Features seamless roaming well beyond its 2,000 square foot spec and a dedicated backhaul channel so that nodes can communicate without clogging up users’ WiFi. Also includes a high-speed ethernet cable.
Setup can be more complex and time-consuming than other mesh systems.
Fast and easy setup only takes between 30 minutes to an hour with helpful tech support available. Provides good coverage of up to 3,000 square feet.
Users report some compatibility issues with Apple devices like iPad and MacBook Pro. Unit also tends to run hot.
Easily covers 5,000 square feet. Compatible with Amazon's Alexa and Echo, and offers web-based configuration along with its iOS/Android mobile app.
Firmware updates can be problematic. Some users don't like the size of the units, though they are similar in height to the other product in their price range, LinkSys' Velop.
Easy to configure with parental controls and guest access options. Helpful tech support available.
Some users report that the coverage area is much less than the 4,500 square feet it claims. Fewer configuration options may frustrate more experienced users.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Mesh WiFi systems, while very useful, can be extremely confusing. With mesh systems not being as commonplace as standard WiFi routers, many people are unaware of what they do, and how they work.
The name just doesn’t seem to accurately explain what it is, and these systems can be referred to in many different ways, which makes it hard to find more information.
Mesh WiFi systems are also called “WiFi mesh network systems,” “wireless mesh networks,” “WiFi mesh router systems,” “mesh WiFi routers,” “home mesh WiFi networks,” and “home mesh WiFi systems.” They’re all one and the same.
A mesh system aids in getting your WiFi signal throughout your home, ensuring that you have no dead spots that are simply too far away from your router. You won’t have to walk around your home looking for the best signal, as you’ll have a strong signal throughout.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding mesh WiFi systems, it can be difficult to determine if you really need one or not. And if you do, it’s difficult to know what to look for when shopping for one.
For this reason we’ve included a handy matrix above that shows BestReviews reviewers’ five best options for mesh WiFi systems.
No units were given to the company for free, so you can be sure that what you read will be unbiased.
Are you still looking for more information on shopping for mesh WiFi systems before making your ultimate choice? Read on to get all your questions answered.
One thing to be careful of is that some of the companies making these systems are startups, meaning you would be left hanging if they went out of business.
When your home has difficulty holding the WiFi throughout the whole building, and it ends up with dead spots, traditionally users have ended up with a WiFi extender. Mesh WiFi systems are another option, as they can be easier to use and setup.
The system contains multiple devices, somewhat like routers, that coordinate to completely cover a home with WiFi. These devices are called stations, nodes, or units. For this article, we’ll refer to them as stations.
Eero was the first company to develop and release a Mesh WiFi System. Other prominent technology brands, such as Google, LinkSys, and D-Link, were quick to add their own mesh WiFi systems to the marketplace.
As you move throughout your home with your device, a traditional WiFi system’s signal strength can wax and wane. A mesh system saturates the home to provide the strongest signal possible in all areas.
So how do you know if you need a mesh WiFi system is the right solution for your home? The following are the benefits which should help you determine if you’re truly in need of a system like this or not.
These are often included with the mesh WiFi systems, and they help you to more easily manage your network.
While routers are often big black boxes, the mesh WiFi system stations that are placed throughout your home fit in with your decorating scheme, and don’t look as boxy and technical.
Advanced users can configure the mesh WiFi system to reserve more bandwidth for key devices, and split the remaining bandwidth among all others.
This is particularly helpful if you don’t know a lot about technology. There will be minimal work required on your part to set it up.
You just connect a base station to your modem, then add the other stations throughout your home, wherever you’re getting weak or no signal.
Because the system is a series of multiple WiFi stations throughout your home, they overlap each other to leave you with no dead areas.
You can use your smart appliances, such as speakers, scales, and home automation devices, without lapses in functionality.
If one station loses power, it won’t affect your whole network. The rest of the network will continue on without it.
The main difference between a mesh WiFi system and WiFi extenders is that extenders are meant to just boost your signal of your existing router, whereas a mesh WiFi system is meant to replace your existing system.
Additionally, the stations in a mesh system communicate with one another in the shortest sequence available.
Extenders, however, don’t operate as smoothly, and can be more complicated to configure and use. Sometimes the signal has to go from the extender all the way to the router, whereas in a mesh system the stations often make a shorter connection by talking to each other.
A traditional router’s WiFi signal can potentially cover a 3,000-square-foot house, but only if it’s placed exactly in the middle of the building. If it’s placed where the cable service comes in, most likely in a corner of the house, half of the WiFi coverage is outside, and the opposite end of the house isn’t covered.
Once you’ve determined that it’s definitely a mesh WiFi system that you need for your home, the following criteria should help you narrow down which one is best for you.
Some users may feel speed is most important, while others may feel ease of use, aesthetics, or price should be the determining factor. Regardless, once you have your new system setup, you want to be sure it’s working for you.
If you’ve spent a lot of money on decor, and everything is already exactly the way you like it in you home, the appearance of the stations will be important to you. Each manufacturer uses a different design, so you can choose the one that will look the best in your home.
Stations can be placed as far as thirty to fifty feet apart, but can also be placed closer to be sure you’re blanketing your whole home in WiFi.
If you’re on the internet at all times, if you do a lot of work at home, or if you do a lot of gaming or streaming of music or video, speed is going to be very important to you. Choose a system that will meet the speed you require.
Wireless standards of routers are graded by letter. While 802.11n is the standard, 802.11ac is faster. An 802.11n router transfers data at 450 Mbps, and an 802.11ac router transfers data at 1331 Mbps.
If you have an 802.11ac-equipped device, it will still work with your 802.11n-equipped router, but in order to enjoy the speed of the “ac,” you need both your router and device to be 802.11ac.
You may experience slower speeds if your signal has to hop through several mesh stations to get to you from the base station.
Perhaps you’re not the most technical person, and in that case you’re going to want to choose a system that is easy to use and easy to set up.
You’ll want one that has a good smartphone app, and not one that requires you to set it up via the web browser.
Most mesh systems are as easy as plug-and-play.
You won’t need to worry about upgrading your system when it becomes necessary, as mesh WiFi systems will get either software or firmware updates automatically.
Price is often the determining factor of many things for many people. And once again the size of your space comes into play.
Most mesh WiFi systems come with three units and some only two, so depending on the size and layout of your home, you may need more than just the basic setup which should run you anywhere from $200 to $500.
Q. How do I know where to put the stations in the mesh WiFi system?
A. Most systems guide you along in the process of adding the stations, sometimes within the stations themselves, and sometimes with the smartphone app. The system will automatically re-configure as you work on setting it up and add more stations.
Q. How do I know how many stations to add onto my mesh WiFi system?
A. Each access point or station can cover approximately 1,500 square feet, but that can vary. Even people with a smaller area, but with long spaces such as hallways, have the need for two access points. Use the 1,500 square foot rule as a guideline, and work with it as you examine what kind of space you’re looking at.
Q. Can you use VPN with a mesh WiFi system?
A. Some mesh WiFi systems will, but it’s not a foregone conclusion, and some will even come with VPN service included. If VPN is a necessity for you, you need to thoroughly examine potential systems to be sure that they will work with the VPN of your choice, before you purchase it.