Hardware Recommendation for Wi-Fi 6 & Fast Roaming & Mesh (802.11ax + 802.11r + 802.11s)

Hi everyone, I am new to this forum and I have no experience on OpenWrt.

Currently I want to setup a small Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Network for my friend's home network but I found that there are very few device which use true Mesh (802.11s) standard for the setup of Mesh Network.

To find other options, I do some research and I find some successful case of using Wi-Fi 5 & Fast Roaming & Mesh at this forum. However, I don't know how to choose the hardware for the setup. Currently my plan is to use Ubiquiti Access Point WiFi 6 Long-Range and the U6 Lite as the component of the Mesh Network.

May you give any suggestion of this case? Thank you.

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People have had success with Belkin RT3200s, they're in the $80-100 range, new.

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Thank you for your reply, frollic.

Unfortunately, Belkin RT3200 does not available at my country. Do you have another suggestion?

How about the Linksys E8450? It looks like Belkin RT3200.

The E8450 is the same device, just rebadged. :slight_smile:

Thank you, aporetic.

If I bought this device, should I use the linksys_e8450-initramfs-kernel.bin to flash from original firmware to OpenWrt in the original web admin page?
linksys_e8450-initramfs-kernel.bin

Also, I see that the image is a snapshot image and the wiki tells me that I have to use ssh to change the ip and install the LuCI. It seems that the OpenWrt will not connect to WAN (modem) via DHCP so we have to set a IP manually first. If I set wrong IP and I cannot access the router anymore, is it possible to press the reset button and do it again?

It should, WAN is usually configured as DHCP client, but your ISP might only give out one IP. If that the case, you can change the WAN MAC on the Linksys, or wait.

WAN <> LAN, you're never able to access the router from the WAN side, unless you've opened ports in the firewall.

I am confused in the description from the Wiki Product Page...
It said that I cannot install the non-UBI firmware (.bin).

However, the non-UBI part said that I may download the non-UBI variant of the device firmware openwrt-mediatek-mt7622-linksys_e8450-squashfs-sysupgrade.bin and upload it in the vendor firmware Web UI upgrade page.

So which image should I use to flash the vendor firmware to the OpenWrt?

Since 2021-08-27, it is no longer possible to keep the default vendor flash layout (a.k.a. “non-UBI”), as it contains ECC errors out of the factory, and these errors are not compatible with the new SPI-NAND driver, that means you cannot install the non-UBI firmware (*.bin).

non-UBI

Due to the not exactly advantageous layout and management of the SPI Flash, the best way to use the device is to replace the bootloader and convert the flash layout of the device to UBI rather than trying to stay compatible with the vendor firmware, but if you just want to try OpenWrt and still plan to go back to the vendor firmware, use the non-UBI version of the firmware which can be flashed using the vendor's web interface. In this case, download the non-UBI variant of the device firmware openwrt-mediatek-mt7622-linksys_e8450-squashfs-sysupgrade.bin and upload it in the vendor firmware Web UI upgrade page.

I forget to ask a question. Can I ssh to the OpenWrt via LAN after the firmware flashing?

Most discussion of the RT3200 / E8450 has been in this thread: Belkin RT3200/Linksys E8450 WiFi AX discussion Every owner of one of those routers should read at least part of it.

Just to be clear, as far as software goes, the E8450 and RT3200 are exactly the same. The only difference is the E8450 has a black plastic case and additional status LEDs on the front. The RT3200 board even has places for those LEDs, but they are not installed.

Yes once OpenWrt is installed you would ssh in via a LAN port. Since you'll be flashing a snapshot build, the web interface is not present at first, it needs to be installed separately via SSH.

Thank you for your reply, mk24.

I have taken a look in that thread and user Lynx reply me that 802.11s is broken in snapshot builds for months.

Based on the table, the products with release builds are TOTOLINK X5000R, Ubiquiti UniFi 6 Lite and Ubiquiti UniFi 6 LR. Do release build mean for working with 802.11s & 802.11k/v/r?

If 802.11r is good enough for you, perhaps you could still get them... ?

@testcb00 I don't think you should not buy the RT3200 just because of my post. Whilst I haven't seen any reports of 802.11s working at the moment (it was rock solid for months until a certain snapshot upgrade), there is a chance that maybe just a configuration change is needed to make it work.

Do you definitely need 802.11s?

Nowadays I use WDS to wirelessly connect three RT3200s to provide coverage throughout a large three floor house with very thick walls (1 metre) and garden and works perfectly. I gather there is nothing for me to gain from 802.11s mesh and throughout is higher with WDS anyway. Since lower overheads.

I think mesh only needed if you need to extend an extension if that makes sense? If you can have extension nodes connect to main router then there is no benefit to 802.11s as far as I am aware.

802.11r works albeit I see some glitches with iPhones and iPads. Haven't quite figured out what that is due to. Maybe bugs in these Apple devices or needs special setting. Android and Windows laptop fast roams perfectly.

Otherwise these devices are very powerful and can handle 1Gbit/s SQM. I think they're kina the hot topic in the OpenWrt world right now for a basic router that is up to date. Rock solid in terms of stability. Also very active development given uptake amongst users.

I've nothing other than positive things to say about these devices once the UBI OpenWrt is flashed.

802.11s either does work and it is just my bad settings or will get fixed soon enough anyway.

Any updates on this? I'm trying the router with 11s with no success.

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I am still waiting for the successful case too...are you using two E8450 to setup the 802.11s MESH Network?

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Yes but no luck so far, I'll try again next week.

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Why are so many so keen on 802.11s over WDS?