Nowadays having WiFi coverage throughout the house, and achieving a very high speed higher than 400Mbps is easier than ever, as long as you know what equipment to install and how to do it. There is no use buying the best equipment, if then they do not adapt perfectly to your home. Today in this article we are going to explain in detail what you have to buy to have a WiFi connection with the best possible speed, and also how you should configure the different equipment to obtain optimal performance.
WiFi Mesh systems arrived in our homes many years ago, largely thanks to the manufacturer NETGEAR with its family of Orbi equipment. This manufacturer was one of the first to democratize WiFi roaming between nodes, to move from one node to another without a cut in the wireless connection, therefore, we can maintain a video call or VoIP call without a cut in the connection. We also have the popular band-steering, we will have a single SSID for the two or three WiFi frequency bands, with the aim that it is the WiFi Mesh system itself that places us in one frequency band or another, depending on the coverage, clients. connected, and also the bandwidth required.
Before the WiFi Mesh systems, if we wanted to expand the wireless coverage we could only do it with WiFi repeaters, but the user experience of these devices was not optimal, because the WiFi clients were “hooked” on the WiFi repeater even if we obtained a drop. coverage. This made users have to turn off the WiFi and turn it on again, to connect to the main router instead of the WiFi repeater that provided us with less coverage in that place.
Thanks to WiFi Mesh systems, as soon as we have a low coverage with one of the nodes, the mobile device will scan the WiFi network to automatically connect to another nearby node, and all this without interruption in the wireless connection. For this, it is necessary for the equipment to have the IEEE 802.11k / v standards and in some cases, also 802.11r, but the latter (called Fast-Roaming) is not entirely necessary to have the best user experience.
Currently we have several types of WiFi Mesh systems, all of them highly recommended, but some of them are better in certain situations than others:
- Simultaneous dual band WiFi Mesh systems, the return network or interconnection of the nodes (backhaul) is shared with the clients.
- Simultaneous triple band WiFi Mesh systems, the return network or interconnection of the nodes (backhaul) is dedicated.
Now we are going to explain which WiFi Mesh systems are better in a given situation, and that is that the vast majority of WiFi Mesh support Ethernet backhaul, that is, the return network or interconnection of the nodes can be configured via cable.
Does your house have Ethernet network outlets in every room?
All new homes since 2011 approximately have Cat 6 category Ethernet cabling to have RJ-45 / RJ-11 female Ethernet network sockets in each and every room, this includes kitchen, living room, bedrooms, cellar (if you have) and also attic (if you have). In addition, it is very likely that in the living room and in the master bedroom you have 2 network sockets instead of just one. Of course, these network cables will go through an individual conduit from the entrance of the house where the panel is located, to the destination of the network socket (female), so you could have the possibility of passing an additional cable yourself through these ducts.
At the entrance of the house, where we have the electrical panel, we will also have a specific panel for the connectivity of the TV and satellite, as well as the network sockets that go to a passive splitter, a splitter that will only serve us if we want to connect a telephone in each and every one of the rooms. In this area we will have all the cables perfectly labeled with the destination room, in this case we have an 8-wire male RJ-45 connector, therefore, we can achieve at least Gigabit Ethernet speeds, and even Multigigabit speeds as they are Cat 6 cables.
This box usually has a length of about 50cm wide by 30cm high, therefore, we will need a fairly small switch. In home environments, the most common is to buy a very small unmanageable switch, such as the D-Link DGS-108 that has IGMP Snooping for IPTV services:
If you have many rooms in your house and the number of ports falls short, you can always buy a 16-port switch, but it is necessary that these 16 ports are on the same “line” of ports, if we have a double line of ports it is very likely you will not fit inside the frame. However, we recommend that you measure the inside of the panel and also see how much they measure in the technical specifications of the switches.
Once you have put all the male RJ-45 network sockets connected to the switch, you must connect the operator’s main router, which must also be placed in this box, because this is where we will have to connect the fiber cable, which in turn, it goes to the RITU and the operator’s CTO (in the case of FTTH fiber).
It is highly recommended that you test that all network sockets synchronize at a speed of 1Gbps, for this you must use a Gigabit Ethernet network card and make sure that it synchronizes at 1Gbps if you connect it directly to the router or switch. If any outlet in your house does not synchronize at this speed, that is because the RJ-45 connector is badly crimped, or the female socket is bad, so you will have to check the wiring. Once you have located the problem and you have solved it, then you will already have a connection to the local network via cable at 1Gbps speed throughout the house.
When you have all the network sockets working at 1Gbps, then we will put the WiFi connection throughout the house, and always at the maximum possible speed.
If you have network sockets in all rooms
In new homes, the most normal thing is to have network outlets in all rooms, therefore, you can connect the WiFi Mesh nodes wherever you want. The most advisable thing is to give a homogeneous coverage in all the locations, therefore, the most normal thing is to have 2 or 3 nodes distributed throughout the house, depending on how it is physically, you will need more or less nodes. For example, in a house with several floors, we must always put a node on each floor, to cover the different devices on that particular floor.
In this case where we have all the rooms with wired network sockets , it is best to buy a mesh WiFi system that is simultaneous dual band and WiFi 6 or WiFi 5 . It is useless to buy a triple band WiFi Mesh system (which is clearly more expensive than a dual band one), where one of these frequency bands is dedicated to the interconnection of the nodes. With a dual band Mesh WiFi, we will connect the nodes to each other via cable, thanks to the fact that we have Ethernet network sockets in all rooms, and a switch to intercommunicate all these sockets.
Our recommendation, if you want to obtain the maximum performance, is that you buy a dual-band WiFi Mesh system with the WiFi 6 standard, because this new standard will provide us with higher speeds in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz, as long as you have WiFi clients compatible with this standard. If you do not have WiFi 6 clients yet, you should assess that all the new equipment will already come with this new standard, we will be investing for the future. However, if you don’t have enough money, you can always buy a dual band WiFi Mesh system with the WiFi 5 standard, it will also give you very good performance.
Two highly recommended manufacturers to buy WiFi Mesh systems are both ASUS and NETGEAR. NETGEAR has always been one of the best in mesh WiFi systems, both for configuration options and user experience, ASUS has greatly improved with the new ZenWiFi, providing a user experience equal to (and even slightly better) than the NETGEAR. Both brands with WiFi Mesh systems on WiFi 6 are highly recommended.
In the case of ASUS, we recommend you buy the ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4, they are simultaneous dual band with Wi-Fi AX1800 (up to 574Mbps in 2.4GHz and up to 1,201Mbps in the 5GHz band), the equipment that acts as a router has a port Gigabit Ethernet for the Internet WAN, and a port for the LAN, the nodes have a Gigabit Ethernet port for the LAN. This WiFi Mesh system has all the technologies incorporated in WiFi 6, and allows Ethernet backhaul, to interconnect the nodes with each other via cable, and obtain the best possible wireless performance. Depending on the nodes you want to buy, we have it in a 2 or 3 node version.
In the case of NETGEAR, we recommend you buy the NETGEAR Orbi RBK352, they are simultaneous dual band with Wi-Fi AX1800 (up to 574Mbps in 2.4GHz and up to 1,201Mbps in the 5GHz band), the equipment that acts as a router has a Gigabit port Ethernet for the Internet WAN, and three ports for the LAN, the nodes all have two Gigabit Ethernet ports for the LAN. This equipment also incorporates all the innovations of WiFi 6, and allows interconnecting them via Ethernet cable to provide the best possible performance. Depending on the nodes you want to buy, we have it in a 2 or 3 node version.
As you can see, although they may seem expensive equipment, we must bear in mind that they are top of the range in simultaneous dual-band WiFi Mesh systems and WiFi 6, there is nothing better currently.
If you don’t have network sockets in all rooms
In the event that your home does not have Ethernet network outlets in all rooms to interconnect the Mesh nodes via cable, it is highly recommended that you try to place them in the rooms where you do have network outlets, to take advantage of the 1Gbps backhaul network from velocity. In the event that you cannot, for example, because you only have one network socket in a room, then you should assess the following:
- Buy a simultaneous dual band WiFi Mesh system, one node is connected via cable to the available socket, and the other nodes are interconnected via WiFi.
In this case, you will get the best wireless performance when connecting to the wired node, it does not matter that some nodes are connected via cable and other nodes via WiFi, the WiFi Mesh system will adapt perfectly to this and everything will work very well. The only handicap is that by connecting to the node that is interconnected via WiFi, you will get less wireless performance than if you connected to the other node that is wired. the difference in speed is remarkable, being able to even lose 30-40% of speed. This option is the best if you want to continue using simultaneous dual band WiFi Mesh systems.
Another valid option, and one that would be ideal if you want to achieve the best possible performance, would be the following:
- Buy a simultaneous tri-band WiFi Mesh system, one node is connected via cable to the available socket, and the other nodes are interconnected via WiFi in a dedicated frequency band.
This case is the ideal one if you want the best speed, but these devices are clearly more expensive than the simultaneous dual band WiFi Mesh systems that we have recommended before. We would be in the same case as if you did not have any network socket at home, because in this last scenario, you would have to buy a simultaneous triple band WiFi Mesh system to achieve the best possible speed. Next, we will recommend the recommended simultaneous triple band WiFi mesh and WiFi 6 systems.
What do I do if I don’t have network outlets at home?
If you do not have network outlets at home, then to obtain the best possible performance, it is to buy a simultaneous tri-band WiFi Mesh system. A 5GHz frequency band will be specifically oriented to the interconnection of the different nodes, with the aim that wireless clients are not harmed by this backhaul traffic that will carry all the traffic from the different nodes. It is very important to buy a triple band device, the difference with respect to dual band equipment is very high, especially if you have Internet connections of 600Mbps or higher, otherwise, you will not get more than approximately 400Mbps (although this depends on the scenario and many factors).
In this case, the two most recommended manufacturers that have simultaneous tri-band WiFi Mesh systems and the Wi-Fi 6 standard are ASUS and NETGEAR.
In the case of ASUS, we recommend buying the ZenWiFi AX XT8, the manufacturer’s top-of-the-range WiFi Mesh. This model is simultaneous triple band with Wi-Fi AX6000, we have a dedicated frequency band running at a speed of up to 4804Mbps. For wireless clients, we have simultaneous dual band with AX1800 Wi-Fi (up to 574Mbps in 2.4GHz and up to 1,201Mbps in the 5GHz band). This model allows any node to be used as the main router, both have exactly the same technical characteristics and the same number of ports. We have a 2.5G / 1G Multigigabit port for the Internet WAN, and three Gigabit Ethernet ports for the LAN, we also have a high-performance USB 3.0 port for file sharing on the local network and the Internet. Depending on the nodes you want to buy, we have it in a 2 or 3 node version.
In the case of NETGEARs, we recommend buying the NETGEAR Orbi RBK752. This model is simultaneous triple band with Wi-Fi AX4200, we have a dedicated frequency band running at a speed of up to 2402Mbps. For wireless clients, we have simultaneous dual band with AX1800 Wi-Fi (up to 574Mbps in 2.4GHz and up to 1,201Mbps in the 5GHz band). The Orbi that acts as a router has one Gigabit Ethernet port for the Internet WAN, and a total of three Gigabit Ethernet ports for the LAN. The satellite Orbi has two Gigabit Ethernet ports for the LAN. This model does not have a USB port.
If you don’t mind spending more money to have the most powerful WiFi Mesh with WiFi 6 system, then you should buy the NETGEAR RBK852. This model is simultaneous triple band with Wi-Fi AX6000, we have a dedicated frequency band running at a speed of up to 2402Mbps. For wireless clients, we have simultaneous dual band with Wi-Fi AX3600 (up to 1201Mbps in 2.4GHz and up to 2.402Mbps in the 5GHz band). The Orbi that acts as a router has a 2.5G / 1G Multigigabit port and a total of four Gigabit Ethernet ports for the LAN. The satellite Orbi has four Gigabit Ethernet ports for the LAN. This model does not have a USB port, but it is the most advanced and powerful that you can buy today.
Although they may seem expensive equipment, we must bear in mind that they are the top-of-the-range WiFi Mesh systems in simultaneous triple band WiFi Mesh and WiFi 6 systems, there is currently nothing better that provides better coverage or speed.