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Deco XE70 Pro Review: TP-Link’s Latest, Albeit Redundant, Mid-Tier Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Is a Good Deal

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Earlier this month, on April 16, 2024, TP-Link announced the availability of the Deco XE70 Pro AXE4900 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System. The name rang a bell. Prior to that, there had been the Deco XE75 Pro and the original Deco XE75.

I took the new canned mesh system—if we could still call any Wi-Fi 6E hardware "new" nowadays—for a spin and actually liked it. Overall, it's a typical Deco set that's worth its current street price of $350 for a 3-pack. (You can also find 2-pack and single router options.)

Here's the bottom line: The Deco XE70 Pro is simply another variant of TP-Link's Dual-stream (2x2) Wi-Fi 6E Deco systems, likely to give users more cost options. Thanks to the 2.5Gbps port, it's definitely a better choice than the Deo XE75 because it's practically the same as the XE75 Pro in real-world usage.

If you're looking for a reliable app-operated canned mesh system for a, preferably wired, home network with Gigabit-class broadband, the Deco XE70 Pro is a safe buy. Consider one today!

Dong's note: I first published this post on April 16, 2014, as a preview and updated it to an in-depth review on April 28 after thorough hands-on testing.

TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro retail box content
The TP-Link Deco XE70 is available in a 3-pack of three identical mesh routers.

TP-Link Deco XE70: That sinking feeling of having a single Multi-Gig port

Like the case of the XE75 Pro, the new Deco XE70 Pro gets the "Pro" designation from the fact it has a 2.5Gbps port. However, since there's no non-pro Deco XE70, the new mesh is a new hardware of its own.

While having a 2.5Gbps pot is a step up from having no Multi-Gig port at all—the case of non-Pro Wi-Fi 6 and 6E Deco variants—the fact that there's only a single 2.5Gbps port per hardware unit means you won't get a true multi-Gigabit experience.

That's because, as a single router or a mesh system, the Deco XE70 Pro can only use its entry-level Multi-Gig port to do one of these three things at a time:

  • host a 2.5Gbps broadband connection, or
  • host 2.5Gbps local device, such as a server, or
  • handle a multi-Gigabit wired backhauling between a 2-pack mesh.

To deliver a multi-Gigabit wired experience, the hardware must be able to handle at least two of those. On this front, the Deco XE70 is inferior to any hardware that has two or more Multi-Gig ports.

To be fair, there's a scenario where you can experience faster-than-Gigabit connections with the Deco XE70, albeit only as a single router: use its 2.5Gbps port to connect to a super-fast broadband connection and deliver that to a top-tier Wi-Fi 6 or 6E device. Now, you can connect to the Internet at Gig+ speed.

What is Gig+

Gig+, or Gig Plus, conveys a speed grade faster than 1Gbps but slower than 2Gbps. So, it's 1.5Gbps, give or take, and it's not speedy enough to qualify as Multi-Gig Ethernet or multi-Gigabit. Intel coined the term to call its Wi-Fi 6E client chips—the AX210 and AX211—to describe their real-world speeds.

Gig+ generally applies to the sustained speeds of Wi-Fi 6 or 6E—via a 2x2 at 160MHz connection, which has the 2402Mbps theoretical ceiling speed—or Internet speed. It's generally not used to describe wired network connections.

But those with super-fast Internet might want even faster hardware, such as the Wi-Fi Deco BE85. Additionally, the Wi-Fi specs are where the XE70 Pro gets interesting compared to the Deco XE75 Pro and the non-Pro version.

TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro 3 pack port sideTP-Link Deco XE70 Pro 3 pack top
The TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro comes with a single 2.5Gbps port per unit, making it not a true multi-Gigabit hardware.

Deco XE70 Pro: The backhaul dilemma

Like previous Wi-Fi 6E Deco sets, the XE70 Pro has the 6GHz band as the dedicated backhaul by default. Specifically, out of the box, this band works solely to link the units of the 2- or 3-pack together.

It's important to note that this band is not the only band working for backhauling. If you place the units too far away from each other—and it doesn't have to be very far since the range of the 6GHz band is quite short—the system will automatically switch to the 5GHz or 2.4GHz band for the backhaul.

Backhaul vs. fronthaul

When you use multiple Wi-Fi broadcasters—in a mesh network or a combo of a router and an extender—there are two types of connections: fronthaul and backhaul.

Fronthaul is the Wi-Fi signals broadcast outward for clients or the local area network (LAN) ports for wired devices. It's what we generally expect from a Wi-Fi broadcaster.

Backhaul (a.k.a backbone,) on the other hand, is the link between one satellite Wi-Fi broadcaster and another, which can be the network's primary router, a switch, or another satellite unit.

This link works behind the scenes to keep the hardware units together as a system. It also determines the ceiling bandwidth (and speed) of all devices connected to the particular broadcaster. It's the backbone of the system.

At the satellite/extender unit, the connection used for the backhaul—a Wi-Fi link or a network port—is often called the uplink. Generally, a Wi-Fi broadcaster might use one of its bands (2.4GHz, 5GHz, or 6GHz) or a network port for the uplink.

When a Wi-Fi band handles backhaul and fronthaul simultaneously, only half its bandwidth is available to either end. From the perspective of a connected client, that phenomenon is called signal loss.

A Wi-Fi connection between two direct parties occurs in a single band, using one fixed channel, at any given time. This principle applies to all existing Wi-Fi standards, up to Wi-Fi 6E.

When a Wi-Fi band functions solely for backhauling, it's called the dedicated backhaul. Often, that means no other band will do this job, though that depends on the hardware.

In a mesh system, only traditional Tri-band hardware—those with an additional 5GHz band—can have a dedicated backhaul band without ostracizing clients of the same band.

Generally, it's best to use network cables for backhauling—wired backhauling, which is an advantage of mesh hardware with network ports. In this case, a satellite broadcaster can use its entire Wi-Fi bandwidth for front-hauling.

In networking, network cables are always much better than wireless in speed and reliability.

The point is that if you use the system as a default, the client will not have access to the 6GHz band. And that can be changed by simply allowing this band to also work for the fronthaul. And that's the way I generally test any Wi-Fi 6E Deco set.

What's more important, however, is the fact that no matter which band works as the backhaul, it'll use at least 50% of its bandwidth for that job, leaving only the other 50% for the fronthaul.

For this reason, like with Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 hardware, it's best to use a Tri-band Wi-Fi 6E mesh system with wired backhauling where the hardware can use all of its bands' bandwidth for the fronthaul. Unfortunately, in this case, due to the fact the Deco XE70 Pro has only a single 2.5Gbps port per unit, you'll have to pick between:

  • having a 2.5Gbps wired backhaul and hosting a Gigabit or slower broadband connection. Or
  • host a Gigabit or faster broadband and have a Gigabit wired backhaul.

It's a difficult choice if you want both, and it makes the Deco XE70 Pro seem a bit quaint compared to the older Wi-Fi 6 Deco X55 Pro, which is noticeably cheaper and has two 2.5Gbps ports.

TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro vs. Deco XE75 PortsTP-Link Deco XE70 Pro vs. Deco XE75 Underside
TP-Deco XE70 Pro vs. Deco XE75: The two are almost identical except for their port side and underside. The former (left/bottom) has a single 2.5Gbps port instead of all three Gigabit ports.
The two share the same power adapter and can work with each other to form a mesh.

The table below shows the similarities and differences between the three very similar Deco variants.

Deco XE70 Pro vs. Deco XE75/Pro: Hardware specifications

TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro AXE4900 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E SystemTP-Link Deco XE75 Pro AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E SystemTP-Link Deco XE75 AXE5400 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6E System
ModelDeco XE70 ProDeco XE75 ProDeco XE75
AvailabilitySingle router,
2-pack,
3-pack
Pre-Synced HardwareYes
Possible Dedicated Backhaul Band
(default)
None
(6GHz)
Wired BackhaulYes
Dimensions 
(WxDxH)
4.1 × 4.1 × 6.7 in
(105 × 105 × 169 mm)
Weight1.43 lbs (650 gram)
Wi-Fi DesignationTri-band AXE4900Tri-band AXE5400
1st Band
(2.4GHz)
2x2 AX
Up to 574Mbps
(20/40MHz)
2nd Band
(5GHz)
2x2 AX
Up to 1922 Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
2x2 AX 
Up to 2402 Mbps 
(20/40/80/160MHz)
3rd Band
(6GHz)
2×2 AXE
Up to 2162 Mbps
(20/40/80/160MHz)
2×2 AXE 
Up to 2402 Mbps 
(20/40/80/160MHz)
Backward Compatibility802.11ac/n/g/a/b
Guest NetworkYes
(One for each band)
Mobile AppDeco
Web User InterfaceSimple
(No local management)
AP ModeYes
(as a router or a mesh)
USB PortNone
Gigabit Port2x Auto-Sensing3x Auto-Sensing
Multi-Gig Port1x 2.5Gbps Auto-SensingNone
Link AggregationNo
Dual-WANNo
Firmware Version
(at review)
TBDnot tested1.1.2 Build 20220224
Rel. 41924
Release DateApril 16, 2024August 2022April 2022
Power SpecsInput: 100-240V (50/60Hz 0.8A)
Output: 12V, 2.0A
Real-Word Power Consumption
(router unit, per 24 hours)
≈ 185 Wh
(tested at the router unit)
not yet tested≈ 156 Wh
(tested at the router unit)
US Retail Price
(at launch)
$149.99 (single unit)
$249.99 (2-pack)
$349.99 (3-pack)
399.99 (2-pack)
$599.99 (3-pack)
$299.99 (2-pack)
Hardware specifications: TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro vs. Deco XE75/XE75 Pro
TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro Front SideTP-Link Deco XE70 Pro Port Side
The front and back of a Deco XE70 Pro mesh router. Note the lone 2.5Gbps port.

Deco XE70 Pro: Same, same, but why different?

As shown in the table above, the Deco XE70 shares almost everything with the Deco XE75/Pro. The only difference is that the 5GHz and 6GHz bands have slightly lower theoretical bandwidths despite having the same 2x2 specs.

It's unclear how the theoretical speeds can be lower on paper—TP-Link didn't respond to my questions. My guess is the XE70 Pro might use a different QAM, or it's something in the chipset.

Or all that was simply marketing nonsense. In my trial, there was indeed no difference. My 2x2 Wi-Fi 6 and 6E clients were able to connect to the XE70 Pro at the same top negotiated speeds for the standards, which is 2402Mbps—more in the performance section below.

That said, rest assured that in real-world usage, the Wi-Fi performance of these three variants will be similar, if not the same, and the Pro hardware, when applicable, will benefit from the 2.5Gbps port.

TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro mobile app
The TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro shares the same Deco mobile app with the rest of the Deco family and, hence, the same set of settings and features.

The familiar Deco experience

The Deco XE70 Pro shares the same Deco mobile and features as the Deco XE75 or any other member of the Deco 6E family. I detailed all that in this post on the ecosystem, but here are some highlights:

  • The hardware is presented: When you get a 2- or 3-pack, pick one to set up as the primary router, and the rest of the unit(s) will automatically become part of the mesh system when plugged into power and connected to the network via a network cable or placed wirelessly at a reasonable distance.
  • There's a single main SSID for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands—each of them can be turned off. The 6GHz band, as mentioned above, is used as the dedicated backhaul by default but can be opened up to the client, in which case it gets an SSID of its own, which has to be different from other SSIDs.
  • You can create an optional IoT SSID for the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands—each of the bands can be turned off—that must be different from other SSIDs.
  • There are two optional Guest Wi-Fi SSIDs: one for 2.4GHz and 5GHz and the other for 6GHz. These SSIDs also must have unique names.
  • You must use the Deco app to set up and manage the hardware afterward. There's a simple web interface, available after the initial setup, that can used only for manual firmware updates and status viewing.

The Deco app requires a login account with TP-Link and allows users to manage the hardware locally or when they are out and about.

TP-Link and your privacy

Having to sign in with an account generally means your hardware connects to the vendor at all times, which translates into inherent privacy risks. On this matter, the Chinese networking company, among other things, insists that it is based in Hong Kong and offers this assurance:

"TP-Link takes privacy seriously and complies with U.S. policies to protect consumers."

TP-Link's Privacy Policy page.

Managing your home network via a third party is never a good idea. Privacy is a matter of degree. Data collection and handling vary vendor by vendor.

Other than that, you can expect the same set of standard network settings—Dynamic DNS and port-forwarding, VPN (Open VPN/PPTP/L2TP/IPSec server or client), common WAN (including VLAN tagging) and LAN settings, etc.—as the rest of the Deco family.

Additionally, the hardware includes the basic level of Parental Control and Security with the option to upgrade to more advanced versions via subscription, as shown below.

TP-Link Deco Security
SecuritySecurity+Total Security Package
Originformerly part of HomeShieldformerly part of HomeShield+New
(since January 2024)
AvailabilityIncluded with all Deco routers or mesh systemsPaid subscriptionPaid subscription
CostFree30-day free trial, then:
$4.99/month, or
$35.99/year
30-day free trial, then
$69.99/year, or
$5.99/month (first year only)
FeaturesNew device alerts
Router security scan
Wireless security scan
All features of Security, plus:
Web Protection
Intrusion Prevention
IoT Protection
Comprehensive Report
All features of Security+, plus:
Antivirus Protection
Unlimited VPN
Password Management PC Cleaner
NotesNot available when router (or mesh system) is working in the access point (AP) mode
Different tiers of TP-Link Security add-ons among TP-Link's Deco family. Prices are subject to change.
TP-Link Deco Parental Controls
TP-Link Deco Parental Controls
(since January 2024)
TiersBasic
(formerly part of HomeShield)
Advanced
(formerly part of HomeShield+)
AvailabilityIncluded with all Deco routersPaid subscription
CostFree30-day free trial, then
$2.99/month, or
$17.99/year
ManagementProfiles that include one or multiple devices belonging to one or different individuals within the home network.
FeaturesPause the Internet,
Block Specific Websites,
Filter Website by Categories
All features of the Basic, plus:
SafeSearch that filters out explicit content for search results,
YouTube Restricted Mode,
Flexible Bedtime,
Offtime Control,
Time Limits,
Time Rewords,
Comprehensive Insights,
Details Reports
NotesNot available when router (or mesh system) is working in the access point (AP) mode
Different tiers of TP-Link Deco Parental Controls among TP-Link's Deco family. Prices are subject to change.

Overall, other than the 2.5Gbps port and related performance, the Deco XE70 Pro delivers the same real-world experience as the Deco XE75, and by that, I also mean performance.

Deco XE70 Pro: The familiarly reliable, albeit unimpressive, performance

I tested a 3-pack of the Deco XE70 Pro for over a week and generally felt a Deja Vu. It was almost identical to the XE75 in the overall experience. The 2.5Gbps port helped the hardware show faster-than-Gigabit sustained rates in certain situations, but for the most part, it was very similar to the older model.

TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro Router Close Range Wi-Fi PerformanceTP-Link Deco XE70 Pro Router Far Range Wi-Fi Performance
The TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro's Wi-Fi performance when working as a single router hosting clients of different Wi-Fi standards.

Generally, when standing close to the XE70 Pro, you can expect low Gig+ sustained rates out of its 6GHz or 5GHz band. Otherwise, the performance was the same as the older model. It's worth noting that its 2.4GHz band, which was consistently slow, had wildly fluctuating speeds that varied at different distances and times of day.

Again, the Deco XE70 Pro was very similar to the previous XE75 model as a satellite unit. I also tested it via wired backhauling, and the Gigabit connection generally limited the performance—I needed to use the router's 2.5Gbps port to host a 10Gbps Fiber-optic line and test data—as you can note in the charts below.

TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro Mesh Short Range Wi-Fi PerformanceTP-Link Deco XE70 Pro Mesh Long Range Wi-Fi Performance
The TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro's Wi-Fi performance when working as a satellite, with wireless and wired backhauling <WBH>, and hosting clients of different Wi-Fi standards.

The Deco XE70 Pro was the same as the Deco XE75 in terms of coverage. While it's hard to quantify the Wi-Fi range, generally, a single unit can cover between 1500 ft2 (139 m2) and 2000 ft2 (186 m2), depending on the layout of the home and how you place it within the area. Your mileage will vary.

The Deco XE70 Pro remained silent during my testing—it has no internal fan—and never became warm enough to cause concern. As a single router or a 3-pack mesh, the hardware passed my 3-day stress test without any disconnections. It proved to be reliable.

TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro's Rating

8 out of 10
TP-Link Deco XE70 Pro
Performance
8 out of 10
Features
7 out of 10
Ease of Use
8.5 out of 10
Value
8.5 out of 10

Pros

Reliable performance with good coverage; Wi-Fi 6E-ready; 2.5Gbps port

Affordable with a standard set of free networking and feature

Compact, fanless design; easy to use

Cons

TP-Link login account and mobile app required; no real web-based management

Only one 2.5Gbps port per unit; Security+ and advanced Parental Controls require subscriptions.

Conclusion

With Wi-Fi 7 hardware getting popular, I can't fathom TP-Link's reason behind releasing Deco XE70 Pro other than deliberate hardware proliferation. It's practically the same as the Deco XE75 Pro or even the non-pro version (XE75) if you have sub-Gabit bandwidth or bandwidth needs.

However, if you want to push into the true Gigabit or Gig+ area, the Deco XE70 Pro will likely help if you live in a small place that only needs a single broadcaster or in a large, airy home where the 6GHz can play a significant backhaul role. Still, simply put, the choice between this trio—Deco XE70 Pro vs. Deco XE75 vs. Deco XE75 Pro—in most cases, boils down to costs.

At the current street price of around $350 for a three-pack, the Deco XE70 Pro is clearly the best deal between the three for those with the said bandwidth needs, as long as they can overlook the inherent privacy risks of using any app-operated canned mesh system. Thinking you're one of them? Grab one today!

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4 thoughts on “Deco XE70 Pro Review: TP-Link’s Latest, Albeit Redundant, Mid-Tier Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Is a Good Deal”

  1. I’m curious if it can support 50+ devices, extensive gaming, and continuous online streaming without any interruptions throughout the day..

    Reply
      • Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’ve noticed that more expensive routers and mesh systems have more memory and better CPUs, which allows them to handle more devices with fewer drops compared to cheaper ones. With over 50 devices and constant online streaming and gaming, I don’t believe the Deco XE70 Pro AXE4900 can manage without rebooting itself several times a day.

        Reply
        • That depends mostly on your broadband bandwidth. Again your questions have lots of variables. Check out this post and follow the related links.

          In short, there’s a chance no router or mesh system will work for your needs. Or all of them will. Only you would know, the number of devices or what you do don’t mean much or mean everything.

          Reply

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