Wireless Router Question

Yaz4Ever

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thoughts on mu-mimo? is it worth it?
Two story home with a full basement, 8 people using the Internet heavily, 50Mbps cable internet, looking for ways to minimize the bitching when someone's streaming videos buffer or the router/modem just says "fuck this" and shuts down.

I had never heard of mu-mimo until I posted the above question about it a couple of months ago, so I don't know if it will really be a salvation or not but it seems, in theory, to be exactly what we need. My current set-up is a Motorola Arris Surfboard SB6141 modem and Linksys WRT-1900AC router. For the past several months, it has worked pretty well only needing to be reset occasionally (unplug for a minute, plug back in). I added a plug-in extender upstairs which seems to help a little as well as the signal up there isn't nearly as strong as downstairs, but that could simply be coincidental. My daughter returns from 6 months of Army training in less than two weeks and my parents move back into the basement apartment at the same time for 2-3 months. If the current setup would go out as infrequently with that full load as it currently does, it wouldn't be too big a deal. The problem is, I highly doubt it will do as well with the three extra people and the kids now home from school for the summer.

Will mu-mimo solve all my problems?
Can/Should I purchase one of these routers and move my Linksys WRT-1900AC to the basement as a repeater/extender/whatever?

Thanks in advance
 

derekson

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I don't know if anyone here has personal experience with it, but if I were buying new wifi equipment I'd be very tempted to go with one of the new mesh network setups like https://eero.com or https://getluma.com

The technology seems really awesome for covering a whole house without resorting to power line networking or shitty extenders.
 

crystalline

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That's a super expensive router, way more than I'd think about spending on a home router unless I had a major reason to do so. The $55 Xiaomi I posted earlier is a great dual-band AC router if you're willing to put in 10 minutes to switch it to English, and unless you really need AC you can get plenty of dual-band N routers in the $60 range that are simple out of the box and will do fine for you.
It's definitely more router than I need, but I'm a bit gunshy since I've been living in an apartment with an utterly horrid router for the last couple years. I'm also not sure I trust a Xiaomi router from a security standpoint.
I am also going to vote against the Xiaomi router.

I have been running it for a few months. For reasons I don't understand, it no longer opens port 80 or 443, so I can't connect to it to change the configuration. I certainly didn't change anything. (I have tried wifi and ethernet)

Also, it hijacks 404 and other error pages, giving you Chinese-language spam.

I also saw this post complaining the router may do some javascript injection. https://www.reddit.com/r/Xiaomi/comments/49910k/is_the_latest_xiaomi_mini_router_injecting_ads/
To log in it also uses a simple DNS system - but that requires accessing a chinese IP address.
 

NortheasternPJ

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If I found my Chinese router, by design or not, was injecting Javascript into anything, I'd throw the thing out immediately. And when you login it's requiring a DNS request to China? Not worth saving $30 over a great router.
 

derekson

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I don't see much technical description on the websites, but it looks like what Apple has been doing for quite awhile with multiple AirPorts.
I don't believe this is true. My understanding is that the multiple Airports function as a traditional range extender when you connect them all wirelessly rather than via ethernet (or ethernet via power line adaptors etc).

But I could be wrong.

And that Xiaomi router sounds sketchy as fuck.
 

cgori

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I'll tag on here to ask a semi-related question.

Has anyone upgraded from an N-router to an AC-router and actually seen a big real-world jump in performance? I have a Netgear WNDR3700 (N600) that was a pretty damn solid router when I got it 2-3 years ago. Looking at their R6400 (AC1750) router (well-reviewed by thewirecutter.com), and wondering if it will actually make a noticeable difference. The only AC-capable device I have is my iPhone 6S at the moment, I'll probably end up with an AC-capable laptop in the next 6-12 months, or an AC-capable iPad mini. All my other devices (tablets, laptops, etc) are all N-capable.

Most of my devices are wired in the house (via power-line or otherwise - PS3, Blu-ray, AV receiver, etc), so there's not a lot of interference, and I live in a ~1000 sqft 2br/2ba place that's all on one level, so the footprint isn't enormous, no enormously noticeable degradation in signal throughout the house - but in the TV room, the phone prefers the G network to the N network because of signal strength, which is somewhat irritating to me. My ISP provides very fast service over microwave relay to the complex I live in, so I get symmetric 60-80Mbit service (up/down) from wired devices, depending on shared usage at the complex, of course.

I'm mostly interested in real-world observations people had when they upgraded routers from N to AC.
 

SumnerH

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Single band to dual band, yes. You can see a huge jump. N to AC on its own, no. But the two are often tied together.

The Xiaomi has open firmware ; there's no reason it should be intercepting DNS or anything else nefarious.
 

NortheasternPJ

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I'll tag on here to ask a semi-related question.

Has anyone upgraded from an N-router to an AC-router and actually seen a big real-world jump in performance? I have a Netgear WNDR3700 (N600) that was a pretty damn solid router when I got it 2-3 years ago. Looking at their R6400 (AC1750) router (well-reviewed by thewirecutter.com), and wondering if it will actually make a noticeable difference. The only AC-capable device I have is my iPhone 6S at the moment, I'll probably end up with an AC-capable laptop in the next 6-12 months, or an AC-capable iPad mini. All my other devices (tablets, laptops, etc) are all N-capable.

Most of my devices are wired in the house (via power-line or otherwise - PS3, Blu-ray, AV receiver, etc), so there's not a lot of interference, and I live in a ~1000 sqft 2br/2ba place that's all on one level, so the footprint isn't enormous, no enormously noticeable degradation in signal throughout the house - but in the TV room, the phone prefers the G network to the N network because of signal strength, which is somewhat irritating to me. My ISP provides very fast service over microwave relay to the complex I live in, so I get symmetric 60-80Mbit service (up/down) from wired devices, depending on shared usage at the complex, of course.

I'm mostly interested in real-world observations people had when they upgraded routers from N to AC.

I posted above but I went from an Asus WL500 running Ddwrt to an Archer c7 and went from 45 mb down to over 200 at times over wireless. I can't imagine spending $400 on a home router. At that point I'd go buy a Meraki.
 

Yaz4Ever

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From the linked reviews section to that article, I found this review which was on the exact router I was looking at:

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/32998-linksys-ea9500-max-stream-ac5400-mu-mimo-gigabit-router-reviewed

Although much of it is over my head (hence asking here), the final paragraph makes me less likely to pull the trigger on this purchase which only makes me sadder:

"At any rate, the testing I have done shows the EA9500's wireless performance very similar to last year's crop of AC5300 routers. The EA9500's main differentiation at this point, aside from the lets-keep-em-confused AC5400 moniker, is its lone-wolf status as a Broadcom-based router that has working MU-MIMO. In the end, this is just another really expensive router that's unlikely to light up any of your pesky dead spots or handle a large number of devices any better than a much cheaper AC3200 class tri-radio alternative."

I'm seriously at a loss for what to do when I have 8 full-time residents all streaming Netflix/surfing the web/playing CoC/etc simultaneously. Similarly, aside from removing the buffering issues I need something that will cover my 6500sq ft house (two stories with a finished basement). Am I better off just hiring someone to wire the whole frigging thing?
 

Couperin47

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From the linked reviews section to that article, I found this review which was on the exact router I was looking at:

http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/wireless/wireless-reviews/32998-linksys-ea9500-max-stream-ac5400-mu-mimo-gigabit-router-reviewed

Although much of it is over my head (hence asking here), the final paragraph makes me less likely to pull the trigger on this purchase which only makes me sadder:

"At any rate, the testing I have done shows the EA9500's wireless performance very similar to last year's crop of AC5300 routers. The EA9500's main differentiation at this point, aside from the lets-keep-em-confused AC5400 moniker, is its lone-wolf status as a Broadcom-based router that has working MU-MIMO. In the end, this is just another really expensive router that's unlikely to light up any of your pesky dead spots or handle a large number of devices any better than a much cheaper AC3200 class tri-radio alternative."

I'm seriously at a loss for what to do when I have 8 full-time residents all streaming Netflix/surfing the web/playing CoC/etc simultaneously. Similarly, aside from removing the buffering issues I need something that will cover my 6500sq ft house (two stories with a finished basement). Am I better off just hiring someone to wire the whole frigging thing?
In other reviews, etc it's clear that all the existing firmware for Broadcom based Mu-Mimo routers is still basically beta, the router makers are not even waiting for software that comes close to efficiently using the new chips, the Qualcomm chipset firmware seems to be at least a full step more evolved and they are still nowhere yet meeting the promise, especially if your dealing with more than half a dozen devices.
 

derekson

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I have one, and I believe it's true. I connect tit o my AirPort Time Capsule w/ wired Ethernet because I have my house wired, but that's the way I read the docs.

Nip has spoken well of the AirPorts; perhaps he will weigh in.
I actually use an AirPort Extreme as well and I love it. I got it about 3 years ago (when the AC model was new) to replace my old one, which was the first generation with N and had lasted between 5 and 6 years (and still worked reasonably well, but lacked IIRC the ability to simultaneously broadcast the 2.4 Ghz and 5 Ghz bands so it was always a choice of range or speed, as well as compatibility with portable devices which only had 2.4 Ghz wifi at the time). I think the Apple AirPorts are great pieces of kit and that their premium price is worth it since they last much longer than other wireless routers have in my experience. They also have great performance, top notch range, and are easy to setup, even for people with little tech expertise. The current model is getting a bit long in the tooth though.

If someone else knows more about the differences between the wifi mesh technology vs. Conventional "range extending" I'd love to hear a more detailed breakdown, but my understanding is that the new mesh devices are able to provide more bandwidth over distance than a conventional range extender setup that is only using wifi. I know the Airport devices are very flexible and can do either wireless extending or link up via ethernet connections and are easy to setup as one large network, but my understanding is that you can get similar speed as Airports get over a wired setup when you use the mesh routers completely wirelessly.

But I'm hardly an expert at networking technology; I'm just a guy who loves new toys and new tech. If I needed to replace my Airport I'd almost certainly go for the 3 pack of either Eero or Luma though. Fortunately the AirPort Extreme should last another 2-3 years so the technology will probably be even more mature and more widely available by that time.
 

AlNipper49

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I have one, and I believe it's true. I connect tit o my AirPort Time Capsule w/ wired Ethernet because I have my house wired, but that's the way I read the docs.

Nip has spoken well of the AirPorts; perhaps he will weigh in.
I support literally hundreds of wireless devices at clients etc and I use the Airports. I've tried them all and one thing that even the best 5* consumer ones had me occasionally rebooting it and, worse, extending the wireless networks always seemed to not work well enough for me.

AirPorts are stable as shit, updating them is trivial and their extenders are not only flawless but you can even play music through them.

There are better devices but you'll be paying for them. We use Ruckus Wireless for our clients who depend on wireless to any degree. They're rock-solid, but pricey. I had a not-for-resale one in my old house, but I stupidly got it wet when I left it on the basement floor and had some water damage.
 

AlNipper49

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(The music thing is so under-rated)

There are definitely systems like Sonos that can also do this but for ease-of-use (everyone has an iDevice) and that it also extends the network you can't beat this perk. I throw a $25 amp and whatever speakers in there and whoops! Whole home audio that always works.

ImageUploadedBySons of Sam Horn1466592412.450792.jpg

I'm going to be augmenting these with Amazon Echo Dots as part of a home automation project that I am working on. It's so awesome how mature this stuff is now.
 

crystalline

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Single band to dual band, yes. You can see a huge jump. N to AC on its own, no. But the two are often tied together.

The Xiaomi has open firmware ; there's no reason it should be intercepting DNS or anything else nefarious.
The stock firmware certainly opens up HTTP streams. We know this because it redirects 404 pages.

Here's one description of what a development version of the firmware was doing. The beginning of the link is a bit of scaremongering. But it also describes how it does JS injection. :
http://translate.wooyun.io/2015/07/06/A-Review-of-the-Incident-on-Xiaomi-Routers-Hijacking-Users-Browser.html
This is the 20th line of /Lib/firewall/RR.loader:
iptables -t nat -A "$1" -m set --match-set "rr_tb" dst -p tcp -j REDIRECT --to-ports 8380
Redirect all tcp packets destined to port 80 in the rr_tb table to port 8380. Then forward user's packet. This is the IP that the dnsmasq+ipset retrieved from the Xiaomi server.

The following is the 384th line of /Etc/sysapihttpd/sysapihttpd.conf:
[...]
In fact, sysapihttpd is nginx. The listening port 8380 did a reverse proxy (the equivalent of transparent proxies in local), and inserted the/tmp/RR/footer code (RR_PATH_STUB). As to what is a reverse proxy, please refer to the Knowledge Base articles *A fishing? This is a reverse proxy! * (http://drops.wooyun.org/tips/6570)Then, where does the /tmp/RR/footer come from?

This is the 22nd line of /Usr/bin/pull-req-rule:
[...]The first function is the address of the configuration file. The second function is used to put the ad code in the configuration file into the file we mentioned above. After that, we will check out the configuration file based on the url generating rules.

http://api.miwifi.com/rr/config?ts=1&device_id=0&rom=2.3.31&hardware=miwifi&channel=0

It is clearly that this code loaded a JS code file from API.miwifi.com. In other words, the codes in this file would unconditionally execute, whether to steal passwords or deliver ads. Xiaomi has removed this rule, which means no ad will be put to any domain names. However, this just represents that the Xiaomi server instructs the Xiaomi router not to perform any JS injection. And Xiaomi can modify the configuration file in api.miwifi.com at any time. Still you will know nothing at all.
edit: I don't have any idea whether the JS injection stuff is true. The 404 redirection stuff, which I see on my unit, is enough to scare me off.
 

cgori

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I posted above but I went from an Asus WL500 running Ddwrt to an Archer c7 and went from 45 mb down to over 200 at times over wireless. I can't imagine spending $400 on a home router. At that point I'd go buy a Meraki.
Thanks for this. Router I am looking at is $130. ($400 seems outrageous to me too)
 

gtmtnbiker

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Bumping this thread. Anyone want to chime in on their router recommendations? Looking to get one for my parents so they can ditch their Comcast router. The most important quality for me is that the router needs to be rock solid.

Also, what are people's impressions of DD-WRT? I have used it in the past but it's been awhile. Was thinking of changing my current router Netgear R8000 to run DD-WRT. It's been very solid on the 5Ghz band but every couple of months, it loses the 2.4Ghz radio. Thinking that DD-WRT might be better than the stock firmware.
 

The Napkin

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There was some conversation in this thread about it. My comment from that thread:

I use a NETGEAR C7100V for my comcast. It's probably more than I needed but I love it. Works great, solid signal in what was a rough area (used to have to use an extender and still had drops with an airport), and couldn't be easier to use. May or may not be something you'd use but we have second account "guest" that we give the cat sitter the password to.
 

gtmtnbiker

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There was some conversation in this thread about it. My comment from that thread:

I use a NETGEAR C7100V for my comcast. It's probably more than I needed but I love it. Works great, solid signal in what was a rough area (used to have to use an extender and still had drops with an airport), and couldn't be easier to use. May or may not be something you'd use but we have second account "guest" that we give the cat sitter the password to.
Thanks for the comments. That router looks exactly like the one supplied by Comcast. I found the Comcast router to be unreliable when I had it. Ditto for my parents who are using it. By unreliable, I mean stuff like not being able to access the internet or the router would reboot itself.

I went to a separate modem and router. For the "landline", I've been using Google Voice/Obihai for 6-7 years. I was planning to do the same for my parents.
 

The Napkin

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It was acquired independantly from Comcast and I've never had a problem with it accessing the internet or rebooting itself. It is, however, a modem/router combo so if that's what you're trying to avoid it's not for you.
 

canderson

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Bumping this thread. Anyone want to chime in on their router recommendations? Looking to get one for my parents so they can ditch their Comcast router. The most important quality for me is that the router needs to be rock solid.

Also, what are people's impressions of DD-WRT? I have used it in the past but it's been awhile. Was thinking of changing my current router Netgear R8000 to run DD-WRT. It's been very solid on the 5Ghz band but every couple of months, it loses the 2.4Ghz radio. Thinking that DD-WRT might be better than the stock firmware.
There isn't much easier and stress-free as the Google nest mesh system. For parents, I'd think it'd be easiest.

Is it the best router? No. Is it the most advanced? No. Is it about the simplest thing to set up and keep up? Pretty much.
 

NortheasternPJ

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I have a surfboard and eero and highly recommend both. I went the DDWRT route for a decade and got sick of dealing with it.
 

NortheasternPJ

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What was the issue that you had with DDWRT? Too hard to update? Buggy?
inconstant performance, hassle with updates, wondering if the wrong software upgrade would brick my device, conflicting community support info when there was a bug etc etc.I’d rather pay more for eero and have mesh than deal with it.