version consistency (in a mesh system): Generally, it would be best to use the firmware version of the same major release for all AiMesh members. (Mixing hardware of different major releases can produce mixed results.)

On the one hand, moving between major releases might break your AiMesh setup or even your standalone router. On the other hand, new hardware comes with a specific initial version that is out of the box—you have no option to downgrade it—and some old models won't get the latest release. So, depending on the mesh combo, your luck will vary.

As a rule, when using hardware with the 3.0.0.4 kernel in a mesh system, it's best to wait for a few minor updates of a major release before upgrading. Depending on the hardware combo, you might need to rebuild the system from scratch or reset and re-add a satellite node if you change the major firmware version (in one or all hardware units involved.)

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

AiMesh has gone Multi-Gig wired backhaul

For all mesh networks with wireless or Gigabit wired backhauling, you'll generally get real-world throughputs slower than Gigabit (sub-Gigabit.)

That's because a gigabit wired connection has overhead. And the currently fastest wireless connection, between the fastest client and the fastest router, sustains at around 1.5Gbps (Gig+) in a best-case scenario—most of the time, you also get around 1Gbps or slower.

If you want a faster-than-Gigabit network, you must use Multi-Gig wired backhaul.

Going forward, I'll update the performance of Asus's Multi-Gig-ready routers—such as the GT-AXE16000, GT-AX6000, ZenWiFi Pro ET12, and RT-AX89X—in this separate post on AiMesh hardware with Multi-Gig wired backhaul capability.

Real Multi-Gig wired backhaul AiMesh combos to bring home today

13. ZenWifi XD5

Asus ZenWifi XD5 Box Content
The Asus ZenWifi XD5 includes three identical mesh routers.

The ZenWifi XD5 replaces the XD4, which is no longer available, as the low-cost AiMesh system.

Thanks to the support for a faster 5GHz band, it's an excellent mesh for a wired home. Additionally, it makes ideal satellites for a system hosted by Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers.

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable in star topology).
  • Recommended nodes: Itself or the RP-AX58, preferably via wired backhauling, but wireless will also work for those with modest broadband.
  • Recommended the main router:
    • Wireless: Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router with DFS support.
    • Wired: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network), starting with the initial firmware.

12. 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 getting your house wired is the way to go if you want close to full Gigabit performance.

The XD6 works great by itself, but if you want to mix it with other routers:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable, only as a 2-pack).
  • Recommended nodes: Itself or the XD5, preferably via wired backhauling, but wireless will also work for those with modest broadband.
  • Recommended the main router:
    • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 router with a 4x4 5GHz band.
    • Wired: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 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 satellites for a similarly-specced 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 System
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
9.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
9 out of 10
Value
8 out of 10

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance

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


11. GS-AX5400 or TUF AX5400 (or GS-AX3000)

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

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

The three are very similar in design and features—they are part of Asus's new ROG STRIX and TUF gaming series.

The GS-AX5400 and TUF-AX5400 are virtually identical regarding hardware specs while looking different. On the other hand, the GS-AX5400 and GS-AX3000 look the same but of different Wi-Fi tiers.

Since these 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 for the two AX5400 broadcasters, which have the top-tier 5GHz band.

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 router with a 4x4 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, RT-AX82U, ZenWifi XD5.

Asus ROG STRIX GS-AX5400's Rating

8.8 out of 10
Asus ROG STRIX GS-AX5400 Gaming Router
Performance
9.5 out of 10
Features
9.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
8 out of 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-looking front-facing AURA Game light

Cons

No Multi-Gig port or Gamer VPN (WTFast)

Performance as a NAS server could be better

The ROG logo doesn't light up, a bit boring


10. RP-AX56/58

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 (or its replacement, the RP-AX58) 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 2x2 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 satellite node for those using an entry-level AiMesh router or a high-end one set up with wired backhaul or in compatibility mode (wireless backhaul).

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable).
  • Recommended router:
    • Wireless: Dual-band 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 routers. Repeater mode is available.
    • Wired: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers. AP mode is available.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes, with a system-wide Guest network (with the latest firmware.)
  • Routers I've tried: RT-AX82U, RT-AX3000, RT-AX89X.

Asus RP-AX56/58 Repeaters' Rating

8.4 out of 10
Asus RP AX5x Extender
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

Affordable

Reliable and relatively fast Wi-Fi (for the specs) 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

Modest 2x2 specs; only one Gigabit port; no Mulit-Gig support

Bulky for a snap-on device


9. 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 3x3 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 several years ago.

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 router with a 3x3 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 out of 10
Features
9.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
8.5 out of 10
Value
9 out of 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 USB storage device

Comparatively affordable

Cons

No Multi-Gig ports or 160MHz channel width support (at launch)

Not wall-mountable


8. 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 primary router. It's one of the best dual-band routers on the market.

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 4x4 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-AX56/58, ZenWiFi XD4, GS-AX5400, and GS-AX3000.

Asus RT-AX86U's Rating

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


7. RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U

Asus RT-AX3000 RT-AX58U Routers Top
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The Asus RT-AX3000 and RT-AX58U make 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 2x2 5GHz band.
    • Wired: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers of the same tier or lower.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network), starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41700.
  • Nodes I've used: RT-AX58U, RP-AX56 (wired and wireless), ZenWiFi XD4 (wired), RT-AC86U (wired).

Asus RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U's Rating

8.5 out of 10
Asus RT-AX58U RT 3000 BOXES
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

160 MHz channel support

Fast and reliable performance

Tons of useful features with excellent AiMesh support

Full web interface and well-design mobile app

Compact design, wall-mountable

Cons

No multi-gig port or Link Aggregation

Modest hardware specs

Relatively short Wi-Fi range

The Parental Control feature could use some improvement


6. 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 4x4 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 4x4 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, GS-AX3000, RP-AX58/56.

Asus RT-AX82U's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus RT-AX82U 19
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
9.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
8.5 out of 10
Value
9.5 out of 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


5. 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. When coupled with the RT-AX86U (as a satellite), the RT-AX89X is one of the best router options for building 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 a system-wide Guest network (via the latest firmware).
  • Satellinite nodes I've used: RT-AX88U, RT-AX58U, ZenWiFi XD5, RT-AC86U, GS-AX5400, GS-AX3000, and more.

4. 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 4x4 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.
  • Satellite 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 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
8.5 out of 10
Value
8 out of 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)


3. 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.
  • Satellite nodes I've used: RT-AX92U.

ASUS RT-AX92U's Rating

8.5 out of 10
Asus RT-AX92U Hand 2
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
9 out of 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


2. 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. The 5GHz-2 band works as the (dedicated) backhaul in this case.
    • Wired: Any AiMesh 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.
  • Satellite nodes I've used with success: RT-AX92U, RT-AX88U, RT-AX86U, RT-AX58U, ZenWiFi XT8, ZenWiFi XD4 (wired back).

Asus GT-AX11000's Rating

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


1. 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.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (with caution) or wireless (recommended).
  • Recommended nodes: Itself.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (vis latest firmware) with a system-wide Guest network.
  • Real-world experience: multiple 2-pack and 3-pack sets.

Asus ZenWiFi XT8's Rating

8.9 out of 10
ZenWiFi XT8 Set
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
9.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
8.5 out of 10
Value
9 out of 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 4x4 dedicated backhaul band with optional wired backhaul support

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

Cons

No 160MHz 4x4 support for Wi-Fi 6 clients in a 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, especially via wired backhaul

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


Wi-Fi 5 AiMesh hardware

Since late 2022, it's been clear that Asus will not upgrade its Wi-Fi 5 routers to its latest 388 firmware revision, and many will not even get the 386 revision.

This doesn't mean Wi-Fi 5 hardware is no longer supported—some still get new firmware with security patches.

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 legacy Wi-Fi AiMesh system.

However, in terms of hardware combo, it's best to use them all via wired backhauling and avoid mixing Tri-band and Dual-band hardware. Here are the bullet points on those I've tested when used as the primary AiMesh router:

  • ZenWiFi AC CT8: Should be used by itself or as satellite nodes for the R-AC5300 or the GT-AC5300.
  • RT-AC88U: Should be used with itself or the RT-AC86U.
  • RT-AC86U: Should be used with itself or the RT-AC88U.
  • Blue Cave: This one is stuck with the 384 firmware released and should be used with itself or the Lyra Trio.
  • Lyra Trio: Also stuck with 384 firmware and should be used by itself.

Finally, all Wi-Fi 5 AiMesh hardware with 386 firmware revision support AiMesh 2.0 and delivers a system-wide Guest network. Those with 384 releases remain at the original version of AiMesh, which is relatively limited in features.


The takeaway

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

Keep in mind that there might be other excellent combos I've not tested, and I haven't used all the different scenarios of those mentioned here.

The key is not to mess around too much or upgrade the firmware willy-nilly when everything is working. Keep that in mind, especially when you use the Asus mobile app.

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708 thoughts on “Best Asus AiMesh Router Combos: The Sub-Gigabit Real-World Experience”

  1. If RT-AXE7800’s firmware is ‘388_24631’ and Zen WiFi ET8’s firmware is ‘388_23759’, are their minor levels close enough for AiMesh? Given the infrequency of its updates, I’m concerned that the elder ET8 router will fall further and further behind, possibly becoming incompatible with the RT-AXE7800. There’s just not very many ASUS WiFi6E routers to begin with… and now I’m scared they’ll just move on to WiFi7-only

    Reply
  2. I’m getting a lot of information from your blog. I am utilizing RT-AC88U as main / RT-AC68U as secondary with Asus AiMesh support.

    I utilize a lot of software provided by MerlinFirmware, so any additional firmware I am considering is important to me to be MerlinFirm supported.
    However, I am currently considering replacing (adding) my main router as I cannot run Wireguard with my current routers. I have a few options: / RT-AX88U (or RT-AX86U) – I am also considering the Pro line if I am looking at multi-gig wired backhaul, but have ruled it out at this time as I feel it is cost prohibitive. – / RT-AC86U.

    The RT-AC86U is the cheapest upgrade option. However, when considering an overall router upgrade in the future, I’d like to move to an AX-based router if there are no compatibility issues.

    If I purchase the RT-AX88U or RT-AX86U, will there be any issues with using my existing routers (RT-AC88U / RT-AC68U)? I am currently configuring AiMesh with wireless backhaul, but wired backhaul is also possible. If I change to AX routers as my main, will I be unable to use wireless backhaul, or is there any chance or room for issues if I do?

    I look forward to your advice.

    Reply
  3. I find your articles to be thorough and informative, and just what I needed to help decode the maze of Wi-Fi options to determine what’s best for our needs.
    Our existing Wi-Fi hardware setup has been in place since the Asus RT-AC86U was installed in 2018, and even though our Wi-Fi demand is low due to extensive hardwiring, I’m sure we could benefit from a technology upgrade.
    Our current Wi-Fi environment;
    – Large home with 7800 sq ft over three levels
    – Internet provided through cable/modem at 500 Mbps, with option to pay for 1 Gbps service upgrade. We achieve about 560 Mbps at my hardwired desktop, and 560/23 Mbps (5 GHz) and 100/20 Mbps (2.4 GHz) with my phone near the main router.
    – Existing primary router (Asus RT-AC86U) and three APs (AC1200 and older) manually managed as a pseudo “mesh” network, all hardwired with Cat 5e cable.
    – Numerous unmanaged Gigabit switches – One main distribution switch and a smaller switch in each AV Cabinet
    – All game systems and streaming devices (except one low-use TV) are hardwired
    – Numerous home automation devices, which don’t required high data rate, connected to Wi-Fi on 2.4 GHz band
    – Phones/tablets connect via Wi-Fi, and laptops use either Wi-Fi or hardwired connections
    My objectives from an upgrade;
    – Better Wi-Fi coverage and strength around the house so I can more broadly achieve closer to the available 100 Mbps (2.4 GHz) or 500 Mbps (5.0 GHz)
    – Install Wi-Fi hardware that could handle the 1 Gbps option available from our internet provider, should we decide we need more speed
    Conclusions (from reading your articles);
    – Sub-Gigabit hardware can meet our Wi-Fi needs today and for the near future, and Wi-Fi 6 hardware with AiMesh can offer improvements versus our current setup.
    – No need to install multi-gig Wi-Fi capability at this time, since all streaming/gaming/download needs are being met with hardwire or 100/500 Mbps Wi-Fi speeds today.
    – No need to install any tri-band hardware since all access point nodes are hardwired.
    – No need to install Wifi 6E capability because we do not today have devices that can utilize the 6 GHz band
    – Existing CAT 5e cable can achieve up to 10 Gbps if we need to in the future, but existing Gigabit switches would need to be upgraded.
    Plan:
    Install a new Asus RT-AX86U Pro as the main router, with a pair of new ZenWifi XD6 units as two of the wired nodes, and utilize the existing Asus RT-AC86U as the third wired node in an AiMesh setup. The basement level has the lowest Wi-Fi demand, so the RT-AC86U node will be placed there.
    Please advise if you concur that this could be the best current upgrade path for us today, or if you see flaws in this plan, and what you would recommend instead.
    Thanks.

    Reply
    • That looks good, Bruce, as long as you are happy with Gigabit. Kudos for having read the posts and paying attention to the details. You got it!

      Reply
      • Just a follow up to confirm that I purchased and installed this equipment, and after reading your articles on tips for setting up an Asus AiMesh system, the setup was extremely easy and straightforward. Now I have a primary router with three mesh nodes providing very good coverage throughout the house, with very high data speeds. Very happy with this upgrade and the simplicity/effectiveness of Asus AiMesh.

        Reply
  4. Thanks for such in depth content. I have read through most everything I think is important for me right now, but am left with a couple of questions. Happy to be pointed in the right direction of existing content I have missed!

    I have been running ASUS kit for 15+ years and would prefer to continue with their kit as I like it and find it reliable. I have just upgrade my Fibre broadband connection to 500Mbps and think my hardware now needs an upgrade.

    I am currently running a Wi-Fi only AIMesh with an AC86U as the router, AC68U and Zen Wi-Fi AC Mini as nodes. It is quite unreliable to be honest, especially more recently. I split the channels as some smart home devices specifically use 2.4Ghz so its easier to connect them with it split I find, otherwise I never know which channel my phone is on.

    I have also upgraded to 3 teenagers! Each of these come with a Playstation, gaming PC, internet TV and iPhone and need to be a) using Discord b) streaming media and c) “doing homework” AKA gaming (Fortnite is back!) simultaneously in order to function apparently.

    We have two adults who use iPhones, rarely watch streamed TV (no time), study from home and sometimes use video conferencing. The whole house has Philips Hue lighting controlled via a hub, robot vacuums, video doorbell, Alexa’s in all the rooms etc. The house is 3 storey so I have a node on each floor, and I used to have one in the garage too. Its a funny shape, like a V shape house and so Wi-Fi is not great on the opposite side, top floor to the router without the nodes.

    It seems the time has come to upgrade everything to AX, I was thinking the AX86U? But, its pretty expensive compared to the AX-58U. I’d like a set up that will last a few years and survive another 5 years of teenagers (at least!). Budget is not unlimited but I don’t want the cheapest. I like the parental controls on the ASUS its better (although a bit buggy) than any others I have seen.

    And finally, most importantly (and how I ended up on the site) I am going to (although its a project and might take me a few months) install a wired connection to each of the nodes, I will daisy chain them on a wired backhaul, but I need to cable up the house first (annoyingly bought from new but signed up two weeks too late for it to be cabled, although it would have been CAT4).

    You evidently know what you’re on about, what would you buy?

    Reply
  5. Hello Dong

    I’m musing over combos for AIMesh and have a TUF Gaming AX4200 as my primary router.

    I’m unable to backhaul so wondered about cross channel but primarily I’m stuck between the RP-AX58 Extender vs the RT-AX57 Router as both are the same price (UK) £90 on Amazon.

    My assumption (as not clear Asus website) is that they both have the usual OFDMA, beamforming etc as per the Wi-Fi 6 standard.

    I did want to compare CPU and memory but also not stated for the extender.

    So given I’m enabling AIMesh as a node is there any technical merit in going for the RT-AX57 over the RP-AX58 for a wireless only mesh.

    Thx!!

    Reply
    • I haven’t tried the combo but I’d go with either. The RP-AX58 is more compact, but the other is more flexible in placement and has more network ports.

      Reply
  6. Hey Dong, i recommend you test these devices more before recommending the AX92U is NOT a good mesh device.
    It has limited 80mhz only bands, doesnt support AX on the 2.4 and 5.0-1 – it also has some very finnicky settings and causes massive speed issues, dropped connections in Mesh.
    Some devices work, others not.
    Overall i strongly recommend you remove this router from mesh recommendations – its a bad router with tons and tons of issues when you use it enough.

    Reply
      • I bought the Rog Raptor GT-AX11000 as a main router in addition to existing network 2-pack GT-AX92U. Haven’t checked yet. What is y our opinion about this configuration, what maximum may be achieved?

        Reply
        • That’s an interesting mix, Alex, since the RT-AX92U (GT-AX92U doesn’t exist) has Wi-Fi 5 on one of its two 5GHz bands. I think the combo will work but keep the different standards in mind when you configure the router. More here. Good luck!

          Reply
  7. hi dong,
    I need your advice.
    I have gt ax11000 as my main router and 2 tuf-ax3000 first version. all conected using wired. i need 1 more. No tuf ax3000 again in here. Will tuf ax4200 work good?

    Reply
    • I haven’t tried the particular combo, Jeffrey, but the TUF-AX4200 should work well via a wired backhaul. Good luck!

      Reply
  8. Hi, I currently have two Zenwifi XD4.
    Just got a free TUF AX3000 from my friend.

    Should I use TUF AX3000 as the primary router and the two XD4 as node?

    it will be all wireless.

    Reply
  9. Hi,

    Nice article.

    I just bought 2 XT8 working so great (having wired backhaul). Though, I have black hole in a corner, where I have a cable output. So I am wondering:

    1) Spash the cash and buy a similar stand alone XT8

    2) By a smaller one like XD4 or XD 5 as additional node (wired). But If it does not have all the same features will I my XT8s then also “loose” those?

    3) By another AImesh like AX57 or one from above (which?) and use as the main router in the hallway after the modem and then use the two XT8s as great nodes?

    Reply
  10. Hi Dong. Always love your review.

    Would u prefer to add another pair AC88U or ZenWiFi CT8 2packs as mesh nodes for existing AC88U that currently as main router? both model is currently at same price.

    Reply
  11. I’ve got a RT-AX86S Dual Band. I’ve moved to a house where in my home office I sometimes drop from 4 down to 2 bars (not sure why, probably bands congested signals?) and it ruins my google meetings.

    I’m planning to get a secondary wifi router which can help bridge the connectioin between the router room and my home office. The distance isnt that far, but it has 3 brick walls between them.

    I plan to have my main router on the ground floor, then an extention on the floor right above it (so it doesnt travel through brick, just wooden floor) and then that router will take care of the upper floor on its own. Does this seem sensible or will the close proximity create issues?
    Additionally, will I benefit from having a tri-band as my main router and use my current router as the satelite router or should I go full dual band?

    Reply
      • Thanks Dong, I will give it a go.

        My remaining question that I cannot find a clear answer to is if I will benefit from buying a tri-band router to use as the ‘main’ router and use my existing dual band router as a mesh node, or if any ‘tri band capabilities’ will be lost since one of them (my existing router) is dual band.

        Reply
      • Hi Dong, i need ur advice new to Asus & Mesh setup do not up to speed on the lingo but I have large 4 bed house router at one end & wifi is terrible reaching other end & the signal is weak on my security system aswell.

        I was convinced to purchase the ASUS RT-AX88U for extra security purposes & as its meant to improve the wifi range. Now ive got it setup it has not improved much at all. I thought the AI Mesh was built in but now im seeing i need nodes 🙄 can u please save me time i’ll never get back from stressing over this & just tell me what to purchase.

        Current setup
        Nbn wired into RT-AX88U

        Wanting wireless nodes

        Thank you in advance

        Reply
  12. Hi Dong

    Thanks for a very informative post. I wanted to ask whether you think the Asus RT-AX54HP Dual Band AX1800 would be a good option as a cheap mesh node when using an AX82U as a primary router. This would be the only mesh node in a wireless backhaul configuration.

    I couldn’t see any mention of this router through your posts.

    Thanks
    Sam

    Reply
      • I have a asus-rt-ac86u router as my main router.

        I am looking at getting a new main router and making this the nodes. What should I get for the main new router. (Avg household use). Looking for what ever one would work the best.

        Reply
        • You’re on the right post, Matt. Give it a good read and also check out the others in the series — they are in the Related Posts box.

          Reply
  13. Hi Dong!
    I’m so grateful I found your page and got so much excellent info about setting up a WiFi mesh in my new home. I currently own the RT-AX86U which I love and it worked great in my previous appartment. I now moved into a house and would like to set things up properly. I have three floors (main, lower and upper) and the middle one (main floor) is the most important.
    At first I thought about buying the XT8 but I’m now considering going a different route. I can get my hands on another RT-AX86U Pro which I would set as the main router. I would use the older RT-AX86U as a wired node and these two would cover my main floor with great performance I believe. For my lower floor I would use the XD4 as a wireless node since that floor is not wired. However getting maximum performace is not that important on the lower floor so I’m thinking this should work?
    For my upper floor (above the main) I’m thinking it might not even need a separate node since the main router might cover it quite well. That part remains to be tested once I set everything up. If in any case it turns out there is not enough coverage on the upper floor I might just add a RP-AX58 to strengthten the signal. Performance is also not that important on the upper floor.
    My question is would this work well and am I thinking correctly? One thing to add is buying the RT-AX86U Pro + XD4 would be much cheaper for me than getting the XT8.

    Thank you so much for your help and advice!

    P.s.: If in any case I would go with the XT8 I would still use my old RT-AX86U as a wired node and I would set my XT8 as the main router and another XT8 on the lower floor (wireless node).

    Reply
    • I have 2 Rt-AX86S not the U. My house is 3200sft (without counting the basement) the main floor, 2nd floor. One 86S is on the 2nd floor (center located) and the other is on the main floor in my office. They are hard wired to each other. The coverage and speed are excellent even in the basement. I got them on sale 9 months ago for $145 each. I have no dead zones, coverage outside and no bottlenecks. I have over 40 items connected to my network. Rock solid together. Not sure you need three units, try 2 and see how it works. You can always add a 3rd if needed.

      Reply
  14. Hi Dong,
    Great blog! I previously used your advice for my home network and use a RT-AX68U with 3 ZenWifi AX Mini’s set up with AiMesh. I’m happy with the results.

    At my vacation home I am running an RT-AC86U as the main router with 2 AiMesh nodes (another RT-AC86U and an RT-AC68U). My boathouse is about 150 feet from the house and hardwiring for network connectivity was difficult so I am using 2 Ubiquiti NanoStation loco M5 radios to connect the boathouse to my network. In the boathouse, I have a couple of cameras and an old Apple Express router which allows me to send Apple Airplay to my Russound A/V. This all works well.

    However, I am now trying to connect my Generac generator to my cottage network. Ideally I would like to connect the generator with WiFi from the house. The generator is about 220 – 250ft from the house and up a hill. Despite the many trees on the property I have a pretty clear view between the house and the generator. I am considering an access point that works outside and in cold weather (winter) which I could attach to the house to broadcast the WiFi signal. Is there an outdoor access point that you would recommend that would work in this scenario and that would play well with the Asus AiMesh?

    Thanks

    Reply
  15. Hi Dong,

    This is incredibly helpful!

    I think I understand the best practice here, but would you mind confirming I have this right, in your experience?

    I currently have an RT-AC3100 at the front of my house and I’d like to move it to the back of my house and replace it with an RT-AX88U Pro. I would wire the two. The issue I am having is with poor wifi in the backyard.

    Am I right in assuming this is the best choice? The addition of the RT-AX88U Pro?

    Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • It’ll likely work, Dan, via wired backhauling. The two will have different major firmware versions, so you might run into hiccups during the setup process. More in this post. Give it a good read!

      Reply
      • Thanks Dong! I read through that post and I think I should be good to go. My current router is firmware version 3.0.0.4.386_48260-gd4c241c, which I think should allow me to put it into Node role before I set up the new one.

        I wanted to make sure the RT-AX88U Pro was my best choice. There are other, cheaper options, but I want to do what’s best and I think this is the right one. Thank you again!

        Reply
    • I’d get another XT8 and make life easier for yourself, Mikkel. But any of those you mention will likely work since you have wired backhauling — more here.

      Reply
  16. Hi there Dong,

    Thanks for the very informative content throughout.

    I have a question for you on the best way to use an existing AXE-7800 ASUS router to create a 6E mesh using wired backhaul – which can improve coverage for a house around 3000 sqft. The few options seem to be the follows, would love to hear your thoughts/recommendations —

    1. AXE-7800 (primary) + AXE-7800 (node) – most cost effective
    2. AXE-7800 (primary) + ET12 (node) – not clear if the ET12 should be the primary instead with this and whether it’s better
    3. AXE-16000 (primary) + AXE-7800 (node) – costliest (needs 650$+) – but probably most powerful – how much real world difference can be expected for a sub-gigabit internet connection? It feels like overkill.

    I think I’m mostly questioning the purchase of another AXE-7800 for 250$ vs. an ET12 for 350$.

    Thanks for your time!

    Reply
  17. Hello Dong,

    Hope all is well!! 🙂

    Excellent article. I love the way you have compared so many combinations.

    Looking for some advise on where to go next.

    I have a lot of smart globes (bulbs) and smart devices at home. I think around 70+ devices all connecting to over the 2.4GHz.

    I have noticed that some of the devices keep dropping on and off the network.

    I have a RT-AX88U as my primary router. I have a RT-AC68U in the AiMesh. I also have a RP-AC68U connected as a repeater (no AiMesh support). All hard wired.

    I have turned off 2.4GHz wireless on the 88U which acts as the host and have left it enabled on the nodes. Still some of the smart devices have difficulty in connecting and I was thinking of adding another node to the AiMesh.

    What would you recommend as my best medium cost option that would fix the 2.4GHz due to the high volume of smart devices?

    Thank you in advance!! Really appreciate your advice and support 🙂
    Allen

    Reply
  18. Hi Dong,
    I have a Asus GT-AC5300 router and the house is very big and was built with concrete and steel. The coverage is bad. Can I add a 2 pack zenwifi ct8 as wireless nodes to get a better coverage?
    Will that work in a AiMesh setup?
    Thank you
    Omar

    Reply
  19. Great read, mate.

    I have a GTAX11000 as my primary and am looking at buying two nodes to run via wired backhaul. I was looking at 2x RTAX92U’s, but was just curious, a year on from this write up, do you recommend anything else?

    They seem pretty scarce in the shops these days too 🙂

    Thanks!

    Reply
      • I’ll keep that in mind for the next upgrade. Currently disabled the 5ghz-1 channel and am using the 5ghz-2 channel so the 2x ax92u nodes run in wifi 6! 🙂

        great website!

        Reply
  20. Hello Dong. You are extremely cool!
    There is no AH55 in the list of routers recommended by you. Have you not tested it, or simply do not recommend it for use?
    Now I have two routers: RT-AX86U and RT- AX55, which work in a wireless network. Wi-Fi coverage in the house satisfies me, but I want to buy another router to increase the coverage in the yard. Therefore, I am interested in whether it will be relevant to purchase another RT-AX55?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • I assumed you meant the RT-AX55, Nykson. If so, no I haven’t tested it — and I won’t — but it should very similar to the RP-AX56 as an AiMesh satellite in terms of Wi-Fi performance. If you intend to use them in the wireless setup, using the satellite in the star topology will help. It’s best to use wired backhauling, though.

      In any case, this post on AiMesh setup will give you more info. Give it a good read.

      Reply
      • Good job Dong, very good job. A lot of useful information. I will definitely listen to your advice and connect the routers with a cable. It’s a pity that in the AiMesh network (being at a short distance) they create obstacles for each other, but we will have to put up with this.
        You’re right, I made a grammatical mistake, I’m talking about the RT-AX55. I understand that you don’t consider this model to be worth spending money on in any case?
        Thank you

        Reply
  21. Hello! I am fairly new to the mesh system, but I am moving into a two story townhouse and I currently have been running the Asus RT-AX82U in my 1 BD/ 1BTH apartment. I want to try the mesh route, but I am wondering if you think I could run the RT-AX86U, the RT-AX88U, or maybe even the GT-AX6000 with what I have? Would I be better off just replacing the RT-AX82U with one of the three instead? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Get all three if you need a large coverage, or keep the 82U as the satellite and get the GT as the primary router. In any case, start with this post in the series, follow the related posts and comment rules, and you will have ALL of your questions answered. If you don’t have time to read, well, you’ll remain “new” on the subject. 🙂

      Reply
  22. Hi Dong,

    I want to setup mesh in my apartment. Currently I have a cheap router which sits in the armored wall behind a closet. My apartment is wired so I will go for wired backhaul. I wanted to buy AXE11000/AXE16000 as a main unit (that will sit in the closed – I’m considering wires extensions so the main unit doesn’t have to sit in the wall) and 2 more units for WiFi extensions (XT9 nodes). I have 1Gbps connection. I want setup that is reliable. Is this a good combo? Won’t it be an overkill? Maybe you can recommend different combo.

    Reply
  23. Hi Dong, I currently have an AX88U and am looking to purchase another router to set up a Aimesh with a Wired back haul. In your opinion would the GT AX6000 work well with the AX88U? I currently have 800 mb service but may upgrade to to a multi gigabit in the future. I was also looking at the AX86U since it has a 2.5 gigabyte wan port too. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    Reply
  24. Hi Dong, First, fantastic site, very informative!! Second, I need to build an in-home AiMesh network with Wireless backhaul and currently have 800mb internet. I have ~20 clients (2 macbook pro’s (wifi 6), iphones (wifi 6), tv/stereo/ps5, 8 cameras, etc.). The primary node will be in the back bedroom at the cable modem (w/NAS) with one satellite in the main room and another satellite in the garage (low bandwidth – primarily for 3 cameras). I already have an ASUS RT-AX86U. I also am very comfortable configuring/troubleshooting networking hardware. After reading thru a number of your articles, I would very much appreciate your opinion on what to use as my other 2 nodes and what the config should be as to which is the primary and which are the satellites:
    • Two new RT-AX86U along with the existing RT-AX86U
    • Two new RT-AX92U’s with the RT-AX86U
    • One new primary RT-AXE7800 or 1100 or 1600 with one new and one existing RT-AX86U
    • ZenWifi Pro XT12 with the exiting RT-AX86U
    • All new config without the RT-AX86U
    I really appreciate your advice.
    Thanks, Bob

    Reply
  25. Hi Dong,

    Thank you for the great site. You were a key source when I selected a 2x AX92U configuration in 2020.

    I am acquiring another router and moving a Synology DS920+ from the primary router to a node (that I will be on) as my wife believes high NAS i/o activity is the reason the current main router goes down more than she would like for her work situation. While I’m sure I could troubleshoot this, I’m not sure if I’ll ever overcome her perception… so I’m hoping a different network config may be the easier answer and (possibly) improve my NAS interaction by wiring my workstation into the same node as the NAS.

    Earlier today I ordered an AX88U as it had 8 LAN ports vs. the 5 LAN ports on the more expensive AX11000. I then remembered your site and starting reading your articles and scouring the Q&As for my situation.

    My current AX92Us are wired/aggregated (2x1GB) and each router has two hardwired devices (primary incl NAS, node incl Zigbee & main tv). My next step is to install wiring to the new node location.

    As my setup is wired, it seems like the dual-band vs. tri-band issue doesn’t matter much or am I missing something other than having the AX-92 backhaul bands go unused? It seems like both the AX-88U and AX-11000 only support one link aggregation so I won’t be able to set entire the backplane up at 2GB but could use that for the NAS connection. The 2.5GB port in the AX-11000 seems to provide some future proofing but no current help for me. The lack of ports on the AX-11000 can be mitigated by buying a low-cost, unmanaged switch, if necessary.

    Based on what I’ve shared (incl wired backplane), do you see a reason why I should switch from the AX88U to the AX11000? If I stick with the AX88U, any reason to use it as a node instead of as the primary router?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • For the sake of consistency, Gordon, I’d recommend the GT-AX11000 (or, better yet, the Pro version) as the primary router. With wired backhauling, you can open the 5GHz-2 band for clients, and that’s a good thing since the 5Ghz-1 of the RT-AX92U is Wi-Fi 5. The RT-AX88U is insignificant, considering how cheap Gigabit switches are these days.

      Reply
  26. Hi Dong!

    Thanks a lot for the great post! I just moved to a 1,800 sqft townhouse with three floors and I’m trying to get a good coverage. I’m using ATT Fiber 1Gb network. The panel is on the third floor.

    I currently have a AX58u and want a decent coverage for my 10+ mobile devices (computers will be wired). Since I assume the ATT modem/router won’t be useful for AiMesh, I want to use AX58u as potentially main node, or a sub-node if a better main node is required. I will use wired-backhaul for all of them.

    I’m thinking of getting two/three XD4s as the budget choice (as they are going sale as $180 for 3) although three seem like an overkill. I’m also thinking getting another AX58u, or potentially a better one (AX88u for $270 or similar) so my gaming experience can be (slightly better?). What would be the budget combo that you would recommend?

    Really appreciate any tips!

    Thanks,
    Allen

    Reply
    • I’d go with what you envision, Allen, so two or three XD4 as nodes. That’d be the least expensive approach for your situation. Make sure you follow this post to set them up. Good luck!

      Reply
  27. I am using a gt-ax6000 as my main router and it covers my fairly small home quite well. I set up my old rt-ac86u as an AI-Mesh node in my detached garage to service some smart home devices I have out there. No issues using the AC node with the AX primary router but I know its slowing down my entire network. What’s the cheapest Asus AX router that wouldnt do this?

    Reply
      • Thanks! I’d run cable if I could. Garage is detached and 50′ away. Didnt think to get them to lay ethernet when they ran power. I think about trying power line adapters but not sure what I’d do on the garage end. Would still need a AP of some sort.

        Reply
        • Powerline is really slow and not worth it. Depending on the situation, you can run a cable inside a conduit. A bit of work but totally worth it.

          Reply
    • I had the same issue when I tried to use an RT-AX3000 in my garage for couple of security cameras on the front of my house. First tried the AX3000 in AiMesh mode with the GT-AX6000, got the results I expected, about 1/2 speed. So I decided that I needed a better solution for the security cams.

      The solution for me was to put the RT-AX3000 in repeater mode instead of using it in AiMesh mode. And I have only the 2.4GHz. subnet running on the AX3000, as well. That provides plenty of speed for the security cameras, and has no noticeable effect on the speed of clients that are connected to the GT-AX6000. And still doesn’t require any cabling. Very happy with this.

      Reply
  28. Hi Dong, I have an AX55 and an AC68U and am guessing I should use the former as primary and latter as node? Or is it the other way round as they are 2×2 and 3×3 respectively?

    If it makes a difference the primary will be wired and node will be wireless. Thanks!

    Reply
  29. I currently have the AT-AX86U as my main router with three (3) of hardwired XD-4s serving as the mesh web across the rest of the house. Curious if there would be any meaningful benefit from a speed/reliability/etc., perspective by swapping out the XD4s for the XD6s or would that be a relative waste of money?

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • Not really, Howie. But you can check out the reviews of the XD6 and XD4 for more on their performances — use the router units’ numbers.

      Reply
  30. I’ve got a 5 router Aimesh setup with the ac86u as the main router another as a nice + 2 ac68u and an ac66u as other nodes. They are all hard wired and work ok. recently I’ve been adding quite a lot of smart devices to the house and now have 100+ devices regularly connected to the 2.4 network via the various routers.

    I’m seeing various issues with the 2.4 network hanging or dropping which requires a main router reboot.

    – Is this setup (and specifically the ac86u main router) capable of handling 100+ devices as a mesh? (I’m wondering if I’m having memory/processor issues?)

    – Would it the any better to remove the mesh and run the node routers in AP mode?

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  31. Back again – I asked before and got a good response.

    Setup:
    1. GT-AC5300 – Master (Wired to 2)
    2. RT-AC86U (Wired to 3)
    3. RT-AC86U
    4. RT-AC68U (25 metres away and not feasible to go wired)

    On a 900 Broadband package and cannot get decent speed on the GT-AC5300, so looking to replace the Master Node and leave others alone.

    Whats the best option (No budget Limitation)

    Thanks

    Reply
  32. Dear Dong, your resources are much appreciated
    I am looking to upgrade my mesh system to take advantage of recently upgreded 500mps fibre internet connection
    I can only implement wireless only mesh, not wired, and feel the Asus’ product lines are the way to go.
    Looking at the small price difference currently between XT8 and XT9 it would seem sensible to go for an XT9 2-pack system. Given the size and layout of my building, I believe I will need 3 units, and I wondered if you could recommend a router to use with the 2 XT9 units?
    Would the R-AX92U be a sensible choice or would you recommend anything else as the main router?
    Many thanks

    Reply
  33. Thanks so much for all this detailed info – you are extremely helpful! I have a question about compatibility for the XT8 in a mesh. I have two XT8’s already setup with wired gigabit backhaul, and need another access point in a location that I also have ethernet cabling available. Buying single XT8 units is very expensive, and I am wondering what you think of them working with the XD6 or XD4, or even the XP4?

    Reply
  34. At the moment I have a 1 gigabit connection to my eero router (standard router used as a modem) which I have 1 standard eero connected wirelessly in the middle of a 4 bedroom 3 story brick built house? I get 500mbps in the same room as the router and about 60 mbps on the 3rd floor. If I was to switch over to Asus which Tri band wired router would you recommend to use with the ZenWiFi XT8 set up (ASUS RT-AX92U AX6100 maybe)? Do you think 2 of these ‘nodes’ would be enough to cover the house and small garden?

    Also should I go for a gaming router if my son uses a playstation 5? Or just plug in an ethernet cable from the ZenWiFi XT8 node to the ps5 instead.

    Lastly would you instead recommend trying a standalone router such as the Asus RT-AX89X?

    Reply
    • A router is not a modem, Colin. Check out this post.
      You should go with the XT8 among those you mentioned, but the XT112 is better. You don’t need a “gaming” router to play games — more here.
      Only you who’d know if you can use just a single router or a mesh. — More here.

      Make sure you read before posting more questions, please.

      Reply
  35. Have not seen this answered, is it best to use one’s best performing router in the client wifi position, or the router position with wifi disabled?

    I hardwired my house (cat6) homerunned to a wiring closet in the basement. Closet has 300 Mbps fiber Internet, 24 port unmanaged switch, 4 bay NAS as movie server, a NUC music server, 3 IP cams. My existing router is the Asus RT-N66U. Running OpenVPN for outside access to NAS and cameras. Wifi is disabled as the basement location makes the signal useless on the 1st floor.

    I want to upgrade the router. I presently have two routers running in access point mode on the first floor, a Netgear R7800 and an Asus RT-AC86U, just purchased last year.

    I am thinking of buying the RT-AX86U (or RT-AX82U) and turning on AiMesh. I could place this new router in the basement running as a router (running OpenVPN) and wifi disabled, since it has the most powerful processor.

    Or, should I use it as a client since it would have the best wifi perfomance. I would then move my existing RT-AC86U to the basement router position.

    Which job is best for this new router?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Check out the first article in the Related Posts box at the top of this post, Glenn. But to answer your questions, there’s no point in using higher-end hardware as a node.

      Reply
  36. Thanks for the great info!
    I wish I could read this before I struggled with my AiMesh system. Currently I am using

    1. AX88U as a host (with newest Merlin firmware)

    2. I have 7 nodes and 2 stand alone AP (All Asus, asus firmware)
    4 x AX3000, 2 x AX82U, 1 AX88U on AiMesh
    1 x AX82U, 1 x AX86U as AP

    3. I have Netgear GS348 Switcher

    at a small 5 story building with students studying mainly on the online contents. About All backhaul connected with CAT6 cables. About 10 computers / 26 CCTVs (connected with 6 PoE hubs) / 5 IP phones are wired, and 80 laptops(mixed with Chromebooks and regular ones) are wireless.

    Most of the time, I have no issues on the standalone APs.
    I do come across problems with AiMesh frequently though.

    1. All the network gets slow.
    2. Some nodes are not functioning well(slow or not allowing to connect – no internet)
    3. Roaming problems (some have lots of users connected while some have almost none)

    Theses problems started happening after about 6 months using it. I was searching for a solid solution for it and found your site. I have read almost every article you wrote and was very helpful, but I just wanted your(or other users) opinion.

    1. Is my AiMesh is too weak for the number of people connected? Seems like when more than 25 are connected on 1 node, it gets slower.

    2. Since the host is working really hard, do I have to change the host router regularly?

    3. Is there other options for my situation? I was thinking of separating all nodes into standalone APs.

    I do hope my questions are not so complicated for you.

    Thanks again for the great website!

    Jake from South Korea.

    Reply
    • Hi Jake.

      1. Move everything to Asus firmware.
      2. Use the RT-AX86u as the main router (with its 2.5Gbps port as the WAN port if you have Gigabit or faster Internet.)
      3. Use the rest as wired AiMesh nodes. (You might need to reset all the hardware and set the whole system up from scratch, but you might be able to upload the backup for the 88U to the 86U and keep most of the existing nodes.)
      4. Turn on Ethernet Backhaul Mode.

      It’ll work out fine. It’s important to note, though, that your Internet connection can be the issue — there’s only so much bandwidth. You have many users, and I don’t know how fast your Internet is. But at best, you’ll get Gigabit out of this setup — divide it by the number of users, and you’ll see how things are. So maybe you need to turn on QoS.

      Reply
      • Wow, thanks for the quick reply.

        1. Move everything to Asus firmware – I will do so.

        2. Use the RT-AX86u as the main router (with its 2.5Gbps port as the WAN port if you have Gigabit or faster Internet.) – I have 1G Internet. Still use the 2.5G port?

        3. Use the rest as wired AiMesh nodes. (You might need to reset all the hardware and set the whole system up from scratch, but you might be able to upload the backup for the 88U to the 86U and keep most of the existing nodes.)
        – So total of 9 nodes are fine with AiMesh?

        4. Turn on Ethernet Backhaul Mode. – It’s been on the whole time.

        I might have to upgrade it to 10G soon if I have problems after I re-do the system.
        I heard enabling QoS could slow down the system somewhere? What do you think?

        Jake

        Reply
        • 2. Yes, you can only get full Gigabit if you use hardware that’s faster than Gigabit — more here.
          3. Yes, you can use up to 10, including the router units. — more here.

          Read the QoS post. Make sure you read the linked posts — including those in the previous reply — before asking any more questions. If you had read this post from its beginning without skipping around, you wouldn’t have had to ask any questions. So do read!

          Reply
          • Dong,

            I worked on my system last weekend and it works just fine so far. Just to report to you and the readers,

            1. I flashed the host and the nodes to stock firmware.

            2. Backed up my settings from AX88U and restored to AX86U – I did a reset on AX86U to make the 2.5G port as WAN first – and connect the internet to 2.5G. 1G WAN works as LAN, so I connected my switch there.

            3. I connected the 2 standalone APs as nodes, so I have total of 9 nodes and 1 host.

            4. All of them are connected with CAT6 wired.

            Additionally, I turned off wireless on the host(AX86) since I have another node on the same floor expecting to reserve some more processing power on the host (not sure it helps though).

            I am testing QoS on and off to see what’s gonna happen.

            Again, thanks for your help!

  37. Thanks for all the good articles. I have a mesh network using ORBI AC3000 (RBK50) router and two RBS50 satellites. After reading a bunch of your articles, since my house is wired with ethernet, found out if I want to upgrade, I don’t have to stay with expensive ORBIs and wireless backhaul-yippee. I have ATT internet (1 gig) – no telling when I’ll get more than a gig – so I can stay “sub-gigabit” or actually 1 gigabit.

    Q1: I’m looking to upgrade to WiFi 6 and stay with mesh, so ASUS AIMesh seems like a good option. I get the impression that the best option is a router plus two satellites. Am I correct? In this case, I’m looking at one RT-AX82U and two ZenWiFi XD6s. IF there is no advantage to the router, I could stick with three ZenWiFi XD6s.

    Mike

    Reply
    • Your first choice is great, Mike. But it’s better if you go with the RT-AX86U and a 2-pack XD6 since the router has a 2.5Gbps port that can work as the WAN port — now you know you get your Gigabit in full even though you might not see that on a single client. But three XD6 will work. Make sure you follow the setup steps in this post.

      Reply
  38. Hi Dong! Really glad I found your site, great resources and answers!

    I currently have an Asus ROG Rapture GT-AC5300 as my main router, with a somewhat glitchy ZyXEL Armor X1 Extender in AP mode, connected via Cat 5e ethernet cable. It’s mostly worked well enough for a few years, but I’ve had numerous problems with the ZyXEL unit, and I’m thinking about getting another Asus router for better compatibility/reliability and the option to try out AiMesh. I might add another node at some point, as well. I believe the AC5300 has the requisite firmware that supports AiMesh 2.0.

    I also currently have a USB external hard drive connected to the AC5300, for local network storage, as well as several home entertainment devices (TV, Roku, Blu-ray player, etc.)

    I plan on keeping my ethernet backhaul, connecting all nodes with cabling. I will use the newer router as my primary router/node. As I understand it, this setup should work with nearly any combination of compatible Asus routers, but I’m primarily looking into the AX86U and the AX6000. I understand that if I get a dual-band router and use it as the primary in an AiMesh setup, I will lose the 2nd 5GHz band on the AC5300 (as a satellite node). Will I also lose access/control of my USB-connected hard drive?

    And this might be a stupid question, but will the AC5300 (as either an AiMesh satellite node or in AP mode) still function normally as a router/switch for all my home entertainment devices (TV, Blu-ray player,etc. ) connected to it? I would assume so, but I just wanted to make sure on that point.

    Thanks again!

    Reply
  39. Hello Dong, I cannot thank you enough for your time sharing all of this knowledge! I currently have an Asus ZenWiFi XT8 2 pack in a very large home with many dead spots. I just signed up for gig internet. I don’t have the time, money or energy to have my home wired (or do it myself). I plan to buy an Asus ZenWiFi XT12 Pro 2 pack & set one of those up as the main router, use the other as a node as well as the two XT8’s as nodes. From what I read here I gather this would be a an optimal set up & should work seamlessly with AiMesh. Your thoughts? I’d very much like your opinion! Thank you!
    Ken

    Reply
    • I haven’t tried the XT12 with XT8 yet, Ken, but I guess the combo will work since both support UNII-4. But if you get just the XT8 or the XT12, that will work well. You can start with a 2-pack and get more units if need be. You want the XT12 if you want to see full Gig on the client, though — more here.

      Reply
      • So your suggesting I just stick with XT-8 (buy another 2 pack)? Or scrap my existing XT-8 and go wholly with XT-12 Pro? Dang, I need 1 router + 3 nodes to get the coverage I want & I didn’t want to drop $1500+ on this (especially with the higher monthly bill coming for the gig connection). But sticking with XT-8, I will not be able to make use of the gig connection, yes? Oh boy! What have I gotten myself into! I had to beg & plead with the wife to upgrade to the gig, now I may have to tell her to cancel it! 😂😁

        Reply
  40. Dong, thanks so much for your work to create this site. I spent considerable time reading many of your posts before landing on my new wifi solution. I have sub-Gig internet (~600 Mpbs and have ethernet connections where I want to place the nodes.

    I considered many solutions before landing on the RT-AX86U as the primary router with two XD6 wired nodes. Total system for $500. Thus far, the performance is fantastic. Set-up was far simpler than I expected. I tried installing the Asus XT8 a couple of years ago and gave up and returned it (could not get the wired backhaul to work). I reverted back to my old network of three Apple Airport Extreme routers. These had a long life for me, but I now realize how much better my wifi network can be.

    Given my past trouble with Asus, I had been leaning toward the Linksys Velop AX4200 or TP-Link Deco X4300. After reading your posts I was convinced to try Asus again.

    Keep up the great work!

    Reply
  41. Hello Dong Ngo, You are a super hero. Thank you for your research and sharing of knowledge!

    I have a Cat 5 wired house with short runs and get near 1GB on my wired lan. 80ft length brick and concrete wall house at 2000 sq ft for main and basement plus a storage space. I have a deck out back and a distant garden and back yard. I want coverage especially through a few brick and concrete walls (or around them….through windows). I’m cost conscious and pragmatic. Since 2020 I have an ac86u in the central main floor and two very old netgear AP (r6400 (poor) and r7000(okay)). I want to upgrade things and realize wired backhaul is the way to go. So I want to replace my central router. I have a 1200Mbps Comcast connection so I need a 2.5mbps port for the WAN to model, correct? This would preclude the ax86u correct?

    So my logical choice it seems is to chose the GT-AX6000 since it has such good coverage and then use two ac86u or ax86u as my two remote wired APs. I put those near windows to catch the back yard. I could use my old trusty n66u for that distant 2.4G option but that can clutter the network perhaps and why not 5G.

    Since I don’t need wireless backhaul, and two 5G bands may limit channel options, and I don’t have any wifi6e devices yet…..

    Logically I should chose the AX11000 or the GT-AX6000, correct? Any concurring wisdom or guidance?

    Amazing how long my n66u lasted but I purchased the ac86u for a bargain in 2020 and its speeds have been find and a solid machine but I don’t see why I should miss out on top end ISP speed. And it seems that the GT-AX6000 really has excellent distant coverage.

    Peace sir. Thank you in advance for any comments.

    Reply
    • Your assessment is correct, Mike, and it seems just a matter of what’s the best financially. If so, I’d recommend getting the RT-AX86U (use its 2.5Gbps port as the WAN port) or the GT-AX6000, as the main router. After that, you can use some less expensive hardware as the wired satellite, like the ZenWiFi XD6.

      But you have many options- it depends on what you want the outcome. More in this post.

      Reply
  42. Hi Dong,
    Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us mere mortals!
    I recently moved into a new house which is three-story 5500+ sq. ft; and has a gigabit wired setup through a gigabit switch. I have been using RT-AC68U router as the main unit (from the old house setup) and I added the Lyra AC2200 Tri-Band Mesh system to the AiMesh as wired nodes. The three nodes are placed as: one in the basement, two on the main floor (one near the front yard, one near the backyard); my main router is on the top floor in the center covering the bedrooms. The setup is slow, unreliable, and I can’t seem to figure out why. I am thinking of upgrading, and your website was an excellent help in putting me in the right direction. Just wanted your advice on which of the below setups would make a better sense than the others:
    1. Using 4 XD6’s with wired backhaul at the 4 locations
    2. RT-AX92U/RT-AX86U as primary + two XD6’s as wired backhauls + old RT-AC68U as fourth node in basement
    3. GT-AXE11000 as primary + two ET8 as wired backhauls + old RT-AC68U as fourth node in basement
    Priority is decent speed and high reliability. Cost is a factor as I might upgrade to Multi-gig wired in a few years. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • I generally don’t comment on specific situations, Ghai. I can’t. More in this post.

      For your case, I’d recommend rereading this post. If that doesn’t help, give this one a try and those in the related box at the top of the post, too — as mentioned in the intro. You will find your answer if you pay attention. Asking me to read my own posts for you doesn’t help. Good luck! 🙂

      Reply
      • Thanks for the quick response, Dong. My hesitation/confusion stems from the fact that you haven’t reviewed ET8 in a combo setup like others in this post. That is why my post is specific. I don’t want to upgrade beyond what is necessary, but I want the setup to be reliable as well.

        Let me rephrase the question, so you don’t feel the liability. Do you think a wi-fi 6E is really necessary for a wired backhaul setup?

        Reply
        • Wi-Fi 6E (Tri-band), which is the case of the ET8, is basically the same as Dual-band Wi-Fi 6. More in this post. So I’m not sure where the notion of “necessary” you mentioned came from — it’s irrelevant.

          You need to approach the idea with an open mind that wants to learn things instead of finding quick answers. There are too many scenarios, nobody can test/check them all. But if you understand the fundamentals, you can apply that to everything.

          Pick any post I’ve linked in any reply, read it with attention, don’t skim it, and follow the linked related posts, you’ll figure things out. I mean it. There’s no easy answer, and only you can figure out what best fits your needs. And you need to know *what* you need first.

          Reply
          • TBH, I haven’t been able to clarify the confusion 100% in the last several hours I spent reading the posts, top to bottom. But your answer helps.

            I am gonna go with my gut with the 2nd option of RT-AX86U as primary + two XD6’s as wired backhauls and try it out…

  43. Good evening Dong,
    I need to update my home network. I have 600 mbps xfinity tier plan. I will be using Asus products with Aimesh. I will use your solid idea of using ethernet for backhaul. My home is 3100sqf plus basement. The Asus rt-ax92u (2 pack) has come down in price but it is a dual core processor. I am looking at the rt-ax86U (quad core) or the rt-ax86S (tri core)as the main router. I would like to use the rt-ax92u as wired nodes and one of the rt-ax86(s) as the main router. Would using the rt-ax86(s) as the main router take the stress off the dual core processors, would it be doing the main work instead of the nodes? I have read many posts of how the rt-ax92u dual core (when using only the 92u) seem to be running near capacity and some heat issues. I would appreciate your input.
    Thanks
    Rich N.

    Reply
    • I don’t evaluate routers based much on the processing power, Rich. You should direct the core-related questions to those that do. As for your other questions, this post and the linked related reviews and posts will provide answers. Give them a serious read.

      Reply
  44. First, thank you so much for posting all of these articles, especially the “explainer” articles that make understanding the terminology in the others much easier.

    After spending too much time reading, it’s time for me to finally buy. I am a clean slate, not looking to use any of my old equipment.

    My situation is a main structure that is about 3000 sq. ft. (all on one floor) and a back structure that is about 800 sq. ft. The two are separated by a patio that is about 25’ long. Both structures are fully wired to a media cabinet that is in a closet in the middle of the main structure. Internet is Google Fiber 2 gigabit service. There is a one shared drive, ~45 wireless smart home devices (switches, appliances, etc.), 3 wired TVs, 2 wired Macs, and 4 or so MacBooks / iPads / iPhones connecting wirelessly.

    I’m coming from a five-year old Plume system with three “pods” – 1 superpod and two regular pods – all connected via wired backhaul. Superpod is in media cabinet. One pod is at the front of house. One pod is in the secondary structure. It was getting the job done ok, with decent speeds. But it is going down more and more. And it has gotten to the point of needing 45 minutes to “reboot” after it goes down. It’s time for something new.

    The short version of my question is there are so many combos that differ so much in price, I am almost at a loss for which to choose. I started with the combos in the Multi-Gig AiMesh article. Then, after reading the comments there and in this article, I decided that was overkill for my setup and needs. That led me here.

    I’ve narrowed it to the following options, and I really don’t know which to choose or more importantly, if I’d even notice the difference between them:

    My first inclination was to buy two sets of xd6s and an unmanaged switch. Features and performance seem well reviewed. Cost seems fine. The lack of USB isn’t ideal, but that seems ok. Lack of multi-gig didn’t seem like a huge deal to my setup.

    Then I saw that three ax5400s would cost about the same and seemingly perform better. And honestly, I’m not sure I’d use the fourth xd6 anyway. Or maybe one ax5400 with two xd6s as nodes.

    The ax5700 with two ax5400s seems like a good solution, but I’m not quite sure what the extra money is buying me that I’d notice. Same for an ax5700 with two xd6s.

    The xd4s seem like the least expensive solution. But performance and feature ratings seems to reflect that. That said, is it such a marginal difference that I’d notice?

    Finally, the GT-AX11000 seems to be super popular in the comments and throughout your site. But it’s performance and features seem to be lower rated that the ones above.If I got it, I’d probably pair it with xd6s.

    I guess finally, finally, I could get the venerable GT-AXE16000 and add two of any of the above as nodes. It seems the only reason to do that would be for the sake of future proofing.

    Sorry for the long post with all the options. I’ve thought way too much about this. And I assume the answer is any of the above will work just fine, with only small differences.

    Also, if there is a better solution / combo that I’ve left out, please let me know. I’ve noticed your comments with your equipment and thought about just buying that. But you may have put your system together before other equipment was released, etc. So, I figured I’d ask.

    And your next cup of coffee is happily on me. I thought that link was a great idea.

    Will

    Reply
    • AX5400 is not a model name, Will, so nobody knows which one you were referring to. For your case, get the RT-AX86U as the main router and two XD6 as the satellite nodes. You will need to follow the setup guide to add them up as a system. Good luck! And thanks for the coffee! 🙂

      Reply
      • Happy to buy the coffee. Least I can do for the advice.

        And thanks for the advice. I appreciate it very much.

        I have everything saved on Amazon. When I said ax5400, I was referring to the ASUS ROG Strix AX5400. It’s number 15 in your article. Sorry for the confusion if I used the wrong shorthand.

        And thanks again. I can finally make the buy and stop thinking about this.

        Will

        Reply
        • Got it, you can use the GS-AX5400, or the RT-AX82U, in the place of the RT-AX86U I mentioned. I haven’t tried the particular combos but I’m pretty sure they’ll work out well. Again, note that you have to add the ZenWiFi hardware one at a time with the other turned off, but follow the setup guide for details. Have fun, Will!

          Reply
          • Dong, thanks again. I took your advice, with a slight variation given a recent review on here and trying to put all the info together myself.

            I got an Asus ROG gt-ax6000 and a pair of Zen XD6s. The variation was the gt-ax6000 instead of the RT-AX86u. It should all be here Saturday.

            I’ve read your article on setting it all up.

            I can’t thank you enough for the help! I’ll let you know how setup goes and how it all works for me.

            Will

  45. This is all very good info. I found this article after my latest purchase. The GT-AXE16000. I bought it for it’s dual wan capability. I’m running Spectrum Fiber and ATT Fiber.

    I wasn’t sure I would need a second node for my home, but have decided I do. I don’t have the capability for wired backhaul now, but will in the future. I am also not sure if wired backhaul is possible when doing the dual lan. I still have one 10Gbps port open, but didn’t know if grabbing one for the second wan would affect anything. I am trying to avoid a second AXE16000 if I can. What would be your recommendation for a second node in this case?

    Reply
  46. I have an RT-AC68U. Tried adding a linksys repeater to improve signal at other side of my 1400 sqft apartment and hopefully reach out to the carport on 2.4 at least (barely reached). Switching between SSIDs while in apt. was not smooth enough.
    Looking at either adding as aimesh, an RP-AC1900–which I understand is essentially the same as my router and (based on your article) leads me to believe would be most stable and likely to succeed– or a Blue cave which I’m finding at nearly half the price.
    Which would you recommend and with that combo, should I use my current router as the primary or the new? My setup is not ideal. The primary is on one side of the apt. and the node will be in bedroom/office closer to (but likely beyond) the center of the apt. The carport is basically on a straight line further away, but not a big priority.

    Reply
      • Thanks for replying. Worried my post was near borderline rule-breaking. You did not specify whether to use the Blue Cave as my primary.
        I presume from your article that it should be. Further research turned up that the ac68u is 3×3. But there are two reasons I still wonder whether ac68u should be primary:
        1. VPN (which I don’t yet take advantage of, anyhow).
        2. If the node’s bandwidth will be effectively cut in half without wired backhaul (kicking myself for not having them run a cable during remodel), wouldn’t it be best when connected to node? In other words, performance from node will closer resemble my current speed vs half of current.
        Thanks again. If I can figure out how to backup and transfer my settings, I will try setting it up as primary right now

        Reply
  47. Hi Dong,

    I have an ROG AX5400 and am considering buying an AX92U 2-pack for a wireless AiMesh. My intent is to use one of the AX92U units as a primary and the second AX92U and the AX5400 as nodes.

    The AX5400 would be positioned at the furthest point of my apartment and be used for devices wired into it as well as expand the reach of the 2.4ghz signal for my IoT devices in that part of the apartment.

    The node AX92U would be situated at the midway between the primary AX92U and the AX5400. That the AX98U units are tri-band while the AX5400 is dual-band gives me some pause.

    What issues would you see arise from this mesh setup? What would you do differently? Please keep in mind that a wired backhaul isn’t really an option at this time.

    Thanks in advance,
    Mikhail

    Reply
  48. Hi Dong-I have been considering the XD6 based on your reviews for our house which is wired. Would the better setup be three XD6 units or could I pair the GT-AX6000 with two XD6 satellites? Connection is centurylink gigabit fiber. Thanks!

    Reply
  49. Hi Dong,
    My I have a backhauled AiMesh setup with three asus rt ac86u routers. Unfortunately 1 of the routers just died. Which model would you recommend to replace the dead router?
    Thanks in advanced!

    Reply
  50. Hi Dong,

    Quick question. I currently have a RT-AX3000 and 300Mbps internet service. About half of my house is wired for gigabit as I use a lot of internal Plex steaming, etc. I would like to place a second router in the corner of my house where wiring is not possible to strengthen either the wifi signal or to create another ethernet port that I can feed a separate switch for those two bedrooms. Do you recommend a 2nd RT-AX3000 or something else for me?

    Reply
      • Thanks for the reply. I’m actually looking now into purchasing 2 qty of the AX3000. I didn’t see this specific scenario, throughout your great site, but is it possible/efficient to connect one router as wired and the other as wireless? I understand that the wired is much much better. I’m just wondering if this is possible and supported by the aimesh system?

        Reply
          • Thanks Dong! Quick follow up, since I need two, I’m looking at the rt-x92u bundle instead. Assuming these may be a better value for my investment, would this improve or change what I plan to do? In this scenario, I assume I should use one x92u as the primary. The second x92u will be my wireless mode upstairs, and my ax3000 will be a wired node. What do you think? Am I complicating this too much by mixing the dual and tri band routers?

            Thanks so much!

  51. Hello Dong, this is a great site and I spent the last three days reading everything I can find on this topic. First of all, I already own an Asus AX3000 Dual Band router and love it, but I just moved into a new house and trying to figure out how to run cat6 ethernet into each bedroom. However, running ethernet cable from my new basement to the 2nd floor is near impossible. So I was looking into a pair of the tri-band XT8 routers, one upstairs, and one downstairs. Will I then be able to then run cat 6 wires from each XT8 router into a switch or two so I can continue to wire the upstairs bedrooms as I intended to? If I do something similar to what you listed above regarding using AP mode, could I somehow leverage my AX3000 in this setup as well? Thanks again for this great site!

    Reply
  52. I need a wired mesh setup due to my new larger house/property and the need for better range. I currently have an AX88U. I have gigabit fiber service to my house, a NAS using 2 aggregated LAN ports, and a few other hardwired devices. I’m leaning towards turning the AX88U into a node, and getting one of the new 6e routers, either the AXE16000 or AXE11000. Curious if the 160000 is worth the extra $150 as it will be paired to the AX88u. Thanks!

    Reply
    • I’d recommend the AXE16000 over the AXE11000, Caesar. However, in your case, they will likely deliver similar experiences in terms of performance. If you want to save money, get the RT-AX86U instead. That’s the best bang for your buck.

      Reply
  53. Hi Dong,

    Great site and info. Thanks for sharing this with the public.

    I want a stable mesh network but also a strong wired connection with my main pc. I am thinking getting the RT-AX86U as the main router for the multi-gig support.

    Is it possible to connect my main PC with the 2.5g port. And use another 1g port with an AiMesh node? or does it need to be connect via 2.5g. I need wired backhauling.

    I prefer stability over speed. What AiMesh nodes would you recommend?

    To summarize, cable speed to main pc is most important. After that stability. After that “future proof”. After that cost. After that WiFi speed.

    Thanks!

    Reply
      • Hi Dong,

        Thank you so much for all your work & posting Information for us!

        Quick question:

        Recommendation at a secondary router/satellite node to work with my RT-AX88U (as a primary)? It will be wired.

        Thanks again!

        Reply
  54. Hello Dong,

    I had 3 RT-AX55 routers.
    1 used as main router
    2 used as nodes using wired ethernet backhole (each one individually)

    The problem with both the nodes was that after a few weeks they lost connection. I had to reset them completely and assign them as nodes all over again. This happenend every few weeks, so I sent them back to where I bought them.

    The reason I tell this, is because I didn’t see this combo in your test. It also might be important for other people who would buy the same combo.

    It would be interesting if someone else with the same set-up could share their experiance.

    Reply
  55. Hi Dong,

    Which one will you suggest?
    -ASUS RT-92U AX6100 2 pack or
    -Linksys Velop MX4200 2 pack?

    I can get both at similar price ($260 now)
    My internet is 600MB, and I can wired them together as mesh.

    When I read the spec. the RT92U has only 1 ax radio and the other 2 are only ac and n,
    while Linksys MX4200 have all ax on all 3 radios.

    Does that means I can have a more stable speed with Linksys?

    ASUS RT92U
    • 4804 Mbps – 4SS 5GHz 802.11ax (160MHz chan.),
    • 867 Mbps – 2SS 5GHz 802.11ac (80MHz chan.),
    • 400 Mbps – 2SS 2.4GHz 802.11n (40MHz chan.) = AX6100 class

    Linksys MX4200
    • 2402 Mbps – 4SS 5GHz 802.11ax (80MHz chan.)
    • 1201 Mbps – 2SS 5GHz 802.11ax (80MHz chan.)
    • 574 Mbps – 2SS 2.4GHz 802.11ax (40MHz chan.) = AX4200 class

    Reply
    • I’d go with the Asus, and open it Wi-Fi 6 band to clients, read the reviews for more. Don’t get too hung up on the specs.

      Reply
  56. Thank you Dong for the informative posts.
    I’d appreciate some advice on my home upgrade.
    I currently have an old AC1900 RT-AC68U to cover whole home. However signal is very poor in the upstairs bedrooms (concrete walls)
    For compatibility & price, I was thinking of upgrading to AC86U as main router and using the old 68u as a wireless satellite node if the 86u does not improve the coverage upstairs.
    Wired backhaul is unfortunately not possible.
    Is there any advantage going with AX86 or AX88 instead of AC86 as main router given the majority of equipment on the network is Wi-Fi 5?
    Similarly, would there be any benefit in upgrading system to newer Zen Wi-Fi XD6 (hub & satellite)? XT8 looks like better solution though is too costly.
    From what I can gather based on your posts, the additional cost for newer Wi-Fi 6 options may not be very beneficial in my case. (Basic home use with 10-15 devices and max 1000Mbps fibre to home).
    What would you recommend:
    1/ AC86u (with AC68u if required)
    2/ AX86 or AX88 (with AC68u if required)
    3/ XD-6 (2 pack)
    4/ other cost effective option?
    Thank you for your feedback

    Reply
    • You can try any of those options, but you should generally use routers of the same Wi-Fi standard. Note, though:

      1. Depending on how the concrete wall is, none of them will help much. You’d still get a slow Internet connection (despite having a full-bar Wi-Fi signal upstairs.) More in this post.
      2. Your home is not “basic”, it’s as demanding as any home, if not more demanding than most.
      3. Running a cable is a must, it’s the only way in your case.

      Reply
      • Dong – Thank you for the quick response
        Whilst I appreciate that wired backhaul is by far the best option it’s unfortunately the most impractical in this instance.
        I understand that the beam strength/coverage can be quite site specific though is there a particular model router I could expect better signal from to use at the hub?
        If I cannot get a suitably strong wireless signal from the hub to the satellite, I may have to try a powerline extender.
        Under this scenario – and understanding that powerline in general is slow, unpredictable and may not even work – would it make sense to use a kit with built-in Wi-Fi or to use non Wi-Fi extender and connect my old AC68u to the extender in the bedroom?
        Not ideal though possibly better than my current setup
        Thank you

        Reply
        • I don’t have specific answers, Paul. It’s really impossible to know from afar. Try one and find out. Follow my suggestions in the post linked in the previous reply.

          Reply
  57. Hi Dong, I have a AC88U which is now 6 years old, and perhaps showing its age. I want to upgrade my network, and was looking at GT-AX6000, ASUS RT-AX89X, or GT-AX11000 &/or its expensive brother GT-AXE11000.

    My network bands 2.4Ghz are crowded with ‘smart devices’ maybe 6-8 of them, and my 5Ghz is also crowded with (6-8) devices + 4: 1/100 & 1/1000 plugged in. My current only Wifi 6 device is my iPhone 12, but need to look to the future. I 4K stream allot, but dont necessary ‘game’ – i know my routers are mostly gaming choices. Having a 2.5G or 10G port isnt a must, but could be useful as I am now using Cloud NAS (AWS), as opposed to local NAS.

    What I am looking for is strong radio antenna’s that can manage at least 20 devices on my network, with strong coverage (2000sq), I like QoS function for priority, firewall/anti (as standard) and having a VPN on the device is great, but find they significantly degrade speeds compared to client apps on Shield (at least on the AC88U) .

    I could/would maybe use the AIMESH using the old AC88U (for while), but a backhaul wire may be challenging (unless I use a 1GB powerline) option.

    That being said what would you suggest. I saw some of these ‘new routers’ manage the 2.4Ghz bands poorly, which would defeat my upgrade purpose (somewhat). I do like ASUS, but could be tempted to other brands. Any advice on what I should pick?

    Reply
  58. Hi Dong, thank you firstly for this treasure trove of information.

    But if you could assist me in understanding.

    Under your section “Rules in mixing hardware” I’m getting lost on the terminology when you say “primary node”, “node” and “satellite”.

    For example, I’d like to take the RT-AX68U path you proposed above.

    But I’m trying to work out the network configuration.

    So from the broadband providers modem, you connect to a WAN port of the RT-AX68U. This is what you call the Primary node?

    Then I could use another RT-AX68U as a downstream Node? This would also be a wired connection. Which ports of each device would I connect to? An LAN of the Primary node and the WAN port of the downstream Node?

    I currently have a RT-AC87U, which I know isn’t Aimesh compatible, but could it be used as an AP or what you class as a Satellite in your terminology above?

    Lastly, doesn’t eh AiMesh system have some degree of self-configuration once 2 AiMesh models see each other?

    Sorry for all the noob questions, but I want to make sure my purchases will work with each other and how they go together.

    Regards
    Brad

    Reply
    • More on that in this post, Brad. But

      1. Router, primary router (or primary node): That’s the main router of your mesh system.
      2. A satellite node (or node): A device that extends the Wi-Fi network within your system — more in this post.

      I think you’re confused because you’re, like many, still at the stage of not caring/knowing know what is what. You’ve probably read too many articles with nonsensical terminologies, hype, and “advice” from popular tech sites. (There’s no such thing as “downstream node,” by the way.) I’d recommend starting with this explainer post, things will be clear when you’re through with it. Also, make sure you follow the related posts/links. They are there for a reason.

      Reply
      • Hi Dong, thanks for the response. I’ve done more homework based on your feedback.

        As I’m on a budget, I’ve looked at your list, being a little expensive I’ve ventured into older models:

        I’d like to deploy 3 nodes around the house/garage.

        Primary Node: RT-AX55U (AUD$170)
        802.11a : up to 54 Mbps
        802.11b : up to 11 Mbps
        802.11g : up to 54 Mbps
        WiFi 4 (802.11n) : up to 300 Mbps
        WiFi 5 (802.11ac) : up to 867 Mbps
        WiFi 6 (802.11ax) (2.4GHz) : up to 574 Mbps
        WiFi 6 (802.11ax) (5GHz) : up to 1201 Mbps

        Satellite Nodes: RT-AC59U V2 (AUD$109)
        802.11a : up to 54 Mbps
        802.11b : up to 11 Mbps
        802.11g : up to 54 Mbps
        802.11n : up to 600 Mbps
        802.11ac (5GHz) : up to 867 Mbps

        Although for around the same money ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 could give me presence in 3 locations.

        802.11a : up to 54 Mbps
        802.11b : up to 11 Mbps
        802.11g : up to 54 Mbps
        WiFi 4 (802.11n) : up to 300 Mbps
        WiFi 5 (802.11ac) : up to 867 Mbps
        WiFi 6 (802.11ax) (2.4GHz) : up to 574 Mbps
        WiFi 6 (802.11ax) (5GHz) : up to 1201 Mbps

        In both scenarios they will use Ethernet Backhaul.

        I can see the major advantage of the Zen Wifi is WiFi 6 in all locations, but that’s not my main goal.

        Can you advise on my 2 suggestions? Performance, drawbacks?

        Thanks again.

        Brad

        Reply
  59. The setup I have for the last couple of months is the following:
    GT-AX11000 – Wi-Fi 6, Triband
    TUF Gaming AX5400 x2 – Wi-Fi 6, Dual Band
    RT-AX55 x2 – Wi-Fi 6, Dual Band

    My house is quite long with thick walls so during the summer I installed Cat 8 cables (serious overkill, I like futureproofing) all over the house, ports in most rooms so I connect the AiMesh via ethernet Backhaul, and I have to say it is the strongest and most reliable internet I have ever come accross in a residential home. I have a long ethernet cable going outside underground to our sheds to one of the AX55’s and and an access point (Cheap TP Link AP, struggle to find outdoor Asus AiMesh AP) on the roof sending up to around 150mbs over 250 meters away for camera’s etc. The seconnd 5GHz network from the AX1000 is used for gaming and file transfers to and from the cloud, this router is placed centrally in the house for these purposes. When I’m not working then the 2.4 and other 5ghz networks are everywhere else for any device. No problems with the second 5ghz network not being spread through the AiMesh because of the dual band nodes. We have approx 80-90 devices connected at all times. Flawless performance.

    Recently I installed a full ubiquiti network in my home as I thought I would further improve it. But it didn’t by a long shot, the phrase, you cant improve on perfection comes to mind. I returned it all the same week.

    I have also used my AiMesh setup wirelessly as well to compare and it still pushed out 750mbs everywhere (apart from outside obviously) from my gigabit connection.

    No matter what you do or how your house is layed out, I highly recommend using ethernet backhaul, Install it, or hire someone to do it if you can’t. You simply can’t go wrong.

    Rant complete!

    Reply
  60. HI Dong,

    Could you comment on wired mesh versus wired access point configuration. I have two RT-AC68U routers, with one set up as an access point for a dead zone, running Merlin. Seems to work but am wondering if handoffs would be smoother moving from one zone to the other.
    Thanks,

    Reply
  61. Hello Dong,

    I am about to get google fiber multigig services and am going to use the RT-AX6000 as my primary and was thinking to AiMesh two AX92U in a ethernet backhaul. The reason I am going with the RT-AX6000 is its dual wan/lan 2.5g ports and the Asus brand for the QOS control and Parental controls. Luckily I will also be utilizing a 2.5g switch with this setup using the full potential of that extra 2.5g LAN port.

    The question I have for you is what features will I be limited to while using the AX92U’s as my mesh routers? I am assuming just the AX92U second 5-GHz band?
    One thing to note that I am not worried about the best wifi speeds as I prefer to use hardwire when gaming or downloading.

    Reply
  62. Hi Dong,

    I have an AX-86U. I want to extend my wireless system. Do you have any recommendations for a decent device with a good price?

    Reply
      • Hi Dong,

        Thanks for your reply. It is kinda hard and expensive to run a network cables system here. I prefer to use a wireless mesh system. are those mentioned devices still good options? And, which one should be the main router, and which one is the satellite?

        Reply
          • Hi Dong
            Thanks for the great posts.
            I am using an AX 92u mesh setup with 2 units. It seems the 5ghz-2\802.11ax is only available on one of the bands and only for backhaul. When I try to connect my wifi 6 compatible smartphone to that band, speeds drop. I also recently purchased tplink W7200 which seems to be using 802.11ax on all three bands. Is that correct?

          • With non dedicated backhaul, when I connect my phone to the 5ghz-2 bandwidth, speeds are slower. Likely because of its small range.

  63. Thank you for the excellent article! I have a dual XT8 wireless setup in a 2×1300 sq ft house. Had to place the primary node in one corner of the house as I have the internet input there. I have a good reception in the surrounding rooms, and as the second node is below it the coverage is ok at the lower floor as well.

    I still have some coverage issues on the floor with the main node – I get poor reception on the other side of the house, with a Google Chromecast unit loosing connection occasionally.

    Is there any cheaper option for a reliable 3rd wireless unit other than an additional XT8 to place in that area? AFAIK the Chromecast would require only about ~50 Mbps tops for 4K streaming, can I “risk” to add a cheaper dual-band Wifi 6 unit like the AX55? Or is it worth to try mixing the tri-band routers with an AX92U, I could buy that one for about 30% cheaper than the XT8.

    Reply
  64. I have a GT-AC5300and an existing RT-AC68U in mesh mode (wireless).

    Would adding another RT-AC68U be the best option to extend coverage?

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • I don’t know about “best” since I haven’t tried the exact combo, but it should work as well as the current setup, Andy. For really the best result, though, you should run a network cable or two for wired backhaul.

      Reply
  65. hi Dong, Will it be work if i setup 2 x Asus XD6 with mesh and add a TPLink AX6000 (my old router) as AP?
    i’m re-using the old router as AP if the mesh can’t cover the area across 4 storeys. Or will it be better just to use only AP mode if i need to use all 3 routers?

    Reply
      • hi, i realised i need more LAN ports at the main node and my current tplink ax6000 has enough. In your opinon, which is a better setup:
        1. tplink AX6000 + 2 x Asus XD6 (as AP)
        2. tplink AX6000 + 2 x tplink ax73 or deco x60
        3. asus AX82u + 2 x Asus XD6 (most costly as all will be new)
        or any other suggestions?
        Thanks!

        Reply
        • Assuming your place is wired, I’d go with #3, K. Get a switch if you need more ports. Gigabit switches are very affordable these days.

          Reply
  66. Hi Dong, thanks so much for all the info – it’s super helpful!

    I’ve currently got an AX88u as my main router and it’s really great. However the range is not quite good enough to reach my extension at full speed so I’m currently thinking about expanding my network using a wireless only aimesh setup (yes I know, not the best especially given it’s dual band and no dedicated wireless backhaul but it’s the only decent option as I can’t get my home wired at the moment and I think I would still get better performance using this than powerline adapters, especially given I’m in an old property and my extension has a different power circuit to the rest of the house).

    I wanted to see whether you had any views on what would happen if I added an aimesh router (maybe another ax88u) as a node wirelessly (with no dedicated wireless backhaul given dual band only) but then plugging in all the devices needing to connect to the node via ethernet gigabit LAN. Would that prevent any of the performance loss given that it would only have to send wireless signals and not receive them, effectively functioning as a wireless bridge? To be clear, the 5Ghz band on the node would function as a backhaul to the main router and as a usable network but no devices would connect to it in the extension. If I do in the future have any wireless devices in the extension I’d connect them to the 2.4Ghz band only (having split 5ghz and 2.4ghz networks) to give maximum bandwidth to the 5Ghz backhaul and the ethernet devices in the extension.

    What do you think?

    Reply
    • Sure, Jake.

      It’s all about specificities, so I can’t say much. However, first of all, you should check out this post on the mesh to know how to arrange the hardware in a wireless setup. With that, you need to use the 2nd unit as an AiMesh node if you want the best coverage — you can place it between the main router and the area that needs better Wi-Fi. But in this case, it’s hard to use network cables to hook your far devices to it, and there’s no way to not make its Wi-Fi unavailable to clients. But generally, it should work.

      Alternatively, you can use the 2nd unit in bridge mode — it’s now a Wi-Fi-to-Wired adapter. In this case, you can make the 5GHz band work solely as the backhaul for wired clients. But you must place it near the clients themselves, which might be restrictive in terms of placement.

      It’s best to run a network cable, but you already know that.

      Reply
  67. Hi Dong.
    You said to consider using the node as an Access Point. But wouldn’t I have the problem of being close to a router and my cell phone still being connected to another router farther away with worse signal?
    Do you think it’s better to use the same ssid for AP?
    Thank you

    Reply