NETGEAR Nighthawk Whole Home Mesh WiFi 6 System (MK62) - AX1800 router with 1 satellite extender, coverage up to 3,000 sq. ft. and 25+ devicesView on Amazon
NETGEAR Orbi Tri-Band Whole Home Mesh WiFi System with 1-Yr. Cyber Threat Protection Subscription (RBK43S) – 1 Router & 2 Satellite Extenders | Covers up to 6,000 sq. ft. | AC2200 (Up to 2.2Gbps)View on Amazon
NETGEAR Orbi Tri-band Whole Home Mesh WiFi System with 2.2Gbps speed (RBK23) Router & Extender replacement covers up to 6,000 sq. ft., 3-pack includes 1 router & 2 satellitesView on Amazon
Last update on 2021-10-17 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API
1. Shared wireless mesh router
This is the most affordable type of wifi mesh network available on the market. It is a first generation mesh device that uses total bandwidth and distributes it across nodes found in the home or office. The internet experience for users will be significantly reduced in case there are multiple devices connected to the Wi-Fi network as it shares bandwidth through different nodes, it may not be suitable for those with big families, and they all rely on a single Wi-Fi network.
2. Dedicated wireless mesh router
The dedicated wireless mesh wifi router is better than a shared wireless mesh router in terms of providing high speeds to users. Radio channels under this type of mesh device communicate only between nodes handling backhaul traffic. The backhaul traffic here means that the nodes communicate back to the router rather than with your connected devices like your laptop or mobile device.
3. Powerline mesh router
This is the most powerful type of mesh router mentioned on the list. With the grid device, users can enjoy a higher speed internet experience with low latency gaming. The powerline grid router uses the user's existing electrical cabling system in the home to send and receive inter-node data and repair data.
Basically, the power line grid device adds a new route for data to pass through. This further reduces the amount of wireless mesh network wifi that allows the network to carry more traffic. Under this type of connection, a button is plugged into the wall next to your router. Since it can provide a low latency internet experience for users, it is very helpful when handling backhaul traffic.
1. AP steering
A home mesh network router that supports AP control automatically directs its wireless clients to connect to any access point (AP) that provides the strongest connection back to the router (and hence to the internet).
The side of the network carries the data packets back into the router and out to the internet. Some tri-band mesh Wi-Fi systems, including the NETGEAR Orbi and Linksys WHW0302 Velop, dedicate the entire wireless network to overhaul. You can also set up a wired backhaul by connecting your access point to your router with an ethernet cable, but that will require drilling holes in your wall and pulling the cable through, a job that most people don't need.
3. Band control
A router with this feature can detect whether a client device has dual-band capabilities (which means a equipped client with 2.4 or 5GHz band operated wifi adapter). The mesh router automatically pushes dual-band clients to connect to the least congested network, usually one that operates on the 5GHz band.
The TP-Link Deco M5 whole home wifi system is easy to use and offers reliable Wi-Fi over a large area. Having a lot of features when comparing with other systems, including the ability to protect the entire network against online threats. As a Wi-Fi system, you connect one of the M5's three identical hardware devices to an internet source, such as a broadband modem, to act as a router, then place the devices. it is left about 40 feet away to act as satellite units. All three link together to create a seamless Wi-Fi network.
An optional feature of the 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard that improves wireless bandwidth usage by concentrating the radio signal so more data reaches the client and less radiation enters the atmosphere.
Google Nest Wifi offers great performance, a simple setup process, and offers wifi mesh system coverage that can extend coverage to handle everything from a small home to large real estate. In addition, Google Nest has no other grid toolkit that can do it, with Google Home smart speakers built into each mesh extension. Compact devices let you control the router with voice commands, along with every other connected device in your home, from smart lights to smart TVs.
5. Dual band vs. tri-band
A dual-band Wi-Fi router operates two separate networks, one on the 2.4GHz band and one on the less congested 5GHz band. Some types of 5GHz split-band tri-band routers use one channel available in the 5GHz spectrum to create a second network and another channel band in that band to operate the third network. Other tri-band routers operate discrete networks on the 2.4 and 5GHz bands, and the third network uses the available spectrum on the 60GHz band, although this technology has recently fallen out of favor.
6. Ethernet ports
A router must have at least two hard-wired ethernet ports (100Mbps or gigabit per second). One (WAN, or wide area network) connected to your broadband port (e.g. cable or DSL modem). The other (LAN or local area network) connects any hard wired clients. Some mesh Wi-Fi routers have ports that automatically configure to become WAN or LAN based on what is plugged into them. A simple way to increase the number of ethernet ports available on your network is to plug an ethernet switch into one of the LAN ports.
Mesh Wi-Fi access points typically have two ethernet ports, so they can act as a wireless bridge to devices that don't have their own Wi-Fi adapters. Alternatively, you can use one of the AP's ports to process data again with an ethernet cable connected to your router on the other end.
Larger homes need stronger solutions and while the Netgear Nighthawk MK63 may be an overkill option for smaller homes, this wifi 6 mesh router is a good ticket if you have up to 3500 sq.ft spaces and need an extremely reliable network for 4K gaming and video. There are also some useful features in Netgear Nighthawk MK63, too, including the ability to create a guest network and a network map to monitor all the devices connected to your network. This mesh router offers 3 ethernet ports.
7. Guest network
This is a virtual network that gives your guests internet access while blocking access to your computers, NAS box, and other network clients.
Abbreviation for multiple users, multiple input / multiple outputs. The method of sending and receiving more than one data signal through the same radio channel is called MIMO. This is done using a technique known as spatial multiplexing. During its initial implementation in routers, client devices had to take turns communicating with the router, in a circular fashion. Conversion is fast enough that no interruption is noticeable, but it reduces the overall transmission rate. This is called SU-MIMO (single-user MIMO). As you may have guessed, MU-MIMO allows multiple client devices to communicate with the router at the same time without interruption, greatly increasing the transfer rate. Both the router and the client must support MU-MIMO for the program to work.
9. Quality of service (QoS)
This concept describes the ability of a home wifi router to identify different types of data packets passing through the network and then assign those packets to higher or lower priority. For example, you might want your router to provide network traffic such as online video or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls rather than downloading files because the router previously could not tolerate interruptions. Waiting for the file to download a little longer is a lot better than watching a glitched video.
10. Spatial streams
Spatial streams are multiplexed signals which we have described in the MU-MIMO session above. The number of radios and antennas in a router determines how many spatial streams it can support; and the method used to encode the data, in conjunction with the bandwidth of the channel, determines the amount of data that can be fit for each stream. An 802.11ac router using 80MHz wide channels can deliver a throughput of about 433Mbps per spatial stream. The spatial streams operate in tandem, so adding them is like adding lanes on a highway. Where a 2x2 802.11ac wireless wifi router (two spatial streams to transmit and two streams to receive) can provide a throughput of up to 867 Mbps, a 4x4 802.11ac mesh router can deliver up to 1,733Mbps. However, these are theoretical numbers; they don't take into account protocol costs and other factors, so you'll never see such a high real-world performance.
11. Wi-fi speed ratings
Vendors typically market their 802.11ac router (and 802.11ac Wi-Fi client adapter) by combining throughput metrics for each router's network. A dual-band wifi mesh router (such as Google Nest Wifi, TP-Link Deco M5 and Meshforce M1) capable of delivering 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on the 5GHz band can be described as an AC1300 (natively rounded from 1,267). Of course, you will never experience a throughput of 1,300Mbps (or even 1,267Mbps) as it is not possible to link 2.4 and 5GHz networks together. But the classifications provide at least a point of comparison.
1. What are the benefits of using a wireless network system?
- Easy network management
A key feature that distinguishes network router systems from traditional routers is the easy network access they provide. Many fully automated mesh router systems allow for easy management via the mobile app, even when you're not at home. And setting up a grid system with a smartphone app is much easier than plugging it directly into the router and configuring the device through the browser console.
Many network router apps allow users to quickly scan their speed, cut off Wi-Fi access to certain networks, create guest networks, check quality between different connection points, and even connect with smart home devices. Some high-end traditional routers have similar features, but you usually have to be connected to your local network from the web interface on your desktop to enable them.
- Reasonable connections
With traditional routers, a device called a range extender is often used to repeat the signal so that Wi-Fi can be accessed from a long distance. However, even the best Wi-Fi extenders require you to create a private network, with a unique name for the range extender. This means you may have to switch your Wi-Fi connection, sometimes manually, when you move around indoors. On the other hand, a mesh router system doesn't require constant reconnection, even when you move from room to room. You also won't face that much latency, as access points all transmit the same signal, rather than having to route requests across multiple networks.
- Tight security
Along with easy management, some residential mesh routers come with good security support. Thanks to the easy network management mentioned above, it's not difficult to keep your router devices safe - many automatically check for and install firmware updates.
2. How does the mesh wifi network work?
Each node in the network is a wireless router that connects to every other node in the system by forwarding data to neighboring nodes until it reaches its final destination. This wireless peer-to-peer data forwarding eliminates the need for a wired network infrastructure, significantly reducing the cost and time required to deploy the network.
3. Which mesh router should I choose: 2-pack or 3-pack?
Some mesh systems have two packages while others have three packages - some may offer an option between the two. When you compare prices, make sure that you are comparing apples and apples in terms of how many units are included. Medium-sized homes can have only two mesh units, while larger homes can require three.
- Recommendations for 2-pack mesh routers: Linksys WHW0302 Velop and Google Nest Wifi.
- Recommendations for 3-pack mesh routers: Netgear Nighthawk MK63, Meshforce M1 and TP-Link Deco M5.
4. Should I consider the wifi speed when choosing a mesh router?
Many routers will display a number on the product page such as "1200Mbps" or "3000Mbps". This doesn't really tell you your internet speed, this will actually depend on your internet plan, your distance to the router and other factors. It tells you how much bandwidth the mesh Wi-Fi system will maintain available to all of the devices connected to it. In other words, it's not an exact number you can rely on, but it does give you a general idea of what the mesh system is capable of in terms of speed, especially when many people are online together.
5. What is Wifi 6?
Every few years, Wi-Fi technology has made a big leap and 2020 is one of those years. The latest grid systems will use Wi-Fi 6, which offers faster theoretical speeds, better congestion handling and - for some newer phones and laptops - better battery life.
On the other hand, a Wi-Fi 5 (or "AC") mesh system can save you some money and will suffice if you're willing to use the slightly older standard.
And it’s a wrap! That's all we want to share with you so that you can find the best mesh routers for your home. Some of the best quality and most reliable products we've selected include:
- Best overall: TP-Link Deco M5.
- Best wifi 6 mesh router: ASUS ZenWiFi AX6600.
- Best for gaming and entertainment: Netgear Nighthawk MK63.
- Best router for a large home: Linksys WHW0302 Velop.
- Best mesh router for simple setup: Google Nest Wifi.