Linksys’s first Wi-Fi 7 hardware, the Velop Pro 7 BE11000, sure is sexy. It comes in a legit “designer” look. I’ll be generous and call it gorgeous. It has enough to easily pass that “wife acceptance” requirement, often out-of-reach for nerds and geeks. (You know who you are!)
And that’s great.
The issue is you’re not here for sex(iness). You’re looking for a solution that supports Wi-Fi 7 you’ve been all hyped up about. And that’s where things get complicated. Right off the bat, this new Wi-Fi solution’s seemingly reasonable suggested retail price of $999.99 for a 3-pack turns out to be hugely exaggerated.
With that, let’s dig in!
Dong’s note: I first published this post on September 30, 2023, based on pre-launch information from Linksys’ website and retail stores, and updated it on November 21 to an in-depth review after thorough hands-on real-world experience.
Linksys Velop Pro 7: A beautiful Wi-Fi 7 solution that lacks almost everything else
The Velop Pro 7 is the first major device Linksys has announced since the Atlas Max 6E came out more than two years ago. The two are firsts from Linksys that support Wi-Fi 6E and Wi-Fi 7, respectively.
Like previous Velop Wi-Fi 6 and 6E sets, the new Linksys Velop Pro 7 is made of identical hardware units, each being a mesh router, model MBE7000.
You can start with one as a standalone router and then add more units to form a system. Or you can get a 2-pack (BE7002) or 3-pack (BE7003) right away.
In a mesh setup, only the primary unit works as the router. The rest will function as mesh points (or satellites). That said, the hardware capability of each hardware unit decides the capability of a Velop mesh system as a whole.
So what is the capability of each Velop Pro 7 mesh router? We’ll get there. But first, let’s acknowledge how good it looks.
Aesthetically pleasant compact design
The new router is part of Linsksys’ new Designer Series, introduced in August 2023, and comes in a slender yet curvy “droplet” shape — from a certain angle, it looks like a water drop.
The Velop Pro 7 is also compact, yet with a good heft that allows it to stay put on a surface without toppling easily.
This good look and compact physical design combo help it blend in with any home setting, hence, passing the so-called “wife acceptance” requirement I often hear Wi-Fi fans complain about.
There’s one thing to note about the router’s new design, though. Its top has a recessed opening around the edge to work as ventilation. In my experience, this area will collect dirt and be hard to clean.
The point is, don’t expect it to remain impeccably nice-looking like in the photo below.
Linksys Velop Pro 7: Detail photos
Linksys Velop Pro 7: Modest hardware specifications
The Velop Pro 7 continues the new “Linksys Cognitive” Mesh technology, which debuted with the company’s Wi-Fi 6E Velop Pro 6e hardware. This is a new name for the “Intelligent Mesh” originally used in previous non-pro Wi-Fi 6E and older hardware.
The idea is that the mesh hardware units use whichever band is most suitable in real-time as the wireless backhaul. In the case of Velop Pro 7, Wi-Fi 7’s MLO, when available, is also used for the backhauling.
|Full Name||Linksys Velop Pro 7 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 7 Router|
|Mesh Availability / Model Number||1-pack: MBE7001|
(a pack includes identical routers)
|Dimensions||3.74 x 3.74 x 8.74 in|
(95 x 95 x 221 mm)
|Weight||1 pound (454 gram)|
|Chipset||Qualcomm Networking Pro 620 Platform|
|6GHz Wi-Fi Specs|
|2×2 BE: Up to 5760 Mbps|
|5GHz-2 Wi-Fi Specs|
|2×2 BE: Up to 4320 Mbps|
|2.4GHz Wi-Fi Specs|
|2×2 Wi-Fi 6: 574 Mbs|
|Mesh Backhaul Band||Dynamic|
|Wired Backhaul Support||Yes|
|Web User Interface||Yes|
|AP (Bridge) Mode||Yes|
|Gigabit Port||4x Gigabit LAN ports|
|Multi-Gig Port||1 x 2.5Gbps WAN port|
|Processing power||1.5 GHz Quad core CPU|
|Power Consumption |
(per 24 hours)
|≈ 235 Wh|
(measured at the router unit)
|Suggest Retail Price||$399.99 (single router) |
Affordable pricing vs the lack of multi-Gigabit wired connections support
As you might have noted from the table above, the second noteworthy thing about the Velop Pro 7 is its hardware vs cost ratio. And on this front, it’s not so great.
Available, starting on October 26, 2023, as a single router (model MBE7001), 2-pack (MBE7002), or a 3-pack (MBE7003) that costs $400, $750, or $1000, respectively, the new Linksys Velop Pro 7 seems reasonable enough at first.
Compared to the mesh alternatives — such as the TP-Link Deco BE85 or, especially, the Netgear Orbi 970 Series — it’s clearly more affordable. But the Velop Pro 7’s affordability comes with, well, a price.
Each Velop Pro 7 mesh router has a single 2.5Gbps Multi-Gig WAN port. Other than that, the rest of its ports — four LANs — are all Gigabit. It’s the first Wi-Fi 7 hardware I’ve known that still doesn’t have multiple Multi-Gig ports.
This poor Multi-Gig support alone is a deal breaker for those wanting to truly enjoy Wi-Fi 7 or multi-Gigabit broadband for three reasons:
- The fastest connection on a wired client is limited to 1Gbps. That’s also the fastest wired backhaul link, which is the ceiling speed of your mesh system.
- The only time you’d experience a faster-than-Gigabit connection (up to 2.5Gbps of theoretical speed) is when you have a 2.5Gbps broadband connection, a Wi-Fi 7 client, and:
- you use a single unit, or
- you use a mesh system with wireless backhauling in optimal hardware arrangement.
- There’s no chance of getting more than 2.5Gbps, such as 5Gbps or 10Gbps.
In short, Gigabit will be the maximum you’d get out of the Velop Pro 7 in most cases. In reality, this new Velop Pro 7 will not be better than existing high-end Wi-Fi 6 or 6E hardware in performance and will be slower than many. That’s especially true for now, considering the unfinished status of the standard and the fact we don’t have real Wi-Fi 7 clients yet.
And that indeed turned out to be the case in my real-world trial. The new Wi-Fi 7 Velop had no improvement in sustained rates compared to Wi-Fi 6E counterparts, including the Atlas Max, which costs much less.
A quick refresher: If you’re new to Wi-Fi 7, open the cabinet below for some highlights
Wi-Fi 7 Highlights
Below are four things you can expect from Wi-Fi 7. It’s worth noting that the standard is not yet fully certified, which is expected to take place in early 2023. Existing draft hardware will likely reach the certified stage via firmware updates.
1. The all-new 320MHz channel width
The first is the new and much wider channel width, up to 320MHz or double that of Wi-Fi 6/6E.
This new channel width is generally available on the 6GHz band, with up to three 320MHz channels. However, Wi-Fi 7 can also combine portions of the 6GHz and 5GHz bands to create this new bandwidth — more in the Multi-Link Operation section below.
Details of Wi-Fi channels can be found here, but the new channel width generally means Wi-Fi 7 can double the base speed, from 1.2Gbps per stream (160MHz) to 2.4Gbps per stream (320MHz).
So, in theory, just from the width alone, a 4×4 broadcaster 6GHz Wi-Fi 7 can have up to 9.6 Gbps of bandwidth — or 10Gbps when rounded up. But there’s more to Wi-Fi 7’s bandwidth below.
Depending on the configuration, Wi-Fi 7 routers and access points will be available in different speed grades, including those offering bandwidths higher or lower than 10Gbps on the 6GHz band.
Wi-Fi 7 also supports double the partial streams, up to 16. As a result, technically, a 16-stream (16×16) Wi-Fi 7 6GHz band can deliver up to over 40Gbps of bandwidth, especially when considering the new QAM support below.
Like Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, initially, Wi-Fi 7 will be available as dual-stream (2×2) and quad-stream (4×4) broadcasters and dual-stream clients. Going forward, the standard might have 8×8 broadcasters and single-stream or quad-stream clients.
Again, you need a compatible client to use the new 320MHz channel width. Existing clients will connect using 160MHz at best. In reality, the 160MHz will likely be the realistic sweet-spot bandwidth of Wi-Fi 7, just like the 80MHz in the case of Wi-Fi 6.
2. The 4K-QAM
QAM, short for quadrature amplitude modulation, is a way to manipulate the radio wave to pack more information in the Hertz.
Wi-Fi 6 supports 1024-QAM, which itself is already impressive. However, Wi-Fi 7 will have four times that, or 4096-QAM. Greater QAM means better performance for the same channel width.
As a result, Wi-Fi 7 will have a much higher speed and efficiency than previous standards when working with supported clients.
Wi-F 7 vs Wi-Fi 6/6E: The realistic real-world speeds
With the support for the wider channel width and higher QAM, Wi-Fi 7 is set to be much faster than previous standards.
The table below summarizes what you can expect from Wi-Fi 7’s real-world organic performance compared to Wi-Fi 6E when working on the 6GHz.
|Wi-Fi 6E||Wi-Fi 7|
|Max Channel Bandwidth|
|Number of Available Channels||7x 160MHz or 14x 80MHz channels||3x 320MHz or 6x 160MHz channels|
|Max Number |
of Spatial Streams
(theoretical on paper / commercially implemented)
|8 / 4||16 / 8 (estimate)|
|1.2Gbps (at 160MHz)|
600Mbps (at 80MHz)
|≈ 2.9Gbps (at 320MHz)|
≈ 1.45Gbps (at 160MHz)
|Max Band Bandwidth|
(theoretical on paper)
|Commercial Max Band Bandwidth Per Band|
|Available Max Real-word Negotiated Speeds(*)||2.4Gbps (via a 2×2 160MHz client)|
1.2Gbps (via a 2×2 80MHzclient)
|≈ 11.5Gbps (via a 4×4 320MHz client)|
≈ 5.8Gbps (via a 2×2 320MHz client or a 4×4 160MHz client)
≈ 2.9Gbps (via a single stream 320MHz client or a 2×2 160MHz client)
≈ 1.45Gbps (via a single stream 160MHz client or a 2×2 80MHz client)
(*) The actual negotiated speed depends on the client, Wi-Fi 7 specs, and environment. Real-world sustained rates are generally much lower than negotiated speeds. Wi-Fi 6/6E has had only 2×2 clients. Wi-Fi 7 will also use 2×2 clients primarily, but it might have 4×4 and even single-stream (1×1) clients.
Considering the 2×2 implementation and the sweet-spot 160MHz channel width, generally, it’s safe to conservatively expect real-world rates of the mainstream Wi-Fi 7 (160MHz) to be about 20% faster than top-tier Wi-Fi 6E (160MHz).
3. Multi-Link Operation
Multi-Link Operation, or MLO, is the most exciting and promising feature of Wi-Fi 7 that changes the norm of Wi-Fi: Up to Wi-Fi 6E, a Wi-Fi connection between two direct devices occurs in a single band, using a fixed channel at a time.
In a nutshell, MLO is Wi-Fi band aggregation. Like Link Aggregation (or bonding) in wired networking, MLO allows combining two Wi-Fi bands, mostly 5GHz and 6GHz, into a single Wi-Fi network (SSID) and connection. The bonded link delivers higher bandwidth and reliability.
Generally, MLO will help increase the efficiency of Wi-Fi 7’s range, allowing a broadcaster to deliver faster speed over longer distances than previous standards.
It can be a game-changer in a wireless mesh network by fortifying the wireless link between broadcasters — the backhaul — both in terms of speed and reliability. While that doesn’t apply to systems with wired backhauling, MLO can make seamless handoff (or roaming) truly seamless.
On top of that, MLO allows each band to intelligently pick the best channel and channel width in real-time — it can channel-hop, just like Bluetooth, though likely less frequently.
For clients, in more ways than one, MLO is the best alternative to the existing so-called “Smart Connect” — using the same SSID (network name) and password for all the bands of a broadcaster — which doesn’t always work as smartly as expected.
But MLO is not all perfect — a few things to keep in mind:
- MLO only works with Wi-Fi 7 clients. Older clients, such as Wi-Fi 6 or 6E, will still use a single band at a time when connecting to a MLO SSID. (As mentioned, a computer needs to run at least Windows 11 version 24H2, set to release in late 2024, to support MLO.)
- MLO requires the WPA3 encryption method and generally won’t work with Wi-Fi 5 or older clients.
- The reach of the combined link (of 5GHz and 6GHz) has a range as far as that of the shorter band.
By default, the 6GHz band has just about 75% of the range of the 5GHz when the same broadcasting power is applied. That said, MLO can only be truly meaningful with the help of Wi-Fi 7’s next feature, Automated Frequency Coordination.
4. Automated Frequency Coordination
Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) applies only to the 6GHz band, which is the fastest yet the shortest range compared to the 5GHz and 2.4GHz. AFC is an optional feature, it’s not required for the general function of a Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster.
At any given time, there can be existing applications already using the spectrum. For example, fixed satellite services (FSS) or broadcast companies might have already had called dibs on certain parts of the 6GHz band. A new Wi-Fi broadcaster must not impact those existing services — a concept similar to DFS channels in Wi-Fi 6 and 5.
That’s when the AFC feature comes into play. The idea is that all new 6GHz broadcasters check with a registered database in real-time to confirm their operation will not negatively impact other registered members. Once that’s established, the broadcaster creates a dynamically exclusive environment in which its 6GHz band can operate without the constraint of regulations like the case of Wi-Fi 6E and older standards.
Specifically, the support for AFC means each Wi-Fi 7 broadcaster can use more broadcasting power and better flexible antenna designs. How much more? That depends.
But it’s estimated that AFC can bring the broadcasting power up to 36 dBm (from the current 30 dBm max) or 4 watts (from 1 wat). The goal of AFC, at least initially, is to bring the 6GHz band’s range to be comparable with the 5GHz band — about 25% more.
When that happens, the MLO feature above will be truly powerful. But even then, Wi-Fi 7’s range will remain the same as that of Wi-Fi 6. Its improvement is that its 6GHz band now has a longer reach than in Wi-Fi 6E.
Before you get all excited, this feature requires certification, and its availability is expected to vary from one region to another. It likely won’t be available in the US before late 2024.
All hardware released before that is said to be capable of handling AFC, which, when applicable, can be turned on via firmware updates.
A crude AFC analogy
Automated Frequency Coordination (AFC) is like checking with the local authorities for permission to close off sections of city streets for a drag race block party.
When approved, the usual traffic and parking laws no longer apply to the area, and the organizers can determine how fast traffic can flow, etc.
Wi-Fi 7’s other improvements
On top of that, Wi-Fi 7 will also have other improvements, including support for Flexible Channel Utilization (FCU) and Multi-RU.
With FCU, Wi-Fi 7 handles interference more gracefully by slicing off the portion of a channel with interference, 20MHz at a time, and keeps the clean part usable, as opposed to the case of Wi-Fi 6/6E, when there’s interference, an entire channel can be taken out of commission. FCU is the behind-the-scene technology that increases the efficiency of Wi-Fi, similar to the case of MU-MIMO and OFDMA.
Similarly, with Wi-Fi 6/6E, each device can only send or receive frames on an assigned resource unit (RU), which signiﬁcantly limits the ﬂexibility of the spectrum resource scheduling. Wi-Fi 7 allows multiple RUs to be assigned to a single device and can combine RUs for increased transmission efficiency.
Additionally, it has no USB port — there’s no chance you can use it as a mini NAS server like the case of the Atlas Max.
A familiar Velop
While the support for Wi-Fi 7 is a novelty, the new Velop Pro 7 proved to be just another Velop in my testing. It’s virtually the same as the Atlas Max 6E (or any Wi-Fi 6 and newer Velop sets) in feature settings and management.
I wrote about the Velop platform in detail in this primer post. But, generally, you can handle the Pro 7 completely locally via its web user interface or the Velop mobile app. However, if you opt for an online account with Linksys, you can conveniently handle your home network when you’re out and about.
By default, the system has relatively limited Wi-Fi and settings. Still, with a little “CA trick” via its web user interface, you’ll access more of its features, including the ability to add more satellites to the system with the mobile app.
Whether you get individual Velop Pro 7 routers separately or buy them as a 2-pack or 3-pack, the hardware units are not pre-synced. Consequently, after the primary router, you’ll need to manually add each additional unit as a satellite at a time.
The process is relatively straightforward but can be a bit tedious and time-consuming. Each unit requires from a few to 10 minutes to be added. In my experience, it took me about 30 minutes to get a 3-pack Velop Pro 7 system up and running.
Overall, Linksys’s Smart Wi-Fi firmware (and the accompanying Linksys mobile app) seems stagnant. Neither has changed much in the past half a decade. But they get the job one. Everything generally works as intended once you’ve gotten past the initial setup process.
Velop Pro 7: Reliable but modest performance
I tested and used the Velop Pro 7 for over 10 days and was ambivalent about its performance. It worked, and that was about it.
The new Wi-Fi system, as a single router or a mesh, has no indication of supporting Wi-Fi 7 features, which is not necessarily its fault, considering the current status of the standard. For example, unlike the TP-Link Decos, there is no way to know if it supports MLO. My clients will connect to one of its bands at a time.
I tested the hardware using clients in all Wi-Fi standards available since Wi-Fi 5, including custom-built Wi-Fi 7 clients, which, at least in the case of the Velop Pro 7, functioned the same as Wi-Fi 6E counterparts.
The throughput performance was also anticlimatic. As mentioned, the hardware has no Multi-Gig LAN port, so, per my standard testing, its Wi-Fi throughput would be limited by its Gigabit ports.
To overcome the situation, I put my test server, which hosts the test data in a double NAT via a 10Gbps router, to test the Velop Pro 7 using its 2.5Gbps WAN port. And while the setup improved its real-world rates at close range — I managed to get a Gig+ experience — over relatively short distances, the speed degraded quite quickly.
For the satellite unit, wired backhaul was ruled out during my testing because that’d also limited the rates to Gigatbit — there’s no way to have faster-than-Gigabit wired backauling. And since there’s no way to make a particular band work as the backhaul, the system was tested at the default settings. Its 6GHz was likely working as the backhaul though I didn’t know for sure.
And the performance proved familiar, the throughputs were great when the test clients were close to the satellite. Over short distances away, within the line of sight, the numbers went down significantly.
That’s to say, the Velop Pro 7 has a relatively short range, which is not a big surprise for a piece of compact hardware. In my experience, it had less coverage than Atlas Max 6E.
I estimate that a single unit can handle between 1600 ft2 (149 m2) and 2000 ft2 (186 m2), and each additional unit would add another 1300 ft2 to 1800 ft2 more. Wi-Fi coverage is always tricky and depends a great deal on the environment. Your mileage will vary.
Other than that, the Velop Pro 7 was silent during my testing. It seemed to have no internal fan, which is always a good thing. (I didn’t open it up to make sure.) It also remained relatively cool and passed my 3-day stress test without disconnection.
Overall, the Velop Pro 7 is a relatively modest Wi-Fi solution, a far cry from what Linksys claims for most of its mesh systems, including the fantastical “3000 ft2 coverage per unit” and “10Gbps bandwidth”.
Wi-Fi 7 doesn’t automatically increase the range, which depends on the band and the broadcasting power. No single Wi-Fi broadcaster I’ve tested could deliver 3000 ft2 coverage, not even close, and the Velop Pro 7’s modest performance is within the expectations of a compact and low-power broadcaster that it is.
Linksys Velop Pro 7's Rating
Aesthetically pleasant design; Wi-Fi 7-ready
Both the web user interface and mobile app can work without linking to Linksys; optional vendor-assisted management
Run cool and quiet; low power consumption
Too expensive for the modest hardware
Comparatively slow performance; limited range; mobile app coercion
Only one Multi-Gig port per hardware unit; no USB port; no multi-Gigabit wired backhauling, Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation
No setting backup and restore
The Linksys Velop Pro 7 is not a bad Wi-Fi solution, far from it. But carrying the “Pro” notion in the name and a price tag far beyond its hardware specs, it’s doomed to be a big disappointment. The sexiness could carry the hype only so far.
At the end of the day, this is a modest mesh solution for a home with sub-Gigabit broadband.
When reviewing the hardware of a Wi-Fi standard still in draft — the case of current Wi-Fi 7 hardware — I’d always recommend waiting till the standard is ratified.
But that’s not why you should wait in this case. Considering the lack of a second Multi-Gig port and entry-level hardware specs, chances are the Velop Pro 7 won’t make much of a difference when the Wi-Fi 7 standard is fully available in all of its glories.
Instead, you should hold up till its price comes down a great deal, as it will have to. The new Velop Pro 7 would still be expensive if its suggested price were cut by 30%.
But you can’t wait? In that case, go easy on yourself and opt for one of these Wi-Fi 6E alternatives. Most of them will deliver much better performance anyway.