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Best Home Mesh Brands in Brief: AiMesh, Deco, eero, Orbi, Velop, and More

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. 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 June 15 with additional relevant information.

Home mesh brand compared: Deco X5700 vs Velop AX4200
Home Mesh Brands: Most home mesh systems come in a 2- or 3-pack.

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

Eero 6 vs Eero Pro6 4
Home Mesh Brands: The latest eero variants, the eero 6 (top) and eero 6 Pro.

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, but you should be concerned about your privacy, considering Amazon bought it in 2019.

Eero: Hardware availability

The eero generally is available in identical units. Each can work as a router or a satellite.

Amazon eero 6
Home Mesh Brands: The backside of the eero 6 (left) and the eero 6 Extender. Note the lacking of network ports in the latter.

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, full control of your network, or privacy, it’s as bad as can be.

Amazon eero Pro 6's Rating

6.9 out of 10
Amazon eero PRO 6 7
Performance
7/10
Features
6/10
Ease of Use
8.5/10
Value
6/10

Pros

Easy to set up and use, especially for iPhone users

Good Wi-Fi speeds

Compact design

Comparatively affordable

Cons

Wi-Fi range could be better

Internet and login account required for setup and ongoing management

Minimum ports, no Dual-WAN, Link Aggregation, or Multi-Gig

Online Protection and Parental Control require a monthly subscription

Home automation feature requires Amazon integration

No web interface, spartan Wi-Fi, and network settings

The eero app for Android is a bit buggy

See also  eero Pro 6 vs eero 6: How to Get the Most out of Your Amazon Wi-Fi

2. Netgear Orbi (Oct 2016): Thinking of going fully wireless, ain’t ya?

Orbi RBK752 with Box
Home Mesh Brands: The Netgear Orbi RBK752 mesh set.

Netgear launched its first Orbi set, the RBK50, in October 2016, somewhat as the answer to the eero.

Negear Orbi’s hallmark: Tri-band with dedicated backhaul

But it’s a lot more than that. The Orbi’s hallmark has always been that it’s a Tri-band system that dedicates one of the two 5GHz bands as the permanent backhaul that links the hardware units.

What’s more, the backhaul band of the RBK50 was the most powerful at the time, 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.

Orbi RBK752 Ports
Home Mesh Brands: The backside of an Orbi router and the Satellite counterpart. Note the WAN port on the router.

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 that it no longer works with clients, which require common standards.

That’s true even when you use an Orbi tri-band router as a single broadcaster. In other words, there are no scenarios where a tri-band Orbi’s 2nd 5GHz band is used 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, one of the 5GHz bands is wasted.


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. (This might change, however, when Wi-Fi 6E-based Orbis are available.)

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 letter, and the last digit.

  • The First letter (often R or C) 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.
  • 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 Last digit (often 0, 2, and 3) shows the package’s total hardware units.
    • 0 = Single hardware unit (either a router or a satellite.)
    • 2 = A 2-pack (router + 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 + 02 satellite). The RBK853 is a 3-pack mesh system that includes one RBR850 router and two RBS850 satellite units.

OK, if you’re confused, that makes two of us. I’m keeping my fingers crossed right now in hopes of not having made a typo, to say the least. But 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.

Orbi Wi-Fi 6 System AX6000 (RBK852)'s Rating

8 out of 10
Orbi RBK852 New
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
7/10

Pros

Fast, reliable Wi-Fi with large coverage

Full web interface with all common settings and features

Useful, well designed mobile app

2.5Gbps multi-gig WAN ports

Support WAN 2Gbps Link Aggregation

Cons

High cost

No 160MHz channel support, limited Wi-Fi customization

Not compatible with Wi-Fi Orbi hardware

No multi-gig LAN port, intermittent lags

Bulky design

See also  Netgear Orbi AX4200 (RBK752) Review: A Well-Balanced Wi-Fi 6 Mesh

3. Google Wifi (Dec 2016): The true eero alternative

Google OnHub
Home Mesh Brands: The Google OnHub that morphs into the Google (Nest) Wi-Fi.

Google Wi-Fi, 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 now well-known Google Wi-Fi mesh that’s the biggest competitor of the eero.


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 concern. It’s a question of Amazon vs. Google, as in who you trust more.


4. Ubiquiti’s AmpliFi (Oct 2016): Quirky but cool and effective

Alien Light
Home Mesh Brands: The AmpliFi Alien has an excellent color touchscreen.

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.)

AmpliFI HD Touchscreen
Home Mesh Brands: The AmpliFi HD router and its novelty-of-the-time touchscreen.

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 Alien Mesh Kit's Rating

8.5 out of 10
AmpliFi Alien Kit
Performance
8.5/10
Features
8/10
Design and Setup
9.5/10
Value
8/10

Pros

Dead-easy to set up and manage

Excellent Wi-Fi coverage

Fast performance, wired backhaul supported

Users can manage backhaul link and virtual Wi-Fi networks

Useful VPN and ad-blocking feature

Cool hardware design

Cons

MeshPoint has only one LAN port, and only works with the one router of the same Alien Kit

No dedicated backhaul band

Expensive

See also  Ubiquiti AmpliFi Alien Mesh Kit Review: An Odd Pair of Wi-Fi Tango

5. Linksys Velop Intelligent Mesh (Jan 2017): Don’t forget “intelligent” part!

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 17
Home Mesh Brands: The linksy MX4200 Mesh system.

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 the 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 MX4200's Rating

8.3 out of 10
Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 11
Performance
8/10
Features
8/10
Ease of Use
8.5/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Reliable Wi-Fi with excellent coverage

Helpful mobile app, full web interface

Fast NAS speeds when hosting external drives

Comparatively affordable

Cons

No support for 160MHz channel bandwidth

Mobile app (and login account) required for initial mesh setup

Spartan Wi-Fi settings, modest feature set

No multi-gig network ports, Dual-WAN or Link Aggregation

No setting backup/restore

See also  Linksys Velop MX4200 Review: A Well-Priced Velop for a Large Home

6. TP-Link Deco (April 2017): More bang (and options) for your buck

TP Link Deco X5700 Cross
Home Mesh Brands: The Deco X5700 is one of TP-Link’s many Wi-Fi 6 mesh options.

TP-Link introduced its first Deco set, the M5, in April 2017 as a much better alternative to the eero. It, too, requires a login account and a mobile app to work.

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 X5700's Rating

8 out of 10
TP Link Deco X5700 Box
Performance
8/10
Features
7/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Excellent Wi-Fi performance and coverage

Tri-band with multi-gig port and 160MHz channel width support

User-friendly, comparatively affordable

Good-looking

Cons

Spartan Wi-Fi customization, network settings, and features

Only one Multi-Gig port per hardware unit

App and login account required

HomeShield Pro requires a monthly subscription, limited web interface, impractical design

No USB or additional Gigabit network ports

See also  Deco X5700 AX5700 Review: TP-Link's Best Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Effort to Date

7. Asus’s AiMesh (Feb 2018): The most versatile (and potentially temperamental) home mesh option

Asus RT AX92U AiMesh
Home Mesh Brands: With AiMesh, you can put almost two Asus routers into a potentially powerful Wi-Fi system.

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 combo from more than a dozen (and counting) broadcasters and use them however you want. Well, almost so since some combos are better than others.

See also  Picking the Best Asus AiMesh Router Combos: The Real-World Experience

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 challenge.

AiMesh is so significant that I dedicate a whole lengthy post for it alone. Check it out.

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  AiMesh in 2021: Asus's Ongoing Effort to Excellent Wi-Fi Coverage

8. Synology Mesh (Oct 2018): The professional-grade home mesh

Synology Mesh
When coupled with the RT2600ac or another unit, the MR2200ac makes an excellent home mesh system.

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

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

9. TP-Link OneMesh (April 2019): A patch-up home mesh

TP Link Archers AX3200 Status Light
Home Mesh Brands: The Archer AX3200 is the latest TP-Link router that features OneMesh.

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 supports 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

8 out of 10
TP Link OneMesh
Performance
7.5/10
Features
7/10
Ease of Use
8.5/10
Value
9/10

Pros

Affordable and easy to set up

Reliable performance

Responsive web interface, useful mobile app

Cons

No dedicated or wired backhaul options

Modest Wi-Fi speeds

Routers can't work as satellite units

See also  TP-Link OneMesh Review: An Affordable Mesh Alternative

10. Arris Surfboard mAX (Oct 2019): The new kid on the home mesh block

ARRIS SURFboard mAX AX6600
Home Mesh Brands: The ARRIS SURFboard mAX AX6600 is a new mesh system from CommScope.

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 mAX Pro's Rating

7.1 out of 10
ARRIS mAX Pro Bottom
Performance
8/10
Features
5/10
Design and Setup
8.5/10
Value
7/10

Pros

Gigabit-class Wi-Fi speeds

Dedicated backhaul; exceptional Wi-Fi coverage

Easy to use mobile app

Well-thought-out, compact, fan-less design

Cons

Expensive

No web interface, the mobile app feels unfinished and severely lacks features and Wi-Fi settings

Each router has only four network ports and no multi-gig port

Not wall-mountable

See also  ARRIS SURFboard mAX Pro Review: Excellent Wi-Fi, Zero Customization

11. Netgear Knighthawk (Mid-2020): Wi-Fi EasyMesh made for a wired home

Netgear MK63 AX1800 Mesh Wi Fi 6 System 14
Home Mesh Brands: The Netgear MK63 Nighthawk Mesh system.

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 MK63 Nighthawk's Rating

8 out of 10
Netgear MK63 AX1800 Mesh Wi Fi 6 System 3
Performance
8/10
Features
7.5/10
Design and Setup
8/10
Value
8.5/10

Pros

Reliable performance, excellent coverage

Affordable

First EasyMesh system

Wired backhaul support

Compact design

Cons

Modest Wi-Fi specs, no dedicated backhaul band

and limited number of ports switch required for wired backhaul configuration

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

Not wall-mountable

See also  Netgear MK63 Nighthawk Mesh Review: A Modest but Reliable (Wired) Mesh

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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44 thoughts on “Best Home Mesh Brands in Brief: AiMesh, Deco, eero, Orbi, Velop, and More”

  1. Hi Dong
    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?

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  2. Hi Dong,

    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.

    Reply
      • 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.

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  3. Thanks for the frank input Dong. I’ll have to try some more smooze and hopefully she won’t respond “Negative Ghostrider!” Thanks again.

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  4. Hi Dong,

    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!

    Greg

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  5. HI Dong,

    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

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  6. Hello, Dong.

    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.

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  7. Hi Dong
    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.

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  8. Hi Dong
    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.

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  9. Dong,

    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?

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  10. Hi Dong
    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.

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    • 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.

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    • 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.

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      • 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.

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  11. 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.

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  12. 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.

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  13. 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.

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  14. Hi Dong,

    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.

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  15. 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.

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  16. 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.
    Recommendation?

    Reply
  17. Dong, I see you mention AiMesh as a versatile system for mixing and matching ASUS’s line. Is TP-Link’s OneMesh comparable?

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      • Thank you for the response Dong!

        I have a wired backhaul set up too. they are very similar except the xt8 has usb port.

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        • 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.

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          • 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.

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