WiFi / Mesh / Router recommendations?

Discussion in 'PC/Mac Builders, Mods, Peripherals - New' started by charlieclouser, Nov 28, 2018.

  1. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    I'm sticking with my Airport Extreme Base Station/Airport Express set-up as long as I possibly can, mainly for this reason:

     
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  2. Dewdman42

    Dewdman42 Senior Member

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    Given you like the Mac configuration, I'd grab those while you can. personally I think mesh is overkill for most people unless you have a really spread out house. A friend of mine has a house that is narrow and long so he got mesh to deal with being at two ends of the house. He got the ubiquity stuff which is arguably the best. Netgear and some others have some easy to config mesh stuff, but its not Apple.

    I spent a lot of time trying to research all the different mesh setups and I decided I only needed one modern router with high power wifi. My old one was having problems getting wifi reliably to the third floor and dropping out TV related stuff.

    I got the TP-Link Archer C3150 and wow, so much better wifi, it easily covers my whole house with much faster wifi. I am impressed. No need for mesh. I haven't even mounted the router up on a wall yet to get the transmitter antenna's spread out optimally, its crammed into my phone patch panel in the basement and still has way better transmission then my old one. Whole house to the third floor covered. It does not have easy Apple config unfortunately.
     
  3. dbudde

    dbudde Senior Member

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    There's a good comparison review of mesh wifi products here. I went with Plume based on this article and it has worked very well. Simple setup.
     
  4. OP
    OP
    charlieclouser

    charlieclouser Senior Member

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    Looks like NetGear Orbi has the most impressive speeds and does NOT need you to set up an account to use, although Geoff said it was potentially a little trickier to tweak the settings. Still researching, but it looks like you can use two base units bridged into a single network with Ethernet connection between the two for hardwired backhaul, but setup requires a bit of "connect router A, configure, disconnect and power down router A, connect router B, configure, disconnect and power down router B, re-connect and power router A, boot and verify, connect and power router B, boot and verify" so it might be a bit of a hack job.

    And Orbi DOES support MU-MIMO - so it's ticking all the boxes at the moment for me. The saga continues...
     
  5. niteflier5

    niteflier5 New Member

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    I've got an Orbi system: one router and two satellites. Setup was trivial, firmware updates are effortless, coverage is generally excellent, and the satellites have Ethernet jacks for use with wired devices. I haven't found any need for the backhaul feature at my place. Tradeoffs: no antennae to aim (centralized placement becomes important), and the glowing, color-changing signal strength indicator ring on the top of the unit is distracting.

    If your network requires 801.1x authentication or bandwidth shaping or other advanced configuration, you might want to look into an enterprise-class controller-based system, like Cisco Meraki.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2018 at 5:30 PM
  6. AllanH

    AllanH Senior Member

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    I have two Orbi's covering the house: one in the garage (incoming Charter) and the second in the boys' area. The back-haul is 5 G and can handle about 500 mb/s from what I can tell. Wi-Fi is solid on both 2.4 GHZ and 5.0 GHz and includes guest wireless on both. The meshing is fully automatic and e.g. a guest Wi-Fi authentication switches automatically between 2.4 and 5.0 radios as needed. Fully automatic. The wired LAN and the "in-house" SSID can see each other, unless I turn on isolation for the in-house SSID. I hide the in-house SSID as very few devices need to connect.

    I turn on network isolation for guest wi-fi and it works like a charm. Most of our devices are on guest as little network sharing is required.

    I have two teenagers gaming on guest Wi-Fi and their latency is very good with ping times sub 15 ms always, sometimes sub 10. We easily get downloads at line speeds over Wi-Fi (110 mb/s down and 5 mb/s up).

    Orbi is the best Wi-Fi I've ever had. I can answer specific questions, if that's of value.

    EDIT: I use the dedicated hidden Wi-Fi for backhaul. I had not realized that the wired option was available.
     
  7. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

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    I put this on my shopping list:

    [edit: Orbi was top of the list but read enough unhappy reviewers on Amazon. Probably heading back to eero even though it's more expensive]

    [Current leader:

    eero Home WiFi System (1 eero + 2 eero Beacon) – Advanced Tri-Band Mesh WiFi System to Replace Traditional Routers and WiFi Ranger Extenders – Coverage: 2 to 4 Bedroom Home

    [Runner-up:

    [NETGEAR Orbi Ultra-Performance Whole Home Mesh WiFi System - fastest WiFi router and single satellite extender with speeds up to 3 Gbps over 5,000 sq. feet, AC3000 (RBK50) -- just over $300 on Amazon.]

    I'd love to add this and retain my Apple Air Port as well -- use that for music and the Orbi for the rest of the family / house. Not sure if that's possible or not.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018 at 7:58 AM
  8. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    I can't tell you exactly how, but I know you can set up multiple networks. The AirPort itself has two (main and guest).

    One factor I haven't seen mentioned is how big an area you need to cover. Our house is small and a single story, so an AirPort router at each end is more than enough.

    On a tangent, ATT just laid fiber-optic cable in our area, and I'm really looking forward to there being competition for Internet service. Spectrum (formerly Time Warner Cable) is fine, but it's expensive and they have us over a barrel due to the monopoly.
     
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  9. keyjam

    keyjam Member

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    You should also consider Synology RT2600 and mesh MR2200, which was just released recently (just mr2200 - RT2600 has been out a while). I replaced my airport extremes and getting great performance, the software is fantastic. Check out some of the reviews. I am able to better leverage my fiber connection and stream content off the WiFi. I also use the wired portion for direct connect of some devices which can be limited on some of the other mesh only offerings. The cost of both is still within cost of other mesh only.
     
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  10. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

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    Wall St. Journal video: "best mesh Wi-Fi Routers Explained"
    https://www.wsj.com/video/series/jo...ollhouse/7D5C5BA0-5E67-4573-9950-8479F5B34C7F

    so childishly simple, even I can understand it.

    One of my main goals is "easy." Writing music is hard, keeping computers happy is (sometimes) maddening; I want a network that I can set up and forget, and one that the technophobe can use without agony and without my intervention.
     
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  11. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    And as Charlie wrote, that's what's great about the AirPort software.

    You set up your routers and forget about them for years at a time, and who wants to remember 198.xlasdfoasdj numbers, poke around browser-based interfaces for the one freaking parameter you need to tweak...
     
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  12. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

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    I use AirPort Time Capsule now and I generally agree the software, setup, and so on, are simple enough for a 10 year old. Or even a 40 year old...

    Only problem is, you can't "mesh" the Apple solutions, so once you add a single "extender" that's wireless, you can't add a further wireless extender beyond it. You can add more than one extender, but not an extender-of-an-extender, from what I've read.

    Also, while it's pretty simple, my quibble with AirPort software is that, although it's dead easy to just plug it in and have it work -- really almost zero effort -- if you want to dig under the hood, that's not as obvious as I would like. Mind you, it's even more not-obvious with Netgear.

    Consequently, the reviews of the "eero" that gush over ease of use, clarity and simplicity of its app and all that are what attract me to it. Just ordered it, actually.

    Besides, I just read that the AirPort etc. are all recently discontinued by Apple. https://www.macworld.com/article/32...sule-airport-extreme-and-airport-express.html
     
  13. Nick Batzdorf

    Nick Batzdorf Moderator

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    Yes. But they last a long time... I hope.
     
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  14. OP
    OP
    charlieclouser

    charlieclouser Senior Member

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    Exactly. I found out that the reason I couldn't get more than 18mpbs on downloads was because my entire ISP router > Airport setup was ELEVEN FREAKING YEARS OLD - and it literally had not been touched once, either by human hands or software, in that entire time. So I just got a couple of the last, fastest AirPort Extremes to replace my ancient, 802.11n models, and had them up and running in two minutes with zero setting up of anything other than choosing a name and password for my WiFi network. Two Airport Extremes, one on either end of the property, connected via 150' outdoor-rated Cat7 cable, a single WiFi network name, and full bars of coverage all the way down to the bottom of my (long) driveway. And 802.11ac can still pull faster than my ISP can push. Music workstations and the smart TV's are all on hardwired connections, with fresh Cat7 cabling, so the wife's 4k streaming binges won't clog up the WiFi that I need to browse vi-control on my iPad in bed!

    By the time I "need" to upgrade beyond these AirPorts, perhaps there will be "Orbi Extreme" or something even better - but I hopefully won't need to upgrade until and unless I can get my ISP to push Gigabit instead of the 150 I have now, or the 300 I should have by next week.

    One useful tidbit of AirPort info I found online is that if you hold "option" and click on the WiFi icon in your Mac's menubar, it will show very detailed info about each WiFi network which that Mac can see - including channel numbers, and if needed you can then go into AirPort Utility and change the channel assignments so that your AirPort isn't conflicting with your surveillance cam network or whatever. Didn't know that until now.
     
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  15. Kevin Fortin

    Kevin Fortin Senior Member

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    Something I just learned tonight is that if you only have Cat5 internet cables connecting modem, router, and PC, that could limit you to a top speed of 100 Mbps no matter what components you have.

    Cat5e and Cat6 cables can handle faster speeds.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018 at 9:03 PM
  16. tack

    tack Damned Dirty Ape

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    Cat5 is pretty resilient. Although only rated for 100Mbps you likely won't have any problems getting 1Gbps with modern hardware. My apartment is wired with cat5 for phone which I repurposed for Ethernet and it's been completely solid at 1Gpbs. But of course if you have the choice, or if you're talking about patch cables, no reason not to go with cat5e or cat6.

    As an aside, I haven't used their mesh products, but I've been extremely happy and impressed with Ubiquiti's UniFi product line.
     
  17. OP
    OP
    charlieclouser

    charlieclouser Senior Member

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    That's what I thought, and since I needed to replace a bunch of tattered ten-year-old Cat5 cables I got Cat7 cables, since 7 is more than 6 which is more than 5, right?. But when the guy from the ISP was here today, swapping out my ONT and routers, I asked him if we should replace the main link that comes from the Outside Network Terminal (the box that takes fiber from the pole and breaks out internet, phone, and tv) and goes to the main internet router. That cable is a ten-year-old raggedy hunk of Cat5e that was hand-wired on site during the initial install, but it's only about eight feet long.

    He said, "Nah. You're good to go up to at least 300 and probably all the way to 1Gb, even with that old thing. If it were longer, or was snaking up and down through your walls next to a bunch of AC power and stuff, maybe... but it's only punching through the wall and going six feet along the baseboard to the router, so I'd say you're good to go. The Cat6 and Cat7 standards mostly just specify better shielding from interference and fancier connectors that are a huge pain to wire up on-site." I hope he's right!

    Turns out he is a fan of my old band, and once he saw the platinum records on the wall (and I gave him a decent tip!) he gave me his cell number in case we did have to swap that cable at some point.

    Here's hoping. At any rate, I'm now downloading my Orchestral Tools purchases on two computers simultaneously, and each is giving me about 70mpbs over 802.11ac on AirPort Extreme gen6, for a total of 140mps. The speedtest website shows that I can pull about 154mpbs on a quoted service of 150 - so that's a lot better than the 18mpbs I was getting yesterday!

    Finally.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 2:24 AM
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