The TOTOLINK T10 Smart Home Wi-Fi System is arguably one of the most affordable Wi-Fi mesh systems on the market.
The low price doesn’t mean it’s a cheap product, however. The system, for the most part, worked well in my testing, albeit not as well as more expensive systems like the Linksys Velop Dual-Band or the Asus Lyra Trio.
Still, if you’re looking for a mesh system to share an average broadband connection in a relatively large home, consider this small hardware set. It can be a pleasant surprise.
TOTOLINK Smart Home Wi-Fi System T10
- Ability to block secure (https) websites
- Fast performance as a single router
- Easy to setup, compact design
- Slow as a mesh network
- Rudimentary interface with poorly written instructions
- No easy way to find out signal strength between hardware units or to which unit a client is connected
- No access point mode as mesh system
The idea of the T10 is not new. There are three identical routers in the system. You pick any of them to work as the main router and then the rest will function as satellite hubs that automatically extend the Wi-Fi network of the primary router. In other words, it’s just like a typical mesh system.
The T10’s hardware units are compact and light, possibly the most compact among all mesh systems I’ve used. Still, each of the units has three-gigabit network ports on the back, two orange LANs and one yellow WAN (Internet).
The WAN port is only significant in the router unit. You need to connect that port to the Internet source (such as a cable modem). After that, the rest of the ports on all units will function as LAN ports to host wired devices. You can also use these ports to daisy-chain the T10 hardware units together using network cables.
No dedicated back-haul: expect the signal loss
When In case running network cables is not possible, in a wireless setup, you should arrange the units in the star typology to avoid severe signal loss. For more on how to best set up a mesh system, check out this post.
Keep in mind that as a dual-band system without a dedicated back-haul, the T10 does have the common signal loss in a wireless setup. In my testing, clients connected to its satellite unit, indeed, had less than half Wi-Fi speeds compared to when they connected to the main router unit. Signal loss happens to all other dual-band Wi-Fi systems, like the Linksys Velop Dual-Band or the Google Wifi.
On the bottom, each T10 unit has an LED light that glows different colors to indicate the status. There’s no way to turn this light off so if you want to keep your completely room dark, it can be a bit annoying.
Each T10 is a dual-band AC1200 router with the top ceiling speeds of up to 867Mbps and 300Mbps on the 5GHz and the 2.4GHz, respectively. The router runs on a 1Ghz CPU.
On the front, each T10 unit has a T button, with two purposes:
- If you press and hold it for three seconds, that will start the process to sync the unit together into a mesh system.
- If you press and hold this button for five seconds, that will reset the unit to factory default.
Since it’s quite hard for one — for me at least — to precisely gauge the duration of a few seconds, you can easily make mistakes with this button. I accidentally pressed on this button multiple times while plugging in a network cable.
By the way, if you have a toddler, make sure to place the T10 out of their reach. Else, don’t be surprised if somehow your Wi-Fi network suddenly went haywire. There’s a reason why in all other routers, the reset button is recessed and hidden.
Poorly written instructions
The T10’s interface (and its Quick Setup Guide booklet) is poorly written. English is not my first language, so it’s not my place to criticize anyone’s writing, but the text the T10 is that bad. It is consistently unclear and overall, not helpful.
That said, don’t expect much help from the instructions. But if you’re familiar with setting up a router with a web interface, the T10 is not hard to set up at all.
You first need to set up the router unit. From a computer connected to the router via a network cable or its default Wi-Fi network, launch a browser and navigate to its default IP address, which is 192.168.0.1, and log in using admin as both the username and password.
Note: You need to change this admin password immediately to keep your router safe from hackers. The T10, unlike other routers, will not force you to change it the first time you log in.
You’ll then get to an interface that has a granular menu with sub-menu items. Use the 5GHz Wireless and 2.4Ghz Wireless menus to create new Wi-Fi networks their passwords. The T10 by itself doesn’t have the option to combine its two bands into a single Wi-Fi network, but you can do so by making the two networks share the same name and password.
Once that’s done, you can add the satellite units via the T button as mentioned above (if you dare), or use the web interface instead, which makes sense since you’re already there.
- Place the satellite units close — within 15ft (5m) — to the router unit, plug them into power.
- From on the web interface of the router unit, navigate to Operation Mode, then choose the Mesh mode. Now hit the Enable button, and all the satellite hubs will be after a minute or so. It was that simple in my trial.
Now you need to place satellite units at reasonable distances from the primary router. This job can be tricky since the system doesn’t have a way to indicate the signal strength between its hardware units, but you can follow these general guidelines.
The responsive but rudimentary web interface
The T10’s interface is responsive. I could move around with ease, and there was almost no lag between sections. And that’s important because this is not a rich interface. It’s rather primitive. You’ll need to do a lot of clicking and manually program everything.
For example, the QoS feature requires you to figure out the upload and download speed yourself and enter them manually. And then you’ll have to calculate and enter the amount bandwidth you’d like to allocate for a particular client to set a rule. You need to know networking reasonably well before you can make this work, if at all.
Other settings, like port forwarding or URL filtering, require similar manual inputs. For this reason, it’s kind of a good thing that the T10 doesn’t have a lot of features. Other than the QoS, it only has a standard set of network settings.
To my pleasant surprise, the T10 can block secure websites — like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on –, something many other more expensive routers and mesh systems fail to do.
That said, if you need to keep your kids safe from social network sites, the T10 can deliver that, again, as long as you know how to program the router manually.
No access point mode
Each T10 unit can work as a router, an access point, a range extender or even a Wi-Fi client. However, when working as a mesh system, the T10 won’t work as in access point mode. That means you need to use this system as the only router of your home.
If you use it with an existing router (or a gateway), you’ll have two separate networks, meaning devices connected to the existing router can’t see those connected to the T10 as peers in a local network. In other words, local services like network printing, data sharing, or media streaming might not work as you expect.
The T10 worked well in my testing and was quite fast as a single router. It was straight forward and has enough Wi-Fi power for a small apartment.
As a system, it was a bit tricky to test it since there’s no way to find out for sure to which of the three hardware units a client connected.
Overall, with all three units, I found the system able to cover some 4000ft² (372m²) with Wi-Fi fast enough to deliver a modest broadband connection (one that has the download speed of 50Mbps or slower). In fact, in most cases, it was faster than the Linksys Velop Dual-band.
But the T10 wasn’t as reliable as other mesh systems I’ve tested. During the 24-hour stress test, it registered a few brief disconnections — not a deal-breaker for most homes.
But if you’re playing online games, that could cause you a battle. I also noticed a slight increase in lag when connected to the satellite unit. However, the hand-off seemed to work as I could roam around the test area without losing connectivity.
The T10 makes an excellent single compact router. As a mesh system, though, it seems like an afterthought.
Nonetheless, at its current state, the TOTOLINK T10 can still be a great deal for those comfortable with networking, thanks to its low pricing. After all, it’s a decent mesh Wi-Fi system for a relatively large home with a modest broadband connection.