Mesh vs Router?

Twill

Well-known member
Oct 6, 2007
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0
18,590
Hi.

I’m trying to upgrade the wifi in our house from the standard ISP router we’re currently using to something that’ll give us better speeds and whole-home coverage. I don’t really need the speed of wifi6 at the mo but it seems to make sense to future-proof if I’m buying new hardware anyway.

Originally I was looking at mesh systems but wifi6 mesh is still very expensive and because of all the working from home, network equipment seems to be getting more rather than less expensive, so I’m guessing prices won’t drop any time soon.

We have a Victorian 3-bed terrace, it’s not that wide but fairly deep. That said, our current basic ISP router almost reaches the back, so I’ve started moving away from mesh and back to the thought that maybe one wifi6 router could cover it all after all.

I’m interested in the Asus ZenWiFi AX mesh units

https://www.overclockers.co.uk/asus-zenwifi-ax-xt8-ax6600-wifi-6-mesh-system-pack-of-1-white-nw-11h-as.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIpsif_d_D7wIViLHtCh34aAN4EAQYASABEgIqzPD_BwE&__cf_chl_jschl_tk__=9c585b7f91b32c02c6796b844499239d47b9034a-1616410949-0-AY1q5P1gPcWFtpj0u014d48s3kzCZDJKaBXvWwUdFBWGjIxuVIw-VbaU252A_m_7u6U_ZIcwsKRZuFQs7u5NYI6iqvsJWn1J-culWcIHQR88kptrmDu4T23b8MuJYIrY1eCVG5LvlvXbGohh_vtAse91MUuIzNAVVS1P-MW9CaUyVpi16zOHeonmb9zmaSveBJWFqF3531ZSST6gGKL03Q0jmfWoY6ZO8FBgF3E14LjcOP51Z_FahWy2F29KZ4EF_-60ZHWoECi3YvoOJ42jqbAHohqP87ZLFa1bP3DPGeNM1S56K10Fm86OjqtPIOVC1Yg3nzRS-VXy-CT6XaMv3cdTjKsEMSg_UcdSIN69pBeumzbeZaesepdVz5VE7DasXdYiwWymjSYKNqInKTVUW8h_KWJGTwoTXDvJqYYtMI7JZhrYzZk4R8YMGzQP7GeXeQbco99zeIYN-4oK7yhdFbn2YIFzfikYnh7fIHFRpu0k4RTR382R9pWpGPA7OD92Te4HJAy_zh1ecrdPYo9NypO2Wo2Yoed0lcdP_hKD8JQDYM6YFJsuN4yDX2RWpV4JGQ

and the Asus AX88U router:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/ASUS-RT-AX88U-Wireless-AX6000-AiMesh-Gigabit-AiProtection/dp/B07JHFWZKN/ref=asc_df_B07JHFWZKN/?tag=googshopuk-21&linkCode=df0&hvadid=310785453975&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=9225356588297714682&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9045909&hvtargid=pla-562985824246&psc=1&th=1&psc=1

But here’s where my understanding of mesh vs router breaks down. I know traditionally mesh systems have offered better coverage and routers more features, but the ZenWiFi unit above - even just as a single router rather than as part of a mesh - seems to offer a great feature set at a price that is lower than the stand-alone router, and with better mesh upgrade potential for the future as a result of being a triband unit vs the router’s dual band setup.

So if the ZenWifi is cheaper and better specced, even as a stand alone single box, why does the AX88U exist? What’s the point in it basically, and why would anyone choose it over a ZenWifi unit, even if they were only looking to buy one rather than a dual-pack mesh configuration?

Interested in any thoughts as I feel like I’m missing the utterly obvious!

Cheers.
 

DCarmi

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2019
135
82
670
I live in a 3 bed Victorian terraced house (with loft conversion).
After years messing around with extenders, long cables, multiple routers, and powerlines, I went for an Orbi RBK50 (2 satellites) a couple of years ago and haven't looked back since.

I have the Orbi router upstairs and a satellite in the front room downstairs and another in the kitchen. Even with the Victorian internal walls I get complete coverage over 3 floors and even a bit in the garden despite going through a couple a walls. The second satellite connects via the first and has to go through the wall a bit diagonally, but it is fine. I do have one blind spot in the utility room but until we get an internet washing machine, I don't really care!
 
@DCarmi I was considering the Orbi option myself but am a bit of a technophobe.
I don't have a cable connection for broadband yet, still using ADSL and have a router provided by Plusnet.
Netgear blurb states:-
"Works with all internet providers: Replace your existing Wi-Fi router and extender (separate modem or gateway required); compatible with any internet provider including cable, satellite, fibre, DSL and more "
Does that mean I connect the Orbi router to my existing router via ethernet cable or does it completely replace the Plusnet Router?
It's the 'seperate modem or gateway required' bit that gets me...
 

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
648
343
19,270
If the router already has a decent range and it has a spare RJ45 connector, then adding a Wi-Fi extender or even a mesh system is all you need. (You don’t need to replace your router as an extender or mesh system will connect to the router)

Quality extenders or mesh systems will have a speed way in excess of your internet connection, so multiple users will be no problem.

Bill
 

DCarmi

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2019
135
82
670
@DCarmi I was considering the Orbi option myself but am a bit of a technophobe.
I don't have a cable connection for broadband yet, still using ADSL and have a router provided by Plusnet.
Netgear blurb states:-
"Works with all internet providers: Replace your existing Wi-Fi router and extender (separate modem or gateway required); compatible with any internet provider including cable, satellite, fibre, DSL and more "
Does that mean I connect the Orbi router to my existing router via ethernet cable or does it completely replace the Plusnet Router?
It's the 'seperate modem or gateway required' bit that gets me...
I have Virgin Media. The Orbi has a RJ45 input so I connect the VM router to the Orbi via RJ45. It is not an ADSL router. In truth really easy to set up and you can spend a bit of time testing the best places to put the devices to get the coverage you need. The only limitation is the length of the power cable to the power brick (the RBK50s a tad short for my liking).

Once the satellite(s) are synchronise to the router (press a button) you just let it sort itself out. You may have to reboot to install updates. The accompanying app is reasonably useful.
 

Twill

Well-known member
Oct 6, 2007
124
0
18,590
If the router already has a decent range and it has a spare RJ45 connector, then adding a Wi-Fi extender or even a mesh system is all you need. (You don’t need to replace your router as an extender or mesh system will connect to the router)

Quality extenders or mesh systems will have a speed way in excess of your internet connection, so multiple users will be no problem.

Bill
My ISP router doesn't have a modem only mode, so as I understand it, any mesh system I plugged in to it could only work as a basic access point. If I wanted any more advanced features - particularly around parental controls for my kids etc, then I'd need a new router, which is what got me looking at ZenWiFi. I could get BT's mesh system and plug that in to what I've already got but I'd have no parental controls etc.
 

DCarmi

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2019
135
82
670
I should say the Orbi I have has a separate 5GHz back plane which means that data travelling between the satellites is separated from the data from the connected devices.
 

DCarmi

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2019
135
82
670
Actually I have never got around to putting my current VM router into modem mode (it was replaced a few months back). I am running bitdefender on the Orbi. I don't have parental control installed. I just haven't told anyone the new VM Wifi password.

I should deal with the issue but I am just lazy!
 
Actually I have never got around to putting my current VM router into modem mode (it was replaced a few months back). I am running bitdefender on the Orbi. I don't have parental control installed. I just haven't told anyone the new VM Wifi password.

I should deal with the issue but I am just lazy!
That was going to be my next question. If one of the routers is not in 'modem only mode' surely you end up with 2 NATs and two firewalls..... this cannot be good can it?
 

DCarmi

Well-known member
Nov 15, 2019
135
82
670
I normally put my VM router into modem mode. As I said I neglected to do this after I had a replacement and to be honest I have not spotted a problem (or I would have dealt with it). Network devices consist of various PCs, Alexa and Nest devices, iPhones, Android phones, FireTVs, an Xbox, a Nintendo switch, Smart TV, Smart BluRay and assorted smart plugs and bulbs. i.e., pretty diverse.

Effectively everything is on the Orbi NAT and the only thing on the VM one is the Orbi router,

The only time I get a problem is when VM goes down.
 

abacus

Well-known member
Sep 24, 2008
648
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19,270
My ISP router doesn't have a modem only mode, so as I understand it, any mesh system I plugged in to it could only work as a basic access point. If I wanted any more advanced features - particularly around parental controls for my kids etc, then I'd need a new router, which is what got me looking at ZenWiFi. I could get BT's mesh system and plug that in to what I've already got but I'd have no parental controls etc.
Fair enough, carry on with what you feel happy with, just remember that the manufactures claims bear little relevance to what you will actually get, as they always describe perfect conditions.

Bill
 

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