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

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 17
The Linksys MX12600 is a 3-pack mesh that include three identical Velop AX4200 tri-band Wi-Fi 6 routers.

Thinking the recently-announced Linksys Velop MX4200 Tri-Band AX4200 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System (model MX12600) is an upgrade, or a downgrade, to the Velop MX10600 that came out at the beginning of 2020? You’re mistaken. It’s neither.

Looking past the lengthy, innately confusing name and the familiar design, this Velop is somewhat new hardware. It’s is both superior and inferior to the older cousin, depending on how you look at it.

One thing is for sure: If you live in a large home of somewhere between 4000 ft2 (372 m2) to 6000 ft2 (560 m2) and need a fully wireless system, at the suggested retail price of some $500, this 3-pack Velop MX12600 is a much better buy than the 2-Pack Velop MX10600. And as long as you’re happy with sub-Gigabit Wi-Fi speeds, you’ll love its reliable performance.

(You can also get the Velop MX4200 as a single unit for around $250 for those living in a smaller home. But in that case, you should opt for one of these standalone routers instead.)

Linksys Velop Tri-Band AX4200 Whole Home Mesh Router WiFi 6 System (MX12600)

8.3

Performance

8.0/10

Features

8.0/10

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

Linksys Velop MX4200 / AX4200: The first full Wi-Fi 6 Velop

The MX4200 is the second Wi-Fi 6 Velop. Still, it seems Belkin couldn’t make up its mind on the naming.

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 7
The Linksys Velop AX4200 Mesh router’s underside. Note its MX4200 model name.

A confusing naming convention

I have a hard time trying to figure out how to call this thing. The new Velop is available as a single router or a mesh set of three identical ones. Here are now Belkin calls them:

(In case you’re wondering, 12600 = 4200 x 3. The number is intended to show the system’s total bandwidth, in megabits per second, of all hardware units. Don’t count on this marketing tactic, though. The system doesn’t have that much bandwidth — check out this post on a mesh’s bandwidth for more.)

Here’s my pet-peeve: You can’t call a single hardware unit “system.” Also, why not just call it Velop MAX4200 to minimize the jargon? But at the same time, it’s Belkin’s prerogative to call anything whatever it’d like. It’s a free country.

The point is, I feel the networking vendor ran out of creativity on this one. But in this review, I’ll use Velop MX4200 to mention the single router or Velop MX12600 to refer to the 3-pack.

A first full Wi-Fi 6 Velop router, still no 160MHz channel width support

Despite the lower number, the MX4200 is actually a somewhat more “advanced” tri-band router than the previous MX5300.

That’s because it’s the first Velop router that features Wi-Fi 6 in all of its bands. (One of the MX5300’s 5GHz bands uses Wi-Fi 5). Still, it’s odd, having two 5GHz bands of two different tiers, as you can see in the hardware specifications below.

What’s notable is the fact the MX4200 also doesn’t support the 160MHz channel width. As a result, chances are you won’t be able to get faster than 1200Mps of negotiated speed out of it — nor did I in my testing. The real-world speeds will be significantly slower.

Linksys Velop AX4200: Hardware specifications

Like all mesh systems, you can use multiple hardware units of the MX4200 to form a mesh system. In this case, one of them is the router that connects to an Internet source, and the rest will work as satellites that extend the router’s Wi-Fi network.

Tri-band with dynamic backhaul, no multi-gig port

Like the case of the Velop MX5300, the Velop 4200 is a tri-band router that has two different 5GHz bands. One is a dual-stream (2×2), and the other is a quad-stream (4×4).

According to the Linksys Intelligent Mesh, Velop Wi-Fi routers use dynamic backhaul in a mesh setup, meaning they’ll use any of their three bands to work as the link between the broadcasters dynamically. There are upside and downside to this.

The upside is the fact all three bands are always available to clients. Also, when you use wired backhaul, you won’t need to worry about still losing a band for the wireless backhaul, like the case of the Netgear Orbi. In fact, this Velop is great for a larger home that’s already wired with network cables.

The downside is the performance. Technically, there’s no band dedicated to the job of linking broadcasters so, in certain situations, you’d still have to deal with signal loss.

What’s more, if you place the hardware far enough apart, the system might use the 2.4GHz band as the backhaul, which is very slow. And there’s no way to dictate which band to work as the backhaul.

It’s important to note that the Velop MX4200 doesn’t have a multi-gig port. That plus the mix-bag of wireless bands means you shouldn’t expect Gigabit-class performance out of it, especially in a wireless mesh setup.

Similar hardware design

Out of the box, the Velop MX4200 looks identical to Velop MX5300, from most angles. The two share the same dimensions, taking the cylindrical shape with their ports stacking up vertically on the back.

The MX4200 has one LAN port fewer than the MX5300 — just three — plus a WAN port. All of them are Gigabit. It also has a USB 3.0 port awkwardly placed on top of the network ports. This port is to host an external storage device for the router’s NAS function.

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 5
But the Velop MX4200 does retain the USB 3.0 port awkwardly placed on top of the network ports.

(In case you’re wondering, yes, you can use the USB port on a satellite. So in a 3-pack setup, you can connect up to three external storage drives to the network for your mini NAS server. Note, though, unless you have wired backhaul, only the one connected to the router unit would deliver the best performance. More below.)

And the number of ports and hardware specs are about the only things that set the MX4200 and MX5300 apart. On the inside, the two feature the same set of features and settings. They also share the same setup process and the Linksy mobile app.

READ NOW:  TRENDnet TUC-ET5G Review: Easy Multi-Gig Upgrade

The same (mediocre) mobile app and setup process

For a long time now, Belkin has been forcing users to use its mobile app for the setup and management of its Linksys router. That’s the case for all Wi-Fi 6 routers I’ve reviewed, including the MX5300, MR7350, MR9600, and now this MX4200.

(The mobile app requires a Linksys login account, and your system will then connect to Linksys at all times, which can be a privacy issue.)

You can forgo this mobile app (and the login account) when using a standalone router by following the trick I detailed in this post about mobile app vs. web interface. In a mesh setup, though, you must use the mobile app. There’s no way to add a satellite using the web interface.

The setup process of the MX4200 was straight forward in my testing. You just need to run the mobile and follow the onscreen instruction. A couple of things to note.

  • You need to set up one unit at a time. If you plug all three into the power and place them near each other for the setup process, you might run into all kinds of issues.
  • The process can be more time-consuming than you’d expect. That’s partly because the MX4200 takes a long time — a couple of minutes — to be ready. After that, it can take up to 6 minutes to add a unit to the mesh.
  • In my experience with all Linksys Wi-Fi 6 solutions, the mobile app is laggy and not well-optimized for Android. So make sure you’re patient.

After the setup process, you can forget about the app completely and just use the web interface, which you can reach by pointing a browser to 192.168.1.1. Now, for the most part, you can manage your network the way you do a standard router.

1
Like other Velop routers, the MX4200 doesn’t allow for customizing the Wi-Fi settings for best performance, but just compatibility.

Familiar networking settings and features

The MX4200 share the same settings and features that those of the MX5300. To avoid repeating myself. I’d put here a few bullet points.

  • Device Prioritization: A relatively simple QoS feature that allows you to drag and drop up to three connected devices on to the Internet prioritized list. There’s no application-based prioritization.
  • Parental Control: Also quite simple. You can block internet access or filter specific websites from certain clients at all times or based on a schedule.
  • Essential network settings: Like most routers, the MX4200 has Dynamic DNS, port forwarding, IP reservation, and other common network settings.

After that’s there’s no extra. The MX4200 can’t work as a VPN server, nor does it provide built-in online protection or any specific game-related features.

Important note: Like previous Velop-base Wi-Fi 6 solutions, the MX4200 doesn’t allow for backing up its settings to a file to restore at a later time. In other words, if you want to get a replacement or mess up the configuration somehow, you’ll have to start from scratch.

Limited Wi-Fi settings

By default, you cannot customize the MX4200’s Wi-Fi more than separating its 2.4GHz and 5GHz into two networks (SSID). Even when I turned on the secretive CA mode, there’s no much else to do either.

Specifically, now, there are options to change each band’s channels and channel width. Ironically, you can only make them work exclusively in a narrow (slow) channel and not in a wider (faster) one. There’s no option to make them work in the 80MHz or 160MHz, either.

So compared with all Wi-Fi 6 solutions I’ve tested, the MX4200, as well as those from Linksys are among the most limited in terms of Wi-Fi settings. They are made to be more compatible than to be fast.

Linksys Velop MX4200 router and Velop MX12600 mesh system: Detail photos

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 18
The Linksys AX4200 MX12600 3-pack mesh’s retail box.

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 1
Out of the box, the MX12600 includes three identical Velop MX4200 routers.

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 2
These Velop MX4200 AX4200 routers look exactly the same as the previous Velop MX5300 ones from almost any angles. Here’s the front.

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 12
And here’s from the top. Note the little color-changing status light.

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 11
And here’s from the underside. You’ll find the usual on/off, reset, and WPS buttons.

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 8
Looking closer, though, you’ll see the Velop AX4200’s model number, which is AX4200.

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 4
And from the back, you’ll note that the Velop AX4200 has just four network ports, instead of five.

Linksys Velop MX4200 Mesh Router 14
Each Velop MX4200 router is quite large, though not exactly huge.

Linksys Velop MX4200 / MX12600: Reliable Wi-Fi for a large home

I tested the Velop MX4200 both as a 3-pack mesh system and a single router, and it performed as expected. That’s of course with its modest hardware specs and the lack of a multi-gig port in mind.

I used a few 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 and 4×4 / 3×3 Wi-Fi 5 clients for the testing. More on that in this post on how to test Wi-Fi.

Fast performance as a single router

As a router, the MX4200 did quite well. My 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client connected at 1.2Gbps of negotiated speed and managed to average some 860Mbps at a close range and more than 800Mbps at 40 feet (12m) away. That was the case when I used either of the router’s two 5GHz bands.

Linksys MX4200 Mesh Router Performance
* Note: For Wi-Fi 5 tests, a 4×4 clients is used for the close range, and a 3×3 for the long range.

Just for kicks, I used a second Wi-Fi 6 client for a wireless-to-wireless test. Now each of the two 5GHz bands hosted just one client. In this case, the sustained throughput was around 700Mbps with the distance up to 40 feet away. Note: one of the clients remained close to the router (less than 10 feet) at all times.

On the Wi-Fi 5 front, my 4×4 clients managed to connect at 1.7Gbps and had a sustained speed of almost 830Mbps at a close range. At 40 feet away, my 3×3 clients had sustained speeds of some 570Mbps, via the negotiated connection that fluctuated between 887Mbps and 1.3Gbps.

Linksys MX4200 2 4GHz Performance

On the 2.4GHz band, the MX4200 also did very well. In fact, it was faster than the MX5300 despite having lower specs.

Note that since many Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems don’t allow for separating the Wi-Fi bands (as two different networks), I compared the MX4200’s performance on the 2.4GHz band also with other standalone routers.

A single MX4200 unit has about the same range as that of the MX5300, so if you live in a home of some 1800 ft2 (167 m2) or so, a 1-pack can handle that. However, in this case, you probably are better off picking one of these standard alone routers, considering the cost.

Reliable but average Mesh speeds

Having “dynamic backhaul,” the MX12600 effectively has no dedicated backhaul band. And it seemed in my testing that the system did suffer a bit from signal loss. It was generally slower than other systems with a dedicated backhaul band.

(Note: Depending on your situation, the mesh might work as one with a dedicated backhaul. The way it’s designed, though, it’s impossible to make sure of that. The numbers on the charts below were those I got from over a week of real-world experience. )

Linksys MX4200 Mesh Satellite Performance
* Note: For the Wi-Fi 5 tests, a 3×3 client is used for both ranges.

Still, it did well with the sustained Wi-Fi 6 speeds averaging between 290Mbs and 450Mbps. Interestingly, Wi-Fi 5 clients had a better deal with connecting to the MX4200 working as a satellite. My 3×3 test device registered 534Mbps and 320Mbps at the close and long ranges, respectively.

Linksys MX4200 Node Stearing
In a Velop mesh, you can tune how your mesh works by using Node Steering and Client Steering settings.

The MX4200 passed my 5-day stress tests with no issues. I also noted that clients were able to move between hardware units (router and satellites) seamlessly, which has always been a strong point of Linksys Velop.

Fast NAS speeds

Similar to the MX5300, the MX4200 did well in my NAS tests. I tested it using a few portable drives and, via a Gigabit connection, it averaged some 110MB/s for both read and write tests.

Linksys MX4200 NAS Performance

As mentioned above, when working as a mesh system, the MX12600 can host multiple portable drives — one at each hardware unit.

I connected a second portable drive on a wireless node (40 feet away) and did a test via a Gigabit connection to the router. The performance now averaged some 100MB/s for writing but just about 62MB/s for reading.

Linksys MX4200 NAS Storage
Each hardware unit of the Linksys Velop MX12600 can handle an external storage device.

So if you want to host multiple drives, the Velop MX12600 will get the job done. But if you want the best performance, it’s best to use the router unit as the storage host.

Conclusion

The Linksys Velop MX4200 Tri-Band AX4200 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System is in no way the fastest Wi-Fi 6 mesh system, nor is it one with the most features. But it sure delivers in terms of Wi-Fi coverage and reliability.

On top of that, the fact it costs just around $500 for a pack of three hardware units means it’s a much better deal than the previous Linksys MX10 Velop AX. So if you’re a fan of Linksys Velop and living in a large home that’s not wired with network cables, this system is an excellent buy.

39 thoughts on “Linksys Velop MX4200 Review: A Well-Priced Velop for a Large Home”

  1. HI Dong
    I recently bough a linksys AX5300(2 pack) , and still in return period , my home size is 6000 sq ft , 30 + devices.Ignoring the price part do you still suggest to get AX4300 as i see two specs that are different
    Processing power – 2.2 Ghz vs 1,4 Ghz , 1gb vs 512 mb on RAM

    Reply
  2. Hi Dong,

    Thanks for the very thorough review. Quick question. I need to pick a mesh wifi system, since I haven’t been able to cover all my house (3500 sqft) with a single router so far. My second most important priority is to have a USB port for making NAS. Is this the best mesh system (wifi coverage and speed and NAS read/write speed) with a USB port. Also, if I wire my house in the second floor, can it impact my choices?

    Thanks,
    Saeid.

    Reply
      • Hi Dong,

        Thanks for your reply. I agree having a separate NAS is a more solid way to go.

        I bought the 2-pack linksys velop (AX4200) mesh router from Costco and the performance is great as you reviewed. Coverage and speed are as expected. The only thing which I didn’t pay attention properly was the USB network sharing features. My previous router was Netgear Nighthawk R7900P and I now see it has DLNA feature on its USB. I have an old Samsung TV which also has DLNA and that’s why I could easily see all my media on the TV. Now with linksys, I can access my media through PC/tablet and mobile phones, but TV does not see that which is due to lack of DLNA. I guess there is no work around, am I right? Do you know if Asus ZenWifi XT8 has DLNA feature on its USB?

        Thanks,
        Saeid.

        Reply
  3. What a great thorough review, I’ve been enjoying your reviews for other products too. I have been waiting for this review to come out. My 1850 Century home has Gigabit internet and is wired with Cat 5E cables in every room and has brick wall in the middle. I wanted to buy a mesh system so I can wire all nodes and get reliable and fast connection to iOS devices as well Nest cams and themostat and wemo switches. I have tested Google Wifi Nest 3-pack, and Nighthawk MK63 3-pack. Would you think this Lynksys AX4200 3-pack is faster and better? i like that is has extra ports and USB ports. Eero Pro Wifi 6 is also appealing but has no USB ports and I’m sure would be similar to AX4200.

    Reply
      • I’m considering the Linksys Velop MX4200 vs. Netgear’s Orbi WiFi 6 System (RBK752) AX4200. For a three story home, which one would you recommend for performance & coverage? Almost all of our devices are on the top floor, but we do have some devices that need WiFi on the first floor.

        My ISP requires a modem/router, which I’ll most likely put into bridge mode. I plan on using an Ethernet cable to directly connect the Velop/Netgear router to the ISP’s modem/router. I am also able to connect the Velop/Netgear satellite directly to the ISP’s modem/router. Would this be the preferred setup for wired backhaul vs. connecting the Velop/Netgear router to the Velop/Netgear satellite with an Ethernet cable?

        Reply
        • I’m testing the Orbi RBK752 right now, JP, check back soon to see which one is better. As for how to connect the hardware, you can’t connect the satellite to anything but the router unit (or a switch that connects to the router unit). But if you have wired your home (as it seems that you have) you’re better off getting a dual-band mesh, one of those on this list.

          Reply
  4. Hi Dong:
    Thank your for your review. I was planning to get one of these. However, privacy and security are two of my concerns with growing online threats. If otherwise, these are a good fit for me – Moneywise, coverage wise, another feature wise, etc. Would you still recommend this and how can I make my router and internet connection more secured?

    Reply
  5. I have just gotten done setup my 2 pair Costco Velop AX4200 mesh kit and I went from 25-33 MPS for downloads speeds to 138 MPS and for uploads from 19 to 38. I have CenturyLink small business plan with up to 150 MPS service. It is on all my home locations too! It is like magic! Everything is instantaneous and streaming services are so clear and solid. No buffering ever,… at all. Web surfing is instantaneous on my iPads, iPhones and PCs. Just shocked at the difference this upgraded router has made in online eye candy and overall satisfaction. Very happy!

    Reply
  6. Hi Dong,

    Our 3200ft 2 story home is set up for wired backhaul. It seems this product may be a bit unique in that it allows both 5GHz bands (in addition to the 2.4GHz band) to be available, in full throughout, to clients when wireless backhaul is used. Meaning no separate SSID, it’s simply visible as a single network to devices with 3 bands of availability. Is this the case?

    For us, it is between this system (the 2 pack at Costco) and the X60 3 pack, also available at Costco. Both would be on wired backhaul. The MX4200 appears to have better “router” performance which is what I assume we’d see out of each unit using wired backhaul? I also like that 4 ports are on each unit on the MX4200, as one will be “office router” (where I really need better wireless) and the other will live in the networking closet, which is central in the house, but enclosed.

    Which would you choose Dong?

    Thanks!

    Reply
  7. Dong,
    I thought that a review search for new router would make for an easy decision – not so after reading your MX4200/AX4200 evaluation of those routers. Just my spouse and me at home. I still work fulltime, self-employed, at my home office. Only a couple of cell phones and maybe a digital TV on sometimes. I am ready to ditch my unreliable AT&T service to my desk phone for a VOIP phone. I need HIPAA security since my work is financial services. I also want to be somewhat ahead of the technology curve to avoid replacing tools every year. My age is 76, so not a tech wizard. No plan to retire. I work with a HP desktop in a home with 2000 sq. Ft. My wife has an office with a laptop about 30 feet from the router. Need security, speed and reliability along with easy maintenance. What is your recommendation?

    Reply
    • Hang in there, Danny! It’s very difficult for me to give you a recommendation since the information you provided is not enough, and it’s almost never enough since there are a lot of details that need to be factored in. That said, I’d recommend you start with this post. when you’re done with it and still have questions, you can leave them in its comment section.

      Reply
  8. Hey Dong! Great reviews as always!
    May I know in what circumstances, I should choose the Mx5300 over the Mx4200? And how does the Mx4200 compares to the ZenWiFi AX XT8?
    Sorry for very similar questions! But it will be fantastic if you can explain a little bit why. Thank you so much!!!!

    Reply
    • Thanks, Jeff. None, I mean, I’d always go with the MX4200 if I had to choose. The Asus is MUCH better in almost all counts, except for stability (which has been better after numerous firmware updates). The bottom line is if you want slow and stable, go with Linksys (note the privacy issues). If you want options and (potentially) fast speeds, go with Asus.

      Reply
  9. Thanks for a great review Dong. I always immediately check out anything you have review. Keep up the great work.
    One quick question. You say “living in a large home that’s not wired with network cables, this system is an excellent buy”. What would you suggest if you did have a wired house?

    Reply
        • I’d say no according to the available settings, Jimmy. But it’s impossible to know for sure since the MX4200 doesn’t allow access to all of its settings. Generally though, DFS is only necessary when you want to use the 160MHz channel width, which the router doesn’t support.

          Reply
          • The 5GHz band is extremely crowded around my house. That’s why I’m looking to upgrade with a wifi 6 mesh system that can cover a large area and supports DFS. I imagine most vendors skip the expense of adding DFS channels since they permit use in only in lower power, (except maybe 52).

  10. Thanks for the review! So helpful as I’m deciding on my first mesh system and this is available at Costco for a reasonable price.

    Reply
  11. Thanks for very informative review.

    I am interested in this MX4200 (2-pack i.e. MX8400, available only at Costco for $300) vs MX5300 (single pack, also available at Costco for the same price).

    Which one would you recommend?

    Reply
  12. Thank you! Great insight, I think I’m going to go with the Asus ZenWifi xt8. I think it should be a solid performer for us in a 1800 sq ft 2 story home.
    Best regards,
    Mike

    Reply

Leave a comment below. (Subject to approval. No spam or profanity, please!)