6 Best Mesh Wi-Fi Routers (2023): For Big Homes and Small Budgets

As a budget mesh offering from TP-Link, the extras are barebones. 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 as a Wi-Fi 5 system there is no support for WPA3 security. But you can split the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands and create guest networks. Finally, the Deco app is a bit slow and basic, but intentionally simple. Anyone who likes to tinker or check the speed of their ISP will be disappointed.

If you can stretch your budget to the oft-discounted Deco X20, I think you should, as you get Wi-Fi 6, improved security, and slightly better performance. For busy homes with multiple people online at the same time or connections over 500 Mbps, you should go for something more powerful. But if money is tight, this is your best option.

Google Nest Wifi Pro (3 pieces)

The best for simplicity

Mesh systems aren’t much simpler than this one. You don’t even need to install an app to use Google’s Nest Wifi Pro (7/10, WIRED recommended), as you can add it through Google Home. These glossy 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 has two 1-gigabit ports.

Setup is super easy as you scan QR codes and track positioning feedback for a strong signal. The backhaul uses the 6 GHz band and you need to keep your router and nodes relatively close together as they have a limited range. Each router should cover up to 2200 square feet and connect up to 100 devices. Coverage and performance were solid and consistent, and testing was refreshingly free of glitches and buffering. But the Nest Wifi Pro hit the middle of the table with brutal speed at close, medium and long range.

The Wi-Fi part in the Google Home app is barebones. Few options include guest network support, parental controls (Safe Search, scheduled downtime, adult website blocking), and prioritization for specific devices. But this is primarily a mesh system for people who don’t want to configure anything. 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 those with smart home devices.

Unfortunately, it’s not backward compatible with older Nest routers, and the Nest Wifi Pro doesn’t have any dedicated security software. With gigabit ports, this system is not good for someone with a faster internet connection. But for people using 1 Gbps or less, this is a reliable, simple mesh system that you can set and forget.

Netgear Orbi AX4200 RBK753 (3pcs)

Best for large homes

The huge Netgear Orbi range has a strong reputation, but the company’s many similar models make it tricky to choose the right one for you. The AX4200 RBK753 (I swear they’re just mashing the keyboard right now) mesh system I tested falls somewhere in the middle of the range and proved suitable for a large home. The installation was surprisingly tricky, taking over an hour and several reboots to complete, as the app stuck on a loading screen. The router and nodes are large, but I like the curved design. I also appreciate that the LED light turns off when things are working and displays different colors to signal problems; every router should work like this. There are three Gigabit Ethernet ports on the main router and two on each node.

Once it was up and running, the coverage, speeds, and stability proved to be worth the wait, and each node was able to deliver similar speeds to the main router. Speeds were a hair behind the Asus XT8, with some limitations on longer distances for individual units. But with two nodes, this system provides comprehensive coverage. With the simple mobile app you can pause the internet completely or by device or profile, see which devices are connected, check speed, analyze wifi (see connection strength as you move around), set up a guest network and a few more things. It is very good at recognizing devices, making it easier to group them into profiles. You must have access to the web interface for advanced features.

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