Router/Mesh Network Recommendation

Discussion in 'Computer Audiophile: Software, Configs, Tools' started by Colgin, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. Metro

    Metro Friend

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    Here's useful advice about WiFi access point placement:
    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/202...ntific-guide-to-wi-fi-access-point-placement/

    I have a tiny house, but it is 115 years old with small rooms and lath/plaster walls that are difficult for wifi signals. In the same room as the access point, I get 600Mbps wifi on my MacBook Pro, but barely 25 feet away in one of the bedrooms, the signal needs to go through multiple walls and a closet, and it can drop to as low as 10Mbps.

    This is with Nest Wifi, which is admittedly an entry level product. I bought a used Ruckus R720 from eBay which should be complete overkill for my little house, but it yielded surprisingly little improvement, only to about 20Mbps in the bedroom. The limiting factor is the thick walls, not the wifi router.

    I experimented with moving the wifi access point around and got substantial improvement, up to 50Mbps in the bedroom even with the Nest. The best location in my house should be on the ceiling of my hallway, which would minimize obstructions for signals to reach throughout the house. I'll need to run wiring to the attic and probably won't get to it until next year, and then reassess and maybe get a WiFi 6 unit. Meanwhile, I will be putting the Ruckus up for sale here.
     
  2. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    The rumor so far is to skip WiFi 6 and stick to WiFi 5. WiFi 6 seems to be fairly immature.

    I'll provide some examples:

    1) The R7800 is supposed to do HT160 to my XPS 13. Tried that, and no improvement. Maybe I need another router. Maybe I need to enable something in my laptop. Maybe I need to press more random buttons. But as far as I can tell, just clicking on the Router HT160 enable button resulted in no-change.
    2) A friend of mine bought the RAX80 to improve range. And a little more range he actually got... After he disabled the AX aspect of the router. An AC extender would have served him better for a lot less $ when it came to range. The AX awesomeness from the router? Yup. He had to turn it off or no-worky.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2020
  3. SineDave

    SineDave Friend

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    Most of the newer class WiFi specs actually require greater AP density (more AP's) to achieve their throughput settings. Same problem as 5G - the radio spectrum used has to be higher frequency to support greater bandwidth as this is a serial form of communication (at the antenna level), and as frequency increases penetrative power drops off, and the signal becomes much more prone to interaction with the RF environment.
     
  4. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    To be pedantic, in this case throughput is more a function of BW than carrier frequency.

    If the 2.4 GHz band had 750 MHz of BW supporting 24 non-overlapping 20 MHz bands, and the 5 GHz channel had 100 MHz BW supporting 3 non-overlapping 20 MHz bands (one is reserved in the US), the story would be very different.

    To be even more pedantic, radio wave propagation in free space (where there are no wall to penetrate) is inversely proportional to the square of frequency. Note X-rays, which are well above the GHz range, will penetrate your body nice and easy. So it is not penetration necessarily, just space propagation is better the as the frequency decreases.

    Note that the fact 5 GHz attenuates more than 2.4 GHz means more SNR at a distance for 2.4 GHz, BW being equal. The point is BW is not equal. 5 GHz has shit tons more available for WiFi purposes.

    I actually think that the reason my NAS did not give my XPS 13 it's file at 800 Mbps was because my NAS is old relatively speaking (ReadyNAS Pro 6), and it's peak read speed is probably 50 MB/s in RAID 6. That is about 400 Mbps which is about what I got.

    400 Mbps is already stupid fast for my needs, and the R7800 with Voxel FW delivers that and then some in 5 GHz. I don't need 160 MHz or 80+80. I do need efficient BW utilization for all my devices though.

    However, I needed range. And for that, I could have saved some $ and much better coverage with other less expensive solutions. My wife does not like how the R7800 looks (its bigger than our old N router by some).

    I think it looks like a Lamborghini of a router. But my wife thinks it looks like shit. Currently she is looking to put a shame bag on top of it which I discourage because the router needs ventilation.

    I should have bought an Orbi or one of those Google balls.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  5. SineDave

    SineDave Friend

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    My answer was a bit reductive - but my main point was that you only get higher channel bandwidth at higher carrier frequencies. You're definitely not getting full WiFi6 speeds on a 20MHz channel for example.

    Ultimately if they go full 1-6GHz, attentuation in the 5-6GHz band where the channel bandwidths are highest will be the greatest, thus requiring you to be closer to the AP and greater AP density.
     
  6. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    It's not that bad @SineDave. So far coverage for 5 GHz with my R7800 is very good. It covers what the N router covered but with much higher throughput. Just not substantially more range. Actually, the same range.

    And it sort of makes sense. Range has to decrease in order for WiFi to coexist. My neighbors are also WiFi consumers.

    For all my bitching and moaning there are some reason I did bought this:

    1) It is not the flavor of the month. The R7800 has been out for a while and it is very well regarded.
    2) I know Netgear FW is shit. But Voxel has been around, and stability seems to be there.
    3) Performance is there. Definitively superior to my old N router.

    Again, what I did not counted on was range. And I should have.

    I also did not count on Extender integration. This is new to me. But I'm beginning to understand it as a consumer. And it works.

    I could have done better I guess. But this is good.
     
  7. Hammy

    Hammy Friend

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    I'm using a Synology RT2600ac and MR2200ac combo in a mesh style setup.

    It works. The main issue with the Synology routers is that the routers aren't Synology's core competency. The firmware updates don't always go smoothly. Sometimes getting reconfigured after the update that can lose settings and/or cause it to get unstable after the update until you fix the misconfiguration. You don't want the updates to happen unattended. Just in case you need to log in and get things fixed or working again.

    Otherwise working as I had expected. The RT2600ac has good range all by itself. I don't absolutely need the MR2200ac mesh node. But it's nice to have to get stronger signal and a ethernet bridge out to the living room. I'm in a condo with crowded wifi. No free channels other than DFS channels. Neighbors signal is as strong as my own. I do have the mesh node configured to use a DFS channel if it wants to (it always wants to because DFS are the only free channels). That actually works, but only for the newer laptops and phones that know how to access and manage a DFS channel. Using the Synology Smart Connect that puts everything on the same SSID.

    My mom is also using a RT2600ac and MR2200ac in a mesh setup. In her case it's because she's in a 100+ year old house where the kitchen is added on and behind an original brick wall. With just a single router in the house the kitchen becomes a dead zone that drops calls and connections. Using a mesh setup you can bounce the wifi into the kitchen and get strong signal in the kitchen. All using the same SSID. The transfer as you walk from the main part of the house to the kitchen works seamlessly. No dropped calls on the phone while using wifi calling.
     
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  8. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    This is what the R7800 + EX7500 is missing. Voxel or no Voxel.

    And it's not a small omission.

    I have to use two SSIDs, one for 2.4 and one for 5 GHz, for this to work w/o the link randomly dropping every other day. I had to disable Smart Connect.

    All that said, the EX7500 connected to the 5 GHz band does replicate both the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. Just two stupid SSIDs, which is not that awesome.

    I also love the Synology interface. The Netgear GUI is a POS. I droll every time I see the nice and elegant Synology interface and functionality.

    Thank you for sharing.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
  9. Taverius

    Taverius Smells like sausages

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    Unifi setup here, meshing works great, one AP hard linked, the rest are meshed.

    Running all channels minimum width, because HTx only makes a difference if all of your devices support it.

    I see no reason to upgrade past AC, for theoretical speed gains which do not materialise beyond physical touch range of the APs.
     
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  10. fastfwd

    fastfwd Friend

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    FWIW, my Pro 6 boxes (also RAID6) saturate gigabit ethernet. Tested with NASTester: http://www.808.dk/?code-csharp-nas-performance.
     
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  11. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    I can try that. All I did was transfer a large file from my PRO 6 to my XPS 13 and I got 50 MB/s = 400 Mbps, which is what that script seems to do in a round about way. You get 900 Mbps?

    My PRO 6 is connected to the R7800 directly. Connetion to XPS 13 is over 5G.

    I could try going direct through the switch of the R7800.

    EDIT: BTW, the reason I thought I was hitting througput limitations with the NAS came from this:
    https://www.smallnetbuilder.com/nas...etgear-readynas-pro-reviewed?showall=&start=2
    But indeed I can just as well connect the PRO 6 to my XPS 13 through the R7800 switch and see if I can go well over 50 MB/s which is almost about half a gigabit.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
  12. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Oh. Wait. Here:
    https://www.smallnetbuilder.com/nas...nvelope-netgear-readynas-pro-reviewed?start=3

    On Table 1, it seems it also depends on the speed of the hard drives on the machine getting the data from the PRO 6. I think I have a pretty fast drive on the XPS 13.

    LOL! 400 Mbps is somewhat overkill already. But I'll test.

    But we are not going to get 400 Mbps all over the house. That's they key. Range & Coverage. Not just speed when you are close to the router. Specially as things start to move towards smart devices, which are spying on you from every corner of your house. You want your privacy to be violated fast and efficiently.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2020
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  13. fastfwd

    fastfwd Friend

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    So two things:

    1. The old Infrant-era ReadyNAS software ("OS4", based on ancient Debian Etch) can be replaced by the latest ReadyNAS "OS6" software (based on Debian Jessie but probably soon moving to a newer release). It's a small pain in the ass to switch over, and the new software is unsupported on legacy devices, but the legacy devices aren't supported anyway, so who cares?

    Anyway, the new software has a vastly improved interface, along with huge under-the-hood improvements that include BTRFS and optional whole-disc encryption. AND it's regularly updated. I've been running it for a few years on my PRO6 boxes and couldn't be happier.

    2. If even the new software isn't enough to make you want to keep your PRO6, I'll be happy to take it off your hands if the price is right (and if you can wait until the end of October; my discretionary spending is frozen until then).

    Yeah. With RAID5, writing was as fast as reading; both were limited by the ethernet wire speed. On an encrypted RAID6 array, I still get over 100 megabytes per second reading, and just about 100 writing.

    Yes, my speeds are with a laptop SSD, not a spinning disc, on the other end of the wire. And the wire is for-real Cat 6 patch cord from Blue Jeans. If your throughput is significantly lower than 100 megabytes/second and you're sure that your laptop drive isn't the bottleneck, maybe try changing the patch cords to ones that you KNOW meet the spec.

    True. But still, you don't want the first hop from the NAS to be throttled by 50%.
     
  14. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Glad you are all happy with your Netgear experience there.

    However, playing around that way can get you in trouble. I fucked my first PRO 6 12 years ago by adding to it some SW by Poussin. The system went unstable. Something I was told to do by after hours overseas tech support bricked my unit and it had to be RMA'ed (1st RMA). All replacement units I had were refurbished. And the fun begins:

    1) Here is my first replacement (The power on/off schedule woes):
    https://community.netgear.com/t5/Us...with-RN-Pro-after-Raidar-Upg/m-p/739921#M3699
    ...
    Solution: 2nd RMA
    https://community.netgear.com/t5/Us...with-RN-Pro-after-Raidar-Upg/m-p/739948#M3726

    2) Here is my second replacement (The heat is on: I replaced the CPU, PSU, fans, and crimping cables on this PRO 6):
    https://community.netgear.com/t5/Using-your-ReadyNAS-in-Business/Readynas-Pro-heat-issues/m-p/932758
    ...
    Solution: Got lucky and purchased a second brand new unit for $350 (I was now well out of guarantee with a discontinued unit)
    https://community.netgear.com/t5/Us...ss/Readynas-Pro-heat-issues/m-p/932792#M71494

    You might notice that at the end of the thread above, the suggestion to upgrade to OS6 was tossed there, and it was discouraged.

    After fucking my original unit, and going through replacing all kinds of parts on RMA'ed refurbished PRO 6es, I kind of walked away from being a wild man with my new/not-refurb NAS which is currently somewhat unobtainum should shit happen again.

    Maybe one day I'll do the OS6 thing. But not today.

    EDIT: LOL!
    https://community.netgear.com/t5/Us...6-OS-Upgrade-from-4-2-30-to-OS-6/td-p/1181053

    Basic instructions are
    1. BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP
    2. Download PREPR4TOR6_0.1-x86.bin
    3. Upload it using the ReadyNAS web gui firmware update, but do not reboot afterwards (avoids the need to do manual factory resets)
    4. Download R4toR6_6.9.3.bin
    5. Upload it using the ReadyNAS web gui firmware update
    6. After you upload the addon/firmware and reboot, it will update the firmware and start a factory default.
    For links to files see OS6 now works on x86 Legacy WARNING: NO NTGR SUPPORT

    As you can see it does a factory default, so all data on the NAS will be lost.

    Really!? FTS.

    I paid $350 brand new and it's running. Thanks for the offer, but not worth the inconvenience.

    When the NAS croaks, or starts to act funny, then I'll get a Synology or whatever is best then. And the unit will likely go to electronics heaven.

    My XPS 13 has an SSD and a WiFi card that supports HT-160. I also opened my iMAC and inconveniently dissembled the whole POS to upgrade the RAM to 32G and replace the HDD to SSD. Whatever. It works. Got SSDs too.

    I may give more a crap about speed and tests tomorrow. But I'm not feeling it right now.

    What I'm feeling is my R7800 running Voxel FW still being unable to communicate with my EX7500 using a single SSID instead of 2. It also seems to drop connection to the main router every now and then with the two SSIDs (one for 2.4 and one for 5). However, at least it self recovers that way.

    If I had paid like $100 or $150 for the combo there, I would not feel that bad. But after my adventures with the PRO 6 (see above), and after paying $500 for a router that fucks up connection with the extender, I can't really say that I recommend these units from Netgear.

    Note that for the router I'm running open-source FW (at your own risk) that supposedly fixes original manufacturer latest FW issues that don't have an official solution anywhere in the horizon.

    Look at the SNB review about this top ranking router, and tell me where you see a warning about poor extender integration, FW instabilities, and horrid GUI. And that's were I fucked up. I should have read more carefully the forums, specially the ones about EX7500 before making a decision. Specially in light of my PRO 6 experience. I should have also guessed that range was not going to be out of this word in order to keep neighboring WiFi systems from interfering severely with each other. And that I would be better served with a well put together mesh. Nobody is perfect.

    That said, again, situation is not horrible, but it's not a field of roses either. In Amir's words... Cannot recommend.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
  15. JustAnotherRando

    JustAnotherRando My other bike is a Ferrari

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    I bought two R310s over a two week period (trialed the first, decided I liked it, bought a second). They are connected to the same switch, the new one identified the primary/master as soon as it was flashed to Unleashed, and adopted the same config, and appeared under the management interface.

    The main difference to the next model up is that the R510 does 'mesh' but there is a caveat (later). Also it has one of the two antennae with a really different design- it's the big flat hexagonal shaped one here. The R310 has two of the cruciform arrangements. I have no idea what this translates to in real life, from what I've read, coverage is fairly similar. I have noticed that coverage of the R310 totally kicks arse over the Unifi AC Lites which I have replaced- the noticeable improvement is throughput at 'edge' cases, of which I have many given that live in concrete apartment. As an example, throughput from my bed went from around 5-10Mbps with the Unifi Lite to a consistent 50Mbps with the R310. This is with identically positioned WAPs.

    The caveat with mesh is that the R510 doesn't have a dedicated backhaul channel for wireless mesh connections. So you will chop your max throughput in half whenever using wireless mesh... the product really seems to assume lots of structured cabling to exist, and to be designed around different ideas than consumer mesh which is 'highest single throughput number for a single test device'. If I were in an environment that relied on wireless connected mesh nodes, I'd probably get the Orbi as it does dedicated wireless backhaul, and isn't supposed to be complete pants.

    Also, thanks @SineDave for talking about the Ruckus stuff, I hadn't paid it any attention as had zero idea that Unleashed existed. It's pretty much perfect for a home setup, way better than a controller-based approach.

    Note for people outside the US: There are two versions of the Ruckus WAPs. A US version, and a WorldWide version (WW00 appears in the model number). You probably cannot use a US version overseas... at least, I was not prepared to try, as when I did the same with Unifi gear, it basically crapped itself and refused to work.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
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  16. SineDave

    SineDave Friend

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    Ruckus was born in the enterprise, so most mesh use is only in outdoor or limited cabling access scenarios. Generally, they are designed for absolute maximum client density with wired backhaul (all AP's have a hard wire connection to the switch). You can definitely get really good mesh performance from Ruckus, but it won't be as "easy" as a consumer solution.

    I'm using dual R710's in my home today, and have both wired for max throughput - but have experimented with the downstairs AP being mesh instead. The performance is totally adequate for most use - but I have no limitations stopping me from keeping it hard wired.

    No wireless technology is going to me a magic bullet for poor RF environment (thick walls) like @Metro has. The only solution for this is more APs - and more density.
     
  17. ultrabike

    ultrabike Measurbator - Admin

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    Those Rx10 thingys are not cheap.
     
  18. insidious meme

    insidious meme Ambivalent Kumquat

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    Yeah they're normally commercial solutions.
     
  19. JustAnotherRando

    JustAnotherRando My other bike is a Ferrari

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    I should have mentioned in my prior post- the R310s were secondhand (well, NIB). I got them for about half the price of what a Unifi NanoHD sells for.

    The Unifi antenna design is much more primitive, simply being a couple of stamped pieces of metal rather than something which is inherently tuneable. It might not be obvious from the Ruckus photos, but they are 3D mounted PCBs with multiple antenna traces printed on each bit of board, I guess the idea is that the device can choose which traces to pick up signal from, reading the marketing blurb from Ruckus this is done individually for each client. Slightly more adjustable beamforming, I suppose.

    Another thing I noticed when looking for those internal shots is that the NanoHD now has capacitors like the Ruckus- the older models didn't use capacitors. The NanoHD does do wireless mesh, I believe.

    Ebay seems to have a fairly plentiful supply of Ruckus APs.
    Only the Rx0s are capable of the Unleashed firmware, the older 7xxx ones won't run this.
    Rx00 is 802.11n only and EoL.
    Rx10 and Rx20 are current (difference is Wave 2, iirc).
    I have no idea what the Rx50s are, they seem to be fairly different animals and didn't seem relevant to home use, so I disregarded them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2020
  20. Armaegis

    Armaegis Friend

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    What if I already have a bunch of cat5 run through the house. Is there any "simple" way to use those lines to set up multiple wireless points around the house (access points?), or is it easier to just set up this mesh thing that all the cool kids are talking about these days?

    My ISP comes in to the basement where the main box/router sits. There's a cable that goes to a bedroom upstairs containing a switch, from there it branches off to various other rooms around the house. Yeah it's a bit convoluted, that's how the house was wired years ago, no I don't want to rewire anything.
     
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