Request suggestions to update my Wi-Fi

I currently have a TP-Link WR743ND (which I bought several years ago as a stopgap measure), but my IoT devices are starting to drop out. Time to update my Wi-Fi. Main considerations are

  • I am renting (2 bedrm apartment in a block), so (a) fixed items (such as ceiling mount APs) are out, and (b) several other WLANs with similar signal strength
  • I am retired, so money is always an issue :frowning: and expanding slowly one device at a time
  • I prefer to buy locally in Australia, or products which will be supported by manufacturer here
  • I now have started into zigbee (3 devices) but Wi-fi devices are portable, cheap and easily available at retail outlets so I do anticipate getting more
  • I am very happy with my Draytek 2760 router.

Because of renting, I did not intend to get many devices … but I now have 19 wi-fi devices connected. I don’t use wi-fi for streaming movies or anything intensive - but I don’t know about neighbours on the same physical frequencies. Plenty of wi-fi analysers show physical signal strength - but not how much traffic is on the frequency :thinking:

Requirements:

  • dual band (not sure if our current phones even do 5GHz, but it can’t hurt for the future)
  • support >50 concurrent devices
  • multiple SSIDs and/or VLAN would be handy
  • Is there anything else I should be considering in my purchase decision ?

I’ve seen Ubiquiti recommended quite often, but price, availability and circumstance seem to be against me … so looking for other recommendations.

I was about to buy a TL-WA1201 (new AUS$85 incl. postage) but found that its multi-SSID support is buggy and plenty of performance complaints on TP-Link support forum. Similarly negative comments about other cheaper TP-Link devices.

I’m not familiar with Cisco models, but the ones in my price range look to be ceiling mounted without PoE injector and/or require a separate controller device to manage them.

Lots of brands i’ve not heard of. There seem to be lots of Grandstream; are they new or just new to Aus ?

So, not much at the <$200 end of the Access Point range. Should I be looking at a Wi-Fi router that can be configured as just an AP ?

Second question: What product would you suggest I look at ?

Thanks for reading, and for your thoughts.

I would consider looking into the ASUS RT-AX86U.

Very solid router that has power and should last a while. There is also well-supported custom firmwares available (for example, Merlin).

Thanks David, yes ASUS RT-AX86U looks very capable. Fast, lots of RAM, and about double my price range :frowning:

On whirlpool I have seen suggestions of ASUS AX55 or RT-AX3000 in AP mode.

Further investigation shows that (a) Wi-Fi 6 seems to be promoted for IoT, and (b) Range Extenders can often be configured as Access points, and are generally cheaper.

Since my main concern is the number of 2.4GHz devices connecting, would a Wi-Fi 6 AP/router automatically support more concurrent devices - or is this still left to the manufacturer ? Is there any other actual Wi-Fi 6 benefit in the 2.4GHz range ?

My current thought is to use TP-Link RE605X AX1800 Wi-Fi Range Extender (from Officeworks for $148) in Access Point mode. Alternatively an ASUS RT-AX55 ($169 from MSY) also in Access Point mode.

I would definitely discourage the use of any range extenders and stick to access points if you want more coverage. Range extenders just take the current WiFi signal it picks up, then rebroadcasts as another SSID at the signal strength it picks it up at.

Regarding IoT suggesting WiFi 6 doesn’t make much sense to me. WiFi 6 primarily focuses on improvements to the 5GHz channel (and with WiFi 6E, the 6GHz channel). Most (if not all) IoT devices operate on the 2.4GHz channel, so it doesn’t really matter.

I like ASUS routers for their firmwares and hardware, so I would at least stick with them over tp link or other brands. Plus, with ASUS, if you expand with additional routers, you can create a mesh (wired or wireless) with them also without having to specially buy a mesh kit.

That is why I initially ignored range extenders :wink: But when it has an ethernet port and is configured as an Access Point ?

I have used ASUS motherboards and video cards for decades, so no problem there. But they don’t make APs any more, and it seems a shame to turn off so much router functionality in Access Point mode. And having paid a premium for my DrayTek router i’m not going to throw that away. Fortunately the RT-AX55 is only $20 more than the RE605X, and they are both AX1800 standard.

The bigger issue is whether Wi-Fi 6 will make any difference to IoT devices - and I agree that the focus is definitely on more/faster 5GHz bandwith, and 6GHz, which won’t impact older 2.4GHz devices. Some of the product overviews give “improved performance for smart homes” as a feature, but not information on how - leaving me wondering whether Wi-Fi 6 standard incorporates more concurrent connections - or is it simply marketing spin ?

If Wi-fi 6 has no 2.4GHz improvement, I might as well stick with AC standard and save some money by getting an ASUS RT-AC59U V2 or RT-AC68U (amaxing a model launched in 2013 is still gettting firmware updates in 2022); or for that matter at $28 each on ebay I could place several ASUS RP-AC66 around the apartment to get around the number of devices.

While you have Draytek router, why not going for Draytek VigorAP? I have a mix of 802 and 903 models, very glad with both of them. Given your requirement to have capacity for 50+ devices, VigorAP 903 seems to be the right model. It supports up to 64 devices per band (802 anly 32). It support 4 SSIDs, but I think it does not supports VLANs :frowning: Cost at Amazon is ~$180. Bonus, it can scan surrounding for channel used and suggest one least congested.

Mirek I wish :frowning: I love DrayTek’s quality and support - but too expensive for the residential market in Aus. So when I needed a home modem-router fairly quickly I looked for an all-in-one DrayTek option; but nothing I could afford at the time.

Are you in USA ? Because the only AP903 I’m seeing on Amazon is Aus$259 from Harris Technology (who at least are a reputable but expensive retailer here). AP802 is half the price, but looking at the manual it also appears to support 32 connected clients, 2 SSIDs, VLAN tagging … and wow, look at the wi-fi analysis and statistics it can provide ! How often do you actually use that info ?

After some more research from

  • prices from static ice and eBay Au (new or opened not used). I prefer to avoid used, grey market or overseas.
  • all running in Access Point mode and 2.4GHz band

My short list currently consists of:

 Brand / model        AU$   class  speed devices remarks
ASUS RT-AC59U V2     $109  AC1500    600         MIPS processor and less RAM than other ASUS models
DrayTek VigorAP 802  $119  AC1200    300    32   incredible wi-fi analysis & statistics !
TP-Link RE605X       $148  AX1800    574    16  
ASUS RT-AX55         $169  AX1800    574
ASUS RT-AC68U        $189  AC1900    600    30   launched 2013 but latest firmware only 3 months ago !

Don, I’m located in Poland and indeed for us these devices are quite expensive :frowning: BUt I’m with Draytek for many, many years and these devices never disappointed, so I consider them as investmen well made.
Analysis of traffic, connected devices and so on… Actually I use it rather unfrequently, but in couple of occasions I found ti very handy! It helped me to resolve some connectivity problems:

  • few times I learned that specific device for some reason alwys was connecting to AP with weake signal I could ban it on this AP and force connection to one with stronger signal)
  • detailed checking of connection parameters allowed to finetune band steering to for connections on 5GHz rather than 2.4GHz to improve speed.
  • I managed to discover and block some rouge connection attempt to my newtork…

Additional benefit of Drayte devices is that they provide firmware update for quite long time, not forgetting about older devices :slight_smile:

I know it ! Shortly after I started doing Tech Support for the Australian distributor they released firmware for the Vigor 2500We model - which only had WEP security and was already out of production - to add WAP security. Other manufacturers seem to stop development when their devices go into production.

Since then I have remained impressed with all the features they build in, and the quality of support provided by Draytek Taiwan … though sometimes their english can be a little hard to follow :wink:

As you say, when you do need the extra functions they are VERY useful. I still see a lot of misunderstanding about Wi-Fi … much of it from sales people who think Wi-Fi is magic with no limitations. I believe the Wi-Fi analysis will be well worth the slower 2.4GHz speed … which is no slower than what I have now :wink:

1 Like

Well Mirek, I did buy the DrayTek VigorAP 802 and, I am now returning it :frowning:

It does have excellent features - some of which may be unique - but

  • I have found my IoT devices continuing to drop off wifi, resulting in a storm of errors on Home Assistant until HA becomes unusable.
  • AP802 has several times dropped all 3 devices on 5GHz band; and on separate occasions the AP802 has swapped to a different 5GHz channel.
  • syslog is showing messages which I consider suspicious… “VigorAP802: kick out msg fail”, “VigorAP802: Out of memory: Kill process 19884 (tr069_client) score 3 or sacrifice child”, “VigorAP802: 855, flush one!”, “VigorAP802: oom_kill_process: 192 callbacks suppressed”, “VigorAP802: [dray_loop] Clear switch table due to repeated entries!”, “VigorAP802: sh invoked oom-killer: gfp_mask=0xd0, order=1, oom_adj=0, oom_score_adj=0”,

After 6 weeks discussion with DrayTek AU it seems DrayTek TW have given up, stating that I should have purchased an AP903 with external aerials for its better signal strength.

So… back to my comparison spreadsheet.

In the meantime ASUS support replied that their routers can handle a max of 256 wifi devices. It took them 3 weeks to give that answer, so didn’t bother to query whether that had understood my question. Such is 1st level tech support.

Ahh, found this thread again to post an update.

I purchased a new ASUS RT-AX55, thinking to get latest wifi 6 tech for the same money, despite having only 3 of 5GHz-capable (wifi 5) devices. It certainly looks cool with 4 external aerials and configured in AP mode … but its 2.4GHz wifi signal is actually no better than the VigorAP 802 was, with devices in my study and bedroom continuing to drop off the wireless at random times. For months the ASUS log was flooded with disconnection and connection attempts, which make it harder for the other devices to communicate.

I reinstated my old TL-WR743 (too old to even run openWRT - but surely it would be OK as a WAP only) as second WAP in my study, but from time to time the disconnections continued. It seems that whenever either WAP rebooted all the devices migrated to the other WAP and did not return to the stronger signal. I have now setup Wireless MAC filtering on both WAPs to reject a named list of the devices on the other side of the apartment. Similarly to force the 5GHz-capable devices to use the 5GHz band. Rather more configuration than I had expected, but it seems stable now.

I note however that half the errors on my HA core log are failed connections, so need to investigate further to determine whether the problem is the network or something in HA :frowning: