The internet has over the years become an essential part of our everyday life, providing convenient access to resources just fingertips away.
The freedom and convenience cannot be possible with reliable, uninterrupted access to WiFi.
ASUS officially launched AiMesh at CES 2018, a fully customisable MESH network, featuring mix models of WiFi routers at the user’s preference.
The ASUS AiMesh is based on the use of multiple units of high gain routers, each capable of delivering extended coverage on its own.
Equipped with the flexibility for finer adjustments, AiMesh can be customised to suit the user environment for broader range, optimal performance, as well as compatibility with legacy or IoT devices.
Similar to conventional MESH, the ASUS AiMesh intelligently steers devices to the fastest active node, and self-heals in the unlikely event of disconnection of backhaul between nodes.
What is different though, is the ability to adopt flexible selection of backhauls between the nodes.
An AiMesh network can be built with a mixture of Ethernet and WiFi backhaul at any section of the network when desirable.
While MESH network heavily dependent on modern protocols such as 802.1k, 802.1r, 802.1v for seamless roaming, this may not work as expected, especially for legacy and IoT devices.
ASUS AiMesh on the other hand, adopts proprietary methods, together with Roaming Assistant to achieve the same goal to ensure maximum compatibility with both legacy and IoT devices.
What we like the most about the ASUS AiMesh is the ability to pass on the packet handling features to all nodes; whether that is internet security shield and parental control (AiProtection), traffic management (Adaptive QoS), and even VPN.
We took the samples provided by ASUS for a spin.
The setup process was very straightforward, all it took was a simple click on the search button, choose the device you wish to pair with, and AiMesh handled the rest.
Thanks to the flexibility to fine-tune WiFi settings, we were able to separate the 2.4GHz and 5GHz into two separate SSIDs for enhanced compatibility.
We were also able to fix the 5GHz band into U-NII-3 to adopt the high antenna power advantage for better coverage and performance.
In terms of performance, we were seeing pretty much the same coverage and throughput as a tri-node MESH kit with two ASUS RT-AC68u routers in AiMesh.
We have connected our test systems to the Ethernet port between the primary and satellite node, and have easily achieved up to 80MB/s actual throughput through a good 14m distance apart testing with CrystalDiskMark; a result I would only expect when both systems are connected to the same router.
Roaming between the nodes was a breeze, there were no dropouts or video lag when moving between the coverage area of the two routers while video chatting with Apple and Android phones.
There was, however, a little spike in game pings when roaming between the two routers, which I consider acceptable.
In order to test the self-healing capability, we tried turning off the satellite node in the middle of the test.
This gave us a very similar result to roaming, with the video chat continuing as if nothing happened - very impressive indeed.
While the industry began to transit to MESH solutions, it’s great to see companies like ASUS offering MESH upgrades for high gain router products.
If you already own a compliant router and wish to extend your WiFi coverage or functionality, AiMesh should certainly be a candidate for your next shopping list.