Mesh WiFi - TP Link M5 or M9 Plus

low-def.

Well-known Member
Hi all,

Looking to expand the wifi cover in the house and was about to get the TP Link M9 Plus - albeit at £330 on amazon and noticed the M5's going for £149 or cheaper on ebay with code.

Has anyone got / had either of these and able to comment on the main difference?

Only one i can see is the M9 has an added 5ghz signal to carry backhaul? Is this a must?
 

neilball

Well-known Member
So called tri-band systems that have a dedicated radio for the mesh/wireless link do not impact on the client wifi performance. Usually any extenders/mesh systems without the dedicated radio will effectively halve the wifi bandwidth due to the way wifi radios work. So if you have very fast internet or expect to move large amounts of data over the wifi network then tri-band systems would be preferable over “standard” systems. If you don’t have a need for fast wifi and just want to make sure it remains usable throughout then the basic systems are going to be ok for you too.

You do need to think about what other features you want to be included - just because a system is marketed as mesh wifi does not guarantee that they include features you might want. For example if you expect the system to automatically move client devices from node to node as you move around, to maintain “signal” levels and speeds, rather than stick rigidly to the first node until the signal becomes very weak and then moving to the next node, then you need to check that this feature is included. Similarly you might want both 2.4GHz and 5GHz wifi to share the same SSID, and have a feature called band-steering that attempts to make sure 5GHz capable clients use that rather than 2.4GHz, leaving the 2.4GHZ brand for those devices that cannot use 5GHz. It’s also useful to be able to easily switch off 5GHz too should you have 2.4GHz devices that find it difficult to initially join the wifi network when running in this shared ssid mode, but quite happily operate with 5GHz switched on again after the initial connection is complete. This last issue can crop up when you are adding things like smart plugs or other IoT devices.
 

low-def.

Well-known Member
Hi, thanks for the detailed reply.

My broadband is 350mb which does get used quite a bit with various devices pulling 4k streams etc. I belive the TP links do come with 'Fast Roaming' and 'Beamforming' - not sure what the difference is between them mind.
I think they have the option to turn on/off the 2.4 and 5ghz channels and have them both under the one SSID.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
Fast Roaming is pretty much what it says - the AP's communicate with each other to pre-stage part of the roaming hand off so that when a client does roam, it's a bit quicker. Though it's already pretty fast - we're talking fractions of a second even without fast roaming.

Beamforming is a technology that attempts to improve the apparent signal strength at any given point by using phase shifts in transmissions of the same signal from multiple antenna to create constructive interference at the receiver. Generally it results in some improved rate-at-range (speed at a given location) rather than any massive improvements in coverage area. It is only available in the N/AC protocols and even then was very rarely implemented in N. Clients need to be "beamforming capable" to take advantage of it as the clients and AP need to "sound" the channel periodically to tune it to optimum performance. Some argue that the air time "lost" to all the channel sounding makes the speed improvements it yields not worth the bother, hence it's not universally implemented, esp. in cheap kit with few antenna.

The two technologies are un-related beyond them both being amongst the myriad of "options" available in the Wi-Fi standards.
 

low-def.

Well-known Member
Ended up getting the eero mesh 3 pack set from amazon for £186, and after and evening of trial and error....they are going back.
The speed from the main router eero is great and gives out 256mbps + (on virgin 350 package) in the living room and as expected drops off when moving around the house.
Managed 202mbps in the next room and also got 247mbps and 237mbps upstairs and then a massive drop off down to 30mbps at the furthest point of the house - back bedroom.
Rear garden patio also managed to get 45mbps.
So overall pretty decent around the main house but then when adding an additional node, with the aim of getting a better signal in the back room seems to effect the signal elsewhere and end up with much lower speeds so much so that the kitchen struggled to get any signal - was getting 202mbps off the main eero.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
As you didn't buy the pro pack you are suffering from what @neilball mentioned earlier around tri-band and the clients are contending with the mesh actually transmitting the data.

Each hop of the mesh reduces the bandwidth by half, this is fine when your Internet connection is slow but with yours which is relatively fast you are going to notice a bigger drop-off when you are the furthest points of the network.

Do you have any hardwired points as that is another option to plug them in to prevent this loss.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
If you are looking to expand coverage and maximise throughput, perhaps HomePlug/Powerline technology might be worth considering. There's an FAQ about HomePlugs pinned on this forum, but basically there are AP/HomePlug combinations devices that provide additional Wi-Fi hotspots to create a "cellular" coverage pattern, but offloads all the "backhaul" traffic onto the domestic main electricity circuit.

There is a risk that because the mains is not designed for data transmission, HomePlug technology may not be fast either. Some people report excellent results using HomePlugs, some report dreadful results and everything inbetween. There seems nothing for it but to suck it and see. Received wisdom seems to be to buy from somewhere with a sympathetic returns policy.

A fleet of HP's either combined with your existing router's Wi-Fi or not may not give you all the "bells and whistles" some of the so-called "mesh" systems offer, but give how popular features such as fast roaming, bandwidth steering and forth are, it wouldn't surprise me if the HomePlug/powerline manufacturers jump on board and produce their own versions of such things.

Or course, the best way to achieve fast reliable backhaul links to Wi-Fi AP's is to use "proper" cabled ethernet links.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
If you are looking to expand coverage and maximise throughput, perhaps HomePlug/Powerline technology might be worth considering.
With the OPs network you will be up against limits, with most Homeplugs not getting much more than 200Mbps throughput even with the fastest one. I know some people can get better results but the majority don't and with the cost of them the OP would be better upgrading to the Pro version.
 

low-def.

Well-known Member
Cheers for the helpful comments everyone.
I'm returning the eero's today and had already ordered TP Link M9 2 pack for £225 from amazon. Tried the speeds so far off just the router - 314mbps in living / dining room, back room (kitchen) - 308mbps - above living room bedroom 285mbps, next bedroom over 201 mbps - furthest bedroom 36 mbps?! Oddly the furthest bedroom is next too the bedroom that has 201mbps?? Odd.
So, if i setup the additonal node somewhere near that room it will / should boost that 36 figure.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Assuming you are switching off the VM WiFi where are you going to put the two?

Usually, routers are installed near the edge of a house so not the best position normally. So better to put the first mesh one further away from the router normally.

Do you have a floor plan that you can share?
 

low-def.

Well-known Member
Yes the VM WiFi is switched off - currently in modem mode. The main Deco is in the living room where the VM cable comes in - so yes at the front of the house. So the back bedroom is at the furthest point so i suppose it would be less. I will probably plug the 2nd node near that back bedroom and see how it does.
Just checked the rear garden patio, outside the kitchen and its 25mbps.

Would something like the eero pro's have any benefit over the m9 plus? The pro's are much more expensive.
 

steelydanfan

Active Member
Just to chip in and hopefully not spoil your thread I am in a similar situation and have been for quite a while.
I went down the mesh rabbit hole a few years back and bought the best I could afford which was the netgear orbi rbk50.
I went the whole hog and got the router with 2 satellites, like you I have VM 350 and the super hub is in modem mode.
Again like you I have had mixed results, the closer you are to the main router the better the speed then the further you move away it drops off.
I suffer from clients not connecting to the best/strongest signal which infuriates but I think I can sort that out by separating my ssid's but to be honest I haven't motivated myself enough to do it because it will probably take me an age and end in tears, I'm not very good with this sort of thing.
I have over the years tried loads of different wireless routers/setups trying to get decent coverage and I've come to the conclusion that wifi is pretty useless in older bricks & mortar houses.
No matter what the sales blurb says if you have a house (in my case a bungalow) with solid walls don't expect miracles.
I am contemplating selling my orbi system and going down the route of separate wifi AP in virtually every room using POE.
Again the upheaval and complexity scares me but I think it's the only way to get consistently fast wifi in every room of your house.
It would also pay to add some hard wired access points too so again it's not for the faint hearted, maybe I should just pay someone to do it for me :)
Anyway good luck on your quest 👍

PS just to add, this mesh wifi system is far and away the best system/setup I've had and I'm guessing in houses without solid walls everywhere is probably perfect.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
If you use differing SSID's, you will never get clients "switching to the best signal." Clients will stay in session with whatever they have, no matter how "bad" it gets until they completely loose connection or you manually flip them yourself.

To stand any change of clients roaming automatically (it's the clients that make the decision not "the system") then the SSID's need to be the same. Even then, plenty of clients will hang on to a working connection and need it to get pretty grotty before they will initiate a roaming assessment.

Clients regards AP's with differing SSID's as "belonging" to "different" networks and won't flip between them. Only when the SSID's are the same do clients regard the AP's as "belonging" to "the same" network and will be willing to automatically hop between them. This behaviour may even be mandated in the standards, though it's ages since I read any of them.

An issue you have with using Wi-Fi for the "backhaul" links between AP's, is that they use exactly the same type of "radio" as client access. So if a client in room X is getting poor signalling conditions from router/AP Y, then a repeater (mesh node, whatever,) in the same location will also experience the same poor signalling conditions.

The "game" with Wi-Fi linked APs/repeaters/ etc. is that you need to find a sweet spot to locate them that is in range of good (enough) signalling conditions from both the "base" router/AP you are linking to and the area of poor coverage you are trying to address.

The best Wi-Fi is achieved with unobstructed line of sight. In particularly tricky buildings (it isn't just about wall thickness - things like metal and anything wet like a fish tank can be a real pain and of course a metal hot water tank it the worst of both worlds,) sometimes there's nothing for it but an AP in virtually every room with "proper" cabled ethernet backhaul links.
 
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ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
I suffer from clients not connecting to the best/strongest signal which infuriates but I think I can sort that out by separating my ssid's but to be honest I haven't motivated myself enough to do it because it will probably take me an age and end in tears, I'm not very good with this sort of thing.
As @mickevh states this won't solve your problem and will probably make it worse.

If roaming is the issue you are currently trying to resolve then the software "running" the WiFi network which isn't the same as mesh is what will help. Again as @mickevh says is ultimately the client that controls what network they are on. However Unifi for example can help and give a lot of control as well as telling you what clients are connected to which access point and their respective signal strength and connection speed.

Does your current one allow that level of control?
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Yes the VM WiFi is switched off - currently in modem mode. The main Deco is in the living room where the VM cable comes in - so yes at the front of the house. So the back bedroom is at the furthest point so i suppose it would be less. I will probably plug the 2nd node near that back bedroom and see how it does.
Just checked the rear garden patio, outside the kitchen and its 25mbps.

Would something like the eero pro's have any benefit over the m9 plus? The pro's are much more expensive.
Not sure re the pro other that it is triband so shouldn't suffer from the halving of speed per hop.

Also we need to remember in the search for "perfect" WiFi what speed per device do we need to achieve. If it's just for mobile and streaming devices then 50Mbps will be more that adequate.

Isp speeds on virgin are being silly for download. I just wish they would fix the upload speed ,
 

steelydanfan

Active Member
Thanks to both of you for the advice & thoughts, I've pretty much already made my mind up to go with a unifi set up and separate AP in most rooms I'm just getting as much information as I can to try and understand if it's something I can do myself or I'll need to hire a professional to do?
I don't want to hijack the thread so I'll not interfere anymore.
 

mushii

Distinguished Member
Please do NOT put a UniFi AP in each room, it will most likely result in worse WiFi. You will not get the necessary Chanel separation and the APs will talk all over one another. I regularly install UniFi APs in solid wall houses and have never required that kind of density. Even in 5/6 bed houses I have never needed 3 or 4 APs for the whole house.
@steelydanfan PM me.
 

low-def.

Well-known Member
Right so I have managed to get around to plugging the 2nd m9 node in the kitchen. Now sitting outside on the patio I get 246mbps.
In the kitchen I get 298mbps, from the kitchen m9, which is just a bit less than the 309mbos I was getting h in there from the living room node.
Not plugged the upstairs one in yet.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
I concur with Mushii - it's massively unlikely you'll need "an AP in every room" in the average domestic setting unless the walls are lined with lead (though foil backed sheeting has been know to cause problems.) Most likely, some better choice of AP positioning could yield improvements. In addition the "biggest win" would be to switch to using "proper" cabled ethernet backhauls, but we appreciate that for many people that not possible for whatever reason. Thence we just have to be a bit "zen" that other backhaul mechanisms may be "less good."

If it's good enough for any given use case, then it's not worth worrying about the numbers. In this forum we often council against using Wi-Fi repeaters as they clobber the performance: But I've got one and it's just fine when I'm sitting in bed surfing the Internet and reading my email where performance isn't a consideration. But when I'm dumping DVD rips to my server, I don't use Wi-Fi at all (repeated or not) - I get out a cable and do it with ethernet which is much faster and more reliable.
 

steelydanfan

Active Member
I sometimes think my walls are lined with lead 😂
Yes I have read a few articles about hard wiring your back haul, maybe that's the way to improve things and add some wired points while I'm at it.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Right so I have managed to get around to plugging the 2nd m9 node in the kitchen. Now sitting outside on the patio I get 246mbps.
In the kitchen I get 298mbps, from the kitchen m9, which is just a bit less than the 309mbos I was getting h in there from the living room node.
Not plugged the upstairs one in yet.
I thought it was a 2 pack?
 

low-def.

Well-known Member

sneeks

Well-known Member
I’m considering purchasing the TP Link Deco P9 Mesh and Powerline 3 pack from Amazon, has anyone here had any experience of it?
 

low-def.

Well-known Member
No, not tried the P9 - what’s the difference to the m9?
 

dilfred

Active Member
P9 uses wired backhaul, ie its own powerline plugs, M9 creates a 2nd 5ghz (and maybe 2.4ghz, cannot remember) band which handles the backhaul.
You cannot use the powerline plugs for your own benefit though, so don't start thinking you can plug other devices into them and piggy back off the powerline. You'd either need to install your own powerlines linked off one of the P9's or plug directly into the back of the P9
 

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