January 2017 WiFi Router Recommendations?

project_router

#1

So, recently I have seen a decline in my WiFi stability and it’s time to get a new router. Evidently my router is not strong enough to plow through the new Black Friday and Christmas Zigbee traffic. Also, my powerline adapters have taken a 50-70% hit (from 80-100Mbps down to 20-40Mbps), presumably due to RFI from Zwave switches (confirmed by popping the air gaps and doing a speed test).

Conditions

  • 3500 sf home, 2 stories
  • Network closet is central, on the 2nd floor with approximately 30-40ft straight line to end of desired coverage area (max 3-5 walls and one floor impeding)
  • Clients:
    • 3 laptops – used primarily for VPN and work scenarios. One used for MMO gaming
    • 3 iPhones and 10 tablets – all using various levels of connectivity 24/7 (most idling, of course)
    • 2 DLNA A/V receivers
    • 2 Smart TVs (used simultaneously for HD streaming)
    • 2 Rokus, 2 Fire TVs and a Chromecast – 1-2 of these are potentially used simultaneously, in addition to the TVs
    • VOIP – used sparingly (simultaneous to other high-bandwidth clients, of course)
    • Smartthings Hub
    • 3 Wemo devices
  • Most devices are Wireless G/N, with a few AC
  • Not really looking for a “mesh” configuration. Will add APs at a later date if needed.

I’m looking for a decent AC, dual band with good signal strength and reliability. I am currently using an N600 that is still sufficient on most days, but it is definitely not suited to some of the demand we put on it. I don’t think there is usefulness in going beyond an AC1900, and I would like to stay below $150.

Any/all suggestions and personal experiences welcomed, especially within the context of performance in conjunction with HA.


(Stephan H.) #2

I don’t think you are going to find a single router that can handle a 2 story 3500 sq ft home for under 150. I previously had the Asus ac1900 that covered my single story 2600 sq ft home with 35+ wifi devices (10+ zwave, 7 clear connect, 3 zigbee device running interference) It handled everything but my backyard without a trouble. Covering 2 stories with that much sq footage will probably have a few dead zones.
If I were you I would seriously consider investing in a mesh setup. Buy one or two nodes to start and expand as needed. Really easy to setup and works seamlessly. I just switched to Eero and I can tell you that it’s been fantastic.
Good Luck in your search.


(Paul) #3

If you are currently using powerline adaptors, does that mean you do not or cannot run ethernet cable to some devices? As I’m sure you know, adding “wi-fi extenders” that are not wired to the main connection will extend the “range” of your network, but they halve the available throughput. I find them to be way more trouble than they are worth.

The Wirecutter has a good pair of articles about non-mesh and mesh systems:


In my experience, using many wired (or mesh) access points provides the best experience, especially when fighting HA interference (or any busy airwaves). If you try to find the “biggest, baddest, most powerful” single wi-fi router, you’ll end up with a lot of collateral damage in the form of poor zigbee performance near the router and spotty coverage in the extremes of your home.

It seems the new crop of mesh systems are especially good at hopping frequencies and communicating to each other about conditions. Even if you end up running a wired cable to each mesh AP, I’d still recommend going this direction over adding traditional “dumb” APs


#4

I’m not concerned about edge of network dead zones, since the majority of activity is within 15-20ft of the router. Also, all of the 5ghz devices are usually centralized as well, with the exception of a few mobile devices that reliably fall back to 2.4ghz.

I can actually do some cable runs, I’ve just been too lazy due to the locations that would need offer the best positions. Though, I have been considering some PoE setups that might make those runs a bit less painful. That’s something I’m considering for a bit later down the road, since I’d like to plan it out.

I just finished helping my neighbor do whole-house Cat6a runs that took us approximately 3 weeks.

I’ve definitely looked at solutions like Luma, Eero, Orbi and Google. I don’t think I’m ready to take that leap yet.

One of the reasons I’m looking at a single AC router is that it will primarily be a temporary solution for the next 6-9 months. We’re due to have Google Fiber within that time period, unless the darned delays continue. It’s already installed 8 miles from us and they’ve been laying trunks in my neighborhood over the past 6 months. (Work slowed/halted when the CEO resigned.)


(Paul) #5

That all makes sense. I think either the budget pick or the upgrade pick in that wi-fi router Wirecutter article I linked would be a great fit for you.


#6

Running through that article now. These are the routers I have been currently considering:

My Current Short-list

Cheap, cheap, cheap. Reviews are mixed. Range is probably horrible. Beam-forming is probably unreliable.

But did I mention CHEAP?

This was my first choice, and remains my fallback if I don’t find anything convincing from other products.

Decent feature set. Meh reviews. Not decided if it’s worth the additional $$.

Best in class, but do I really need it as a “temporary” router?

Just recently popped on my radar. Never heard of them. Don’t trust them. But the cheap sheep are starting to follow and seem to like them despite the reduced features.


(Kendal Van Dyke) #7

ZigBee interferes with Powerline? Forgive my ignorance, but do you have references that you can point to on that? I’m using Powerline throughout my house but haven’t noticed any performance decline. I’m mostly Z-Wave, though, so maybe I just don’t have enough ZigBee devices to see it yet.


#8

Zigbee shares frequency with G/N Wifi. It doesn’t interfere with Powerline.

My Powerline interference seems to be coming from Zwave light switches.[quote=“SQLDBA, post:7, topic:72859”]
I’m using Powerline throughout my house but haven’t noticed any performance decline. I’m mostly Z-Wave
[/quote]

What kind of Zwave devices are you using? How old is your home? Also, which Powerline adapter are you using?

Wondering why it’s been such an issue for me.


#9

I doubt you’re stuck with whatever WiFi router Google Fiber gives you. For a house that large multiple APs are the way to go. I have a 2400 sqft ranch house with 3 APs for excellent 5 GHz signal strength.

I use Mikrotik routers. They are enterprise class, and popular with WISPs. A bit of a learning curve to configure but amazingly powerful software and not at all expensive. It manages the multiple APs from one router.


(Dan Fox) #10

I bought this in the spring and am amazed with it’s performance:
https://www.synology.com/en-us/products/RT1900ac
I believe I got it from Amazon for about $150


#11

Thanks @Dan_Fox, I will add that one to the this to research.


(Brian) #12

OnHub for its IFTTT integration. Mesh for its performance. Save up!


#13

Hay @MEarly,

You are thinking too much…Just get the Google Wifi router.
It is a router/Gateway/Wifi booster.

https://store.google.com/product/google_wifi


(Daniel Ionescu) #14

Take a look at http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/ and choose your router. As you have many device look for max simultaneous connections parameter. Also, you might need one or two access points if the router does not cover the whole house. If you look at current mesh network offerings, keep in mind that they are router+access points bundled togather. A god router should cover your whole house, but probably not on 5 gHz, but on 2.4 gHz. Your N600 (I asume Netgear) has 5 gHz. Try first and split your clients into the two different bands. But it will not keep up with that much traffic.


Mesh Wi-Fi, is it what it's chalked up to be?
(Kevin) #15

Do the new mesh routers have an advantage over just using two hardwired access points on same SSID?

My kids have been complaining about our wifi past couple months (lots of wifi and bluetooth devices, AC router, Uverse). Trying to figure out if I need to upgrade internet speed, move router, get a new router, add a 2nd router, etc… Kinda hard to debug, it seems to work okay for my web browsing but I’m not playing agar.io/roblox/nba games on ipad.

Is there a way to turn off ST hub zigbee radio since I am not using it? One less 2.4GHz transmitter wouldn’t hurt probably.


(Chris ) #16

I like my Asus rt-ac88u but it wasn’t cheap.


(Kendal Van Dyke) #17

I count 14 total spread out across switches, lightbulbs, and sensors. House was built in 2013 and I’m using D-Link AV2 2000 adapters (4 total). I haven’t done a speed test between adapters since adding in all the Z-wave devices but it’s fast enough to stream uncompressed HD content between adapters so it’s “fast enough”.


(Brian Steere) #18

To throw something different into the mix, I own and love the Ubiquiti APs. Specifically the UAC-AC-PRO (http://amzn.to/2jqsr8n). It’s geared more towards SOHO setups, but I have 2 of them setup in my house (1 for the house, one for the garage/side yard).


#19

+1 to the Ubiquiti UniFi Ac-APs. Made the switch about 6 months ago and couldn’t be any happier. 3200 sq ft 2 story. With one UAP-AC-Pro in center upstairs I have almost 100% coverage. But since I wanted 100% AC coverage I picked up a couple AC-Lites for the edges and just wireless uplink them to the Pro.


(Michael) #20

Agree with @Dianoga on Ubiquiti. My primary router is an Asus RT-AC87R but I have 2 Unfi’s UAC-AC-Lite for coverage in the outer parts of my U shaped house. I have hard wire connections from the router to the Unfi APs and I have a great mesh of wireless for my entire house and yard.