Alien additional 5Ghz radio best practices
I have some general questions about best use cases for the "additional 5Ghz radio" feature of the new Alien. Currently, I have a single Alien covering my house with 12-15 clients (mostly Wi-Fi 5 and a couple lower). During setup, 2 Windows 10 PCs were unable to see the network. Enabling "Router additional ssid - 5Ghz" solved this problem. Since then, I also connected an Android tablet to this SSID because it seemed to prefer connecting to the 2.4 band, and getting very slow speeds in turn. No issues since.
Overall, I've been pleased with the performance (top speeds are excellent and connections have been stable); however, I've noticed slightly higher pings and my Buffer Bloat score at DSLR reports has gone from an A with an Asus TMO 1900 AC router to a B on the Alien. I was expecting these results to be the same or better given how much more powerful the tech is inside.
Based on the following sentence from the alien product page, "Alien also offers a separate 5 GHz radio with Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) speeds which you can dedicate to performance-critical devices and avoid competing for bandwidth with other devices on your home network." I've been considering enabling the additional 5Ghz radio setting, and using it as a dedicated gaming connection--e.g. Xbox; however, another post in this forum stated that the additional radio should only really be used for connection issues and to let the Alien optimize the network. This information conflicts a bit with the promotional material. At the very least it makes things confusing.
Typical network usage may include streaming Netflix, smart speaker streaming music, Wi-Fi calling, web browsing, gaming, etc. Usually a few of these at the same time. Pretty standard. Overall, the Alien has performed quite well in my short time with it, but it is a high priced item with a lot of interesting tech inside so I'd like to maximize its performance. Gaming in particular can be tough to judge as there are so many variables in play outside of your network.
Therefore, long story short: can I expect that enabling the additional radio option will maximize gaming performance while maintaining general network performance, or does leaving it off result in the most optimized network?
@rich-galen Thank you for sharing in such great detail. You bring up a very good point, all this data can get confusing and conflict with each other. I will say, that one of the benefits to having all of these options available was to match the potential needs for any network configuration the AmpliFi Alien will face. Which means that for most, applications they will never be needed and finding the right time to use them can be tricky.
Testing each configuration in your home and your specific environment will be the best way to determine ultimately which configuration is right for you. But after reading your post I feel like in your situation the best configuration may just be to enable the Additional Radio (Not additional SSID) and connect a few of your devices that require 5Ghz there and run your tests again.