After I don’t know how long, Xiaomi officially pushed the firmware supporting Mesh networking to both Xiaomi AIoT router AX3600 (hereinafter referred to as AX3600) and Xiaomi router AX1800 (hereinafter referred to as AX1800). After the firmware update was completed, Xiaomi finally delivered the pie drawn before to the users. The two low-priced but excellent performance, especially the AX3600, are now even more "scented."
But first, what is "Mesh"?
The full Chinese name of "Mesh" is "Mesh network", which is a kind of transmission of data and control commands through dynamic routing in a network with multiple network nodes. In the entire mesh network, all nodes can achieve point-to-point transmission. If a node fails, the entire network architecture can skip this node and find a new path for data transmission.
Putting it on the home user side, the most intuitive feeling of the Mesh network is that it can cover complex large houses more efficiently. Before using Mesh network networking, it is often necessary to use wired or wireless relay to obtain good Wi-Fi network coverage in various areas in a complex and large space. The Mesh networking is simpler and more stable than the networking done with traditional relays, and it is easy to manage the network as a whole.
The Mesh function provided by the AX3600 and AX1800 routers through software upgrades is naturally incomparable to flagship Wi-Fi 6 Mesh routers in terms of absolute intranet performance, switching efficiency and stability. At least through this software Mesh function, Xiaomi A low-cost Mesh coverage solution is provided to many people.
Will the network setup be complicated?
No, take my personal usage scenario as an example. First of all, you need to ensure that both AX3600 and AX1800 are updated to the latest firmware version (if you can't wait for the push, you can go directly to Xiaomi Wi-Fi official website to download the firmware manually), and then proceed to the next series of operations.
In my network deployment plan, I chose to use AX3600 as the master node for the best network performance (of course, if you want to use AX1800 as the master node, I won’t stop you). Set the main node routing to the Internet normally (broadband dial-up or other methods, depending on the specific ISP), and then restore the AX1800 that needs to be added as a Mesh node, and then power on and place it next to the main node AX3600.
Then select the Mesh networking function on the management page of the mobile application AX3600 to automatically search, match and complete the settings. The entire process of adding a node only takes about 3 minutes. If you need to add more nodes, repeat the above operation. After all the nodes are added, you can place the nodes in the room that needs to cover the Wi-Fi signal according to your needs. Of course, the actual distance between the nodes and the nodes should also consider the signal transmission and reception between the routers. If two The distance between nodes cannot be too far or there are too many obstacles.
Of course, the precautions for the above node layout are based on wireless Mesh. If there is a reliable wired connection between the two nodes, then you will have no problem with the layout.
After the network is set up, the settings and functions of the AX1800 as the child node will be completely synchronized with the AX3600 as the main node. Therefore, the entire Mesh network can be regarded as a network management transmitted by a router. The name and password of the entire wireless network are all unified, and functions such as setting and switching the router’s LED indicator light and timing restart will also be directly synchronized to all nodes. Therefore, there is no difference between managing and managing a single router.
How's the effect?
It's pretty good. The kitchen (point 1) in the house was the area with the weakest Wi-Fi signal when originally covered by an AX3600. The 200Mbps bandwidth can only run into single digits in a kitchen with poor signal. This internet speed can only barely send and receive WhatsApp messages. After using the AX1800 wireless Mesh to expand the network, the downlink speed in the kitchen can reach about 150Mbps, at least touching the threshold of "fast network".
Ok? Why is only 150Mbps speed under the expansion of AX1800?
This is the limitation of the AX1800 hardware-AX3600 and AX1800 are both "dual frequency" when facing important devices such as smartphones and PCs, which means that they will transmit one 2.4GHz network and one 5GHz network. Before using Mesh networking, I always hide the 2.4GHz band of AX3600 as a backup band (because the 5GHz coverage of AX3600 is not weaker than 2.4GHz or even better in previous tests), AX1800 is also connected to the 5GHz band AX3600.
The next step is the key point-the 5GHz frequency band of AX3600 is 4×4 antenna, and the 5GHz of AX1800 only has 2×2 antenna. The high-bandwidth 5GHz channel provided by the 4×4 antenna can make up for the performance loss caused by the dual-band router without independent backhaul frequency band when a router is wireless Mesh. When the 2×2 antenna AX1800 needs to take care of wireless backhaul and terminal data transmission and reception at the same time, a 5GHz Wi-Fi performance bottleneck will appear. After all, a high-end mobile phone is enough to eat the AX1800 2×2 antenna.
So the answer is very clear. If you have a lot of equipment at home or have higher requirements for transmission rate, then the performance of AX1800 may not meet your needs when grouping Mesh. It is better to use AX3600 on all nodes. .
After talking about pure "performance", there is another aspect in the Mesh network that is directly related to the user experience, that is, the switching algorithm within the entire network. This algorithm directly determines whether a certain device can efficiently and accurately switch to the nearest node to obtain the best network performance.
In fact, the switch of Xiaomi’s Mesh is much faster than I thought, especially when roaming from the main node AX3600 to the AX1800, I almost finished the switch after a few seconds while standing next to the AX1800 with my mobile phone. Roaming from the AX1800 back to the AX3600 will take a little longer to switch, but it is just an extra 10 seconds. For this cheap Mesh system, this switching efficiency can even make some professional Mesh routers ashamed.
Of course, the above switching efficiency is based on the premise of setting up the network and using it stably for a period of time. When the network was just set up, the node switching efficiency of this Mesh network, especially the efficiency of switching from AX1800 to AX3600, was really unsatisfactory. However, after a few days of stable use, the node switching efficiency of this network has reached the level of the previous test.
"Is it worth it?"
As a relatively cheap large-sized Wi-Fi 6 coverage solution, the use of multiple Xiaomi router Mesh networking does have strong feasibility and cost-effectiveness. Because all nodes use AX3600, the network effect obtained will not be too obvious for 90% of the people whose home bandwidth is between 100Mbps and 200Mbps. The experience in 90% of the application scenarios will not be too different from those of top Mesh routing.
Take a step back and say, if you want to further reduce the cost of group Mesh, you can use Redmi router AX5 which uses the same hardware solution as AX1800 instead of AX1800 as the child node (we still recommend AX3600 for the total gateway). Although the latter has not yet pushed the firmware that supports Mesh, it is only a matter of time before the firmware has been pushed. Using AX5 instead of AX1800 can even further save tens of dollars in hardware expenses on each node.
Taking my personal use scenario as an example, one AX3600 plus two AX1800 can well cover at least 150Mbps broadband access in my home, so the cost of the whole set is 175$ to 190$ . If you want to use AX3600 coverage for higher speeds, the total cost will reach 263$, and the hardware investment is only 1/3 of the 3 sets of traditional manufacturers' flagship Mesh routers. Of course, I don’t deny that the performance of the flagship Mesh tri-band routers is better than that of 3 AX3600s. It must be much better.
As for users with home broadband of 300Mbps or more than 500Mbps, this Mesh network composed of multiple Xiaomi routers may become a bottleneck restricting the speed of connecting to the external network. In addition, for users who pay attention to the transmission efficiency of the intranet, such as the deployment of NAS equipment, the performance and efficiency provided by this "white delivery" Mesh is definitely not enough to meet them in the stable and reliable transmission of large amounts of data (such as streaming 4K or HDR movies).
But then again, most of the latter type of users are not bad for money, so when they set up a Mesh network, they will probably skip this "white-sent" dual-frequency Mesh and choose a flagship with a dedicated return frequency band. Mesh router. The performance and stability provided by those flagship routers will definitely be significantly better than the Mesh of Xiaomi routers.
In short, the greatest thing about the Mesh function of the Xiaomi router is not how powerful it is, but at a price point that most people are more willing to accept, it provides a price that is several times that of their top products by 80% or more.
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