WiFi Router recommendations

CB91710

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OK, My router is pretty decent... An Asus RT-AC87R
But every now and then it seems like it'll drop wireless connection, and though my ISP claims 200mb, I can't pull better than 100mb on the hardwire connections (WiFi is ~50)

It's a few years old, so if there is something better, I wouldn't mind spending $200-$400 to upgrade... if it's worth it.
I bought this as a replacement for my old Netgear that has a memory leak and needed to be rebooted every couple of weeks because the ARP table would overload the memory.
Something with eight GB ports would be nice, seems that most have 4, but just my hardwire network consists of two secondary switches with 10 or so devices. I'd like to run the GB-capable devices direct rather than through a secondary switch.

Current setup, I average a total of 32 clients... two phones, 4 tablets, Nest, Ring, DVR, entertainment system, couple of desktops, couple of laptops, couple of "MyCloud" servers, etc....

I am running dual-NAT, with my cable company's UBEE feeding the Asus and all of my LAN devices connecting through the ASUS.

Any recommendations, or is what I have already "good enough"?
 

Jymbopalyse

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I think what you have is probably fine.
If you need more gigabit ports, just get another switch instead of another router. Not for any particular reason, I have only ever used one port out from my router, to a main switch which then feeds the rest of the office.

What do you mean by "every now and then it drops wireless connection.
Once a month, twice a week.
I probably restart our router once a month due to "something"

Internet speed is another topic. Most internet providers will say something like "Up To 200mb" The key wording here is UP TO. Not a fully sustained 200mb for an unlimited time.

Now. If you are receiving gigabit speeds, for you to get the faster data transfer speeds on your network, your entire network needs to support the faster speed. Your eithernet (nic) cards, Cat 6 or fiber wiring, routers/switches that support gigabit speeds etc,

Hope this helps
 

Howard2k

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If your Internet connection is 200Mb/s, and assuming you're not doing a lot of local wifi traffic (ie, network backup or NAS would be the two largest "red flags") then anything that's 802.11ac AC1750 or higher is good.

You could consider going to 802.11ax but that's a bit of a poisoned chalice in some regards because of how it's being implemented by the vendors and due to the antenna density, which is reduced on most 802.11ax deployments.

The 50Mb/s over wifi is a concern. Assuming it's 50Mb/s and not 50MB/s.

I would pick any AC1750 or higher router. The TP Link ones seem to get good reviews. This one is on sale right now:


If you're going to consider 802.11ax, which you could for your budget, you also need to consider the capabilities of your clients. Jamming an 802.11ax router randomly into the network might actually result in reduced performance in some circumstances. Not necessarily, but it's possible.

Personally I'd buy the router from Amazon, see if you get the same or better performance, and I'd start there.

Personally I segregate my network into 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels and distribute the devices across the two networks accordingly.

The most important thing is that if performance matters you don't want to be using wifi to talk between devices. So a wifi device talking to a wired device is fine, but a wifi device talking to a wifi device is going to cripple your overall network. (EDIT: Although a 2.4GHz device talking to a 5GHz device is a non-issue, you just don't want them competing for air)

I only have a 40Mb/s Internet connection but I can easily saturate that, and across my home network I can sustain 70MB/s (560Mb/s) for transfers of large files. That's real throughput, my connection speed is typically between 867Mb/s and 1,300Mb/s). That's with my 5 year old laptop, and that's not running 802.11ax, it's running 802.11ac.


802.11ax will be the way to go eventually, but we're pretty early in the cycle. I would buy a cheap 802.11ac router now rather than a "bleeding edge" more expensive 802.11ax router.
 

CB91710

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If you need more gigabit ports, just get another switch instead of another router. Not for any particular reason, I have only ever used one port out from my router, to a main switch which then feeds the rest of the office.
And that's what I've been doing.
I've got an 8-port Netgear on my desk with the desktop, printer, DVR, Smartthings, and Sensorpush plugged in. That goes to one GB port.
Then I've got a 16-port D-Link that serves the entertainment center, Kevo, and a couple of WD Mycloud drives, one for personal use, and one for work, but both are extremely low-usage for the most part.
What do you mean by "every now and then it drops wireless connection.
Once a month, twice a week.
I probably restart our router once a month due to "something"
Really not sure if it's the router or ISP. Every couple of months, everything on the WiFi will either drop, or get extremely flaky, yet the hardwire devices are fine... restarting the Asus resolves the problem. This *seems* to coincide with ISP outages, but it doesn't happen every time my ISP drops (which is frequently).
Internet speed is another topic. Most internet providers will say something like "Up To 200mb" The key wording here is UP TO. Not a fully sustained 200mb for an unlimited time.

Now. If you are receiving gigabit speeds, for you to get the faster data transfer speeds on your network, your entire network needs to support the faster speed. Your eithernet (nic) cards, Cat 6 or fiber wiring, routers/switches that support gigabit speeds etc,
My service was originally 100mb, and last year I got a mailer announcing the "free" upgrade to 200ms.
Yes, the official info is indeed "up to"... but I've seen no difference.
AFAIK, my desktop does support a gb connection, as do both of my switches, and I've long-ago replaced my home-brew ethernet cables with commercial Cat-6... longest run is about 30ft.
HP desktop, Realtek network, drivers from 2017.

I have seen some reviews report that the TrendMicro AiProtection feature of the Asus routers does really slow things down.
I have no trouble with Netflix, Youtube, or any other services, but one particularly annoying issue is when I'm logged into the work network on the VPN and viewing traffic camera video on RDP.
My video speeds are extremely slow... maybe 1fps if I'm lucky, while my boss and ITS guy are getting probably 4fps (the Axis encoders are running at 10fps NTSC).
I was hoping that the ISP's bump to 200mb would help that, but I've seen no change in my "Speedtest" results or video playback.
 

Skeletor

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What sort of speed test results do you get with a decent pc plugged directly in to the Telco modem?
 

CB91710

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The 50Mb/s over wifi is a concern. Assuming it's 50Mb/s and not 50MB/s.
That's what's being reported by the Ookla speedtest app on my phone:

One of these is from my phone, the other from one of the desktops (hardwired).
My 2nd desktop is on WiFi and only getting 24mb

Phone_Speedtest.jpg

ST-Desktop_1.jpg

I would pick any AC1750 or higher router. The TP Link ones seem to get good reviews. This one is on sale right now:
So with my current Asus being AC2400...... ;)
Personally I segregate my network into 2.4GHz and 5GHz channels and distribute the devices across the two networks accordingly.
This is something I've been considering. A lot of my wireless devices don't support 5Ghz though. I also do have a couple of devices on wireless that could/should be connected hardwire, such as my Ring alarm.
One thing that has always bugged me about the alarm is if Spectrum goes down, but my router remains active, it doesn't seem to sense that the network is dead, so it doesn't switch to cellular backup.
Ultimately, it would probably be best to have that one connected directly to the Spectrum Ubee and bypass my internal LAN completely, particularly since it doesn't interface directly to my doorbell or perimeter lighting anyways.
So a wifi device talking to a wired device is fine, but a wifi device talking to a wifi device is going to cripple your overall network. (EDIT: Although a 2.4GHz device talking to a 5GHz device is a non-issue, you just don't want them competing for air)
Not quite understanding this... I don't have any routers talking to routers, or any true hotspots. I do have a number of ZWave and BT devices that communicate to their own hubs, and I think those are all hardwired except for the alarm and Smartthings hub
 

Howard2k

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Yeah that's what makes me think a replacement router might be in order. You seem to be getting really poor throughput. Especially given that you're using AC2400 (although in most scenarios AC2400 won't be faster than AC1750).


Not quite understanding this... I don't have any routers talking to routers, or any true hotspots. I do have a number of ZWave and BT devices that communicate to their own hubs, and I think those are all hardwired except for the alarm and Smartthings hub
That's ok, wifi seems super simple (and often is) but it can be a little complex if you dig into the weeds. It's a shared access medium, and it's not point to point (as typically deployed). So if you have two devices that need to communicate (let's say you are moving files from LaptopA to LaptopB) you severely limit your available bandwidth. This is because i) only one device can talk at once, and ii) a conversation between LaptopA and LaptopB is not between LaptopA and LaptopB, it's between LaptopA <-> wifi router and wifi router <-> LaptopB. Easiest way to think about it is that in human conversation we can detect multiple sounds at once and so in a room you can have multiple conversations. With wifi, that's not the case (well, it's changing in AX, but that's another complexity). So if you're sending a file from LaptopA to LaptopB it's many smaller interactions where LaptopA says to your wifi router "Hey, pass this to LaptopB" and then the wifi router say "Hey LaptopB, here you go". Which sounds simple. but if LaptopA is trying to pass a piece of the file to the router at the same time as the router is trying to pass a piece fo the file to LaptopB, then that's a collision and they all have to stop, back off, wait for a while for the air to clear, and then try to send again. And that's further complicated by all of your other devices also competing for the same air time (a phone downloading a web page). The proper term is CSMA/CA if you feel like looking it up. But it's easy to imagine several folks in a room trying to have parallel conversations and having to slip their individual words in-between the words of the other folks.

But if you do segregate your network (one SSID for 2.4GHz and one SSID for 5GHz) (for god's sake, don't base it on device colour!) then you can have multiple conversations, because that same conversation between LaptopA and the wifi router, and the wifi router and LaptopB, can happen in parallel because they are using different air space (LaptopA 5GHz and LaptopB 2.4GHz).

It's further complicated if you have other neighbours who also use wifi, because then you have interference and further contention.

And complicated further because the channels all overlap to various degrees. In the 2.4GHz space there are 11 channels but only 3 non-overlapping channels. So if you use channel 3 and your neighbour uses channel 5, you're still shitting all over each other's wifi. 5GHz is even worse, arguably, especially is configured to use a broader signal (80MHz, for example).


So I would:

1) segregate my network to 2.4GHz devices and 5GHz devices, ensuring that each devices is placed in the appropriate spectrum based on its throughput needs, range needs, and its communications partners.
2) replace your router with the TP Link.

Option 2 is possibly easier, but you clearly have some idea of what you're doing.
Option 1 required more planning.

* I keep my laptop in the 5GHz space because that way I have far more bandwidth for my LAN use..
* My PS4 is on the 5GHz space because I have an external USB3 device attached. (USB3 shits all over the 2.4GHz space).
* Most of my devices (printer, phones, work laptop, tablets etc) are in my 2.4GHz space, because it has better range and I don't really care too much about the throughput available to my phone, tablet, or work network. (Again, 40Mb/s Internet speed, easily achievable on 2.4GHz).

My NAS is attached via Gigabit Ethernet (obviously), along with my IP Telephone Adaptor and a few other devices that are close enough to be wired.

This means my laptop always has the highest capacity channel, perfect for talking to NAS (5GHz).
The PS4 uses 5GHz and avoids a some of the 2.4GHz interference from the USB3 drive (although the stupid controllers use BT, which is 2.4GHz, not great).
And my other stuff which is not terribly bandwidth intensive can fight for the 2.4GHz space, which works great.
 
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CB91710

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That 5400 looks interesting, not crazy about the footprint, but it'll work.
Most of the reviews are pretty good, but there's a couple that talk about problems with speed and WiFi connectivity... assuming those are "personal" issues.
 

Howard2k

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That 5400 looks interesting, not crazy about the footprint, but it'll work.
Most of the reviews are pretty good, but there's a couple that talk about problems with speed and WiFi connectivity... assuming those are "personal" issues.
Yeah, questionable looking router :laugh2: but I’m sure it’s a good router all the same. I don’t have any particular brand loyalty, they all seem to have their issues, but I’ve heard that the TP Link stuff is decent.
 

CB91710

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You could consider going to 802.11ax but that's a bit of a poisoned chalice in some regards because of how it's being implemented by the vendors and due to the antenna density, which is reduced on most 802.11ax deployments.

If you're going to consider 802.11ax, which you could for your budget, you also need to consider the capabilities of your clients. Jamming an 802.11ax router randomly into the network might actually result in reduced performance in some circumstances. Not necessarily, but it's possible.

802.11ax will be the way to go eventually, but we're pretty early in the cycle. I would buy a cheap 802.11ac router now rather than a "bleeding edge" more expensive 802.11ax router.
So, given that I tend to hold onto hardware forever unless or until it starts having problems or compatibility issues (I'm on my 2nd desktop since 2012, but the one it replaced was originally built before WinXP)

I don't mind spending $300 on that 5400, or even the 6000 if it's not going to cause problems and it is somewhat "futureproof"
What kind of issues drawbacks do you think I might encounter?
Is the standard established and stable, so a device that supports ax that I might purchase in 2024 will work?

I'm halfway decent on hardwire and fiber networking, as that is a big part of my job, but I'm honestly clueless on the 802.11 iterations and most WiFi standards and procedures.

 

WaywerdSon

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WiFi 6. Several good choices oput there, but that protocol is specifically designed to handle multiple clients simultaneously, and as WiFi 6 compliant devicesbecome more common, you will be future ready. I just bought the TP-LINK AX1500 for my network, but there are several higher capacity models out there. This one seems to be very highly rated--and it looks cool as shit

 

CB91710

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The Nighthawk is another one that I was considering.
But I do like the extra ethernet ports on the TPlink 6000.
 

Howard2k

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The biggest obstacle to high performance in an 802.11ac to 802.11ax migration is antenna density.

Most devices have between 1 to 3 antenna. My laptop has 3. My iPad has 3 I think. I suspect my phone as 2, but not 100% sure. My work laptop is just 1. With 802.11ax it seems that lower antenna density is a thing. I have yet to see a 3 antenna 802.11ax laptop. Maybe they're out there, but I haven't seen one. Most seem to be a single antenna.

What's the real impact? If you upgrade your devices to 802.11ax before you upgrade your router, then you'll likely have reduced performance as those 802.11ax devices talk 802.11ac instead, but over what seems to be a trend to use fewer antennas.

If you upgrade your home network to 802.11ax before upgrading your devices, then you're probably not getting the benefits from 802.11ax (MU-MIMO etc) but spending money for an 802.11ax router, which is more expensive than an 802.11ac router. There is MU-MIMO on 802.11ax (wave 2) but I haven't seen any spectacular benchmarks.

If you plan to hold onto it for 4 years or so, then yeah I would look for a well reviewed 802.11ax product. It should be stable enough by now I imagine. Although financially if you can get an 802.11ac router for $70 today and then buy a newer and better 802.11ax router in 3 years for $100, then perhaps that's better than buying a $300 802.11ax router today? It's a gamble.

In theory AX looks amazing, but some vendors did try to bring some of those features (MU-MIMO for example) to 802.11ac and the benchmarks were underwhelming. But those features are built from the ground up into AX to perhaps that's going to result in a far better result.

If you hang onto hardware for ages then yeah, I'd be tempted to buy a reputable branded 802.11ax device today. The risk is that 802.11ax "wave 2" comes and that you get left behind before you have migrated enough of your devices from 802.11ac. That's a lot of speculation though.

As I think I said, all the vendors have their issues. My gut feel is that I'd rather have something more stable because I hate having to reboot shit every now and then for no apparent reason. :laugh2: And because I'm not sold on the superior performance especially due to antenna density and because I live in an apartment building so crowded air.

If you put a gun to my head, I'd say get a well reviewed AX device and hopefully it can stay untouched for a few years and give you some stability.
 

Howard2k

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WiFi 6. Several good choices oput there, but that protocol is specifically designed to handle multiple clients simultaneously, and as WiFi 6 compliant devicesbecome more common, you will be future ready. I just bought the TP-LINK AX1500 for my network, but there are several higher capacity models out there. This one seems to be very highly rated--and it looks cool as shit


That thing looks badass.
 

CB91710

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That thing looks badass.
Definitely more attractive sitting on top of the entertainment center than the 8-antenna 12x12 pincushions.
 

CB91710

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OK, I caved on the Nighthawk.
I had some Best Buy points to cash in and was shopping for something for wife's BD, threw one on the order.
 

Howard2k

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OK, I caved on the Nighthawk.
I had some Best Buy points to cash in and was shopping for something for wife's BD, threw one on the order.

Nicely done. I want to buy one based on looks alone!
 

CB91710

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Nicely done. I want to buy one based on looks alone!
The form factor was a definite "box check" over either the Tplink or the Asus.
My cable modem is on top of my entertainment center, and the router sits on top of the center surround speaker, so the 12" depth of the other two is a bit much.
The Asus I have now sits there nicely...

33-320-221-01.jpg
 

Becker34

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I had my own router fun going into this weekend when my pointy-eared roommate (cat) decided to dine on my router's power supply cable. This was some kind of Netgear POS I bougt last fall. I broke out the soldering iron and fixed it. When I plugged it back in it didn't do anything. Everything on the router lit up like it should but setup said there was no internet. Also, every. Goddamn. Time. there's a power interruption it takes a decision from the Supreme Court to get everything back to normal. I reset it, went into setup, downloaded an app... Nothing. FWIW I'm using my apartment complex's free interwebs so there's no modem on my end.

I can't get anything to work so I end up tethering to my phone for a few days which works, but sucks since my computer area is away from the window so I have to put the phone in the middle of the living room. I got an old Linsys router from the IT guy at work. He told me "I never want to see this again." It worked, but the firmware was from 2005 and wouldn't update so I couldn't set up security.

Yesterday when I was at Meijer I looked at routers for shits n grins. There was a Linksys router for $50 that outperformed the Netgear turd and the fossil I was given so I picked it up. Setup was easy and it's spewing out internet at 4x the speed the Netgear POS did. Also, FWIW, my internet needs aren't as much as the OP's, so I can get away with a lesser router.
 

Howard2k

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I had my own router fun going into this weekend when my pointy-eared roommate (cat) decided to dine on my router's power supply cable. This was some kind of Netgear POS I bougt last fall. I broke out the soldering iron and fixed it. When I plugged it back in it didn't do anything. Everything on the router lit up like it should but setup said there was no internet. Also, every. Goddamn. Time. there's a power interruption it takes a decision from the Supreme Court to get everything back to normal. I reset it, went into setup, downloaded an app... Nothing. FWIW I'm using my apartment complex's free interwebs so there's no modem on my end.

I can't get anything to work so I end up tethering to my phone for a few days which works, but sucks since my computer area is away from the window so I have to put the phone in the middle of the living room. I got an old Linsys router from the IT guy at work. He told me "I never want to see this again." It worked, but the firmware was from 2005 and wouldn't update so I couldn't set up security.

Yesterday when I was at Meijer I looked at routers for shits n grins. There was a Linksys router for $50 that outperformed the Netgear turd and the fossil I was given so I picked it up. Setup was easy and it's spewing out internet at 4x the speed the Netgear POS did. Also, FWIW, my internet needs aren't as much as the OP's, so I can get away with a lesser router.

BEFW11S4?
 


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