Mesh wireless networks, like our favorite kit from Eero, are the best way to rid your home of those dreaded dead spots where Wi-Fi can never seem to reach. Since they are also easy to set up and expandable to work in almost any home, they’re a popular way to do it! Here’s our pick of 2019’s best offerings to help you pick which works for you.
Best Overall: Eero home
Eero made one of the first consumer mesh Wi-Fi systems and the company keeps making them better with each revision. The current generation has the best blend of advanced networking features and "placeability" of any system available thanks to the small size of the Eero Beacon.
Eero uses a true tri-band mesh network to make sure the signal between every beacon and the devices attached is fast and routed in the most efficient way. A dedicated communication band between units keeps the traffic flowing and you’ll enjoy lower latency and the fastest connection possible. And it’s all done using small, easy to place beacons connected to a slightly larger base that connects to your cable modem.
- Can use an unlimited amount of beacons
- Dedicated communication and backhaul radio
- Beacons are small and easy to place
- Easy setup
- Great Android and iOS app
- Beacons have no Ethernet ports
- Limited "power-user" settings
Small and powerful
Eero creates great experience thanks to a simple and stylish appearance and the technology to back it up. A dedicated backhaul keeps the connection smooth.
Best Value: TP-Link Deco
If you want to set up a mesh network that covers the whole house (up to 5,500 square feet) and don’t want to break the bank, grab a TP-Link Deco three-pack. You’ll get whole-house coverage without ever changing networks or hopping onto an extender, plus features like prioritizing and parental control. TP-Link also uses adaptive routing to make sure the whole network is as fast as it can be.
From a hardware perspective, you get plenty of speed on Wi-Fi with AC Wi-Fi delivering 400Mbps at 2.4Ghz and 867Mbps at 5Ghz. Two ethernet ports on each help you keep all of your devices connected, even the older ones. Not to mention, a smaller size than some, makes this an easy router to hide in any room’s decor.
- They look good
- Native Alexa support
- Easy setup
- No native support for Google Assistant
- Limited "power-user" settings
Fast Wi-Fi on the cheap
TP-Link’s Deco mesh wi-fi system offers the most important features in a mesh system for less. It also looks great and is 100% Amazon Alexa compatible.
Best Range: AmpliFi HD
Mesh wireless systems may be designed to put a Wi-Fi signal just where you need it, but Ubiquiti’s AmpliFi HD system can also boast superior range. A kit with a single base station and two satellites can cover 10,000 square feet and that’s not an exaggeration — during testing we found it to live up to the claim.
It’s also fully featured with options you’ll need like family controls and guest access, and the base is configured with five Gigabit Ethernet ports like you’d find on a traditional router. You can also set everything up without an account or a smartphone if you’d rather use the web interface.
- Five Gigabit Ethernet ports on the base
- Almost double the range of most mesh Wi-Fi systems
- Smartphone app or account not required for setup
- Easy setup
- Can integrate more than one base unit
- Satellites are large and difficult to place
- Satellites have no ethernet ports
The AmpliFi HD covers a large area and can expand its mesh with more HD routers, a MeshPoint, or an Instant. It has four ethernet ports for older devices.
Most Secure: Google Wifi
Google Wifi is a great choice if you want a simple mesh wireless network that’s automatically updated with critical patches as soon as possible. Like other setups, you have a great smartphone app for setup and controlling the settings, and because it’s a Google Hardware product the researchers who find security flaws have a patch for it before they go public in many cases. If you need a Wi-Fi point somewhere like a toolshed or patio you can also daisy chain the units with an Ethernet cable to extend the range.
- Each unit has two Ethernet ports
- Can daisy chain units with cabling
- Excellent Google Assistant integration
- Fast security updates
- Google collects analytical data
- Most settings require an active internet connection
- Google account required to set up and use
Google Wifi has easily become the standard for mesh Wi-Fi and holds onto that lead with a great app, plenty of software updates, and a modern aesthetic.
Best for Prosumers: Netgear Orbi
One thing most mesh wireless kits have in common is a lack of advanced setup and control options. If you need more control over your wireless network but still want full coverage in hard to reach spots that a mesh system can offer, Netgear’s Orbi system might be what you want. It’s easy to set up through a smartphone app, but you can also access the settings through a web app running on the router like other Netgear prosumer routers. If you need absolute control, Orbi is for you.
- Tri-band for fast and consistent speeds
- 4 Ethernet ports on every unit
- Easy setup
- Full control of all network settings
- Includes Netgear Armor anti-virus
- Can’t disable automatic updates
- Many customers complain about tech support
The Orbi system offers the coverage and convenience of mesh with the advanced settings, plenty of expansion, and the robust software expect from Netgear.
Fastest Speeds: Plume Superpods
Every mesh system on our list will provide reliable and fast Wi-Fi right where you need it, but if you want the absolute fastest possible wireless speeds you’ll want to use Plume Superpods. What’s special about them is how backhaul — the connection between nodes — is handled: Plume uses an adaptive tech that adjusts routing in real-time to pick the fastest channel for each and every packet of wireless data. Being easy to set up and looking good are icing on the cake.
One issue here that’s worth mentioning: Plume collects data about connected devices and websites you visit in order to enable its advanced security features. That’s something you need to know before you buy.
- Adaptive behavior changes network pathing as needed
- 2 Ethernet ports on every unit
- Easy setup
- 5-year warranty
- AI quarantine protection for "dumb" connected devices like cameras or sensors
- Plume checks websites for malware and can track usage
- Plume collects data about connected devices to enable advanced protection
Plume Superpods use unique routing tech to make sure every bit of data is sent using the fastest method possible so you can get the most from your network.
Mesh wireless systems need to do two things right: be reliable and provide coverage everywhere you need it. All the kits on our list do a great job at both. Sometimes, though, it’s the tiny details that decide which product is best for you.
Overall, Eero offers the best total package in our opinion. It’s fast with a dedicated backhaul channel so you can connect everything with no loss in speeds and it’s dead simple to set up. We also love the small footprint of the satellite devices and how easy they are to fit behind things like a bookshelf or desk.
Eero also has an excellent app that guides you through everything from setting it all up to adding more units or changing the user settings. The time and attention to detail in both the hardware and the app is impressive, and we think anyone in the market for a new WI-Fi setup would love what Eero has to offer.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Samuel Contreras When Samuel is not writing about networking at Windows Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It’s the Pentium 3.
Jerry Hildenbrand is Mobile Nation’s Senior Editor and works from a Chromebook full time. Currently, he is using Google’s Pixelbook but is always looking at new products and may have any Chromebook in his hands at any time. You’ll find him across the Mobile Nations network and you can hit him up on Twitter if you want to say hey.
Daniel Bader is the Managing Editor of Android Central. As he’s writing this, a mountain of old Android phones is about to fall on his head, but his Great Dane will protect him. He drinks way too much coffee and sleeps too little. He wonders if there’s a correlation.
September 18, 2019 at 05:45PM