As TP-Link’s budget mesh offering, the extra features are basic. There are no additional security features, and parental controls are limited, but they include basic features such as filters and time limits. QoS only covers device prioritization, and Wi-Fi 5 does not support WPA3 security. But you can split the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and create guest networks. Finally, the Deco app is a bit slow and simple, but intentionally simple. Anyone who likes to tinker or test the speed their ISP provides will be disappointed.
If you can get your budget up to the often discounted Deco X20, I think you should, as you’ll get Wi-Fi 6, enhanced security, and slightly better performance. For busy homes where multiple people are connected to the Internet at the same time, or for connections over 500 Mbps, you should opt for something more powerful. But if money is tight, this is the best option.
Google Nest Wifi Pro (3 pcs.)
Best for Simplicity
Grid systems are not much simpler than this. You don’t even need to install an app to use Google Nest Wifi Pro (7/10, WIRED recommends) because you can add it through Google Home. These shiny pill-shaped routers come in packs of one, two, or three. There are four colors and they are small enough to sit unobtrusively on a shelf. Each router is equipped with two 1-gigabit ports.
Setup is very easy as you scan QR codes and follow positioning feedback for a strong signal. The backhaul uses the 6 GHz band, and you should place the router and hosts relatively close to each other because it has a limited range. Each router is expected to cover up to 2200 square feet and can connect up to 100 devices. Coverage and performance were solid and consistent, and testing ran without hiccups or buffering. But the Nest Wifi Pro ended up in the middle of the table in terms of sheer speed at short, medium and long distances.
The Wi-Fi section of the Google Home app is very simple. Meager options include guest network support, parental controls (safe search, scheduled downtime, adult website blocking), and device-specific prioritization. But it’s basically a mesh system for people who don’t want to tweak anything. The Nest Wifi Pro also has Thread and Bluetooth LE built-in and will support Matter very soon, so like the Eero, it’s a good choice for people with smart home devices.
Unfortunately, it is not backwards compatible with older Nest routers, and Nest Wifi Pro does not have dedicated security software. With gigabit ports, this system is useless for those with faster internet connections. But for people using 1Gbps or less, it’s a reliable and simple mesh system that can be set and forgotten.
Netgear Orbi AX4200 RBK753 (3 pcs.)
Best for Large Homes
The huge range of Netgear Orbi has a good reputation, but because of the many similar models of the company, it is difficult to choose the right one for you. The AX4200 RBK753 mesh system I tested (I swear they just knead the keyboard) is somewhere in the middle of the range and proved to be suitable for a large house. Installation was surprisingly difficult, taking over an hour to complete and several restarts as the app kept getting stuck on the loading screen. The router and nodes are big, but I like the curved design. I also appreciate that the LED turns off when everything is running and displays different colors to indicate problems; every router should work this way. There are three Gigabit Ethernet ports on the main router and two on each node.
After the launch, coverage, speed and stability proved to be justified, and each node was able to provide the same speed as the main router. Speeds were within a hair’s breadth of the Asus XT8, with some limitations over long distances for individual devices. But with two nodes, this system offers extensive coverage. The simple mobile app allows you to pause internet access entirely or by device or profile, see which devices are connected, check speed, analyze Wi-Fi (see connection strength when you move around), set up guest network, and a few more things. It recognizes devices very well, which makes it easy to divide them into profiles. You must access the web interface for advanced features.