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

Orbi RBK 752 Top
A mesh Wi-Fi system generally includes multiple hardware units.

By now, you must have heard of “mesh,” “Wi-Fi system,” or “mesh Wi-Fi system,” and might have some idea about that they are. OK, they are the same thing. If you already know that, well, there’s more than just semantics in this article.

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You’ll learn here all about this type of Wi-Fi solutions, including when it’s not a mesh and how to best set up one for your home. Sometimes, the little things I mention here can make a huge difference.

Dong’s note: I originally published this piece on April 28, 2018, and last updated it on November 15, 2020, with additional relevant information.

Mesh Wi-Fi system explained

A mesh Wi-Fi system has many names. Apart from those mentioned above, some also refer to it as a wireless mesh network (WMN). But mesh is a short and sweet moniker. I like it.

No matter how you call it, in a nutshell, a mesh consists of multiple hardware Wi-Fi broadcasters (routers, access points, etc.) that work together to form a single unified Wi-Fi network.

The reverse might not be true, however. Just because you have multiple Wi-Fi broadcasters in a single network doesn’t necessarily mean you have a mesh system.

Mesh has been around for a long time, but it became a big deal when a company named eero — all lower case — announced the original eero Wi-Fi System in February 2016.

Since then, there’s been a home mesh revolution with Wi-Fi systems coming out from virtually all networking vendors.

When do you need a mesh

The use of a mesh applies to large homes or offices where a single broadcaster (router) doesn’t provide enough Wi-Fi coverage.

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Generally, it’s best to have just one broadcaster in a home to avoid interferences. In other words, a mesh is not an upgrade to a single router — it’s a necessary alternative.

That said, if your place is 1800 ft2 (167 m2) or smaller, you probably only need a standalone router. But this depends a lot on the layout of your home and where you place the router.

A home Wi-Fi broadcaster emits signals outward somewhat like a sphere. So, think of a mesh when there are areas in your home the current Wi-Fi broadcaster can’t reach. And that can be the case even in a small/medium home if you have to place the router at a side instead of in the middle.

What constitutes a mesh

You need at least two hardware units to form a mesh. One is to connect to the Internet, and the other links to the first one — wirelessly or via a network cable — to extend the Wi-Fi coverage.

These hardware units are called different things by different vendors, such as base stations, access points, nodes, satellites, hubs, mesh points, Wi-Fi points, routers, etc. For the sake of simplicity, let’s call them hubs.

In a mesh, one of the hubs will work as the primary unit that connects to the Internet, and the rest will extend the Wi-Fi and other settings of that unit. To distinguish, I’d call the primary unit router (or main/primary router) and the rest satellites (or satellite hubs).

One of the most important requirements for a mesh is that the hardware units work together to form a single seamless network. On top of that, you should be able to control all of them in one place, like the web interface of the main router or a mobile app.

If you have to manage any hardware piece separately, then it’s not part of a mesh. Below are examples of popular Wi-Fi hardware that doesn’t immediately turn your network into a mesh when put into use.

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Asus ZenWi Fi Mesh System
Asus’s ZenWiFi family is among the best purpose-built tri-band mesh systems on the market.

Non-mesh hardware: Extender vs. access point vs. media bridge

Hardware-wise, using Wi-Fi extenders (a.k. repeaters) or access points (APs) is similar to having a mesh network — there are multiple hubs involved.

In reality, though, they are entirely different. For one, extenders and APs are flexible and will work with any existing network (router), while mesh hubs generally only work specifically with one another or a specific router.

But that’s about the only advantage extenders and APs have over real mesh hardware.

Extenders

A Wi-Fi extender connects itself wirelessly to an existing Wi-Fi network and then rebroadcasts the signal using a Wi-Fi SSID (network name) of its own. (That’s the reason they are often referred to as repeaters.)

As a result, even when you program the extender to use the same Wi-Fi name (SSID) and password as those of the router, you still end up with two independent Wi-Fi networks in the same air space.

Among other things, that can cause interference and adversely affect the performance of both. Also, if you change the Wi-Fi settings of the router, you will likely need to reconfigure the extender manually. Else it might get disconnected.

Extenders tend to be terrible at real-world speeds due to signal loss — more below. And they can be unreliable and a pain to use. In fact, I’ve seen a lot of folks plug an extender in a power socket, and that’s it, thinking it’ll somehow magically make things better.

However, extenders are popular Wi-Fi “quick fixes” since they can give you the full Wi-Fi bars at a location where you used to get low or no bars at all — an illusion of “better Wi-Fi.” On top of that, you don’t need to worry about running network cables.

Netgear EX7500 and EX8000 Extenders
The EX7500 (left) and EX8000 extender from Netgear. Note the former can only work as an extender since it has no network port. The latter, on the other hand, can also function as an access point.
Extra: Extender and virtual MAC address issues

There’s also another odd thing you should keep in mind about extenders: Most of them use virtual MAC addresses for connected clients.

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Specifically, devices connected to an extender will register to the network using a different MAC address instead of its own. Consequently, any features that rely on MAC to identify a device, such as MAC-filtering, IP reservation, or Parental Control will not work well, if at all.

I’ve personally run into this problem with most of the extenders I’ve used, including those from major networking vendors (Netgear, TP-Link, Linksys, and so on). In most cases, it’s unlikely you can change that.

Access points

If you can install network cables, access points (APs) are a much better alternative to extenders. (Note: Some extenders can work as access points and vice versa.)

APs are similar to extenders with one significant difference: An AP connects to the main router using a network cable. For this reason, they deliver significantly higher performance than extenders because there’s no signal loss — more below

That said, an access point must have at least one network port to connect to the router. Some even have more for you to add wired clients to the network.

However, still, APs are similar to extenders in the sense that they need to be managed separately from the router and operate as an independent broadcaster instead of being a seamless part of the existing Wi-Fi network.

However, using APs is the best non-mesh choice. In fact, performance-wise, it can be better than using a real mesh in a wireless setup.

Router Roles AP Extender Media Bridge
Look at the different roles, including a Media Bridge, the an Asus router has to offer.
Bridge (or media bridge)

Bridge, a.k.a Media Bridge, is a popular role that many Wi-Fi broadcasters (router, access point, extender) support.

In this mode, the device receives an incoming Wi-Fi signal and relay that to a wired device (or devices). A media bridge must have at least one LAN port.

You can think of a bridge as a Wi-Fi adapter for a wired device. In other words, it allows a wired device to connect to a Wi-Fi network using the network port. The more ports a bridge has, the more wired devices it can add to an existing Wi-Fi network.

So, a bridge has little to do with a mesh network because it plays the role of a receiver, not a broadcaster. A bridge will work with any Wi-Fi network. If your existing router supports the bridge mode, that’d be a way you can re-use it when you upgrade your system to a new router.

Extra: Bridge mode in a gateway unit

In a gateway unit, a router+modem combo box, the Bridge mode is a bit different. That’s when the gateway will work solely as a modem, and no longer has any router-related function.

You can read more on this post about how to get the most out of ISP-supplied equipment.

How a mesh Wi-Fi network is better (than using non-mesh hardware)

Compare to using individual extenders or access points; a mesh Wi-Fi network has a couple of clear advantages.

Ease of use

A Wi-Fi system is easy to set up. At most, you only need to set up the main hub; the rest of the hubs will replicate the settings of the main hub.

When you need to change Wi-Fi settings, such as the network name (SSID) or password, you only have to do that on the router unit. The satellites will replicate the change by themselves.

Seamless hand-off

In a mesh, it’s easier to have continuous connectivity on your device when roaming from one hub to another, as though there was just one hub involved.


Notes on seamless hand-off
  • For seamless hand-off to work, all connected hardware devices (hubs and clients) need to support the IEEE 802.11r, 802.11v, or 802.11k standard. Most Wi-Fi systems and most clients released in the past five or so years support at least one of these. But there’s a chance they don’t feature the same one, so seamless hand-off is not a sure thing.
  • There’s a chance you can get seamless hand-off out of a router + AP or router + extender combo. However, this function tends to work better in a mesh system.

Keep in mind that some extenders can turn an existing Wi-Fi network into a “mesh” by offering dedicated backhaul and supposedly seamless hands-off — more on backhaul below. Examples of these are the Nighthawk Mesh Extenders from Netgear — the EX8000 and EX7500.

In my testing, the seamless hand-off is almost always hit or miss, depending on your existing router and your clients, and other factors.

But one thing for sure, you’ll still need to re-setup these extenders (or APs) each time you change your Wi-Fi network’s name or password. And since they work as independent broadcasters, there’s a chance they also cause interference. By the way, even a dedicated wireless backhaul is still far less reliable than a wired one.


Generally, don’t expect to have a real mesh system if you use extenders in your network. But, again, a combo of a router plus a couple of access points, when set up properly, can work very similar to a real mesh system.

Better performance

In a mesh network, all the hubs work together as a single unified Wi-Fi network. As a result, they leverage one another’s Wi-Fi signals to deliver the best efficiency, instead of each working independently, which can create interference.

For this reason, a mesh will also have better performance and reliability compared with using a bunch of extenders (or APs) together.

Note, though, that using network cables to link the hubs — a practice called “wired backhaul” — is by far the best for a mesh system.

Signal loss: Wireless mesh’s biggest drawback

When you wirelessly link dual-band Wi-Fi broadcasters together, you will have to deal with signal degradation over distance and a phenomenon called signal loss.

Signal loss happens when a hub’s wireless band receives and rebroadcasts Wi-Fi signals at the same time. Having to do two things simultaneously, it loses at least 50 percent of its efficiency.

Keep in mind that signal loss has nothing to do with the Wi-Fi indicator on a client — you have it even when you’re getting a full-bar Wi-Fi signal on your phone.

Specifically, in a dual-stream (2×2) Wi-Fi system, such as the Linksys Velop Dual-Band, all hubs can deliver up to 867 Mbps on the 5GHz band. A client connected to a satellite hub will get 433 Mbps from it at most, or half the speed, compared to when it connects to the main router.

(Signal loss won’t happen when you get either of the two bands to work exclusively as backhaul. But in this case, your system will be slow due to the speed limitation of the 2.4 GHz band.)

By the way, these are theoretical speeds, in real-world usage, the numbers are much lower, due to distance, interference, and overheads.

For this reason, avoid using cheap extenders of slow Wi-Fi standards since, after the signal loss, the actual Wi-Fi speed is too sluggish to be useful.

To reduce signal loss, networking vendors resort to tri-band Wi-Fi systems (and extenders). Netgear is the pioneer on this front with the introduction of the Orbi product line, which has a second 5 GHz band dedicated to the job of linking the hubs (dedicated backhaul), allowing the other two to focus on serving clients.

Even then, you still have to deal with the fact Wi-Fi signals get weaker over the range. So, the best way to combat signal loss and degradation is to set up your system correctly.

How to best set up a mesh Wi-Fi system

A mesh system often comes in two or three hubs — referred to as 2-pack or 3-pack. One works as the main router and needs to connect to an Internet source, such as a cable modem, using its WAN port. After that, you can add the satellite hubs to the main router.

Importantly note: A satellite hub must connect to the main router, either directly, or indirectly (via a switch or another satellite). It won’t work if you connect it to the device the router also connects to, such as the internet source mentioned above.

Some mesh systems come with pre-synced hardware, such as the Asus ZenWiFi AX or Netgear Orbi. In this case, all you have to do is set up the router unit then place the satellite at a good distance.

Most others require adding the satellite manually via a mobile app or a web interface. After that, they automatically work with the main router hub to form a unified Wi-Fi network.

Amazon eero 6
Using a satellite hub that doesn’t even have a network port, the some of the new eero 6 will not support wired backhaul.

Wired backhaul: The only way to get the best performing mesh

The best way to implement a mesh is by using network cables to link the hubs together in a wired backhaul setup. In this case, you’ll always have the best possible Wi-Fi speeds throughout.

(Note, though, that some canned Wi-Fi systems don’t offer wired backhaul, such as the Orbi RBK13 or some flavor of the new eero 6.)

You don’t need to worry much about how to arrange the hubs in a wired backhaul setup. Within reason, no matter the distance or placement, you’ll get the same performance.

All you need to do is place the hubs in a way they can collectively blanket the entire desired area. By the way, if you have Gigabit-class Internet and want to enjoy it via Wi-Fi, Gigabit (or faster) wired backhaul is a must.

In a wired backhaul setup, you can also use switches between hubs or daisy-chain the mesh units together — it allows for flexible hardware placement.

Wireless backhaul: Super convenient but can be temperamental

Running network cables can be hard or even not possible at all. So wireless mesh setups are popular. In this case, how you arrange the hubs is crucial. That’s because, over the air, the connections between them can vary a great deal.

To deal with that, there are two things to consider, the distance and the topology.

1. The distance

The closer you keep the hubs to each other, the stronger the signal is between them, which translates into faster speeds for clients. The catch is you’ll have less Wi-Fi coverage and probably more interferences.

On the other hand, a longer distance means more extensive coverage, but you’ll end up having a slow Wi-Fi network. For a dual-band system, if you put the units too far, it will likely use the 2.4GHz as backhaul and you’ll have a very slow network.

It’s always tricky to find the sweet spot that balances between coverage and speed. Generally, if there are no walls in between, you can place a hub between 40 ft (12 m) to 75 ft (23 m) from the main router unit. If there are walls, 30 ft to 40 ft is about the maximum distance.

The easiest way to find out where you should put the satellite is via the signal indicator on your phone or laptop. You want to place the unit where the signal starts to change from full bars to one bar lower.

Ultimately, it’s the speed that matters. If you only need to deliver a modest broadband connection, you can go a bit crazy on the distance to get the most extensive coverage.

2. The topology

In a mesh network, the topology is how you arrange the hubs. It’s, again, more relevant to the situation where you can not use network cables to link them.

In a wireless setup, signal loss and latency are inevitable. The goal here is how to reduce them. By the way, you only need to worry about topology when you use more than one satellite. Having a 2-pack network? You can skip this part.

Mesh Topology
The recommended star topology (top) vs. daisy-chain topology. This applies mostly to a mesh without wired backhaul.
The star topology

This one is the recommended topology. It’s where you place the satellites around the primary router. This arrangement ensures each satellite has a direct connection to the main router, making the Wi-Fi signals hop only once from the router before it gets to the end-client.

The daisy-chain topology

The daisy-chain topology refers to when you place the hardware units in a linear fashion. As a result, the signal has to hop more than once — from the main router to a satellite hub, then to another satellite hub, etc.– before it gets to the device.

In this case, the net speed will suffer a great deal, and you’ll experience severe lag due to compounded signal loss. In a wireless setup, avoid this topology if possible.

How to pick the best mesh Wi-Fi system for your home

Cost aside, there are three things you should consider when getting a Wi-Fi system: speed, features, and privacy.

1. Speed

Speed is, by far, the most critical factor. And this depends a lot on if your home is wired with network cables.


General guidelines for a high-performing mesh

First, pick a system with the highest possible Wi-Fi specs within budget.

For a fully wireless mesh, make sure you get a tri-band system with a dedicated backhaul band. Note that for a wireless mesh, Wi-Fi 6 hardware decidedly better than Wi-Fi 5 counterpart.

For a wired home (wired backhaul), go with a dual-band set with the highest possible Wi-Fi specs. A tri-band system will also work but with some, especially the Netgear Orbi, you’ll still lose a band which only works as backhaul.


Generally, for sharing a modest Internet connection (100 Mbps download speed or slower), any mesh system, especially one using the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, will do. The reason is that even slow Wi-Fi speed is still much faster than that.

However, if you pay for a fast Internet plan — 250 Mbps or higher — you’ll need a system that has a dedicated backhaul band.

And if you have an ultra-high-speed internet connection (500 Mbps or faster), you’ll need to run network cables to connect the hubs. There’s no way around this. Even when you use a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh system, chances are you won’t get full gigabit at the end device, unless you use wired backhaul.

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Again, with wired backhaul, all you need is a dual-band system with top Wi-Fi speed. For example, the Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini will deliver excellent sub-Gigabit Wi-Fi rates in a wired setup. If you have Gigabit Internet, a couple of Asus RT-AX8xU units or most dual-band Wi-Fi 6 systems will do.

AiProtection ZenWiFi AX
The Network Protection is one of many features the Asus mesh systems have to offer.

2. Features

The feature set of a system means what you can do with your home network. If all you want is to access the Internet, don’t worry too much about features. However, it’s always helpful to have a system that includes built-in online protection.

I’m not a fan of mesh systems (or routers) without a web interface since they don’t offer users full control of the network.

That said, if you want tons of useful features and network settings, use a mesh system from Asus or Synology. The runners up are those from Netgear or Linksys. Others tend to have a limited amount of features and network settings. In return, they are much easier to set up.

3. Privacy

All Wi-Fi systems that require you to register an account and log in before you can set up or manage your home network pose privacy risks. The reason is your network connects to the vendor at all times, and potentially, third parties can keep tabs on what you do online.

Extreme examples of this type of what I’d call “data-mining mesh systems” are those from Google and Amazon. I’d recommend against them even though they might offer reliable performance and ease of use.

Synology Mesh is the latest option in the mesh market and it's easily one of the best.
Synology Mesh is one of the best option for a Wi-Fi 5 system.

Final note

All Wi-Fi systems should be the only router in your home.

If you want to keep your existing router, or can’t replace the ISP-provided gateway, get a mesh that can work in the access point (AP) mode. In this case, the mesh extends your existing home network without offering any features or special settings.

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No matter what set up you decide to go for, one thing is always true: Using network cable to link the hardware units is the only way to get the best performing system. So get your home wired.

128 thoughts on “Mesh Wi-Fi System Explained: How to Best Use Multiple Broadcasters”

  1. Hello Dong,

    Thanks for the great article. The prewire includes 3 WiFi access point locations in 6,000 sq ft house. I will be using either charter(spectrum) or AT&T internet with speeds of 400-500 mbps or higher if available with 10-15 devices in total. I read about wired back haul being better in your article. I hope prewired 3 wifi access points will be able to achieve that. I read about concerns with privacy issues with vendors like Amazon and Google in your article. I was considering Eero 6 or Eero 6 pro but after reading your article, I am not sure. Which wifi mesh network would you recommend?

    Reply
  2. Hi Dong,

    Thanks for all the useful information. My wife and I are building a home and I plan on installing a mesh wifi system. We have signed up for gigabit fiber service, up to 940 Mbps. The home is ranch style, approximately 3500 s.f. Centurylink is our provider and they plan to install their modem/hub on the outside of our house. I am planning to run a cat6 or 6a ethernet cable from the modem to our primary mesh wifi router (approximately 50′), which will be on a top shelf in our pantry, centralized on the main level. I wasn’t planning on running more ethernet cables, but after reading all of the comments, it sounds like it’s a must for reliability and coverage.

    When you talk about wired backhaul, are you suggesting running cat6 from the primary mesh wifi router to the satellite units or are you suggesting cat6 to televisions and office computer location also? I will most likely get a 3-unit mesh system and place one satellite in the basement and the other strategically placed on the main level. We are hoping this will provide coverage on our back deck and patio as well.

    The drywall work has not begun, so now is the time to run the ethernet cable. I’m just uncertain as to where to run these cables. I’m assuming they should all originate at the primary mesh unit in the pantry? Any recommendations you have for the wiring strategy, what mesh system and the type of ethernet cable would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank You,

    Brent

    Reply
  3. Hi Dong,

    Thanks a lot for your great articles. They are very helpful.
    You mentioned that if someone wants to leave its ISP router he should choose the mesh system which can work in AP mode. Which devices can you recommend which have this kind of ability?

    Reply
  4. Hi Doug,

    I’ve got a large home 12000sqft currently covered by a google Wi-Fi mesh system. We’ve got lots of thick brick walls interior to the house making the mesh connection unstable at times and not great speeds in areas. We have some satellites wired where possible but it’s my understanding the wireless satellites still need to connect back to the main router. I’d like to upgrade and it seems like Tri-band will help. Can you tell
    me which systems will use the wired satellites to extend the mesh to the wireless satellites? For my situation, I think that is required for good speed everywhere.

    Thanks
    Tim

    Reply
  5. Hey, Dong,

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and I have a question I haven’t found a unique answer to. Here are the details:

    1. We use an asus ct-8 mesh. The main is connected to the ftth modem.

    2. There is one ct-8 node connected to the main. (-55 dB signal)

    3. A repurposed RT-88u is daisy- chained to the mesh ct-8 to connect across a hallway. (-55 to -60 signal depending on door opened or closed)

    4. A hacked t-mobile rt-ac68 is acting as a repeater and is broadcasting the mesh ct-8 signal the attic. (-60 dB signal) I can’t get the ct-8 to recognize the ac68 as a mesh for some reason.

    My question is: is my ct-8mesh nodes signal split in half because of the repeater not being a mesh?

    Reply
  6. Harlo Dong, thank you for the sharing.

    I’m looking to improve the wifi in my triple storey house (20000×9000)
    Currently the modem model (RG-DLINK-DIR842) AC1200 was installed on centre of the house.
    The connection at ground floor & 2nd floor was bad.

    Any suggestion or package to improve the wifi connection?
    Thanks.

    Reply
  7. Hi Dong,

    Excellent web site ….. I have a question for you. With everyone working or studying at home I decided to upgrade to 1GB internet connection. Only to realize that the 2 Airport Express that I am using as access points (bridge mode) need replacement. I am using as router the ISP provided one (no wifi configured) and my house is fully wired.

    Do you have any recommendations for my situation? Should I get just 2 WIFI 6 access points? or get one of those mesh systems (configure ISP provided as bridge) ?

    Reply
  8. Hey Dong,

    Your articles are most helpful. Thanks so much bro! I have an old Netgear router from a 100 years ago that must be put to rest. I plan on upgrading to a Mesh Wifi-6 system. My master bedroom (which has a work area) has an ethernet connection (wire run from crawl space from main router). Family room also has an ethernet connection (wire run from crawl space from main router). This was done because my Smart TV, game consoles for kids everything was crawling to a halt over wifi. But laptops (work + personal are all wifi) and my wife and I move around the house searching for peace and quiet to work. In my master bedroom where I work, ethernet cable is near desk and sometimes I work on the bed late night and don’t want cables everywhere. In family room, kitchen etc. wifi-speed ain’t good. Current router is in living room.

    So, I was thinking of one mesh (primary) connected to modem. One in my master bedroom (wired backhaul), so when my wife and I are working, we are getting Gig speeds that we are PAYING for! In family room put the 3rd unit using wired backhaul. We have tons of Nest cameras, tablets and so many devices used by parents, grand parents and my pets! LOL.

    What do you recommend? Also, undecided between Orbi (latest version), Deco X60, M9 Plus, etc. Can you please help guide me about best setup and more so on which model would work best. Money is not an issue.

    Reply
  9. Hey Dong,

    Great post and I appreciate the clear and simple descriptions of systems and your recommendations!

    I’m looking at mesh systems for my home since I get spotty signals due to the location of my main router compared to the other rooms in our home, approx. 4,000 sf with a daylight basement. I have several devices running off WiFi like security cameras, pelotons and several rokus and my WiFi extender is not cutting it.

    I noticed in the post you mention that if you can hardwire the hubs together then there’s no need for tri-band and that dual is all you’d need. I have a gigabit connection and the house is wired with Ethernet so I’m pretty confident I could find a way to link up all the hubs through my existing cabinet. However can you confirm that I a Triband with dedicated backhaul would it be worth it?

    I’ve been looking at the Eero system in either dual or tri but let me know if you have a better recommendation!

    Reply
    • Hi Dong,

      What do you think of using a pair of TP-Link AV-2000 Powerline adapters to create the back haul signal in an ASUS Airmesh system.

      Thanks,
      Reg

      Reply
      • It will work but, Reginald, but powerline adapters can be quite unreliable and slow (despite what the vendor claims). Your mileage will vary depending on how the electrical wiring of your home is. More here.

        Reply
        • Hi Dong,
          Thank you for replying to my last query and also, thank you for your time and what you do.
          Last time, I asked about the use of TP-Link AV2000 Powerline ethernet adapters (AV2000). I had 2 of these laying around and wanted to try and use them.
          I have also purchased a TP-Link RT-AC5400X router and two TP-Link RE450 Extenders.
          I have a two storey house. There is a Smart TV, Streaming and Gaming devices beside it on the lower floor. Upstairs, there is another Smart TV in the Master bedroom. There is a corridor that connects all 4 bedrooms.
          I would like to use both powerline adapters to create a wired ethernet drop from the router downstairs to an outlet in the MBR near to the TV. I plan on plugging the second AV2000 Powerline Adapter into this outlet. The TV will be plugged in here together with one of the RE450 Extenders to establish an Access Point. The second Extender will be plugged into an outlet in the corridor in the vicinity of the other bedrooms. What are your views on this plan? My plan B is to just set up the Extenders in the normal way. Without the Powerline adapters.
          Sorry that this is so long. I would appreciate your opinion.
          Thank you very much.
          Reg

          Reply
      • What Dong said, but I will add a little detail from personal use. I have a TL-WPA8630 pair, which claims “AV-1300” speeds. I think in some places they actually spell this out as being “1.3 Gigabit” equivalent but it would take some incredible gall to say that to your face — in the real world, getting half that would be a miracle.

        The way your home electric lines are wired has a huge impact on performance, and in my older home (built in the late 1800s, refurbed in the ’90s) I routinely got 70/40 Mbps (up/down) speeds, and even then there would be “spikes” of latency or packet loss that wreak havoc on streaming applications. We couldn’t watch TV while the dryer was running without getting video artifacts and dropped connections!

        Have you looked at MoCA at all? I’ve heard nothing but praise for that tech and you might have an unused coax run that you could use instead. If that’s not an option (and assuming you don’t already have the mesh routers picked out), think about picking up a tri-band mesh to try from a store with a good return policy. I set up a pair of RT-AX92U between the points where the aforementioned powerline pair used to run, and the dedicated backhaul band has been really great for a month now.

        Reply
      • Thank you for your prompt response Dong. I think I’ll try using the Powerline adapters as backhaul for My Asus Airmesh network. I read all that you sent and will let you know how it turns out.
        Thanks,
        Reg

        Reply
  10. Hi Dong.
    I’ve been reading all your articles and I must they are some of the most clear and simple explanations I’ve read till date especially for a layman like me. I have 2 fiber connections of 50 Mbps and 100 Mbps from different ISPs but my wifi router is at least 6 years old and I am getting dead spots. I use a TP Link load balancer to merge the two connections together and am also using TP Link Powerline adapters but they are pretty spotty. Which mesh system would you recommend for a multi storied 3000 sqft house (cost no object) ?

    Reply
  11. I have a large home that is long and narrow. The home is wired with Ethernet ports in most of the rooms. Unfortunately, my router (Xfi/Wi-Fi 6/Comcast) is located at one end and cannot be moved. The Wi-Fi signal is excellent near the router and poor or non existent at the other end of the home and in the basement. Xfi pods were a disappointment. What would suggest as a solution?
    Thank you for hosting such an informative site.

    Reply
  12. Hi Dong! I’m getting a Mesh WiFi System (TP-Link Deco P9 Hybrid Poweline, 3 units). I don’t have wired backhaul, so I’m hoping the poweline backhaul helps me. I’ll connect it through ethernet to the ISP’s router/modem. The question is: What happens if I set it to Access Point mode? the 3 units will broadcast the same SSID as the ISP router, right? But will there be clash? If my device is nearby the main deco unit and the ISP router, is there a risk of my device connecting to ISP router and then switching to the TP-Link mesh? (thus breaking the seamless transition between points like it happens with extenders)

    Reply
    • Roberto, you wouldn’t normally run WiFi from the ISP router and your mesh kit at the same time. Your mesh APs still get IP addresses on your network and you can manage them via app/web interface, so you pick your own SSID / password / etc.

      Dong, Roberto’s comment reminded me to ask, have you reviewed any mesh kits that include a hybrid-powerline feature? I’m using a powerline AP right now, and while my wiring is garbage and I can barely top 60 Mbps real-world performance, I’d be interested to know if there’s a mesh kit out there that bonds powerline and wireless backhauls intelligently.

      Reply
  13. Dong, I think you meant to reply to George with this post instead: https://dongknows.com/powerline-networking-explained/ — he asked about Powerline and you replied with your PoE explainer.

    I was curious, because my powerline setup is pretty disappointing — old, wonky electric wiring means I can only manage about 60Mbit — and I’ve been considering replacing everything with a single mesh setup, hopefully with dedicated wireless backhaul. Is bad powerline still better than a tri-band all-wireless mesh?

    Reply
  14. Hi there, I’m currently using 3 node TP-Link Deco M5 mesh for my wifi networking. I have them set as router mode (as opposed to AP mode), with 1 main node connected through ethernet to an older ISP-provided router, and the other 2 extra nodes connected wirelessly (I don’t know if that is the right set up).

    My question is will I be able to have ethernet connection if I plug my laptop to the extra nodes?

    Reply
  15. Dong, thanks! youve been so helpful.
    So I can set up my cameras using Dyndns independent of the router? Thats forwarding right?
    I will read your articale in more detail and attempt this. I always understood teh router and teh networked device needed DDNS. I’ve order teh Lyra trio as suggested. Thanks again

    Reply
    • Sure, Matt. Any device in your network can work as a DDNS updater if it has that feature. The router is just one option. Port forwarding is another thing. The post will explain.

      Reply
  16. Hi Dong. Thanks that’s good advice.
    The trio it is then.
    How does it compare to the Deco M5? I’ve been quite happy with this just the ddns that is driving me crazy.
    I’m sure you know the deco only supports tplinkdns and. I don’t think my network client does.
    Any advice there please ?

    Thanks again
    Matt

    Reply
    • You don’t need to use DDNS at the router, Matt. You can use it on any client (or server) within your network with whatever host you want. So, say if you want to use dync.com, you can use their client updater on a computer, etc. If you have a NAS server or an IP camera, they tend to have their own DDNS feature, use that. More on that here.

      Reply
  17. Hi Dong,

    I have to link deco M5 setup but am finding it impossible to use ,my home security cameras as they need dyndns and deco only supports tplinkdns so I, thinking of switching to Asus Lyra.
    Ipmy home has a brick walls so would probably 5 or 6 lyras – 2 with wired back haul and the balance wireless. I’ve read it best not to connect more than 5 though. Any thoughts on using the 6th?
    Also, if you have any info on how I can use tplinkdns rather than dyndns that would be great too.
    Thanks very much

    Reply
  18. Gents, I am interested in this same topic as I currently have a GT-AX11000 at one corner of my home and at the reverse corner of my house is where my office is located which hardly gets any signal at all, if any. Now that my family has been working from home due to COVID-19, I have decided to bite the bullet and purchase a Zen AX Node to add to my network to get better signal out to that back corner. I wanted to keep the dedicated 5ghz as the backhaul. Have you guys seen any issues or concerns with this set up? It did catch my eye that you said turn off QoS. I currently have QoS on under the Game Acceleration tab prioritizing “work from home” and the QoS settings set to default under Traffic Analyzer/Bandwidth Monitor. I am not sure which QoS is being referred to when you say turn of QoS.

    Reply
  19. Hi Dong, great stuff!
    I have gigabit service at my house that comes in at one end of my L-shaped Ranch home. Unfortunately, where the service enters the house is the exact opposite end from where my office is. My current solution to get hardwired internet to my work setup in the office is via a powerline adapter – providing service to a docking station, VOIP phone, printer, and a second WAP in the office that broadcasts a wifi network for that end of the home. This functions okay, but I hate that the powerline connection kills my speed and my family’s devices often drop when switching from one WAP to another.

    I am planning to get a mesh solution with the main unit at the source of the internet service, a second in at the corner of my L-shaped house, and a third in the office. I also plan to crawl around in the attic to run Cat 6 cable from the ISP source to the office on the far end of the house.

    My question to you is this: will using the hardwire as a backhaul between the first and third node while connecting both to the middle node wirelessly still allow for full-speed (1GBs+) wifi throughout the mesh network? If not, will there be an appreciable slow-down? Ultimately, I’m trying to avoid running an additional Cat 6 cable for the middle node of the mesh network. What do you think?

    Also, knowing that future-proofing my hardware as much as possible is more important than immediate cost concerns, I welcome any suggestions you have for what mesh network would be best for me. I’m currently planning to wait (indefinitely) for the TPLink Deco X90, but would love your input.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  20. Wow, that was fast. Thank you for response. I appreciate the recommendation, but the application is for outdoors, so I don’t think the EX8000 is a good match. If you have a recommendation for an outdoor AP, wired or wirelessly compatible with the Orbis, I’d love to hear it.

    Reply
  21. My boss has an Orbi RBR50 and RBS50 at home and wants to extend his coverage outside to cover his 80’x80′ back yard. He doesn’t want to pay the price of a RBS50Y. I’ve tried looking into adding a wired AP to either existing device and sharing the SSID, since third-party mesh devices are incompatible, but i can’t find a definitive answer. What do you reccomend?

    Reply
    • You can use any access point for this purpose, Andrew. Just make sure you understand what an access point is as noted at the top of this post. Once you’ve got one, you can connect it to the router or the satellite of the Orbi mesh. Alternatively, you can try the over-priced EX8000, which can work either as an AP or an extender.

      Reply
  22. Hello Dong, I love reading your articles. I I read many but could not find any clue to my question. I currently have a Asus RT-X89X router in my basement. I want to buy another Asus router to create an AImesh since Wifi signal on the 3rd floor is unreliable. I am able to do wired-backhaul since my house is pre-wired with CAT6. Should I buy a dual-band or a tri-band router? Will I get any benefit from the third band of the tri-band router in a wired backhaul mesh? Please advice.

    Reply
  23. Hello Dong! Thanks for your article.

    I am in the process of remodeling all the internet configuration at home and I need some recommendations to know what is the most simple and efficient.
    Thank you very much in advance for your help!

    My ISP Internet Speed is 1 GB/s and I want to know the best way to try to keep that speed in every corner of home.

    I would like to place a switch to distribute cable network to all floors and each floor to place an Access Point (The type of network cable I have is CAT5e)

    The Home solution that I want is this one, please tell me if it’s the best for me:

    Floor 2: Access Point by ethernet

    Floor 1: Access Point by ethernet

    Floor 0: Switch and ISP Router/modem

    Floor – 1: Access Point by ethernet

    My question is:

    1) It’s a good solution to place a TP Link Deco on each floor in “Access Point” mode connected by cable to the switch and making an ethernet backhaul connection?
    Examples: TP Link Deco m5 or m9 Plus
    https://www.tp-link.com/en/home-networking/deco/

    OR

    2) Place a Router on each floor in “Access Point” mode connected by cable to the switch.
    Examples of router:
    https://www.tp-link.com/en/home-networking/wifi-router/archer-c2300/

    OR

    3) Put another mesh network product or what solution do you recommend? Do you recomment something better than the deco m9 plus?

    My ISP Internet Speed is 1 GB/s and I want to know the best way to keep that speed.

    Other doubts:

    The Switch I’m thinking of buying is this one because I was told that in order to connect TV BOXES to the switch to work well, the switch had to have the “IGMP Snooping V3” functionality. Do you confirm?
    https://www.tp-link.com/en/business-networking/easy-smart-switch/tl-sg1024de/

    It’s necessary to buy a good router to link in bridge mode to my ISP Router? And then off the wireless functionalities of my ISP Router?

    Thank you very much again for your help. 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi John, 1 and 2 are the same. 3 is the way to go. I’d recommend getting a nice router (that’s that has a lot of useful features) and a set of TP-Link Omada PoE mesh, or you can use the ISP-provided as the router. If you want or have to keep the ISP-provided gateway and still want to get a new router/mesh check out this post.

      Reply
  24. Thanks for the speedy reply! I think I may have phrased my question poorly. Instead of using a cable for backhaul could you use something like a wireless point to point bridge. I looked at the Ubiquiti Nanostation that uses 2.4 ghz signal but has a range of a couple kilometers and supports transfer speeds of 450mbps. my thought is that it would increase the range between the mesh router and the satellite point. Thank you

    Reply
    • You can make it work wirelessly, however, but with that distance, the result won’t be good nor will it be reliable. Run a cable, Jacob, it’s probably cheaper that way in your case.

      Reply
  25. Hello Dong and thank you for the great article. I have a question that I was hoping you might be able to help me with. I’m trying to help my father-in-law install a network that spans between two houses. They are about 100ft apart so I think the distance is too great to span with a traditional mesh network without daisy-chaining multiple satellites, and throttling the connection. Do you think it would be possible to create a an ethernet backhaul connection between the router and satellite that uses a wireless point to point connection. Using something like the Ubiquity Nanostation M2. Thanks!

    Reply
  26. Hi! Im helping a friend setup wifi in his house. Its 3 floor house with concrete walls between. Hes got 2x RT-AC68U routers that has AIMesh and one RT-N65U that havent got AIMesh. We will use wired backhaul. What do you recommend we do?

    Should we get another RT-AC68U to replace the RT-N65U and just use AIMesh or can we use AIMesh with the 2 existing RT-AC68U and then set the RT-N65U in access point mode to work with these?

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • You guys should do this, Markus.

      1. Set the two RT-AC68U in an AiMesh setup, using wired backhaul.
      2. Set up the RT-N65u in the access point mode, connecting it to one of the RT-AC68U using a network cable. Make you configure its Wi-Fi to be the same as that of the AiMesh router.

      Reply
  27. Laughing now. When I looked at my wiring my switch was going into the google fiber box and not the router. Moving the cable solved it all. Appreciate your insight! Your site and advice rock!

    Reply
  28. OK – I will give that a try. The Lyra devices are currently in the RT-AC68U interface. I assume I should delete them from the mesh in the ac68u interface then push the reset button and wire one and try to add it when it’s wired? If that doesn’t work I may move the 68U to the utility box in the basement so that the nodes can plug in directly to the back of the AC68U. The 68U seems to see all of the clients connected to it wirelessly or wired directly to a LAN port on the actual unit but doesn’t always see whats hardwired through the switch. Maybe that is part of the problem I am facing?

    Reply
    • If you choose to remove it from the interface, it’ll reset itself. And yes, check the connection between the RT-AC68U and the switch. Your network might be fragmented, or the switch is connected to the device *before* the router, and not the router itself, or maybe there’s another router between the RT-AC68U and the Lyra. Or maybe the switch itself is a router and not a switch. Check my previous message and follow that simple diagram.

      Reply
  29. Hi Dong!

    Mike L here again. So I took the plunge and picked up a 3-pack of Asus Lyra AC2200 to add to my existing AC68U. Linked them in the Lyra app. Updated them all. Reset them. Placed them and added them to the AC68U as mesh nodes. Working mostly fine. Here’s where I am struggling. I run google fiber with the wifi off and the google modem/router feeds directly into the WAN port of the AC68U which runs my wifi. From there the Lan runs to a netgear gigabit switch in the basement that feeds the other ethernet connections in the house. All 3 of the lyra nodes are connected wirelessly to the 68U. When I try to connect them via ethernet they go offline. Am I missing something? Any help you can give is appreciated!

    Reply
    • Try this, Mike:

      1. Wired hardware connection: Internet source (Modem/Gateway) -> (WAN port of) RT-AC68U (LAN ports) -> (Switch or not) -> Other wired devices.
      2. Now reset the Lyra, connect one unit’s WAN port to the switch or the RT-AC68U, start the AiMesh setup from within the RT-AC68U’s interface.
      3. Repeat step #2 with the other Lyra units.

      Reply
  30. Hey Dong, Clif again! Seems like backhauling these two 86U routers to the 89X is going to be the way to go. Reading lots of frustration online about AiMesh, and I guess since its would work great for a short period before becoming problematic I thought it was something I was going to find a magic fix for. Particular type of LAN cable I should get? While I’m not Gig speed currently would prefer to not have to run wire again. Plus it has to go through the attic in Florida heat so well insulated. And hopefully this will fix the issues going wired.

    Reply
  31. Hi Dong,

    Avid follower of your posts/reviews. Dong, i have a simple question. If it is not possible to connect two mesh points (router + hub) via ethernet cable, is it possible to connect them using ethernet over powerline adaptors. Would this scenario be better than connecting the two units via wifi.

    Reply
  32. I have a quick question on this, I have multiple WAPs as well but all of them are choosing their channels automatically. Should I manually set their channels to be different, and can I do this arbitrarily or is there a way I can find the best channels?

    I have a couple RT-AX88U units in AP mode, since my main router is setup my AT&T. Not sure if it’s worth adding another ASUS router near the modem so that I can connect the AX88U units with an AiMesh setup. (doesn’t seem AiMesh will work by connecting to APs to my AT&T issued router).

    Reply
    • 1. If you use APs, let them pick the channel by themselves. They are independent broadcasters and should manage their channels to avoid interference.
      2. Yes, it’s worth it. You can have an AiMesh system working in AP mode. But it’s best to turn the ATT box into a modem. For more on that check out this post on double-NAT vs single-NAT.

      Reply
  33. Hi Dong,
    I as so happy I came across your website 🙂
    Very informative and helpful.

    I purchased the ZenWiFi AX mesh system and was happy sailing for a week or so. I use one of the XT8 as a main router and the second one as a node together with AC-5300 as another node. The XT8 acting as a node losses connection to the main router approx twice a week. AC-5300 never lost the connection.

    I have lot’s of WiFi and few wired devices. I am not sure what is the problem, but I suspect that the XT8 node gets overloaded. Or perhaps the XT8 router is not able to keep up? Both XT8 get between 6-8 devices connected at a time.

    I don’t have a massive apartment but the wireless connectivity is awkward. It’s a rented one and a wired back-haul is out of the question. I got gigabit internet and was looking for a solution to maximise the throughput.

    I am thinking of even adding the GT-AX11000 as a main router and using both XT8s as nodes – is that even possible?

    My apartment has approx 130m2 (~1400ft2) and all bedrooms are places alongside a long corridor with a living room at the end of the corridor.
    When I check on the router’s settings page – the signal between the router and node is flagged as GOOD.

    Your help would be appreciated!
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Glad you’re here, Rafal.

      Yes, that’s totally possible. In fact, I’ve been using the GT-AX11000 as the main router and many others as nodes as you might have noted via screenshots in different posts. As for the disconnection issues, trying using the RT-AC5300 as the main router. Upgrading them all to the latest firmware. Reset then re set up. Do NOT turn on QoS.

      Hope that helps.

      Reply
  34. This is a very good article. However, my experience is: do NOT use wireless backhaul unless it’s really your only option. Get a mesh system where all the satellites have an ethernet port and use a cable to connect to the router. Limit wireless backhaul only to zones where it is absolutely impossible to use a cable.
    This is because signal loss is ALWAYS a problem with a wireless backhaul, regardless of the fact that it has a dedicated band or not. I have an Orbi, for example. The problem is not to have a dedicated band, the problem is signal loss. This happens because, of course, you want to *extend* your network. So the satellite will be placed where the signal from the router already starts fading. Otherwise, you wouldn’t need an extension at all. And this means that the backhaul will be slow, as slow as with an extender. The problem mentioned in the article is not solved by a mesh system or a dedicated band, I discovered this the hard way.
    Speed with wireless backhaul in real-world conditions is terrible and you will have to deal with it. Stick to wired backhaul whenever possilble. Make sure to buy a system where satellites support wired backhaul: you might discover that it’s the only way to get a good speed. If your satellites only support wireless backhaul, they might be useless. I ended up thrashing my Orbi satellite and now I use the old router plus the Orbi router connected via cable, as if it were a satellite, with the same SSID. Yes, devices do not roam seamlessly, but at least I get the full speed.

    Reply
    • Thanks for the input, Tom. But I think you didn’t read the entire post, especially the part I talked about wired backhaul. :).

      Reply
      • You shouldn’t use the Orbi if you have wired backhaul. It’s a waste of money. Any tri-band mesh is primarily for a situation where wired backhaul is not available.

        Reply
          • Yes, Pritpal, even when you use them with a wired backhaul, the 2nd 5GHz band is still not available to users. If you use a different tri-band set, like an Asus AiMesh, you can use this band for users.

          • Since, I am unable to reply to your last comment about the technical reason of why Orbi not allowing you to use the 3rd band even if wired backhaul is setup, I’ll just end the thread by saying that I read the link on Asus AiMesh. The 3rd band cannot have the same SSID as the other two, so clients have to either choose SSID1 (2.4g + 5g1) and SSID (5g2), which defeats the purpose. This is a universal problem. So dual band is good but lacks features like guest network, parent controls and all that. Anyways, thanks for engaging in this conversation with me. Appreciate it. I’ll read up more on what is the best option for me. Got me thinking about issues that I didn’t think before.

  35. I just wanted to buy a Home & Mesh Wi-Fi Systems. I saw a good one on a shopify website last week, but I don’t know if the price is suitable. Can you give me some suggestions?

    Reply
  36. Hi Dong, Great article and it cleared up some things about wired backhaul that I was unclear about. I have a couple of questions concerning wifi speed on the various mesh systems. I’m going to be setting up a network in a new home for family and It’s a large 4000sq ft home. They will be paying for 200Mbps speed from the ISP. What “AC Protocol” (AC 1750, 2200, 3000 etc..) should I be looking for that will provide at least 200Mbps over a 5Ghz signal from close to the node assuming I use a wired backhaul? Also do you have any recommended systems for this type of set up. I would like to have some features, parental control probably most important. FYI the primary hub/router is going to have to be in a closet/pantry where the modem is going to have to go (they didn’t know any better when they planned it). I’ve been thinking a 3 node system because of that but I would love to hear your take. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi JB, the ACxxx is very misleading since it’s the combined number of all the bands and a connection takes place on a single band at a time. That said, you’re looking for 2×2 or faster AC broadcasters. If you’re going to use wired backhaul, almost any systems will do. If you’re looking to use wireless backhaul, you need a tri-band system.

      Parental control hasn’t been one of my big concerns (I should have paid more attention to this and I will from now on). But for your needs, I’d recommend getting the RT-AC86U and two Blue Caves. With wired backhaul, they will work very nicely. Also, you’ll have pretty good parental control features (though again, I haven’t really used it.)

      Reply
  37. Hi,

    A little late to the party here but I was wondering if you’ve done testing to see if Mesh is faster than multiple WAPs?

    You say that Mesh will give the best peformance, but in a Mesh network aren’t all of the nodes forced in to operating on the same channel? If so, wouldn’t there be some degradation of signal due to interference. Or do the nodes automatically reduce/increase signal strength to reduce the interference? ( I think I read somewhere that some nodes do that??)

    I have a large house and have favoured multiple WAPs as I’ve been a bit sceptical of mesh solutions
    I currently have a Asus RT-AC87U acting as the main router in the house, which is placed in the basement.
    On the 2nd story I have a Asus RT-AC66U wired backhauled to the RT-AC87U acting as an access point.

    I’ve set them up to use the same SSID and passwords, channels are configured manually to ensure no overlapping, and roaming assist is enabled.
    Wireless devices jump between the two without problem and I can get full download speeds from both of them using the Speedtest app in alot of the house.

    However, there’s still one small area at the far end of the house where wireless devices experience dropouts and am on the brink of adding another AP (wired backhaul, of course).

    Unfortunately neither of these two routers that I currently have from Asus support AiMesh but have seen that I can buy used Asus routers that do for little money and have been wondering about getting 3 of these devices to try AiMesh, all wired backhauled.
    (RT-AC68Us can be bought cheaply and support AiMesh)
    Worst case, mesh Wi-Fi isn’t cracked up to what everyone raves about and I just set them all to run as ordinary APs.

    But I wonder if it’s worth it? Hence my initial question about you having tested mesh vs multiple WAPs.
    Would there be any benefit performance wise in going mesh instead of multiple APs. I believe my current setup delivers the good (apart from the one dead-ish area which will soon be fixed one way or another)

    Maybe I should just get another RT-AC87U (these can also be bought for little money) but the advantage of this model over the AC68U or AC66U is that it supports 4×4 on the 5Ghz band.

    Reply
    • You’re already having a mesh, Ben. It’s just that you had to spend time and configure each AP individually. If you get a mesh from the beginning, you only need to configure it once at the router unit. So, you’re doing well now, no need to change anything. And sure, add another AP for that far corner. Using wired backhaul is always the best approach.

      Reply
  38. Hi Dong,

    I’ve found this article to be super helpful.

    I currently have a wired star topology with a router which is connected to the internet. Off this main router I have wired connections into different areas of my place with another router attached and set up as AP mode. All SSIDS have a seperate name which is annoying.

    Hence why I’m switching to Orbi (someone is giving it to me). I’m reading a lot of articles discussing how Orbi supports Daisy Chaining and how good it is, but haven’t seen at articles discussing how star topology is better….except your article alludes to it here, albeit in a wireless setup.

    Do I need to change my topology to be a daisy chained network or is star wired network still king?

    It seems as though star topology would be better, but I’m confused now. If you could shed some light on this I’d be super grateful!

    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Ronnie,

      Star or daisy-chaining topologies applies only to when you use the hardware units in a WIRELESS setup. If you use network cables to link them up, it doesn’t matter. And yes, the Orbi will work great for you, but any mesh system with wired backhaul support is, for that matter, considering your current setup.

      Hope this helps,

      -Dong.

      Reply
  39. Good article as always. I have couple questions. My background is I have owned Orbi (multiple satellites to the point I ended up getting 9000sqft worth of devices for 3800 sqft house trying to get best coverage throughout house) and currently use Eero Pro. All connected using Wifi (no wired backhaul option for me). For Orbi, I used Star as well as daisy chain options with router located center of house. Currently we have 300Mbps DL service, but recently I see our town getting new cable replacement by Xfinity so I’d assume/hope we will get Gigabit service soon.

    I had major issue with Orbi due to constant connection drop, and eventually ended up selling. But in retrospect I wonder if having too many satellites resulted in interference. Though I added one satellite at a time in attempt to maximize throughput throughout the house. Eero is unremarkably stable, never had issue of dropout for months but does not get me the fastest speed.

    So I’m currently looking at potential of alternative and conceptually, AiMesh really intrigues me. In particular, ROG Ax11000 appears future proof on paper and flexibility of node selection to the extreme of second Ax11000 for dedicated wifi backhaul placed South and North end of house vs. center Ax11000 and as needed Ax88U or upcoming Ax6100 at North and Sounth ends.

    For these, I have couple questions.

    What do you think about satellite/node selection, particularly on AiMesh when compared to system like Orbi or Eero? With the latter two system, I’ve experienced that selection of node seems not always optimal i.e. despite physically closer, instead of satellite, device connects to router, which due to the distance gets slower speed. I’ve also read on other sites, AiMesh still tried to connect to router when reachable despite slower speed and as you move far away enough where router signal unreachable switched to Node, and suddenly speed became faster despite even further away from router and node than before. It certainly sounds like firmware issue, but have you noticed this?
    Dedicated Backhaul Wifi Channel. I know these are supported only on triband AiMesh compatible routers but do we have a option to turn off when triband rounters are meshed?
    Why would you say over 500Mbps, we must have wired backhaul? It makes sense wired backhaul will take away any loss of speed between router and node(s), but devices with dedicated wifi backhaul over 1Gps channel, in theory shouldn’t they be able to support theoretically 1Gbps ethernet equivalent if close enough?

    Reply
    • I think AiMesh is much better than Orbi or Eero. You have way more features and almost no privacy risks.

      What you talked about is called roaming assistance, which you can adjust in the professional section of the Wi-Fi settings. You can change the number to make a connection less sticky, meaning a client will more likely jump to a closer node.

      As for speed, I’ve never experienced any AC Wi-Fi connection that tops 950Mbps of real world speed even at optimal conditions. That said on average, at best, you get around 600Mbps, plenty fast but not fast enough to deliver a gigabit broadband in full.

      By the way, for your need, I think a Synology Mesh will suite you better. (Check it out: https://dongknows.com/synology-mesh-review/). Among other things, you will have dedicated back-haul for much less, though, still you won’t get net gigabit Wi-Fi speed. For that you’ll need Wi-Fi 6.

      Hope this helps,

      -Dong.

      Reply
  40. Thanks for your response. Unfortunately, because of the bldg I can’t run all cat 5 cable to the AP so I ran the powerline part of the way and then the Cat 5 out to my AP which does use a POE. Is the TP-Link AP you noted above better able to support dual-band/backbone? Even with such an AP the closest I’m able to get to the boat is still about 150 ft. So I take it there would be little advantage to just going with the TP-Link AP unit over trying to set up an ASUS AiMESH between office and boat?

    Thanks, Marcus

    Reply
    • That’s correct, Marcus. For your situation, I think it doesn’t make sense to go with an AiMesh (though that doesn’t hurt). You better off going with a cheaper solution.

      Reply
  41. HI Dong,

    I have an ASUS AC-68U router in my office connected to modem as the only local internet source point in my small town, for my primary wifi network. From there I connect to my boat that we live on for Internet/WiFi service. The physical layout of the bldg and dock makes this problematic. The boat is about 150 ft from the back of my bldg on the dock with a clear line of sight. So far, the best arrangement I’ve come up with, after much trial and error, is:

    1. Office (Asus AC-68U router) network- SSIDa >>
    2. Powerline+ethernet cable (~100 ft.) to Engenius 1750AC access point on back of bldg – SSIDb >>
    3. Wirelessly (~150 ft to boat) thru high-gain antenna to PepWave Surf SOHO Mk3 router for my boat wifi network – SSIDc.

    Pepwave router has rollover/fallback capability with tethering to my Verizon 4G LTE phone, but requires manual setup. It works… mostly. I get 20-30Mbps downloads, occasionally up to 50 Mbps depending on time of day, but often lose the connection and have to reacquire the internet for most of my electronics on the boat. When I leave the dock out cruising I have to acquire a new WiFI AP wherever I may be, which is a rather laborious, but obviously necessary process…

    If I haven’t made this too confusing, I have a couple questions and would appreciate your input. I’ve been researching and contemplating adding another ASUS AC-68U router for an AiMesh (and since it will also support 4G rollover and a better interface) to see if this would give me greater ease, speed and reliability, particularly at the dock where the boat spends most of its time.

    1. Can I just replace the Pepwave router on the boat with the 2nd ASUS and invoke AiMesh setup?
    2. Will it work with the Engenius AC1750AP interposed between the two ASUS routers, or should I replace the Engenius AP with the ASUS router as access point (and the Pepwave) for a three node setup, although it would be a linear arrangement?
    3. Would I benefit from all three nodes having the same network SSID?
    4. Would you, perhaps suggest a better alternative setup?

    Thanks for your time and ideas, Marcus

    Reply
    • Hi Marc, here’s my suggestion.

      1. Keep the RT-AC68U as it is. Get rid of everything else.
      2. Get a PoE access point (like this one https://amzn.to/2JyXaP5, note that it includes a PoE injector) and a long network cable (CAT5e, up to 300 feet long)
      3. Connect the PoE injetor to the RT-AC68u via a short network cable. Plug it into power.
      4. Connect one end of the long network cable int o the PoE Injector, and the other end into the access point.
      5. Place the access point near your boat, as near as the network cable allows (and there’s a roof over it.)
      6. Set up the access point to have the same Wi-Fi network name (SSID) and password as that of the RT-AC68u.

      And that’s it. If you need a cellular backup connection, you can plug the dongle into the USB port of the RT-AC68U and set that up.

      Hope this helps 🙂

      Reply
  42. I just bought a house with CAT5 wiring, so I can hard wire to every room. But I also want a Mesh network so things like my phone and iPad can seamlessly travel from one hub to the next. What is the best MESH network that I can set up using direct wiring? i.e., I assume it would be better to direct wire the hubs rather than loosing any speed just setting up the mesh wirelessly. ?? And please don’t tell me Google. I bought it and returned it because I did not know Google follows your every move on the network. I don’t want big brother watching me!

    Reply
  43. Hi anh Đông. In your Asus AiMesh article you mentioned that if I have 2 routers, 1 with tri-band and the other with duo-band, then the tri-band should be the node and the other should be the router. Does this mean that the node will avoid having to use some bandwidth to connect to the main router, as you said about half of the bandwidth, and can provide full bandwidth for clients connecting to the node?

    In real use if my Internet connection is ~40 Mbps does it make a difference?

    Reply
    • That’s correct in a wireless setup, Anh. If you use cables to connect them together it doesn’t matter. Also it’ll make no difference if you just want to share the internet and your internet is slower than 150Mbps.

      Reply
  44. Lots of grammatical errors in your posts, but this typo definitely needs to be fixed:
    “2. The typology
    In a mesh network, the topology …”
    All of the ‘typology’-ies in this article should be ‘topology’, right?

    Reply

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