Mesh networks have completely changed the way we look at wireless connectivity. Wif coverage has always been a big issue with the traditional wireless routers. I had been fighting for many years to be able to find very good coverage with different home Wi-Fi systems and wireless routers.
If you have a smart home, it is very reliant on a strong and solid wireless network coverage. When you get everything working well, you don’t even think of wireless router coverage.
I have tested nine of the top-ranking, and also the most popular mesh networking home Wi-Fi solutions on the market and my top pick is the Google Wi-Fi system.
The Google mesh networking system offers a dead-simple setup with great performance and a slew of features that are useful which an average family home needs. There are parental controls, Wi-Fi traffic prioritization, security, and many more. It is also one of the most affordable mesh networking solutions that I have tested.
What Is a Mesh Wi-Fi System?
Mesh Wi-Fi systems are designed to blanket your home with wireless coverage; these Wi-Fi systems are hybrid od sorts and are made up of several networking components. Ther is a main router that connects directly to the modem and also a series of satellite modules or nodes which you place throughout your house. These are all part of a single wireless network, and they share the same SSID and password.
How Do Mesh Networks Work?
Unlike the range extenders that communicate with the router via the 2.4GHz or the 5GHz radio bands, most of the Wi-Fi systems I’ve tested use mesh technology to talk to the router and to each other. Each node acts s a hop point for the other nodes in the system.
This helps the nodes that are far away from the router to deliver a strong Wi-Fi signal as they are constantly talking to other nodes and not relying on one to one communication with the router. Not every Wi-Fi system uses mesh networking; some of them use a dedicated radio band for communication. S with a mesh system, the dedicated band frees up the standard use 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands for client use.
Why is Mesh Network Better?
Wireless mesh networks have brought big changes; there is no more complaining now about wireless internet speed or wireless connection from anyone.
Mesh networks help to solve one of the most troubling problems with home Wi-Fi, that of dead spots. They help to provide better coverage by incorporating different hubs that communicate with one another simultaneously.
Their difference cannot be measured. Mesh network companies do not want you even to have to think about the Wi-Fi connection. They are able to achieve the kind of reliability thanks to the use of nodes that act as tiny satellites.
Does A Mesh Wi-Fi Replace a Router?
Yes! Mesh Wi-Fi helps to eliminate dead zones where there is no good reception. This will mean that routers may have to be done away within the long run.
Rather than broadcasting your Wi-Fi signals from a single point, the mesh router systems have nodes that act like satellites and have multiple access points. One of the points links to the modem and then acts as the router, while the others, called satellites, capture the signal of the router and rebroadcast it.
I cannot recommend you to go and buy a wireless router again. They are past their time; you need to get something that will effectively cut all the noise and give perfect coverage and with the perfect speed in any place in the house.
If you want to get wif that works, you can go and get one of the routers by Netgear, and be done with it. Just don’t come back when you have to buy again some more additional access points that may or may not solve your Wi-Fi problems.
But if you want to have Wi-Fi that will serve you well and with no complaints and never-failing you, you should probably consider mesh Wi-Fi network strongly.
Is Mesh Wi-Fi Better Than a Wi-Fi Extender?
I am not a big fan of wif extenders, and at this point with the mesh network, I may probably not consider venturing there. This is because they require more time for you to set up and configure, and they will not replace the existing network.
From a money point of view, on average, a mesh network could end up costing under $300 whereas a good Wi-Fi extender may end up costing around under $50.
This is very subjective and depends on the kind of situation you are in. Many people are happy with the kind of router they have and what they only need is better coverage. You can typically achieve this by buying a Wi-Fi extender.
But for someone that is planning on buying a new router, I would advise them just to buy a Mesh Network instead. You end up having fewer problems down the line with one of this.
The Cheapest Mesh Wi-Fi Router
- Google Wi-Fi Mesh Network
- Eero Mesh Network
- Netgear Orbi Mesh Network
- Linksys Velop Mesh Network
- Zyxel Multy X
- Synology MR2200ac
- D-Link COVR-C1203
- Mercku M2 Hive System
Google Wi-Fi Mesh Network
The offering of Google for mesh homes is a very solid choice for most consumers. I have tested this Google Wi-Fi three-pack option, and it ships with one router that connects to broadband, the two nodes that help in extending the Wi-Fi signal.
Their setup is simple enough that any child with an iPhone or an Android device can manage it. But their performance and features are not a child play.
Google wif provides the best internet connection with a cable connection that has a 400Mbps download service level. Google Wi-Fi reaches throughput speeds of up to Mbps at certain points when you test it. That is incredible performance and can act as a standalone in an area that is highly populated with lots of other Wi-Fi routers competing on the same wireless radio. This means that if you have it in a less densely populated area, it is likely to have even stronger and better performance.
As I had mentioned, google Wi-Fi is very simple to set up, and they even guide you through the best placement of the nodes for you to have optimal performance and coverage. When you are setting up, you can use Bluetooth, so even if you don’t have an internet connection beforehand, there is no big deal in setting up the system. You can do the setup by just using your smartphone.
The champion app is available at the app store and Google play; it offers you the full control of the home network via your smartphone. You can set internet access schedules and block adult content from children.
The small nodes are not obtrusive, and you can place them easily any place in the room. The main router and the two nodes have dual Gigabit Ethernet ports and enable you to hardwire a gaming console, smart TV or other internet-connected devices.
Google wif is great network hardware, and I wonder why they have not integrated with google home or the Google Smart assistant. It would be even more ideal that you could use Google’s smart assistant to reboot the network or find out the devices that are connected.
It is important to understand the difference between the google Wi-Fi mesh and a normal router. Their smartphone mobile app makes accessibility to the back end of this system very easy. This means that there is no need for you to know the IP address or anything like that.
Some people seem to be bothered by the fact that this device only has Ethernet ports to connect into. I look at it as not having many items plugged into the router for the average homeowner. For me, it is subjective to how many ports you need, but two ports should be plenty.
You can have a look at it here on Amazon on the cheap and see the customer reviews.
Pros of Google Wi-Fi Mesh
- You will not mind having their satellites out around your house because they are very appealing to the eyes
- Google stays on top with security updates
- The setup takes no time at all through the app. It is very easy
- The unit is very cheap if the price is a consideration
Cons of Google Wi-Fi Mesh
- It does not focus on advanced features
- It only allows you to access via the mobile app. This is dumped down foe a techie type of persons
- The settings are limited if you lose the internet
- It only has two cable ports for Ethernet cable
The setup of google Wi-Fi network cannot get even better and easier than they have made it now. You set up one of the satellite units and then connect it to your modem. When you have set it up, then fire up the mobile app, and you get a notification that will get you going with much ease. It also walks you down through setting up all three units and even gives you tips that will increase the performance.
Each of the Google Wi-Fi units offers about 1200 square feet of strong signal that will be moving through in your house. The good thing about it is that it also connects you automatically from one node to the next one without any problems. Their mobile app has some great control features and makes it easy to setup.
It is possible to prioritize one satellite device over the others for a set amount of time, and this works great for parental control. This is way better than everyday average wireless routers.
However, you will notice that there are advanced networking features like dedicated port forwarding that could be a problem for some gamers. If you lose the internet connection, there is no way to change the settings with this device.
If you are not a tech-savvy person and are looking for something that is affordable and stays updated automatically and secure, then this mesh network will just be fine for you. You can check this product over here on amazon if you are interested in learning more about it.
Eero Mesh Network
Eero is a breeze to set up and one solid alternative to google Wi-Fi. They are one of the first mesh networking solutions to have come to the market, and it was acquired by Amazon for $97 million.
There is a good reason to have Eero; they offer internet speeds on par with Google Wi-Fi, although they may not have fast internet speed as fast as that of Google Wi-Fi.
The setup and the configuration are almost automated as it detects broadband-connected instantaneously and provided detailed instructions on best place throughout the testing area.
The features set will be satisfactory for most home users. Parental controls are supported and set up firewalls to control the type of internet traffic that comes and leaves the network. It also supports the control of third party smartphone devices.
Eero has been in the market for quite some time now and was one of the first mesh wireless networks. This means they have had enough time to improve their product unit with the newest generation.
They are a true tri-band mesh system with a dedicated band for communication between devices, and the units are small and appealing to the eye. Their price is even as appealing but let us first delve into some of the features here and see if it is worth it.
Pros or Eero
- You can have as many beacons with it as you want
- It has a beautiful design
- The setup through the Eero app is easy
- Has very fast speed on wired or wireless
Cons of Eero
- They don’t have an Ethernet cable port on the beacons
- You must have a smartphone to walk through the app setup
- The settings on the unit are limited
There are many cool things that I can say about Eero unit. It has a dedicated band that delivers a fast internet network even when it is at an extreme distance. It also offers the ability for you to use as many beacons as you need for the unit to get the coverage that you want. They are great, especially if you have a very large home.
Their setup is as easy as that of google mesh Wi-Fi. You just need to set up the program that walks you through the whole procedure using a friendly language.
If you are not familiar with networking terms, you will enjoy how friendly this mesh network is. You will love how the company also breaks down everything, even if you are non-techie.
Although the Eero is slightly more expensive than the three-pack google Wi-Fi, just like google Wi-Fi, it also does not have enough configurations that will satisfy the users.
If you would like to have a look at them, you can find them over here on Amazon.
Netgear Orbi Mesh Network
Netgear is a longstanding leader in the consumer Wi-Fi market. This is not a surprise that it has a quality mesh networking solution. Their Orbi ultra-performance whole-home mesh Wi-Fi system comes with Alexa’s assistant.
The device is gorgeous that also serves as an audio system and features Harmon or Kardon speakers. The setup is app-based. Their app walks you through the setup of the router, nodes and also getting your Alexa up and running. The features it has include parental control that offers internet time limits and also usage monitoring.
Netgear is a true mesh wireless system just like you have seen me talk about them. It will help to extend your Wi-Fi coverage with satellite units.
These satellite units are connected to the base and not to each other. It is a tri-band system that will give you fast network speed and powerful coverage throughout your home.
Pros of Netgear Orbi mesh network
- You don’t have to set up an account
- It does not have speed loss due to forwarding of the mesh network
- Its base and the satellite work together out of the box.
Cons of the Netgear Orbi mesh network
- It is bulky
- Costs pretty much to add satellites
- The setup is a little bit confusing. But the app is easy to use over time.
This wireless mesh system is mainly for the advanced users that want a mesh-like system but has all the controls that you would get with a regular router.
You only need to log in with the IP address that will get you to the regular Netgear screen which you know and also love. The Orbi system also has some advanced features that most everyday users may not care about like the advanced QOS and port forwarding.
There is one more thing that you have to note about the Orbi. The device uses a dedicated band for communication between the satellite units. The other consumer mesh products use the same band that your network data does. This may cause data loss of up to 50%.
Average users may find it hard to identify such margins, but this may make a big difference if you are streaming a lot of data or transferring large files.
The units are also bulky and may take up a lot of space. I would not recommend this to anyone unless you really feel like using port forwarding. They may also be good if you have more control over the backend interface.
Linksys Velop Mesh Network
The Linksys Velop mesh Wi-Fi system has a primary node that replaces your wireless router and modem and with other additional nodes that you place throughout your home to increase the actual coverage of the Wi-Fi network.
Pros of the Linksys Velop mesh network
- It has fast speeds and is also accessible from anywhere on the internet
- It integrates with Amazon Alexa.
Cons of the Linksys Velop mesh network
- It is a little pricier than what I would want to pay
- The design is not good at all with a huge stature and cannot be mounted
- There is no dedicated band control
There are no great and nice things that I would say I like about the Linksys Velop, and I even have a hard time writing about them. This is a big surprise to me considering that they have Alexa support built-in, and I expected them to have some cool features.
There are some issues you may encounter when you want to connect it properly to Sonos. You may have to work on it for quite sometime before you finally get the system working well and in shape. You may also consider getting a techie to help you out if that is hard for you.
Though the system is not as fast as the other systems I have reviewed here and considering the price they come with, it does not sound well. Their size would also scare some people away from getting them as most people would like the small designs that can fit even in tight spaces. Something sleek and also pretty.
On some good positives, though, the system is pretty fast, it has some incredibly fast speed. I think this would be why they are being sold for the price. The speeds literally were double the internal network speed you would get in the other systems.
The other positive of the system is that it has a more robust wireless radio than the google Wi-Fi mesh network. It uses the 3×3 wireless radio vs 2×2 wireless radio of the Google Wi-Fi. This may be why they are making it even more costly.
Their setup is fast just like you get in the other systems. Generally, it works fine but for most people that don’t live in a mansion of around 4000 sq. Feet or bigger, it would be okay just to ignore it.
If you would like to read other reviews by customers or check out the current price here is a link to the Velop device over on Amazon.
AmpliFi HD Mesh Wi-Fi System
This is an attractive mesh network system that enables you to set up your network via touchscreen. Once you have configured, the smart LCD screen shows the network speed.
The kit also comes with two mesh nodes points. These are long antennas that plugin flush to the wall and swivel to enable you to adjust for the best signal pickup. The AmpliFi HD Mesh Wi-Fi System uses an app that is downloaded for setup.
One of the issues you may encounter with the Wi-Fi network is that it may experience some problems restarting after a firmware upgrade. But when you reboot the router and nodes, the issue will be solved.
This router has five Gigabit Ethernet ports to enable you to hardwire several devices to it. The app has features for parental control and setting the access rules and also setting up the devices into groups.
You can have a look at it here on Amazon to check the customer reviews and the price.
Zyxel Multy X
The Zyxel Multy X mesh networking system is designed to cover large spaces, and it uses six internal antennas with three wireless radio bands. One of them is just a dedicated backhaul for just connecting the nodes.
They are impressive but may not be a top pick. They also come with nodes that are quite large, and this means you may experience some limitations on where to place them in the house.
The Zyxel Multy X offers some features that are advanced if you want granular control over your network.
You can have a look at it here on Amazon to check their current price and customer reviews.
Sinology is mainly known for making an excellent lineup of storage devices, and they have made a mesh networking ring with its MR2200 AC.
This router can be set up by using an app or a web browser. But when you use the web browser-based interface, you get to the hole configuration details and settings. The interface is also nice.
The router installs quickly and delivers a solid performance and may suite more the advanced users frustrating the average home user that may want to get it working quickly and forget about it.
The D-Link cover mesh networking system comes with one router and with two nodes. The router and nodes have dual Gigabit Ethernet ports.
The setup uses an app, and this app detects the nodes as soon as they are powered up, and the mesh network is created automatically without any integration being done by the user.
The app may crash a few times during the testing time and this my frustrate home users who want something to start working immediately.
The nodes are pretty tiny, and this enables them to be incorporated in any room. It features web filtering, parental controls, and Wi-Fi access.
Mercku M2 Hive System
The Mercku mesh network system is made for the large spaces, larger than the other mesh network systems I have tested here already. This suite for spaces that are 6000 sq. Feet. This is mainly because of four nodes. This is the most we have seen in all the mesh network systems I have mentioned here.
It is a great idea for your large home though you may get some issues when you attempt to use the app for the router to start picking up the power nodes though it will finally connect.
It may not also feature-rich as you would expect, and its setup may not be user-friendly to you though you will realize that the parental controls are very basic.
The mercku system has a slightly slower speedy performance compared to the rest of the mesh networking solutions. The tiny hive nodes also have small LED and may become hard for you to see the connection status of the nodes.
Everyone has his opinion on mesh networks, and I also think that it depends on o the users and what they intend to use it for. You should also remember that you pay for what you get here when it comes to coverage.
With the explosion, I popularity os smart homes and smart devices and countless streaming services, whole-house Wi-Fi coverage is now a must. The latest wireless routers can provide strong Wi-Fi coverage to most of the rooms if you have a medium-sized house. But if you have a large one with dense walls and multiple floors with many other structural implements, you will need to have additional components that will bring the Wi-Fi to areas the routes cannot reach.