— 8:53 AM on September 21, 2015

Morning, folks. Hope you had a good weekend. I spent part of mine participating in that Rocket League tournament, which did not end well for Team TR. We went up against Team EVGA in the first round and were utterly destroyed. They were clearly better prepared (and had much lower ping times) than us. The guys from EVGA proceeded to go all the way to the finals, where they then lost in lopsided fashion, destroying some of my excuse for our loss.

Oh well. It was fun except for the part where we played the game.

I spent a little time this weekend trying to deal with a home Wi-Fi problem, and success there was just as elusive. I have an Asus RT-AC87U, which has been excellent for me, but we still have spots with weak signal in a few bedrooms on the opposite side of the house from the router. I have a slightly older Asus RT-N66U available, and it has a "repeater" mode meant to boost the signal from the primary router, so I figured I'd try it out.

What I learned, in a nutshell, is that Wi-Fi repeaters aren't a great deal unless you really need them. The biggest drawback in my case was performance. If you're connected to a repeater, you're adding another hop in your network path—a second wireless hop that requires the repeater and main router to dedicate part of their bandwidth to talking to each other. The rule of thumb seems to be that you'll double your packet latency and cut your bandwidth in half.

I tried the repeater connected to the main router on the both the 2.4 and 5GHz channels. Using 5GHz as the link was clearly faster, but even then, clients connected to the repeater (on either band) peaked at around 20-30 Mbps, with 20 Mbps being common. Clients directly connected to the main router with the repeater powered off were as fast  as 35-70 Mbps.

Worse, with the router-to-router link active, any clients talking to the main router on the 5GHz channel saw their speeds drop to 20-30 Mbps.

Also, the issues with varying 5GHz signal reception in my house meant that, at times, the repeater disconnected from the main router—taking any connected clients with it into the abyss. Moving the repeater closer to the main router helped the link quality but degraded signal strength in the problem areas.

When it works, the repeater setup does help alleviate dead spots in the upper story of the house. But from what I've seen, you're compromising performance for all clients in order help those few trouble spots. In my case, I don't think the benefits are worth that trade-off. I may have to experiment with running a wired Ethernet connection between two routers in order to address this problem instead. Seems like that's a more viable option without the same drawbacks.

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