Boosting your WiFi just got easier. After researching over 50 top WiFi Mesh Systems available on the market, we bought the 10 most compelling models to test head-to-head and rank to help you find the best. We rated and scored the ease of use of each system and evaluated the different features and functions they offer. We thoroughly tested the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz throughput, along with the WiFi range by streaming movies as far away from the router as we could get. Read on to see which system delivered the best range performance and seamless connection experience, which is the easiest to get up and running, and which option has the most features.
Claimed Coverage for 3 Units: 5800 sq. ft. | Wired Backhaul: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to install
REASONS TO AVOID
Minimal QoS options
For a top-tier WiFi Mesh System to extend the range of your network, the TP-Link Deco X20 is a champ. This mesh system is exceptionally easy to set up, and its companion app offers all the features we could ask for. You can monitor your network status, check the placement of satellite nodes, and set up parental controls to limit network access or block content. The router and nodes are minimal and sleek, with 2 WAN/LAN ports on the back of each for hardwired devices or for setting up wired Ethernet backhaul. This system is also WiFi 6-compatible, making it more future-proof than other routers in this review. It performed fairly well in our range test, and you should get solid data throughput for streaming or gaming with this AX1800 router. We also like that this system is expandable with additional nodes and compatible with other TP-Link Deco models if you need additional coverage.
We weren't overly impressed with this system's QoS. While we were pleased to see it included, the options were lacking. The system only allows you to prioritize upload and download speeds. All things considered, this is an excellent performing unit that won't break the bank.
Claimed Coverage for 2 Units: 5500 sq. ft. | Wired Backhaul: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
High maximum throughput
Great for Google-based smart homes
REASONS TO AVOID
Not WiFi 6 compatible
The Google Nest WiFi Router system is a great choice for those seeking a premium WiFi mesh system for a Google-based smart home. Compatible with both Google WiFi and Google Nest Points, you can mix and match to get the perfect network for your needs and the layout of your home. We tested using a trio of Google Nest Routers and saw some of the best ranges in line with their impressively high claimed coverage area. This system should also have enough data throughput for most users, allowing you to get the most of the bandwidth you pay for. The routers are sleek and discreet enough to blend into the background, with each node having a pair of gigabit ports for any hardwired connection or wired backhaul. You also have plenty of features in the Google Home app, allowing you to optimize your network, blacklist devices, or filter content — even allowing you voice control over your network using the Google Assistant.
Unfortunately, this system is not WiFi 6 compatible. This might be concerning if you're looking to future-proof your home or have a number of devices that run off of WiFi 6. However, we've found that many devices are still not WiFi 6 capable. So, if you don't plan on immediately upgrading to WiFi 6-capable devices, this might not be a problem. Despite this somewhat minor flaw, we wholeheartedly recommend this system to anyone who wants the best without breaking the bank.
Claimed Coverage for 2 Units: 6000 sq. ft. | Wired Backhaul: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
This WiFi mesh system has all the bells and whistles, with WiFi 6 compatibility, MU-MIMO, and OFDMA, the Linksys Atlas Pro 6 is one of the most future-proof products in our lineup. The system is easily set up through the Linksys app, which walks you through the process step-by-step. The app includes great features like parental controls, WiFi settings, and device prioritization. This mesh system was one of the best performers in our lineup, leading the group in our range test. We were able to walk an impressive 160 feet away from the router before our video began to buffer. This system is impressive and will tackle almost anything you throw at it. Whether that be streaming movies, gaming, or working from home, this system will have you covered. The sleek tower-like design will blend into its surroundings and includes 4 WAN/LAN ports for Ethernet backhaul.
This system is on the expensive side, a factor to consider if you aren't planning on using any of its advanced features or aren't likely to get a whole lot of WiFi 6-capable devices anytime soon. Overall, this contender is one of the best available options, especially for anyone looking to extend their WiFi coverage and exercise more control over their network.
Claimed Coverage for 2 Units: 5500 sq. ft. | Wired Backhaul: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
The ASUS ZenWiFi (XT8) is a top-notch mesh system with superb advanced features. It is the only product in our lineup that has a computer-based setup option. Through the app, our system was up and running after three simple steps. ASUS incorporates AiMesh technology into these routers. This advanced feature ensures dead zones are eliminated by creating a seamless network throughout the entire home. AiMesh is easily set up through the app or PC, where more advanced features can be controlled. We were particularly impressed with the QoS. The system has three types of QoS: adaptive QoS, traditional QoS, and a bandwidth limiter for uploading and downloading. We specifically enjoyed the adaptive QoS, with options to prioritize specific tasks like gaming, streaming, work, education, and more. The system is WiFi 6-compatible with MU-MIMO and OFDMA, giving you the peace of mind that your home is future-proof. Additionally, the ZenWiFi is the gold standard when it comes to parental controls. This includes options like creating profiles, blocking sites or apps, filtering content, and creating schedules.
The ZenWiFi performed about average in everything other than our ease of use test. For such a pricey product, we would have liked to see it do a bit better in our throughput metrics. All told, the system did well and will provide enough throughput for most households. The product had the best features and ease of installation out of our lineup, which we feel is worth the investment.
For this review, we researched over 50 top WiFi mesh systems available on the market before purchasing the 10 most compelling models to test head-to-head and rank. We identified the key metrics essential to grading a WiFi mesh system. Then, we carried out a series of tests for each of the routers in our lineup. We spent hours measuring and evaluating the 2.4 GHz throughput, 5 GHz throughput, range, and ease of use.
Our testing of WiFi routers is comprised of four rating metrics:
2.4 GHz Throughput (35% of overall score weighting)
5 GHz Throughput (35% weighting)
Range (20% weighting)
Ease of Use (10% weighting)
Our WiFi mesh system review was conducted by Matt Spencer and Becca Glades. This team brings a unique set of skills into this category. Matt is an avid tech user and gamer. He knows the ins and outs of computer systems and has tested everything from traditional WiFi routers to gaming headsets. Becca is formally trained in software engineering. She understands the importance of speedy internet in all nooks and crannies of the building, as working from home is the new normal. You can rest assured that this team has thoroughly tested and inspected each WiFi mesh system to ensure our readers are making the most informed purchase possible.
Analysis and Test Results
To capture all aspects of a WiFi mesh system's performance, we created four different test metrics: 2.4 GHz Throughput, 5 GHz Throughput, Range, and Ease of Use. We highlighted standout performances for each metric in the sections below and any products that we found particularly lackluster.
There are many WiFi mesh systems to choose from with various price points. We found that some of the pricier models, like the Linksys Atlas Pro 6 and ASUS ZenWiFi, included connectivity features like WiFi 6 compatibility, MU-MIMO, and OFDMA. They also had advanced QoS, parental controls, and more. Some of the cheaper options don't include these future-proof features, though they might not be necessary for you depending on the devices you plan on connecting. Many devices aren't yet using WiFi 6, so the need for this feature isn't yet crucial. However, this advancement allows more devices to simultaneously use the network. The Google Nest WiFi is a budget option that did a great job in our tests and includes features like parental controls, device prioritization, and more. However, this device isn't WiFi 6 compatible, a feature worth considering if you'd like to stay ahead of the game.
2.4 GHz Throughput
Most homes will have dead spots or zones. Often, these areas are located behind walls or furniture. WiFi mesh systems aim to eliminate all dead zones by creating a blanket of WiFi over the entire house. To test this, we assessed the 2.4 GHz throughput in various locations with and without obstructions.
We started nine feet away with an unobstructed path. Then, we obstruct the path with a wall. We repeated this test at 35 feet and 70 feet. We did not test the unobstructed path at 70 feet as most buildings don't have rooms that are 70 feet long without some sort of barrier.
Our overall top performer in this category was the TP-Link Deco X20.
The TP-Link's speed stayed consistently high through the nine-foot tests, both obstructed and unobstructed, until the 35-foot obstructed point.
At this location, the speed dropped slightly but remained higher than the average. The TP-Link Deco M5 followed closely behind with exceptionally fast throughput.
The TP-Link Deco X20 also dropped in speed at the 70-foot mark but remained higher than most.
The Amazon Eero WiFi System also did well in most of our tests. At the nine-foot point, it did exceptionally well with speeds up to 129 Mbps. It also did above average at the 35-foot point. However, speeds quickly dropped off to nearly inexistent at the 70-foot mark. The Linksys Atlas Pro 6 landed just behind the Eero, with slightly above-average speeds throughout.
5 GHz Throughput
Our throughput tests were aimed at testing connectivity and speeds in different locations. We made sure to test the throughput behind barriers like walls, as this is often where dead spots or slower speeds occur. Mesh systems work to eliminate these dead spots, providing reliable and powerful speed throughout.
Our tests for the 5 GHz throughput were largely the same as the 2.5 GHz throughput test. We assessed the internet speeds at 9, 35, and 70 feet. Additionally, we obstructed the path at each location with walls to see an accurate representation of the speeds on the 5 GHz band.
The Netgear Orbi and Linksys Atlas Pro 6 lead the pack in this metric. The Linksys Atlas Pro did extremely well, with the best far-range speeds at 129 Mbps.
The TP-Link Deco X20 and Google Nest WiFi finished closely behind. The Deco X20 did an exceptional job with our short-range test, with speeds around 360 Mbps.
The Google Nest started with slightly above-average speeds at nine feet but did great at mid to long-range distances.
As expected, the Linksys Atlas Pro 6 did exceptionally well in our 70-foot obstructed tests, coming out on top at 119 Mbps.
The Netgear Orbi did well overall, with speeds consistently above 300 Mbps. Only at the 70-foot obstructed point did the speeds drop, but they remained above average.
We conducted a test to get an accurate depiction of the range of each system. We pulled the same video on 1080p and played it on both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands for each mesh system. We simply moved away from the router in 10-foot increments, noting the point at which the video began to buffer. We rated and compared these distances for each of the mesh routers. While most performed well, a few had a standout performance.
Overall, we were the most impressed with the Linksys Atlas Pro 6. We were able to stream our movie on the 2.4 GHz channel until the 100-foot mark, at which point buffering began. We lost connection to the router before buffering occurred at 160 feet while on the 5 GHz band. The TP-Link Deco X20 also had a standout performance. On the 2.4 GHz band, our video began buffering at 100 feet, whereas the 5 GHz band held out to 110 feet.
The ASUS ZenWifi, Google Nest WiFi, and Netgear Orbi also did well. The ASUS began buffering 90 feet away from the router on both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. The Google Nest and Netgear Orbi scored the same, buffering at 80 feet on 2.4 GHz and 100 feet on 5 GHz.
Finishing at the end was the Eero WiFi System. At 70 feet, the video would load. However, anytime we tried to advance, the video would begin buffering. This was the case for both 2.4 and 5 GHz bands.
Ease of Use
For this metric, we first assessed the simplicity of the installation. Almost all of these systems require a mobile app to be downloaded for the setup. These apps also control the mesh system, so we rated their user-friendliness as well. We then looked into the features included with these systems. Many include advanced functions like parental controls, device prioritization, guest networks, and additional WiFi settings.
The TP-Link models — the Deco M5, Deco X20, and the Deco S4 — are some of the quickest and easiest to set up. These contenders use the Deco app, which is dedicated solely to setting up and managing your network with these routers. Once you set up the initial node, adding additional nodes is very easy. The app gives you ideas about potential placements and can usually automatically detect the routers after you plug them in and they have time to turn on. You can also check your arrangement and ensure it's good once the nodes are connected. However, we usually had to update the firmware with the TP-Link models before they were good to go.
We found the Linksys Atlas Pro 6 and the Google Nest WiFi the next easiest to set up. They follow a very similar process to the TP-Link routers, with guided prompts walking you through the process. Like the ASUS ZenWiFi, this system includes parental controls and QoS. The Nest's controls are incorporated into the Google Home app. This is convenient for those who already have Google smart homes as everything can be controlled in one place.
Finishing at the back of the group, the Meshforce M3S was our least favorite to set up. You need to plug in this router, connect using the factory default SSID and password on the router's base, and start the initial configuration using the MyMesh app. This app just seemed to be a bit clunky to us and took us about twice as long as the TP-Link X20 or the Deco M5.
Having spotty WiFi coverage can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you're working remotely from your home office, gaming, or streaming. We hope this has been a helpful comparison of all the top WiFi mesh systems currently available and has been beneficial for your quest for a better network. All of these routers will increase the usable area of your WiFi network. Still, if you are trying to get the fastest internet possible, it may be worth checking with your ISP about upgrading your service or updating your modem, as even the best router can't improve on a bottleneck caused by your modem or provider.
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