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Best Mesh Wi-Fi 2020: Mesh Routers for the Strongest Wireless Internet


We all have struggles with our Wi-Fi. There are all sorts of hacks and best practices to help you get the best signal out of your router, but at a certain point a home can just be too big for a single router to handle. You’ll end up with rooms that get awful signal because there’s too much distance and too many walls between devices and the router. Even worse, devices with poor connections on your network can negatively impact the other gadgets on the Wi-Fi. If this is your predicament, a mesh Wi-Fi system can help you get out of it.In many cases, a Wi-Fi range extender may be simpler to turn to if most of your house is covered and you’re just struggling to get that last little bit of coverage to a corner of your house. But, if you’ve got a lot of space and many obstacles in the way of signal, a Wi-Fi mesh system is probably a better bet. These sytems spread out around your house, creating an even network. They also take a lot less fuss to get set up, since they generally configure the network themselves. And, despite being composed of multiple nodes, they can create a single network, so your devices will easily switch to whichever node is delivering the strongest signal without you needing to lift a finger.

Here is a wide selection of mesh routers to choose from, so you can pick the model that’ll work best for your home setup, whether the priority is a wide coverage area or a boost to online gaming speeds.

TL;DR – Here are the Best Wi-Fi Mesh Systems

1. Eero Pro

Best Wi-Fi Mesh System

Eero was the first consumer mesh kit, and after a few iterations and lots of software updates, it’s still one of the best you can buy. Right now, Eero comes in two main varieties: you can buy a package with one Eero Pro and one to two Eero Beacons ($276 or $400, respectively), or you can buy an Eero Pro system for $480, which contains three Eeros.

The Eero beacons are cheaper plug-in units that communicate over Wi-Fi only, while the larger Eeros contain Ethernet ports that allow you to wire them together for better performance—that is if you have Ethernet wiring in your home (or are willing to add it). If you choose not to wire up, the Eero Pro units use a tri-band system, allowing one band for backhaul between nodes—meaning better performance than traditional dual-band repeaters and mesh systems. The Eero Beacons are dual-band, however, and will use one of their regular bands for backhaul instead.

Eero also offers a pretty useful subscription service called Eero Plus. While the Disney Circle service has some great parental control options, Eero Plus focuses a bit more on general usage, offering some basic parental controls alongside ad blocking, a VPN service, a password manager subscription to 1Password, a subscription to MalwareBytes, and some other security odds and ends. For $99 a year, that’s a pretty good deal.

Note that Eero is now owned by Amazon, and while they claim they have no intention to change the privacy policy “at this time,” it’s something to consider if you’re rather privacy-focused—if you prefer a system that doesn’t require a cloud service, you should check out Netgear’s Orbi below.

2. TP-Link Deco M5

Best Budget Wi-Fi Mesh System

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If $300+ is higher than your budget allows, TP-Link offers a more reasonably priced mesh system called Deco. At $150 for two units or $175 for three, the Deco M5 is one of the less expensive kits you’ll find, but it comes with some caveats. First, it’s dual-band, which means you don’t get quite as efficient backhaul as tri-band units. Second, it doesn’t have a web interface and must be managed from a smartphone app—some people will mind, some won’t.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, many reviewers have found that it doesn’t work as well in multi-hop configurations as other systems. Instead, it works best when the main unit is in the center of your house, connected to the router, and the other notes are all connected to the main unit. If your house isn’t laid out that way, and you want to daisy chain the satellite nodes, you’ll be better off with one of the other systems above.

It does have built-in security and parental control features, though, which is a nice touch. If the caveats don’t bother you and you’d rather save some money, the Deco M5 is worth a try.

3. Trendnet AC2200 WiFi Mesh Router System

Best Mid-Range Wi-Fi Mesh System

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Trendnet AC2200 WiFi Mesh Router System

On Amazon

If you’re going to build out a mesh network, you may as well do so with a decently strong foundation. That’s just what the Trendnet AC2200 WiFi Mesh Router System offers. It’s nodes delivers strong connectivity options with tri-band AC Wi-Fi. They split the network into one 2.4GHz band and two, high-speed 5GHz bands.

The routers can intelligently give your faster devices serious speeds by deprioritizing slower devices with weaker connections. They’ll also make sure your devices are getting the fastest connection possible, using Band Steering to automatically switch between 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands. You can add storage to your network with the USB 3.0 ports on each node as well.

4. Netgear Orbi

The Best Non-Cloud Mesh Wi-Fi Option

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While Netgear’s Orbi system had some growing pains in the beginning, but several software updates have brought it up near the top of the pack, offering stellar performance at a competitive price. Orbi comes in many varieties, but the $300 Orbi Ultra-Performance kit is probably the one you’ll want to go with. You’ll get two full-featured units, each of which boast tri-band Wi-Fi with one band dedicated to backhaul between nodes.

Each unit also has four Ethernet ports so you can wire up any stationary devices, and doesn’t rely on a cloud service like most mesh systems, which is becoming rarer and rarer these days. Netgear even makes an Orbi satellite with Alexa built-in, which is a cool accessory (though its speeds match Orbi’s slower units, not the Ultra-Performance kit linked above).

Finally, Orbi also comes with the ability to subscribe to Disney’s Circle service, which is chock full of fine-grained parental controls like time limits, bedtime, rewards, and more. If you have kids, this can be a valuable addition for $5 per month.

Netgear’s track record with the Orbi is a bit spottier than Eero’s, though, and despite a few more features, a seemingly higher-than-normal number of customer complaints makes us hesitant to recommend it as the go-to for everyone. Netgear has improved their system a lot, though, and time will tell if they’ve gotten better at releasing new features without glitches.

Ultimately, both systems have their advantages—Orbi with its higher number of Ethernet ports and parental controls, Eero with its security features and smaller design—and which one you choose will depend a lot on what you need.

5. Linksys MX10 Velop AX Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System

Best High-End Wi-Fi Mesh System

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Linksys MX10 Velop

On Dell

You can get an even more powerful Wi-Fi mesh network if all the pieces on the network are running Wi-Fi 6. That’s just what Linksys’s new MX10 Velop AX Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System offers. The system includes two nodes, each capable of offering up to 5,300Mbps in bandwidth on their own. You’ll get tri-band wireless with two bands dedicated to the 5GHz frequency for maximum speeds.

Wi-Fi 6 supports the latest encryption, so you can keep your home network safe, and each node has enough bandwidth to support 50 devices. If you want to expand your network in the future, you can simply add more MX5 Velop nodes to the system.

6. Samsung SmartThings WiFi

Mesh Wi-Fi With a Smart Home Hub Built-In

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Samsung SmartThings WiFi

On Dell

If you have a lot of smart home gear in your house, you might consider Samsung’s SmartThings WiFi mesh system for $240. After a not-so-great attempt at the concept with Samsung Connect Home, Samsung partnered with Plume (another popular mesh company) to create a mesh Wi-Fi system with a smart home hub built-in.

It’s similar in appearance to the Eero, with two Ethernet ports on the back (but no ability to use Ethernet for backhaul), dual-band coverage (which is an unfortunate downside), and support for Zigbee and Z-Wave built-in. That last part is the real kicker, as you don’t need a separate hub for all your smart devices—you can just connect them directly to the same units providing Wi-Fi across your home.

That’s pretty compelling, especially for the price, and while it isn’t quite as easy to manage as other options—while also lacking some of the security and parental control features Eero and Orbi offer—tech-savvy smart home users will probably appreciate the consolidation of hubs.

7. Portal Mesh Wi-Fi Router

Best Wi-Fi Mesh System for Gaming

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Portal Mesh Wi-Fi Router

On Amazon

Gaming over a Wi-Fi mesh system is a little more demanding than just streaming Netflix and so you’ll want some more serious hardware. Luckily, this is exactly the sort of thing the Portal Mesh Wi-Fi Router was designed for. With just two Portal units, you’ll be able to enjoy speedy 1.7Gbps speeds with a wireless network that spans 6,000 square-feet.

The Portal is also supremely easy to set up and you’ll only need a smartphone, which you can also use as a second screen to watch your Internet speeds in real-time. If you’d rather run hard lines to your devices, the Portal also features four Ethernet ports, plus an additional gigabit WAN port.

8. Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Lite

Best Mesh Wi-Fi If You’re Tech Savvy

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Ubiquiti UniFi AP AC Lite

On Amazon

Consumer mesh is somewhat new, but multi-point Wi-Fi networks have been around for ages—it’s how businesses run Wi-Fi networks across large buildings. If you’re a bit more tech-savvy and want crazy bang for your buck, enterprise hardware like Ubiquiti’s UniFi Lite access points can be great. They only cost $80 each and will work with your existing router.

Like the others, they work best when wired together via Ethernet, but you can also link them together wirelessly through the Wireless Uplink feature, using one of its two bands for backhaul. It’s a bit more complex than consumer-focused mesh networks like the above (or Ubiquiti’s consumer-focused AmpliFi), but if you’re comfortable managing a more complex network setup, though, Ubiquiti access points are a fantastic value for your money.

9. Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System

Best Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router

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Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System

On Amazon

The Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System is one of the first mesh routers designed to support Wi-Fi 6 and it surprisingly doesn’t cost much (or even costs less) than most of the other options on this list. That 802.11ax support means this Wi-Fi mesh system is powerful enough to deliver up to 1.8 Gbps of throughput. Additionally, the Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System supports the recently instated EasyMesh standard, so it’s easier to connect to other EasyMesh-certified products even those not made by Netgear.

For gaming and streaming, users can enable a Dynamic QoS feature that corners off and prioritizes your network bandwidth for these two tasks. You get a router and a satellite in the box (or two satellites if you opt for the bigger combo) and each unit can cover up to 1,500 square feet, so you shouldn’t have any trouble creating an expansive home network with the Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System.

10. Google Nest Wifi

Best Wi-Fi Mesh System for Smart Homes

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Google’s Nest Wifi mesh network system is ready to make your smart home that little bit smarter. Aside from offering the benefits of a powerful mesh network, each Nest Wifi point also doubles as a Google Assistant smart speaker. That means you’ll not just be expanding your network as you add Nest devices, but you’ll also be ensuring easier control over your smarthome.

This system is designed with smart homes in mind, and is aiming to support the 802.15.4 Thread on the 2.4GHz band for future smart home connectivity, and each point in the system can support up to 100 connected devices.

11. Netgear Orbi AX6000

Fastest Mesh Wi-Fi System

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Netgear Orbi AX6000

On Best Buy

If you’re going to get a new router, you may as well get one that’s ready for the speeds of the future. The Netgear Orbi AX6000 mesh Wi-Fi system is just that. This setup creates a mesh network that can support a 2.5Gbps WAN connection as its backbone, so you can turn your high-speed fiber or mulit-gig cable connection into a potent Wi-Fi signal throughout your home. This is where the Netgear Orbi AX6000 system gets its edge on the competition.

The router and satellite node connect to one another with a dedicated 5GHz connection supporting 2.4Gbps speeds, ensuring extreme bandwidth is available regardless of which node your phones, computers, and tablets connect to. Each also features a second 5GHz and a 2.4GHz band for your device to connect. All of this is done using the new Wi-Fi 6 standard for extra fast speeds that won’t get bogged down by slow devices on the network.

What to Look for in a Wi-Fi Mesh System

The first thing you should consider when getting a Wi-Fi Mesh system is whether you need one in the first place. Wi-Fi mesh systems are mostly useful for large houses, apartments, or just homes with a lot of walls—all situations where a single wireless router would have trouble providing a strong signal everywhere.

If you live in a studio or one-bedroom apartment, you’re going to be better off with just buy a single router and the same goes for single floor houses. However, if you start encountering odd Wi-Fi dead spots in your home this is exactly what Wi-Fi Extenders and Wi-Fi Mesh systems are designed to combat. Wi-Fi Extenders are a good solution if you already own a router and just need to strengthen your wireless signal in part of your living space, but they require you to manually switch networks. Wi-Fi Mesh systems on the other hand automatically switch you between the base unit and satellites to ensure you’re getting the best signal at all times.

How to make the most of your Wi-Fi Mesh System

Mesh Wi-Fi is an impressive technology, but each unit in the system is still a wireless access point at the end of the day. That means you need to consider many of the same home network best practices with each node as you would with a standard wireless router.

To ensure each node is able to perform it’s very best, you should carefully consider positioning. You’ll want to keep nodes out in the open (don’t stuff them in closet), ideally high up, and away from any barriers that can block the signal, especially metal barriers.

Some systems may automatically try to optimize the network, but if you live in an area with a dense population, this can be difficult. If you really want to get the most out of your network, you should try see how many networks you can already detect in your home, and consider setting up your home network on different channels than the ones you see all your neighbors using.

Another smart step you can take to get the most out of your Wi-Fi is actually to use Ethernet connections wherever you can. If you have a smart TV right next to a node, you should plug it directly into the node. This will give the TV a more stable connection, will cut down on the signal clutter in the area, and will improve the wireless connections for other devices that don’t have a wired connection as a backup.

You also need to treat your mesh Wi-Fi like any other wireless network and give strong consideration to its security. You’ll want to give it a strong password and disable unnecessary extra features like WPS, which could let people get around your password with the press of a button. You might also consider whether you want to create an additional guest network you can let visitors access that is walled away from the main network and can have more frequent password changes.

Whitson Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech nerd who has been building PCs for 10 years. He eats potato chips with chopsticks so he doesn’t get grease on his mechanical keyboard.

Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark

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