Today, October 26, 2023, is when you can officially buy the eero Max 7, Amazon’s first foray into the realm of Wi-Fi 7.
Like the case of the eero Pro 6E, the company touts the new hardware as its “most advanced” mesh router. And this time around, that’s kind of true, considering the new Wi-Fi standard and the full support for Multi-Gig. However, at $600 a piece (or $1600 for a 3-pack at the launch discounted rate), the eero Max 7 is overpriced, to put it mildly.
This brief first take will explain why if, for some reason, Wi-Fi 7 is so important to you today, and you have this type of dough to burn — that’s a long if — you should opt for the TP-Link Deco BE85.
Among other things, the Deco has more to offer and costs significantly less per unit. It’s one example of how this new eero can be severely overrated.
Amazon Max 7: First real multi-Gigabit Wi-Fi-enabled eero
The eero Max 7 reminds me of the eero PoE Gateway. It’s Amazon’s second piece of networking hardware that fully supports multi-Gigabit with two 10GBASE-T and two 2.5GBASE-T Multi-Gig ports. And it’s the company’s first Wi-Fi broadcaster that has this kind of high-end wired networking.
These ports are all auto-sensing. Pick one to connect to your internet source, it’ll work as the WAN port, and the rest will function as LANs.
With two 10Gbps per unit in a wired backhauling setup, you can expect the eero Max 7 to deliver a true 10Gbps network right out of the box, no matter how many units you use if you can daisy-chain them.
In reality, you’ll likely get sustained rates of around 6.5Gbps after overhead, which has been the case with all existing Multi-Gig routers. Still, that is something you won’t have if the hardware has a single 10Gbps port, like the case of the more expensive Netgear Orbi 970, whose satellite has only one 10Gbps port, so there’s no chance of 10Gbps wired backhauling in a 3-pack without a switch.
So, on the wired networking front, the new eero is quite great. It could be better if it had built-in PoE or support for SFP+, but considering the relatively compact design, that’d be too much to ask.
On the Wi-Fi front, the new hardware shares almost the same specs as the TP-Link Deco BE85. This rival mesh hardware has the same number of Multi-Gig ports, but it also supports SFP+ and comes with one USB port per device for network storage. So, the Deco has a lot more.
BASE-T vs SFP+
This type is known via a misnomer called Registered Jack 45 or RJ45. So we’ll keep calling it RJ45.
On the other hand, the SFP or SFP+ (plus) port type is used for telecommunication and data communication, mostly in enterprise applications. SFP stands for small form-factor pluggable and is the technical name for what is often referred to as Fiber Channel or Fiber.
For data communication, an SFP+ port has speed grades of either 1Gbps or 10Gbps. The older version, SFP, can only do 1Gbps, though it shares the same port type as SFP+. This type of port standard is more strict in compatibility and more reliable in performance.
While physically different, BASE-T and SFP/+ are parts of the Ethernet family, sharing the same networking principles and Ethernet naming convention — Gigabit Ethernet (1Gbps) or 10 Gigabit Ethernet (a.k.a 10GE, 10GbE, or 10 GigE).
Generally, you can get an adapter to connect a BASE-T device to an SFP or SFP+ port. Still, in this case, compatibility can be an issue — a particular adapter might only work (well) with the SFP/+ port of certain hardware vendors.
The BASE-T wiring is more popular thanks to its simple design and flexibility in speed support. Some routers and switches have an RJ45/SFP+ combo which includes two physical ports of each type, but you can use one at a time.
The table below shows the similarities and differences between the two.
Amazon eero Max 7 vs TP-Link Deco BE85: Hardware specifications
|Full Name||Amazon eero MAX 7 Wi-Fi 7 Mesh Router||TP-Link Deco BE85 BE22000 Tri-Band Wi-Fi 7 Mesh Router|
|Model||eero MAX 7||Deco BE85|
|Mesh Availability||2-pack or 3-pack |
|2-pack or 3-pack|
|Dimensions||7.24 x 8.73 x 3.54 in (183.90 x 221.89 x 89.90mm)||5.04 × 5.04 × 9.29 in|
(128 × 128 × 236 mm)
|Processor||Quad-core A73 processor, 2GB RAM, 4GB flash storage||Undisclosed|
|Wi-Fi Technology||Tri-band BE20800||Tri-Band BE22000|
|2.4GHz Band specs|
|2×2 BE: Up to 688 Mbps|
|4×4 BE: Up to 1376 Mbps|
|5GHz Band Specs|
|4×4 BE: Up to 8640 Mbps|
|4×4 BE: Up to 8640 Mbps|
|6GHz Band Specs|
|4×4 BE: Up to 11520 Mbps|
|4×4 BE: Up to 11520 Mbps|
|Backward Compatibility||802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax Wi-Fi||802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax Wi-Fi|
|Wireless Security||WPA2, WPA3||WPA2, WPA3|
|Mobile App||eero||TP-Link Deco|
|Web User Interface||No||Limited|
(as a mesh or a single unit)
|USB Port||1x USB-C|
|1x USB 3.0|
(for network storage)
1x 10Gbps / SFP+ Combo
|(not yet tested)||1.0.7 Build 20230428 Rel. 62173|
(per 24 hours)
|(not yet tested)|| ≈ 485 Wh |
(for a mesh system)
As you have noted from the table, the eero Max Pro 7 and TP-Link Deco BE85 are similar in hardware, with the latter encompassing the former and then some.
Specifically, the TP-Link Deco has a faster 2.4GHz band on paper (though likely the same in real-world usage) and a USB-based storage feature. So, the biggest and most perplexing difference is the price, where eero Max 7 costs significantly more.
And that brings us to their ease of use and features. Get ready to be even more perplexed.
Amazon eero Max 7 vs TP-Link Deco BE85: Similar cloud-based solution that differs in principle
I haven’t tested the eero Max 7 — still debating considering the cost — but I’ve gained extensive experience with eero and Deco platforms over the year via different variants.
Both the Deco and eero are part of their respective mesh family, each sharing the same firmware with their other member of the ecosystem.
Specifically, the eero Max 7 is similar, if not the same, in features and settings as previous eeros, including the eero PoE Gateway and the eero Pro 6. Similarly, the Deco BE85 is on the same board as the other Decos.
The eero has no local web user interface. Users must use the eero mobile app for the setup and ongoing management. The app requires a login account and connects to eero at all times.
Similarly, TP-Link Deco also requires the Deco app with a TP-Link account to work. The hardware does have a local web interface, but you can’t use it alone to manage your network.
Since day one, the eero ecosystem has been known to collect user data. It was the first Wi-Fi solution that would not work independently without connecting to the vendor via the Internet.
Specifically, you can’t even set up your eero hardware without logging in via an eero account. After that, everything that goes through your home eero can be monitored by its maker.
Additionally, certain hardware features only work if you’re willing to surrender even more of your data. And then, you’re often required to connect to your Amazon account, which already has lots of other information on you.
All eero variants come with auto firmware-update, allowing the company to take complete control of them without users having any say.
Having your router connected to a third party is never good, but data collection varies from vendor to vendor. Still, the absolute truth is that whoever controls your router can know everything you do online and within your network.
Having to sign in with an account generally means your hardware always connects to the vendor. That translates into inherent privacy risks. On this matter, the Chinese networking company, among other things, insists that it is based in Hong Kong and offers this assurance:
“TP-Link takes privacy seriously and complies with U.S. policies to protect consumers.”
Managing your home network via a third party is never a good idea. Privacy is a matter of degree. Data collection and handling vary vendor by vendor.
Regarding network/Wi-Fi settings and features, the Deco generally offers much more for free than the eero.
Specifically, you typically get all the network settings you can expect from the standard router with the Deco, including VPN, Dynamic DNS, port-forwarding, etc. With the BE85, you also get a set of robust network-attached storage features, including Time Machine backup support, when you add a USB storage device.
There’s also the optional HomeShield Pro add-on that gives you more parental controls and online protection for some $60/year.
In all, the Deco seems to try to make life easier for users, and the add-on cost provides some valuable extras. That’s been my experience with the brand, including with the Deco BE85.
On the other hand, the eero has limited settings and features — close to zero. If you want anything else, you’d need to opt for the eero Plus, which costs $9.99/month or $99.99/year.
In my experience with previous eeros, including the PoE Gateway, the mobile app nags for eero Plus subscription constantly.
In the case of the eero Max 7, the hardware includes a 6-month trial of eero Plus. While that sounds like a deal, if you opt for that, good luck with unsubscribing when the free trial is over! It’s more like you’re automatically hooked to pay another $100 a year for the privilege of using the (comparatively mediocre) hardware.
Overall, my impression of the eero ecosystem is that it’s designed primarily to nickel and dime users via subscription and data collection. Each hardware solution is a business on its own optimized to maximize the vendor’s benefits. The networking function and all the “features” underneath are just excuses for that fact.
And that practice, more likely than not, continues with the eero Max 7. The only difference this time is that the hardware itself is already grossly overpriced.
Amazon eero Ecosystem's Overall Rating
Easy to set up and use
Generally reliable with scalable Wi-Fi coverage
Lacking standard features and settings
No local management; vendor login account to work; heavy on user data collection; useful features require eero Plus subscription,
Often middling-specced and overpriced
The new eero Max 7 is definitely Amazon’s most advanced Wi-Fi solution and the company’s first true multi-Gigabit one. But that doesn’t mean much. Multi-Gigabit is generally the norm with Wi-Fi 7 hardware. It’s the way of the future.
So far, the Linksys Velop Pro 7 is the only hardware that doesn’t go full Multi-Gig.
Assuming the new eero performs as expected — and it likely will to the extent of how the current stage of Wi-Fi 7 is — it’s a safe buy for those wanting to enjoy faster-than-Gigabit broadband or a true multi-Gigabit local wired network.
But the Amazon eero Max 7 is not a great deal, far from it. It has more to be a terrible Wi-Fi thing to put in your home than not. Specifically, considering these three bullet points on the hardware:
- Wired networking (speed): Highly likely excellent.
- Wireless networking (speed): Likely as expected for the specs.
- Features, Wi-Fi/network settings, value, and privacy: Arguably the absolute worst — the case of the entire eero ecosystem.
Among existing Wi-Fi 7 options — and there will be many more soon — the similarly good-looking TP-Link Deco BE85 can do all this eero Max 7 Pro can, and then some, for a significantly lower cost. And by that, I don’t mean just the initial hardware price.