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Catfisch Cinema Home Wifi Upgrade (2 Viewers)

DaveF

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Ars did a piece discussing placement of wifi hardware in 2020.


Relative to their first graph, my router has to go through two ceilings, two floors, a mattress, a bedspring, and a human body away to reach a wifi device in the master bedroom. That’s the nut of why I use multiple beacons over single router. :)
 

ManW_TheUncool

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The Wirecutter has the best WiFi hardware reviews and recommendations for normal people I’ve found anywhere. Take a look at their recommended wifi router for $80 or $150.

Also worth noting that WiFi6 is now normal for even budget routers.

Personally, I wouldn't go for the cheaper options if one wants excellent all-around performance and some degree of future-proofing, which I assume would be anyone specifically caring about something like Wifi-6 and/or is paying extra for Gigabit service.

Also, I didn't really dig into it, but a commenter pointed out their recommended TP-Link AX50 doesn't support WPA3. Anyone considering that model should doublecheck on that and probably consider the AX55 (mentioned by that same commenter) for just a little more instead.

IF you ask me, I suspect their upgrade pick of ASUS RT-AX88U is definitely worthwhile if you really want top overall performance and good future-proofing (and also not have to pay significant extra for router security or increase privacy concerns wrt the products maker and what they might do w/ your data).

I have its slightly littler brother, AX86U, and might've spent the extra $50 for the AX88U if it was available when I needed, but don't really need that anyway for the small-ish space it serves and "only" sub-500Mbps cable service. But if I'm paying extra for Gigabit service and need it to serve bigger space, definitely would pay the extra $50 for it.

I didn't see at a quick glance talk about using these routers for basic NAS support, but if you want that, that's another reason to go for a higher end model -- the extra processing power you'd pay for usually helps stuff like that.

Don't forget many of the cheap models also might annoy you w/ latency issues -- the article goes into that a bit... though all their picks are supposed to have no significant latency problems...

_Man_
 

John Dirk

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I love intelligent discussion as much as the next guy but ultimately, "to each his own" is my philosophy. Who am I to tell anyone how to spend their hard-earned dollars unless they specifically seek my advice.

So, I guess, paging @John Dirk on a suggestion for a good single jumbo WiFi router to replace my AirPort Extreme.
In this case I would ask, "what's your budget and what are your expectations." If memory serves you have a multi-level home with some concrete between areas? Look at what specific improvements you want to see with your next upgrade. If you want an all out excellent solution that you can set and forget for the foreseeable future then I would look into @Dave Upton 's Ruckus recommendations. That's likely what I'll eventually do.

If you want a single all-in-one type device [by now everyone knows I'm a Costco guy] you might want to start with this one. While I personally wouldn't go this route with my present needs and concerns, Netgear does tend to strike an attractive balance between price and performance. Also, if it doesn't do the job for you it's a snap to return.

 

ManW_TheUncool

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I love intelligent discussion as much as the next guy but ultimately, "to each his own" is my philosophy. Who am I to tell anyone how to spend their hard-earned dollars unless they specifically seek my advice.


In this case I would ask, "what's your budget and what are your expectations." If memory serves you have a multi-level home with some concrete between areas? Look at what specific improvements you want to see with your next upgrade. If you want an all out excellent solution that you can set and forget for the foreseeable future then I would look into @Dave Upton 's Ruckus recommendations. That's likely what I'll eventually do.

If you want a single all-in-one type device [by now everyone knows I'm a Costco guy] you might want to start with this one. While I personally wouldn't go this route with my present needs and concerns, Netgear does tend to strike an attractive balance between price and performance. Also, if it doesn't do the job for you it's a snap to return.


Agreed, except maybe that suggestion of the Netgear RAX45. Based on the Wirecutter article which only tested what seems to be the previous gen models, I'm guessing the similarly priced TP-Link model should outperform that Netgear in general.

But definitely agree about going w/ Costco for such (for their hassle-free, satisfaction guaranteed returns).

But yeah, I've grown partial to ASUS for a few diff reasons myself... even though I'm not a gamer (and ASUS certainly targets gamers). Too bad Costco doesn't seem to carry their routers...

_Man_
 

John Dirk

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But yeah, I've grown partial to ASUS for a few diff reasons myself... even though I'm not a gamer (and ASUS certainly targets gamers). Too bad Costco doesn't seem to carry their routers...

Oh I completely agree and had originally picked an Asus model but decided the one Costco has would probably be sufficient for @JohnRice 's actual needs. Costco does periodically offer Asus routers but it's usually online only and for limited periods. There's one sitting in my local Costco now which I assume was an online return.
 

JohnRice

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I love intelligent discussion as much as the next guy but ultimately, "to each his own" is my philosophy. Who am I to tell anyone how to spend their hard-earned dollars unless they specifically seek my advice.
Yeah. I certainly understand who that's directed at. I probably deserve it. Then again, why post things publicly if the only goal is to not receive any discussion?

I'm not a member of Costco. Possibly at some time, but I've been without that type of membership (aside from Prime) for over 10 years after a couple decades of at least one, and have found it to be completely unnecessary for me.

I have a one story ranch home with a full basement. Currently I have a single, last model AirPort Extreme on a high shelf at the ceiling about 1/3 of the way into the length of the house. I have things wired where possible. I was considering Dave Upton's suggestion of a couple APs but honestly my WiFi needs aren't that stringent. When it comes down it I think I'll just get new WiFi router and put it in the same location as the AirPort and see what the coverage is. If needed, I can move it 7-8 feet toward the center of the length of the house, still in the same storage room. I typically get something expensive and leave it, but it probably makes more sense getting something for half the price (in the #120 range) and replace it sooner.

What do you think John?
 

ManW_TheUncool

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If you really wanna dig into it beyond what that Wirecutter article (largely) summarizes, maybe check this out from Dong Knows:


Interestingly, he seems to like the Netgear line's performance much more than Wirecutter does.

_Man_

PS: Yes, his reviews were what helped me choose the ASUS RT-AX86U for my particular situation early last summer.
 

Dave Upton

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As long as you are buying a brand that does relatively frequent firmware updates and is stable, Asus/Netgear and TP-Link are all pretty equivalent and will fit most needs. If you live in a large home, or tough RF environment like an apartment building or concrete home - no router will magically overcome the laws of physics and give you good coverage 50+ feet away through many obstacles.

I personally don't use a regular router because I got tired of troubleshooting the occasional issue that was traced back to my router, requiring reboots every few weeks. Once I tried 2 AP's, my overall experience at home became much more enjoyable.

Since then, I've been using a SMB firewall as my router, and I've been extremely happy with it. This is what I'm using today:


I reboot it about once a year to do a firmware update, and enjoy absolute maximum performance from my gigabit synchronous connection at all times, as well as some very nifty features like having a backup internet connection that I automatically fail over to when my primary link dies. Great for working from home like I do.
 

John Dirk

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Yeah. I certainly understand who that's directed at.
It was directed at the general turn I felt the thread was taking, not any individual. Sorry if it came across otherwise.
I'm not a member of Costco.
Want to know a dirty little secret? You don't have to be to buy most items online. Some items will say "Member Only" on their product pages. Aside from those, most can be ordered by anyone, albeit at a possible 5% surcharge.
honestly my WiFi needs aren't that stringent. When it comes down it I think I'll just get new WiFi router and put it in the same location as the AirPort and see what the coverage is.
That's what I was getting at. Sometimes we try to engineer a solution without ever really taking time to quantify the problem we're trying to address. I know I've been guilty of this. "The best" is a relative term. In my network, in spaces where absolute performance is needed, I've gone through the trouble of running cable and either eliminating wifi altogether, or placing a proximal AP. It's not the most elegant solution but it works for me until I'm ready to do a ground-up redesign.

In summary, order the Costco router or go to Best Buy, Amazon, etc. and grab something similar. Give it a spin. If it works, great, problem solved. If not then maybe you need to spend more but I sort of doubt you will.
 

JohnRice

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FWIW, I got a TP-Link AX55 and will try it alone toward the center of the house. That will capably serve the main part of the house, but if I just can't live without better coverage in the bedrooms, I'll try adding a wired AP at that end of the house
 

John Dirk

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@DaveF - Given your preferences this might be of interest. It's a subscription-based, managed approach that includes built-in support for WiFi 6 and even the emerging Matter [Smart Home] platform. Please understand I am not endorsing this solution as I would consider it overall too costly and also suspect they may be exaggerating the performance their products will provide in real world environments.

 

DaveF

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@DaveF - Given your preferences this might be of interest. It's a subscription-based, managed approach that includes built-in support for WiFi 6 and even the emerging Matter [Smart Home] platform. Please understand I am not endorsing this solution as I would consider it overall too costly and also suspect they may be exaggerating the performance their products will provide in real world environments.


Thanks, but I bought and installed a new system last week. :)
I bought into the TP-Link Deco system and spent today taking out my old wifi and setting up the new kit.

I bought the three pack and the two pack for $250 total.
 

DaveF

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Had I chosen to spend for WiFi 6, I’d probably have bought TP-Link Deco X20 or X90 hardware. Their price is good, have Ethernet backhaul and Ethernet passthrough, and I’ve found their software is easy to use.
 

sarcasm_kills

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Had I chosen to spend for WiFi 6, I’d probably have bought TP-Link Deco X20 or X90 hardware. Their price is good, have Ethernet backhaul and Ethernet passthrough, and I’ve found their software is easy to use.
Hey Dave,

Any reason you would choose one of those two versus all the other offerings from TP-Link? Curious if you know someone who has used the X20 or X90?
 

DaveF

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Hey Dave,

Any reason you would choose one of those two versus all the other offerings from TP-Link? Curious if you know someone who has used the X20 or X90?
I guess I should say, if I were going WiFi6 I’d buy a TP-Link system. They’ve got some affordable systems and the software seems decent and easy. I’d have to spend some time deciding x20 or x25 or w3600 or …

I’m using Ethernet backhaul. If you need actual mesh, with beacon to beacon hopping, I’d look at reviews. Other system are currently rated tops for actual WiFi 6 mesh.
 

JohnRice

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Just an FYI for folks. I set up the new TP-Link AX55 router today. One detail that's probably obvious, but wasn't to me and is NOT mentioned in the instructions. You can only use a mobile device to set it up that has cell internet. The web browser method should work on a wired computer, but you probably have to restart the computer once it's all wired and started up.

Anyway, the details are my house is a regular '50s brick ranch. One floor with a full basement. Roughly 30 ft. front to back and 60 ft. wide. The modem is downstairs and the WiFi router is on a high shelf near the ceiling about 1/3 of the way into the length of the house. That's the living area, and the bedrooms are at the other end of the house. I also positioned the router so it's antenna are oriented perpendicular to the length of the house. I'm guessing that's the best way to get distribution along the length of the house.

With the last model AirPort Extreme I got a maximum of about 250-300Mb/s on my 600Mb/s service. In the main bedroom it was a very shaky 25Mb/s, which would fluctuate a lot during the test. Now it's a solid 275Mb/s and the main part of the house is a solid 425-475Mb/s. That's just with that one WiFi router which in the end with a special 15% back from The Evil A cost me $100.

The router is WiFi 6, but the only device I'm certain has that is the new ATV 4K Gen2, and it's connected wired. Maybe I'll try it out in the bedroom just to see what I get. My MacBook Air M1 probably is WiFi 6 though, I'm guessing.
 

JohnRice

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I ran a firmware update on the new router, and now it constantly loses the internet connection. I reboot it and it will maintain internet for a few hours or as little as a few minutes. The WiFi network still works, it just says it's lost contact with the modem.

I'm hoping I can push the firmware again from a file and that will fix it. If not, I don't know what else to do.
 

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