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Wireless Reviews

Capacity

Our Wi-Fi System capacity test uses three 2x2 AC clients, one connected to each node of three node systems. Traffic is then run to all three clients simultaneously and throughput measured for each traffic pair. A 2.4 GHz client is connected to the root node and 5 GHz to the others.

The Capacity bar chart shows total throughput for the three test clients in each direction. Since previous tests have shown low backhaul capacity, I wouldn't expect Lyra to do very well in this test and it doesn't. It came in dead last in both directions.

Wi-Fi System Capacity

Wi-Fi System Capacity

In fact, Lyra struggled with this test and I had to run it multiple times. In the end, I failed to get a complete 30 minute run on either up or downlink tests.

The next plots compare Lyra and eero Gen 2 at each node. Neither product does as well as you might expect, given that they both have an extra 5 GHz radio for more backhaul flexibility. The low throughput at Hop 1 and 2 nodes is puzzling, since the root node is being loaded with only 2.4 GHz traffic.

Wi-Fi System Capacity by Test Case - downlink

Wi-Fi System Capacity by Test Case - downlink

Uplink detail shows virtually no throughput available at the Hop 2. A trickle of traffic did flow, however. Otherwise the test would not have run.

Wi-Fi System Capacity by Test Case - uplink

Wi-Fi System Capacity by Test Case - uplink

We can also see throughput changes over the course of the tests. Hop 1 throughput falls precipitously around 2 minutes into the test and never recovers and Hop 2 never gets much throughput at all. The octoScope Pal client reports RSSI and transmit and receive link rates for each test point and there is no obvious change seen there. So the drop must be due to a change in the backhaul link, whose statistics we can't monitor. Both Hop 1 and 2 throughput fall to zero at the end of the test run, so I can't tell which one is responsible for ending the test.

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - Downlink

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - Downlink

Uplink shows better Hop1 behavior until the end of the plot. Hop 2 again gets very little throughput. Note this test ran only just under 5 minutes.

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - Uplink

Wi-Fi System Capacity vs. time - Uplink

Closing Thoughts

It's not like the first Wi-Fi Systems sprang fully formed into the marketplace. They all had their growing pains as system designers learned how multi-node systems performed in the real world and tuned their software to improve system performance. But those first systems now have more than a year of experience behind them and market share positions have been staked out. So newcomers have to hit the ground running and deliver as good, if not better performance to win buyers.

The good news is ASUS chose to include a third radio in Lyra. Mesh-based Wi-Fi systems need all the flexibility they can get when it comes to managing backhaul and a third radio opens up more options. Unfortunately, ASUS hasn't endowed Lyra with the intelligence to effectively use all three radios to maximize throughput delivered to devices.

Even more curious is why ASUS would be trying to kill Lyra in the cradle by running a public beta test of its AMAS (ASUS Multiple Access-Point System).

ASUS is also taking its usual incremental approach with Lyra. If ASUS hews true to form, they will issue multiple firmware updates to fix bugs and try to improve performance. Some may help. Some may not. However, ASUS won't have metrics from systems in the field to help guide Wi-Fi management algorithm development.

Those who are paranoid about networking products that require companion cloud services may think Lyra is a better product for not having one. But when its competition like eero and Google do have cloud systems constantly monitoring system Wi-Fi metrics, they can have a big advantage in making informed decisions about what to tweak. If you want to learn about what can be learned from Wi-Fi system metrics, you should look at the lessons Google has learned.

In case you haven't figured out from the performance analysis above and last place ranking in the Wi-Fi System Ranker, I'm not recommending Lyra. I will revisit the product in a few months, however, to see if a firmware update or two (or three) turns my frown upside down.

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