Things I use, but am not 100% happy with…

Recently, I moved to a larger house after living in apartments and town houses for almost 20 years. Living in small places wifi had never really been an issue to me, and other than the occasional reboot of the router, I was very happy.  In the new house, I tried to use my trusty Linksys WRT1900AC router to cover all three floors. I really wanted this to work as the openwrt firmware was recently released for the router and basically turned the box into a very simple Linux server. I was intrigued by this and tried my best to make it work.

For six months I have tried different things such as range extenders, tweaking the settings on the antennas, removing legacy clients from wifi and a ton of other things to make this work.  I have two main issues with this setup that I can not make work properly.  The first issue I am having is that the the 2.4Ghz antenna just stops working periodically.  I can not find a fix for this other than rebooting the router periodically.  This is easy enough to accomplish with a Linux cron job and seems to have, to some extent solved this.  The second issue I have is the seemingly random freaking out of the network speed.  My cable internet speeds are very reliable here using Comcast — I get 250mbps down and 10mbps up (seriously Comcast — get with the times on the uploads) at all times.  The issue I am having is strictly local network speeds.

I use the local network for quite a bit of traffic.  I have a Plex server and house all my documents on a 60TB network share.  I use Nvidia Shields as my TV tuners in multiple rooms (with the help of 2 HDHomerun Primes) and my 2.5 year old son watches alot of youtube on his tablet.  We often have multiple smartphones and laptops performing various tasks on this network in addition to my desktop which has multiple server class NICs in it for various tasks. In general, when the network works, its smooth as silk, but every so often, I randomly get this issue where everything stutters and crawls to a complete halt.  Recently, even rebooting the router did not solve this and I started to dig further.

I first turned off the power to the whole house.  This did have a positive effect for quite a while upon turning the power back on.  For a few weeks, I thought I had solved the issue.  But it came back with a vengeance!  My Live TV app on the Nvidia Shields what stuttering like something I had never seen. I tried the power trick again — it worked, but quickly the issue returned. At this point, I decided to try a new router — because of some limits of how the signal dropped off from my loft to my basement, I went with a mesh system — Eero.  I will write more on this in a couple weeks, but I want to elaborate further on my network stuttering at this point.

The Eero definitely has better range, albeit at a MUCH greater cost.  I was very happy for a week or so until the network stuttering came back!  At this point I started to think there is only one thing left I haven’t replaced — my gigabit Ethernet switch. I started reading reviews on amazon and newegg of the Netgear GS116 I have been using for years and realized that I may have solved the issue!  I am in the process of replacing this now and will also report back on my success or failure.

At this point, I am pretty happy with the increased wifi signal coverage of the Eero compared to my wrt1900AC, but I am not sure the cost is justified.  I will continue my testing and report all my findings in coming weeks as well as a full review of the Eero.

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