The EnGenius ESR580 EnMesh Tri-band Whole-Home Smart Wi-Fi System is a decent mesh, with the potential to be an excellent one. It has a practical hardware design, an easy setup process, and a useful app. The performance is also better than many similar canned systems, including its presumed nemesis, the Google Wifi.
But, like most purpose-built systems, the ESR580 has its flaws, even with the latest firmware (ver 1.0.10). The bottom line is you don’t mind some oddities you’ll find it worth the current price of some $250 (2-pack).
Dong’s note: I first published this review on September 25, 2029, and updated it on November 30th, 2019, with a new hardware unit and the latest firmware, per EnGenious’s request.
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
EnGenius ESR580: A design that rings a lot of bells
Getting the ESR580 out of the box, I couldn’t help thinking of the Google Wifi. The system’s two identical hardware units appeared so similar to those of the Google counterpart. As to how a mesh system works, you pick one hardware unit as the router (or the Master Unit as EnGenius calls it). After that, the other will work as a satellite (or a Mesh Node) that automatically extends the router’s Wi-Fi network and settings.
Each ESR580 unit is a round box with a flat top and a tiny indicator light. On the underside, you’ll find a Gigabit WAN (Internet) port and a Gigabit LAN port. The former connects to an Internet source, such as a cable modem, and the latter can host a wired client. This classification only matters on the router unit, on the satellite unit, both ports will work as LAN ports. By the way, you can also connect the satellite to the router using one of these port in a wired backhaul setup.
The EnGenius ESR580 is wall-mountable and includes mounting accessories. Each unit also has a regular USB port that can host a storage device.
To set up the ESR580, you’ll need to use the EnGenius’s EnMesh mobile app. There’s a web user interface, but it’s only available after the setup process.
Following the steps on the phone’s screen, the setup process is a no-brainer. Use the phone’s camera to scan a QR code on the router’s underside to connect it with the app. After that, you’ll be prompted to create a new Wi-Fi network (and password) as well as a user account. This account is also the credential to log in to the user interface.
Adding the satellite unit to form a mesh is simple, too. The unit’s indicator light changes its color to respond to what you do on the phone — it’s easy to follow. In all, I was able to create an ESR580 mesh in less than 20 minutes.
Easy-to-use mobile app; useful Parental Control feature
The EnMesh app, which works both locally and when you’re out and about, is a pleasure to use. It loads quickly, is well-designed, and includes many handy tools. For example, you can use it to test the Internet speed, the quality connection between the router and the satellite, view the hardware unit’s connected clients in real-time, and so on.
As for settings, the app has a useful Parental Control feature, which allows you to schedule Internet access and filters using category-based rules. So, for example, you can block John from the Internet during night time, let him limited access, say, everything but social media, during work hours, and full access during weekends. I tried this feature out, and it worked quite well. It allows for a lot of flexibility both in terms of web-filtering and scheduling.
On top of that, you can also use the app to change the Wi-Fi information (name, password, and Guest network). And that’s it. The app does have an Advanced section, but tapping on it will open up the router’s Web interface.
Sluggish interface, spartan feature set
Other than accessing from the mobile app, you can always get to the ESR580’s web interface by navigating a web browser to the router’s IP address, which 192.168.0.1 by default. The interface is a bit sluggish — it takes a second or two to move from one section to another.
And it doesn’t have a lot of extra to offer, compared to the mobile app. Worse, you can’t even use it to manage the Parental Control feature mentioned above. But it does provide access to some essential settings (backup, restore, firmware update, and so on) as well as two crucial functions, including port forwarding and Dynamic DNS. There’s also a Storage section where you can turn on the USB-based file-sharing feature for each hardware unit.
And that’s about it. Overall, the ESR580 has fewer features than most routers. But compared to other purpose-built mesh systems, its feature set is decent enough.
EnGenius ESR580’s specifications
As its full name suggests, the EnGenius ESR580 is a tri-band system. Each of its hardware units is a tri-band 2×2 Wi-Fi 5 router. It has two 5GHz bands that cap at 867 Mbps each and a 400Mbps 2.4GHz band. In a wireless setup, one of its 5GHz band works solely as the backhaul that links the router and the satellite together.
EnGenius ESR580: Fast performance
I first tested the EnGenius ESR580 for about ten days and had some mixed feelings about it. This second time around, I tested it four days with a new hardware unit and the latest firmware (ver 1.0.10), and it did much better. Overall, the system was easy to set up and delivered fast Wi-Fi performance and excellent coverage.
Excellent Wi-Fi speeds and coverage
As a single router, the EnGenius ESR580 performs well for its 2×2 Wi-Fi 5 specs. At close range, it averaged almost 550 Mbps. When I increased the distance to 40 feet (12 m), it now still registered more than 365 Mbps.
When the second unit was used to create a mesh, the perform was now even more impressive, comparatively. Thanks to the third dedicated band, my test client connected to the satellite unit had a sustained speed of 310 Mbps and 255 Mbps for close and long distances, respectively. If the Google Wifi system is the EnGinus’s target, the ESR580 is a winner in performance.
As for coverage, the EnGenius ESR580 has about the same range as that of other two-pack mesh systems I’ve reviewed. Overall, one hardware unit can cover about 1300 ft² (121 m²) when placed in the middle. With a 2-pack, you’ll get about 3000 ft² (279 m²) of good Wi-Fi coverage. The mesh also passed my three-day stress test without any disconnection. Wi-Fi coverage depends a lot on the environment, so your mileage will vary.
With the latest firmware, ver 1.0.10, the ESR580 worked much better than when it ran version 1.0.7 in my initial tests. But there are still some oddities. The most obvious is the fact the mobile app makes the mesh system restart to apply almost any changes. Even worse, the restart might take place when you haven’t change any settings. For example, when you view the current Wi-Fi information, the only way to get out of the section is to tab on “Save.” And when you do, that’d cause a restart to “apply changes” though no value has been altered. Hopefully, this design flaw will likely be fixed via future firmware updates.
Super-slow NAS performance
If you intend to use the ESR580’s USB ports to host storage for your network, don’t. I tested the router unit with a WD My Passport SSD, and via a Gigabit connection, it registered just 7 MB/s for writing. That was by far the slowest I’ve seen among all USB-enable routers. It was ridiculously slow.
The read speed was much better at about 33 MB/s but still significantly slower than most routers I’ve used. At this kind of speed, don’t expect the ESR580 to be a viable NAS solution. (If you want that, and don’t have time or money for a real NAS server, get one of these routers instead.)
The EnGenius ESR580 EnMesh Tri-band Whole-Home Smart Wi-Fi has excellent hardware, but its firmware and the mobile app could use some improvement. Even at the current state, it proved to be a formidable contender to other similar canned mesh systems, especially when you consider its price. Just make sure you upgrade its firmware to the latest immediately. Overall, it’s definitely worth your consideration.