What is the best mesh router overall?
Mesh Wi-Fi routers have a significant impact on all aspects of our digital lives. For the majority of people, we advise mesh Wi-Fi routers, and we’ve put together this buying guide to assist you in choosing the router that’s best for you.
Anyone creating a smart home or seeking the best experience when streaming music and videos at home need a wireless router. Consider installing a mesh network, which consists of a Wi-Fi router and one or more satellite nodes, if you frequently encounter low wireless throughput or dead spots in specific areas of your home. This will provide coverage for the entire house. Without satellite nodes, you can deploy mesh Wi-Fi routers, but you won’t be able to take advantage of the main advantages that mesh technology offers.
Our Best Mesh Wi-Fi Recommendations
– Best mesh Wi-Fi system: Netgear Orbi RBK50
– best mesh Wi-Fi system for the price: TP-Link Deco M5
– The Samsung SmartThings mesh Wi-Fi system is the best for smart homes. In a market that is evolving quickly, ease-of-use requirements are changing easily and quickly. A dynamic market is produced by innovation, but chaos is also produced. Traditional router manufacturers Linksys and Netgear have joined forces to take on newcomers Google and Eero. Innovation always belongs to the challenger.
Later, we’ll talk about the aspects of the mesh Wi-Fi system to take into account. It also defines a number of technical terms that are important to understand when selecting a router.
– Latest revision: October 11, 2019 There is now a review of the Samsung SmartThings WiFi router. Although it’s not the strongest mesh router available, it is more than worthwhile if you want a simple smart home hub and don’t require a high-end, expensive router.
Best mesh wifi system, Orbi RBK50
The Netgear dedicated 4×4, 1,733 Mbps transfer rate, which is utilized for data backhaul between the router and the satellite, is the key to the Orbi RBK50’s success. One satellite is included with the RBK50, providing coverage for 5,000 square feet (464 square meters).
Additionally, you have a lot of flexibility in connecting various ports to your network thanks to the Orbi router’s built-in 3-port Ethernet switch (the satellite has a 4-port switch). You can use an older Ethernet-only A/V receiver in an entertainment center, a NAS for media streaming and data backup, or a networked printer without Wi-Fi.
The Orbi Outdoor satellites and smart speakers (Orbi Voice, which works with virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa) can be used to extend Orbi networks. The Orbi device, on the other hand, is one of the priciest mesh Wi-Fi devices available, and the RBK50 kit in particular boasts obscene performance in compact areas.
Runner-up: Like Netgear’s Orbi RBK50 kit, the Linksys Velop is a tri-band router that dedicates one of three Wi-Fi networks to data backhaul.
Velop, however, dynamically chooses less crowded channels as opposed to Netgear’s offerings. The Velop’s weak maximum data backhaul speed of 867 Mbps, as opposed to the 1,766 Mbps of the Orbi RBK50 kit, is a drawback. A test home measuring 2,800 square feet (260 square meters) can be covered by the two Velop nodes. According to our review, it’s $75 cheaper than the 3-node kit we reviewed.
Best cost-effective mesh Wi-Fi system, TP-Link Deco M5
The Deco M5 from TP-Link is a dual-band Wi-Fi system that uses a radio frequency in the 2.5GHz band to operate one network and a frequency in the 5GHz band to operate a secTherefore, the Deco M5’s data backhaul must utilize the same bandwidth. This sets the Deco M5 apart from Linksys and Netgear’s robust tri-band mesh network products, which rely on dedicated backhaul networks. This sets the Deco M5 apart from Linksys and Netgear’s robust tri-band mesh network products, which rely on dedicated backhaul networks. In other words, you can spend less money by using the Deco M5.
Best Mesh WiFi System for Smart Home Enthusiasts
The Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi, like the Samsung Connect Home before it, isn’t the best mesh router available, but it is the best mesh router with a built-in smart home hub. It has Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth, and other features, allowing you to control any smart home device you can imagine.
– Runner-up: While SmartThings Wi-Fi supports both ZigBee and Z-Wave, TP-Link’s Deco M9 Plus is a mesh router that is superior to Samsung’s Connect Home but only works with ZigBee smart home devices. BeZ-Wave of that, was runner-up in this category. The system, which lacks an integrated smart home hub, is a tri-band system similar to top-tier Netgear and Linksys offerings. It is also the only system to use some of the 2.4 GHz frequency bands for data backhaul. While Amazon offers a 2-node product for $250, TP-Link provided us with a 3-node system for testing.
How to choose a mesh Wi-Fi router
There are a number of things to take into account when selecting a mesh Wi-Fi router. Here are some important considerations:
- Choose a mesh system that can completely cover your home or office after taking into account its size. Take into account elements that could impact signal strength and coverage, such as the number of floors, walls, and other obstructions.
- Performance: Seek out a mesh network with fast connectivity, preferably one that supports Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax), the most recent Wi-Fi standard. This guarantees faster speeds and improved performance, particularly if you connect multiple devices at once or take part in activities that consume a lot of bandwidth.
- Scalability: Take into account whether the mesh system can be easily expanded by including extra nodes or units as necessary. This is crucial if you have a bigger home or office or if you anticipate future growth.
- Easy Setup and Use: Search for a mesh system that offers a simple setup procedure, preferably via a mobile app or web-based interface. You should be able to connect and set up the mesh nodes with ease thanks to the setup’s simplicity.
- Check for strong security features like WPA3 encryption, automatic firmware updates, and integrated firewall and antivirus software. Make sure the mesh network your connected devices can access is secure.
- Brand Reputation and Customer Reviews: Examine the standing and feedback left by customers for various mesh router brands and models. Take into account user comments on dependability, customer service, and general satisfaction.
- Price: Establish a budget and contrast the costs of various mesh systems. Remember that more expensive models frequently provide better performance and more features, but there are also reasonably priced options available that can satisfy your needs.
- Consider any extra features that may be significant to you, such as parental controls, guest network support, smart home device integration, or support for virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
By taking into account these elements, you can choose the mesh Wi-Fi router system that best meets your unique needs.
Features and Terminology to Consider in Wi-Fi Routers
There are jargon terms you need to be aware of when looking for a new Wi-Fi router. The definitions of some of the most popular terms are listed alphabetically.
Wireless clients are automatically directed to the strongest access point (AP) that connects to the router and the Internet by mesh network routers that support AP steering.
an infrastructure that relays data packets from the router back to the Internet. The Netgear Orbi and Linksys Velop are two examples of tri-band mesh Wi-Fi systems that make use of a dedicated backhaul wireless network. The AP can be connected to the router using an Ethernet cable to set up a wired backhaul, but most people don’t want to drill a hole in the wall and run the cable through.
– Band steering
If a client device is a dual-band capable (dual-band clients have Wi-Fi adapters that can operate in either the 2.4 or 5GHz frequency bands), a router with band steering functionality can identify it. Dual-band clients are automatically connected by the router to less crowded networks, which are typically those using the 5GHz frequency band.
By concentrating radio signals so that more data reaches clients and less is emitted into the atmosphere, beamforming, an optional feature of the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard, increases wireless bandwidth utilization.
– Dual-band and tri-band
Dual-band Wi-Fi routers run two distinct networks for the less crowded 2.4GHz and 5GHz frequency bands. Some tri-band routers divide the 5GHz frequency band, running a third network on a different frequency channel while running a second network using one of the available channels. Other tri-band routers run separate networks on the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, as well as a third network using available frequencies on the 60GHz band. However, this technology has recently lost popularity.
– Ethernet ports
At least two gigabit or 100Mbps wired Ethernet ports must be present on the router. One connects to a broadband gateway (like a cable or DSL modem) using a wide area network (WAN). Another network, known as a LAN, links wired clients. Depending on which port is connected, some mesh Wi-Fi routers have auto-configuring ports that change from By attaching an Ethernet switch to one of the LAN ports, you can increase the number of Ethernet ports that are available on your network.
– Mesh Wi-Fi APs
Due to the fact that mesh Wi-Fi access points typically have two Ethernet ports, they can serve as wireless bridges for objects without Wi-Fi adapters. As an alternative, you can connect an Ethernet cable to the router at the other end of one of the AP’s ports to use it for data backhaul.
– Guest network
A virtual network called a guest network blocks access to virtual machines, such as guest computers, NAS devices, and other network clients, but permits access to the Internet.
– Mesh networks versus hub-and-spoke networks
Each wireless AP directly exchanges data packets with the router using a hub-and-spoke topology. A mesh network allows wireless access points to trade data packets with their closest AP neighbors until the packets reach the router (and vice versa). You can think of it in this situation as a fishing net.
– Multi-User MIMO (MU-MIMO)
Multi-user multi-input/multiple-output is referred to as MU-MIMO. MIMO is a technique for using a single radio channel to send and receive two or more data signals. This makes use of a method called spatial multiplexing. Client devices had to engage in round-robin communication with the router when it was first implemented. Although the switching happens imperceptibly quickly, it slows down the overall transfer rate. Single-User MIMO, or SU-MIMO, is what this is. MU-MIMO significantly increases transfer speeds by enabling multiple client devices to communicate with the router simultaneously and uninterruptedly. Both the router and the client must support MU-MIMO in order to use it.
– Parental controls
Children may find the Internet unpleasant and dangerous. In order to protect users, router-based parental controls place restrictions on both where and how they can browse the Internet. The amount of time that devices connected to the router can be online can also be restricted by these controls. Methods, processes, and results vary. I’ve yet to see a better system than having open and honest conversations with kids, but that’s just my personal opinion.
– QoS (Quality of Service)
QoS is a router’s ability to identify different types of data packets traveling through the network and then assign those packets a higher or lower priority. You can have your router give network traffic like streaming video or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls a higher priority than file downloads. For example, the former should not be allowed to be interrupted. It’s better to wait a little longer for a file to download than to watch a video that cuts in the middle.
– Spatial streams
A signal multiplexed in the MU-MIMO described above is called a spatial stream. The number of spatial streams that can be supported is determined according to the frequency of the router and the number of antennas. The method used to encode the data, combined with the channel’s bandwidth, determines how much data each stream fits. An 802.11ac router using channels that are 80 MHz wide can deliver about 433 Mbps of throughput per spatial stream. Spatial streams work in parallel, so it’s like adding lanes to a highway. Where a 2×2 802.11ac router (two spatial streams to transmit and two streams to receive) can deliver up to 867 Mbps of throughput, a 4×4 802.11ac router can deliver up to 1,733 Mbps. However, these are only theoretical numbers. Actual performance is not so high because protocol overhead and other factors are not considered.
Vendors typically sell 802.11ac routers and 802.11ac Wi-Fi client adapters by combining the throughput figures of each router’s network. A dual-band router that can deliver 400 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz frequency band and 867 Mbps on the 5 GHz frequency band can be described as an AC1300 router, with the sum of the two network throughputs rounded up. However, you cannot experience 1,300 Mbps or 1,267 Mbps throughput because you cannot connect and use 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz networks together.