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You are here: MacNN Forums > Enthusiast Zone > Networking > Best Way to Max 802.11ac Performance? Number of streams, multiple APs?

Best Way to Max 802.11ac Performance? Number of streams, multiple APs?
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schalliol
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Mar 12, 2016, 01:18 PM
 
I have a three stream 802.11ac MBP and a three stream 802.11ac iMac (among a bunch of other ac and 5GHz n wireless devices). I also have a ~5,200 sq ft on three floors inc. basement (it's cheap where I live, so it's not that expensive).

As such, I bought an ASUS RT-68U two years ago, which seemed to be the fastest at the time with AC1900 and three stream. There was a Linksys nighthawk out that was four stream, but as I understood it, the performance wouldn't be higher for me as such. While higher is better, I was actually able to place this directly under the location where most wireless was being used such that it was maybe 6 feet from the laptop yet through a wooden floor.

I also have two other inside dual radio APs flashed to DD-WRT (one serving as a router) doing 5GHz N only wide-band on different channels with the same SSID.

Now that AC routers are becoming cheaper, I'm wondering two things:
  • I see new routers like this ASUS RT-AC5300 that boasts much faster performace. I can link aggregate my AP with my switch, and this does support it. Do the additional signal paths help anything and do the ability to have additional frequencies mean that range could be extended? Would this access point help range or speed in my case?
  • Would it be preferable to add additional 802.11ac APs like the RT-68U? If so, should I stay with the same SSIDs on different channels in each location? I know that was the best practice at some point, but maybe something has changed.

Thanks!
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abbaZaba
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Mar 15, 2016, 10:00 PM
 
Check out the AC line of Ubiquiti APs. if you have the freedom of existing cat5e or have the ability to add it (and possibly take advantage of PoE), multiple APs on lower power will give you the best result. The UAP-AC-Lite is the only model (and cheapest) in the line that is 2x2, thus not benefiting the 3 stream devices you have already. The UAP-AC-Pro would suit an indoor 3x3 setup.
( Last edited by abbaZaba; Mar 16, 2016 at 12:39 AM. )
     
schalliol  (op)
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Mar 21, 2016, 09:20 AM
 
I have a Ubiquiti outdoor 5 GHz N AP I have stuck inside my patio's pergola. It's actually a bit of a pain to manage it with the software, but I'll look at the AC APs too. Do you set them up for different channels on the same SSID.

Still wondering these about the two questions above. Any thoughts from you or others?
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abbaZaba
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Mar 21, 2016, 01:56 PM
 
The Unifi software has been updated, and UI refreshed, in recent months. I'd update to the latest if you find the old interface annoying. Also, the controller doesn't need to be running 24/7 unless you are running a guest portal, want to collect stats, or change a setting. Also the newer AC APs can be configured with an iPhone app, independent of a controller.

You want each AP to have different channels on 2.4 and 5GHz. Each AP will have the same SSID.

I'm not interested in these mondo all-in-one routers from Cisco, netgear, belkin, etc anymore. I much prefer the modular Access Point setups with a main router. More APs at lower power and spaced evenly with proper channel assignment will always be better than one big router "screaming" at a high power, particularly if you live in any sort of condensed area.

An EdgeRouter X + 2x2 UAP-AC-LITE = $50+90 = $130 total.
A 3x3 UAP-AC-Pro ups it to $200 which is still cheap.
     
abbaZaba
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Mar 21, 2016, 02:02 PM
 
Wireless Range Extenders are also pretty shit. Unless it has a dedicated radio for uplink (which most do not), your speeds will be halved and channel space will be re-used, increasing interference.
     
schalliol  (op)
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Mar 28, 2016, 01:18 PM
 
Agree with you abbaZaba, I'm leaning to get one more AP or Router (routers are often cheaper and can basically just turn off the router). Certainly the wireless links aren't great unless you just need connectivity of any type. I don't see any reason why to change the same SSID different channel strategy with 802.11ac.
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abbaZaba
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Mar 29, 2016, 03:08 PM
 
One hurdle you may run into is with both bands (2.4 and 5) at same TX power and on the same SSID, a client will almost always pick the 2.4 band because the signal will be better. The newest Unifi beta controller software has introduced band steering, but it's in beta. You can manually try to adjust this by leaving the TX of 2.4GHz at a certain value, but keeping the TX of 5GHz higher. It's not as good as band steering, but it can help.

Before this feature, I battled with having 2.4 and 5 on the same SSID. I wanted devices to use 5GHz when they could. I eventually just made an SSID-2 and SSID-5 and preferred the -5 network on devices that could see it. It's been fine since, but I have a smaller apartment.
     
schalliol  (op)
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Mar 29, 2016, 03:11 PM
 
Oh, gotcha. Yes, I use a 5GHz band and a 2.4GHz band (Schalliol 2.4 and Schalliol 5) and have the laptops/desktops prefer the 5GHz. The band steering is interesting, but ultimately wanting to pic the higher throughput makes the most sense unless the single is crappy.
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