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Question Best wireless router for $150?

paperfist

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Nov 30, 2000
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Or possible Mesh setup?

Not sure what the bleep is going on, but I'm having tons of connectivity issues. 2/3 users on PC/Laptop and 2/3 TVs running Spectrum app. House is 2 floors, router is on 1st floor, whole place is like 2000 sq'. The wireless devices on 2nd floor is right above router location.

I use a wireless Dell SonicWall to protect my business data. The wireless on it was horrible so added a TP Link Omada access point and that seemed to help for a bit, but before too long connectivity issues resurfaced. Spectrum came by and replaced the line going to the house (cable modem) saying we were 2 people in the area showing issues and our line was as old as Biden. That seemed to help a bit. Overall though connections still kept dropping, TV buffering. I noticed the microwave was causing some of these drops.

Anyway, had enough the other day and bought a Linkysys Max Stream AC2200. Pretty much all of the first floor issues went away, but on the second floor it's terrible. I'm not sure if I need to run a wireless router on each floor, get a Mesh setup or what in tarnation to do.

Any suggestions, please?
 

fkoehler

Member
Feb 29, 2008
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Couple of options, which will be decided on how cheap you want to go, and how much hassle you are willing to endure being cheap... We've all been there.

If you expect to be there for years, then you could:

1 set-up a mesh, might have to experiment with a few different routers, etc.
Expected cost? $100-300?

2 put a standalone AP on the 1st and 2nd floor.
eBay has Aruba 215, $20-30/ea, can use PoE or a power adapter.
You would need to run some cat6 to the locations, cables shouldn't be more than $20-25.
Connect them to your router, and disable the routers wireless as the 1st floor AP should be more than
powerful enough.
Expected cost? 2X $30, + $20-25 = $50-60.
If you want ultimate flexibility, you can go PoE, just add $30-50 for either
a PoE dumb switch, or a couple of PoE injectors.
Expected cost? $100-120.

Personally, everyone wants to jump on mesh, as its the new shiny. However, everyone and their kids has 2-3 wireless devices which can make even surburbia congested RF-wise. I would rather my infrastructure have a nice quiet, 1-1 with my switch/router rather than have it trying to carve out space between multiple phones, tv's, roku's and firesticks and assorted pc's. But I'm an old stick in the mud network engineer, so go figure.

Or, you could get a couple of cheapo N/AC AP's and see if powerline works for you if you don't want to run cable and luck out and get good throughput. I grabbed an old Rosewill 150N recently when my Archer C7 started acting up, and it worked decent enough no one screamed about the network. I think I check online and saw them for $10.

Also, do some reading on wifi, height, and antenna orientation.

A decent AP placed centrally as you said in a two story 2000 sqf house should easily be able to cover the entire house. I would get a wifi signal strength app running on your phone, and walk around and find what the reported signal strength is. Then mess with the antennas and try again.
Right now you could have the antennas all standing straight up, which would give you excellent horizontal coverage, but poor vertical. Not familiar with your router/aps, so you should be able to find some sort of manf' doc that provides that data in technical notes/diagrams.
If you can, try moving the router upstairs if wiring available.

Or, just try a better class of router.
 
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paperfist

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Thank you for the great info!

Its funny you said Mesh is shiny and new. I used to have an old Linksys router before the Spectrum TV app that would let me run a laptop in the backyard 200‘ away. Now I want to bank my head against the wall with the new tech.

I actually have enough Cat6 to wire the house, so that’s an option for use with switches and APs, plus I wanted to add some IP cameras.

I’m not against spending more than $150. I was kind of shocked strolling through Best Buy that there are $600 and up routers.
 
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SamirD

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If you have a wired infrastructure in place, use it! Wire everything that can be wired and only use access points where you need wireless. If you need good whole house wifi, I'd look into ubiquiti stuff, although lately people have been dumping them due to the recent security breech (too common these days with any company though, so not sure why people are doing this). Or you could go all out and get some Ruckus access points, but expect sticker shock for that type of reliability.
 

paperfist

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If you have a wired infrastructure in place, use it! Wire everything that can be wired and only use access points where you need wireless. If you need good whole house wifi, I'd look into ubiquiti stuff, although lately people have been dumping them due to the recent security breech (too common these days with any company though, so not sure why people are doing this). Or you could go all out and get some Ruckus access points, but expect sticker shock for that type of reliability.
Really the only things that can be wired are the desktop and 1 Roku which are. The cameras I plan to wire.

I guess I should isolate the Sonic Wall to just the server I need protected. Talk about sticker shock that thing was over $600.
 

fkoehler

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Feb 29, 2008
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IMO, spend a little time and money and do it the right way.
As I said, this is assuming you are not an apt. dweller or expecting to move in the next couple of years.

Autonomous AP's:
I picked up 3x of these:

They are $200/ea new on Amazon.

You can also find Ruckus for a fair price:


I missed this: https://www.ebay.com/itm/RUCKUS-H500-ACCESS-POINT-802-11AC-DUAL-BAND-AP-4-PORT-SWITCH-WIRED-WIRELESS/383950786149?hash=item5965400e65:g:Hz0AAOSwVJBgJVhV&LH_BIN=1

From Amazon:
  • 802.11ac 2X2:2 stream dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz concurrent connectivity with BeamFlex+ for next generation mobile devices.

  • Robust authentication options include: 802.1x, MAC-based, captive portal, LDAP, RADIUS, Active Directory and authentication through an internal user database.
  • Gigabit Ethernet uplink with PoE input (802.3af/at). Requires a single POE cable drop, reducing cabling, switch ports and power sourcing equipment.
  • Provides POE out to power devices such as IP-based VoIP phones eliminating the need for more power cords that clutter the environment.
  • In-room device provides integrated Wi-Fi AP and Ethernet wall switch for a wide range of devices and applications.

PoE-
You can buy a couple of PoE injectors for $10-30, or get a switch with that built-in for a little more.
I have a Cisco PoE switch, and while there are a lot of no-name PoE switches on eBay,
I don't see any benefit in buying some no-name white box or low-tier switch.

Cat6 cables are cheap, if I can't get them made for me at work, I like to order from Mono. 100ft cable is $15.

Once my AP's come in, I am setting them up and then doing a wlan survey. Set one up centrally, and use your phone or laptop to test range and signal strength. If I had a 2 story house, not sure I would locate both centrally and have them stepping all over each other. I'd probably test that, but then test moving one to one side-corner, and the other to the opposite side-corner.

If you have access to the attic, or basement/crawlspace, then its really just an hour or two of getting a little dirty and sweaty. Bonus! You get to see parts of your house you rarely if ever do, and might find somethings that also need attention.
 
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Fallen Kell

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Oct 9, 1999
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I always suggest wiring as much as you can in the house. It has the least problems and best performance. I have about 12 CAT6a drops run around my house. I highly recommend doing it if you can. I also highly recommend CAT6 or CAT6a, since these will work for 10GbE (~150feet on CAT6, and 300feet on CAT6a).

That said, your issues might not be related specifically to your existing wifi. If you can, I would run some tests with a wired connection to see if you still suffer the various buffering and timeouts. Your issue could just as easily be a bad cable modem or bad wire to the modem. I know you said that they just replaced them recently, but I just recently replaced a faulty cable modem (that I had only used for 2 months), which fixed all my network problems that I was having. It is something that you should at least rule out by testing before spending a lot of money only to find out that it doesn't fix the problem.
 

paperfist

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2000
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126
www.the-teh.com
IMO, spend a little time and money and do it the right way.
As I said, this is assuming you are not an apt. dweller or expecting to move in the next couple of years.

Autonomous AP's:
I picked up 3x of these:

They are $200/ea new on Amazon.

You can also find Ruckus for a fair price:


I missed this: https://www.ebay.com/itm/RUCKUS-H500-ACCESS-POINT-802-11AC-DUAL-BAND-AP-4-PORT-SWITCH-WIRED-WIRELESS/383950786149?hash=item5965400e65:g:Hz0AAOSwVJBgJVhV&LH_BIN=1

From Amazon:
  • 802.11ac 2X2:2 stream dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz concurrent connectivity with BeamFlex+ for next generation mobile devices.

  • Robust authentication options include: 802.1x, MAC-based, captive portal, LDAP, RADIUS, Active Directory and authentication through an internal user database.
  • Gigabit Ethernet uplink with PoE input (802.3af/at). Requires a single POE cable drop, reducing cabling, switch ports and power sourcing equipment.
  • Provides POE out to power devices such as IP-based VoIP phones eliminating the need for more power cords that clutter the environment.
  • In-room device provides integrated Wi-Fi AP and Ethernet wall switch for a wide range of devices and applications.

PoE-
You can buy a couple of PoE injectors for $10-30, or get a switch with that built-in for a little more.
I have a Cisco PoE switch, and while there are a lot of no-name PoE switches on eBay,
I don't see any benefit in buying some no-name white box or low-tier switch.

Cat6 cables are cheap, if I can't get them made for me at work, I like to order from Mono. 100ft cable is $15.

Once my AP's come in, I am setting them up and then doing a wlan survey. Set one up centrally, and use your phone or laptop to test range and signal strength. If I had a 2 story house, not sure I would locate both centrally and have them stepping all over each other. I'd probably test that, but then test moving one to one side-corner, and the other to the opposite side-corner.

If you have access to the attic, or basement/crawlspace, then its really just an hour or two of getting a little dirty and sweaty. Bonus! You get to see parts of your house you rarely if ever do, and might find somethings that also need attention.
Thanks! I'll definitely look into those on ebay. I recently removed the chimney from the center of my house so I have basement to 1st & 2nd floor right up the middle for wiring. I own my own home and not going anywhere so it'll be a worthwhile project.

With those APs though I'll need some switches. Any suggestions?
 

paperfist

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2000
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I always suggest wiring as much as you can in the house. It has the least problems and best performance. I have about 12 CAT6a drops run around my house. I highly recommend doing it if you can. I also highly recommend CAT6 or CAT6a, since these will work for 10GbE (~150feet on CAT6, and 300feet on CAT6a).

That said, your issues might not be related specifically to your existing wifi. If you can, I would run some tests with a wired connection to see if you still suffer the various buffering and timeouts. Your issue could just as easily be a bad cable modem or bad wire to the modem. I know you said that they just replaced them recently, but I just recently replaced a faulty cable modem (that I had only used for 2 months), which fixed all my network problems that I was having. It is something that you should at least rule out by testing before spending a lot of money only to find out that it doesn't fix the problem.
hmm didn't know CAT6a was out, I'll just get some of that and go to town. I'm really sick of these connectivity issues.

The issue seems to be related to the Dell SonicWall I have. I use it to protect my sever and so just to test I isolated it to off the switch and only wired from the SonicWall > Server and for some reason it caused my wired desktop to have connection issues even after shutting everything down and restarting. It showed up in my desktop's networking as a SonicWall extension.

I shut the power off to it and problems went away. Though there's still some wireless issues, again on the 2nd floor my ipad and iphone won't stay on the wireless network that's located on the 1st floor. A friend of mine told me the 802.11ac router I have doesn't have quite the penetrating power and range. So that may be an issue too. I do have a lot of thick ceiling insulation and all my exterior walls are spray foamed.
 

Fallen Kell

Diamond Member
Oct 9, 1999
5,606
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If you are putting the switch away in the basement, I would look at a Ruckus/Brocade ICX 6610, 6450, or 7250 refurbished or off lease from eBay.

The 6610 has the most 10Gb capability with 8xSFP+ ports and 2x40Gb QSFP+ (which can also be used to breakout too 8x more SFP+).

That said, do some homework on them. There is a massive thread over on the ServeTheHome forums. It goes over all the features, with links and details on basic setup from wiping to factor defaults and loading the latest OS (and I say OS not firmware since these are all layer 3 switches, some with full BPG support). The 6610 and 6450 have a webinterface as well (I think the 7250 does, but I don't have one to confirm). Again I recommend doing some research, read the first page of the thread over on servethehome and possibly watch a YouTube video or two on them. Then go lookup the model list so that you know the differences in the model numbers (these are enterprise switches so there are dozens of configurations with options such as front to rear cooling, or rear to front, 24 or 48 ports, PoE or non-PoE, 1 or 2 powersupplies etc., etc...
 
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fkoehler

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Feb 29, 2008
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Thanks! I'll definitely look into those on ebay. I recently removed the chimney from the center of my house so I have basement to 1st & 2nd floor right up the middle for wiring. I own my own home and not going anywhere so it'll be a worthwhile project.

With those APs though I'll need some switches. Any suggestions?
As Fallen has said, definately get known good cables and check all your upstream connections first. I've installed brand new equipment with brand new cables and gotten caught out by a flaky cable. Best would be to do a speed test on a laptop directly from the modem, then hard-wired to router.

Also, yes 6a would be a no-brainer upgrade. 7 seems to be overpriced for no real benefit.

FYI, check these out, they are Aruba Instant which do not require a controller which I have.
2x2 MIMO AC
https://www.ebay.com/itm/Lot-of-2-Aruba-IAP-205-US-802-11ac-Instant-Wireless-Access-Point-APIN0205-Dell/393241823721?hash=item5b8f0a09e9:g:Cr0AAOSwCUNgToQq

https://www.amazon.com/IAP-205-US-Wireless-Network-802-11ac-Instant/dp/B00QUER9UY

You can do one of two things:

1. Use a PoE Switch to supply PoE to the AP's

or

2. Use 802.3af PoE Injectors at the router side. I don't know if/how well they will work with Passive PoE which are $5 on eBay. Actually, 205's spec is here: https://www.arubanetworks.com/assets/ds/DS_IAP205.pdf
Max PoE power is under 12w, so 48v Passive Poe off of eBay should work* ( No guarantees).

If you go with PoE injectors, then you will have the PoE Injector and a wall wart, which is going to be a fair amount of clutter.




All things being equal, you could avoid that with a PoE Gb switch:
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=p2334524.m570.l1313&_nkw=poe+switch+gigabit&_sacat=0&LH_TitleDesc=0&_sop=15&_osacat=0&_odkw=poe+switch+gigabit+managed&LH_BIN=1
Make sure you are not picking a 10/100 switch!

If you want to segment your wireless into multiple SSID/VLANs to keep Guest seperate from IoT (Roku, Firestick) from Home Users, a simple Managed switch might be $20-30 more, and is probably going to be a name brand like Cisco, HP, etc. Very simply to configure, PoE will be official Standards-based, and you can get help on the forums here to config.
https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_nkw=poe+switch+gigabit+managed&_sacat=0&LH_BIN=1&_sop=15
The Cisco SG300-10PP would be the first one on that list that I'd be pretty comfortable with getting as its Cisco.
However the first one, Netgeat for $25 would probably work fine too.

Avoid adding variables into the mix if possible.
Not sure what the Sonic Wall is doing, however still wlan issues with it offline, so prob want to fix that first.
Aside the 2 options above, you can always go out an pick up another wrouter if they have a decent return policy and test too.
 
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paperfist

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Nov 30, 2000
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Thanks again for the help guys!

I didn't know about those managed switches, I'll check those out.

It's kind of odd, but I tried moving the wireless router to the 2nd floor and connectivity to the 1st floor even wirelessly is way better than when the gear was on the 1st floor.

Quick question. If I wanted to isolate the SonicWall router from the Linksys router could I run a switch after the modem to feed the SonicWall and the Linksys separately? I'm assuming this would still allow outside connections to the SonicWall and keep the Linksys as sort of an internal network.
 

fkoehler

Member
Feb 29, 2008
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Unless your internet plan is giving you static IP's, then most likely no.
Normally ISP's set you up with a single dhcp address, and if you need more than 1 then you have to pay for static addresses.
If you can get DDwrt or OPENwrt on your Linksys router, you might be able to set specific routing for it. However not familiar with SW, or if anything else on your network needs to access it, which might make routing a clusterflk.
Although a little confused, why would you not want the Sonicwall monitoring all traffic? Unless its really old, or you have a really highspeed bb connection, it should not affect throughput that much, right?
 
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paperfist

Diamond Member
Nov 30, 2000
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www.the-teh.com
Unless your internet plan is giving you static IP's, then most likely no.
Normally ISP's set you up with a single dhcp address, and if you need more than 1 then you have to pay for static addresses.
If you can get DDwrt or OPENwrt on your Linksys router, you might be able to set specific routing for it. However not familiar with SW, or if anything else on your network needs to access it, which might make routing a clusterflk.
Although a little confused, why would you not want the Sonicwall monitoring all traffic? Unless its really old, or you have a really highspeed bb connection, it should not affect throughput that much, right?
I use Dyn dns to keep a static address so the bookkeeper can log into the SW on a 10.10.x.x address.

The SW is about 6 months old and replaced another SW. For whatever reason the new one causes wireless devices to buffer and hardwired devices to be slow. So I found by removing it or isolating it traffic response greatly improves.
 

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