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

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

When through, chances are you’ll be able to build yourself a flexible, feature-laden, privacy-friendly Wi-Fi solution that’s also well-performing and reliable.

Unlike popular canned mesh systems — like the eero, Netgear Orbi, TP-Link Deco, or Linksys Velop — AiMesh can be a bit hard to set up and use.

Popular home mesh brands and how they differentiate from one another

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

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

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

Dong’s note: I first published this piece on February 28, 2021, and last updated it on February 11, 2022, to add more relevant information.

Asus RT AX89X AiMesh Node
An AiMesh system has lots of flexibility.

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

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

AiMesh hardware

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

Extra: Current AiMesh broadcasters

Note: This extra content was originally published in the AiMesh overview post.

Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) AiMesh broadcasters

Most of these are legacy broadcasters that might not support the latest version of AiMesh.

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

These non-complete lists only include the latest broadcasters already covered on this website.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

After trying out two GT-AXE11000 units, the 2-pack ZenWiFi ET8, and a combo of these two, I can say for sure that you can’t count on the 6GHz band as backhaul in an AiMesh setup at all. Its range is just too short.

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

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


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

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

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

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

Finally, wired backhauling is generally recommended if you use Wi-Fi 6E hardware — such as the GT-AXE11000, or the ZenWiFi ET8.

Here’s how to wire your home with network cables (almost) like a pro

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

In most cases, using dual-band hardware works, too. However, you will get only 50 percent of the satellite (node) unit’s speed due to signal loss.

So, if you don’t need the node’s top Wi-Fi speed, then dual-band hardware will do. The key is what type of performance you want.


Avoid mixing hardware

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

However, that’s not a must, and also not economical. Sometimes, you want to mix a router with the best feature set with a more affordable node. In this case, you’ll get the Wi-Fi performance at each mesh unit according to its specs.

Wired backhauling gives you more flexibility. But in a fully wireless system, it’s best to avoid broadcasters of the different Wi-Fi standards (*) and even performance tiers.

(*) Applicable to different standards that share the same frequency band, such as the case of Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5 which both use the 5GHz band but in different ways.

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

Rules for mixing hardware

If you have broadcasters of different Wi-Fi standards or Wi-Fi performance tiers — often the case when you buy a new router and want to keep the old one as part of a mesh — keep the following in mind:

  1. Use wired backhauling: A mix of wired and wireless backhaul is still better than full wireless. In this case, the primary router unit should be wired to the first node, but you can also wire just the nodes together.
  2. Pick the best router for the primary node (this is the device that decides the features of your network):
    • It should be one of the highest Wi-Fi tiers, measured in the number of streams (4×4, 3×3, 2×2, etc.).
    • It’s the one with the most bands. So, pick the tri-band instead of the dual-band if you have both.
    • Use the latest router with the most feature. So pick the Wi-Fi 6 router if you also have Wi-Fi 5 broadcasters.
  3. Pick the right nodes (you generally have little or no control over the node’s features or settings):
    • Wireless backhaul:
      • When possible use the primary router and the satellite node of the same Wi-Fi standards and tier. If not, pick a node that has the same Wi-Fi standard or tier as the router on the backhaul band (5GHz).
      • When mixing Wi-Fi standards (Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 5) you have to use the higher standard hardware in the compatibility mode. Else, they can’t connect reliably, if at all. (Even then they still might not work well together.)
      • When mixing (traditional) Tri-band and Dual-band hardware, note that a Tri-band router’s dedicated backhaul band (5GHz-2) is not available to a Dual-band satellite, which will connect to the router’s 5GHz-1 or 2.4Ghz band as backhaul. In the reversed roles, a Tri-band satellite’s second 5GHz band (5GHz-2) is not used at all.
    • Wired backhaul: Use (dual-band) nodes with the performance (when working as a standalone router) of your choice. (The AP mode mentioned in #5 below gives you more options.)
  4. Expect some bugs: Since there are so many possible combos, mixing hardware arbitrarily likely will result in unexpected bugs. This is especially true when you use a fully wireless setup. Again, think about running network cables!
  5. AP mode (applicable only to a wired home): Consider using a node as a standard access point (AP). While this setup will not give you a real mesh system — you can’t control the AP’s Wi-Fi settings via the main router — it’ll give you excellent performance, reliability, and more control. Specifically:
    • You can take full control of the satellite hardware, including some extra features available in the AP mode (Wi-Fi settings, USB-related, lighting, and others).
    • If your primary router is a Dual-band and the AiMesh satellite is a traditional Tri-band, you can then use the node’s 5GHz-2 band, which is not available in the AiMesh mode.
    • You can use a third-party router (or AP) or a non-AiMesh Asus router, such as the RT-AC3200.

With that out of the way, below are my experience with certain AiMesh combos.

AiMesh has gone Multi-Gig wired backhaul

For all mesh networks with wireless or Gigabit wired backhauling, you’ll generally get the 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

Best AiMesh routers and combos: The battle-tested list

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

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

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

16. ZenWiFi XD6

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

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

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

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 XD4, 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 4×4 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 satellite 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 6 System 11
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

AiMesh 2.0 fully supported

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

Compact design

Presynced hardware, 160Mhz support

Cons

No Multi-Gig or Link aggregation

No USB port


15. 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 terms of 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 in terms of hardware specs while looking totally different. On the other hand, the GS-AX5400 and GS-AX3000 look exactly 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 in the case of 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 4×4 5GHz band, namely itself.
    • Wired: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with the initial firmware.
  • Nodes I’ve used: Themselves, RT-AX86U, RT-AX82U.

Asus ROG STRIX GS-AX5400's Rating

8.8 out of 10
Asus ROG STRIX GS AX5400 Gaming Router 3
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


14. RP-AX56

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

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

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

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

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable).
  • Recommended router:
    • Wireless: Dual-band 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 routers without the use of DFS or 160MHz channel width.
    • Wired: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 routers. AP mode is available.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes, with a system-wide Guest network (with the latest firmware.)
  • Routers I’ve tried: RT-AX82U, RT-AX3000, RT-AX89X.

Asus RP-AX56 Repeater's Rating

8.4 out of 10
Asus RP AX56 AX1800 Dual Band Wi Fi 6 Repeaters Left Side
Performance
8.5 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 with good coverage

Can work as an Access Point, a Media Bridge, an Extender, or an AiMesh node (via wireless or wired backhaul)

Convenient design, excellent web interface

Cons

No 160MHz bandwidth, modest specs

The Initial firmware is a bit buggy (at launch)

Bulky for a snap-on device


13. RT-AX68U

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

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

Notes on using AiMesh:

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

Asus RT-AX68U's Rating

8.9 out of 10
Asus RT AX68U
Performance
8.5 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 storage device

Comparatively affordable

Cons

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

Not wall-mountable


12. RT-AX86U

The Asus RT-AX86U is an Excellent Gaming Router
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The Asus RT-AX86U is an excellent AiMesh host

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

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

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable when using same-tier routers).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers with a 4×4 5GHz band.
    • Wired: Any Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41535.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX86U, RT-AX82U, RT-AX88U, RT-AX58U, RP-AX56, ZenWiFi XD4, GS-AX5400, and GS-AX3000.

Asus RT-AX86U's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus RT AX86U 12
Performance
9 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 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


11. RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

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


10. RT-AX82U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable when using same-tier routers).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 routers with a 4×4 5GHz band.
    • Wired: Any Dual-band Wi-Fi 5 or Wi-Fi 6 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with firmware version 3.0.0.4.386.41700.
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX86U, RT-AX58U, ZenWiFi XD4, RT-AC86U, GS-AX5400, and GS-AX3000.

Asus RT-AX82U's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus RT AX82U 19
Performance
8.5 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


9. RT-AX89X

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

The Asus RT-AX89X is quite different since it’s the only Wi-Fi 6 router on this list that uses a Qualcomm chip. As a result, it doesn’t have the best support for AiMesh — it works best as a standalone router.

But if you’re building a wired network, it can still work as an excellent host. In fact, when coupled with the RT-AX86U (as a satellite), the RT-AX89X is one of the best router options to build a Multi-Gig AiMesh network.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired only. I didn’t have a good experience using this router in a wireless AiMesh setup.
  • Recommended nodes: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes with a system-wide Guest network (via the latest firmware).
  • Nodes I’ve used: RT-AX88U, RT-AX58U, ZenWiFi XD4, RT-AC86U, GS-AX5400, and GS-AX3000.

Asus RT-AX89X's Rating

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

Pros

Excellent Wi-Fi performance

Uniquely cool design with two 10Gbps network ports

Eight Gigabit network ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation

Super-fast network-attached storage speed when coupled with an external drive

Tons of useful features, including free-for-life real-time online protection and AiMesh

Cons

A bit buggy at launch, relatively expensive

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

Web interface needs work

Not wall-mountable, no universal backup restoration


8. RT-AX88U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus RT-AX88U's Rating

8.4 out of 10
RT AX88U 2
Performance
8.5 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)


7. RT-AX92U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

ASUS RT-AX92U's Rating

8.5 out of 10
Asus RT AX92U Cuteness
Performance
8.5 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


6. GT-AX11000

Asus GT AX11000 2
Best AiMesh Router Combos: The Asus GT-AX11000 is a massive Wi-Fi 6 router.

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus GT-AX11000's Rating

8.3 out of 10
Asus AX11000 Top 1
Performance
8 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


5. ZenWiFi AX XT8

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

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

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

Important note: Unless you have issues, don’t update to a new firmware immediately. Instead, wait for a subsequent version. When running into problems after an update, revert to the previous firmware version.

Notes on AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (with caution) or wireless (recommended).
  • Recommended nodes: Itself.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (vis latest firmware). with system-wide Guest network.
  • Nodes I’ve used: 2-pack set.

Asus ZenWiFi XT8's Rating

8.9 out of 10
ZenWiFi AX
Performance
8.5 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 4×4 dedicated backhaul band with optional wired backhaul support

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

Cons

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

No Multi-Gig LAN port or LAN link aggregation

Only four network ports on each hardware unit

Firmware can be buggy, especially via wired backhaul

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


4. ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4's Rating

8.1 out of 10
Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 Mesh System 12
Performance
8 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
7.5 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

Reliable performance

Improved AiMesh feature

Guest networking works throughout the system

Useful network settings and feature

Cons

No dedicated backhaul band or 160MHz channel width support

No multi-gig port, Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation

Stripped-down, borderline useless QoS and Parental Control features

Limited number of network ports, switch needed for a complete wired backhaul setup

Non-pre-synced hardware, not wall-mountable


3. ZenWiFi AC CT8

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus ZenWiFi AC CT8's Rating

8.3 out of 10
ZenWiFi AC CT8 Top
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
7.5 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

Significantly improved AiMesh feature

Fast performance, excellent Wi-Fi coverage

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

Fast dedicated backhaul, wired backhaul supported

Helpful mobile app

Cons

The web user interface doesn't always work as intended (bugs)

Only 3 LAN ports per router

Not enough setting instructions

Guest networking still has issues

The combo of buggy firmware and auto-update


2. RT-AC88U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus RT-AC88U's Rating

9 out of 10
Asus RT AC88U 1
Performance
9 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 with excellent coverage

Tons of valuable features, including the ability to guard the network against online threats

Eight LAN ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation

Excellent support for Asus's AiMesh

Merlin firmware support

Cons

Awkwardly placed USB 3.0 ports

Slow network storage speed when coupled with an external hard drive


1. RT-AC86U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus RT-AC86U's Rating

8.4 out of 10
Asus6
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
8 out of 10
Design and Setup
8 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

Excellent performance both as a single router and as part of an AiMesh system

AiProtection security for the entire network

Plenty of useful features for home users as well as gamers

Can be restored using backup files of other Asus routers

Cons

No extra network ports like other high-end Asus routers

Not wall mountable


The takeaway

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

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

The key is not to mess around too much when everything is working. Keep that in mind, especially when you choose to use the Asus mobile app.

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

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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!

  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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…

  12. 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
  13. 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

  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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!

  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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.

  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. 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
  35. 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
  36. 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
  37. ##if you have wired your home, there’s no need to use traditional tri-band hardware##
    1) isn’t tri-band hardware better to connect users to different bands at the same time?

    Reply
  38. ##if you have wired your home, there’s no need to use traditional tri-band hardware##
    aren’t those bands also used by client hardware(smartphone, PCs, etc) to communicate?

    Reply
      • thanks for answering and congratulation on making so many good articles.
        1) I have read that article before writing my question. but even if I have read it slowly and googled for many of the terms that I found in the article, I am aware that there are still some things that I haven’t properly understood and reading it again wont help me, so that is why I am have asked and I would like that you answer.
        2) I am deciding now to buy a new router and I think that I will buy an ASUS mesh system but I talked with a guy and he said that he had also an ASUS top router but sold it because it doesn’t have many security features as the enterprise routers have. he is working in an IT company and has access to enterprise hardware. so, would u consider of making a small article about enterprise vs non enterprise router?

        Reply
        • No, I don’t have time for #2. But getting an enterprise router for your home is like getting a school bus for your commute. And considering you have to ask questions like these, an enterprise router sure is not a good fit. My advice is stop taking advice from those who want to show off their “knowledge”. Instead, spend time on these articles and you’ll figure things out. Other than that, I have no additional suggestions or answers for you.

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

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

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

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

            Appreciate your help.

  40. Hi Dong,

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

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

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

    Thank you,
    Steve

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

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

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

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

      Reply
  42. Hi Dong,

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

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

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

    Many thanks!

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

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

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

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

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

    Does this setup make sense?

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

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

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

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

    Reply
  46. Hi Dong,

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

    XT8 or AX92U

    Thanks

    Reply
  47. Hi Dong,

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

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

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

      Reply
      • Hi Dong,

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

        Does that sound about right?

        Reply
  48. hi dong,

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

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

    Many thanks
    Stuart

    Reply
    • The name is Dong, Stuart.

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

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

        Apologies for the error.

        Much appreciated

        Stuart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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