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

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

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

See also  Best Home Mesh Brands in Brief: AiMesh, Deco, eero, Orbi, Velop, and More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AiMesh hardware

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


Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) AiMesh broadcasters

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


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.

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

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

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

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


Extra: No Multi-Gig wired backhaul, yet

Generally, we don’t have a viable option of using a Multi-Gig connection as the wired backhaul yet.

According to the way AiMesh works, to have a Multi-Gig wired backhaul system, you need a satellite with a Multi-Gig WAN port. For now, that’s available on the following models:

  • ZenWiFi XT8: A traditional tri-band router with a 2.5Gbps WAN port.
  • ZenWiFi ET8: A Wi-Fi 6E tri-band router with with a 2.5Gbps WAN port.

Neither of the two has a Multi-Gig LAN port. Also, note that the XT8 works best in a wireless setup.

Sure, you have other broadcasters — the RT-AX86U, GT-AX11000, GT-AXE11000, and RT-AX89X — that have a Multi-Gig LAN port that can work as a WAN port. However, none has a Multi-Gig WAN port as the default. As a result, you can’t use the high-speed port as for the backhaul.

(Update: Asus has been working on newer firmware that allows for picking the Multi-Gig port of a satellite node, when available, as backhaul and will roll that out slowly. You might want to wait a bit before counting on the stability, however.)

On top of that, you might want a router with two Multi-Gig ports so you can use one for the WAN connection and the other for the LAN side, and the RT-AX89X is presently the only option. But since it’s a dual-band broadcaster, it doesn’t work well with any possible Multi-Gig satellite nodes mentioned above.

And finally, for a fully Multi-Gig network, you’ll likely need a Multi-Gig switch, too.

ZenWiFi ET8 AiMesh Node
Here’s the ZenWiFi ET8 working as a Multi-Gig backhaul AiMesh node for the RT-AX89X. Note how its 6GHz band is not available to clients. Similarly, if you use the XT8 as a satellite, you would’ve not able to put its 5GHz-band into use.

That said, I’ve personally tried all possible AiMesh Multi-Gig backhaul scenarios (all with a Multi-Gig switch in between), and none worked out well.

Specifically:

  • RT-AX89X router + ZenWiFi XT8 node or ZenWiFi ET8 node: There’s no way to make use of the XT8’s 5GHz-2 band or the ET8’s 6GHz band.
  • GT-AXE11000 router + ZenWiFi ET8 nodes: The mesh system was very buggy with the node getting disconnected at least once a day.

That said, for now, the dream of a functional Multi-Gig backhaul AiMesh system is still out of reach, though it’s getting close. I’ll keep tabs on this front and will update this post when — not if — a viable Multi-Gig backhaul is viable.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Minimize mixing hardware

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

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

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

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

Rules in mixing hardware

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

  1. Use wired backhaul. A mix of wired and wireless backhaul is still better than full wireless. In this case, the primary router unit should be wired to the first node, but you can also wire just the nodes together.
  2. Pick the best router for the primary node (this is the device that decides the features of your network):
    • It should be one of the highest Wi-Fi tiers, measured in the number of streams (4×4, 3×3, 2×2, etc.).
    • It’s the one with the most bands. So, pick the tri-band instead of the dual-band if you have both.
    • Use the latest router with the most feature. So pick the Wi-Fi 6 router if you also have Wi-Fi 5 broadcasters.
  3. Pick the right nodes (you generally have little or no control over the node’s feature or settings):
    • Wireless backhaul:
      • Use nodes of the same Wi-Fi tier as the router, at least on the 5GHz (backhaul) band. If not, make sure the main router and the satellite node use the same Wi-Fi standards and tier.
      • When mixing Wi-Fi standard (Wi-Fi 6 vs Wi-Fi 5) you have to use the higher standard hardware in the compatibility mode. Else, they can’t connect reliably if at all.
    • Wired backhaul: Use (dual-band) nodes with the performance (when working as a standalone router) of your choice. (The AP mode mentioned in the 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 availabe in the AP mode (Wi-Fi settings, USB-related, lighting, and others).
    • If your primary router is a dual-band and the AiMesh satellite is a tri-band, you can then use the node’s 5GHz-2 band, which is not available in the AiMesh mode.
    • You can use a third-party router (or AP) or a non-AiMesh Asus router, such as the RT-AC3200.

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

Best AiMesh routers and combos: The battle-tested list

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

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

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

16. ZenWiFi XD6

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

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

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

Notes on using AiMesh:

  • Backhaul: Wired (recommended) or wireless (acceptable, only as a 2-pack).
  • Recommended nodes:
    • Wireless: Wi-Fi 6 router with a 4×4 5GHz band, namely itself.
    • Wired: Any dual-band Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 5 routers.
  • AiMesh 2.0 support: Yes (including system-wide Guest network) starting with the initial firmware.
  • The ZenWiFi XD6 works best as a wired system by itself (you can use up to six hardware units) or the satellite for a simiarly-specs or higher-tier router, such as the RT-AX86U, RT-AX82U, GS-AX5400, RT-AX88U, or the RT-AX89X.

Asus ZenWiFi XD6's Rating

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

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance

AiMesh 2.0 fully supported

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

Compact design

Presynced hardware, 160Mhz support

Cons

No Multi-Gig or Link aggregation

No USB port

See also  ZenWiFi XD6 review (vs ZenWiFi XT8): An Excellent (Wired) Mesh Alternative

15. GS-AX5400 (or GS-AX3000)

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

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

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

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

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: Themslevses, RT-AX86U.

Asus ROG STRIX GS-AX5400's Rating

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

Pros

Excellent overall performance

Complete AiMesh 2.0 support, including system-wide Guest network

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

Lots of useful features including those for gamers

Cool Aura RBG lighting

Cons

No Multi-Gig port or Gamer VPN (WTFast)

Performance as a NAS server could be better

A bit boring

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

14. RP-AX56

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

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

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

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

Notes on using AiMesh:

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

Asus RP-AX56 Repeater's Rating

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

Pros

Affordable

Reliable and relatively fast Wi-Fi with good coverage

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

Convenient design, excellent web interface

Cons

No 160MHz bandwidth, modest specs

No Guest network when working as an AiMesh node (for now)

The Initial firmware is a bit buggy

Bulky

See also  Asus RP-AX56 Review: A Solid and Versatile Budget Mesh-Ready Broadcaster

13. RT-AX68U

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

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

Notes on using AiMesh:

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

Asus RT-AX68U's Rating

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

Pros

Fast performance, excellent range, reliable

Tons of helpful networking features and settings, including AiMesh 2.0

Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app

Excellent NAS performance and features when hosting a storage device

Comparatively affordable

Cons

No Multi-Gig ports or 160MHz channel width support

Not wall-mountable

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

12. RT-AX86U

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

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

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-AX86's Rating

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

Pros

Fast performance, excellent range, reliable

Tons of helpful networking features and settings

Useful settings for online gaming

Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app

Multi-gig, WAN/LAN Link Aggregation support

Excellent NAS performance and features when hosting a storage device

Comparatively affordable

Cons

No support for WTFast Gamer VPN

Not wall-mountable

Gaming features turn Adaptive QoS off

The single Multi-gig port caps at 2.5 Gbps

See also  Asus RT-AX86U Review: Arguably the Best Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router to Date

11. RT-AX3000 / RT-AX58U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

See also  Asus RT-AX3000 vs RT-AX58U Review: A Solid AiMesh Pair

10. RT-AX82U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus RT-AX82U's Rating

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

Pros

Excellent performance

Beautiful design with tons of helpful networking, game-related features, and settings

Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app

Comparatively affordable

Cons

No support for WTFast Gamer VPN

No multi-gig network port

Network storage performance (when hosting a portable drive) could use some improvement

Not wall-mountable

See also  Asus RT-AX82U Gaming Router Review: A Fancy Little Wi-Fi 6 Performer

9. RT-AX89X

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus RT-AX89X's Rating

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

Pros

Excellent Wi-Fi performance

Uniquely cool design with two 10Gbps network ports

Eight Gigabit network ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation

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

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

Cons

A bit buggy at launch, relatively expensive

Smart Connect setting not available at launch

Tweaking required to deliver top Wi-Fi 6 speeds

Bulky physical size with an internal fan

Web interface needs work

Not wall-mountable, no universal backup restoration

See also  Asus RT-AX89X Review: Most Wi-Fi Bases. Covered. And More!

8. RT-AX88U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus RT-AX88U's Rating

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

Pros

Fast Wi-Fi performance

Tons of useful features

Eight network ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation

Universal setting backup and restoration

Fast network-attached storage speed when coupled with an external drive.

Merlin firmware support

Cons

No multi-gig network port

Buggy firmware (at review)

See also  Asus RT-AX88U Review: An Excellent Incremental Wi-Fi 6 Upgrade

7. RT-AX92U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

ASUS RT-AX92U's Rating

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

Pros

Compact design, tri-band specs

Good performance, large coverage

Excellent set of features, including online protection, WTFast VPN for gamers, and system-wide Guest network when working as a mesh

Link Aggregation and Dual-WAN support, wall-mountable

Comparatively affordable

Cons

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

No Multi-Gig port

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

6. GT-AX11000

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus GT-AX11000's Rating

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

Pros

Fast and reliable Wi-Fi performance with an excellent range

Lots of useful features for home users

Unique and effective settings for online gaming

Multi-Gig network port, Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation

Mesh ready

Cons

Expensive

Bulky design, loose antennas, non-wall-mountable

Fewer LAN ports than the previous model

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

See also  Asus GT-AX11000 Wi-Fi 6 Router Review: A Pro Gamer's Delight

5. ZenWiFi AX XT8

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

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

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus ZenWiFi XT8's Rating

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

Pros

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

Improved and flexible AiMesh

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

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

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

Cons

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

No multi-gig LAN port or LAN link aggregation

Only four network ports on each hardware unit

Firmware can be buggy

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

See also  Asus ZenWiFi AX XT8 AX6600 Review: The Best Wireless AiMesh Set to Date

4. ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4's Rating

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

Pros

Reliable performance

Improved AiMesh feature

Guest networking works throughout the system

Useful network settings and feature

Cons

No dedicated backhaul band or 160MHz channel width support

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

Stripped-down, borderline useless QoS and Parental Control features

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

Non-pre-synced hardware, not wall-mountable

See also  Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4) Review: The First Complete AiMesh Set

3. ZenWiFi AC CT8

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

See also  Asus ZenWiFi AC Review: A True, and Improved, Wireless AiMesh System

2. RT-AC88U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus RT-AC88U's Rating

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

Pros

Fast Wi-Fi performance with excellent coverage

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

Eight LAN ports with Dual-WAN and Link Aggregation

Excellent support for Asus's AiMesh

Merlin firmware support

Cons

Awkwardly placed USB 3.0 ports

Slow network storage speed when coupled with an external hard drive

See also  Asus RT-AC88U Revisited: A Fine Wi-Fi 5 Router that Ages like Wine

1. RT-AC86U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

ASUS RT-AX86's Rating

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

Pros

Fast performance, excellent range, reliable

Tons of helpful networking features and settings

Useful settings for online gaming

Robust web UI, well-designed mobile app

Multi-gig, WAN/LAN Link Aggregation support

Excellent NAS performance and features when hosting a storage device

Comparatively affordable

Cons

No support for WTFast Gamer VPN

Not wall-mountable

Gaming features turn Adaptive QoS off

The single Multi-gig port caps at 2.5 Gbps

See also  Asus RT-AC86U Review: A Path to the AiMesh Wi-Fi Holy Grail

The takeaway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks!

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

    I’m tempted to go with

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

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

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

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

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

      Thanks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Modem AX88U AX86U PC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  4. Hi Dong,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Any help is appreciated!
    Kindly,
    Jeremy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        Thank you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

  6. Hi Dong,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Reply
  10. Hi Dong,

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

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

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

      Reply
  11. Hi Dong.

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

    Reply
  12. Hi Dong,

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

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

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

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

      Reply
  14. Hi Dong!

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

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

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

    Thank you, and keep up the great work!

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Reply
  17. Hi Dong!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

            Sent over some Kofi for you, Dong. Cheers.

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

    Reply
      • Thanks for your reply. I have read that page (and many others on this site!) several times, and get the general idea. In my specific case, I have a RT-AX86U as my main router, and another RT-AX86U node with 1GB wired backhaul. There is another place I can put an additional node with wired backhaul, and then 40ft beyond that I would need one more node with wireless backhaul to that last wired node. So my question is which pair of nodes should I use for that last bit, and will it work as expected? I would think that I should use two tri-band nodes for those last two.

        Reply
        • Just get other dual-band nodes, Kyle. Tri-band nodes don’t help. If you read my posts you’d know why. But the gist is you cant’ make use of their 5GHz-2 band.

          Reply
  19. Hey there, thanks for this recommendations and the great article!
    As my main router/modem i use the DSL-AX82U. The thing is it is placed in the basement because there’s the DSL port. And it’s almost impossible to wire to the other floors so im trying to cover the whole house with wireless mesh even though there’s a reinforced concrete ceiling. As you wrote the AX82U has 4×4 Wi-Fi 6 band so im planning to get the XD4 as nodes not sure how many i’ll figure this out, or would recommend something else as nodes?
    Thanks in advance.
    Mario

    Reply
    • You need better hardware, Mario. Get a couple of RT-AX82U units. The XD4 will work but will be slow. In any case, how well things work depends on your home, concrete is always problematic.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the fast reply. I’m going to try the XD4s i ordered and if they don’t bring the desired results i will try to place 2-3 RT-AX82U on the other floors and setup a mesh like that, but they’re pretty bulky. Cool as a gaming router but not spread around the house. But all for good wifi connection i guess 🙂

        Reply
  20. Dong,

    Thanks for the breakdowns you provide for those that are new to AiMesh networking and these Asus routers’ abilities. This may be a rudimentary question, but may be helpful to many like me.

    When we create a wired backhaul with the hosting router (AXE-11000 as example) and node (RT-AX86U as example), do the LAN ports on the node still have the ability to provide data??

    Reply
  21. Hi Dong, As always thanks for the excellent info.

    One thing I think is missing from Asus range is a (tidy) ceiling device. We spoke before as I have an AX86U and a AC86U and due to circumstances (new FTTP) they now have to connect via wifi, and as you said in this article… it’s awful!

    Your advice was to wire and I’ve figured out a plan… external cabling. Going to run out of office (where fibre comes in) up wall, into loft and… it would be perfect to come into the hallway ceiling (its central in the house and open to both floors). I just don’t see a nice Asus router (to keep a AiMesh network) so have been looking at something like a Ubiquiti UniFi AP. Even coming a bit down wall in hallway to wall mount I think the Asus devices are not really designed for.

    It means I’ll lose AiMesh, single guest network, all devices on AP will appear as wired etc., but I guess there’s no option as far as Asus goes?

    btw, I’m in the UK so no nice empty wallspaces 🙁

    Reply
  22. Hi, what a great resource. I’m still struggling a bit, I’ve got a network which has evolved into an AiMesh with ac86u main router, ac68u as first node connected wirelessly (although I’m trying to work out a way to wire it)( and ac66u_b1 as node 2 hardwired to ac68u. I’ve still got a couple of dead spots and was looking at the xd4s to plug it… would they be good enough?

    Reply
    • They are good enough if you just want to extend the coverage, Steven. But you shouldn’t mix Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 wirelessly as I mentioned in the post.

      Reply
      • Thanks for that. Just wondering how you recommend moving from wifi 5 to 6, I assume you are suggesting a complete sell and refresh at the point I want to introduce 6?

        Reply
        • Yes, Steven, if you actually want to move to Wi-Fi 6 completely, then the XD4 will work. It’s best to have it completely wired, but you can mix wired and wireless. In that case, you should work the router to one of the nodes and not just the nodes. But the XD4 will work as a wireless system, too, just at slower performance as I mentioned in the review.

          Reply
  23. Hi Dong,

    This site is amazing!!! Thank you.

    I’m looking at either the AX88U or AX86U as a router and then use the 3x XD4’s as nodes using wired backhaul as I have Ethernet points littered around the house. Your Combos above suggests this should be fine.

    I’d like to have a few devices wired – noting XD4’s will take up 3 LAN and Xbox will take up the dedicated gamer (as I do game) so 4 LANs aren’t enough.

    Does it make more sense to get the AX86U and just grab an 8 port switch and run the XD4s from the switch?

    Or is the AX88U the better option (noting I may still need a switch) but at least the XD4’s can run straight from the router?

    Many thanks

    Reply
    • I’d go with the RT-AX86U and a switch, Dane, since you might need a switch anyway — you never have enough ports, trust me! Have fun!

      Reply
      • Thanks Dong! I’ve found this but haven’t read much on switches so will do some research but kinda feels this would be fine for what I’m after -> Netgear GS108 8 Port Gigabit Switch

        I think I was worried about issues with running the XD4’s off the switch as opposed to straight from the router but feels like this should just work (famous last words).

        Reply
  24. Hi and thank you. If price is not a consideration, but in ranked order 1) stability, 2) speed (as long as I can get over 500mbps 20 feet from the nearest node), 3) range, are, I wanted to gut check the best combo based on reading your article. (I also really like the Asus ability to dedicate an SSID to 2.4 as I have many smart home devices that don’t play well with auto-sensing dual band.) I will have a wired backhaul and have a large house on 3 levels. I am replacing a Cisco Meraki wired mesh system with a router and 4 nodes (one of the nodes is based at the router so equivalent of router + 3 nodes).

    I started out focused on the Zenwifi ET8 or XT8. I don’t have any 6e devices yet so it was mostly about future proofing – I suspect by the time I upgrade my laptop in a year it will be 6e capable. But I’ve read many reports of instability issues (dropping device connections briefly, firmware issues even on the most recent versions, etc.). From your summaries, it sounds like if I am going wired backhaul I am probably better off with the AX86U as my main router? Is there any reason I should instead get the AX89X or the AXE11000 as my main router for this setup and set of prioritizes, noting stability is more important than speed overall? (Gaming features won’t matter to me.)

    On the best wired node combo, would you recommend the AX92U or the XD4? Or, with price not being a major consideration, would an XD8 make a better node? In three of the four locations the look of the node is not important. In the fourth location, it would be ideal if it looks more like the XD’s without the black color and visible antenna of the other units. So another possibility is 2 x AX92U nodes and one XD8 (or the XD4N if there’s a way to buy a single unit)?

    Reply
    • You can’t count on Wi-Fi with fixed numbers like 500Mbps at 20 feet, Jason. That depends on a lot of things, including your devices. That said, I can’t answer your questions. Check out this post on picking a mesh and figure things out yourself. But since you have a wired place, I can say for sure that you have a lot of good options.

      Reply
  25. Hi Dong,

    I picked up an AX86u per your recommendation and am looking for a wired aimesh node primarily to connect a PS5 to across the house but also to ensure great WiFi signal throughout. Would you go with another AX86u or something cheaper?

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Good call, Stephen. You can go with any dual-band AiMesh broadcasters, the RT-AX82U, RT-AX68U, RP-AX56, XD4, etc. Since you have wired backhauls, you can expect to performance out of the nodes (in the reviews, that’s the number of the router unit.) Have fun! 🙂

      Reply
  26. So I just moved from a home where I had only the RT-AC5300 in the basement and worked fine 2 flights up. My new home is one level and a loft, which is where the RT-AC5300 is located. I’m having some connectivity issues on the main floor and I’m thinking of getting either another RT-AC5300 or a GT-AX11000 (using the later as the primary router). Note that due to the house construction, wireless between the two is the only option. Would performance lag on devices connecting to the older router? Would it be better to get a second RT-AC5300 instead? I’d like the newest features and fastest bandwidth (I stream 4K and use the internet a lot), but I also need reliability. Any advice is appreciated!

    Reply
      • Hi! Thanks a lot for the in-depth reviews.

        I currently have an ASUS RT-AC5300 and it worked well in my previous home. I moved to a new home in a different country with a lot of thick walls and four levels, and the RT-AC5300 is no longer sufficient. I therefore need to expand my network.

        Can I use the ASUS AX6600 (XT8) 2-pack AIMesh system with the RT-AC5300?

        I’m thinking of using the XT8 as the primary router since it seems to be the more powerful and more future proofed (WiFi 6 etc) of the two, and I plan to add the RT-AC5300 as a mesh node since they’re both tri-band routers with AIMesh capability.

        What would you advise in this scenario?

        Reply
        • I mentioned that in the post, Jack. But mixing Wi-Fi standards is not a good idea unless you use network cable to connect the hardware.

          Reply
  27. Hello Dong,
    Do you have any experience with Asus’s RT-AX55U and RT-AX56U? I’m looking at building an Aimesh system with RT-AX86U as the main route and I don’t want to spend too much with the other route. It seems these two are very alike and relatively cheap. Do you think this is a good idea?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • RT-AX55 is the feature stripped version of the RT-AX56U. They feature the same connectivity features.

      I use them as nodes from an RT-AX82U main router and the two floors from my 2900 SQ ft home are getting excellent wifi signal.

      Reply
  28. Hi Dong, had been reading your reviews on mesh systems and also this specific article on AiMesh. Would like to seek your advice below. Currently I have a WiFi-5 RT-AC88U Asus router, but am planning to move to a mesh system. My 3 options are –
    1) purchase a CT8 ZenWiFi AC3000 Mesh kit, and set up AiMesh with my current ASUS router.
    2) Purchase a XD4 ZenWiFi AX Mini and set up AiMesh with my current ASUS router.
    3) Or I move directly to Netgear Orbi RBK353 (not utilizing my current WiFi5 router).
    Currently I have my house wired, so I am definitely looking at wireless backhaul.
    Would appreciate your expert advice which is the best option for me (in terms of performance). Thanks.

    Reply
      • Thanks for the quick reply, Dong. I will definitely look at the routers you recommend. On a separate track, would the Netgear RBK353 on wired backhaul gives a better performance/speed compared to AiMesh system?

        Reply
          • Hi Dong, thanks for the recommendations. I’ve managed to successfully setup AiMesh with my AC-RT88U as my primary router, and 2 x Blue Cave as my nodes, all using wired backhaul. It works like a charm! My question now is that I do have a RP-AC55, and I am thinking of connecting it (wired as well) to one of my Blue Cave node. Do you foresee any problems with this configuration? Would it have adverse effect on the performance of my AiMesh network? TIA!

          • No and no, Chin. Go ahead with the AP! I’ve not used it nor have I many other Asus broadcasters, but I think the setup is fine.

  29. Hi,

    I have the following asus products and hope to use them to maximize the wifi coverage of my 2 storey apartment.

    2 x Asus Zenwifi AX mini
    2 x Asus Zenwifi AX XT8
    1 x Asus AX3000 router

    My modem is in master bedroom in level 2. Bedroom 1 (at level 2) and living room (at level 1) has wired back haul but guest bedroom (at level 1) does not have wired back haul.

    1. What setup do you recommend for maximum coverage in bedroom 1 (with PC and wireless device use), living room (with router NAS and desktop media center) and guest bedroom?

    2. Is it useful to create a media bridge in the living room?

    Reply
    • To add, my living room has other devices such as PS4, tv set top box and Nintendo switch which all requires internet connection.

      Reply
        • Dong, I have already read this before. However I’m not sure if I’m overkilling it with so many nodes given this setup. 🙁

          Here’s what I thought it will work but need your expert advice. Much appreciated.

          Level 2
          Master bedroom = Modem – > AX XT8 (main router)
          Bedroom 1 = wired -> AX mini (AP)

          Level 1
          Living room = wired -> AX 3000 (AP) -> NAS + media center + TV + PS4

          Guest bedroom = wireless -> AX XT8 (AP)

          Reply
    • I gave no idea how your home is, Jayden. Telling me the number of rooms etc. doesn’t change that. Read this post again and any related one (linked) and you figure things out.

      Reply
  30. Hi Dong,
    I have an ax11000 and 2 AX92U in an aimesh with the GT being the main router and the other 2 being nodes. This setup worked perfectly fine at my previous house but is giving me some troubles in my new apartment (additional walls between the main router and the nodes). So I was wondering if acquiring a new AX11000 that acts as a node and connects to the main router and then have the nodes connect to it can work and will improve the network. My setup needs to be fully wireless since I don’t have a chance to have wired backhauls.
    Let me know your thoughts on this.
    Regards,
    Agustin

    Reply
  31. Dong,

    Have a GT-AX11000 with four (4) RT-AX92U routers as satellites, all with wired backhaul (big house + garage, 50+ devices accessing the system). Was working fine at first, but have been getting the dreaded “no internet connection” on multiple iOS devices and wifi network has been collapsing with regularity (including 3x in the last 24 hours and 10x over the last 10 days).

    Its possible two of the nodes are too close (the others are in dead spots), but I’m tearing my hair out trying to figure out what is wrong. I’ve turned off the dedicated backhaul on the 5-2 band and hidden the 5-1 band, so everything should be running on Wifi6. Smart connect is turned off. Firmware is up to date.

    I have a serious gamer in the house (wired), so we have gigabit fiber and I need QoS. Plus with the large number of devices I need a router than can handle all the traffic, I’m struggling to find a better fit for my needs (XT8, Orbi, Eero, Google, etc.). I’m willing to invest in a new system, but your reviews would suggest I’ve got the right setup (on paper), but the reliability has become just awful.

    Any thoughts or suggestions? Do I just need to get dual band satellites?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • You overdid it, Tom. I’ve mentioned that folks should use dual-band with wired backhaul many times, and I recommend the RT-AX92U with the GT-AX11000 in a wireless setup specifically. Anyhow, for your case, it would be best if you got the RT-AX86U as the main router and a bunch of dual-band satellites (the RT-AX86U works, too), as mentioned in this post.

      But for your case right now, I’d recommend:

      1. Separate the bands of the system into different networks (SSIDs), so, for example, “5GHz-1”, “5GHz-2,” and “2.4GHz.”
      2. Make sure the AiMesh uses the wired as the backhaul (and not wireless)
      3. Keep most of the Wi-Fi settings as default
      4. Make sure you run the latest firmware on all hardware units.
      5. Don’t mess around too much — don’t use the app, just the web interface. If you have used the app, reset the entire system and set it up again. Often, folks mess around with the app too much and don’t know what settings are turned on, etc. Keep in mind that in routers, the best is really the enemy of the good. It’s something you want to set up right and then leave it alone.

      That should fix most of the issues. If not, check out the settings mentioned in this post for more.

      Reply
      • Thanks Dong! I actually bought the hardware to upgrade an older system and then found your blog… should have done more research on the front end!

        I’ll reset the router and only use the web app. I also noticed today that two of the satellites had defaulted to “auto” on backhaul… wondering if that’s part of the issue.

        Thanks again!

        Reply
  32. Greetings,

    I have read [and re-read] your article several times and also searched it for ‘ZenWiFi’ and ‘xt8’ but I don’t see the info I seek. I have my single XT8 connected to my Arris modem in my rear upstairs office and I need better wifi coverage downstairs and extending outdoors a short way for some planned security cameras. The notes for the XT8 show itself as the only reccomended node. If I only have 200 Mpbs service is there a lower cost alternative to the XT8 for my situation?

    Thanks and keep up the great work!

    Reply
    • I hope you have read this post, too, Randy. If not, try it. But the gist is yes; you can use any AiMesh broadcaster as a node. It’s a matter of how well it works. I personally only recommend another XT8 unit.

      Reply
  33. Hi Dong, I really enjoy reading your articles. I am planning to set up a mesh wifi via wired backhaul. Would you prefer 2 asus ax86u or netgear rbk852? Which pair could provide a faster speed and better coverage?

    Thanks so much.

    Reply
  34. I have the RT-AC5300 as my main router, very happy with it. Tried to create (wireless) aimesh with a Lyra Trio set, but the result was very disappointing. Probably because the AC5300 uses tri-band, and Lyra Trio only dual-band?
    Now I’m considering to (wirelessly) hook up a RT-AX92U Duo Pack, since those also use tri-band. However, the standard for the RT-AX92U Duo Pack is Wi-Fi 6, while the RT-AC5300 is Wi-Fi 5. Do you think that can cause problems?

    Reply
    • Read the top portion of the post again, Mark — seriously. Mixing Wi-Fi standards is not ideal, but you can solve all that if you have wired backhauls.

      Reply
  35. Hi Doug, you are a star with this sort of advice so wondering if you can help (a UK’er) with my AiMesh setup…

    Currently I’ve got a RT-AX86U as my main node (hallway, nice and central) with a RT-AC86U upstairs – backhaul is via homeplugs (gigabit) – no option of being able to cable in this house 🙁 (both nodes running merlin)

    Recently the house finally got FTTP (500mbps) but the ONT box had to go into my study which meant moving the AX in there causing wifi issues downstairs.

    I’m thinking of getting another node (hallway) but think homeplugs just aren’t going to make the best backhaul so thinking using wireless for the backhaul (study to hallway is ~ 15feet).

    and there I am, toying with another (expensive) AX or maybe a AC, just can’t decide…

    Reply
  36. Hi bro, I am deciding between 2 models XT8 and AX92U.
    1: Better Wave Through Walls?
    2: Wider coverage?
    3: More stable mesh?
    4: Which model is produced newer?
    Please advise me a better model in all aspects

    Reply
  37. Thank you for the article.

    I am looking at getting the Asus ZenWifi XT8 as the main system for our house. I am wondering if I can use my current AC2900 86U as part of the system? It will be placed in the Shop about 50-60 feet from the house. Will this hurt the house speed? I know speed would suffer in the shop vs just getting another XT8 but I am fine with it as long as it doesn’t hurt the house internet and is usable.

    Thank you

    Reply
  38. Hello!
    I was wondering 2 things, would love if you could explain like I’m 5 in this case.

    1. Can I mix 2 XT8 with 3 XD4 ? I can’t purchase as many XT8 since its expensive, and I was wondering if its possible to mix those.
    2. I saw there’s a new model out – ET8, so same question as above just with ET8 and XD4

    thank you

    Reply
      • Hi
        Thank you for taking your time to answer me that.
        However, I did read this post, and the Aimesh compatibility post.
        It’s rather cryptic.
        You write that it should be the same kind of throughoutput(2×2 for 2×2)
        I get that, and I get that xd4 is different from xt8/et8
        And I still wonder if it could work in a rather good way.

        Reply
        • Read it again from the beginning and in its entiety, Idan, please. Don’t just look for what you want. But if you want a short answer, then no, you shouldn’t mix them. That might work but it’s a matter of degrees.

          Reply
  39. Hello dong,

    I come from indonesia. In here we can not find all the asus router model. I want to build wifi 6 aimesh in my house. There is 3 place connected with cat 5e cable. I was use tenda router before. The available wifi 6 model in here are ax11000, ax82u, tuf-ax3000, rt-ax56u

    Is that good mixing ax11000 with 2 rt-ax55u?
    I will used wired backhaul.

    Reply
  40. Dong,

    Thank you for all the hard work and thought. Using your info I quickly narrowed my choices to Asus (AiMesh) and Synology and then decided to go for Wifi6 at a 20% premium. After much thought, I ended up choosing an RT-AX68U and 2 RT-AX3000 for my large-ish house.

    Writing to see if you can suggest to Asus that they make a version of the RT-AX56 (the forthcoming small device) with POE (and then allow for wall mounting).

    Thank you.

    Dan

    Reply
  41. I would encourage others who have benefited enough from this post to have made it down to these comments to buy Dong a coffee (or beer) through his Kofi donation link. It’s rare to have a blog poster not only write fairly in depth reviews (rather than those fake referral link review sites) as well as be active in the comment thread. Support what you value if you can.

    Maybe it will even encourage Dong to ditch those annoying video and other ads that make it almost impossible to write a comment on a mobile phone.

    Reply
    • Good luck with that, Luke! If everyone actually did what you suggested, there’d be no need for ads at all. 🙂

      By the way, you can comment just fine (with the ads) on a mobile phone. This reply is an example.

      Reply
  42. I recently bought the XT8s for my own house but also bought the XD4 for my mom’s house. I don’t think she’ll need all 3 devices for her house so I wanted to know if I could use the spare satellite node to use with my XT8s for a wireless node so I can get one ethernet port for one of my rooms I can’t run wires to. I need an ethernet port for my work IP phone and laptop.

    Reply
  43. Thanks Dong.

    I currently run an RT-AC88U but am looking to upgrade to the RT-AX88U when I can.

    As an interim step, can you see any issues in running the RT-AX55 with the current RT-AC88U? Still with wired backhaul.

    Mark.

    Reply
    • Not ideal. You might have some issues with handoff, and Wi-Fi configurations, but other than that, things should work. Use Auto for your Wi-Fi setting. Read this post again and the linked one mentioned at the top if you have more questions on AiMesh.

      Reply
  44. Hi Dong.

    Can you see any issues with adding an RTAX55 AX1800 (wired backhaul) to an existing Rt-AX88U AX6000?

    Cheers
    Mark.

    Reply
  45. Hi Dong,

    Thanks so much for your detailed guides. I’m considering using a mix of wired and wireless backhaul. Do you have any recommendations of which units to mix and match in this situation?

    1200 sq ft home; ISP demarc is in the front left corner. Max requirement for signal reliability is in the home office at the back right corner of the home, about as far as it could be from the ISP demarc. 🙁

    Long story short, I want to move the office to the garage, and while I can run my own cabling in the house, I can’t DIY a Cat6 run to the garage. (It’s an independent structure in the yard so I’d have to pay a pro to do the trenching/shielding/grounding.)

    Will AiMesh systems tolerate a mix of wired and wireless backhaul? Could I have a reliable network connection from the garage to the ISP modem with something like this?

    RT-AC86U in front room AC-CT8 in rear room AC-CT8 in garage

    Thanks for your guidance!

    Reply
    • sorry, I guess I used escape characters, here’s the setup I’m imagining:

      1. ISP modem and RT-AC86U in front room
      – wired backhaul via attic –
      2. AC-CT8 in rear room
      – wireless backhaul across the yard –
      3. AC-CT8 in garage

      Reply
      • Hi Dan,

        0. You need to read the top part of this post again and this post on AiMesh. They will answer ALL of your questions including the one you put here.
        1. You should use another CT8 here, or just skip this hardware unit.
        2. That works — you can link it directly to the modem via the attic cable if you choose to skip a router at this location.
        3. That works, how well, though, depending on your actual place.

        Reply
    • If you intend to use the garage for your office, running cable is a must. You don’t necessarily have to drill through the wall, just run a longer cable around.

      Reply
  46. Hi Dong
    I intend to replace my ISP provided 4G router with an Asus 4G-AC53U in order to create a mesh network in my home of 270m2 on 2 levels. 2 questions, perhaps you can help with.

    -Am I able to configure this router with a Subscribed VPN?
    -Can I use this to create a mesh and if so what is best for my house. There is no way I can cable the house due to its construction.

    Many thanks
    Peter

    Reply
      • Hi Dong

        VPN is required to access TV and services which are restricted to my home country (UK) as I am living in France.

        Cheers

        Reply
          • Hi Dong

            So I need, positionally on the Network, two Ethernet ports about 21metres and a floor apart. The top floor is 139m2 and the bottom 109m2 for the foreseeable future I am reliant on a 4G box with fluctuating speed. The construction of the house doesn’t lend itself to easy cabling and so am looking at a totally wireless setup. Can I get away with a 2 tri band ASUS router setup positioned so far from one another or do I need a third? If 3, then the 3rd router will be at the end of the line, rather than the primary router being positioned centrally. Failing that what is you opinion of using the ASUS ZenWifi CD6 as I can get a 5 pack and place them around the house.

  47. Thank you for the thorough write-up on the aimesh option for wifi. There’s a mind boggling number of permutations here. I’m starting from scratch in 1350 sqft house in which the cable comes in from a far corner of the home behind a lathe and plaster closet where the AV will be located.

    I have wired cat6 to a central location in the middle of the house, and ideally would like the WiFi broadcast happening from there for WiFi while having wired LAN connections in both locations. I worry having two broadcasts from the main area and the node so close, thinking that devices might jump between them. I recall when I had Google Wi-Fi mesh It seemed that my phone or devices would sometimes quickly lose and gain connection, and I attributed that to jumping between nodes.

    That long backstory just to ask if it would be possible in this set up to turn the broadcast off for the main router and just use a wired backhaul WiFi 6 tri band node for the broadcast? If so, do you have recommendations here? I probably won’t be getting gigabit anytime soon, but would like a super solid constant Wi-Fi connection that could handle 400 megabytes per second. I’ve considered the orbeez because it has several land connections, but this article got me thinking that an AI mesh setup might be more reliable?

    Reply
    • Yes, you can totally do that but the how depends on what hardware you use, Luke. But why do that? Why not just place the first and only broadcaster where you want to put the 2nd one? In any case, you can make the first unit a non-Wi-Fi router (disable its radios in the Professional tab of its Wi-Fi setting page) and use the 2nd one in the access point mode.

      Reply
      • I want to have wired ethernet connections in both locations, which is why I mentioned disabling the broadcasting of the first location, which is where the cable coax comes into the house and therefore where the modem must be located.

        The 2nd location only has a single ethernet cable, so it must be fed from the 1st location where I want wired connections as well. Does that make sense? I do not see a way to achieve this other than having a router in the main location (broadcast off, or a wired only router) and a router in the 2nd location where the broadcast will need to be.

        I was not sure if buying a wireless or wired network router for the 1st location made any difference. It just seems that wireless routers with broadcast turned off is a much more plentiful option in the market, while wired only routers sound like more of a corporate type device.

        If you have suggestions for devices for either of these locations, I would welcome them. I’m not opposed to spending money if it makes my network, which includes several smart home devices, solid and reliable. I’m tired of it being so glitchy.

        Reply
  48. Thanks for the wealth and caliber of information on your site.

    Recently connected Google 1gb fiber so a desire to upgrade router. 3000 sf, looong single level home with current sketchy wifi at extreme ends. Largest load is streaming to various TVs & laptops. No gaming. Many legacy 2.4 Sonos devices, etc.

    My thoughts are to stay on the lower end of the food chain (not bleeding edge) and get a pair of same model Asus AC dual band routers and wire those. Thoughts on a pair of Asus RT-AC68U or pair of RT-AC86U or? Main objective is reliability and coverage. Thank you!

    Reply
    • A pair of either of the two or a mix of them will work out well via a wired backhaul, Scott. Go for it! You can even consider used or refurbished hardware if you’re on a budget.

      Reply
  49. Hi Dong. Thanks to your advice I have a great AI Mesh system that is wired backhauled now – the AC88U with an AC66U node. I need to expand to a 2nd node which will also be wired and was going to add another AC66U. Will this work or do you suggest another model? Thanks – Jim

    Reply
  50. Hi Dong,

    I’m currently using Asus RT-AC5300. I would like to get a router node and would use it as wireless backhaul. May I know what model should I get? Thank you

    Reply
    • Another AiMesh ready tri-band Wi-Fi 5 broadcaster, Hugo. But almost any Wi-Fi 5 one of the same Wi-Fi tier will work.

      Reply
  51. Hi – after having some issues and lack of features on the ORBI RBR850, i have just ordered the AX86U as my primary router. I am hoping the wifi will be strong enough and i will not need a mesh as I am wired up to the study and the living room.

    If however i need a mesh in the future…budget beeing key here, can i just opt for the AX56U, sticking with Dual Band? Or maybe the AX92U – i know its a tri band but like the compact size.

    Reply
  52. Our ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4 mesh works quite well at home, but I can pick up a cheap used Blue Cave and wondered if the system work work as well if I used the Blue Cave as the main router and the XD4’s as nodes. I’m asking because I’d like more LAN ports at the main router location and the Blue Cave has more features in general.

    Reply
      • Hi Dong, will the XD4 system support 5 or 6 broadcasters and if so would you use all XD4’s or some other asus router and XD4 nodes?

        Reply
      • Hey Dong,im currently using triband ax11000 as main router and both dual band tuf ax3000 and ax55 as node in wireless setup.is it better if i change to 2 ax92u and ditch the dual band node since it will combine all triband setup for dedicated backhaul?if triband router which is ax11000 as main router and dual band router as nodes it still counting as completed dedicated backup?and lastly if i combine with 2 ax92u does the only 5ghz-2 band will become wifi 5?or both 5ghz band become wifi 5?

        Reply
        • Yes, Reyz, as I mentioned in the post, using all tri-band hardware is always recommended in a wireless setup. Take another read at the top part of the post! Also, check out the review of the RT-AX92U for more.

          Reply
    • I’m looking at the asus XD4, but not sure if I can run a seamless mesh AND still support security cameras which only work on 2.4GHz?

      Reply
  53. Hi Dong – amazing website, the detail and coverage is off the charts !!! I have been looking at WiFi6 for some time (have a 3500sq ft home but with some big blank spots due to thick walls and metal girders) and the Asus ZenWiFi XT8 looks pretty spot on. The question I have is whether it is better to add (say) a RT-AX92U or RT-AX89X router as the host and then 3 Xt8 devices, or just stick with Xt8 throughout? I have wired backhaul to 3 of the 4 locations and it seems from your reviews that is the best option, which makes sense. Just want to make sure I buy the hardware that can support this set up, but not sure it is worth it or necessary to buy a dedicated standalone router. At the same time I think you have mentioned with AIMesh, all of these routers can operate as both primary and satellites, so not sure which to go for – Asus market the ZenWiFi as a package, but is that just marketing, as all the AIMesh devices work and you can add as many as you like? Or for example the AX89X has 8 antennae, or is the AX92U better as it has Tri-band? Thanks again for the awesome information and reviews !!

    Reply