Is wireless AX technology backward compatible?

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By that, I mean--we have a few older laptops as well as newer stuff like tablets & Amazon Firestick. Our current wireless router is a 4 yo Linksys E1200 that is using wireless N technology.

I was advised to upgrade the router to AC wireless technology.

Now, shopping around, I'm seeing more expensive routers with AX wireless technology. I don't mind shelling about 20-40 bucks more if the router will still be compatible/not obsolete in 2-4 years. I still remember a blue linksys WRGxxxx or whatever, that just kept going and going. I have not found a router like that since.

If I pay a bit extra for the newest AX technology, will that be compatible with my 5yo laptop?

I'm suspecting the answer is yes, but I figured I'd ask first before experiencing problems and then having to return an item.
 
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Yes, it is.

"The 802.11ax standard takes a variety of well-understood wireless techniques and combines them in a way that achieves a significant advance over previous standards, yet maintains backward compatibility with 802.11ac and 802.11n." Source: https://bit.ly/32FEo2P

Ed
 
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AX is the newer standard and is backward compatible, from what I understand the biggest improvement is in the OFDMA and newer silicon with better architecture, better compatibilities for future need in offices, for example. For home with only 3 or 4 users it may not matter much.

That said, between a low end AX with only 2 antenna vs a mid range AC with 3 antenna, better features, I'd still pick the better AC router because the "analog" part of it is better.
 

paulri

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JHZR2

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Ive been running an ASUS AX router for about a year now. Totally stable, nice and fast, easily supports everything. Set up an ASUS AX mesh at my inlaws this past summer, with a full house of visitors, computers, TVs, etc. there can be at least 20 things vying for bandwidth and it works great.

The only issue I’ve had is with wyze cameras on 2.4Ghz.. they were flaky to connect but now work fine...
 

paulri

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Thanks, I decided to get an AX router (that way in a couple of years it won't be obsolete, like the last time I bought a router), a Netgear on Amazon Renewed that gives me 90 days to return it instead of 30. Thanks to everyone who contributed to my two wireless threads.
 
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That being said, could you look at these three routers? The first one is AX, the other two are AC--and all are on amazon for $90:

https://www.linksys.com/us/p/P-E7350/

https://www.linksys.com/us/p/P-EA7300/

https://www.netgear.com/home/wifi/routers/r6700/
Based on what I can find on routerchart, E7350 is mediatek chipset with 2 antenna of 28dbm transmit power, the nighthawk has 3 transmit antenna of 20dbm, and the maxstream has 3 transmit antenna of 28dbm. USB 3.0 for all 3 of them.

Personally I'd pick the maxstream router if they are all the same price. However to me I would likely not use up all the speed of AX but would use the range of 3 antenna instead for beam forming. Most laptop other than some top end one has 2 antenna so you won't reach the max performance, and outside of office I won't use that much bandwidth anyways, so those 3 antenna likely will be used for beam forming instead of 3x3 to reach 1300mbps in 5GHz. 300mbps for beam forming (3 antenna to form 1x to increase range) is enough for me, more than that I'd add powerline ethernet (I'm getting 500mbps right now on the advertised 1200mbps adapter set) or run my own ethernet wire.

But all 3 are not bad choice in any way, it is like a new model year base model car vs last model year high end trim comparison, different choice but both would serve you well.
 
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Based on what I can find on routerchart, E7350 is mediatek chipset with 2 antenna of 28dbm transmit power, the nighthawk has 3 transmit antenna of 20dbm, and the maxstream has 3 transmit antenna of 28dbm. USB 3.0 for all 3 of them.

Personally I'd pick the maxstream router if they are all the same price. However to me I would likely not use up all the speed of AX but would use the range of 3 antenna instead for beam forming. Most laptop other than some top end one has 2 antenna so you won't reach the max performance, and outside of office I won't use that much bandwidth anyways, so those 3 antenna likely will be used for beam forming instead of 3x3 to reach 1300mbps in 5GHz. 300mbps for beam forming (3 antenna to form 1x to increase range) is enough for me, more than that I'd add powerline ethernet (I'm getting 500mbps right now on the advertised 1200mbps adapter set) or run my own ethernet wire.

But all 3 are not bad choice in any way, it is like a new model year base model car vs last model year high end trim comparison, different choice but both would serve you well.
The higher db rating for the antennas usually implies a narrower vertical beam. That would be good for a ranch on a slab, but not a 2 story with a finished basement.
 
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If you looking for range, my feelings are nothing is going to beat a $99 Motorola AC2600 (MR2600) even if you spend double the price on something else. You may come close but again at double the cost or more. Also TP link might get you there but not quite at 50% more cost.
I like TP lInk a lot but their lineup is a mess and very confusing to the public it you do not watch the EXACT model numbers (not model) of what you are buying. They sell a lot of sound alike/look alike routers with similar numbers but many are dumbed down (but still good just not as good) to the mass retailers.

I think something not talked about enough and certainly not mentioned by the high end (expensive) makers of WiFi routers is the fact that the FCC limits the power of residential (commercial too) routers.
Any router you buy at the store is only allowed by the FCC to allow a power level that wont damage your health if you sit right next to it 24 hours a day. Its called radiation and the power of a router can only radiate you within a limit allowed for safety. It would cost almost nothing for makers to double or triple the power of a router, but guess what? it would not be allowed by the FCC and the device its communicating with would not be able to answer back because it wouldn't have the range to do so.

What I am saying is, its not about the power, its about how a router (at any cost) is able to send and receive within that power limited by the FCC.
The Motorola (a Lenovo company) pretty much operates on this principle. They advertise range in the only router they make for the home.
At this price point the GUI (set up) options are limited but allows just about any homeowner enough options.

Dont get me wrong, I am not at all saying this is the only router to buy. I am saying this is the only router to buy if you are only willing to spend up to $200 and want to be assured maximum range above all else, if you do not need a wide range of set up options in the GUI, only if your the typical homeowner (like me) that wants range above all else, rock solid reliability (never needs to be repowered) and by the way, having great range is just using its antennas and power in an efficient way. By doing so, you will also experience excellent speeds throughout the home.

With all the above said, all within reason, Im not going to tell you that if you have connect speeds over 400 Mbps that this router is the end all of everything great, just commenting to the OP that I think he will be pleasantly surprised at the upgrade to this router from the Lynksys 1200.
Yeah ... they are backwards compatible.
 
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The MR2600 is rather clearly a rebadged DIR-882, which is not a bad chipset at all but it is becoming dated (note that D-Link themselves rebadged the DIR-882 to become the "new model" DIR-2640).

For $99 I'd buy a Belkin RT3200, with the caveat to run OpenWrt on it since the Belkin firmware is reportedly really bad. Which brings up the point that for a home router, a non-technical consumer is buying into the firmware and the user interface as much as they are hardware.

 
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The MR2600 is rather clearly a rebadged DIR-882, which is not a bad chipset at all but it is becoming dated (note that D-Link themselves rebadged the DIR-882 to become the "new model" DIR-2640).

For $99 I'd buy a Belkin RT3200, with the caveat to run OpenWrt on it since the Belkin firmware is reportedly really bad. Which brings up the point that for a home router, a non-technical consumer is buying into the firmware and the user interface as much as they are hardware.

Very interesting, if correct, maybe the DIR882 is a rebadged Lenovo? (just messing around)
Different firmware, different case, same antennas... I think you maybe correct and actually just moved my thoughts on the MR2600 up another notch..

"Dated" is a very loose word. I always choose a more "mature" router, rather then the newest for our 200 Mbps connection. Almost every device in the OPs home can not use any higher technology and if he could, would never notice a difference in speed under 400 Mbps connection. If anything the reason I choose "mature" products is because of the above, bugs worked out of the device, solid reviews over time.

I did that with the TPlink AC 1700 C7 back around 2016 as well, great router, still working when I replaced it, but I like to replace about every 4 years as almost a maintenance thing, so at 70 to $90 every 4 years, I end up with a well performing mature product and not the latest sales gimmick for companies to sell more expensive products. BTW, explaining to you, not debating or disagreeing. The OP has under 20 Wifi devices and what I think I read no where near GB internet speeds. I have 28 Wifi devices with 18 active at any one time and loving this router.
I was very hesitant to buy it at first, knowing it was a one only Lenovo product but Lenovo was pushing "range" in their advertising which is what I wanted in our 3000 sq ft home, figured I could always return it. I suspect anyone like the OP who buys it will be very impressed as well.

Anyway, like I posted, for $100 nothing will beat the range of the MR2600 in the price range and that in itself will give him the speed he has with his ISP and on Amazon the DIR882 is $130

Anyway, really good post, Im glad to see another manufacturer with, assuming you are correct, the same board inside. Guess it doesnt matter which came first the Chicken or the Egg *LOL*
Much electronics including TVs are made to order by outside contractors, some, might take the word rebadged in a negative light, to me, just learning about it just means its that more refined by whoever is producing it and a great price (translated = I feel like comparing it to the DIR882 or 2640 just stepped it up a notch in my mind)... but most of all I use the MR2600, been computing for 25 years now on a home network and have some creditably in my posts on how well it works.
 
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The MR2600 is rather clearly a rebadged DIR-882, which is not a bad chipset at all but it is becoming dated (note that D-Link themselves rebadged the DIR-882 to become the "new model" DIR-2640).

For $99 I'd buy a Belkin RT3200, with the caveat to run OpenWrt on it since the Belkin firmware is reportedly really bad. Which brings up the point that for a home router, a non-technical consumer is buying into the firmware and the user interface as much as they are hardware.

There are not too much "difference" between different chipsets these days. It used to be smaller companies will use lesser chips that get retired and firmware no longer maintained (security patch, bug fixes) but now basically you are deciding between MediaTek, Broadcom, Atheros / Qualcomm. For the lower end units for lower speed they won't notice much differences other than 2/3 antennas or features like mesh compatibility.

Open source router firmware sometimes have limitation that they no longer use some of the hardware accelerated features on the chipsets (forgot which one) and that slow things down.
 
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Holy crud at this point I don't care if AX is backward compatible or not. I just set up my AX router and internet speeds are double what they were an hour ago.
Were you handicapped by your old router and you couldn't reach the advertised speed of your internet? Or was your range not enough and your connection reduced speed to a point it is not reaching the advertised speed?

I upgraded a few years ago because my N router won't pass through ceiling / floor well with N, I think the AC's beam forming fixed it with the 3 antenna.
 

paulri

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Well looks like you two (Panda & alarmguy) liked too soon. I decided to return it this afternoon. ☹️

Kept on dropping the connection for my laptop--sometimes it would go back on in a minute, other times it would require rebooting the router. Downgraded the firmware, tried troubleshooting with chat tech support on netgear, but to no avail.

Netgear forums did have a few folks complaining of this, with other netgear router models, repeatedly over months & many firmware updates, so I decided not to push my luck rebooting and reinstalling firmware updates and what not, past the 90 day return window.

At any rate, I went back to Linksys and found that when buying from the linksys site, they would give you 90 days to return a new router bought directly from them. With finicky electronic parts like routers, I definitely want the extra time. So I got this, it is AC (and not AX) but it will still be an upgrade over my current Linksys E1200 (n wireless).



Netgear RAX35, "amazon renewed" so I get 90 days to return it instead of 30.
 

paulri

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It was the capability of the router itself. my laptop is several feet away from the router, with no walls or any other obstacles, so range wasn't the issue.

Were you handicapped by your old router and you couldn't reach the advertised speed of your internet? Or was your range not enough and your connection reduced speed to a point it is not reaching the advertised speed?

I upgraded a few years ago because my N router won't pass through ceiling / floor well with N, I think the AC's beam forming fixed it with the 3 antenna.
 
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Well looks like you two (Panda & alarmguy) liked too soon. I decided to return it this afternoon. ☹️

Kept on dropping the connection for my laptop--sometimes it would go back on in a minute, other times it would require rebooting the router. Downgraded the firmware, tried troubleshooting with chat tech support on netgear, but to no avail.

Netgear forums did have a few folks complaining of this, with other netgear router models, repeatedly over months & many firmware updates, so I decided not to push my luck rebooting and reinstalling firmware updates and what not, past the 90 day return window.

At any rate, I went back to Linksys and found that when buying from the linksys site, they would give you 90 days to return a new router bought directly from them. With finicky electronic parts like routers, I definitely want the extra time. So I got this, it is AC (and not AX) but it will still be an upgrade over my current Linksys E1200 (n wireless).
At least yours started doing that within the warranty period unlike mine. The Linksys should serve you well. OpenWRT is available for that if you’re interested in that kind of thing, I’m running Merlin on my Asus because it has better QoS than the stock Asus QoS.
 
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