Strong WiFi coverage of up to 6,000 square feet. Impressive parental and security controls that are easily managed via a smartphone app. Easy setup. Design is easy on the eye.
Scattered reports of connectivity and interface issues.
If you prioritize coverage over speed, this basic mesh WiFi system is a reliable option at a low price. The three spiral units have a unique look. Setup takes less than 30 minutes, and the resulting signal is strong enough for multi-floor homes of up to 5,500 square feet.
Customer service is not the most supportive. This mesh system may struggle with multiple devices connecting to the same units.
Features seamless roaming well beyond its 2,000 square feet 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.
Easily covers 5,000 square feet. Compatible with Amazon's Alexa and Echo and offers web-based configuration along with its iOS or Android mobile app.
Firmware updates can be problematic. Some users don't like the size of the units, though they're similar in height to other products in their price range.
This dual-band mesh WiFi system works well for any home up to 5,000 square feet, even if there are plaster walls or other barriers between nodes. Works with Alexa, allowing you to control WiFi access easily.
Devices sometimes connect to nodes that are farther away, resulting in a weak signal.
Traditionally, getting WiFi in your home has meant buying a wireless router, managing it through a clunky web-based interface, and hoping you can put it in a place that’s centralized enough to provide coverage everywhere you need it. And while there are definitely some great wireless routers and extenders out there, there’s a new kid on the home networking block you should meet: mesh networking.
Mesh networking technology takes a more flexible approach to WiFi: each mesh WiFi system includes multiple identical nodes that you place in key locations, with one attached to your modem. Then, when you connect to the internet, the nodes work together to send the data to the one you’re closest to. The best part: it’s all seamless. With a mesh WiFi system, you get one giant WiFi network with multiple access points.
Mesh WiFi systems are also convenient to manage. Most include a smartphone app that’s used for everything from setup to administration. There are plenty of technical reasons why mesh networks are more effective in most homes, but at the end of the day, what matters most to many users is the convenience they offer. Most mesh WiFi systems can be set up in less than 30 minutes.
If you’re tired of dead spots in your home, or if you’re just ready to build the best WiFi network you can, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about finding the best mesh WiFi system.
The mesh WiFi market started out with only a few big contenders, but by now, most tech manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon, so there are a lot of different systems to compare. To home in on the right model, start with these questions.
If your house is 3,000 square feet or less, you’ll only need a mesh WiFi system with two nodes. If it’s between 3,000 and 4,500 square feet, get one with three nodes. If you need to cover more space than that, you can buy a mesh WiFi system with up to six nodes. (If you’re considering getting more than six nodes, a traditional wireless router with separate wireless access points may work better for you.)
You’ll need to connect one node to your modem, but after that, you get to decide where the other nodes go. Nodes can connect both wirelessly and via Ethernet cable. Ideally, each node should go in a spot where you know you need fast internet access.
Mesh WiFi systems aren’t just faster and more convenient — they’re a lot prettier, too. If you want a set that fits with your style, there are a lot of options, but be forewarned: most of them are white.
Every mesh WiFi system can get you fast WiFi, but there are some extra features on some sets that are worth paying more for. Here are the must-haves on our list.
If you have multiple devices that use a ton of data, get a mesh WiFi system where each node has at least two LAN (Ethernet) ports. With multiple Ethernet ports, you can even connect a network switch, so you can create and manage your entire wired network alongside your WiFi network.
Mesh WiFi systems are perfect for people who like to “set it and forget it,” but it’s still important to make sure you maintain ongoing security. The best mesh WiFi systems are frequently updated in the background. Dig through user reviews once you have your search narrowed down, and if a model has a bad track record with security updates, don’t buy it.
If you have kids at home, it’s important to keep them safe when they go online. Look for a mesh WiFi system with built-in parental controls to help you manage your kids’ screen time and ensure they don’t end up on websites they’re not supposed to.
Between $100 and $200, you’ll see a lot of mesh nodes being sold individually. You’ll also see underpowered “budget” systems that aren’t fast enough for more than a few devices. If you’re adding on to your existing mesh WiFi system, this will be your price range. If you’re serious about bumping up your WiFi, you’re going to need to spend more.
Between $200 and $400, you will find some solid mesh WiFi systems with only two nodes. If you’ve got an apartment, you don’t need to spend more than this. But if you want a system with advanced features like LAN ports, don’t settle for the systems in this price range.
Between $400 and $600, you’ll see the best values: sets with three nodes from reputable manufacturers with strong support records. If you’re building a mesh WiFi network for multiple users across your home, this is the price range to focus on.
If you have kids, set up your mesh WiFi system’s parental controls before you do anything else. Parental controls can be easy to forget about, but they’re pretty important if you have minors in your home. Most mesh WiFi systems come with basic parental controls, although some offer them as a paid service alongside additional features like virus protection.
Once you’ve narrowed your search to a few specific mesh WiFi systems, go to your smartphone’s app store and read user reviews of the associated apps for each system you’re considering. User reviews will tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly of each system’s app, so read them closely, and consider the app experience before you make your final decision.
A. Mesh WiFi system nodes work together to get data from the modem to your devices in the fewest steps, and they collectively work together as one WiFi network. In contrast, with a wireless router, you typically have to set up a second network when you add extenders, or you have to manually manage your WiFi networks on each device. Mesh WiFi systems are more expensive and typically better for apartments and houses. Wireless routers are better for online gaming and are more scalable in large environments.
A. Yes. Most mesh WiFi systems don’t recommend using more than six nodes. In most cases, three is more than enough.
A. No. Mesh WiFi nodes can also wirelessly connect to one another. In most cases, using a hard-wired connection will result in faster WiFi speeds overall, but they’re still plenty fast when they’re wireless.
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