The 5 Best Wi-Fi Mesh Network Systems of 2018

Have you ever struggled to keep an even Wi-Fi signal at your home? A good-quality mesh router is what you need in combination with NetSpot - a highly praised app that helps you check your WiFi coverage before you get a new router and after.

Comparison of Mesh Routers

When in winter 2016 several small brands, namely Eero, Luma and Plume, started a revolution in WiFi systems by selling mesh-router systems, large brands hurried to follow this trend. Very soon after Netgear (Netgear Orbi), Linksys (Linksys Velop) and Google (Google Wi-Fi) started offering mesh-router solutions. Many other brands are working on their products too.

If it is so popular, then probably a mesh router isn't just a trend anymore, it may actually be a worthy upgrade for your home Wi-Fi. The correct placement is everything in case of a wifi mesh network.

To find the right spots for your Wi-Fi mesh network nodes, NetSpot is highly recommended. So let's have a look at mesh network system solutions.

1. Netgear Orbi

Netgear Orbi is typically sold as a two-piece kit, which makes it different from traditional mesh systems. Its structure is more like a conventional router and wireless extender, however it is using a dedicated radio to connect dual-band radios in both Router and Satellite.

The devices are large towers, crammed with antennas. This system uses an exclusive channel for communications between these two towers. In result you get a rather strong channel that can drive through the ceilings, floors, and walls. The developer recommends placing one of the units next to your cable modem, and the other unit - in the middle of your house - even if that means a staircase away.

Admin interface mobile app, browser
Max coverage area, in theory 4,000 sq. ft.
Ethernet ports four per device
USB ports one per device
Smart Home integration Alexa
Parental controls Yes
Price $380 for a two-piece kit

2. Eero

Eero, the most advertised home mesh kit, makes a good option for larger spaces, because its units communicate with each other instead of communicating with the base. The more units are needed, the more you can add to the mesh.

The units are neat and stylish allowing you to place them conveniently, and the app gives you lots of details about your system.

Eero offers guest networks and individual, pause-able profiles, which allows you to control Internet usage by other members of your household, like kids. The Eero system comes with comprehensive instructions that are great for network novices as well as for technically minded people.

Admin interface mobile app
Max coverage area, in theory unlimited
Ethernet ports two per node
USB ports one per node
Smart Home integration Alexa
Parental controls Yes
Price $500 for three, $200 for one

3. Google Wi-Fi

Google WiFi offers an appealing design, fast speed and great outcome. The app it comes with makes setting the whole system up a breeze. The app will even test the placement of the units for the most efficient result.

With Google WiFi you can remotely pause Internet for individuals or groups. The LED rings on each unit are controllable and make great nightlights.

Admin interface mobile app
Max coverage area, in theory 4,500 sq. ft.
Ethernet ports two per node
USB ports none
Smart Home integration Philips Hue, IFTTT
Parental controls No
Price $300 for three, $130 for each additional

4. Luma

Luma is an evolving mesh network system that lets you say goodbye to Wi-Fi dead zones. It promises easy setup process, flexible features, and great performance. Each unit in Luma system is dual-band and dual-stream with two wired Gigabit Ethernet ports. The units are flat hexagons that can only be positioned vertically unlike Eero system.

The units in Luma home wifi system look identical (without a dedicated base or satellite), which is similar to Eero. It is reasonable to label your Luma units to be able to easily identify them in case you decide to move them around.

Luma offers an extensive set of features including parental controls, Internet pause, and what Luma refers to as “network security scanning”. The parental controls and the “network security scanning” are actually just DNS-based filters, which means that if an attack that doesn't rely on DNS happens, it will easily go through.

Admin interface mobile app
Max coverage area, in theory 5,000 sq. ft.
Ethernet ports two per node
USB ports one per node
Smart Home integration Alexa
Parental controls Yes
Price $400 for three, $150 for one

5. LinkSys Velop

LinkSys Velop are sleek white towering nodes, coming out of beautiful packaging, with cables going out of an opening in the corner, a reset button (in place of a paper-clip hole). LinkSys Velop delivers impressive speed and coverage, thanks to a three-band system providing efficient communication among the nodes.

Features that this system offers are parental controls, guest networking, device prioritization, port forwarding, integration with Alexa, etc. This makes the app more dense than simple mesh kits have, but it is still quite friendly.

Admin interface mobile app
Max coverage area, in theory 6,000 sq. ft.
Ethernet ports two per node
USB ports none
Smart Home integration Alexa
Parental controls Yes
Price $480 for three, $350 for two, $200 for one

The uber-detailed reviews of each Wi-Fi mesh system by David Pogue can be found here.

The advantages of mesh routers

Additionally to getting a flawless, reliable Wi-Fi signal, with mesh-router systems come several other bright advantages. Here are some of them.

  1. Easy network management: thanks to mesh-router systems users are getting an easy access to network. Most of the mesh-router systems are absolutely automated, so you can manage them from a mobile phone app with a few easy taps from any spot on the globe. Mesh-router apps allow the quick scan of connection speed, cutting off Wi-Fi access to certain networks, creation of guest networks, testing the connection quality between different points and even connecting to smart home devices.
  2. Streamlined connections: For the range extender you may sometimes be required to create a separate network with a different name, which will make you switch your Wi-Fi connections as you move into the different spots of your space, sometimes manually. With a mesh-router system constant reconnection is out of the picture, even if you move around. And as all points in mesh systems broadcast the same signal, you won't be dealing with much of a lag.
  3. Tight security: some home mesh-router systems come with a good security support.

The disadvantages of mesh routers

Well, nothing is perfect and so are the mesh-router systems. We'll only talk about the most significant drawbacks.

  1. High cost: An average good quality mesh-router kit will cost around $300 or more, with each added unit costing $100 to $200. An average traditional router costs around $100, and range extenders are from $20 to $100.
  2. Wasted resources: In a small household, mesh routers may be just an over-solving of the connectivity issues. If you don't have outstanding Internet demands, implementing mesh network may be excessive and unneeded. Some minor Wi-Fi dead zones can be easily eliminated with the help of a range extender, by moving an existing router to a more appropriate location or by upgrading a traditional router with a more contemporary model.
  3. More equipment: Although most mesh-router system nodes look really well and are small enough, some people may find seeing the nodes all around the house being out of sync with their aesthetics.

Do you need a WiFi mesh system?

WiFi mesh routers is the latest upgrade for home Wi-Fi networks users. Mesh networks were around for years in places where network security is critical, like military bases and large enterprises. A network in such cases is often isolated and not connected to the internet. But it is only recently that mesh networking became available to home network owners.

If your household is large — at least 3,000 square feet — or has more than two floors or interior brick walls, you'll most probably appreciate the mesh-router system that will help you forget about Wi-Fi dead zones.

You can use NetSpot app with its heat maps to clearly see your Wi-Fi network strongest and weakest spots.

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