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 have the ratings 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. Among other things, you’ll understand 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 of 2020: 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.
11. Asus ZenWiFi AC CT8: The official AiMesh system that rocks
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 the 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
- 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
- Web user interface doesn't always work as intended (bugs)
- No Guest networking at mesh nodes
- SMBv1 required for NAS when hosting an external drive
- Only 3 LAN ports per router
- Not enough setting instructions
10. EnGenius ESR580: An affordable tri-band system
At launch, the EnGenius ESR580 had some issues, but now with the latest firmware, it’s a mesh worth considering. It’s a tri-band system with a dedicated backhaul band to deliver fast Wi-Fi speed in a wireless setup. It also comes with a price-tag that won’t break your bank.
EnGenius EnMesh ESR580 Whole-Home Smart Mesh WiFi System
- Tri-band Wi-Fi specs with fast performance
- Compact, wall-mountable, easy setup
- Well-designed mobile app, useful Parental Control feature
- Wired backhaul support
- Needs to restart to apply almost any changes
- Spartan feature set
- Some functions of the mobile need improving
- Extremely slow NAS write speed when hosting an external drive
9. Netgear Orbi RBK13: A Mesh for the budget-minded
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
- Reliable Wi-Fi, excellent coverage
- Relatively affordable, plenty of settings, useful features
- Easy to set up, compact design
- Environmentally conscientious packaging
- Middling Wi-Fi specs, low Wi-Fi throughputs
- No dedicated or wired backhaul option
- Not wall-mountable
8. Ubiquiti Labs AmpliFI HD: The cool mesh
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.
7. Zyxel Multy U: A mesh system for fashion buffs
The Zyxel Multy U tries a bit too hard to be trendy and becomes a bit hard to use in terms of placement. As a Wi-Fi mesh, however, this mesh has a great combo of reliable performance and affordable pricing.
Zyxel Multy U AC2100 Home Wi-Fi Mesh System
- Good Wi-Fi performance and coverage
- Tri-band with dedicated backhaul
- Can work in access point (bridge) mode
- Wired backhaul support
- Impractical design
- Buggy mobile app
- Limited networking settings and features
- No web user interface
6. Synology Mesh: A custom professional mesh you can always count on
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
- 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
- Limited hardware options
- Few network ports
- Not available as a package (you need to get two or more units)
5. Asus Lyra Trio: An ideal mesh system for a wired home
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
- 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
- Not able to block secure (HTTPS) websites
- Can only work as AiMesh nodes
- Minimal Wi-Fi settings
4. Netgear Orbi Voice: How your Wi-Fi can sing, too
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
- Mesh Wi-Fi satellite and Alexa smart-speaker all in one
- Excellent Wi-Fi coverage and speed, good sound quality
- Nice, compact design
- Only works with a Netgear Orbi router
- Expensive, slightly buggy mobile app
- Short delay in Alexa's response
3. Netgear Orbi CBK40: An Easy Mesh for Cable Users
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.
2. TOTOLINK T10: A safe and affordable mesh choice
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
- Ability to block secure (https) websites
- Fast performance as a single router
- Easy to setup, compact design
- 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
1. Linksys Velop Dual-Band: An affordable, reliable mesh
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
- 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.
- A login account with Linksys is required
- Short range
- More expensive than competing systems
- No built-in online protection
B. Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems of 2020: 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.
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.
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.