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Building a Serious Home Network: A Quick Guide on Picking the Best Wi-Fi Access Points

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Wi-Fi access points (WAPs, or APs) are similar to extenders, with one significant difference: an AP connects to the existing network, namely your router, using a network cable. And that changes everything.

While AP might sound foreign, they are ubiquitously available as an internal part of Wi-Fi routers. An AP is the hardware component that broadcasts Wi-Fi signals. Consequently, separating it from the router applies to a modern wired home where the Internet terminal is not located at the center or any place suitable for a wireless broadcaster — a closet, a concrete basement, or a metal box. In this case, using a standalone access point connected to a non-Wifi router is the best approach for optimal coverage.

I'll explain briefly in this post the idea of Wi-Fi access points, offer tips on picking the best for your network, and include a list of the top six APs I've tested.

Dong's note: I first published this post on February 1, 2023, and updated it on October 19, 2023, to add relevant information.

Wi Fi access points
Picking the best Wi-Fi access points: Wi-Fi access points come in all shapes and sizes.

Wi-Fi Access Points: Building a network with wired backhauling

Using a Wi-Fi access point means you build a network using network cables. That's the traditional and the only way to have a top-performance network. That's especially true with the help of Multi-Gig.

But first, what is an access point exactly?

Access points in a nutshell

As mentioned, an access point is a device that broadcasts Wi-Fi signals. It's the minimum requirement to have an infrastructure Wi-Fi network. In many ways, an AP is like a network switch, but instead of Ethernet ports, it incorporates radio bands that emit wireless data signals using one or more Wi-Fi standards for clients to latch on.

An AP must have at least one network port to connect to the existing network. Some even have more for you to host wired clients. Many access points also feature Power-over-Ethernet (PoE), allowing you to avoid running electrical wire to its location — the network cable also delivers power.

So, in a sentence, an AP is the required hardware component for a local network to host devices without running network cables to them.

Access points vs. Wi-Fi routers

We often experience Wi-Fi via a Wi-Fi router — or an ISP-supplied residential gateway. A Wi-Fi router is a standard router with built-in Wi-Fi access points. You have multiple functions in a single hardware box. As a result, you can use most Wi-Fi routers as:

  • A standalone access point: When you change its role into such or turn off its routing function.
  • A non-Wifi router: When you can disable its Wi-Fi function.

The cabinet below highlights the roles of most Wi-Fi routers.

Popular roles of a Wi-Fi router

Below is the breakdown of four typical roles of a router. Not all hardware supports all of these, but most will have at least the first one plus another.

Some routers have even more roles — those from Asus, for example, also feature the proprietary AiMesh node role.

Asus Router Operation Roles
Here are the operation roles available in an Asus router. Note the Access Point and Media Bridge, of which the name might be something else in routers of different vendors.

1. Wireless Router

This role is the default — the hardware will work as such unless you actively change that.

The hardware works as a Wi-Fi router that gets the Internet connection and then distributes that to the rest of the network via wired and Wi-Fi connections.

In this role, you must use the router's WAN port for the Internet source. It's also the only role in which the router's routing and networking features (QoS, Parental Control, Dynamic DNS, VPN server, port-forwarding, etc.) are available.

Essentially, the hardware is now a standard routing box with a built-in managed switch and Wi-Fi access point(s).

Netgear WAX204 Roles
Here are the traditional roles of a Netgear router.

2. Access Point (AP)

Important note: Certain vendors call this role "Bridge."

In this mode, the hardware now works as an access point. It connects to an existing router via a network cable and extends the network farther, both wired and wireless.

In this role, none of the routing and features are available. All of the device's network ports function as LAN ports. Essentially, the router is now a network switch with built-in Wi-Fi broadcaster(s).

By the way, if you have a Wi-Fi 6 router with a Multi-Gig WAN port, using it as an AP is the only way you can take advantage of this port's high speed locally — without a Gig+ Internet connection, that is — assuming you have a Multi-Gig switch.

TP Link Router Operation Roles
A TP-Link router generally can also work as an access point. It won't work as a Media Bridge.

3. Repeater

The router now works as a Wi-Fi extender.

Specially, you use one of its bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, or 6GHz) to connect to an existing Wi-Fi network — this is the backhaul band. After that, you can configure one or all of its bands (including the backhaul band) with separate SSID(s) to serve clients.

In this mode, all of the router's network ports will work as LAN ports of the existing network.

Linksys Router Operation Roles
Here are the operation roles of a Linksys router. Note that the "Bridge Mode" and "Wireless Bridge" are called "Access Point" and "Media Bridge," respectively, by other vendors.

4. Bridge or Media Bridge

Important note: Certain vendors — those that use "Bridge" to call the "Access Point" role as mentioned above — name this mode "Wireless Bridge." There might be other arbitrary names for this role.

In this mode, the router works essentially as a Wi-Fi-to-Ethernet adapter.

Specifically, you use one of its bands to connect to an existing Wi-Fi network. Now, you can connect wired devices to the router's LAN ports to make them part of the network. (In most cases, you should leave the WAN port alone, but some routers turn this port into another LAN.)

In the Media Bridge mode, the rest of the router's Wi-Fi bands are unavailable.

Extra: Bridge mode in a gateway unit

In a gateway unit, which is 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 in the post about how to get the most out of ISP-supplied equipment.

This post discusses standalone access points that you can use to add Wi-Fi to an existing network. That brings us to the first question: When do access points make sense?

When should you use an access point(s)

The first requirement before you can use an access point is wiring. You must run a network cable from the AP to your existing router or switch. Or let me put it this way: get your home wired so you can use a Wi-Fi broadcaster with wired backhauling. Running wires is the best way to build a robust Wi-Fi network. Often, only a single wire is needed and will make a huge difference.

After that, access points are applicable when:

  • you have a non-WiFi, such as the UDM-SE, and want to add Wi-Fi. You can also disable the Wi-Fi function of a Wi-Fi router to render it non-Wifi or use the router's Wi-Fi network for a different purpose, such as extending the coverage or creating a Guest network.
  • you have a router with dated Wi-Fi standards. In this case, you can use an AP to upgrade your Wi-Fi network.
  • you want to extend the Wi-Fi coverage via a network cable to that far area, such as a large yard or a detached garage.
  • you want to build a robust enterprise-class Wi-Fi mesh system

No matter the scenario, APs allow for flexibility — you place one in an area where Wi-Fi is needed. On the other hand, using a Wi-Fi router means you need to place the Wi-Fi broadcaster where the Internet enters your home, which is often not ideal.

And that brings us to the second question: How do I pick the correct AP for my need?

Wi-Fi 6 and 6E Access Points
Picking the best Wi-Fi access points: Generally, all business access points are wall/ceiling mountable. However, only a few are designed for the outdoors.

Tips on picking access points

How you arrange access points is the same as how you do a mesh system with wired backhauling — each satellite unit is, in fact, an access point. There are two things to keep in mind, depending on how much coverage you need.

1. The number of units

In most homes, you'd need just one access point. And that's easy: pick one of the Wi-Fi grades and features you want.

Generally, a standalone access point requires you to manage it individually, which is not a huge deal with a single unit — you have only one Wi-Fi network anyway. In this case, you generally want an AP that can be managed locally (instead of a vendor-assisted web portal and a required login account.)

On the other hand, if you need multiple units to blanket the desired area, it's best to get those that can work together — essentially a Wi-Fi system — so that you still have a single Wi-Fi network. Managing multiple individual access points can be a pain, and many of them — especially those from different vendors — don't work well together.

So, when multiple APs are necessary, it's best to get access points that belong to a managed ecosystem, such as FIT of EnGenius, Omada of TP-Link, or UniFi of Ubiquiti. That's generally how an enterprise-class Wi-Fi network is built, by the way.

There are other options, but the ones mentioned above are excellent since, among other things, they don't require an ongoing subscription. The access points can also work as a standalone broadcaster with a local web user interface.

2. Power-over-Ethernet vs. power adapter

The second thing to note about getting APs is Power-over-Ethernet. As detailed in this post on PoE, this feature allows you to use the network cable to handle data signal and power to the supported access point.

Here's a TP-Link AP (top) in a PoE setup. Note the PoE injector in the middle.
Picking the best Wi-Fi access points: A typical setup for a PoE Wi-Fi access point, note the router (black), the PoE injector (middle), and the Wi-Fi access point.

PoE is perfect when you need to place an AP at a location without an electrical outlet, such as an outdoor location — in the middle of a large yard — or an attic. But if you intend to use an AP near a power outlet, PoE is not necessary.

To use PoE, you'll also need a PoE switch (one switch can handle multiple APs) or a PoE injector for each AP. Make sure they use the same PoE standard (PoE, PoE+, or PoE++). Some access points include their own injector, but most don't.

All business-class access points support PoE — most don't even support power adapters. On the other hand, most home access points, which generally also work as extenders, require a separate power adapter and do not support PoE.

Extra: Access points vs. extenders vs. mesh systems

A mesh system consists of multiple Wi-Fi broadcasters (access points or extenders) that work together and can be managed in one place, such as a mobile app or the web user interface of the router unit.

In a mesh with wireless backhauling, each satellite unit of the system is essentially a centrally managed Wi-Fi extender. In a mesh with wired backhauling, each satellite unit of the system is essentially a centrally managed access point.

The most significant difference between a mesh system and using multiple individually managed broadcasters is that the former gives you better ease of use, low (or no) interference between broadcasters, and seamless handoff, while the latter doesn't.

With that, below are the top access points among those I've reviewed.

Top six access points for different use cases

These access points are not sorted in any particular order. The numbers are just numerical and not the ranking.

I'll explain each one and the case you should use it. One might be more applicable to a particular situation than others. And by that, I mean a home or small office. Advanced users should consider this list instead.


Ubiquiti U6 Enterprise Access Point 1 5EnGenius EWS850 FITTP Link Omada EAP670 vs EAP610 sizesNetgear WAX630E Wi Fi 6E Access Point 2TRENDnet TEW 921DAP Wi Fi 6 Access Point 11Asus RP AX5x
NameUbiquiti U6 Enterprise's RatingEnGenius EWS850-FIT (formerly EWS850AP) Access Point's RatingTP-Link Omada Wi-Fi 6 Access Point (via EAP670 and EAP610)'s RatingNetgear WAX630E's RatingTRENDnet TEW-921DAP's RatingAsus RP-AX56/58 Repeaters' Rating
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Ease of Use
Value
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Buy this product

1. Ubiquiti U6 Enterprise: Representing the UniFi family

Ubiquiti U6 Enterprise Access Point
The Ubiquiti U6 Enterprise is a lot more interesting than how it looks.

The U6 Enterprise is the first UniFi access point with Wi-Fi 6E, rivaling the Netgear WAX630E below.

Similar to the case of the TP-Link Omada, UniFi is a family of hardware that a central controller can manage.

In UniFi's case, the controller can also be the router, such as the UDR, and the system can do much more than host Wi-Fi access points. But there's also the option to turn any computer into a controller via a desktop application.

As a standalone access point, the U6 Enterprise (as well as any other UniFi access points) is simple to set up and delivers exactly what a home would need in Wi-Fi coverage. It can also work with any existing router.

Ubiquiti U6 Enterprise's Rating

8 out of 10
Ubiquiti U6 Enterprise Access Point
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
7.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
8 out of 10

Pros

Top-tier Wi-Fi 6E support, excellent performance; part of the robust UniFi family with lots of features when hosted by a controller

2.5 Gbps PoE network port

Simple setup and management via helpful UniFi mobile app, lots of features

Cons

No PoE injector included; no power adapter option

No local management or web user interface; UniFi app requires vendor login; limited features and settings as a standalone AP

Runs hot


2. EnGenius EWS850-FIT (formerly EWS850AP): An excellent outdoor Wi-Fi 6 access point representing the EnGenius FIT family

EnGenius EWS850 FIT fully assembled
The EnGenius EWS850 FIT is quite large when fully assembled.

Each EnGenius EWS850-FIT can work as an individual access point with a responsive local web user interface.

Designed for outdoors, it has excellent performance and can handle the weather exceptionally well. I've used the previous variant of the same hardware, the EWS850AP, for over a year, and it proved reliable under any weather.

As part of the new FIT family, this access point can also work with others in the same ecosystem to form a robust mesh system. If you need to extend Wi-Fi coverage for a large backyard, it's a perfect fit.

EnGenius EWS850-FIT (formerly EWS850AP) Access Point's Rating

8.1 out of 10
EnGenius EWS850 FIT
Performance
8 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
8 out of 10

Pros

Reliable performance, excellent coverage, fast 2.5 Gbps PoE+ network port with included injector

Full web interface that's responsive and comprehensive; helpful FitXpress cloud-based management

Includes all parts and accessories to work right out of the box; IP67 weatherproof

Cons

Midling Wi-Fi 6 specs with no 160 MHz channel width support

Bulky, no separate power port


3. TP-Link EAP670: Representing the Omada family of managed access points

TP-Link Omada EAP670 Wi-Fi 6 Access Point
Picking the best Wi-Fi access points: The TP-Link Omada EAP670 is an excellent AP for a home or business.

The EAP670 is one of the latest APs in TP-Link's Omada family. It's one of my favorites due to its excellent combo of cost, performance, and features. Each Omada access point can be managed locally as an individual unit, or you can get multiple units — of the same model or a mix — to create a robust mesh system via a controller.

Omada offers local management and advanced cloud-based management without requiring additional subscription costs. So, as a standalone access point, the EAP670 is a safe, high-end choice, but you can pick any Omada AP, including the entry-level EAP610, that fits your needs and budget.

TP-Link Omada Wi-Fi 6 Access Point (via EAP670 and EAP610)'s Rating

8.5 out of 10
TP-Link Omada EAP670 vs. EAP610: The access points and their retail boxes.
Performance
9 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
7.5 out of 10
Value
9 out of 10

Pros

Excellent Wi-Fi 6 performance and coverage at a low cost

Lots of settings and features, including Wi-Fi captive portals and mesh function

Power adapter included

Easy to mount with included accessories

Cons

The EAP670 is bulky, and the EAP610 has no Multi-Gig port; both could be more user-friendly for home users

Controller required for mesh-related features

No Smart Connect; PoE injector not included


4. Netgear WAX630E: Representing the Insight Managed family

Netgear WAX630E Wi Fi 6E Access Point 10
Picking the best Wi-Fi access points: The Netgear WAX630E Wi-Fi is a gigantic Wi-Fi 6E access point.

The WAX630E is one of the first Wi-Fi 6E access points, and it's a perfect unit to buy if you need a single AP that gives you all Wi-Fi flavors.

As part of Netgear's Insight Managed family — as shown in the drawer below — the WAX630E can work with others or in multiple units to deliver a robust mesh system. However, in this case, you must pay a subscription fee per unit — there's no free option.

For this reason, financially, you should only consider the WAX630E or any Netgear business access point for home use when you only need a single unit.

Netgear's Insight Managed access points
ModelWAX630EWAX630WAX620WAX610
NameInsight App Managed Wi-Fi 6E Tri-band AXE7800
Tri-band Wireless Access Point
Insight App Managed
Wi-Fi 6 AX6000
Tri-band Wireless Access Point
Insight App Managed
Wi-Fi 6 AX3600
Dual-band Wireless Access Point
Insight App Managed 
Wi-Fi 6 AX1800
Dual-band Wireless
 Access Point
Wi-Fi StandardsTri-band AXE7800Tri-band AX6000Dual-band AX3600Dual-band AX1800
1st Band
2.4GHz
(channel width)
2x2 AX
Up to 600Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4x4 AX
Up to 1200Mbps
(20/40MHz)
4x4 AX
Up to 1200Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2x2 AX
Up to 600Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2nd Band
5GHz
(channel width)
4x4 AX
Up to 4800Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
5GHz-1
(Lower channels)
2x2 AX
Up to 2400Mbps
(20/40/80+80MHz)
4x4 AX
Up to 2400Mbps
(20/40/80MHz)
2x2 AX
Up to 1200Mbps
(20/40/80MHz)
3rd Band
(channel width)
6GHz
2x2 AXE
Up to 2400Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
5GHz-2
(Upper channels)
2x2 AX
Up to 2400Mbps
(20/40/80MHz)
NoneNone
Backward Compatibility802.11ac/n/g/a/b802.11ac/n/g/a/b802.11ac/n/g/a/b802.11ac/n/g/a/b
Power over Ethernet 
(PoE)
802.3bt or
802.3at
(50% 5GHz performance)
802.3bt or
802.3at
(50% 5GHz-1 performance)
802.11at or 
802.3af 
(60% performance)
802.11at or 
802.3af 
(60% performance)
Power Consumption27.64W30.1W25.5W15.3W
Network Port1x 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig PoE,
1x Gigabit
1x 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig PoE,
1x Gigabit
1x 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig PoE 1x 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig PoE
SecurityWPA, WPA2, WPA3WPA, WPA2, WPA3WPA, WPA2, WPA3WPA, WPA2, WPA3
Local ManagedYesYesYesYes
Cloud-ManagedNetgear Insight
Premium or Pro
Netgear Insight
Premium or Pro
Netgear Insight
Premium or Pro
Netgear Insight
Premium or Pro
Mobile AppNETGEAR Insight AppNETGEAR Insight AppNETGEAR Insight AppNETGEAR Insight App
ModeAccess Point,
Bridge,
Repeater Mode
Access Point,
Bridge,
Repeater Mode
Access Point,
Bridge,
Repeater Mode
Access Point,
Bridge,
Repeater Mode
Dimensions 
(W x D x H)
10.49 x 10.56 x 2.18 in
(266.6 x 268.3 x 55.5 mm)
10.49 x 10.56 x 2.18 in
(266.61 x 268.29 x 55.5 mm)
8.09 x 8.09 x 1.35 in
(205.7 x 205.7 x 34.3 mm)
6.33 x 6.33 x 1.30 in 
(160.9 x 160.9 x 33.25 mm) 
Weight2.31 lb (1050 g)2.10 lb (956 g)1.72 lb (783 g)0.90 lb (412 g)
LEDPower and Cloud,
LAN speed,
2.4GHz status,
5.0GHz status,
6.0GHz status
Power and Cloud,
LAN speed,
2.4GHz status,
5.0GHz-1 status,
5.0GHz-2 status
Power and Cloud,
LAN speed,
2.4GHz status,
5.0GHz status
Power and Cloud,
LAN speed,
2.4GHz status,
5.0GHz status
US Retail Cost
(at launch)
$349.99
$369.99
(with power adapter)
$329.99
$339.99
(with power adapter)
$229.99$179.99
Warranty5-year5-year5-year5-year
Netgear's business PoE access points' hardware specifications
WAX630E vs. WAX630 vs. WAX620 vs. WAX610

Netgear WAX630E's Rating

8 out of 10
Netgear WAX630E Wi Fi 6E Access Point 2
Performance
8 out of 10
Features
9 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
7 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 6E support, reliable performance with excellent coverage

2.5 Gbps PoE network port, extra Gigabit port

Excellent web local interface, tons of Wi-Fi settings, and lots of AP-related features

Cons

Bulky design, no power adapter or PoE injector included

Sustained throughput speeds could be better

No support for multiple units via local management, no free level of Insight-Managed cloud-based mesh setup


5. TRENDnet TEW-921DAP: A low-cost local access point

Out of the box, the TRENDnet TEW-921DAP includes wall/ceiling mounting accessories and a network cable but no power adapter or PoE injector.
Picking the best Wi-Fi access points: The TRENDnet TEW-921DAP is a compact, frill-free PoE access point.

The TRENDnet TEW-921DAP is a frill-free entry-level access point you can safely get for your home — only if you need a single unit since it has no mesh capability.

Alternatively, you can also consider the Netgear WAX214 or WAX220 to have a similar experience.

TRENDnet TEW-921DAP's Rating

7.9 out of 10
TRENDnet TEW-921DAP Wi-Fi 6 Access Point
Performance
7.5 out of 10
Features
8.5 out of 10
Ease of Use
8.5 out of 10
Value
7 out of 10

Pros

Reliable Wi-Fi with up to 16 separate SSIDs and captive portal support

Compact design, easily accessible web user interface

No login account with vendor required, lots of Wi-Fi settings, responsive web user interface

No login account required

Wall/ceiling mounting accessories included

Cons

Comparatively expensive

No 160MHz bandwidth or Multi-Gig port, modest Wi-Fi specs and performance

No performance-favored Wi-Fi settings, no power adapter or PoE injector included


6. Asus RP-AX56/58: Representing consumer-grade non-PoE access point

Asus RP-AX56 AX1800 Dual-Band Wi-Fi 6 Repeater in AP mode
Picking the best Wi-Fi access points: Here's the Asus RP-AX56 in action as an access point. Note the connected network cable.

The Asus RP-AX56, later replaced by the RP-AX58, is a home device and the only access point on this list that's not PoE-ready.

Marketed as an extender, the little snap-on device has a Gigabit port and can be an excellent individual access point for any existing network. Adding it to an Asus AiMesh router via wired backhauling will give you a well-performing, low-cost mesh satellite.

Asus RP-AX56/58 Repeaters' Rating

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

Pros

Affordable

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

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

Convenient design, excellent web interface

Cons

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

Bulky for a snap-on device


The final thoughts

Individually, Wi-Fi access points are excellent ways to build a Wi-Fi network because they all use network cables. When deployed correctly, they can work together as a robust mesh system.

You do need a router before you can take advantage of APs. This router decides all the features of your network — the access points only handle the Wi-Fi portion.

If you pick Multi-Gig-ready AP, a router (or switch) with a (PoE) Multi-Gig port is recommended. Looking for one right now? Here's the list of the best Mulit-Gig routers to bring home today.

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34 thoughts on “Building a Serious Home Network: A Quick Guide on Picking the Best Wi-Fi Access Points”

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  1. Hi Dong,
    I read all four non-Wifi router reviews but none ticked all my boxes. I’m looking for an affordable ($300ish) multi-gig router to connect my AP’s via hard-wire. I could build a pfsense box in my price range but I’m not convinced that’s the best option. Could you lead me in the right direction please?

    Reply
    • Generally, I’m not keeping track of costs but Multi-Gig is still a novelty, David. You can always turn the Wi-Fi off. So this one might be up your alley — I’m still testing it.

      Reply
  2. Hi Dong,

    I’ve been using the Asus ROG GT-AX6000 based on your recommendation in another article, and it’s been working great. I have also now put in a wired backhaul to the other end of my home, and am now considering what access point to install.

    One factor I couldn’t confirm in reading the article (though it may be an implied assumption), is that; if I wanted to have a single interface to manage both the GT-AX6000 and the access point, then the Asus RP-AX58 would be my only option. Is that correct? Or would I be able to manage a different brand AP from the Asus admin page?

    Again, it might be a silly question, but I did want to make sure.

    Thank you so much.

    Reply
  3. Hi Dong,

    Great article! Could you consider doing a review of the AP OSes? Which has the best features for client management?
    Also maybe parental controls. (I know b2b pc are tough) but ability to limit client time per day, total usage time per day, block websites youtube, tiktok per client. Stuff like that.

    Reply
    • I already did that, Chris. More here. I only included solutions that are free to use.

      All enterprise/business solution has what you want, it’s not called “Parental Controls,” though.

      Reply
  4. Dong, thank you for the timely article…
    I recently purchased and installed a ASUS RT-AX88U as my router and moved our TPLINK AX50 as a AP. Wired.

    As you commented about the handover…My confusion is the WIFI, do they need distinct SSID’s, channels etc?

    Do you have recommended channels?

    Reply
      • Hi Dong, I have a Linksys AC2600 as my router and I’m thinking of using a Linksys AC1200 MAX Range Extender in each of my three bedrooms and have them set up as wired access points. The default SSID for these extenders is ***_ext with *** being my main router’s SSID.

        I would like to get that kind of seamless handoff as I roam from room to room in the house. Is it as simple as changing the ***_ext to *** and the same password as that for my main router? And I won’t have to manually switch network?

        Thanks for your advice.

        Reply
          • Thanks! I wasn’t thinking of a mesh system. More like extenders set up as wired backhaul access points. Like a star network. But I understand now what you mean:

            “It’s important not to take seamless literally. That doesn’t exist.“

            Whether it’s the same or different SSID, it is a client that decides which AP it wants to connect to and that is difficult to control.

            My phone remains connected to the living room SSID even when I stand next to the AP in my bedroom. The signal is one, two-bar strong and I think the phone just decides that it won’t look for a stronger signal just yet. So I have to manually switch to the stronger SSID in my room. I understand that clients will only look for a new signal and switch over when the connection is very bad.

            And it’s the same with mesh system and nodes. If I walk around connected, my phone will stay on its original connection until the signal is so weak it doesn’t work. Then it will look for a new node but because my house is not very very big, my phone will always be able to pick up the 2.4Ghz band signal from my main router in the living room. It’s just not strong.

            So it doesn’t help even if I change to the same SSID. I’m fact, in such a case, it may be better to keep separate SSIDs so that it’s easy to tell which signal is poor.

            Thanks again!

  5. I agree with BillD. I don’t understand why you didn’t took Unifi 6E enterprise in this test. Their AP’s work also standalone…

    Reply
  6. They are going that direction. But I have their WAPs and router and run Unify. They are REALLY trying to get me to let their cloud manage. 10 devives and free. I just couldn’t need 10! But I staill manage WAPs… They have been great too, but I’m thinking you’re referring that some features only work with their full suite; router, switch, WAP.
    Help me!! I am set for ceiling or even upper wall PoE mount. I can’t find a ceiling mount WiFi 6E!! I NEVER thought it would be a prob!!

    Reply
  7. I have an Asus GT-AX6000 main router with numerous other Asus access points, each WIRED to the main router. I am going to need outdoor WiFi in a freestanding pergola I am building.
    I’m thinking about either getting another Asus access point (like the ZenWiFi XD5) and putting it in a waterproof box or getting something that’s meant to be outdoors (but obviously doesn’t integrate with Asus). In either case, I’ll be able to create a WIRED connection to the main router. Any opinions on the tradeoff between keeping everything Asus vs. using hardware intended for outside?

    Reply
  8. This is slightly off topic but I have a question about your usual recommendations on best way to get food Wi-Fi coverage. Your recommendation is a mesh system with wired back haul. You are right but……..
    I would venture to say most people that go to a mesh system to get coverage do not have the easy ability to implement “wired” backhaul, if they did them they likely wouldn’t need a mesh network as they would have the ability to used the wired network for coverage. Am I wrong?

    Reply
    • It seems you’re stuck with the archaic definition of what a mesh is, or the idea that things and opinions are categorized as “wrong” or “right”. To answer your question, you’re just dated. Time for a new “firmware.” 🙂

      Reply
      • All I’m trying to say is if you are going mesh you will probably have to go wireless backhaul. Not what is right or wrong

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        • Or you don’t have to go wireless backhaul — and you shouldn’t. That’s what I was telling you. Your idea of “mesh” was applicable about 10 years ago. And I was there.

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          • Sorry still confused. Have high speed cable into the 3 floor. No Ethernet anywhere in the house, how do I get coverage to the 1st floor (or basement or backyard) without wireless backhaul. How is this 10 years ago concept.
            Am truly wondering what I have missed.

          • You can use wireless backhaul, but it won’t deliver the speed you’d like — wired backhauling is not a must. Like I said in the first reply, it’s not about zero terms, as in “wrong or right,” but always somewhere in between. Give this post a good read again, and more in this one. Please make sure you read before commenting as stated by the comment rules. I reply to all questions with the assumption that folks have followed the rules.

    • Pretty much. You can’t go wired everywhere. Unless you like walking around w/ your Tablet and a LONG PoE Cat6 cable w/ adapter. You need mesh in a decent sized house for portable devices. Maybe some are lucky enough that everything wifi is in same area, but chances are there will be a dead spot.
      Like I said, portable devices aren’t suited for hardwire. Then if you are a smart home nut like me, you know that things like the TV and AV Receiver can (and DEFINITELY are hardwired). But wifi is used as well, or the smarthome won’t pick the device up often.
      He just said it’s ‘best’! It avoids an extra jump or two, since all talk straight to switch. Then, there are aesthetics.
      I have a media cabinet where everything is hardwired cat6, (ip cams outdoors, extra ports, 2 rj 45 per bedroom, 4 in my office, 6 in home Theater, etc.. I have A LOT! But for a seamless install, they go into my walk-in closet. Although I’m going to graduate to a small server and build a very efficient closet for clothing, hidden stuff, and a cabinet that is temp controlled and shut. Temp sensor will turn on fans that pull filtered air in and through, exiting by pushed out into the attic. will have one-way flap.
      Soon, when I make 10+ GB switch from 1 gb system.
      Sorry I’m not at max clarity. I hope I answered right. It’s late and LONG DAY! I can just vouch for WAP PoE hardwire straight to switch. It is WIN-WIN-WIN! (I’m trying to find two AP WiFi 6e Mesh Sys to ceiling mount. Would think not so dang hard!!)

      Reply
  9. This is a good article, however I am surprised that there is no mention of Ubiquiti access points.
    There are devices that have WiFi and Switch, as well as standalone Access points.
    The Ubiquiti devices can be operated in conjunction with a Ubquiti Dream Router, a Dream Machine Pro or a PC/MAC with the appropriate Network APP installed
    Having recently switched to a Dream Machine Pro with 3 Access points I have been totally amazed at the stability of my system, especially the IOT devices which no longer suffer disconnect issues previously experienced with an ASUS Mesh system

    Reply
      • UniFi is no more proprietary than the Omada line. Hard to see why it was left off.

        As you point out, “But using multiple individually managed extenders or access points in a network is not ideal from the management’s perspective.” Yet of your list you only discuss Omada and maybe Asus as part of a system.

        UniFi has several AP form factors, including ceiling, wall, tabletop, outdoor that makes tailoring a WiFi system to one’s property easy and comprehensive. And even sometimes cheap. A competent router (UniFi or not) plus a few U6 Lites can cover most residences at a cheaper price than the high-end consumer systems.

        Reply
        • I’d not get an UniFi AP unless I have a UDR, UDM, or one of those Pro controllers, Bill. The post needed only five. If you use all of those I mentioned, you’d know why.

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          • I completely don’t understand? A UniFi router/switch setup gives one a single management console including a controller. That’s it. The UniFi AP system works fine with other routers/switches. Lots of people (including power users who might use something like a pfSense or OPNsense routers) use UniFi for WiFi because the APs do work well and are not expensive.

          • Completely understand this, Bill: I’m not you — there are things about me and what I pick you will never comprehend or agree with. As I said and mentioned earlier in this thread, I only picked five, and those from the UniFi family don’t make the list. I put them on a different list, and that list doesn’t include some of the ones mentioned here.

          • Whatever. If you want to say that UniFi’s customer support can be iffy, or their firmware has historically sometimes been buggy that would be understandable. What’s not understandable is making a statement that using random APs together is not a good idea and then making 2-3 of your recommendations random stand alone APs. Omada is more or less an imitation of UniFi’s system. Both are pretty good especially for home users. Another AP system that is easily findable and usable for consumers (even available in Microcenter retail stores) would be HP Aruba Instant On. Also, your linked previous article had a couple of paragraphs on the UDM/UDR and was not about APs.

          • Please read the posts carefully, Bill. Looks like you just skimped them — or any text — over to validate your points and get the opportunity to express your frustration and “knowledge”. As stated in the rules, I reply to each comment with the assumption folks have followed them.

      • They are going that direction. But I have their WAPs and router and run Unify. They are REALLY trying to get me to let their cloud manage. 10 devives and free. I just couldn’t need 10! But I staill manage WAPs… They have been great too, but I’m thinking you’re referring that some features only work with their full suite; router, switch, WAP.
        Help me!! I am set for ceiling or even upper wall PoE mount. I can’t find a ceiling mount WiFi 6E!! I NEVER thought it would be a prob!!

        Reply

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