Friday, October 15th, 2021 • Welcome to the 💯 No-Nonsense Tech Zone! • 😷 Get Vaxxed 💉!

Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: Still Excellent Options in 2021

See also  Best Wi-Fi 5 Routers: On a Budget? You Should Get One of These

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 moves to Wi-Fi 6, it’s actually a great time to invest in a fully mature Wi-Fi standard. 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 Pair of Asus RT-AC86U Routers make one of the Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: A pair of RT-AC86U units will make an excellent AiMesh system

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. The number in front of their name is just numerical and not meant to be the ranking.

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. UniFi BeaconHD (Plus the UDM): A flexible home mesh for savvy users

UniFi UDM Mesh
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: A combo of the UniFi Dream Machine and the UniFi BeaconHD makes Wi-Fi 5 solution.

The UniFi BeaconHD is not a mesh system of its own. Instead, it’s an add-on unit that turns the UniFi Dream Machine (UMD) into a host of a robust mesh system.

Combining the two gives you a powerful UniFi mesh system that is both easy to use via a mobile app and super comprehensive via the web user interface.

Ubiquiti Unifi Access Point BeaconHD's Rating

7.1 out of 10
Beacon HD Powerstrip
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8/10
Design and Setup
4/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Reliable Wi-Fi coverage and performance

Super-easy to set up and manage via the UniFi mobile app

Beautiful status light

Cons

Bulky without a pass-through power socket

Can only fit in a single or two-outlet wall face-plate

No network ports, no dedicated backhaul band

Only works with UniFi controllers

Firmware update requires the web interface

See also  UniFi BeaconHD Review: An Excellent yet Frustrating Mesh Add-on

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

Asus RT AX92U Ports
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: The RT-AX92U is available as a single router 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's Rating

8.5 out of 10
Asus RT AX92U Cuteness
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8.5/10
Ease of Use
8/10
Value
9/10

Pros

Compact design, tri-band specs

Good performance, large coverage

Excellent set of features, including online protection, WTFast VPN for gamers, and system-wide Guest network when working as a mesh

Link Aggregation and Dual-WAN support, wall-mountable

Comparatively affordable

Cons

Wi-Fi 6 available only on one of the 5GHz bands

No Multi-Gig port

See also  Asus RT-AX92U Review: A Cute and Effective Little Odd One Out of AiMesh

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

Asus ZenWiFi XT8
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: 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's Rating

8.3 out of 10
ZenWiFi AC CT8 Top
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8.5/10
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

The 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

The combo of buggy firmware and auto-update

See also  Asus ZenWiFi AC Review: A True, and Improved, Wireless AiMesh System

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

Orbi RBK13 Port
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: 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's Rating

8 out of 10
Orbi RBK13 Set
Performance
7.5/10
Features
8.5/10
Design and Setup
8/10
Value
8/10

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

See also  Netgear Orbi RBK13 Review: A Reliable Budget Wi-Fi Mesh

6. Ubiquiti Labs AmpliFI HD: The totally cool mesh

AmpliFI HD BOX
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: The AmpliFI HD mesh system comes in a fancy box.

The AmpliFi HD was first introduced 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's Rating

8.3 out of 10
AmpliFI HD
Performance
8.5/10
Features
7/10
Design and Setup
9/10
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

See also  AmpliFi HD Wi-Fi System Review: Still a Mesh Novelty

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

The RT2600ac and the MR2200ac (back) are made for each other.
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: 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's Rating

8.8 out of 10
Synology Mesh
Performance
9.5/10
Features
9.5/10
Design and Setup
8/10
Value
8/10

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)

See also  Synology Mesh Review: Home Wi-Fi Turned Pro and Much More

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

The Asus Lyra Trio comes in three identical units.
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: 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's Rating

8 out of 10
AsusLyraTrio 4 1
Performance
8/10
Features
8.5/10
Design and Setup
7/10
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

See also  Asus Lyra Trio Review: Versatile Mesh at a Friendly Price

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

Orbi Voice 2
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: 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's Rating

7.6 out of 10
Orbi Voice 8
Performance
7.5/10
Features
8/10
Design and Setup
8/10
Value
7/10

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

See also  Netgear Orbi Voice Review: Useful but Expensive

2. 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.
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: 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 use cable Internet as their landline phone service.

Netgear Orbi CBK40's Rating

7.6 out of 10
Orbi CBK40 With Names
Performance
8/10
Features
7/10
Design and Setup
8/10
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

See also  Netgear Orbi CBK40 Review: Easy but Pricey Cable Upgrade

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

Linksys Velop Dual Band 8
Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: 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's Rating

7.1 out of 10
Linksys Velop Dual Band 8
Performance
6.5/10
Features
7.5/10
Design and Setup
7.5/10
Value
7/10

Pros

Compact design, easy to set up 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

See also  Linksys Velop Dual-Band Mesh Review: A Sensible Downgrade

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.

Best Wi Fi 5 Mesh Router Perf Chart
Best Wi Fi 5 Mesh Router Perf Chart

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.

Best Wi Fi 5 Mesh Satellites Perf Chart
Best Wi Fi 5 Mesh Satellites Perf Chart

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.

☕ Appreciate the content? Buy Dong a Ko-fi!

124 thoughts on “Best Wi-Fi 5 Mesh Systems: Still Excellent Options in 2021”

  1. Hi Dong,

    I know you don’t review the eero or Google products but here’s my current setup. I have the second generation 3-node eero system providing good WiFi coverage for a 2500 sq ft 3-level home (basement, main floor, and upper bedrooms/home office). The nodes are all hardwired via CAT5E (GE). I recently upgraded to Fios 1G internet and am seeing speeds ranging from 320 – 536 mbps, depending upon proximity to any particular node. I’m not complaining but am curious whether in your opinion it’s worth upgrading to a “mesh” system with an RT2600AC and a single MR2200AC using wired backhaul (I think the RT2600AC can cover both the basement and main floors) or waiting for more WiFi 6E products to become available and less expensive? I was interested in the Asus WiFi 6 Ai mesh products but don’t feel like working through firmware compatibility issues. Plus I like the NAS features of the RT2600AC which would allow me to deploy a large-capacity desktop USB drive as a NAS.

    Thanks.

    Reply
    • I do review Google and eero Ian (use the site search for those of the latest eeros). However, Google hasn’t released a new product since I started Dong Knows Tech. As for your situation, go with the Synology. It’ll serve you well for years to come.

      Reply
  2. Hi Dong

    I have just ONE important requirement for a router that only needs to work in a small area, that being it must automatically and quickly fail over to a USB 4G modem when the fibre fails, and back to fibre when it becomes available again.

    What recommendations would you make?

    Cheers
    Dom

    Reply
    • Almost any Asus router can do that via the dual-WAN feeature where you can use the USB port with a cellular modem, Dom. The tricky part is which modem, which I’m not sure because that depends on the provider.

      Reply
  3. Great info Dong. So if you were going to replace a Google mesh setup today for a 5000 SF 2 Story home (which is using a 4 puck setup – router, 2 wired and one wireless satellite) and were convinced either ASUS or Synology, which ASUS combo (router / satellites) and which Synology combo (straight MR or mixed RT and MR?) would you recommend? I think in reality I can live with 3 total units, but one still needs to be wireless (and one wired), in the house. Google app says I have 55 clients connected and if it matters there are 3 people working from this home (tons of video calls) plus also have a Synology NAS running for backups, PLEX and a ton of photos served to several family users, and several WiFi cameras (Arlo and Ring). Internet is 1 Gig fiber up and down. I’m thinking Tri-Band since I need one wireless satellite but maybe not WiFi6 (both for cost and since I’m interested in the Synology option) and virtually all my clients (except a new iPhone and one of the laptops) are WiFi5 or earlier and I have a ton of IoT smart devices all of which were developed under WiFi4 standards.

    Thanks in advance — GREAT info on your site!

    Reply
  4. Hi Dong!
    I’m somewhat new to the world of home networking and mesh wifi, so I was hoping to get your advice. I live in a old apartment building with very thick concrete walls. We have all 3 bedrooms wired with ethernet from the main router, but wifi using an extender is spotty at best.

    I’d like to upgrade to a mesh wifi system that makes use of our existing cabling as an ethernet backhaul. I’m also budget conscious and living in Canada, so our retail options are a little different than the US (amazon.ca vs amazon.com, etc).

    I was considering the TP-Link Deco M4 with 2 nodes, on for $169 CAD https://amzn.to/3avI7DB

    I’d love to hear your take on my situation and what you might recommend. Thanks in advance!

    Reply
  5. This might not be your area of expertise but do you have experience working with Wireless home security cameras and security doorbells in a mesh wifi system? Just to be honest I’ve never setup a proper home security system before so I don’t know the networking behind it.

    My question is on the networking side, I’m wondering at how they would fit in a WiFi 5 based dual band mesh system linked together wirelessly (currently using a Deco M5 x3 units) that already has 5+ devices connected 24/7 (phones, a smart tv, 2 set top boxes). My house is also shaped.

    Is it suitable to add a couple WiFi based cameras (and maybe a security doorbell) to the current setup or should I upgrade to tri-band routers and WiFi 6?

    Reply
    • Search the site and you will know, Forte. Your question is very broad…. Items you mentioned are generally known as Internet of Things. They are generally terrible with Wi-Fi. That said, make sure you buy those from known vendors. Also, they use a lot of upload bandwidth which can be an issue if you have slow Internet.

      Reply
  6. Hi Dong, what would you recommend for an outbuilding at the bottom of the yard. Already cabled CAT6. Want AiMesh and merlin firmware. Have an RT-AC86U which is rock solid. But don’t want to stretch to another AC86U as an AiMesh node. Thanks, Alex.

    Reply
  7. Hi Dong,

    Based on your suggestion, I purchased two of the Asus RTX 86 routers and put them in a mesh with my older Asus AC1900 router. It seems to work pretty well, but my devices don’t really seem to switch to a different node as I move through the house. If I stand beside my router, my phone still stays latched on to the node on the other side of the house. I thought it should switch since I am a pretty good distance from the node its latched on to. Not sure why this would happen. Do you have any suggestions? Even when I disconnected the node on the other side of the house from the mesh, my phone never showed connected to the router that was still going. Does that make sense? In the asus app, it still showed connected to the node that was unplugged and I never could get it to update and show connected to the main router. The hand off between nodes doesn’t seem to be happening.

    Reply
      • Thanks Dong, I appreciate it. I have one other question. My firestick usually connects on the 5ghz channel but on occasion, the signal isn’t the best and the stream gets choppy. Is there a reason it doesn’t switch to the 2.4 channel at that point? Seems like that would be superior than a choppy 5 ghz channel. Thank you for your thoughts!

        Reply
  8. Hi Dong

    Potentially moving to a home that can only access home internet by 4G and then only at a maximum of 20Mbps. What can I use to get the best speeds possible through my home of 270m3 with thick walls and two floors?

    Many thanks in advance

    Reply
  9. This is the best resource out there. Thank you for all of this info.
    Would a wifi mesh system be less prone to random signal loss as opposed to having routers with access points? I currently have a Netgear modem going to a Netgear Nighhawk router and then to an ethernet switch to send ethernet all over the house. I have 2 more Netgear routers to cover the house. When it works, it works great as I have a large family and we normally have 2 or 3 zoom sessions going on simultaneously and with many wired and wireless devices connected. Usually once a day, the signal is lost for 2-5 mins. I run to the modem and all the lights are on and it looks normal, but there is no signal at the attached router. I had my ISP out to look at it and they assured me everything was ok on their end (Spectrum 400/20 speed). I’m thinking of either changing to a wifi mesh system you’ve recommended here OR changing to a gigabyte plan. Which do you think would be a better move?
    Thank you!

    Reply
  10. I’m surprised to not find in any of your reviews or comments anyone mention the tentatively New Taotronics AC3000 trio band mesh duo. I just picked it up for $199CAD (roughly $149 USD) and based on user reviews, techy reviews, send to be amazing value. I’ll let you know what I get with it, but curious if you have any thoughts on it:
    https://amzn.to/3fIFiRB

    Reply
    • The fact it’s not available in the US might have something to do with that, John. Also, I can’t review everything. I’d not take the Amazon user reviews seriously, though. Most of them are fake (or paid) — there’s a whole industry on this matter. In fact, your package might include an offer of a gift card in return for a positive review. 🙂 But I hope it works out. Keep us posted.

      Reply
  11. 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.

  12. 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
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
  26. 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
  27. 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
  28. 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
  29. 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
  30. 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
  31. 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
  32. 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
  33. 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
  34. 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
  35. 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
  36. 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
  37. 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
  38. 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
  39. 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
  40. 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
  41. 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
  42. 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
  43. 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
  44. 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
  45. 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
  46. 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
  47. 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
  48. 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
  49. 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
  50. 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
  51. 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
  52. 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