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As we get deeper into the online world, the internet needs get demanding and quests for finding best wifi routers turn into quests for finding the best mesh routers. Due to their node to node extension of links, mesh routers do not need the traditional range or wifi extenders. Therefore they are able to create a stronger spread of signals that resembles a mesh.
So here we are with a list of the best mesh WiFi routers for you. The list covers a range of price points, but keep in mind that you won’t be spending anything less than a 100 dollars for a satisfactory set of nodes. On the high end, the most notorious mesh routers can cost as high as $400 like a couple of LinkSys, NetGear Orbi, and Asus models.
Best Mesh WiFi Routers of 2019
While there are certain models like NetGear Orbi that have a greater resonance among mesh wifi users, a number of other companies are coming up with their mesh network devices. Some, like Google WiFi, are more likely to become trendsetters in this newly developing range of products.
Things to consider before buying a Mesh WiFi Router
Almost all of the best mesh routers being sold these days come packing MU-MIMO (multiple in, multiple out) functionalities. Using the new routing technique, the mesh system is able to consistently divide packets among all devices. This overcomes the packet load problems that were created when, if the users were in the same room together and were all using wifi, all packets will be sent to all devices. This would be done by sending each packet to each device individually, resulting in slower performance.
With MU-MIMO the router is able to send a set of packets to each device at the same time, instead of one at a time. This gives us a much stronger network with speedier performance.
Single/Multi Bandwidth Choice
You know that there can be a 2.4GHz band as well as a 5GHz band. And not all mesh router systems have dual bandwidth. The question here is, should you settle for just one? The idea behind getting a mesh system instead of the standard wifi routers is to create no-compromise internet access. In order to get the best possible performance, you should not opt out of a dual bandwidth router.
Features for Setup and Usage
In order to rid you of the rather complicated process of setting up a bare-bones Wi-Fi network, brands now include smartphone apps. This way you can easily configure the mesh router from your own device with much less hassle than usual.
Other than this, there are a number of advanced features that a high-end router is expected to have. However, mesh router makers in their attempt to make things simpler to use, do not always include those advanced configurations. For instance, you will have to search for models that have things like port forwarding, QoS and parental controls. Nonetheless, keep in mind that you should look for only the things you need.
Best Overall Mesh Wifi Router
NetGear Orbi RBK50
Premium features deliver strong performance.
While there are other options offering similar or somewhat stronger results in terms of bands, throughput etc, the infamous NetGear Orbi is comparatively affordable and by far provides a very strong cover to large homes.
- WiFi: 802.11ac/Tri-Band
- Number of Antennas: 6x Non-Removable
- Ports: 4x 1-Gbps LAN, 1x USB 2.0
- Peak Throughput: 552.1 Mbps
- Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.7 x 3.1 inches
Traditional wifi routers and even some of the basic mesh systems tend to loose speed over longer distances and multiple simultaneous users. In order to counter this, the NetGear Orbi is using MU-MIMO technology for multiple signal transfers to multiple devices at the same time.
Even setting it up isn’t a hassle, most of the work is auto set and with the added guest networking support, makes it even more flexible once setup. This is an AC3000 mesh system that operates on a tri-band, which means you will not have any issues coverage or bandwidth allocation to a greater number of users. You’re talking about 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 866Mbps on the 5GHz band theoretical. The third band is dedicated to the hub to satellite communications at a 5GHz band reaching 1733Mbps.
The NetGear Orbi follows the same pattern that most of the mesh systems do. There is a main router and then there are individual satellites. You can opt for a larger number of satellites on most of the cases if need be. Another thing that it does better than the Google WiFi is LAN connections. There are at least seven ports (four on each satellite, three on the hub), for greater connectivity.
The router piece also has a USB port as well as a WAN port. A similar setup, apart from the WAN port, exists on each of the satellite. By now you would have figured out where this is going. What with all the oomph in terms of ports, and superior aesthetic elements, the product doesn’t come at a small price tag. It isn’t cheap, but the premium never is. However, the size of the devices might be a genuine concern for some of the buyers.
If there had to be one product to prove style and power can go hand in hand, it would be the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD mesh WiFi setup. Featuring a touchscreen LCD, aesthetically superior designing, as well as high throughput peaking at 534Mbps down, the AmpliFi HD is one of the strongest performers. The problem is in the design of its nodes and the lack of work done on software assistance.
Best Budget Wifi Mesh System
Highly secure and easy to set up
Being one of the earliest players in mesh networks, Google has learnt the key to a good mesh router is affordability and ease of use. Not everyone wants to get bogged down by complicated setup processes, after all!
- WiFi: 802.11ac/Dual-Band
- Number of Antennas: 4x Non-Removable
- Ports: 2x 1-Gbps LAN
- Peak Throughput: 464.4 Mbps
- Dimensions: 4.1 x 4.1 x 2.7 inches
Despite being the cheapest of the lot that we tested, Google WiFi is a class of its own. The mesh router is pretty strong for other similarly priced standalone products. And for larger homes you could always opt for the 3-Pack. Whichever pack you buy, the fact remains that it is one of the best looking mesh units that will only add to your home’s aesthetic sense.
The maximum throughput reached by Google WiFi isn’t the highest among competitors. In fact, its 464.4 Mbps is beat easily by Netgear Orbi at 549.93 Mbps, and Eero Mesh Wi-Fi Router at 573.7 Mbps. Once you have brought the device home, setup is almost an automatic process involving smart mechanisms like QR scanning and using an app for setup.
Moreover, the security systems put in place by Google are to reckon with. Using the Infineon Trusted Platform Module (TPM), the units are regularly updated with security improvements. It is essentially the extensively designed companion app that you are able to control things like individual clients’ access to the internet, guest networking, LED lighting and so on.
Nonetheless, the Google WiFi is limiting in a couple of aspects too. For starters, if you are only using one unit, its range is going to be fairly limited. For any living arrangement over 1500 square feet, you will need at least two of these. Additionally, many of us live with kids that need parental controls over WiFi. Sadly, there are none in this case – just like there are no USB ports.
ALTERNATIVE BUDGET PICK:
Although we have selected the Google WiFi as out top budget mesh wifi router system, the TP-Link Deco M5 is even cheaper with a pair selling for 180 bucks or less. If you can live without a web interface as well as dedicated bands, the TP-Link mesh router has quite a sturdy repute of high performance. It also has the missing parental controls of Google WiFi, although the accompanying mobile app isn’t as great.
Premium price, premium performance!
Another tri-band mesh wifi system; but it costs even more than the NetGear Orbi RBK50 above. Whether you are testing single user performance or its MU-MIMO capabilities, the Linksys Velop is also a strong competitor.
- WiFi: 802.11ac/Tri-Band
- Number of Antennas: 6x Non-Removable
- Ports: 2x 1-Gbps LAN
- Peak Throughput: 527.1 Mbps
- Dimensions: 3.0 x 3.0 x 7.5 inches
Sleekly designed with state of the art build quality, the Linksys Velop looks good, does good. It has MU-MIMO enabled which means the better spread of bandwidth when multiple users sit together. The throughput calculated was also over 500 Mbps which is fairly high. And the company promises strongest single network connections all over large spaces.
Then there is a highly professional companion app that introduces features like parental controls when you aren’t around. You can also use the app to set up guest networking without compromising on security thanks to its WEP, WPA2 protocols, and even set up device prioritization among multiple users.
On the flipside, however, there have been rare reports of certain inconsistencies in signal strength. But in all honesty, the three towers are sufficient to cover an area of about 6000 square feet. And it could just have been due to misplacement of the satellites. Since all the towers have ports, you can link them and create a daisy chain connection. This furthers the length at which you can push strong signals away from the hub.
So part of the reason why you’d still spend so much on one of the best wifi mesh networks is the ease of use. If you are like us, you’d probably not even venture out to mesh systems yet; traditional routing requires the know how, but if you have it, why spend so much extra just because its setup process is made for even kids to handle.
Eero Home Wifi Mesh Set
One of the pioneers!
The Eero Home Wifi Mesh system consists of a similar setup as the NetGear Orbi or the Linksys Velop. There is one hub router and two nodes (branded as Beacons) included in the 3-pack. While these cost a fortune, the peace of mind is all worth it.
- WiFi: 802.11ac/Dual-Band
- Number of Antennas: 5x Non-Removable
- Ports: 2x 1-Gbps LAN, 1x USB 2.0
- Peak Throughput: 573.7 Mbps
- Dimensions: 4.8 x 4.8 x 1.3 inches
Ever since the crowdfunding, Eero has been regarded as one of the best choices you have. The entire package is enough for the biggest houses, and if not, you can always add extra nodes. Don’t live in a large 5000+ square feet house? No worries, you can always get your hands on the 2-pack that has one Eero and one Eero Beacon.
In comparison to the other notable names, Eero Beacons aren’t as strong as NetGear Orbi. They are incomparably compact too! However, Eero makes up for the speed reduction by giving us a fully loaded experience. You get a very well designed companion app, impressive family use features, and even creative placements.
For instance, there is the infamous “internet pause” feature that is now being replicated by many of the competing brands. There also are features like a family filter and internet filtering layers that block off unwanted content. That said, while the devices are compact, there is one available Ethernet pot that you can use for a wired connection as well. Couple this with how impressively the satellites can multi-hop signals between themselves ensures high speeds no matter where you are in the home.
Lastly, Amazon has bought Eero recently and the second gen of their WiFi technology has also been launched. The company promises two times the speeds of the original Eero, which is a welcome upgrade. Another rare complaint that also seems to have been dealt with is Apple devices. Some people complained of connectivity issues with devices made by Apple, previously. But in the recent test runs nothing of that sorts came up. Eero home mesh system sounds as good as it comes!
The Bottom Line
Mesh routers are becoming commonplace with every passing day which means they will soon lose their exclusivity charm. And rightly so, because a mesh WiFi network is always stronger than our traditional routers. However, currently, these devices aren’t cheap so it makes sense to do proper research first as a number of brands are still in their experimental stages. Make sure you don’t overspend though.
The best router is that which covers your entire house physically and not paper. And if you look at the top three strong contenders i.e. NetGear Orbi, Linksys Velop, and Eero Home Wifi System, they all boast over 1000 square feet coverage for each of their nodes, to say the least. Keep the size of your home in mind because that is the only way you can spend intelligently here and then save some money.