Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Deco X5700 AX5700 Review: TP-Link’s Best Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System to Date

TP Link Deco X5700 Cross
The TP Link Deco X5700 AX5700 Mesh system include two identical routers.

The TP-Link Deco X5700 AX5700 Tri-Band Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System is similar yet totally different from the Deco X60 I reviewed earlier this year. And that’s a great thing.

Indeed, this one is arguably the best purpose-built mesh system TP-Link has had to offer yet. Supporting tri-band, the venerable160MHz channel bandwidth, and optional wired backhaul, this mesh delivered in my testing, performance-wise.

But like all Deco sets, the X5700 is far from perfect, due to the potential privacy risk and the lack of a real web interface. It also doesn’t have the same level of features and settings found in formidable contenders from Netgear or Linksys.

To cut to the chase: If you’re living in a large home of around 4500 ft2 (408 m2) and want something that’s plug-n-play yet still delivers fast Wi-Fi, this TP-Link Deco X5700 is an easy recommendation. Currently, at some $390 or a 2-pack, it’s an excellent deal. So, get a pair!

TP-Link Deco X5700 AX5700 Tri-Band Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System

8.3

Performance

9.0/10

Features

7.0/10

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
  • No USB or additional Gigabit network ports
  • HomeSheild Pro requires a monthly subscription, limited web interface, impractical design

The new Deco X5700 looks totally different from the X60. It now comes in a 2-pack (instead of three units), and the hardware is much taller.

The two hardware units are identical. Each is a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 broadcaster. Use one as the router to connect to an Internet source, like a modem, and the other will work as the satellite that automatically extends the Wi-Fi network.

Cool but slightly impractical design, no USB port

The Deco X5700 router is aesthetically-pleasing, despite looking somewhat like a glorified roll of toilet paper from certain angles.

But the design can be problematic. This is a cylindrical box that tapers toward the base, making the whole thing a bit unstable, especially when its ports are all occupied.

That’s not to mention the small base with a little opening for the power cable to reach the underside’s power port. If somebody trips on that wire, well, they will send the X5700 flying.

TP Link Deco X5700 Multi Gig Port
The TP Link Deco X5700 come with a 2.5Gbps multi-gig port on each of the hardware units.

The router comes with two auto-sensing network ports — you can use either as a WAN port, and the other will function as a LAN. On the satellite unit, both will work as LAN ports.

And that’s it, the X5700 has no USB port — it won’t work as a mini NAS server.

Non-pre-sync hardware, still, simple setup process

The setup process of the Deco X5700 is the same as that of the X60. Basically, download the TP-Link Deco app on your phone, sign in with a TP-Link account, and follow the onscreen instruction.

There’s one minor difference. Unlike the case of the X60, the hardware of the X5700 is not pre-synced out of the box. As a result, you’ll need to use the apt to link them up to form a mesh system manually.

TP Link X5700 Mobile App
The Deco mobile app is quite convenient to use. The TP Link X5700 support the Access Point mode, both as a single router or a mesh.

Nonetheless, it took me just about 10 minutes to get the two up and running. Once set up, you can use the phone to manage your home network from anywhere.

A note on privacy

The way TP-Link Deco mesh works, you link your Wi-Fi system with a TP-Link’s account and then manage your home network via TP-Link. As a result, TP-Link can potentially keep tabs on your online activities.

That’s the case of most canned mesh systems on the market. While the degrees might vary, they all pose privacy risks. Here’s TP-Link’s Privacy Policy. It’s always a good idea to know for sure what you’re getting into.

A pseudo web interface

The Deco X5700 does have a local web interface like the case of the X60. You can reach it from a connected computer by opening a browser to tplinkdeco.net, or the default IP, which was 19.168.68.1 in my case (a bit different from the usual 192.168.1.1 found in most TP-Link routers.)

X5700 Web Interface
There’s no much you can do with the Deco X5700 Web Interface.

However, this interface is not necessary for you to manage your home network. Rather, it’s an easy tool to check on the system’s status, update its firmware, and some other basic settings.

That said, if you expect to have the same level of access as the interface of other standalone routers, such as the Archer AX6000 or AX11000, you’ll be quite sad. I was.

The X5700 is the first Deco — and first purpose-built mesh hardware on the market for that matter — that comes with 2 important things for a fast-performing system:

  • The support for the 160MHz channel width
  • A multi-gig network port

That makes a big different in its performance — more below.

It doesn’t have everything, though.

For one, it’s a 3×3 and not a 4×4 system. Also, the 3×3 specs are available to only one of its two 5GHz bands. The other is a low-end 2×2 one. So in a wireless setup, when one of those bands is working as the backhaul, the connection speed will still likely cap the speed of the slower one, which is 1200Mbps.

And if you’re wondering if you can use a cable to link the two hardware units, the answer is yes. In fact, this is the first mesh system that supports a multi-gig backhaul: You can use the 2.5Gpbs ports for this purpose.

Unfortunately, since there are only one 2.5Gpbs on each unit, in this case, you will see no difference in real-word speeds than using the Gigabit ports for wired backhaul.

TP-Link Deco X5700: Detail photos

TP Link Deco X5700 Box
TP Link Deco X5700’s retail box.

TP Link Deco X5700 Power Adapter
Each TP Link Deco X5700 router comes with a medium size power adapter.

TP Link Deco X5700 Hand
The Deco X5700 router is quite large. Note how its body tapers slightly from top to bottom.

TP Link Deco X5700 Top Down
Here’s the top of a hardware unit.

TP Link Deco X5700 Bottom Up
And here’s the underside. Note the power port and the little opening on the base.

TP Link Deco X5700 Single Ports
The TP Link Deco X5700 has two auto-sensing network ports.

TP Link Deco X5700 Mesh
The front of the mesh system.

TP Link Deco X5700 Ports
And here’s the back of both unit.

TP Link Deco X5700 Light
The Deco X5700’s LED light shines in different colors to show the router’s status. You can mange this light via the mobile app.

A familiar set of (limited) network settings and features

Like the case of the Deco X6, the Deco X5700 has a decent set of network settings and features for a canned mesh system. So, you’ll be able to do the common stuff, such as port forwarding, IP reservation, and so on.

It’s a bit more restrictive than its older cousin, however. For example, Dynamic DNS support now only works with a TP-Link server and not those of popular DDNS services. There’s no longer a monthly report on bandwidth usage.

Most importantly, the Deco X5700 doesn’t support HomeCare which includes protection, QoS and Parental Control. Instead it now has HomeShield (likely a new version of HomeCare) that’s available in both free and subprtion level.

The free level doesn’t give you much, with a basic QoS and Interest access restriction feature called Time Spent Online Per Day. To have better control and protection, you’ll have to opt for the HomeShield Pro that costs $6/month.

TP Link X5700 Mobile App 1
TP Link X5700 Mobile App 1

Almost zero Wi-Fi settings

It’s an understatement to say the X5700 doesn’t offer a lot of Wi-Fi customization. Indeed, you can do just the followings:

  • Change the name and password of your main Wi-Fi network. You can only use a single SSID.
  • Turn the bands (2.4GHz or 5GHz) on or off.
  • Customize the Guest Wi-Fi the way you do the main.
  • Pick you the Wi-Fi security encryption between variants of WPA2 and WPA3.

And that’s it. There’s no option to separate the bands into different Wi-Fi names, nor can you find out which 5GHz band works as the backhaul. There’s no way to pick a channel or channel bandwidth of your liking, either.

In short, with the Deco X5700, you have to trust the hardware to do the right thing by itself in terms of Wi-Fi performance. And for the most part, it does — more below.

TP Link Deco X5700 Wi Fi Setting
These are all you can do about the Deco X700’s Wi-Fi.

So in all, while the Deco X5700 isn’t the worst in terms of features and settings, it’s pretty close.

But the new mesh system excells at what matter most: The performance.

In my testing, it’s among the fastest Wi-Fi 6 mesh, thanks to the support for 160MHz channel width and its 2.5Ghz port, which I used to connect to my test server.

Again the X5700 is the first mesh hardware that has both of these high-speed-related elements. And its number showed.

Super-fast as a single router

As a single unit, a Deco X5700 is by far the fastest among routers of canned mesh systems.

At a close range of fewer than 10 feet (3 m), my 2×2 Wi-Fi 6 client connected at 2.4Gbps of negotiated speed and delivers the sustained rates of higher than 1400Mbps.

Farther out, at 40 feet away, the same client still could manage to have the 2.4Gbps of negotiated speed. But now, its real-world performance slightly reduced to 1100Mbps.

These numbers were better than those of many standalone routers.

Deco X5700 Mesh Router Performance Chart
Deco X5700 Mesh Router Performance Chart

The router did well with Wi-Fi 5 clients, too. At the close range, my 4×4 test machined averaged faster than 800Mbps, and farther out, my 3×3 client registered some 630Mbps.

And Deco X5700 had a good range, too, comparable to that of a high-end standalone router. Depending on the environment, a single unit can handle some 2000 ft2 (186 m2) to 2500 ft2 (232 m2) of space. And you can double that with a 2-pack.

Excellent mesh in a wireless setup

In a wireless mesh set up, the Deco X5700 satellite unit did well, too, though not as well as the router. It was impossible to know which 5GHz band, the 3×3 or the 2×2, the system used as the backhaul at any given time.

However, in either case, the Wi-Fi output at the satellite is the same anyway, which is 1200Bbps. And that proved to be the case.

Deco X5700 Mesh Satellite Performance Chart
Deco X5700 Mesh Satellite Performance Chart

My Wi-Fi 6 client got sustained speed between 600Mbps and 760Mbps within 40 feet from the mesh point in testing. On the Wi-Fi 5 front, my 3×3 client had a sustained speed of around 500Mbps within that range, which was quite impressive.

I used the Deco X5700 for more than a week as my main Wi-Fi solution, and it worked out well with no issue at all. The mesh proved to be reliable. You can count on that.

Wired backhaul makes a little difference

Out of curiosity, I set up the Deco X5700 with a wired backhaul. Interestingly, both the Gigabit and 2.Gbps ports delivered the same real-world performance. And the numbers were just slightly faster than those of the wireless setup in the context of my test methodology.

That said, it’d help to use this system via wired backhaul, especially where there are many thick walls or in a large home where you need to place the hardware units really far from each other. But at home with a lot of open space, this is a great mesh system even if running network cables is not an option.

Conclusion

With the lack of settings and features out of the way, this Deco X5700 AX5700 Tri-Band Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System is the best TP-Link had to offer to date.

If you’re a fan of TP-Link, you’ll love it. And if you haven’t tried a product from this vendor before and live in a large home, this one is a safe first buy. In fact, it’ll make an excellent one. Just make sure you can live with the privacy risks.

READ NOW:  Best Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Systems of 2021: The Real-Deal Collection

18 thoughts on “Deco X5700 AX5700 Review: TP-Link’s Best Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System to Date”

  1. I was waiting for the x90 but this, out of nowhere it seems, appears to be the best WIFI 6 mesh router TP-Link has to offer..

    Or should I still wait for the x90?

    Reply
    • The X90 looks like it’s now available @ Best Buy. It is about $160.00 more than the AX5700 though. As far as I can tell, both are similar in specs. I guess you would have to decide if the 6600 MPS vs 5700 MPS is worth the extra $. Maybe Dong can let us know if there’s any performance difference between the two, or if the X90 has any additional specs that the AX5700 is missing?

      Reply
      • I’d say it’s probably not worth it, Allen. I might check the X90 out but at the outset, chances are you’ll have the same XP as you do the AX5700.

        Reply
  2. Hi Dong,

    Can you tell me whether or not you have obtained the memory and ram specifications of the AX5700, if not, would you be able to gather this information and share it? TP-Link published the processor details but, they have been pretty tight lipped on the other two specs.

    Reply
  3. All cloud managed routers, force you into creating and account.
    The crazy thing here is that this is not a cloud managed system. It is managed locally with IP 192.168.1.1.
    So TP-link has no excuse asking for an account.

    Reply
  4. Hi Dong, great review.

    As this unit supports 160mhz, does it mean that Deco finally enabled DFS channels? If so, can this be manually selected?

    Reply
  5. Interestingly you take offense about only has one 2.5G port. The way I look at it is neither a positive or negative if they are WAP. If you are using it in a router mode, I would be surprise if many people have more than 1G to their ISP. And if you are using it as a WAP, well don’t you have a switch? As far as I know most of the WAPs and Mesh devices don’t come more than 2 ports. I personally have two switch w/ two 2.5G ports and two 10G ports. So using those 10G port as a true back-haul and connect the Deco to one of the 2.5G make more sense to me.

    Reply
      • I meant that when You says, “Unfortunately, since there are only one 2.5Gpbs on each unit, you will see no difference in real-word speeds than using the Gigabit ports for wired backhaul.” It’s not exactly unfortunately in my view. As I see it, it’s neither positive or negative.

        Reply
      • I do have a couple more questions, you said that the wired backhaul did not do much for speeds. Does this mean that this wireless backhaul is stong enough to send large files and movies across to a NAS? Also, My house is about 2000-2400 sq, you said a single node would be stong enough for this size house. Would using two cause some type of interference? I would like strong signal throughout at the ability to wire some things with dumb switches from point to point. I have been looking at mesh systems as I think they play nicer with each other and I will not run into the problems I have now with my Linksys EA9500 and RE9000, they seem to compete for my wireless devices and then I just get lack luster performance. I will also not go with Linksys again, they have gone downhill quickly!

        Reply

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