So, what is MU-MIMO Wi-Fi? MU-MIMO (Multi User – Multiple In Multiple Out) is an enhanced version of the original MIMO technology. In a nutshell, it allows more than one client, normally up to four, to use MIMO technology at the same time.
MU-MIMO In Action – Multiple Spatial Streams Separated
Firstly, Let’s Explain MIMO
MIMO (Single User MIMO) was introduced into the Wireless N days of networking. Reflection was a big problem, particularly with indoor wireless networks. When Wi-Fi signals were transmitted, it was expected that the signals would reflect off walls, floors and furniture as they traveled on their path en route to the receiver. There was nothing that could be done about this, this is Mother Nature (or is that Mother Technology?!) in action.
When Wi-Fi signals reflect (or bounce) off materials, this causes the reflected signals to reflect at different angles until they eventually arrive at the receiver. The big problem with this is that these signals arrive out of sync (or in the world of Wi-Fi – “out of phase”) with the signals that traveled directly from transmitter to receiver without being reflected. This is because these signals had further to travel. It is commonly known as Multipath.
What MIMO does to combat the effects of reflection and out of phase signal, is to receive signals using two separated antennas. This is known as ‘antenna diversity’. The physical gap between the antennas meant that the multipath signals could be read on both antennas, and the one with the strongest signal was the trusted wave. This helped data throughput immensely.
The only downside with MIMO, is that only one client can benefit from it at any one time. Any other clients transmitting or receiving at the same time were not able to utilize MIMO. A shame…
MU-MIMO To The Rescue! (with some beamforming)
Up steps MU-MIMO Wi-Fi to the plate! As opposed to MIMO, MU-MIMO can serve multiple clients at the same time. With the help of beamforming, a router (or Wireless Access Point), can focus Wi-Fi signal in the direction of each client, simultaneously.
MU-MIMO can send each ‘spatial stream’ independently of each other (MIMO could only send all spatial stream to one client at a time), meaning that individual clients could pick up the benefits of higher throughput at the same time.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that each client gets superfast speeds, but the pool of bandwidth available is more efficiently used as multiple clients get a fairly larger chunk of the available throughput rather than just one client at a time having all the fun!
Recommended MU-MIMO Wi-Fi Routers
The Asus RT-AC87U uses MU-MIMO and has the following features:
- 2.4Gbps AC Speed – data rates up to 2.4Gigabits per second
- Superb Coverage – With 4×4 antenna design, MU-MIMO and beamforming (Ai Radar), the RT-AC87U is capable of covering a very wide area
- Processing Power – A main 1GHz dual core CPU, along with a second dual core CPU reserved totally for the 5GHz radio
- 2x USB Ports – a USB 3.0 and a USB 2.0 port for drive sharing and printing
- 5x Gigabit Ports – Four LAN ports and a Gbps WAN port
- 4x Adjustable Antennas – for manual tuning
- Quality of Service – make sure you get the most out of your network by prioritizing certain traffic types
Asus RT-AC87U MU-MIMO Router
Netgear Nighthawk X4
Another router we recommend is the Netgear Nighthawk X4. It has the following features:
- 2.33Gbps Wi-Fi – data rates upto 2.33Gbps
- Quad-Stream Architecture (4×4) – MU-MIMO & quad-stream combine to give awesome results
- Fast Processing – 1.4GHz dual core CPU
- Dynamic QoS – Prioritization is essential for a smooth running of your network. In steps Dynamic QoS to the rescue
- Storage Ports – At last! A router with TWO USB 3.0 ports, oh and an eSATA port thrown in for good measure!
- 4x Adjustable Antennas – move yuor antennas around to get the best coverage results for your home
- Beamforming – Coverage extended and more reliable
Netgear Nighthawk X4 MU-MIMO Router
Do you agree/disagree? Why not comment below and let us know what you think…
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