SQM on R8000 Nighthawk bad download speed?

I'm new here and to openWrt, my first day ever using it - pretty cool!
I'll try to keep myself short, I bought R8000 nighthawk new from shelf and flashed openwrt to replace my utterly bad ethernet / wifi setup using Unifi USG and 2x AC AP Pro's - I was told from discord that this would be better than my unifi setup, unifi have been acting up for the last 2 years for me and myself and my kids have just had enough of it, I'm not tech savvy at all so that might be the reason its bad?

My kids remote play alot using (Steam link,parsec and moonlight) their gaming pcs are running headless due to space constraint.. and we have had nothing bad lag using it with unifi - cant even put the bitrate (mbps?) above 30 with 720p resolution before it complains.. so guy told me, get a R8000 with openwrt and all your problem will go away, except.. they didnt :smiley:
I've ran bufferbloat test as per recommendation from the same discord and it complains alot so SQM is key according to the internet , I've downloaded the application on openwrt setup my speed as according to http://www.dslreports.com/speedtest but with SQM enabled I get download speeds of low 15mbits - I have fibre 250/250 but we often get 270-280 down and 270-280 up...

All I want is being able to let my kids use their gaming pcs lagfree and atleast be able to stream 1080p with 50mbit bitrate as that would atleast give them a nice experience! is SQM not something I can use?

Our gaming pcs are all hardwired with cat6 (speedtest on all pcs show 250-270 u/d) the clients we use is all from mobile phones,nintendo switch,laptops and tablets while speedtest varies between these they never go below 150.. bufferbloat tests grades our network A, certainly an upgrade from unifi B but still not good enough.. any help?

Thank you in advance and forgive me if I'm coming across as lazy, I know there's a search bar but I'm not really tech savvy and being a single parent I cant really invest hours looking into something I dont truely understand, I can't really tell what to try and what not to.. I guess its a longshot asking here but, hey. it is what it is!

I would appreciate any help given,
Best regards,

In terms of OpenWrt support, the r8000 is a rather exotic and far from ideal choice. The wireless is functional, but rather limited with brcmfmac and the routing throughput probably won't go far beyond ~200 MBit/s before SQM, with SQM being very taxing on top…

I'm a bit shocked, TBH. You are replacing your Unifi's routers (which can run OpenWrt and have 11ac 3x3) for R8000 (mainly another 11ac 3x3) router which has a more limited driver under OpenWrt. I would say that Discord advise was not really good, I must be honest.

What follows is my opinion, reflash the R8000 and return it to factory settings and return it. Buy a cheap RPi4, install OpenWrt in the RPi4 and the x2 AC AP Pro you have already. if you need several Ethernet ports buy a switch to connect to your RPi4.

This will allows you to

  • connect you Ethernet utilising the cat6 cabling you already have in place,
  • install your x2 Unifi AC AP Pro as dumb APs to all your tablet and wireless devices and use Airtime Fairness and AQL in them, improving latency in your WiFi devices,
  • enable SQM in your RPi4 which is more than capable of shape traffic and contain buffer bloat in a 1 Gbps link (proved, not wishful thinking), and
  • enable DSCP marking (if you feel adventurous enough) to improve traffic preferences for gaming, VoIP or Video in your network.

This is much much cheaper and performance is much much better than replacing everything with a R8000, for sure.


+1 to what @amteza said.

The Unifi system is actually quite good and should perform well in most environments provided that things are configured properly and the APs are tuned correctly. The USG can handle 1Gbps routing without issue (provided IDS/IPS and smart queues are not enabled). The routing functions are often criticized as a bit too basic, but it is actually reasonably high performance for what it does. And the APs are very good (although eclipsed by some of the newer models), and can provide consistent/reliable and fast wifi performance (although these are are optimized for stability across many client devices, not as much for raw speed to a single client, but easily reaching several hundred Mbps). Because there are so many settings, it is easy to miss some things or have things less-than-optimally configured. The dizzying array of settings are available because this is a high-end-home/small-business/low-end-enterprise set of kit and not a really a consumer focused product line.

I love OpenWrt (that is why I'm on these forums), but you actually have a system that should be able to work really well, so I don't see a reason to change it out -- just work on tuning it properly. The other thing is that the performance of all wifi systems is highly dependent on the environment they're in (from construction materials to floorplan, distance, and noise in the airwaves).

1 Like

I agree with some of the previous suggestions the only thing I would add is that it's not exactly clear in what way your network is failing to meet your needs can you give an example of what the specific symptoms are and what measurements you have done that indicate what kinds of problems you have

Also what does it mean for your gaming PCs to be headless I don't understand how you can play games without a monitor

I assume what it means is that you are transmitting the video signal compressed over your LAN Network to a different PC where it's displayed and that can be performance limited by the LAN Network or by the hardware of the thin client. In any case if it's going over a wired Network it seems unlikely that the wired network is the slow link if the thin client is on Wi-Fi then that's very likely your problem and you should wire it in to the network

1 Like

Yeah, that is what Parsec does.

1 Like

ok, then I think this means:

that the client machine is on wifi while the gaming PC doing the heavy lifting is wired in. Most likely the best situation would be to wire the client in as well. In the absence of that possibility you need to optimize the wifi radio environment as much as possible. Use ONLY 5Ghz, use 40MHz channels, separate them from neighbor's channels as much as possible, locate the wifi access points nearby to the client machines, but not TOO close (at least say a couple meters away) and try putting DSCP tags on the video stream to use the video WMM queue.

I've had nothing but trouble with Unifi so that's the reason why I got the R8000 in the first place, the signal strenght on the R8000 far outperforms the two unifi AC AP pro's both in terms of range and speed.

It's a hideous router looking like some alien spaceship so I prefer the AP's in terms of looks but the performance on those buggers are quite bad to be honest.

I was recommended the R8000 for performance and price reasons, unfortunately I got a deal on the R8000 so I can't return it, I also got another one coming my way from ebay o.o I guess I jumped the ship too quickly..

I've done some iperf3 tests between hardwired gaming pcs and wireless clients are they're all 200mbps ~ and the reason why I was recommended the R8000 was due to the reason that when my kids are streaming via Steam Link / Parsec or Moonlight we could only do so at 30mpbs bitrate without wireless warning popping up telling us to lower the bitrate, even thought the wireless clients iperf test are capable of 200mbps, I'm litterally at my wits end - the performance and signal strenght via the R8000 is faster and stronger than via unifi's APs but I'm still limited at 30mpbs streams.. bufferbloat tests are better with the R8000 than unifi but I'm still having issues..

What can I do to improve the situation for my kids so they can play lagfree and @ 50mpbs per stream? according to all tests via iperf3 it should be possible..
SQM enabled R8000 just drops my download speed tenfold..

I'm using 5Ghz on the wireless clients, speedtests are all above 250mb up and down, iperf test are above 200mpbs..

The wifi setup is stock OpenWrt with a password setup, the 5ghz band is 80Mhz and 2.4ghz band 20Mhz..
Should I change the 5ghz band to 40Mhz and why? does that improve the performance? and whats DSCP?

Following the above advice to return the R8000 which I can't do, should I still reflash it to factory settings, use that along with the other R8000 that's incoming and buy a rpi4 and use openwrt on that?

Rule out the unifi because I've had enough of it, its too complicated and I've had 2 years of troubles with it.. Im hoping the resell value is good so I can recoup some loss buying the R8000..

and whats DSCP, what does it do? and how do I enable it?
I have 4x hardwired gaming pcs and several wireless clients - I want these to be able to use the bandwidth they're capable off.

Thanks for all the help so far! I'm trying to digest it!

That is a relevant metric, but it does only tell you the wireless throughput of your WLAN, not how fast you can connect to the internet. LAN <--> WLAN transfers stress your router less than routing, it's still a signifact load, but not the whole picture.

SQM is single-threaded and a quite major additional load to your router's CPU, assuming my rough estimate of ~200 MBit/s total routing capacity is roughly in the correct ballpark, I would expect a 50%-65% speed reduction with SQM enabled on this hardware, not quite ten-fold /although the additional load of all-wireless clients won't help either).

On the r8000, I think that it would be worth reflashing the stock firmware onto the unit and then testing your overall network performance with the r8000 serving as a router and ap. If this doesn’t improve your situation, it is not your router/ap hardware or configuration that is responsible for your issues.

Broadcom uses proprietary network acceleration (courtesy of ctf.ko), so total routing speed should be higher using the OEM firmware, latencies shouldn't improve though.

Theres a second option that have opened up now if I were to give unifi another try and that is going with a UDM, would that be a wise choice?

If unifi is mostly down to settings and is overall a better system / hardware than the R8000 I have no real problem going either direction as Im now abit worried if R8000 is not truely openwrt supported and I dont like dated hardware.

Best regards

It's not exactly the same but as dumb APs are really good. It's configuration comes down to a few things that you can find in their forums. 80 Mhz wide channels, ensure you choose a channel which allows proper dB (depending of where you set your APs and country), to note some times you don't want maximum transmision power as most of you devices are only able to utilise 15 dB. To makes sense, imagine your router is emitting a maximum power (26 dB for Unifi) and your mobile is only 15 dB. This is like your router using a megaphone and your mobile phone just yelling, so imagine, your mobile phone will hear the AP but not the other way around, this is a very typical problem. If you leave in a very busy zone disable rates below 12 Mbps, etc. All this is availabe information in UI forums and may help getting the right configuration.

Regarding your speed, this is a test I did this morning with my MBP connected to my Unifi (4 m away):

@grim$ ➜  ~ iperf3 -c openwrt.lan
Connecting to host openwrt.lan, port 5201
[  7] local port 55690 connected to port 5201
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate
[  7]   0.00-1.00   sec  75.8 MBytes   636 Mbits/sec
[  7]   1.00-2.00   sec  75.5 MBytes   634 Mbits/sec
[  7]   2.00-3.00   sec  76.9 MBytes   645 Mbits/sec
[  7]   3.00-4.00   sec  76.8 MBytes   645 Mbits/sec
[  7]   4.00-5.00   sec  73.1 MBytes   613 Mbits/sec
[  7]   5.00-6.00   sec  75.9 MBytes   636 Mbits/sec
[  7]   6.00-7.00   sec  83.1 MBytes   697 Mbits/sec
[  7]   7.00-8.00   sec  78.2 MBytes   656 Mbits/sec
[  7]   8.00-9.00   sec  80.6 MBytes   676 Mbits/sec
[  7]   9.00-10.00  sec  80.3 MBytes   673 Mbits/sec
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
[ ID] Interval           Transfer     Bitrate
[  7]   0.00-10.00  sec   776 MBytes   651 Mbits/sec                  sender
[  7]   0.00-10.01  sec   773 MBytes   648 Mbits/sec                  receiver

iperf Done.

To note, when I was utilising Unifi's firmware it was a bit closer to 720 Mbit/sec at same distance. This is 11ac 3x3 with a theoretic maximum speed of 1,300 Mbps.

I think that we should triage a bit better all your configuration to understand why you have these problems.

This is a really good page with some information about Unifi and the options that should be enabled: https://evanmccann.net/blog/2021/11/unifi-advanced-wi-fi-settings

My understanding is you can flash openwrt on the Unifi APs, this may give you a more understandable setup?

The reason to use 40MHz channels is so that you have less chance of interference and more separate channels to use. Each device should be set to a clear channel. Use the app "Wifi analyzer" the VREM version on Android Play store.

Disable legacy data rates, and maybe even rates below 12Mbps.

But your best bet is to wire in the devices that are acting as your display.

IMO, no, this would not be a good choice, at least in the immediate term. Here is why:

  • The problems you are describing have not yet been positively linked any specific piece of the puzzle yet. It would be best to be able to conclusively say that you know what is responsible for the slowdowns before you start investing in yet more hardware.
  • The USG, although quite old, is fully capable of 1Gbps routing, as long as IDS/IPS and Smart Queues are disabled. The UDM has more CPU power and will be faster if you have either or both of those features enabled, but it won't make any difference if those features are not being used.
  • While the UDM does have a built-in AP that is higher performance than the UAP-AC-PRO units, the APs you have are high performance, too. (the UDM essentially has a built-in NanoHD).
  • All the same variables that may not be optimized on your current (now decommissioned) Unifi configuration will be presented to you with the UDM, so you'll likely have the same problems unless you understand how to optimize your setup (from both the general technology standpoint as well as the Unifi specific angle).

I'd recommend that you start by rolling the R8000 back to the stock firmware and see if you have better performance than you have experienced with Unifi and OpenWrt. If things don't improve, you need to look at your environment (including RF noise/interference, the floor plan and distances involved between the AP and client devices, validating cables and other hardware are working properly, etc.) and also your internet connection itself which may potentially be responsible for some of the issues.

I think actually this is the first place to start because there's really no reason to think the R8000 was ever going to be a "solution" so whether it's on OpenWrt or Stock firmware, it's really not likely to by itself fix the kinds of problems mentioned.

Since gaming is the priority, can you tell us, what is the device that is the "head" for the gamers? And how is it connected to the network? And can it be wired in?

Can you install Android "Wifi Analyzer" and show us screenshots of the channel graph for 2.4 and 5GHz?

How about going to https://www.waveform.com/tools/bufferbloat and running their test from a wired computer, then linking us to the results page (don't screenshot it, just link). Also run a test from a wifi connected computer and link that test.

I would make it the second thing. First is to roll back to a firmware (stock R8000) that should have reasonably good default configurations and optimized drivers for the wifi and other features. The R8000 should be setup in the near-default configuration with that stock firmware as a starting point. We do not know how OpenWrt + user settings from the OP might impact the performance.

A typical RF scan can tell us a lot (and normally should be step #1), but I think there may be value in the simple real-world test described above.

I'm not against it, but since the Unifi kit should be well capable of handling this scenario, my suspicion is that there is something else going on such as interference, poor channel choice, and/or lack of power on the "head" client system. So whatever the first step is, within the next few steps the more detailed info I requested above should be collected so we can provide better more informed advice.

1 Like

Thank you all for jumping in!
I'll do all the above steps after work today.

My kids gaming pc's are all hardwired with a cat6e cables - these are bought from store each being 1.5meter lenghts.
Connection goes like this.
Fibre box -> wan router -> 15meter cat6e cable to switch -> gaming pcs and second unifi AP plus samsung smartthings smart home
This hopefully gives some insight to how its connected at my home, the rest of the devices are all wireless

I can give screenshots of my house and how the planning looks if that would help.
I'll reflash the R8000 to stock firmware and do the bufferbloat test from all my wired gaming pcs and two of our most used wireless devices and share the links.

I'll also screenshot wifi analyze thing suggested above.

Thanks for all the help given so far, this really gives me hope!

Ok, reseted R8000 to stock, compared unifi to it and noticed the r8000 signal strenght is alot better on the far end of the house but speedtest were equal to unifi.

I dont really know what to test but there was no difference between R8000 to unifi in terms of game streaming, I dont understand really what to look for either, I like the looks of the unifi devices alot more. R8000 is big and hideous.

As far as the test:
Sons pc hardwired

Sons mobile streaming client wireless 5ghz 2meters free sight to AP (cant do more than 30mbps@720p@60fps stream without it complaining about lower bitrate or get better wifi) parsec,moonlight,steam link doesnt matter.
Speedtest 220d/220down 3ms.. iperf from mobile to pc about the same

Wifi analyser screenshots below

I plan to add another AP into the mix when I get everything in order. From my understanding, I dont get why we cant increase bitrate from 30 to say 50 without hiccups.. even 30 at times gives hiccups, its not nearly enough to max the phone capabilities either according to iperf. Its the same across all wireless clients we have. Stutters

Do I need to provide more info and did I do the above steps right?

Thanks in advance! You guys are golden!!