Folks have been asking me to compare popular home mesh Wi-Fi systems of different vendors.
Stuff like eero vs. Netgear Orbi, TP-Link Deco vs. Linksys Velop, Google Wi-Fi vs. AiMesh, Aimesh vs. Synology mesh, so on and so forth.
While a particular mesh set’s performance depends on its hardware, it generally shares the common attributes available in all of the brand’s variants.
This post will give you an overview of how each mesh brand differentiates itself from others. I’ll also provide each brand with my overall rating, which is different from that of a specific mesh set.
When through, among other things, you’ll be able to tell which brand is the best for your case.
Dong’s note: I first published this post on March 24, 2021, and last updated it on November 1 with additional relevant information.
Table of Contents
The brief history of popular home mesh brands: Two types, one list
In my opinion, there are two types of mesh systems.
The first are those built from the ground up, which I call purpose-built or canned systems. They tend to be easy to use but lacking in features and settings. You generally have to get these in a 2-pack or a 3-pack.
The second are those made from a standalone router. You first get a single router and then add more hardware to scale up the coverage when need be. These are harder to use but generally give you more options in features and customization.
In most cases, though, the line between these two types is a blur. That said, I’ll list them all here in the chronological order of their first release, according to my memory and experience with them.
Consequently, this order has no meaning in terms of ranking or favoritism. And this post will also give you a sense of how home mesh has evolved over the years.
With that out of the way, let’s dive in.
1. The eero (Feb 2016): Ease-of-use trumps all
The eero — all lower case — is the mother of all canned home mesh systems. First introduced back in February 2016 as a 3-pack of identical routers, the eero started what I called the home mesh revolution.
Eero’s hardware as a service approach: Big on ease-of-use, little customization, privacy concerns
At the time, the eero’s idea was quite revolutionary. It was and has remained basically hardware as a service. You don’t really own the product outright but use it via a constant connection with the vendor who will supposedly take care of your home network for you.
As a result, the eero has always been super easy to set up and use — as long as you have a mobile device and a live connection to the Internet.
In return, you have zero or little control over the system — you can’t even set it up or make changes when there’s no Internet. There’s not much in customization, either.
From the get-go, eero has been big on collecting user data supposedly for performance optimization.
What data it collects is unclear, and I won’t pretend to know what the company does or does not do with what it collects — I didn’t.
But one thing is clear: you should be concerned about your privacy considering Amazon bought it in 2019. It could have bought any other more established networking brand if its interest had been purely home networking.
Eero: Hardware availability
The eero generally is available in identical units. Each can work as a router or a satellite.
However, with Wi-Fi 6 models, you’ll also find an extender unit, which can only work as a satellite.
Generally, you want to use same-tier units together, but mixing them up will likely work out, too, especially in a wired setup.
Eero: Modest hardware and performance
As for performance, the eero has always been modest at best. All variants use relatively low-end hardware housed in fancy-looking chassis.
Initially, most Wi-Fi 5 models were dual-band. Later on, there’s the “eero Pro” that’s tri-band. Finally, the eero 6 Pro is the second tri-band option. Both dual- and tri-band versions support wired backhaul, which improves the performance. So far, there’s no eero hardware with a Multi-Gig port.
The eero offers a few parental control and online protection features as subscriptions with the latest firmware. In addition, since early 2020, eero has been integrated with Apple HomeKit. (Apple certified the Wi-Fi 6 versions in late May 2021.)
Generally, if you have wired your home, the eero can be an easy option with good performance. Just make sure you’re OK with the data collection.
Who should get the eero
If you want something super easy to use and generally reliable, the eero is an excellent home mesh choice. It’ll make those with a modest broadband connection happy. But, on the other hand, if you want top speeds, total control of your network, or privacy, it’s as bad as can be.
Amazon eero's Overall Rating
Easy to set up and use
Reliable and scalable Wi-Fi coverage
Middling hardware designed to collect user data, slow Wi-Fi speeds
Login account, live Internet connection to vendor required for setup and ongoing management,
Minimum ports, limited port-related features (no Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation, etc.)
Online Protection and Parental Control require a monthly subscription
Home automation feature requires Amazon integration
No web interface, spartan Wi-Fi, and network settings
2. Netgear Orbi (Oct 2016): Thinking of going fully wireless, ain’t ya?
Netgear launched its first Orbi set, the RBK50, in October 2016, somewhat as the answer to the eero.
Netgear Orbi’s hallmark: Tri-band with dedicated backhaul
But it’s a lot more than that. The Orbi’s hallmark has always been the use of Tri-band, with one of the two 5GHz bands dedicated as the permanent backhaul that links the hardware units.
This dedicated backhaul approach has its pros and cons. Let’s put it in perspective via a crude analogy.
To understand the Orbi’s permanent backhaul concept, which Netgear often refers to as “patented dedicated backhaul,” you can liken the mesh system’s router unit to a special 4WD pickup truck with a separate engine for the rear wheels dedicated solely to the job of pulling a trailer.
This engine makes sense and is great when the truck has a trailer attached (a mesh system) but becomes dead weight when the truck works just by itself (standalone router) — it’s now a full-time front-wheel-drive vehicle.
It’s probably not a good idea to consider such a truck unless you intend to use it to pull a trailer most, if not all, of the time.
The point is Netgear’s Orbi only makes sense when you need a fully wireless mesh Wi-Fi system and never when you need a standalone router, where the second 5GHz band is a big waste in terms of hardware cost and energy consumption.
Tri-band mesh systems from other networking vendors might or might not dedicate one of the two 5GHz bands as backhaul, but they generally allow (users to program) all Wi-Fi bands to work for front-hauling. They are 4WD vehicles whether or not there’s a trailer attached.
In any case, the backhaul band of the RBK50 was the most powerful at its debut, and Netgear proprietarily tuned it solely for the back-linking purpose. As a result, the RBK50 was one of the most effective home mesh at launch and still is a formidable option today.
In a way, you can say that Netgear is the champion in dedicated backhaul technology. It has focused on this so much that in the Orbi ecosystem, the dedicated backhaul band, which uses the upper 5GHz channels, only works as such — it will not be available to clients.
Netgear Orbi: Full web interface, optional mobile app
What’s also great about the Orbi is that apart from being an (optional) app-operated system — like the case of the eero — it also has a full local web interface. That’s been the case with all Orbi sets.
Consequently, users can use it without having to be hooked to Netgear at all times. They also get a standard set of network customization — stuff like Dynamic DNS, port forwarding, VPN server, QoS, and many other settings — found in most standalone standard routers.
On top of that, starting mid-2019, you can also opt for Netgear Armor online protection as an add-on subscription. Since then, Netgear has also slowly moved toward coercing users into signing up for a login account and using the mobile app.
Netgear Orbi: Hardware availability
The Orbi comes in many variants, with the majority being tri-band. The RBK13, released in late 2019, is the only dual-band variant so far. They all are available in router + satellite combo, each with their exclusive role.
Indeed, the Orbi hardware is rigid. You can’t use the router unit as a satellite and vice versa, nor can you use hardware of different Wi-Fi standards — Wi-Fi 5 and Wi-Fi 6 — together. This rigidity makes the Orbi a relatively expensive choice, especially when you want to upgrade.
Netgear Orbi: The wired backhaul issue
Initially, the Orbi didn’t support wired backhaul. Later on, in late 2018, Netgear started to add this option (via firmware updates for older sets).
Unfortunately, even when you use wired backhaul, an Orbi’s 2nd 5GHz band, designed to work solely as the dedicated wireless backhaul band, is still unavailable to clients. As mentioned above, this has been the case since the very first Orbi, the RBK50.
My take is that Netgear has engineered this band using its proprietary technology to ensure the best range for the backhaul purpose. As a consequence, it no longer works with clients.
That’s true even when you use an Orbi tri-band router as a single broadcaster. In other words, there are no scenarios where the additional 5GHz band of an Orbi works for clients at all.
For this reason, Orbi is generally suitable only for those needing a fully wireless mesh system. Sure, you can use wired backhaul, but in this case, you’d pay for a hardware part that you’d never use.
Extra: Understanding Orbi model numbers
Generally, though not always, an Orbi set’s model number starts with RBK, like RBK50, RBK13, RBK752, RBK852, and so on. (Those supporting Wi-Fi 6E have an additional E, like the case of the RBKE960.)
Dissecting the Orbi’s model name
If you ever wonder how to interpret this naming convention, keep in mind that there are three telling things in one: The first letter, the third (and 4th) letter, and the last digit. That’s because the 2nd letter (B) is for Orbi.
- The First letter (often R, C, or N but there might be more) means the character of the hardware.
- R: It’s a regular (standard) setup, be it a single router or a mesh system. So, for example, RBK852 means this one is a standard mesh system.
- C: There’s a cable modem involved. For example, CBK752 is a mesh system in which the router unit has a built-in cable modem.
- N: This is when the router unit is cellular-capable. N here is short for NR, or “new radio” which is a fancy name for cellular Internet.
- The 3rd letter (often K, R, or S) means the hardware unit’s exclusive role.
- K = Kit. This means you’re looking at a multi-unit package. So RBK752 refers to a kit of more than one hardware unit. How many? See the last digit below.
- R = Router unit. For example, RBR750 is the router unit of the RBK752.
- S = Satellite unit. For example, RBS750 is the satellite unit of the RBK752.
- The 4th letter (if any): That’d be the letter E which stands for Wi-Fi 6E, like the case of the recently announced RBKE960 series.
- The Last digit (often 0, 2, 3, etc.) shows the package’s total hardware units.
- 0 = Single hardware unit (either a router or a satellite.) Generally, it signifies the series.
- 2 = A 2-pack (router + one satellite). For example, RBK752 is a 2-pack cable-ready mesh that includes a CBR750 gateway and an RBS750 satellite.
- 3 = A 3-pack (router + two satellites). The RBK853 is a 3-pack mesh system that includes one RBR850 router and two RBS850 satellite units.
- Extra: The middle digits (often 5, 75, 85, 96, etc) are Netgear’s in-house designations to show the hardware’s Wi-Fi specs. They are a bit arbitrary. Specifically:
- 5: This is for Wi-Fi 5. For example, the original RBK50 is a Wi-Fi 5 Orbi.
- 75: This is for a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 with two 2×2 bands and one 4×4 band. Example: the RBK752.
- 85: Tri-band Wi-Fi 6 hardware with all 4×4 bands. Example: the RBK852.
- 96: Quad-band Wi-Fi 6E with all 4×4 bands. Example: the RBKE960 series.
If you’re still confused, you’re not alone, but generally, you get the idea.
Who should get the Orbi
Generally, the Orbi is expensive, and for those who have gotten their home wired, it’s a bit of a waste. That said, consider it only if you intend to use it in a fully wireless configuration.
Another thing to note is that Orbi, like most wireless systems, generally tends to have lag (latency) issues. So it’s not ideal if you want to play online games or use real-time communications (video conferencing etc.). The lag issue is especially prevalent if you use three or more hardware units in a daisy-chain topology.
In return, Orbi is the only mesh brand so far that comes with a built-in modem for cable users, including the CBK40 (Wi-Fi 5) and CBK752 (Wi-Fi 6) variants.
Netgear Orbi Mesh System's Overall Rating
Fast, reliable Wi-Fi with extensive coverage
Full web interface with all standard settings and features
Useful, well designed mobile app
Wi-Fi 6 versions support WAN Link Aggregation and often have Multi-Gig support
No 160MHz channel support, limited Wi-Fi customization
No cross Wi-Fi standard hardware compatibility
Mobile app and security/Parental Controls features require a login account
3. Google (Nest) Wifi (Dec 2016): The true eero alternative
Google Wifi, nowadays known as the Google Nest Wi-Fi, in my opinion, was somewhat of a “gosh, why didn’t I think of it!” moment — the search engine giant was just jealous of the eero.
Indeed. Google debuted its first home mesh in December 2016. It was the true counterpart of the eero. It’s also hardware as a service with a bit of customization, even worse than the eero. (And it has been that way since.)
The replacement of OnHub
Truth be told, Google had been involved with Wi-Fi much earlier.
In mid-2015, the company introduced its first home Wi-Fi router, the OnHub, which used TP-Link hardware and Google’s firmware.
The OnHub was sleek and one of the first app-operated standalone routers on the market at the time. Later on, it morphed into the original Google Wifi, which became the now well-known Nest Wifi mesh, that’s been the biggest competitor of the eero.
Google (Nest) Wifi's Overall Rating
Easy to set up and use
Reliable and scalable Wi-Fi coverage
Integration with a Google account and other Smart Home devices
Middling hardware, slow Wi-Fi speeds
Login account required for setup and ongoing management
No Wi-Fi 6 option (yet), minimum ports, no Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation, or Multi-Gig
No access point (AP) mode as a mesh system
No web interface, spartan Wi-Fi, and network settings
My biggest issue with the Google Wi-Fi is that it can’t work in the AP mode as a mesh — you can only do that with a single hardware unit.
That said, you can only use it as the only router of your home or in a double NAT setup if you must keep your ISP-provided gateway.
Later on, with Nest’s acquisition and the release of the subsequently Google Nest Wi-Fi version, the Google Wi-Fi can now integrate with other Nest smart home devices, such as the Nest thermostat.
Google hasn’t released any Wi-Fi 6 version of the Google Wi-Fi, and for that reason, I haven’t reviewed it for this website. (I’ve worked with them all in my past life.)
Generally, consider Google Wi-Fi a genuine alternative to the eero. It has the same level of ease-of-use and privacy concerns. It’s a question of Amazon vs. Google, as in who you’d trust more with your data.
4. Ubiquiti’s AmpliFi (Oct 2016): Quirky but cool and effective
Around October 2016, Ubiquiti Labs introduced the AmpliFi HD as a single router that can also work as a mesh system with two add-on plug-in satellites.
The HD at the time was the first Wi-Fi router with a color touchscreen. It was a novelty. You can use this screen to manage the router (or mesh), but you’ll need the mobile app to do more.
AmpliFi: The novelty in limited hardware options
The AmpliFI HD, and subsequently the Wi-Fi 6 version of the AmpliFi Alien, sure are fun to use and effective, both as a single router as well as a mesh.
While they don’t offer many customization and features, they are not available in any other system. One of which is the Teleport VPN which makes using VPN a super easy option for home users.
So far, there are only two options, however. You can either go with the HD (Wi-Fi 5) or the Alien (Wi-Fi 6.)
Who should get the AmpliFi
If you’re into ease-of-use, performance, and cool stuff, either the HD or the Alien is a great choice. The latter also supports wired backhaul if you want to build a fast-performing mesh.
AmpliFi Mesh System's Overall Rating
Dead-easy to set up and manage
Excellent Wi-Fi coverage
Fast performance, wired backhaul supported in Wi-Fi 6 versions
Users can manage the backhaul link and virtual Wi-Fi networks
Useful VPN and ad-blocking features
Cool hardware design
The HD has no wired backhaul option, the Alien's MeshPoint has only one LAN port, and only works with the one router of the same Alien Kit
No dedicated backhaul band
5. Linksys Velop Intelligent Mesh (Jan 2017): Don’t forget the “intelligent” part!
Belkin released the first Linksys Velop (model WHW0303) in January 2017 to answer both the Orbi and the eero. The full name is Linksys Velop Intelligent Mesh, with an emphasis on “Intelligent.” But of course!
Linksys Velop: A more flexible option
The intelligent notion is a bit subjective, but the original Velop sure is more flexible.
It’s a tri-band system that has “dynamic backhaul,” meaning it’ll use any of its three bands at any given time as backhaul or fronthaul, depending on the situation.
As a result, users will have access to all three bands. And if you use wired backhaul, you won’t lose any band for the backhaul link, making it a better alternative to the Orbi.
Linksys Velop: Full web interface with mobile app coercion
Like the Orbi, the Linksys Velop has both a full web interface and the Linksys mobile app.
Together with Wi-Fi 6 hardware, though, Belkin has started to coerce users into using the mobile app and a login account, which can be upsetting for long-time Linksys fans.
As a result, the Velop generally has fewer features and customization options than the Orbi. But it’s still much better than the eero on this front.
Linksys Velop: Hardware availability
Apart from the original tri-band option, the Linksys Velop has also been available in dual-band, including the Velop Dual-band and Velop Plug-in, both dual-band. Its Wi-F 6, the MX4200, or MX5300 hardware, has always been tri-band.
A Velop home mesh set tends to come in multiple identical routers. You can use any as the router role, and the rest will work as a satellite(s).
Apart from sets, new standalone routers, such as the MR9600, or MR7350, can also work as a part of a Velop system.
When to consider a Linksys Velop
A tri-band Linksys Velop is an excellent alternative to the Orbi, and a dual-band one is about as good as the eero in a wireless setup.
In a wired backhaul configuration, though, the Velop is better than the other two.
Linksys Velop's Overall Rating
Generally reliable Wi-Fi with excellent coverage
Helpful mobile app, full web interface
Flexible wired/wireless backhaul
Modest Wi-Fi speed with no support for 160MHz channel bandwidth in Wi-Fi 6 models
Mobile app (and login account) coercion
Spartan Wi-Fi settings, modest feature set
Generally no Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
No setting backup/restore
6. TP-Link Deco (April 2017): More bang (and options) for your buck
TP-Link introduced its first Deco set, the M5, in April 2017 as a much better alternative to the eero.
Deco also requires a login account and a mobile app to work and therefore can also cause privacy concerns. It’s worth noting that the company is headquartered in Shenzhen, China.
The M5 was a dual-band 3-pack set that was more affordable yet came with many features, including Antivirus, QoS, and others. It did, too, require a mobile app and a login account. And it was also hardware as a service.
TP-Link hardware availability
Over the year, the Deco has remained the same in terms of features for the most part. All variants are app-operated.
However, TP-Link has been one of the most prolific home mesh makers.
The Deco has been available in most hardware options, including dual-band and tri-band of various performance grades and Wi-Fi standards. So it’s fair to say it’s a mesh brand that gives users the power to choose.
Who should get a Deco
Generally, Deco is middling on all counts. This brand has a good combo of performance, features, and price without much standing out. But it’s reasonably priced.
That said if you want an easy-to-use canned mesh system that will give you decent performance (and not much else) for the money, pick a Deco set that fits your budget.
TP-Link Deco's Overall Rating
Affordable with lots of hardware options
Easy to use mobile app
Reliable Wi-Fi coverage
Spartan Wi-Fi customization, network settings, and features
Limited port-related features
App and login account required, no real web user interface
Confusing HomeShield/HomeCare online protection and Parental Control features
7. Asus’s AiMesh (Feb 2018): The most versatile (and potentially temperamental) home mesh option
Asus introduced the AiMesh option as an add-on feature via firmware update in February 2018, together with the release of the RT-AC86U.
Since then, this has been one of the most significant home mesh development, thanks to its versatility. You can create many mesh combos from more than a dozen (and counting) broadcasters and use them however you want. Well, almost so since some combos are better than others.
In any case, you’ll get a mesh with the most features, settings, and likely the best performance. But, most importantly, you can also use them without worrying about your privacy at all.
In return, you need to tread relatively lightly with your choice of hardware since a wrong combo can be a headache. In all, AiMesh is not for the faint of heart, but it’s a gratifying option for those who are up for a bit of a challenge.
AiMesh is so significant that I dedicate a whole lengthy post for it alone. Check it out.
Asus AiMesh's Rating
The most flexible way to build a robust, scalable home Wi-Fi mesh system
Excellent performance, top-notch feature set
Built-in online protection
No vendor login is required, or other privacy risks
Certain router combos can be buggy or have issues with new major firmware releases.
Rigid Wi-Fi management when mixing hardware of different Wi-Fi tiers, standards, or number of bands
Only Guest SSID (instead of three) per band can be made system-wide
8. Synology Mesh (Oct 2018): The professional-grade home mesh
Synology released the MR2200ac in October 2018. Together with it, it introduced a mesh feature which is the true counterpart of Asus AiMesh.
Similarly, you can use two or more supported routers to form a mesh system. However, in my opinion, Synology Router Manager (SRM) is by far the best firmware for a mesh system.
Unfortunately, since then, Synology hasn’t introduced any Wi-Fi 6 hardware or any new hardware for that matter. Up to now, there are just two hardware options, namely the MR2200ac and the RT2600ac.
Nonetheless, Synology’s mesh feature was also a significant development — I detailed it in a separate post. So check it out and see why you should consider getting it, even today.
Synology Wi-Fi Mesh System's Rating
Fast, reliable, and extensive Wi-Fi coverage
Advanced interface with high-quality add-on features
Highly-customizable network and Wi-Fi settings
Effective Parental Controls and online protection
Advanced Guest network
Limited hardware and combo options, no satellite-only hardware, users have little control over the satellites
No 10Gbps or 5Gbps Multi-Gig option, no hardware with two or more 2.5Gbps ports
9. TP-Link OneMesh (April 2019): A patch-up home mesh
In April 2019, TP-Link introduced its OneMesh approach somewhat as the answer to Asus’s AiMesh. It’s also an alternative to the company’s popular Deco home mesh family mentioned above.
The idea is you can get a standalone router and then use a supported extender — the first being the RE300 extender — to form a mesh.
I was pretty excited about it at the time. Among other things, this setup means the router will decide the network’s features and settings, making it seem a great alternative to AiMesh.
Alas, at the core of it, OneMesh has turned out to be similar to using a router and extender — the RE300 works with third-party routers, too.
As a result, OneMesh, while easy and affordable, is slow and far inferior to the alternatives. Over time, I find it less and less of a practical option.
Over the years, TP-Link hasn’t delivered much on the idea, with a limited number of routers supporting this feature and even fewer extenders being made available. And so far, none of these extenders are tri-band or support wired backhaul.
In all, for now, consider OneMesh is what it really is: An easy and ineffective way to expand your network. It’s only suitable for those needing to deliver no more than a very moderate broadband connection.
TP-Link OneMesh's Rating
Affordable and easy to set up
Responsive web interface, useful mobile app
Supported in many Wi-Fi 6 routers
No dedicated or wired backhaul options
Modest Wi-Fi speeds
Routers can't work as satellite units
No high-end satellite hardware
10. Arris Surfboard mAX (Oct 2019): The new kid on the home mesh block
In October 2019, CommScope released its first ARRIS Wi-Fi 6 device, the SURFboard mAX PRO AX11000 mesh system. It’s also the company’s very first standalone Wi-Fi router. Before this, ARRIS is a known brand for cable modems and gateway.
The mAX PRO is the top-of-the-line hardware that can deliver Gigabit speeds. Since then, the system has gone through a few changes, including a completely new app.
The gist of it, though, the SURFboard mAX remains the same. The canned mesh system has almost no feature or setting at all. It’s also the only one on the market that, so far, has no support for wired backhaul.
That has been the case with all variants, including the latest SURFboard mAX AX6000.
In all, the SURFboard mAX is an excellent system if you only care about expanding Wi-Fi coverage and don’t mind paying a lot for it.
ARRIS SURFboard Mesh System's Overal Rating
Decent Wi-Fi speeds, large coverage
Effective dedicated wireless backhaul band
Zero customization and feature
Fluctuating Wi-Fi speeds
Poor Parental Control feature, terrible setup process
App and vendor account required to work
No wired backhaul, limited port-related features
No local web user interface
11. Netgear Knighthawk MKxx (Mid-2020): Wi-Fi EasyMesh made for a wired home
In mid-2020, Netgear released its first Wi-Fi EasyMesh-based system, the Nighthawk MK63. (And in early 2021, it unveiled the MK83.) This mesh brand is an alternative to the networking vendor’s Orbi family.
The Knighthawk mesh line shares the same feature set and mobile app as Netgear’s Nighthawk routers. It, too, has a full web interface with lots of customization. Most importantly, it doesn’t come with a permanently dedicated backhaul — it’s excellent for wired backhaul.
On top of that, supporting the Wi-Fi EasyMesh concept, there’s a chance it will work with hardware from other vendors of the same standard.
Like the EasyMesh concept, the Netgear Nighthawk mesh is relatively new. So far, I have only reviewed the MK63, which turned out to be a pretty good mesh option.
But generally, if you’re looking for a flexible system that’s won’t dig a hole in your wallet, the MK63 is a good choice. In fact, it can be an excellent one if you have gotten your home wired.
Netgear MKxx Nighthawk's Overall Rating
Reliable Wi-Fi coverage at affordable pricing
Full web interface, optional mobile app
Wired backhaul support
Web interface lacks some common networking settings
Limited number of ports, switch required for the dual-band version to use wired backhaul
Lacks basic Wi-Fi settings, no 160 MHz channel width
No multi-gig port, Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation
Finicky QoS, online protection, require a mobile app and is not free
Home mesh brands: The takeaway
There you go. These are all popular home mesh systems in the market. There are others, but chances are they are not as significant.
You’ll note that none of the brands above will give you everything. In the end, you have to choose between ease of use, performance, features, and privacy. Find a combo you can tolerate and go with it.
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66 thoughts on “Best Home Mesh Brands in Brief: AiMesh, Deco, eero, Orbi, Velop, and More”
I’ve had an ongoing issue with many mesh systems I’ve tried – from Eero, Google, Netgear ORBI (even the supposed top-of-line RBKE963).
Basically, I am told I may have “too many” IoT devices (wall switches, plugs, cameras, etc.) on my network.
I have over 200 2.4GHz devices (most are low-bandwidth, like plugs), ~50 5GHz, and the rest are LAN.
As you review systems like this, especially the Mesh ones, it’d be helpful to note their anticipated limits (which are becoming more commonly published), as well as what you might do to test them.
Same for what features (besides accounts) they require. For example, I just returned a new Eero 6E system because I use my own DHCP server and the Eero required using theirs (except in Bridge mode, which sorta defeats the point). Same with the TP-Link XE200.
Even with the ORBI RBKE963, they can’t get it to work with my network. This, after eight months of technical conversations – beyond their Level 2, 3, 4, to a Wifi engineer who was supposedly liaising with Qualcomm (chip maker) to try to figure out my issues.
(I think most of my issues are due to their “beamforming” and similar technologies that can’t be turned off in newer ORBI models – didn’t have problems with the old RBR50.)
I’m now waiting to try the Asus XT12, Tenda EX12 or MX12, ARRIS SURFboard mAX Pro W133, Linksys Atlas Max 6E, Motorola Q14 Wi-Fi 6E Mesh System, trying the Ubiquiti soon, and some others, to see which allow me using my own DHCP server and support my ~300 MAC addresses.
By way of perspective, house first floor is 58’x32′, second floor is smaller. So we’re not talking a huge place. The problem is I need the main router by one corner, so I often end up thinking I need two satellites (one middle second floor, one further away in garage to cover front-of-house cameras).
Any thoughts on which can handle my quantity of devices?
Your problem will NEVER be solved by how you currently see things, Bruce. You make too many assumptions based on false information and marketing hype and then keep looking for stuff that doesn’t exist. Check out this post, read it *carefully*, and you’ll find the solution.
Note that the number of devices you have is also very high and the default IP pool of your router might have already run out. You might need to use a double NAT to increase it.
I did disable the Motorola MG8702 combo unit and using it as a straight up modem, it’s working fine like that. I purchased two Asus RT-AX92U (in a two-pack configuration) and I’m using them as a whole house mesh system and the coverage is great. No complaints and a huge THANK YOU to you Dong for steering me in the correct direction.
Excellent, Barry! Thanks for sharing. And you’re welcome.
Hi anh Dong,
Em có một vài câu hỏi liên quan đến setup router/wifi cho nhà của em. Hi vọng anh có thể hỗ trợ em được phần nào đó. Nhà hiện tại setup như sau:
1. Nhà em khoảng 130m2/tầng x 3 tầng xây bằng tường gạch, bao gồm 5 phòng (cả phòng khách/bếp/ngủ), nhà em có khoảng 4 TVs, 8 điện thoại, khoảng 7-8 thiết bị thông minh.
2. Hiện tại em đang setup các router nhà em như sau:
– Modem ISP: chế độ router, tắt wifi broadcast, hiện tại có 4 ports em đang dùng làm switch để kết nối đến 2 routers: 1. asus rt-ac3200u và 2. netgear nighthawk R7000
– Nighthawk R7000: hiện tại em đang để tầng 1 chế độ router cắm dây LAN từ modem isp vào cổng WAN của router này và broadcast wifi network tên như modem (tầng 1 em dùng khá ổn định, ít sảy ra vấn đề)
– Asus RT-3200U: hiện tại em để ở tầng 2, cũng setup như Nighthawk R7000 như trên, dây LAN từ modem isp cắm trực tiếp vào công WAN, tên wifi như tên modem (tên wifi thứ 2)
– Nighthawk EX7000: hiện tại em đặt tầng 3 để extend wifi network từ Asus router, hiện tại em đang gặp rất nhiều vấn đề với mạng tại tầng 3, cái repeater này thi thoảng treo không vào được, restart thì work được khoảng vài ngày lại treo, internet chậm và có thể k vào được.
Em đang tìm cách để nâng cấp hệ thống mạng nhà em, em đang suy nghĩ nâng lên mesh wifi để dùng cho ổn định, hoặc quy hoạch lại hệ thống mạng hiện tại. Nếu anh có thời gian anh tư vấn giúp em nên làm như nào.
Em cảm ơn anh.
Chào Thanh! Mình không thấy câu hỏi (?) nào trong phần bạn viết. Và nói chung, mình không tư vấn cụ thể cho bất kỳ trường hợp nào. Thanh nên xem bài viết này và bắt đầu từ đó. Chúc thành công!
Câu hỏi của em chỉ đơn giản là modem nào em nên để ở chế độ AP hoặc router? Nếu setup như thế này có ổn k ạ: Modem ISP (Gateway)—> 1. R7000 (Router); 2. ASUS (AP) và kết nối repeater từ ASUS.
What is the difference between having 3 identical access points with a wired back bone and a mesh network with a wired back bone?
I used to have multiple access points and I used to try and keep the channels apart, but I have noticed that with my new ASUS XT8s with a wired backbone all the nodes are using the same channel! I don’t get it!
I explained that in this post on mesh systems, Jez.
Thanks dong, but I couldn’t see in your article why it is using the same channel, is it better? worse? Or better for roaming and worse for performance? Why would my XT8’s decide to use the same channel when it could use different channels – especially as all nodes know which channels all the other nodes are on and could sense there relative position to each other. Or is it just anti social using up all the channels?
Check out this post on Wi-Fi as a whole, Jez. Don’t make assumptions. https://dongknows.com/home-wi-fi-explained/
Hi anh Đông. Em không biết là anh có thể nói tiếng Việt được nhiều hoặc có thể đọc hiểu tiếng Việt được không?
Em có thể hỏi anh 1 chút về loại Deco X60 được không? Vì hiện tại nhà em đang dùng Giga plan và Deco M9 (3 packs).
Sơ đồ hiện tại của em là Modem Frontier ==> Switch 5 port ==> Deco M9 (wired). Em có đi dây ra cho main router và 1 dây cho cục extend của M9.
Giờ thì em muốn upgrade lên Deco X60 cho wifi 6, theo anh thì nó có đáng để upgrade không? Hoặc là em nên mua mesh của Orbi.
Hiện tại thì em đang dùng M9 cho công việc, gaming, và nhà em thì tầm 20 thiết bị khi cao điểm.
Cảm ơn anh.
Theo sơ đồ thì cách cài đặt hiện thời là không ổn, Bao. Đúng thì là: Modem -> Deco router -> Switch -> Deco vệ tinh / cách thiết bị khác . (Xem thêm ở đây.) Nếu nhà mình đã có dây cáp mạng (và switch) rồi, thì nên dùng bộ Asus XD4 hoặc một bộ dual-band tương tự. Deco X60 cũng ổn nhưng rất thiếu các tùy chọn hoặc các đặc tính khác. Không nên dùng tri-band. 🙂
Cảm ơn anh đã trả lời thắc mắc của em.
Nếu theo sơ đồ của anh thì em phải tính toán đi lại dây cáp mạng cho nhà. Vậy nên theo em thấy em có thể tận dụng được Modem 4 port của nhà mạng.
Anh nghĩ thế nào nếu em chia trên Modem của Frontier theo sơ đồ như thế này ạ:
Port 1 -> Main router
Port 2 -> Switch
Switch -> Deco vệ tinh
Vì hiện tại em đang dùng port của main router Deco để đi thẳng vào PC. Nên nếu theo sơ đồ của anh thì có vẻ rất khó để em có thể đi lại toàn bộ dây cáp mạng trong nhà.
Em đang dự tính upgrade X60 vì thấy Costco đang có đợt sale cho nó anh ạ. Nếu theo anh review thì em cũng đang phân vân với Asus đây :'(
Cảm ơn anh.
Như vậy thì cái “modem” trong trường hợp này không phải là modem, mà là một cái gateway.(Xem thêm ở đây). Trong trường hợp này thì nên chuyển gateway sang Bridge Mode hoặc chuyển X60, hoặc một bộ Wi-Fi mới, sang chế độ AP. (Xem thêm ở đây.)
Có vẻ khá phức tạp nếu như em dùng thêm switch để cắm trực tiếp vào modem.
Anh có nghĩ Modem sẽ chịu tải tốt nếu như em dùng trực tiếp 4 port của modem cho X60 (main rounter and setterline).
Nhà em là single house tầm 2500 sqt nên em thiết nghĩ là nên dùng mesh wifi và X60 thì chỉ có 2 port (wan và lan). Vì đa phần là phone và smart tv, camera, themorstat. Chỉ có 1 PC duy nhất để em control tất cả các thiết bị trong nhà.
Vậy theo anh nghĩ, em có nên để thêm switch để giảm tải cho modem hay là không cần switch và để modem tự cân bằng cho tất cả các thiết bị.
1 sơ đồ nữa của em là như này:
Internet -> Modem
Port 1 (modem) -> X60 main router -> PC
Port 2 (modem) -> X60 set (1)
Port 3 (modem) -> X60 set (2)
Cảm ơn anh.
Very helpful article. I have the original Linksys Velop triband mesh with the parent and 3 children in a 3600sf home (2500 sf on the main level and the rest upstairs). I have 1gig speed internet with Comcast. We have a lot of devices – multiple computers, 20+ cams (mix of Arlo and Abode), a couple of tablets, many Amazon Alexa devices and many TPlink plugs, switches and bulbs. While the Velop had issues early on they all seem to be ironed out and I get very good Wi-Fi. My only issue is when we have a power interruption. Most times all nodes reconnect, but on occasion one particular node will not reconnect (usually when I am on vacation) without unplugging and plugging back in. So I am basically pleased with the system. Is there any reason to upgrade the system (Wi-Fi 6??) or should I just leave well enough alone? Thanks for all of the information you provide. It is much appreciated.
You should leave it alone for now, Martin.
Its refreshing to see reviews from someone who seems to know these products technically as opposed to an IT journalist
Re the Highthawk you say “Most importantly, it doesn’t come with a permanent dedicated backhaul — it’s excellent for wired backhaul.” I have a home thats wired so does this mean the Nighthawk is a good choice for me? I also note you didn’t think its performance was great, should i werry about this much?
I wrote that in the comparison with the Orbi, Darrel. If you have wired your home, I’d recommend a set of dual-band AiMesh hardware. But the MK63 will work, too.
Great posts. I live in a 3800 sq foot single family home with three floors built in 1990, basement and two stories. My Motorola MG 8702 combo modem/router, purchased January 2021, is located in the far side corner of the house in my office and I cannot move it. The house is not wired for internet use and I use Comcast as my ISP provider. The wifi coverage is weak to non-existent in corners of the house. I have tried Netgear extenders, the latest was the 7500, all without success even though it was placed within 35 feet from the router. I completely agree that extenders are not a solution.
Any recommendations on a mesh system? Cost is not a huge factor.
Thanks for all you do to help us out.
Try a 2-pack Asus RT-AX92U, Barry. Placement is the key.
Thanks Dong, I’ll give the 2-pack Asus RT-AX92U a try. I am looking for a mesh system that will serve me well now and grow in the future and hopefully the AX92U can fill that need. I’m in the process of converting the house to become “smart” and adding more smart devices all the time.
I presume I will need to convert the Motorola combo unit to become just a modem and disable the routing capabilities? do you believe the Motorola combo unit acting as just a modem will be sufficient to handle all of the Asus requirements?
I read you “placement” article and will try to comply as much as possible but the main router must remain in my office at one end of the house as that’s where the Comcast cable is installed.
Is there anything else I need to know before moving forward with the purchase?
Thanks again for your help.
Barry, a year removed from your post what did you end up doing?
I hope you definetly disabled the wifi combo part on your modem.
Budget not an option must be nice. Pay or do it yourself to have Cat 6e wired to the other nodes of a mesh system and get them most out of your Gig service from Comcast.
Thanks for the frank input Dong. I’ll have to try some more smooze and hopefully she won’t respond “Negative Ghostrider!” Thanks again.
I greatly appreciate what is clearly a labor of love as reflected by your website and you’re a tremendous fount of knowledge. Thank you.
I’m considering a WiFi 6-type mesh setup as we don’t have any high-quality ethernet wiring installers available in our location; and I’m certainly not going to start punching arbitrary holes in walls to string it myself (she’ll kill me!). So…
I like the idea of the Orbi RBK853 or 854 but in checking myriad reviews it seems to work out either really well or quite poorly, in terms of long-term, consistent signal reliability at range. In addition, AiMesh seems to be kind of hit-or-miss for more than a few as well. Given this, would we be better served by a RAX200 and a ‘mesh-like’ extender such as the EX8000 or EAX80?
Thanks in advance for your thoughts and guidance and all you do in providing your readers with all the amazing content!
Extenders are *always* terrible, Greg. But yes, a wireless mesh system, though better, is also hit or miss since there are so many factors that can make things not work as intended — more on that in the top section of this post. If you want solid Wi-Fi performance, the risk of getting killed is the only way. I speak from experience (it worked out well in my case.)
Thank you for your realy helpfull post. I have a question. I live in a concrete/stone house with 3 floors. I want to set up a mesh network for the whole house. In the hallway I will connect the “mesh router” next to my ISP modem. To reach the back of the garden, about 35 meters removed from the ISP modem, I want to place the first satellite in my living room, between the garden and the hallway. This satellite will be wired.
On the 2nd floor I want to place another satellite, non-wired. My ISP download speed is 600mb/40mb.
I want to try and stay with a 3pack for now. In the future I would like to replace my excisting (wired)network set-up on the attic.
Because of the wired/non wired set-up I would like to know what you would recommend.
Kind regards from the Netherlands
You should go with a tri-band set of the Linksys Velop, like the MX4200, or three units of the Asus RT-AX92U, Mike.
I read your recent review of Eero where you say you don’t recommend it. I also read the 6/15 article on mesh products, where you talk about pros and cons. I’m hoping you might give me an outright recommendation or two.
Q: What would you recommend for a large house (stucco walls) with WIRED backhaul?
I agree: I don’t trust Amazon vis-a-vis privacy … I tend to trust Google more.
I think I want WiFi 6 (or even 6E).
Ease of setup is secondary.
Would be a plus to have a built-in VPN like my current TP-Link AC2300.
I’d go with a dual-band set of AiMesh, Dan. https://dongknows.com/best-aimesh-routers-and-combos/
The more I know, the more I realise I don’t know…..however I have established from reading your material and others’ (for real time range testing) that I need 4 to 5 broadcasters, each separated about 30 to 45 ft apart with 2 or more brick walls between them; but all connected via cat5e wiring/GB switches, except one. Each broadcaster/node ideally has a range of 2500 sq.ft. (Or more practically speaking ~25ft radius from node.
The above knocks a lot of the mesh units off the perch (so to speak), leaving the longer range stuff like: orbi, Deco, D-Link (the Asus units that have a good range are prohibitively expensive when 4 to 5 units are needed).
So here’s my question. Out of the following short list:
– Netgear RBK50 AC3000 (25 ft radius range);
– Velos (25 ft radius range), how would you rate them in terms of:
– roaming reliability for speeds <100Mbps, seamlessly switching between nodes;
– use of wired backhaul for most, but also one node possibly using a PowerPoint link;
– reliability over several or more years?
I’m not that fussed about speed…..happy with 100 Mbps. Also run a NAS, but that works fine just off the wired network.
Stuffed up my post…some options have been lost, namely:
– TP Deco x60
– D-Link x1873
Since you use wired backhaul, the Orbi is out of the question. Go with the “Velop”. By the way, it’s “Powerline”.
Been looking at Apple Linksys Velos mesh wifi sets AC6600 tri band released late 2020. But, it looks like these are the 4 year old original sets revamped. They have the Ethernet etc cables coming out of the bottom corner. Do you know anything about these mesh sets? Your review doesn’t appear to cover these.
It’s similar to any regular Linksys Velop, Rudi.
I was curious of your thoughts on using MoCA as a wired backhaul for a dual-band mesh system vs using a Tri-Band Mesh system with a dedicated backhaul channel. For my specific case, my main router is on the middle level of a three level home on one side due to where service comes in. The whole house is wired for cable into each room but I am currently using DSL provider due to cost effectiveness of the speed/service. I understand MoCA is inferior to a wired CAT 5e/6 backhaul, but is it in any way better or comparable to just using Tri-band Mesh system?
MoCA is fine if you use the latest one and the wiring is good, Arther. As for “comparable”, check out this post for more on the Wi-Fi range.
Very informative. I like your coverage about privacy and being locked into vendor cloud, etc. services, which helped me remove some brands from the short list for a new mesh system.
Looked at asus mesh units, but when reading through the manual, I found it hard the read past all the typo’s and grammatical errors……it was quite riddled with errors. That made me think if that’s all asus cares about their user manual, what’s the software going to be like.
Your comment about software updates that break setups that work also rings alarm bells for me.
So based on the two above points, I’m not to keen to buy into those issues.
Also looked at Netgear, who don’t seem to suffer from these issues. So keen to see your full review of the MK8x.
Look into the firmware problems that Netgear has been having for the last few years. The Netgear community forum is a good place to start.
Asus is a Taiwanese company so Engish is definitely not their forte, Rudi. The issue with firmware happens in all vendors. It happens more with Asus, if so, likely because Asus releases firmware updates more frequently.
The difference that I found between Netgear and Asus firmware was that Netgear forced me to take the next firmware version, whether it worked well or not. With Asus, there’s always a working firmware version that you can revert to. Big difference…with the Netgear Orbi’s that I had, when I got a bad firmware release (too frequent), I was stuck with it until the next release. Asus is much better about arming the user with the tools to make things work.
Agreed, Roger! Some Netgear routers, not all, also allow you to downgrade to an older version of the firmware, though. But Netgear sure is taking the controlling route of late.
I bought an RT-AX89X about 16 months ago for WiFi 6 and for the latest and greatest. It’s been an unpleasant ride of regularly dropped connections, etc. However, in July 2021 it started to become pretty stable. They screwed things up a couple of times since then, but as of now, it’s working perfectly (as far as I can tell) and performance is excellent. Despite the previous headaches, I’m glad I purchased this beast especially now that WiFi 6 products (like new Macs) are being released. I was planning to add an AI mesh router, but the single router seems to be providing all the coverage I need in my 2000 sq’ house plus large garage. Signal in grounds outside and around the property are very good as well. The multiple 1G ports as well as the pair of 10G ports put this router in a class by itself.
Your experience is about right, Thomas. I had a better one but mostly because I took into account that the earlier firmware versions were buggy. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
My next mesh is Synology, both units, simply because I’ve never heard of them and they’re not any of the big gorillas, so to speak. Write-ups from Dong are great and that’s good enough for me. My Portal mesh has served well for 5 plus years but I’m on to the next.
Good call, M!
You know what? You should look up the eero Pro, and you’ll find that the eero Pro 6 is simply the next tri-band version of the eero, with wifi-6 added. So your statement that the eero Pro 6 is the first eero tri-band router is simply not true. The eero Pro 6 also has more up-to-date hardware, and is generally more capable than prior models. But that’s pretty much okay, you have most of the rest right. The accent is on ease of installation and use. I find the performance to be fine, not exciting, but fine. If you just want to use your network, and not spend time fiddling with it, then the eero is a fine choice. It will serve user needs with little attention.
Catching eeros on sale is the way to buy them…they are on sale occasionally, and the bundles go on sale as well. I got two eero pro 6’s on Amazon during the last holiday season for about $320, not a bad price.
You’re, right, Roger. For some reason I got confused between Pro and Wi-Fi 6, etc. Gonna correct it. Thanks.
What would be the best performance (fastest connection speeds) option to cover a 3000sq home and 1/2 acre of land, if my only option is a wireless backhaul? From what I can tell it seems that Velop would be the best, but I’ve always had TP-Link routers….
Usage patterns are lots of streaming (3 users), 30+ smart devices, full time at home office, and a teenager doing virtual learning (covid times).
Router is currently upstairs, gaming systems in basement 35 feet from router, and I often sit outside with laptop to work.
This has more to do with your Internet speed than your Wi-Fi, Alex. From the way you asked, I can see you make some assumptions. I’d recommend you start with this post, nobody can give you specific recommendations with just the info you mentioned: https://dongknows.com/how-to-pick-the-best-wi-fi-router-for-your-home/
I’ve got an Arris TG3452A router/modem from my ISP that doesn’t seem to be able to fully cover our 2k sq ft house (weak signal at the opposite end of the house). Our house is prewired with Cat 5e cable, so I was hoping to use that and a switch to connect the router and a mesh system to improve the wifi coverage. I don’t have much technical experience, so I am looking for some guidance on how to best achieve this – replace router/modem with full mesh system or add on to it. If there is a system that is relatively easy to setup/use that would be great. For what it’s worth, our internet comes into the router/modem by cable, so I would have to consider that as well I suppose. Also, I was hoping to use PoE, to the extent possible, as it would make it easier to locate the devices based on the cat 5e outlets.
Any guidance would be appreciated.
Check out this post, Kyle. In your case, this AP will do.
Hey Dong, great post. My Orbi Rbk50 router just died after 4 years. I have gigabit and I’m looking for full wireless with no backhaul for about a 2500 sq foot property with outdoor cameras. Orbi served me well but stuttered at times. Looking to spend around 300 plus tax. I like the idea of wifi6 and tri band future proofing. Any suggestions.
Go with the Asus RT-AX92U, Sam.
2 Costco specials- which to choose:
Velox AX4200 2pack for $229 or netgear MX63 3pack for $200?
The house isn’t big enough that I really Need additional units and I would prefer to go wired back haul.
Your call, Jim. Either will do with wired backhaul. If you’re sure 2 are enough, though, go with the Linksys.
Dong, I see you mention AiMesh as a versatile system for mixing and matching ASUS’s line. Is TP-Link’s OneMesh comparable?
I’ve added OneMesh to this list, Phil, but it’s way inferior. More in this post.
I’m looking at x90 Deco or Asus XT8.
Which do you reckon is better?
I’d go with the Asus, Jeremy. The X90 is basically the X5700.
Thank you for the response Dong!
I have a wired backhaul set up too. they are very similar except the xt8 has usb port.
Sure, Jeremy. If you haven’t gotten one yet, with a wired setup, I’d recommend a dual-band set. More here. But the TP-Link will work out fine, and yes, an Asus set will give you a lot more features, including those relating to the USB port.
i’ve got my place fully wired up actually.
Which would you go for within the price range of a pair of xt8?
it’s a new place so i’d like to “future proof” it if possible 🙂
Thanks again Dong!
I don’t keep tabs on the pricing, Jeremy. But the post I linked in the previous reply will help.