I currently have a Netgear R7000 running DD-WRT. I originally got it because of the open-source "support", not realizing it had proprietary blobs that couldn't go into other distributions. The software is more or less abandoned now, with updates breaking things at random. Unfortunately, OpenWRT doesn't support 5 GHz on this device. Oh well, live and learn.
Anyway, I'd like to replace it with a mesh of two or three devices. I don't plan on doing routing, VPN, etc. with the device.
Candidates I'm looking at:
GL.iNet GL-B1300 ($90)
D-Link DAP-2610 ($120)
Ubiquiti nano-HD ($160)
Linksys MR8300 ($170)
Mesh connected via wired Ethernet
VLANs with multi-SSID (i.e. VLAN 100 is one SSID, VLAN 101 is another SSID)
Can purchase new in US
Will support the next ~5 years of software upgrades
Nice to have (in descending order):
Fast enough to saturate the network if possible
Under $400 total
Faster than AC1300 (does it matter?)
Multiple GigE with LACP
High heat tolerant (attic, ~150F/65C)
The Netgear R7800 seems to be a favorite, but it seems they're all used or "open box" (which means used but they saved the box). Are there any newer devices that are comparable?
I'm new to mesh networking, are all of these devices capable?
This is kind of a contradiction in itself, if you have a wired backhaul, you just need a dumb AP - meshing (and there are multiple, mutually exclusive and incompatible implementations for this) only matters if you're looking for a wireless backhaul. For these wireless uses a dedicated backhaul (third-) radio does offer significant advantages (Linksys EA8300/ MR8300 comes to mind), if you have a wired backhaul you have many more (cheaper) options.
This might be a bit more difficult on ipq40xx based devices than on other SOCs, not impossible (especially looking longer term, with the upcoming move to the DSA switch driver framework, but you will have to check your needs if you need those features now).
Not realistically possible. Yes, you can configure LACP, but most of your devices are still restricted to a single 1 GBit/s CPU port, which -especially for AP uses- limits your aggregate throughput to that maximum (and with 4+1 ethernet ports tops, LACP doesn't really provide any benefit for hardwired/ switched traffic either).
Here you leave your price bracket.
If I'd live in north america, I'd look into the https://openwrt.org/inbox/toh/askey/askey_rt4230w_rev6, yes availability doesn't quite tick the "new" checkbox, but they're still plenty on the used market and cheap (~40 USD). Very capable hardware (ipq8065+QCA9984), no VLAN weirdness, downsides involve that support for them hasn't been officially merged into OpenWrt yet and the initial installation being a tad more difficult; no, PoE and high ambient temperatures won't be met by this device either, but you can get ~ten of those very capable high-end devices within your budget.
Basically, yes. Same SSID && PSK pushes the ball into the client's field - and the client always has the last word on which BSSID to choose. You can also help the client making good decisions (enabling 802.11r, 802.11k and 802.11v) or nudge them into a particular direction (something luci-app-dawn is trying to do), but that's merely further optimization (it can help, but the impact isn't as big as one might hope - especially as only few clients even have an idea what 802.11r is).
Personally I'd love to buy the RT4230W as well, but shipping costs && customs for importing them to Europe sadly kill that idea (before thinking about ETSI/ CE certification).
The RT4230w dual failover parttion seems killed by OpenWrt upgrade, a deal killer as far as I am concerned. Dual failover is a serious advantage which I would consider critical.
The Linksys EA/MR8300 have true failover partitions, which if used properly, will always leave a stock OEM firmware ready to start from scratch. Killer timesaver when quick reinstall will save the day, got me out of trouble plenty as a newbe to OpenWrt.
As for attic install, I would tend to think this is not possible with off the shelf commercial routers running decently competent hardware, you would need to go for industrial designs outsite your pricing bracket. I would recommend you forget attic install, unless you want to go into funky hardware which leaves OpenWrt support up in the air.
The EA/MR have very serious heat sinks compared to many others and they still tend to run hot when solicited, never mind in a hostile attic environment.
Not to forget tri-band, important for mesh back haul and serious future proof factor considering your 5 year usage window.