What Wifi Mesh Hardware Do You Use?

spiderman0616

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Just wanted to get some opinions on mesh networking from anyone who cares to chime in. I have decided to retire the AirPort Extreme and AirPort Express that I’m currently using, and I was about 2 days away from buying an Eero setup when the Amazon news broke, so I had to go back to the drawing board. (Not particularly interested in Amazon, or Google for that matter, having the option of sniffing my internet traffic or knowing what devices are on my network.)

Anyway—I’ve gone back and forth on a bunch of systems and finally ordered a Linksys Velop setup for my house. (Runner up option will be Orbi if the Linksys doesn’t work out). I have a zillion HomeKit devices in my house, so I’m hoping it works well with those. I only have one component that requires a direct connection to the router, and that’s my Hue hub. I would like to still use my Airport Express as an AirPlay 2 speaker on the new network if possible.

Anyone have any experience with this hardware? Anything better I should be looking at instead? From what I could tell in my research, this was the most versatile system for my house and seems like it should play nice with all my home automation stuff.
 

simplynando

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Aug 15, 2016
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I've actually been leaning towards the Orbi. The reviews are great. It's not dependent on a manufactures cloud service and they even have a modem/router bundle which means I could return the one I'm renting from Cox.

I also have a lot of HomeKit devices and a Ring Doorbell and a Nest cam so I need really good coverage and this one seems like the best to me. I'm still researching a bunch of different options but i'm going to be pulling the trigger in the next week or two and I haven't found anything that sways me from the Orbi yet.
 

spiderman0616

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I've heard of the Amplifi--maybe that will be my 3rd option if this Linksys doesn't work out. The whole act of ripping out my existing network and putting something new in is causing me some stress. The Airport stuff I've been using for years is very solid, but it's making me nervous to use out of date tech for something as important as my home network, and it will be really nice to have the internet speed I actually pay for all over the house instead of just the rooms that are closest to the hot spots.

In the end I really wish Apple would just make mesh hardware. I'd so much rather give my money to them for this kind of stuff.
 

hobowankenobi

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Aug 27, 2015
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on the land line mr. smith.
UBNT AC Lite (2 units), with an Edge router.

Rock solid, never have to do a thing with them. 4 people in a two story house, everything except a printer is wireless, including 2 Apple TVs. Can game with no lag while others are streaming music or Netflix. My wife works from home, so I know when there is a problem....and there is never a wifi issue for more than 3 years.

Would not recommend the router to a non-tech person, not user friendly.

But the APs are great, and worth a little bit of setup. Pair with any wired router. iOS setup and monitoring is an easy option. Cost effective if one has a router they like, and can simply turn off the wifi. You could do that with the Airport Extreme....and run it for another year or more if it is still behaving at a router.
 

spiderman0616

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Aug 1, 2010
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I've actually been leaning towards the Orbi. The reviews are great. It's not dependent on a manufactures cloud service and they even have a modem/router bundle which means I could return the one I'm renting from Cox.

I also have a lot of HomeKit devices and a Ring Doorbell and a Nest cam so I need really good coverage and this one seems like the best to me. I'm still researching a bunch of different options but i'm going to be pulling the trigger in the next week or two and I haven't found anything that sways me from the Orbi yet.
If you remember, DM me or something when you get the Orbi stuff set up and let me know how it works with your smart home products. I'm really interested in how the different systems cope with that now that I'm dipping my toe into mesh networking. I have accumulated a pretty elaborate collection of automation devices over the last year or so:

Phillips Hue system with about 40 bulbs and a couple of switches
Craftsman MyQ garage door opener with the additional HomeKit hub
August smart lock for front door
a random Insignia smart outlet for one of our lamps that takes a weird sized bulb
Lennox iComfort thermostat
security system that runs through Alarm.com

As far as devices on the network:
3 iPads
2 iPhones
1 random hand me down Samsung Galaxy Tab (don't ask)
1 iPod Touch
Nintendo Switch
Playstation 4
1 HomePod
2 Apple TVs
2 Macs

We do all streaming for our media access and with two adults and two kids the network is often under pretty heavy strain. There are often times where more than one of us, sometimes all of us, are gaming or streaming video through PS Vue or Netflix all at the same time. And with all that going on, I need the lights and security items to be snappy and responsive when I need to use them.

Our house is about 2500 sq ft., and I'm currently running all that stuff off of one Airport Extreme on the main level, and one Airport Express in the upstairs acting as an extender and an additional AirPlay 2 node hooked up to a speaker. The 3-node Velop system I ordered is WAY overkill as far as the square footage it covers, but I'd rather have way too much power and bandwidth than not enough or just enough. I figure this should have me covered even if we're out in the front or back yard and shouldn't break a sweat with all the gear connected to it.
 
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spiderman0616

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I had a somewhat similar setup, but it just wasn’t keeping up anymore and for some reason started needed frequent reboots every coup,e of weeks or so, even with latest firmware. Still employing one of the Airport Express units in bridge mode so I can continue connecting it to a speaker for use with Airplay.

The Airport system is more mesh-like than most router/extender setups though. It sets up and functions pretty seamlessly. Just doesn’t have the signal strength or backloading that makes true mesh so awesome.
 

EugW

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Jun 18, 2017
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I had a somewhat similar setup, but it just wasn’t keeping up anymore and for some reason started needed frequent reboots every coup,e of weeks or so, even with latest firmware. Still employing one of the Airport Express units in bridge mode so I can continue connecting it to a speaker for use with Airplay.

The Airport system is more mesh-like than most router/extender setups though. It sets up and functions pretty seamlessly. Just doesn’t have the signal strength or backloading that makes true mesh so awesome.
WiFi strength of the AirPort Extreme 802.11ac units is good. (It’s significantly stronger than the AirPort Extreme 802.11n units, even for 802.11n.) As for the backhaul, that may be the difference in my setup. My entire WiFi backhaul is hardwired. No WiFi extension involved at all. Maybe that’s why it’s uber stable.

In fact, that was one of the disadvantages of the cheaper mesh systems. With some of them you CAN’T use a wired backhaul. Cost cutting I guess.
 
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spiderman0616

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Aug 1, 2010
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WiFi strength of the AirPort Extreme 802.11ac units is good. (It’s significantly stronger than the AirPort Extreme 802.11n units, even for 802.11n.) As for the backhaul, that may be the difference in my setup. My entire WiFi backhaul is hardwired. No WiFi extension involved at all. Maybe that’s why it’s uber stable.

In fact, that was one of the disadvantages of the cheaper mesh systems. With some of them you CAN’T use a wired backhaul. Cost cutting I guess.
There are a lot of cheaper systems on the market that aren’t even real mesh networks, but are advertised as such. Like from what I’ve read, Orbi and Eero both kind of cut corners to get the performance they get at their respective price points. My research kept bringing me back around to Velop because it’s truly a high end tri band mesh system.

The Velop nodes have to each be set up wirelessly with the Linksys app, but once you complete that step, you have the option of plugging them in to Ethernet for their connection to the network. I imagine most people don’t do that, but it’s kind of a nice option to have if your house is wired for it.