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Wireless Router recommendation please

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itGeeks

I'm currently using ASUS' RT-AC87R (the U is the same thing, the R is just the "retail" version sold at big box stores), their top-end unit.

 

I'd probably recommend the RT-AC68U, their second from top-end.  You save money, and the one feature you lose is a long way off from use (Quantenna 5GHz radio for MU-MIMO, which requires compatible MU-MIMO clients, which aren't available yet).

 

The key to the AC68 and AC87 are that you get dual-core processors.  Lower-end ASUS units don't have this, which is fine, until you want to run either an OpenVPN server or client.  The encryption used by OpenVPN tunnels bogs down the single-core variants, as it takes a lot of horsepower.  Not an issue with the 68 or 87.

 

If you're not into ASUS, the NetGear Nighthawk R7000 has similar specs/features, but the availability of custom firmware isn't quite as nice as on the ASUS.  Should also be a good unit.

 

As much as I like my RT-AC87, I'm wishing a little that I went one model down to the AC-68, as I now have a WatchGuard XTM-25 firewall, which may become my router, and the AC-87 just an access point on steroids.

I had one of these for two months but ended up returning it because it was dropping the WiFi 5.0 GHz channel & when I say dropping I do mean the channel went totally dead for a few seconds then would come back online, I had the unit for two months in hope of a firmware update that would fix this as well as enable some of the features that are not enabled yet. After waiting for two months with no sign of a new firmware I decided to return it for a full refund - Love Amazon :D

 

I have now purchased a Open-Mesh MR-900 access point and I must say I could not be happier http://www.open-mesh.com/products/access-points/mr900-dual-band-cloud-access-point.html

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itGeeks

Great feedback. I am using my RT-N66U as a glorified access point and my Sophos UTM as my firewall and VPN server. Will eventually want to upgrade from 802.11n to 802.11ac.

Jason - The RT-N66U is a great unit, I have several of these installed at friends & Family houses. How is your Sophos UTM working for you? Are you using this for home or business use??

 

I did try Sophos UTM as a possible replacement for my Untangle box but after one week of trying to get everything working again I decided to switch back to Untangle. I did like what Sophos had to offer for the most part but simple things like my family trying to play Netflix just was not working on Android Devices and my Crash Plan backups stopped working and I got very tired of it all, I went as far as allowing all outbound traffic but I still had trouble.  

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itGeeks

Fire up the ZyXel, I run a ZyWall 20.

For WAP I have had great luck with a EAP600 from EnGenius. Ubiquiti has great WAP's as well.

I have a two story house with a basement, the EAP600 is mounted on the second floor in the middle and covers the entire house.

ZyXel makes some great stuff as well. I use the ZyXEL Homeplug AV2 Gigabit Powerline Adapter to feed my four outdoor survalance camera's and they have been rock solid

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MUVFOH6/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_S_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1N6867G1O15RY&coliid=IHYIHVRZKAT9J

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ikon

I use a program called inSSIDer by MetaGeek. The program works great and unlike "Xirrus Wifi Inspector" you don't have to guess what channel to use because inSSIDer will tell you the recommend channel to use and though its not free software it is worth every bit of the 10.00 I pay for it on Android Market for my smart-phone, They also have versions that run on Windows, Mac. so give it a try if your having WiFi trouble, You will be glad you did. :)  http://www.inssider.com/

 

While this is certainly a convenient feature, I believe it's best to experiment with different channels to find the one that works optimally. I have noticed that the one that looks most free from scanning the channels is not always the best choice. Sometimes it's just weird. I'm sure the one recommended by inSSIDer (which I have used) will work, but it may not be the absolute best choice, and with wireless that matters.

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oj88

While this is certainly a convenient feature, I believe it's best to experiment with different channels to find the one that works optimally. I have noticed that the one that looks most free from scanning the channels is not always the best choice. Sometimes it's just weird. I'm sure the one recommended by inSSIDer (which I have used) will work, but it may not be the absolute best choice, and with wireless that matters.

Just to reinforce what was already said, apps such as inSSIDer only checks for RF emissions that complies with the WiFi standard. For example, it won't be able to detect nearby microwave transmissions, interference, or any other 2.4 or 5 GHz RF emissions (RC toys, cordless phones, etc.) that does not adhere to the IEEE 802.11 standard.

 

Not to mention that it is also limited by the radio capabilities of the test client where inSSIDer is running. If for instance, it doesn't support 802.11a, it won't be able to detect any 5 GHz APs. Or if it doesn't support 802.11n, the AP-test client link will fallback to 'g' or even 'b' standards and you won't be able to see 'n'-standard bonded channels, and such.

 

An RF signal analyzer is the ultimate tool for the job. It sees anything RF that is within it's bandwidth, WiFi or otherwise. But these are expensive and not many people would have one lying around in the workshop.

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ikon

All good points oj88, and all among the reasons why I recommend testing. For me, there really is no substitute to practical, real-world testing.

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itGeeks

Just to reinforce what was already said, apps such as inSSIDer only checks for RF emissions that complies with the WiFi standard. For example, it won't be able to detect nearby microwave transmissions, interference, or any other 2.4 or 5 GHz RF emissions (RC toys, cordless phones, etc.) that does not adhere to the IEEE 802.11 standard.

 

Not to mention that it is also limited by the radio capabilities of the test client where inSSIDer is running. If for instance, it doesn't support 802.11a, it won't be able to detect any 5 GHz APs. Or if it doesn't support 802.11n, the AP-test client link will fallback to 'g' or even 'b' standards and you won't be able to see 'n'-standard bonded channels, and such.

 

An RF signal analyzer is the ultimate tool for the job. It sees anything RF that is within it's bandwidth, WiFi or otherwise. But these are expensive and not many people would have one lying around in the workshop.

This has been some great conversation. For the most part I agree with you except inSSIDer can check for that part where you say "it won't be able to detect nearby microwave transmissions, interference, or any other 2.4 or 5 GHz RF emissions (RC toys, cordless phones, etc.) that does not adhere to the IEEE 802.11 standard." inSSIDer 4 basic wont but "MetaGeek" offer a package called inSSIDer Office & Wi‑Spy Mini that cost 199.99 that can scan for other interference and I think that's a cheap price of admission compared to other offerings.

http://www.inssider.com/

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PTgPK9nvek

Edited by MrFixit

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oj88

^ Good catch. Overlooked the commercial version.

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ikon

I wouldn't call that a cheap price of admission for home users. It's not outrageous, but it's not cheap either. The other issue I have is that inSSIDer's ability to detect noise is going to be dependent on the particular transceiver unit in the computer being used to scan. Transceivers can vary quite a bit. Also, different transceivers will react to noise differently. InSSIDer's suggested channel could be a good starting place, or a reasonable selection if time is a constraint but, in the end, I still believe that real-world testing is the only way to find the very best channel.

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ImTheTypeOfGuy

But that is a different product so oj88 is correct as stated.

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