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I've got a $100-150 Asus Router that was doing fine in a 3 bedroom townhouse a few years ago. I now live in a 5000 sq ft space across three floors, wherein the network is as follows:

1Gb/s Modem from the ISP -> Ubiquiti 4-port wired router -> Asus RT-AC56 wireless router

I now have too much space and too many devices for this configuration. Firstly, the 5Ghz band for the wireless router is operating on a different SSID, so LAN interaction with devices that don't support that frequency is an issue. Second, the connected device list has grown from:

1 Phone

1 Laptop

1 PC

to

4 Phones

2 Laptops

4 PCs

1 Multifunction Printer

2 Steam Links

1 Smart Television

2 Xbox 360s

I'm now in a bit of a loop. Firstly, I can only connect devices a certain way and through the Wireless SSID if I need them to interact. Secondly, and far more annoyingly, the more the router is in use, the more issues begin to arise. Granted, one could call that somewhat normal, but these aren't typical latency issues which should be occurring. All connected machines begin to receive more and more pixellated video, "stuttering" in online games, and the Steam Links start to have issues keeping their connection to the host PC (which is on a wired connection to the wireless router). I even get some errors from the links about trouble communicating with the controller, but I think that's passed on from the PC because of latency between it and the link.

Restarting the wireless router fixes it for about an hour before symptoms begin to recur.

Obviously, I'm making a terrier do the job of a sled husky, so I know an upgrade is in order. As I look into it, Mesh Networking seems like my solution, but I'm confused by it. How is this different from just getting a bunch of routers together and tossing them into repeater mode? If it is different, could I use an existing wireless router to connect to the mesh connectivity nodes? if I have a wired-only router that performs really well (the aforementioned ubiquiti) do I even need another router, or can I just start connecting up the access nodes to that? Finally, are there any security risks with mesh that aren't present in traditional AP networking?

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  • How have you connected your routers? Have you simply plugged one into the other and gone from there? Have you done any configuration, knowing you've now got a router plugged into a router (double-NAT springs to mind)... Give us details about your network. What IP addresses do you get from Ubiquiti, what do you get from the Asus? – Kinnectus Apr 5 '18 at 17:25
  • I've done extensive configuration on the Ubiquiti side and had just turned most of the features of the Asus that made it behave as more than an access point to "off". Presently, every device is connected to the Asus. Network address assignment was originally handled by the Ubiquiti, but when I started having problems more recently, I spun the Asus off to its own subnet when isolating which router was being the problem child. – CDove Apr 5 '18 at 17:30
  • I'd probably consider factory resetting the Asus -> turning off wifi capability on the Ubiquiti (use it solely as a gateway if you must) -> configure the Asus to the bare minimum so that you can test your network performance knowing you're not getting interference from the ubiquiti – Kinnectus Apr 5 '18 at 17:33
  • The Ubiquiti does not have wifi capabilities at all. It is a 4-port wired-only router. The purpose of the Asus router is solely to add wireless functionality and to place 4 hardline ports in an upstairs room. Also, factory reset of the Asus has been attempted already. – CDove Apr 5 '18 at 17:34
  • Factory reset the Asus -> connect your devices -> test. you may need to change the channel the wireless networks work on... if you're getting wifi connectivity/performance issues. – Kinnectus Apr 5 '18 at 17:35
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It sounds like your current router is either over heating, or on its way out. in my personal opinion, WI-mesh would be a waste of money, you can accomplish total coverage with normal AP infrastructure mode.

We don't give shopping recommendations here at superuser, there is a whole other community for that. so choosing new routers will be at your discretion.

This is how you would connect regular routers to essentially act as a mesh network.
(and save yourself a decent amount of money, WI-mesh is costly.)

honey-comb

The configuration would look like this:

Ubiquiti 4-port wired router
MODE = Router/Firewall
LAN IP address = "192.168.1.1 255.255.255.0"
DHCP-Pool = "192.168.1.2 - 192.168.1.251"

Asus AC router #1
MODE = AP
2.4 GHZ SSID = "Home-net"
5.8GHZ SSID = "Home-net-5ghz"
LAN IP address = "192.168.1.254 255.255.255.0"
DHCP = "disabled on this router!"
WPA2-PSK 2.4ghz = "MyPass1234!"
WPA2-PSK 5.8ghz = "MyPass4321!"
security type = "AES only"
NAT & Firewall = OFF!
WAN = disabled, with up-link connected via LAN port.
2.4GHZ Channel - 1
5.8GHZ Channel - 100

Asus AC router #2
MODE = AP
2.4 GHZ SSID = "Home-net"
5.8GHZ SSID = "Home-net-5ghz"
LAN IP address = "192.168.1.253 255.255.255.0"
DHCP = "disabled on this router!"
WPA2-PSK 2.4ghz = "MyPass1234!"
WPA2-PSK 5.8ghz = "MyPass4321!"
security type = "AES only"
NAT & Firewall = OFF!
WAN = disabled, with up-link connected via LAN port.
2.4GHZ Channel - 6
5.8GHZ Channel - 112

Asus AC router #3
MODE = AP
2.4 GHZ SSID = "Home-net"
5.8GHZ SSID = "Home-net-5ghz"
LAN IP address = "192.168.1.252 255.255.255.0"
DHCP = "disabled on this router!"
WPA2-PSK 2.4ghz = "MyPass1234!"
WPA2-PSK 5.8ghz = "MyPass4321!"
security type = "AES only"
NAT & Firewall = OFF!
WAN = disabled, with up-link connected via LAN port.
2.4GHZ Channel - 11
5.8GHZ Channel - 124

I would personally put a new router on the 1st floor and one on the third. check the coverage area before you buy three new routers, you may find you have decent coverage with two. Additionally, you had the right idea. Disable any and all extra features on the access points. You want your main router doing all the processing and hard work, the more you can unload from the AP's the better they will perform.

WiFi is half-duplex, which means that on any channel, only one device can talk at a time. If two devices try to talk at the same time, they would interrupt each other. WiFi is more like a one-lane highway; traffic can only flow in one direction at a time.

Since WiFi is half-duplex, only one WiFi device can transmit on a channel at a time. The more WiFi devices we add to a channel, the more we reduce opportunities for each device to talk. This is known as co-channel interference. If you would like a more detailed explanation, I wrote one for someone else here.

I hope this helps you in building a better network!!

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  • This is very helpful, but unfortunately, doesn't solve my problem. A major issue for me is that running a lot of Cat5e or Cat6 isn't an option right now, and the main Router is positioned with the modem. The only cables leading out from it are one that goes to a wall jack in a neighboring room, and one up two floors along an air duct to the current wireless. I can't connect the other routers to the main switch by hardline, which was what got me looking at mesh. – CDove Apr 6 '18 at 12:53
  • I grabbed the router casing this time when it went out. It's definitely overheating. Maybe I just do too much for the little guy... – CDove Apr 6 '18 at 15:40
  • The reason I gave the wired recommendations, and not repeaters or mesh, is because they will exacerbate the half duplex issue. I'm trying to help you! I have had to run cat-5e next to vents before it's a little bit of a pain, but two wires shouldn't be a huge deal. Most scenarios you take it up to the attic and over, (if you have one that is.) – Tim_Stewart Apr 6 '18 at 16:58
  • Try putting a small window fan on it, that may be a work around untill you figure out your upgrade. – Tim_Stewart Apr 6 '18 at 16:59
  • Do you have rg-6 (catv) cable run in the house? You may be able to use moca adapters instead of CAT-5e to feed the access points. Powerline adapters would also work here, both of those solutions WILL be more expensive than ethernet cabling though. – Tim_Stewart Apr 6 '18 at 17:38

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