Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems

READ NOW:  Best Wi-Fi 5 Routers: You Should Be Using One of These
A Pair of Asus RT-AC86U Routers
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech A pair of RT-AC86U units will make a great AiMesh system

Since the first consumer-grade Wi-Fi system — the original Eero — debuted in early 2015, there have been so many others on the market, giving those living in large houses plenty of options. Below is the list of what I consider the best Wi-Fi 5 mesh systems. Among other things, they all must have an overall rating of 7/10 or higher.

By the way, the concept of mesh Wi-Fi system, where multiple hardware units work together to deliver a unified wireless network for a large area, is probably the most significant legacy of the Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) standard.

As the world is moving to Wi-Fi 6, it’s only appropriate to take a look at these systems and appreciate Wi-Fi 5 in its best glory. At the very least, you’ll see why you shouldn’t ditch your Wi-Fi 5 devices yet, not in many years.

Dong’s note: This is a frequently updated post.

A. Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: The list

This list includes mesh Wi-Fi systems I’ve reviewed on Dong Knows Tech that I’d use for myself — and I’ve been using at least a few. I put these in the order I evaluated them with the latest on top.

Scroll down to the bottom to see all systems’ performance in numbers. Also, if you think a standalone router is enough for your situation, check out this list of the best Wi-Fi 5 routers, instead.


10. Asus RT-AX92U: A Wi-Fi 5 mesh by two Wi-Fi 6 routers

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The RT-AX92U is available as a single route or a 2-pack mesh system.

No, I’m not mistaken. The Asus RT-AX92U is an odd case. As a standalone solution, it’s a Wi-Fi 6 router. But if you buy a 2-pack, it will work as a Wi-Fi 5 solution. That’s because, in this case, its sole Wi-Fi 6 band (5GHz-2) will function as the backhaul — by default, it’s not available to clients.

That said, if you want a Wi-Fi 5 system that has a super strong wireless link between the hardware unit, the RT-AX92U is a great choice.

ASUS RT-AX92U AX6100 Tri-Band WiFi 6 Router

$219.98
7.5

Performance

8.0/10

Features

8.0/10

Easy of use

7.0/10

Value

7.0/10

Pros

  • Compact design, tri-band specs
  • Good performance, large coverage
  • Excellent set of features, including online protection and WTFast VPN for gamers
  • Link Aggregation and Dual-WAN support, wall-mountable
  • Comparatively affordable

Cons

  • Unreliable Wi-Fi 6 band when used to serve clients
  • No Wi-Fi 6 when working as a wireless mesh
  • Problematic mesh setup when working as the main router
  • No multi-gig port
READ NOW:  Asus RT-AX92U Review: The Cute Little Odd One Out of AiMesh

9. Asus ZenWiFi AC CT8: The official AiMesh system that rocks

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The ZenWiFi CT8 mesh Wi-Fi system includes two identical routers.

Since early 2018, AiMesh has been the most popular feature from Asus that turns two or more supported routers into a mesh system. The ZenWiFi AC CT8 is Asus’s first canned Wi-Fi system built around this feature.

If you’ve been holding up on a mesh system, this is the one to get. It has excellent Wi-Fi coverage and a set of features that beats any of its peers. Alternatively, you can also consider other Asus routers and use them in an AiMesh setup.

ASUS ZenWiFi AC CT8 Whole-Home Tri-Band Mesh System

8.4

Performance

8.5/10

Features

9.0/10

Design and Setup

7.5/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Significantly improved AiMesh feature
  • Fast performance, excellent Wi-Fi coverage
  • Tons of useful features and settings, including free network real-time online protection for life
  • Fast dedicated backhaul, wired backhaul supported
  • Helpful mobile app

Cons

  • Web user interface doesn't always work as intended (bugs)
  • Only 3 LAN ports per router
  • Not enough setting instructions
  • Guest networking still has issues
READ NOW:  Asus ZenWiFi AC Review: A True, and Improved, AiMesh System

8. Netgear Orbi RBK13: A Mesh for the budget-minded

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech Each hardware unit of the 3-pack Orbi RBK13 is quite compact.

The newly-released Orbi RBK13 is the first Netgear Orbi that comes in a set of three units (instead of two.) It’s a low-power dual-band system with modest Wi-Fi specs. But it’s reliable and will work well for those with an average broadband connection.

Netgear Orbi RBK13 Whole Home Mesh WiFi System

8

Performance

7.5/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Reliable Wi-Fi, excellent coverage
  • Relatively affordable, plenty of settings, useful features
  • Easy to set up, compact design
  • Environmentally conscientious packaging

Cons

  • Middling Wi-Fi specs, low Wi-Fi throughputs
  • No dedicated or wired backhaul option
  • Not wall-mountable
READ NOW:  Netgear Orbi RBK13 Review: A Reliable Budget Wi-Fi Mesh

7. Ubiquiti Labs AmpliFI HD: The totally cool mesh

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The AmpliFI HD mesh system comes in a fancy box.

The AmpliFi HD was first intruded back in 2017, but I didn’t get a chance to review it until late 2019. And it turned out to be quite a novelty — imagine how more so it was at launch! The mesh’s router unit has a useful display that gives you lots of information at a glance. It’s also reliable and easy to use. In return, there’s not much you can do with it in terms of settings and features.

Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD WiFi System

8.3

Performance

8.5/10

Features

7.0/10

Design and Setup

9.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Ridiculously easy to set up
  • Fast and reliable performance
  • Useful VPN for mobile users
  • Well-designed mobile app

Cons

  • Limited number of settings and features
  • No wired backhaul
  • Vendor login required for remote administration
  • Bulky mesh points
READ NOW:  AmpliFi HD Wi-Fi System Review: Still a Mesh Novelty

6. Synology Mesh: A custom professional mesh you can always count on

The RT2600ac and the MR2200ac (back) are made for each other.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The RT2600ac and the MR2200ac (back) are made for each other.

Synology introduced a mesh add-on feature via a firmware update and the introduction of the MR2200ac router. It’s a similar feature to Asus’s AiMesh.

Synology Mesh is not as diverse as that of AiMesh — it includes only two router models — but, therefore, is more reliable. It also has a more professional interface.

Synology Wi-Fi Mesh System

8.8

Performance

9.5/10

Features

9.5/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Fast, reliable and large Wi-Fi coverage
  • Advanced interface with high-quality add-on features
  • Highly-customizable network settings
  • Effective Parental Controls and online protection
  • Advanced Guest network

Cons

  • Limited hardware options
  • Few network ports
  • Not available as a package (you need to get two or more units)
READ NOW:  Synology Mesh Overview: Home Wi-Fi Turned Pro

5. Asus Lyra Trio: An ideal mesh system for a wired home

The Asus Lyra Trio comes in three identical units.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Asus Lyra Trio comes in three identical units.

As far as I know, the Asus Lyra Trio is the only mesh system on the market that uses three 3×3 routers. For this reason, it’s a perfect mesh for a home that’s already wired with network cables.

Via wired backhaul, the Lyra Trio will deliver the fastest Wi-Fi 5 speeds among canned mesh systems, even though it also works well in a wireless setup.

Asus Lyra Trio

8

Performance

8.0/10

Features

8.5/10

Design and Setup

7.0/10

Value

8.5/10

Pros

  • Fast, reliable performance, excellent Wi-Fi range
  • Generous feature set and robust web-interface
  • Easy setup, helpful mobile app
  • Built-in security, no privacy risks
  • Ability to work as an extension of an existing network via the access point mode, or as part of an AiMesh system
  • Wall-mountable

Cons

  • Setup, firmware updates, and configurations can be a pain
  • Minimal Wi-Fi settings
  • Not able to block secure (HTTPS) websites
READ NOW:  Asus Lyra Trio Review: Versatile Mesh at a Friendly Price

4. Netgear Orbi Voice: How your Wi-Fi can sing, too

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Orbi Voice is a mesh system that can sing.

Though available as a system named RBV50, the Orbi Voice is just a satellite unit of Netgear’s Orbi ecosystem — it works with any Orbi router. The selling point is it’s also an Alexa-enabled smart speaker with decent sound quality. The fact that recently Netgear has upgraded its firmware to make it work with any router means it’s a quite excellent buy for those needing both Wi-Fi and a smart speaker.

Netgear Orbi Voice Whole Home Mesh WiFi Satellite Extender

7.6

Performance

7.5/10

Features

8.0/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

7.0/10

Pros

  • Mesh Wi-Fi satellite and Alexa smart-speaker all in one
  • Excellent Wi-Fi coverage and speed, good sound quality
  • Nice, compact design

Cons

  • Only works with a Netgear Orbi router
  • Expensive, slightly buggy mobile app
  • Short delay in Alexa's response
READ NOW:  Netgear Orbi Voice Review: Useful but Expensive

3. Netgear Orbi CBK40: An Easy Mesh for Cable Users

The Orbi CBK40 share the same design yet is totally different from all other Orbi sets.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The Orbi CBK40 shares the same design yet is totally different from all other Orbi sets.

The Orbi CBK40 is Netgear’s only Orbi mesh system for cable users. The router unit, by itself, is a cable gateway. The system works very well for cable customers, as long as they don’t also cable Internet as their phone service.

Netgear Orbi CBK40 WiFi System with Built-in Cable Modem

7.6

Performance

8.0/10

Features

7.0/10

Design and Setup

8.0/10

Value

7.5/10

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Easy to setup
  • Built-in fast cable modem

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Middling Wi-Fi specs
  • No WAN port, no telephony capability
READ NOW:  Netgear Orbi CBK40 Review: Easy but Pricey Cable Upgrade

The TotoLink T10 comes in a set of three identical routers.
Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The TotoLink T10 comes in a set of three identical routers.

The T10 is one of the most affordable mesh systems on the market, but it’s not a cheap one. It delivers excellent coverage and good performance and has a standard web interface with all common settings and features. It’s a safe choice for those with simple Wi-Fi needs.

TOTOLINK Smart Home Wi-Fi System T10

7

Performance

6.5/10

Features

6.5/10

Design and Setup

7.0/10

Value

8.0/10

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Ability to block secure (https) websites
  • Fast performance as a single router
  • Easy to setup, compact design

Cons

  • Slow as a mesh network
  • Rudimentary interface with poorly written instructions
  • No easy way to find out signal strength between hardware units or to which unit a client is connected
  • No access point mode as mesh system
READ NOW:  TOTOLINK T10 Review: A modest Wi-Fi Mesh System

1. Linksys Velop Dual-Band: An affordable, reliable mesh

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech The 3-pack Linksys Velop Dual-band includes three identical routers.

The Linksys Velop Dual-Band is a downgrade to the original Velop by using dual-band routers instead of tri-band. In return, it’s a lot more affordable. Alternatively, you can also consider the Linksys Velop Plug-In.

Linksys Velop Dual-Band

7.1

Performance

6.5/10

Features

7.5/10

Design and Setup

7.5/10

Value

7.0/10

Pros

  • Compact design, easy to setup and mange
  • Reliable performance
  • Ability to use network cables as back-haul
  • Access point (bridge) mode supported
  • Ability to block Facebook, YouTube and alike.

Cons

  • A login account with Linksys is required
  • Short range
  • More expensive than competing systems
  • No built-in online protection
READ NOW:  Linksys Velop AC Dual-Band Mesh Review: A Sensible Downgrade

B. Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: The performance

I tested the performances of these systems at the review time with the latest firmware version available then. The charts below are sorted in the reviewed order — latest on top.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

I evaluate all mesh systems’ throughput performance by testing their router and then their satellite, placed some 40 feet (12 m) from the router. For the official scores, I always use the hardware units in the star topology, where each satellite unit has a direct wireless link to the router.

Dong Ngo | Dong Knows Tech

For throughput testing, I place the Wi-Fi client at some 10 feet (3 m) and some 40 feet (12 m) from the broadcaster (router/satellite) for the close- and long-range scores, respectively.

Found a typo? Please report by highlighting it and pressing Ctrl Enter Thank you! ❤️

You might also like

100 thoughts on “Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems”

  1. Hi Dong, thanks for the informative post! I recently got a wifi router to AX-3000 and the RE505X extender to cover my 1200 sq ft apartment (both are wifi 6 supported). It’s not a big size but I had connection issues in my office. However, I am not happy with the extender and considering to get a new one or go for a mesh system.

    After reading your article, I am inclined to get either Orbi Voice (keeping AX-3000 router) or Orbi RBK 13 due to its satellite speed and the budget. I wonder about your thoughts on getting an Orbi Voice as an wifi extender and combining it with a wifi 6 router. Thank you so much!

    Reply
      • Thanks. I read the article thoroughly and gained much more understanding about router and mesh system.

        Oops, my bad! It was the TP Link AX-3000 model which supports wifi6. In my 1200 sq ft apartment, theoretically I should not need an extender but somehow I kept having a signal loss in the farthest end from the router (there is a kitchen and two walls in between). Also, the TP link wifi 6 extender I got slowed down my Internet speed.

        I have a 400 mbps service and use the Internet mostly for the online teaching so my priority is a signal stability. To jump right in to the mesh system, I am worried about the sudden signal loss you mentioned about in another posting and even wonder maybe a better wifi router can do a better job.

        So, I was debating between getting a new extender (Orbi voice) or new router + mesh system. Or maybe one good router can solve the issue?

        Thanks for taking your time and effort!

        Reply
        • Sue,
          I’m not a tech expert but such a small home shouldn’t be an issue with a good router. Just briefly looking at the one you posted. Dong reviewed it (if didn’t miss read..) it has iffy wifi. I would be suspect of the TP link. I’m using asus RT AC86U. Your solution could just be a better model but I’ll post my situation so maybe you’ll figure out there are other possibilities.
          I live in a large 2300 Sq ft,, L shaped house with numerous walls and interfering devices. My router sat in the worst spot, southwest portion i call my office. The issue is my wifi user, whose on opposite end of my home, had bad reception or spotty service. I got lots of complaints…Similar to you I wondered about mesh or bigger router would help but spending $300 to 450…I wasn’t going to do that so I spent weeks reading this site and others. I came up with a solution for me. I knew ideally a router should be in the center of one’s home for WiFi. Furthermore, I know hardwired connections should be used as much as possible. As a temporary fix for WiFi users, I improved signal distance by moving the router from my office’s southwest wall to the office’s northeast wall, which is only 10 feet movement. The result? I don’t have to buy a new router or mesh system. I accomplished this by buying 2 extra long CAT 6 cables and a simple ethernet switch. One cable in WAN. One into LAN port. The LAN cable goes to the switch which can feed other devices in that room. (For me I have 3 PCs and network printer.) From the hub i used a 3 foot ethernet cable to my PC. (I have collected numerous small ones from other tech purchases). Cost me under $30, not an ideal solution because I have cables laying across my floor. One could buy longer and thinner cables to tuck under floor boards. My goal was to test my set up so you might discover a neater solution or just a better router.

          Reply
          • Thanks for your response and suggestion. After reading your comment, I relocated my wifi router about 3 feet closer to the hallway and already have a remarkable improvement. It was merely reaching 200 mbps on wifi in the in the office before. Now, I see it doubled the speed and is nearly the same as in the living room. Although, the speed fluctuates a lot (100-400 mbps) and I couldn’t check the connectivity, yet.

            Also, I just found out that the router has already passed its return period and can’t be returned 🙁 I’d like to keep it as long as I can solve the connectivity issue with other solutions. Besides relocating it, would an extender help?

          • That’s a great improvement and generally good enough for virtually anything you wanna do online, Sue. The best is the enemy of the good. 🙂

          • I am ordering an extra long CAT 6 cable to relocate the router to a better spot and will go from there. Thanks a lot, Michael and Dong!

            P.S. As for the TP-link AX 3000 model, both their website and Amazon don’t indicate any clear differences between TP-link AX 3000 and AX 50. I will contact their customer service to address this issue.

  2. Hi there Dong, is there an affordable (<=$250) wifi 5 mesh router with tri-band that you recommend? Likely would use wireless backhaul in remote parts of our 3400 sf house.

    Reply
    • Hi again Dong and thanks for your reply. This site really rocks and you provide a very valuable service to us; especially during the pandemic.

      While, I will try to run the ethernet downstairs, I don’t find this to be a sure thing. So, what wi-fi 5 mesh system would you recommend, where the satellites will do a decent job? This is why I was thinking Wifi 5 + tri-band…

      Reply
  3. Hi, Dong
    Great site, very helpful.
    I upgraded to a single Asus RT-86u based off your website site earlier this year with the idea if i needed to go mesh, I could. The Asus 86u definitely beat my linksys ac1900. However, due to my home’s layout I have discovered one side of my home still doesn’t get a good signal, so time to go mesh. Also, other devices have started to stutter lately while my main hardwired PC is downloading. I thought about getting the Asus RT-ac5300 to create mesh with my RT86u. (I couldn’t find a review of the ac5300 on this site. Only link to Amazon.)
    I would try wifi 6 but I felt the ax11000 is too expensive and the tech still needs more time on the market. Unless, you suggest wifi 6 based off my needs i figured I would stick with a beefier wifi 5, upgrade.
    I have over 15 to 25 client devices running at once, possibly more depending on guest and auto updating. I’ll soon have even more client devices, home school computers. My load is half gaming and streaming. House is L shaped 2 story with loads of thick walls and interference. Unfortunately, the router sits in the wrost spot for Wifi… where the cable modem sits. I know… awesome wifi layout! /s
    I have 100 Mbs service with potential for up to Gig in the future.
    I’m open to just scraping my Asus setup if there is a better option.Especially considering the cost of just the ac5300. I definitely need a device that can handle numerous users and cover my 3000 Sq ft wifi unfriendly home.
    Thanks!

    Reply
      • Thanks, for the rapid reply Dong!
        I really appreciate you taking the time to read my post, especially knowing it is likely redundant. I am still looking over the link and the sub links you suggested. I am apologize for forgetting to type that I am not concerned about speed I still want it fast but I need more consistent and stable signal. (Less latency)
        As I mentioned before, I know I need mesh and I already have the RT 86U, so that is why I inquired about the Asus RT AC5300, based off your post and thoughts on WiFi 5 vs 6. I am all about the AX11000 and know it would fit my needs but I am the type of user that if WiFi 5 mesh systems would do the job no need to get a pricey AX11000.

        Again, thanks for your time and efforts.

        Reply
  4. Hey Dong, I really appreciate your site. Tons of helpful info – not just re-stating the specs and giving a few speed test results like so many other sites.

    I’m in need of a new wifi setup. It’s going to have to be a mesh system because of the house layout (L-shape + brick). I’m trying to decide between the Synology RT2600 + RT2200, the Asus RT-AX92U (2 pack), and the D-Link COVR 2202 (2 pack). I am also open to others like Tplink, other Asus, etc. I am somewhat against Google, Nest, Orbi, Eero. I prefer actual speed and functionality over “ease of setup”. I’ve never had a problem working my way through most wifi router setups pages so I don’t need a system to “do it all for me”.

    What would you recommend for me? I just want something that will work without having to constantly adjust once it’s setup (aside from firmware updates). I also want something that you would expect to give several years of service and also not become obsolete sooner than 6-7 years. My budget is up to $350 but would prefer to spend less than $300.

    Would you be able to help me with what you recommend?

    Thank you!

    -Allen

    Reply
  5. I think after much analysis and going back and forth… I have decided it’s too soon to spend the money for WiFi6, and I think my best bang for the buck to provide great performance is to get two Asus RT-AC86u routers meshed together.

    Reply
  6. So with a wired backhaul house that is 2 story and 4000 square feet with a large backyard, would you go with a pair of 88Us or the CT8s? DO YOU you think I would need a third node? Of course, I’m looking for the perfect match of fast throughput speed and llomg extended range.

    Reply
  7. That is what I figured. But even comparing the main router performance, the Lyra Trio does not do as well as the AX 92u for example. I assume then you would recommend the CT8 or the 88U over the Lyra Trio… even though there are only two nodes instead of three? Thanks again!

    Reply
    • This depends on what you need, Sean. But yes, the CT8, or the 88U, is a FAR better system, especially when you don’t have wired backhaul.

      Reply
  8. I see you recommending the Asus Lyra Trio quite prominently here, however it seems from your test results that the Lyra Trio is one of the poorest performing speed options among these high-end models. Could you please clarify your admiration for this mesh system? I am considering it for my wired network but want to make sure, especially as compared to the other Asus AiMesh winners. Thank you.

    Reply
    • The numbers are those of a wireless setup, Sean. I only recommend it when you have wired your home with network cables. In this case, use the numbers of the router unit. And no, you can’t compare it with newer and much more expensive hardware.

      Reply
  9. What are your options for outdoor wifi? I have an ASUS Wired Mesh system in the house but it does not look like ASUS has an outdoor AP

    Reply
  10. Wow. Great website! In my few days of reading up on new routers, your site has helped explain a lot! A ton of options out there and this helps and average guy like me knowing what to look for. Am not very tech savvy and simply desire something that is user friendly for us and reliable.

    Your recommendation?

    3000 sq ft ranch style house, but with a few long hallways and back bedrooms we’d love stronger service in.

    2 people with the usual iPhones, 2 Apple TVs, new iMac, ipad, and a wireless printer that uses 2G. Don’t play video games. Just the usual steaming movies and email.

    Initially looking at the Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD WiFi System, but not sure if that’s too much or should look for something with a designated backhaul channel?

    Aesthetics is big for the mom so something white is ideal. Nixed the Eero due to the logging in thru Amazon and give them all our data. Not overly concerned with privacy, but your explanation of those systems were a deterrent.

    Ubiquiti the way to go? Perhaps something like TP-Link Deco M9 or Netgear Orbi RBK40? Hard to decide with so many options.

    Thanks again for the GREAT reviews! Incredibly helpful!

    Reply
    • This depends on how your house is, Scott. If it’s wired with network cables, you’ll have lots of great options. If not, a tri-band system is a must. So something like the Orbi RBK50 (or RBK85x). But really, you need to know what you want and how your home is first. I’d recommend starting with this post.

      Reply
  11. My home covers 4000 square feet on one floor. I have full cat6 in each room. Broadband max is 40mbit due to where I live.

    I don’t get coverage at either end of the house nor in the garden. I also suffer badly when my sons are downloading game patches and I’m trying to watch Netflix or I’m on a zoom call.

    I want a mesh WiFi. I assume I don’t need WiFi 6.

    How many WiFi units would you guess I need and what would you recommend in terms of QOS features to keep zoom and Netflix running smoothly?

    Any help much appreciated.

    Reply
    • Considering your broadband speed, Stu, you need to look into QoS. Use the Cusom settings to make calls the top priority, then gaming, then streaming. As for which to get, I’d recommend getting the Asus RT-AC86U as the main AiMesh router (it has great QoS), and then a set of the Lyra Trio as nodes (or you can use just the Lyra Trio by itself first.) Note: The Lyra Trio will take some time to set up. You’ll likely have to update its firmware which will make you have to set it up again etc. But the hardware will work well for your home since it’s already wired.

      Alternatively, you can also use the RT-AX86U with a set of TP-Link APs (you can skip the controller).

      As for how many hardware units, it’s hard to say, but this post might help.

      Reply
  12. Dong, you have been a great help – thanks! I hope others in a similar situation as mine will also benefit from your comments and reviews.

    Reply
  13. Thanks Dong, I took your advice and went from 4 SSID’s to 2. I turned off the ATT 5268ac WIFI for both the 2.4 and 5G channels and now am only using the Arch C9, that is cable connected, as an access point for all WIFI. My problem is that the ATT gateway is upstairs and the C9 access point is downstairs. Now I have some upstairs devices getting weak WIFI. There is no true pass-through/bridge mode on the ATT gateway and I don’t want to go with the double NAT with DMZ pseudo bridge configuration; therefore, a mesh is not an ideal option for me at this time.

    You mentioned that I should try a TP-Link access point; and, after reading your article, I think this is the best option. So now, I’m thinking, just remove the Archer C9 access point and replace it with the TP-Link EAP245 v3 AC1750 Access Point. I’m assuming the EAP245 will do a much better job as an access point than the Archer C9.

    Do you agree with this?

    Some folks say you need a tech with a 4’ forehead to configure the EAP245 and to just replace the C9 with a better router. What is your opinion. I am going after better WIFI signal strength, not speed. I feel I will not benefit from a new router since the ATT still does the routing. Do you agree?

    Again, thanks for your extremely helpful input with this!

    Reply
    • Yes, the PoE APs are much better than the C9, Kevin. And they are not that hard to configure. If you can do the C9, you can do them.

      Reply
  14. Dong, thanks for your quick informative response! After reading through your material, I am now wondering if I have a valid setup using my Archer C9 AC1900 connected (RJ45) to my main ATT router, Pace 5268ac, as an access point. It’s working and I have better access, except for a back room. Specifically, I have 4 SSIDs, 2.4Up, 5Up for upstairs and 2.4Dn and 5Dn for downstairs to cover the dual bands on the gateway and the Archer router. The 2.4 bands are using channels 6 and 11, and the 5G is using 153 and 44 – so I’m assuming no overlapping. DHCP is disabled on the access router. Questions:
    1. Is this a valid setup in your opinion?
    2. Is the Archer C9 AC1900 a candidate for a mesh network?
    3. Should I turn off the wireless on the ATT gateway and add a new router to work with the Archer C9?
    4. If I don’t have a way to connect the TP-Link access point you recommended with RJ45, is there a better alternative to use a combination wireless mesh?
    Sorry for all the questions.
    You have been a great resource and I thank you for your help.

    Reply
  15. Dong – thanks for sharing your experience and knowledge on these networking products – extremely helpful. I live in a rural part of north Georgia and the only internet access I have is with ATT U-verse – without TV. I have a DSL connection that performs at 30M/6M. I have to keep my 5268ac router so I need to keep this in mind when I add anything to it. What would you recommend for a mesh home system – if any at all. I want to improve signal strength for wireless cameras. I have a 2-story home with the main ATT router upstairs connected to an Archer C9 router used as an access point for downstairs wireless connections. I want to upgrade to a mesh and would appreciate your opinion – thanks.

    Reply
  16. Hello Dong. First off, thanks for the great write up. I’m not familiar with networking that much, but looking to upgrade my existing setup. I’m currently in a large home that is not wired for ethernet. We are renting so running wires is not an option. With that being said, I’m guessing my best option would be one with a dedicated wifi backhaul channel. I think this is going to be important, since our Comcast router is in the completely opposite part of the house as our game room which is where my kids have their XBox, gaming PCs, etc. What would be your recommendation for my scenario? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
  17. Thanks for the reply Dong, that is helpful advice.
    Would / will the CT8 be much better than the Deco M9 Plus? or just slightly?

    I can not find much detail on comparisons between the Deco M9 Plus and CT8, I have read a few users having drop out issues with the CT8, has yours been stable?

    Thanks for your time and help Dong

    Reply
    • I haven’t reviewed the M9, Tony, though I did the M5 and most recently the X60. Deco and AiMesh are different worlds entirely so it’s very hard to compare the two. But if you just talk about Wi-Fi coverage, Deco will give you want you to want with minimum effort while the AiMesh needs some tweaking. If you’re willing to put in the effort, AiMesh is way more satisfying. Hope this helps. 🙂

      Reply
  18. ASUS CT8 or ASUS RT-AX92U ? Which would you choose? I can get both for the same price, and they will solely be used as a MESH wifi system.
    I am upgrading from a Deco M9 Plus system
    Thank you

    Reply
    • I have both, Tony, so I don’t need to choose. 🙂 I’d go with the CT8 since it’s a lot easier to use and more stable. But if you don’t mind tinkering a bit, the other has more features and is really cute.

      Reply
  19. Thank you, Dong! This is an excellent suggestion and I’m running with it. When complete, I’ll be running the Unifi Dream Machine with 2 Unifi AP Pro access points connected to Verizon FIOS gigabit service with DNS service provided by Pi-Hole running on 2 Raspberry PI 3’s (redundant, block list sync only). DHCP will be handled by the Dream Machine. This should be a very nice upgrade over my current setup and will save me the $144/year router rental. Thanks again.

    Reply
  20. Hello Dong,
    Thanks very much for all the insight! Do any of these systems offer robust security including anti-malware protection? I’m moving on from the discontinued Cujo and looking to upgrade my Unifi Pro APs in a ~2,400 square foot home. I have wired gigabit connections to key spots in the house and the kids gaming consoles are all on ethernet. So, I’m wonder which systems might be a good fit for me.

    Reply
  21. Thanks for a GREAT, informative website, Dong. I think I spent about 8 hours on here this weekend, but I’ve become paralyzed by indecision!

    I have a 6500 square foot, 3-story home with Cat 5e and Cat 6 throughout. Current internet service is 360Mbps, and I use an Apple Airport Time Capsule as my router. Since the Time Capsule is in the exact geographic middle of my home, it provides a good wifi signal throughout, EXCEPT one bedroom over the garage and the garage itself, where the wifi signal either poor or nonexistent. That bedroom DOES have Cat 5e, however.

    I like the Time Capsule because it’s easy to backup my desktop, and it provides a good signal to most of the house. Is it possible to use a single node of the Asus Lyra Trio or a Blue Cave with my Time Capsule to bring wifi to that bedroom? I mention those two since they look attractive, and I think my wife wouldn’t mind them as much as other routers/nodes. Or should I stop relying on the Time Capsule as a router and get a different mesh system altogether? I’ve thought about the Ubiquiti UniFi Dream Machine with an access point, the Asus Lyra Trio, and one of the various tp-link Deco solutions, since I’m already using a 24-port unmanaged tp-link switch. What would you do in my situation? Thanks again for this superb web site!

    Reply
  22. Dong,

    Thanks. Was wondering if you had and ideas on if any of the other recommended systems support the VLAN tagging?

    Most of your review don’t mention anything but was not sure if that means they do not support.

    Guess it could be that vendors think adding that adds too much complexity for most users.

    Thanks agian
    Brad

    Reply
    • Sure, Brad. I think most home routers don’t support VLAN, unless you run third-party firmware. You need a business or enterprise product for that. However, Linksys routers tend to have this, but I haven’t tried that out.

      Reply
  23. Dong.

    Thanks for the very informative reviews. If I want VLAN tagging so I can firewall off IOT devices do you have any recommendation.

    Was thinking of using either the tplink EAP series or some the the ubiquiti devices but did not know what else is out there.

    For the router think something like the ubiquiti edgerouter x but again open to suggestions.

    Want multiple access points and seamless roaming. I know you said that EAP series does not support smartconnect but if I use the same SSID and password for both frequencies I get the same thing right.

    Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Sure, Brad. I’d just create a separate SSID for IoT devices and keep that SSID isolated from the main network — the setting is AP Isolation (on) or Access Intranet (off), or something along those lines. Basically it’s a guest network. As for Smart Connect, yes, having two bands with the same SSID (and password) will give you pretty much the same effect.

      Reply
    • For that Internet speed, you might want to run network cables. The M9+ is decent but in a wireless setup it can’t deliver your Internet in full.

      Reply
  24. Wired backhaul recomendation: I was considering the Lyra ($260) or 3 Blue caves ($360) or 1 RT-AC86U + 2 Blue Caves ($416) but woudl consider others. 4 story 4000 sq.ft. house with cat5e. Main computer is a MBP with 3×3 wireless. I did not see any perfomance comparisons with wired backhual. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Get the Lyra Trio, John (not Lyra). It will take a bit longer to set up, you’ll have to update it firmware etc but it’ll work great for a house with wired backhaul. Wired backhaul will give the node the same performance as the router unit, so no point in testing that for my reviews.

      Reply
  25. Hi Dong, really appreciate your reviews and your detailed responses to comments. I am in the market for a new mesh system, I currently have an original eero mesh system, but I have a larger home now, ~3500 sq ft over 3 floors, and the eero isn’t quite keeping up. I have AT&T gig service but I do not have Ethernet throughout the home and am debating between the ASUS CT8 or XT8. I have a few AX devices, mostly new phones, is it worth future proofing my WiFi system for the $120 difference between the 2 systems? I am open to other suggestions as well. Beyond the phones, there are multiple non-AX devices, including laptops, tablets, video consoles and a lot of smart home devices (TVs, Hue bulbs, Google Home and Amazon Alexa, Google Nest security, Kasa plugs and switches, etc.), so I would like something that will make it easy for those to connect to going forward. Any advice would be appreciated!

    Reply
    • If you have Gigabit Internet and the house isn’t wired with network cables then you should consider a Wi-Fi 6 system, Lu. Best if you could place one unit on the first story’s ceiling (or close to that) and the 2nd on the 3rd’s floor. Both close to the middle. But you can also place on the 1st and 2nd floors, respectively.

      Reply
  26. Thanks alot for answering quickly. Good valid points.
    Nice to know that part of the value of the synology router is the ability to act as a nas. I do think i’ll go with with the UDM! I like to tinker 🙂

    Im not a networking professional. Actually physical therapist, but i spend a couple of years studying software development. So im not actually going for the most ease of use. I admit I find the access to the more technical setup in the unifi products is actually alluring.
    Thanks again.

    Reply
  27. Hey Dong. I really enjoy your reviews. I would like your opinion on wether I should get a Ubiquiti Dream Machine or Synology RT2600ac for our family’s 1700sq ft home. We have three small kids, aged 3,5 and 8. And timed internet access control, content filtering is a considerable benefit. I understand you are very impressed with both routers. We have a Synology nas and like it very much. But I also see the age of the synology router, and the unifi controller seems very capable.
    My reason for wanting another/new router is reduced 5ghz signal in our livingroom. So the signal strength of the two devices would be a decisive factor.
    Thanks for your thoughts!

    Reply
    • Considering you already have a Synology NAS, the RT2600ac is not necessary, Peter. I’d recommend an Asus router though, like the RT-AC86U, since it’s going to be much easier to use and will deliver what you need. But the UDM will do.

      Reply
  28. Hello Dong, I have a dual-band router ASUS AC 68-U and I would like to buy a second router to set up an AImesh network. Should I get a tri-band or second dual-band router? If I set up the new tri-band router as the router and the AC68-U as the node would I have a dedicated wireless backhaul or does the node need to be tri-band as well?

    Reply
    • Get another dual band router, Stefan. And no, you want have dedicated backhaul when there’s a dual band router involved. Check my post on AiMesh for more.

      Reply
  29. Thanks, Dong! Would it be worthwhile to wait for the AX8 or just pick up the CT8? From what I read, though the router is Wifi 6 capable, most devices currently are not.

    Reply
  30. Hi there,

    Between Orbi RBK40 and Asus Zenwifi CT8, which would you recommend in terms of:

    1. Reliability and stability
    2. Range
    3. Ease of setup and use
    4. Speed

    Reply
  31. Dong – would you mind briefly elaborating on the eero/google information collection. I was unaware and now worried that I using one of those brands.

    If money was not a factor, which of the products you reviewed would you use?

    Thanks again

    Reply
    • I’ll write a post on this at some point but generally, these devices collect lots of information from your network to “learn” about you so that it can “improve” the performance. They might say they don’t collect this or that but you never know. The thing is, if their server goes down, you lose access to your router since you have to connect with the vendor first before you can access your network settings.

      Reply
    • The Eero (as well as Google Wifi and alike) turns the users into the vendor’s product. Considering the amount of information it collects, I don’t test it and its type anymore. At least for now, until I find a way to test it in sandbox.

      Reply
  32. Cool. I’m using my ZenWifi as my main network backbone with my old AC86U as a aimesh node running backhaul via ethernet, for a little extra coverage as I suspect that the 86U still has greater range.
    I’d normally use the AC86U as the main router (having read about triband routers being ‘pointless’), but having played around with the updated firmware on the ZenWifi, I simply can’t bring myself to give it up (FW386 has a AiMesh UI page – looks like Synology’s but since I don’t own those products, I don’t have a first hand account).
    Looking forward to your analysis/discoveries.

    Reply
  33. Windows 10 supports WPA3 since 1909, so does Android 10 and iOS/iPadOS 13. Thus, many people already got WPA3 compliant clients.

    And yes, WPA3 is usefull even if only one of your devices supports it. At least that connection will be more secure. And some times faster too actually:

    When it comes to privacy, Google is bad, can’t argue that. But many other vendors also profit on user data. Ubiquiti for instance, which has been in the news lately.

    I still think GWifi is a worthy candidate for this summary. For the non technical person, it’s hard to beat the simplicity/ performance/ security/ usability total package.

    Reply
    • I agree. Vendors love to collect user info, and they all do to a degree. Google has so much on us already, giving it our network traffic is a bit scary. But it’s a matter of opinion.

      Reply
  34. Hi Dong, thanks for a great summary. Would you care to explain why you left Google WiFi out of it? Or even Nest WiFi? They are both great alternatives, the only reason I see not to like them must be privacy related. Features worth mentioning:
    * Optional wired backhaul, even with Nest WiFi if you only buy router units or reuse Google WiFi units with a Nest WiFi router
    * WPA3 (even for Google WiFi)
    * Easy setup
    * Great parental control
    * Decent priced and speed

    Reply
    • WPA3 is just a matter of firmware/software update. It’s totally useless unless ALL clients you have support it, which will take a long time. In short, it’s not anything worth noting right now, but maybe a few years in the future. But you got a point, Olav. The main reason I don’t include those mesh systems anymore — I reviewed the original Google Wifi when it first came out and raved about it that the time — because I personally would not use them for myself. Considering the amount of information the vendors collect, those systems should be free (and then, I still would not use them 🙂 ).

      Reply
  35. Hi Dong, A little surprised that ZenWifi isn’t on this list yet. I just got mine even though it came out a couple months ago. Any thoughts on it yet? Would love to see a range/performance breakdown.

    Reply
  36. Hi Dong, what’s your take on the Gryphon mesh router? The parental controls seem promising but having several devices (really heavy on the smart home devices, over 30 devices) I don’t sacrifice performance. I have been having intermittent internet and streaming issues. Or should I just stick with you list?

    Reply
  37. Thanks Dong. Costco sells a version of the Orbi wi-fi 6 called the RBK 842. Any idea how it’s different than the RBK 852? Is the RBK 852 worth the extra cost and would the performance difference be noticeable vs the RBK 842?

    Reply
    • They are very similar, Jason. The RBK852 has Wi-Fi 6 on the 2.4GHz band while the 842 uses Wi-Fi 5 on this band. Since this band is not super important, you’ll likely see no difference between the two.

      Reply
  38. What would you say is the most powerful wi-if 6 mesh system for range and speed?
    1. Amplifi Alien x 2
    2. Orbi RBK 852
    3. Arris Surfboard Max Pro x2

    Reply
    • They all have the same range. Considering there are only 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 clients, they’ll also deliver similar speeds. That said, I’d recommend the Orbi. I like the Alien, too but you should wait to learn more about its mesh capability as I said in the review. 🙂

      Reply
  39. Trying to decide between Netgear Orbi RBK50 and Synology MR2200ac (2 units). Home is 3000 square feet and is a 2 story. Which would perform better? Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • Either one will work, Ivan. Just make sure you find good spots to place the hardware units. But if you don’t want to have to mess around with the settings, get the Orbi. The latest version for sure will work out best though it might be cost-prohibitive.

      Reply
  40. Thank you Dong. I’m considering the Arris SB6183 or Netgear CM500? Which would you suggest based on longevity, stability and performance?

    Also, I read that some people get slightly faster speeds when they switch from Docsis 3.0 to Docsis 3.1, even if they have a lower speed service like 100mps. Is there any truth to that? Thanks,

    Reply
    • For your case, either one will work, Dale. But get the Netgear since the Arris is rather old and might be phased out soon, if not already. As for DOCSIS 3.1 delivering faster speed on an existing plan, don’t count on it. If that’s the case it’s only in a particular situation.

      Reply
  41. Hi Dong, I’m sorry for all of the questions. I would like to get everything set up this weekend. Can you suggest the best cable modem (I have xfinity) to use with my 2x MR2200ac mesh system? I have 100mps service.

    1. Would a Docsis 3.1 modem give me better performance than a Docsis 3.0 modem?

    2. Trying to decide between Arris, Motorola, and Netgear. Depending on the model, I’ve read good and bad reviews for all of them. I really need your expert opinion. I want the one that is the most reliable and stable, but also offers the best performance.

    I really appreciate your help!

    Reply
    • For 100Mbps, any modem will do, Dale. It makes no difference if you get a more expensive modem. Get a Docsis 3.1 only if you think you’ll get 1Gbps or faster speed down the line (though you can always get a new modem then.) Modems are pretty the same, but I’d recommend a Netgear if you want to be sure.

      Reply
  42. Great thank you Dong! I’m going to go with the 2x MR2200ac. Is it difficult to set these up together? Do you have any instructions on how to do this? Much appreciated.

    Reply

Leave a comment below. (Subject to approval. No spam or profanity, please!)

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: