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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 station. 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.

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

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

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

Since I 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 having additional AiMesh-related questions.

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In most cases, using dual-band hardware works, too. However, 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 and/or Wi-Fi performance tiers — often the case when you buy a new router and want to keep the old one as part of a mesh — then here is what you should do in this particular order when possible:

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

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

Best AiMesh routers and combos: The battle-tested list

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

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

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

15. RP-AX56

Asus RP AX56 AX1800 Dual Band Wi Fi 6 Repeater Out of box
The Asus RP-AX56 AX1800 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Repeater comes in 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, but without a system-wide Guest network. (Currently running the initial firmware.)
  • Routers I’ve tried: RT-AX82U, RT-AX3000, RT-AX89X.

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

$99.99
8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Ease of Use

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

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

Cons

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

14. RT-AX68U

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

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

Notes on using AiMesh:

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

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

$199.99
8.9

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.5/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

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

Cons

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

13. GT-AXE11000

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

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

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

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

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

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

$549.99
8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

7.5/10

Pros

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

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Wi-Fi 6E is not fully available
  • Only one 2.5Gbps port, no 10Gbps port
  • Bulky design, not wall-mountable, buggy firmware (at launch)
See also  Asus GT-AXE11000 Router Review: A Wi-Fi Luxury, for Now

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 (wired and wireless backhaul), ZenWiFi XD4 (wired backhaul).

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

9

Performance

9.0/10

Features

9.5/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

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

Cons

  • No support for WTFast Gamer VPN
  • Not wall-mountable
  • Gaming features turn Adaptive QoS off
  • The single Multi-gig port caps at 2.5 Gbps
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, especially if you use the wired backhaul.

Notes on AiMesh:

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

ASUS RT-AX3000 Dual Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

$179.99
8.5

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

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

Cons

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

10. RT-AX82U

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

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

9

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.5/10

Ease of Use

8.5/10

Value

9.5/10

Pros

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

Cons

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

9. RT-AX89X

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

ASUS RT-AX89X AX6000 Dual Band WiFi 6 Router

9

Performance

9.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

9.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

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

Cons

  • A bit buggy at launch, relatively expensive
  • Smart Connect setting not available at launch
  • Tweaking required to deliver top Wi-Fi 6 speeds
  • Bulky physical size with internal fan
  • Web interface needs work
  • Not wall-mountable, no universal backup restoration
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 AX6000 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Router

$310.99
8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

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

Cons

  • No multi-gig network port
  • Buggy firmware (at review)
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 AX6100 Tri-Band WiFi 6 Router

$219.98
8.5

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Ease of Use

8.0/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

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

Cons

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

ASUS ROG Rapture GT-AX11000 Gaming Router

8.3

Performance

8.0/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

7.5/10

Pros

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

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Bulky design, loose antennas, non-wall-mountable
  • Fewer LAN ports than previous model
  • Long boot-up time, buggy (at launch), fluctuating Wi-Fi throughputs
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 is the first purpose-built tri-band Wi-Fi 6 AiMesh set. As such, it’s designed primarily to work as a standalone wireless system (no network cables or other hardware involved.)

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

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

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

8.9

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

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

Cons

  • No 160MHz 4x4 support for Wi-Fi 6 clients, in a dedicated wireless backhaul setup
  • No multi-gig LAN port or LAN link aggregation
  • Only four network ports on each hardware units
  • Firmware can be buggy
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) AiMesh Wi-Fi 6 System

8.1

Performance

8.0/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

7.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

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

Cons

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

3. ZenWiFi AC CT8

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

The CT8 is the Wi-Fi 5 version of the XT8 above. It should be used as a standalone mesh set by itself via the wireless backhaul. While it supports wired backhaul, using a network cable to link the hardware might cause firmware-related issues.

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

Notes on AiMesh:

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

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

8.3

Performance

8.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

7.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

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

Cons

  • Web user interface doesn't always work as intended (bugs)
  • Only 3 LAN ports per router
  • Not enough setting instructions
  • Guest networking still has issues
  • The combo of buggy firmware and auto-update
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 main router, should host only Wi-Fi 5 nodes unless you use wired backhaul.

Notes on AiMesh:

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

Asus RT-AC88U Wi-Fi Router

9

Performance

9.0/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.5/10

Value

9.0/10

Pros

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

Cons

  • Awkwardly placed USB 3.0 ports
  • Slow network storage speed when coupled with an external hard drive
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-AC86U

8.4

Performance

9.0/10

Features

8.0/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

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

Cons

  • No extra network ports like other high-end Asus routers
  • Not wall mountable
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.

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

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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
  10. 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
  11. 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
  12. Hi Dong.

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

    Cheers
    Mark.

    Reply
  13. 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
  14. 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.

  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
    • You need to get another tri-band broadcaster, Andrew. But it’s a matter of degrees, read the post again in it’s entirety, you’ll find out.

      Reply
      • Thanks not sure I understand you reply, as both the RT-AX92U and the ZenWiFi XT8 are tri-band and both support wired backhaul? I guess reading again and your reviews individually and the specs, seems the RT-AX92U has slightly higher spec / configuration ability and you have suggested better to not mix hardware. Also with AIMesh 2.0 out, appears Asus have addressed the ease of use of wired backhaul so making the faster 5Ghz band available (I think you updated a post on this – thanks!). So would appear a mesh system with only 3 to 4 RT-AX92U devices, with wired backhaul is probably superior to the ZenWifi TX8 only set up? Thanks

        Reply
        • The RT-AX89X you mentioned is a dual-band, Andrew. As I said, if you actually read the post, you would have found the answer. Paying a bit of attention helps, too. 🙂

          Reply
          • Thanks Dong – I mentioned as an option – either/or. I did read your article end to end a few times, along with others and all are very informative. But if you had actually read my questions and follow up perhaps you could have answered them? Your attention would certainly be very much appreciated.🙂

          • I did read our questions, Andrew. But I can’t answer that type of specificities. There are always different degrees so there’s no definitive answer to your questions.

    • I’m in a similar situation, cat 5e wiring (up to 20m apart multi-level house with concrete floors) in house with single and double brick walls and steel door frames, but one area 15-20m away from main house with no cat 5e. Have read many of the posts here, with superb range of information, but still confused about how it all applies to my situation and conflicting information on using wiring for backhaul, but not in a mesh ASUS set up. Also no mention of integration of wifi security cameras using only 2.4GHz band, and potential complication with a meshed 2.4/5GHz system. Really interested in seamlessly connectivity going from one area to another with no line of sight.

      Reply
      • It’s a matter of degrees and expectations, Rudi. I can say right away that no setup will fulfill what you have imagined since a connection depends on both the broadcaster and the receiver, and it seems you’re putting it all on the former. Just follow my suggestions in the post (and the related ones), you’ll be able to figure the best way to go. It’s not easy since it depends on your place — there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Whoever tells you otherwise doesn’t know what they are talking about. 🙂

        Reply
        • Thanks Dong. Totally agree it’s not easy. I found a real gem in one of your posts: to place a node where the signal just drops one bar. So walked around and mapped out where this occurs. Currently have 2 access points on cat5e/1Gb switches and 2.4/5Gb and the hassle of manually selecting between four wifi signals depending on where I’m located. So I’ve been reading your great articles to see what I can best do with a mesh wifi with wired backhaul. Moved one of the access points to different cat5e wall outlet locations to find better coverage overlap. Looks like I need 4 or 5 wifi access points to get full coverage. My internet service is less than 100 Mbps, which is ample for speed. So the question is what hardware is best suited. Not sure about mesh vs access point solutions if both are wired backhaul. Would love your ideas here where signal coverage and latency is more important than speed.

          Reply
        • Thanks Dong – one more question on this real life topic: there’s not much info on the net about range of wifi signal from different node options (brand, model etc)….do you know how much range variation there is between different brands/models for larger multi-level homes with solid brick walls and concrete floors? Does anyone test this, beyond speed tests at 3-5 feet vs 20-30 feet line-of-sight?

          Reply
        • Totally agree. It’s a curly one. What are your thoughts on progressive development. Start with say a 2 or 3 mesh and grow from three? With a Ethernet backbone. Happy to not use the old access points. From all your posts looks like the zenwifi minis should do the trick, but what do I use as the prime node(s). May be CT8 x 2 Plus a number of minis. Is that a reasonable approach?

          Reply
  22. Hi Dong,
    Thanks for addressing this issue. Great work!
    I have a RT-AX88U and I am planing to buy a node router.
    I will use wired backhaul. Shall I buy a AX86U or a AX68U?
    And which one shall I use as main router? Or what else do you recommend?
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Yes, any either can be the main router, Basar. Check out their review for more in terms of port and features. You can also use a cheaper model, like the RP-AX56, as a node.

      Reply
  23. Hey Dong, thanks for all these great reviews. I’m in Canada so the prices are high. I can buy either 1 XT8, a pair of CT8’s or a set of 3 XD4’s. Which would you recommend? So far I’ve gotten away with the generic rental Wi-Fi 5 router from my ISP so any choice would be a huge improvement. My home also isn’t wired, but I get full internet speeds all over 120D/20U. My main concern is with WFH during the pandemic my wireless device count has grown and my current router isn’t able to handle them all. Thanks!

    Reply
  24. Hi Dong,

    I have a RT-AX82U as a main router. Would the RT-AX56U be a good fit for a wired access point? Or is there a cheaper option that would work well?

    Best regards

    Reply
  25. Hi Don
    Thanks for the great info – want to purchase an ASYS mesh system for my home – main floor modem entry at the front corner of the house – basement network cable – 3rd floor would need to be wireless. Best suggestion as we have a large home with dead spots out to far opposite corner of the house
    Thanks for the help
    Dave

    Reply
  26. Hey Dong,
    Great site and info here. Need some advise, I have a standalone rt-ax3000 and thinking of getting another higher end asus wifi6 router to improve the wifi coverage, stability and speed. I was looking at the rt-ax88u but it’s expensive and wanted to get your view on this first. Setup will be AI-Mesh with wireless backhaul.

    What do you recommend please.

    Thanks.

    B

    Reply
    • You’re on the right post, Birendra. I wrote this exactly for folks like you. Read it! Yours is the same as the RT-AX58U, btw. 🙂

      Reply
  27. Hi Dong,
    Many thanks for your great user guide. I am now using a RT-AC86U as the main router and a RT-AC68U as a node via a wired backhaul. I am planning to upgrade to RT-AX86U as the main router and use the RT-AC86U as a node. Will I still get Wifi 6 signal from RT-AX86U or will I only get Wifi 5 signal from both the main router and the node?

    Reply
    • That depends, Harrison. Yes if you use wired backhaul, and kinda no if you use wireless. I mean the AX will broadcast Wi-Fi 6 but it’ll be in a compatible mode which is the same as Wi-Fi 5.

      Reply
      • Thanks for your reply, Dong. Does “compatible mode” means the AX will broadcast Wifi 6 signal but the speed will be in wifi 5 standard as AX is meshed with AC, even via a wired backhaul?

        Reply
        • Something like that, Harrison. The compatible mode has nothing to do with backhaul nor not, but you must use it if you use wireless backhaul with a different Wi-Fi standard. It’s radio frequencies so things are not clear cut as you might think. I’d recommend reading the post and other related ones, you’ll get a better idea of how things work. You should start with this post.

          Reply
    • I literally have access to about a dozen networks (home and business) running AiMesh with different hardware pieces, some for years. AiMesh is far from perfect, but it sure works, Tim.

      Reply
  28. Dong
    Very helpful website, thank you. I currently trying to set up a property wide network. I have a main house, detached guest house (50 feet away), and an outbuilding (200feet away). I currently have a rt ac3100 which actually covers a wide area but is intermittent and not powerful enough for the far end of the property. The guesthouse and outbuilding are connected to the main house with CAT 6 cable. Two questions:
    1) what equipment do you recommend to get seamless WiFi throughout my buildings and property? If I move the 3100 to the outbuilding what equipment would I need?
    2) is it best to set up an AI mesh or use AP? Is there a difference?

    Reply
  29. Here is my situation: ISP modem/router is on basement (1GB) and house is wired. I am thinking of getting wifi6 ASUS routers to take full advantage of AiMesh. I would like to get a router in each floor to make sure it is fast: basement (low usage), main floor (very high usage), second (high usage). But I am worry that using 3 routers will do more harm than good (interference). I have not seen good info on the area coverage of the routers … I like the AX86U but that might be overkill.

    What do you think? Any recommendations?

    Reply
  30. Hi Dong, I appreciate your writings. I am using a Powerline Adapter to add coverage in a distant part of the basement. Which would be better as an Access Point, the Asus AX86U or the AX88U? As far as I can tell the latter has more streams (and costs more), but the former is newer. Thank you!

    Reply
  31. hey dong, great analysis and write up. i just moved into a new home and purchased the ax11000 to use with my previous ac-88u. im currently using the ax11000 as the host with the ac-88u as an aimesh node. i do have an s21ultra so wifi6 is great to have. i have the ax11000 in the basement, the ac-88u on the main floor in my wife’s office, and im looking for a 3rd router to put on the 3rd floor. what do you recommend?

    Reply
  32. Dong, thank you for the informative reviews. I have an AiMesh comprising an RT-68U router and RP-AC55 repeater, the latter in my garage with my RainMachine. For ppl like me who work from home, my company requires that IoT devices like the RainMachine connect to a guest network. I’ve set up a guest network, and connected the IoT devices in my house to it. But the signal from the router is weak in the garage, and the RP-AC55 doesn’t repeat the guest network, nor does it support client binding, which I’d also like to use. Its firmware is current (3.0.0.4.384.83394) but apparently not as functional as the router’s (3.0.0.4.386.41634). I’ve written to ASUS support to request that they update the RP-AC55 firmware. I’d appreciate it if you would use whatever influence you have with ASUS to encourage them in this direction.

    Reply
    • Most repeaters don’t support client binding due to the use of virtual MACs, Randy. More in this post — you’ll find it in the Extender part. As for supporting the Guest network, I’ve been pushing that for years, however, chances are only Wi-Fi 6 hardware will get it now.

      Reply
  33. Dong, with a setup of 3 RT-AX92U in a star mesh, AP mode, and about 75-80 devices, the main RT-AX92U seems not to be able to cope with the load and keeps dropping 2.4GHZ connections, what do you think is happening there: bug, bad HW, or just too much for the CPU of the AX92U?

    Reply
  34. Hi Dong,
    Really appreciate your excellent site.
    Based on your recommendations, I purchased an ASUS RT-AX86U and 3 Asus ZEN WiFi AX Mini units. I understand from your articles that the AI-Mesh works best with all three of the WiFi AX units hard-wired to the backbone. However in my house I am only able to hard-wire two of the three.

    Am I better off just using the two wired units? Or including the third, un-wired unit?

    I have not been able to find a reliable way of measuring strength and throughput to see which setup is best. Do you have a suggestion for a reliable way to test?

    Thank you. Matthew

    Reply
    • I’d go with the wired units first to see if that’s enough, Matt. Chances you only need the router and two satellites. In that case, adding the last unit doesn’t make things better. More on that in this post about mesh in general. But if it turns out you need all three units, then adding a wireless one is fine, too. Just don’t expect the top performance out of that unit.

      Reply
  35. Hi Dong,

    Thanks for all the information provided on this site. Very useful and educational.

    I recently bought a pair of ZenWIfi XT8 for my two story house. I have Xfinity Gigabit service and I only get about 500-600Mbps when connected to the main XT8 router. From the node mostly 400-500 if the signal strength is good. I have a Mac mini which is bit far from the node and typically get 2.4Ghz even though it supports AX. Was wondering if I should get additional GT-AX11000 as main router and move one of the XT8 near the Mac mini to take care of the situation? Since I bought the XT8 recently, I still have time to decide / return and get other combination that might help me with Gigabit internet speeds.

    Can you recommend something for me?

    Appreciate your help.

    Vikram

    Reply
      • Dong,

        I separated the the bands and tried to force connect the Mac mini to 5G and the speed test is great, I get about 450Mb down. However, I notice that it keeps dropping and try to connect back to 2.4G network – not sure why its doing this. I removed the 2.4G from the config and it got disconnected from 5G network, I tried reconnecting but for some reason it keeps saying invalid password – although I verified I was typing the right password. After several tries it finally connected. Thought that was strange, any idea whats going on ? connection to 5G doesn’t seem to be reliable.

        The signal strength seems ok , got full bars.

        Thanks
        Vikram

        Reply
  36. Hi Dong
    This is a really interesting read, as I wasn’t aware its not quite as simple as pairing any node with any primary.
    I already have an AC86U which acts just as an access point (I have a Draytek 2862 non-wifi unit to act as my main router, DHCP server, and VDSL modem) and want to add a second access point in a mesh, with wired backhaul. Our use-case is mainly web browsing, emails etc including video streaming and some remote teleworking. Most of the higher-bandwidth use is done on desktop PCs via wired ethernet.
    You’re suggesting another AC86U would be a good match (which is great as I like mine), although I’m wondering whether to buy an AX58U instead to use as the primary and use my current AC86U as a node so I have better future-proofing. Do these two play nicely together ?
    Alternatively, as the current AC86U only acts as an access point to my Draytek router, is there a cheaper access-point-only unit that would work well with the AC86U acting as the primary ?

    Reply
  37. Hey Dong, I just happened to find 1 x CT8 and 1 x XT8 in my marketplace community at real discounts. Wondering if, by any chance, these 2 would be compatible together via the wireless backhaul that they both have? Albeit with one being a WiFi5 and another being a WiFi6. What would we tend to expect of the performance?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  38. Dear Mr Dong,
    This is the the first time I have asked you a question or anyone else about this topic. Thank you so much for your expert advice. I have roughly a 1000sf mobile home. 14’x70′. With sheetrock walls. From reading your reviews I was thinking about the Asus RT-AX86U. I need very fast speeds (wifi 6)all the way to the other end of the house(my bedroom). I have bad knees and prefer not to go under the house. If one RT-AX86U is not enough? Will I get half the speed if I use two of these in IMESH when using wireless only? If I absolutely need to connect them with cable is there something you would recommend over this setup? Thank you so much for helping people like me who are on the extreme end of novice. You are a blessing!

    Reply
    • Your home is relatively small, Heath, so a single router will likely do. (But still, that depends on the number of walls, etc., this post will help you figure things out.) As for speed, that takes two. Your clients need to support Wi-Fi 6, too. But as a router, the RT-AX86U is an excellent choice.

      By the way, as long as you have exhausted your search on this site, you can ask as many questions as you like. 🙂

      Reply
      • Mr Dong,
        Thank you so much for your reply. I failed to mention that I have windstream kinetic 200Mbs service. I am trying my best to find a modem only for gbond vdsl2 and I finished the internet and have nothing to show for it. I want to use the rt-ax86u but I can’t find a separate modem ONLY(not my T3200 gateway) to go with it… Windstream don’t want to give me this information. The techncian that set it up told me to plug in the wireless router into the gateway. I don’t want want their gateway. I don’t want to rent it. I want my own modem and the rt-ax86u. Are there any suggestions you know of? Thank you so much for your time and knowledge.

        Reply
  39. Hi Dong,

    Your site is awesome and a lot of great knowledge is here. I wish I’d found it earlier!

    Some months back, I purchased an RT-AX89X on the recommendation of my ISP for use with 10Gbps fiber. I have been pretty happy with it overall, but our ONT (and thus, the router) is in our walk-out basement. The office and gaming devices are mostly in the basement as well. This all works great, but upstairs we get fairly frequent short, but irritating wi-fi dropouts on some devices.

    So I need to add at least one node and set up a mesh. You have said that the RT-AX89X doesn’t work well for this without a wired backhaul. I do intend to run a connection from downstairs to upstairs, but don’t know when I’ll find the time to do it. I think it makes sense to keep the 89X as the primary router, because of the dual 10Gig ports, but I’m not sure what to do for the node(s) setup in the meantime.

    Obviously the ideal solution would be to get the wire run sooner rather than later, but until then, I’m hoping to figure out something that will at least improve on the situation.

    Keep up your awesome work! Your site is truly a great resource.

    Reply
    • I’m in the same situation, Ash, and using the same router for the Multi-Gig ports. You can run a short cable to move the router out in the open, though, at least temporarily. And thanks for the ko-fies. Appreciate the gesture.

      Reply
      • I know that you can’t speak to my specific situation, but the only aimesh router with even one 10 Gig port that I’ve found is the RT-AX89X. I’d love to find another one that has a single 10-Gig port for the backhaul, but as far as I’ve been able to find there isn’t one. At least I don’t think I saw any other 10 Gig capable Asus options in your multi-gig router list.

        I fully admit that it’s pretty unlikely that I’ll be able to come close to saturating that type of connection any time soon, but my ISP is a nonprofit and the price is less than some pay for 1-2Gbps, so I figured I might as well. 🙂

        I’m leaning toward picking up a little bit less expensive, but still multi-gig capable, router to put upstairs for now so that clients connecting to it aren’t limited to a total of 1 Gig. Any thoughts on what might serve best in that capacity?

        I could get a second 10 Gig capable router from another manufacturer and use it as an AP, but I think the convenience of a mesh is probably a better option.

        Reply
        • For this type of application, Ash, you might want to use an enterprise router. But for the cost, what you’re doing is fine. 🙂

          Reply
        • You could also pick up an ax-86u or XT8 for a node since they have a 2.5gig port for WAN, thus giving you multi gig for backhaul!

          Reply
  40. Can’t thank you enough for providing all this info. I want to set-up a mesh network as follows and would really appreciate your opinion.

    Context: Large old House with thick walls internally and externally (600+ sq m).
    Wired ethernet cables throughout. Ethernet wires start in basement. Internet comes into the basement to a location surrounded by thick walls….and not possible to change this.

    Want to set-up a future-proofed wired mesh network, good for streaming with as little connection drop as possible (gaming not necessary). Because of the huge thick walls, I need to create 5 separate zones. The current internet speed is not great (< 100) but hopefully greater in the future.

    Was thinking of the ZenWifi AX mini XD4 wired backhaul, two sets of three. Would that work and what would the set-up be?
    Or would it be better to just set-up 5 separate access points?

    Thank you for any advice and thank you again for all your articles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Reply
  42. Hey Dong,

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

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

    Reply
  43. Dong,

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

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

    Question:

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

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

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

    So my question is :

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

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

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

    Take care,

    Jared

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

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

    Reply
  46. Hi Dong,

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

    Regards,
    Stig

    Reply
  47. Hi Dong,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Best regards,
    Stig

    Reply
      • Hi Dong,

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

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

        Best regards,
        Stig

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

          Reply
          • Hi Dong,

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

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

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

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

            Best regards,
            Stig

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

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

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

    Best Regards
    Amin

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

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

    Thx Much,
    Tony

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

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

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

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

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

    I will repeat the situation again:

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

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

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

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

    Am I doing something wrong?

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

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Neal.

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

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

      Reply
      • Thanks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks in advance for any insight you can share!

    Reply
    • You got things right, John.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    All of the models above are on sale.

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

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

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

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

          • Hi Dong,

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

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

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

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

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

            Am I doing something wrong?

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

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

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

            Would upgrading the 56’s to something else work?

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks for providing such an excellent resource.

    Rich

    Reply
  59. Dong,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thanks!

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

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

          Reply

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