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Top Five Best Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Systems for 2023: A Wired Home’s Sensible Options

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This list includes the best among all Wi-Fi 6E mesh systems I've reviewed and is sorted in the review order. The numbers are just numerical and not meant to be the ranking.

While these are purpose-built mesh systems, their router unit can work as standalone routers. Still, if you're living in a place where a single broadcaster suffices, check out this list of the best Wi-Fi 6E routers. Or here are the options to upgrade your existing network to Wi-Fi 6E.

Dong's note: I originally published this frequently-revised piece on October 30, 2022, and last updated it on July 12, 2023, to add or remove hardware options accordingly.

Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Systems: A couple of important notes

Wi-Fi 6E is the extension of Wi-Fi 6, which has an additional 6GHz band. Wi-Fi 6E has the same feature and speed grades as Wi-Fi 6. The only difference is the 6GHz band is clean and, therefore, can archive the top speed more easily and reliably.

In return, the 6GHz band has a noticeably shorter range than the 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. And that makes things tricky for Wi-Fi 6E mesh systems -- no band can work reliably as the backhaul without signal loss.

The point is this: If you're looking into Wi-Fi 6E mesh with hopes of fast wireless performance (and rightfully so), it's best to use it via wired backhauling -- get your home wired!

And if you want the best possible performance, Multi-Gig backhauling is the way to go.

Extra: Fronthaul vs backhaul

When you use multiple Wi-Fi broadcasters -- in a mesh network or a combo of a router and an extender -- there are two types of connections: fronthaul and backhaul.

Fronthaul is the Wi-Fi signals broadcast outward for clients or the network ports for wired devices. It's what we generally expect from a Wi-Fi broadcaster.

Backhaul (a.k.a backbone,) on the other hand, is the link between one satellite Wi-Fi broadcaster and another, which can be the network's primary router, a switch, or another satellite unit.

This link works behind the scenes to keep the hardware units together as a system. It also determines the ceiling bandwidth (and speed) of all devices connected to the particular broadcaster.

The connection type, a Wi-Fi band or a network port, used for the backhaul is often called the uplink. A Wi-Fi broadcaster might use one of its bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, or 6GHz) or a network port for the uplink.

Dual-WAN: Where the distinction between bandwidth vs speed is clear

When a Wi-Fi band handles backhaul and fronthaul simultaneously, only half its bandwidth is available to either end. From the perspective of a connected client, that phenomenon is called signal loss.

A Wi-Fi connection between two direct parties occurs in a single band, using one fixed channel, at any given time. This principle applies to all existing Wi-Fi standards, up to Wi-Fi 6E.

When a Wi-Fi band functions solely for backhauling, it's called the dedicated backhaul.

In a mesh system, only traditional Tri-band hardware -- those with an additional 5GHz band -- can have a dedicated backhaul band without ostracizing clients of the same band.

Generally, it's best to use network cables for backhauling -- wired backhauling. And that's an advantage of mesh hardware with network ports. In this case, a satellite broadcaster can use its entire Wi-Fi bandwidth for front-hauling.

In networking, network cables are always much better than wireless in speed and reliability.

Sure, a Wi-Fi 6E mesh system will work in a wireless configuration -- sometimes even quite well if you live in an airy home with lots of open spaces. Most of the time, though, your mileage will vary greatly, and the performance, more often than not, is much lower than your expectations.

With that, let's check out your current best options.


TP Link Deco XE200 AXE11000 Whole Home Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 2 Pack Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12 2 Netgear Orbi RBKE960 Quad band Mesh Wi Fi 6E System Box 1 Asus ZenWiFi ET8 Tri band Wi Fi 6E Mesh System 1 Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max 6E with power adapters
NameTP-Link Deco XE200's RatingAsus ZenWiFi Pro ET12's RatingNetgear Orbi RBKE960 Series' RatingAsus ZenWiFi ET8's RatingLinksys AXE8400 Atlas Max's Rating
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5. TP-Link Deco XE200: A solid mesh that’s also a missed opportunity

(If you didn't read the intro, this is the latest member on this list β€” the number is only numerical, not the ranking.)

TP-Link Deco XE200 AXE11000 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System comes with two identical routers.
TP-Link Deco XE200 AXE11000 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System includes two identical routers. Each has a 10Gbps Muti-Gig port and two Gigabit ports.

The Deco XE200 is a significant upgrade to the XE75 below. Unfortunately, having just one Multi-Gig port, it fails to be the ultimate mesh -- there's no chance for us to get a Multi-Gig wired backhauling setup out of it.

Still, for those with Gigabit or slower broadband, the XE200 is an excellent buy.

Alternatively, you can also consider the lesser yet similar TP-Link Deco XE75.

TP-Link Deco XE200's Rating

8.1 out of 10
TP Link Deco XE200 AXE11000 Whole Home Mesh Wi Fi 6E System 2 Pack
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
6.5 out of 10
Design and Setup
9 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

10Gbps port, 6GHz support, top-tier Wi-Fi, reliable Wi-Fi performance with extensive coverage

Easy to use; comparatively affordable

Good-looking

Cons

Single Multi-Gig port, spartan Wi-Fi, and network customization

Fluctuating Wi-Fi speeds, Mobile app, and login account required; HomeShield Pro costs money

No USB port, impractical design


4. Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12: First Multi-Gig wired mesh set out of the box

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
The Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12, like the ET8 below, includes two identical Wi-Fi 6E routers.

The ZenWiFi Pro ET12 is the second Wi-Fi 6E mesh system from Asus.

Like the ET8 that came out almost half a year ago, this new mesh doesn't have an additional band to work as backhaul.

As a result, it works best in a wired backhaul setup. And in this case, thanks to the top-tier Wi-Fi specs and the two Multi-Gig ports, it might be one of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems with Multi-Gig wired backhaul you can get.

Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12's Rating

8.4 out of 10
Asus ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
10 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
7 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 6E-ready, extensive Wi-Fi coverage with top performance in specific setups with possible fas Wi-Fi performance in certain setups

Dual Multi-Gig ports with multi-Gigabit wired backhauling, flexible port configurations

Excellent performance and coverage as a standalone router

Tons of useful features and settings, flexible Wi-Fi customization

Helpful mobile app, no login account required

Cool design

Cons

Bulky, no USB, only four network ports

Fluctuating performance as a fully wireless mesh due to the lack of a dedicated backhaul band

Short 6GHz range

Expensive, not wall-mountable


3. Netgear Orbi RBKE960 Series: The symbol of financial success (very expensive, that is)

Netgear Orbi RBKE960 Quad-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System
Netgear Orbi RBKE960 Quad-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E system includes three identical-looking hardware units. One is a router, and the others are satellites.

Available as a 3-pack -- RBKE963 (white) or RBKE963B (black) -- Netgear's first Quad-band Orbi Wi-Fi 6E system is insanely expensive, costing $1500 -- and you have the option to pay even more over add-on subscriptions.

On top of that, it has fewer included features and settings compared with previous Orbi sets.

In return, you'll get substantial and powerful Quad-band hardware and support for Multi-Gig wired backhauling.

Netgear Orbi RBKE960 Series' Rating

7.3 out of 10
Netgear Orbi RBKE960 Quad-band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System
Performance
8.5 out of 10
Features
6 out of 10
Ease of Use
8.5 out of 10
Value
6 out of 10

Pros

Powerful hardware with Quad-band Wi-Fi and Multi-Gig wired backhaul support

Excellent Wi-Fi coverage, fast performance

Multiple Multi-Gig ports

More Wi-Fi networks than previous Orbis, including two additional virtual SSIDs

Easy to use

Cons

Expensive

No web-based Remote Management, few free features; mobile app (with a login account and even subscriptions) is required to be useful

Rigid Multi-Gig ports' roles, few Multi-Gig ports

The 2nd 5GHz band is unavailable to clients even with wired backhaul; no 160MHz channel width on 5GHz

Limited Wi-Fi customization, bulky design


2. Asus ZenWiFi ET8: Excellent for a wired home

Asus ZenWiFi ET8 Tri band Wi Fi 6E Mesh System
The Asus ZenWiFi ET8 Tri-band Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System includes two identical routers.

The ZenWiFi ET8 is Asus's Wi-Fi 6E alternative to the ZenWiFi XT8, a same-design purpose-built Wi-Fi 6 mesh system for a fully wireless setup.

In that sense, the ET8 is not an upgrade to the older cousin -- it's terrible in a wireless configuration. Instead, it's an alternative for an airy home or one already wired with network cables.

The ZenWiFi ET8, for now, is available as a 2-pack, but you can use each hardware unit as a standalone router for a small home. And it works very well in that case.

Asus ZenWiFi ET8's Rating

7.4 out of 10
Asus ZenWiFi ET8 Tri band Wi Fi 6E Mesh System 1
Performance
7 out of 10
Features
8 out of 10
Ease of Use
8 out of 10
Value
6.5 out of 10

Pros

Reliable and extensive coverage with possible fast Wi-Fi performance with wired-backhauling

Wi-Fi 6E ready, Multi-Gig WAN, and Dual-WAN support

Excellent as a standalone router

Tons of useful features and settings, flexible Wi-Fi customization

AiMesh 2.0 support

Cons

Comparatively slow performance in most use cases

Modest 5GHz band specs

Short 6GHz range; unreliable with wireless backhauling

No Link Aggregation or Multi-Gig LAN port

Only four network ports on each hardware unit


1. Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max 6E: First Wi-Fi 6E mesh system

(If you didn't read the intro, this is the oldest member on this list β€” the number is only numerical, not the ranking.)

Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max 6E comes with standard power adapters
The Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max 6E includes three identical tri-band Wi-Fi 6E routers.

Apart from the MR7500 router, the AXE8400 Atlas Max 6E is Linksys's 2nd 6E broadcaster and the very first mesh system of the Wi-Fi 6E standard.

The mesh consists of three identical tri-band 6E broadcasters, model MX8500. Each can work as a standalone router, but you can combine them into a system to deliver coverage of all three bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, and 6GHz) in a large property.

That's if you think you have enough reasons right now to invest $1200 in it. Hint: It's not worth it. Make sure you have wired your home and wait until the price drops.

Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max's Rating

7.1 out of 10
Linksys AXE8400 Atlas Max 6E with power adapters
Performance
8 out of 10
Features
7 out of 10
Ease of Use
7.5 out of 10
Value
6 out of 10

Pros

Wi-Fi 6E-ready

Reliable performance, extensive coverage

5Gbps WAN port

Excellent NAS performance when hosting external storage device(s)

Separate SSID for each band

Cons

Expensive

Comparatively slow mesh Wi-Fi speeds in homes with walls

Limited Wi-Fi settings and features, mobile app coercion

No Multi-Gig LAN port (main router), Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation

No setting backup and restore


Best Wi-Fi 6E mesh systems for 2023: The takeaway

No matter which system you pick, if it has no Multi-Gig WAN port, the broadband will be limited to 1Gbps. And if there's no Multi-Gig LAN port, the entire system -- your local network -- is also capped at Gigabit.

Generally, it's best to use Wi-Fi 6E mesh with wired backhauling. If you have no network cables, it's best to go with a Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 alternative or get a Quad-band system with an additional 5GHz band that works as the dedicated backhaul, namely, the Netgear RBKE960 series.

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26 thoughts on “Top Five Best Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Systems for 2023: A Wired Home’s Sensible Options”

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  1. Hi Dong,

    The information you provide on your reviews are outstanding, Thank You!

    I have a 3,500 sqft single story ranch home (horseshoe layout) centered on a half-acre lot with Xfinity 1.2 Gbps service, and an Arris Surfboard S33 cable modem. My house is not wired, however I plan to do so in the next year or two.

    Both my wife and I work from home and are always on our computers (often in Zoom meetings). We have 2 kids and we all stream and game. And we also spend time in our yard streaming music and shows on the projector via Wi-Fi (but it’s spotty).

    I am looking to upgrade my mesh system to a Wi-Fi 6e that provides good seamless coverage, range, speed, and stability -> at first we would run it wireless until I can get the house wired.

    I’m looking to spend around $500, and I was hoping you could provide a recommendation(s)?

    Reply
    • Wi-Fi 6E WON’T help your situation, Martin. It’s actually quite complicated and I wish I had the answer for you… I’d recommend you start with this post, happy to answer follow-up questions after that — make sure you read and follow the comment rules above, though. Good luck!

      Reply
  2. Hi. Would this config work (well) with tp-link 75 pro with single 2.5gb port: use cable box in router mode-> multi-gig switch -> each mesh node (Inc master node) connected into switch via their 2.5gb wan port ?

    Reply
  3. Dong, thank you for the informative information on mesh systems. Because Asus does not sell an individual ET8, Amazon sells one XT8 router with an ET8 two-pack as a replacement for a three-pack. Will using the XT8 as the router and the two ET8s as the nodes realize the full potential of the 6e capabilities of the ET8s?

    Thanks for all your information. You have one of the best tech and review sites around.

    Reply
  4. Dong,
    Thanks so much for sharing your rich knowledge base.
    You ended with:
    “If you have no network cables, getting a system with an additional 5GHz band that works as the dedicated backhaul β€” namely, the Netgear RBKE960 series, for now– is the best approach.”
    I understand this, but, here is my situation:
    I’ve just moved to a 3300 sq ft, one floor condo with (unfortunately) many walls.
    My current two node (working wirelessly) tri-band Linksys mesh system (24 Ghz + 5Ghz + 5Ghz) – which was working okay – just died. So I need a new mesh system yesterday.
    The condo is extensively wired with both coaxial and CAT 5 cables that come together in a “command central” wall box array. HOWEVER, I am not techy and cannot set up a wired system myself nor can I get some one in who can any time soon.
    So, I wanted to get a 6E mesh quad band system that could initially be set up to work entirely wirelessly and then potentially later be re-set up in a wired configuration.
    From what I read, in my situation, the problem with the Netgear RBKE960 (besides being crazy expensive) is that its second 5 Ghz band is permanently and unalterably set up as a backhaul band and thus, never available for client use. This is not desirable if the system would later be converted to one where all the backhaul could be wired.
    Based on what I have read, I think that while the system is being used entirely “wirelessly”, I really should have a quad band system.
    Given all this, do you have other (possibly less expensive) 6E mesh quad band systems to suggest that might better circumstances like mine?
    Thanks again for sharing your plethora of knowledge.

    Reply
  5. I’ve had the Zen ET12 for almost a month now and it’s the first time I’ve ever been 100% satisfied with my wireless setup in my house…speed, coverage, and stability are great everywhere. Previous setups (Asus RT-66, Netgear X6 with TP-Link Extender, Nest) always had issues with range, speed, and/or stability in my 2100 sq foot house, partly because I could never place a router centrally (all coax outlets at edges of house, and open circular floor plan with stairs in middle makes it impossible to put something central).

    Got the Zen ET12 based partly on your review. Original plan was to have satellite wired with MOCA given there’s a cable outlet where the satellite is, and running ethernet, while not impossible, would be a lot of work. Unfortunately I discovered that the coax in my house is so bad that it can’t handle even a single splitter…causes cable modem signal issues and can’t get a stable high speed connection with MOCA. I thought that I would have to return the ET12 for an XT12 given the limited range of the 6 ghz band for backhaul.

    However, I decided just to try the wireless backhaul on “Auto”, and surprisingly it’s been choosing that band for backhaul and it’s been performing quite well. RSSI hovers around -70 dbm and it never switches to the 5 ghz band. This is despite being almost at opposite ends of the house. I was a bit shocked given the limited range of the 6 ghz band. It probably helps that I have the main router up high on a shelf in an open loft, and it’s an open circular floor plan so neither the router or satellite are in an enclosed room even though they aren’t in line of sight. Speeds for my Wifi6 laptop on the 5 ghz band hit around 800 mbps at the satellite in the family room (1.2 gig Xfinity plan), which is plenty for my needs for that room Thus I’m sticking with the ET12 and the wireless backhaul. And if I ever want to open up that 6 ghz band for clients (only 6E client I have is my Samsung phone which I don’t care about being on 6 ghz), then I’ll look into running ethernet cable to that part of the house. I foresee this setup working well for me for quite a while now.

    Thanks again for your thorough reviews.

    Reply
    • Sure, James. Glad it’s working out. But yes, linking the hubs using a Multi-Gig wired backhaul will make things even *much* better, especially considering your Gig+ broadband. Cheers! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. Dear Dong Ngo,

    not waiting for until it gets cheaper, but unto a new tech altogether (one wireless that does not fry water in brains!)

    All the best!
    Richard

    Reply
  7. Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System raises a question to backward compatibility for IoT that still require 2.4 GHz.
    I’m asking if a Wi-Fi 6E-router has inherent support for 2.4GHz
    or
    it will have be a tri-band router to have a 6GHz + 5GHz + 2.4GHz built-in bands?

    Reply
  8. Hi Dong,

    Thank you for your time and writing these great articles.

    I am in a situation where I have partial wired/wireless backhaul. I currently have the Orbi RBK753 and have one satellite hardwired to the router at the opposite end of the house (3,300 Sq. ft) on the second floor, while the other satellite is not wired and is 40 feet from the router with a clear path to the router. Also, we will be getting fiber internet with Gig+ speeds. You mentioned the Asus or the Linksys being the best options when doing a partial backhaul. I’m more interested in the Asus because of the AiMesh. would the ET8 be a good option and just purchase a compatible/additonal AiMesh device, or is the AXE 8400 Linksys a better option? Or is there something better?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • I think you should stay with the Orbi for now, Glen, and see how things go first. To get Gig+ (or faster), you first need to get the house fully wired and then use hardware with Multi-Gig ports, which can be quite an investment. When you’re ready, you can check out one of these AiMesh options.

      Reply
  9. Very informative article as always.
    I’m reaching to inquire about a bottom line for one who would like to install a fresh Mesh system:
    1) Would you say that the performance tested by you for router and satellites is the best parameter for comparison (except specific features one may want to use)?
    2) There is a recent review of mesh systems (brands) comparison? (I did noticed Synology last update – dongknows.com/synology-mesh-review/#more-5079)
    3) What article would you recommend reviewing for selecting a final router and its matching satellites?

    Reply

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