Wireless performance for a crowded apartment building

Currently using an Archer C7 v4 on 19.07.2 (ath79), very happy with it except I get spotty wireless signal in my small apartment, even just one room away from where the router is. There are tons of other networks in this building and I'm wondering if there's a similar low/mid-range product with a stronger radio?

I'm just on a 25mbps connection for myself (no one else sharing this connection) so I'm not looking for overkill.

2.4Ghz or 5Ghz? you're best off if you can abandon 2.4 entirely in an apartment setting, and make sure you use the least crowded channel you can find. I'd advise no more than 40Mhz channel. see if you can use a DFS channel as they're likely less used in your area

Thanks. I have some older devices that only support 2.4 so I need to keep that active. I believe 5GHz on my Archer C7 is already set to 40MHz but I'll double check.

I guess with 802.11ax still so new (waiting for a product that I know has good OpenWrt support) I shouldn't shell out for something expensive right now. But if there's a mid-range product around $100-150 that has a better radio than the Archer C7 then I'd give it a shot.

Could be your wireless client adapter, IMO Archer C7 v4 wireless is quite strong.

OK, if the Archer C7 is already about as good as it gets then I'll just hold out for 802.11ax products. Thank you.

It often is not about the higher power output; quite the opposite. I have a small gl-b1300 covering an apartment with txpower=8 for 2.4GHz and txpower=10 for 5GHz. This router does not even have external antennas unlike yours and there are no coverage issues despite having over a hundred AP's around.
You are looking for a higher power output, so I assume you already cranked it up to max and your router is now picking up more AP's that are located further away. It is also picking up more background signals that it needs to process, it might be generating more of its own noise, and so on.

These steps helped me a lot:

  1. Set channels on both radios to auto (yes, it is properly supported)
  2. Exclude DFS channels and all overlapping channels
  3. Make sure your beacons do not chirp at the same time as everyone else's (default is 100ms, so set to a prime number close to 100ms)
  4. Lower the power output to as low as possible which still provides good enough coverage for you.
  5. Use 20MHz channels only
        option htmode 'VHT20'
        option legacy_rates '0'
        option channel 'auto'
        option short_preamble '1'
        option channels '36 40 44 48 149 153 157 161 165'
        option beacon_int '101'
        option htmode 'HT20'
        option legacy_rates '0'
        option channel 'auto'
        option short_preamble '1'
        option channels '1 6 11'
        option beacon_int '103'
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If you really have to use 2.4 against all the noise from neighbors, you would want the AP close to the client (at least in the same room) and using moderate power. Additional basic dual band routers serving as repeaters could be used. Though ideally the first thing you should look at buying is to replace those old 2.4 only devices.

Ah, that makes a lot of sense. I lowered my transmit power and added your other options, and the signal has improved. txpower=10 was too low for me in the next room but I kept bumping it up until it was consistently stable.

Thank you for this!

Well, there is no one size fits all. The idea is to minimize the coverage area so that your router sees as few radios as possible: radios can either transmit or receive and each one can only talk to one other. So, it is bad if you router has a ginormous coverage and spends too much time processing packets from all radios (APs and client devices) around you on the same channel (in addition to picking up a lot of unrelated noise from other sources).

The logic for the beacons tuning came from here if you are interested.

That list of channels is for N/A. Make sure it is legal where you live. Also, you might give the DFS channels a shot: I excluded them mainly because some IoT's I got do not like them.