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Lifewire / Erika Rawes
Huge coverage area
Comes with two mesh points
Not ideal for heavy network traffic
The Amplifi HD Mesh System has an impressive range, but it won’t manage an army of devices as well as some of its competitors.
The Amplifi HD is a Mesh Wi-Fi System with a main router and separate mesh points that serve as satellite routers. The Amplifi system is supposed to extend Wi-Fi range, reduce dead zones, and provide better coverage. To see how Ubiquiti’s mesh system holds up to the demands of a household with multiple devices, I connected the Amplifi HD in my test home that contains roughly 50 Wi-Fi connected devices.
The Amplifi HD Mesh System comes with a long-range router and two satellite mesh points. The router has a unique design. It’s small, cube-shaped, and it looks more like an alarm clock or smart display than a router. It doesn’t have antennas protruding from it as you see on most routers.
The router measures 3.9 inches by 3.9 inches and its matte white with an LCD touchscreen and a light around the bottom perimeter. The router is stylish, yet unassuming. You can set it on a table or entertainment center, and it’ll go unnoticed.
The two satellite points are very simplistic. They are basic looking, oval-shaped devices with no ports. They plug into a wall outlet, and they have indicator lights to tell you the signal strength. The mesh points, aside from being the same matte-white color, don’t match very well with the main router. Fortunately, they sit in different areas of the home, so the mismatched design doesn’t have too much impact on the overall aesthetic.
The setup for the Amplifi HD system is probably the easiest setup process I’ve encountered. The app walks you through the process step-by-step, with pictures to guide you on each instruction. The most difficult part was deciding where to place the two mesh points in my test home. I placed one in the far bedroom and one in my office, two rooms that notoriously experience drop-offs.
By default, the app creates a dual (2.4 and 5Ghz) network, which directs traffic based on the most efficient pathways. You can create separate 2.4 and 5Ghz networks, or make other adjustments as you see fit though. You can change the band on the mesh points (from 2.4 to 5Ghz), create additional SSIDs, and more. For the purpose of testing, I used the default combined network and allowed the system to direct network traffic between bands.
The Amplifi HD system is not Wi-Fi 6 capable. It has 802.11ac, and it's backwards compatible. On the back of the router sit four gigabit LAN ports in addition to the WAN connection. There’s no multigig port, but the four ports were a welcome addition.
The Amplifi HD seems to be designed for optimal signal range, as opposed to device quantity. This is an ideal system for someone with a large area to cover, but it’s not a powerhouse capable of managing an army of devices like the Nighthawk AX12 or the TP-Link Archer AX6000. The Amplifi system thrives in terms of its ability to push a signal over a long distance, as it can cover areas up to 20,000 square feet. The Amplifi system doesn’t exactly thrive in its ability to manage dozens of devices simultaneously.
In my test home, speeds from my ISP max out at 500 Mbps. In the same room as the main router, Ookla measured the speed at 131 Mbps. The speed remained consistent throughout the home, even in rooms that typically experience drop offs with other routers. However, outside in the backyard, the speed reduced to 111 Mbps.
The touchscreen on the front of the main router can display the time, total GB, WAN and Router IP addresses, internet speeds, and port statuses. You touch the screen to cycle through the different screen options. The power cable connects via USB-C, and there’s a USB 2.0 port as well, but it doesn’t allow you to connect an external hard drive (the port is reserved for future use).
Since the Amplifi HD is a mesh system, it can self-heal, manage network traffic, and you can manage your network through the companion app.
The app creates a dual (2.4 and 5Ghz) network, which directs traffic based on the most efficient pathways.
In the Amplifi App, you can set up a guest network, manage devices, pause the internet, check the health of the system, and check your speeds on your entire network and on individual devices. You can optimize the priority level for each of your devices between normal, streaming, or gaming.
You can also set up parental controls and control your system remotely. The app is extremely user friendly and simple to navigate. There are a few more advanced features, like assigning static IPs and port forwarding, but overall the app is designed for the average user.
The Amplifi HD system isn’t cheap. The package I tested, which came with the router and two mesh points, retails for $340. You can find mesh systems for much less, and of course, some mesh systems are much more expensive. But, the Amplifi system’s design, easy setup, and feature set help justify the price.
A Nest Wi-Fi package sells for around the same price as the Amplifi system. However, with the Nest system, all of the components match, while the Amplifi router looks very different from its mesh points. The Nest system points also serve as Google Assistant speakers, and the system features some more advanced technologies (like WPA3 encryption). However, one big issue with the Nest system is that it only has two Ethernet ports, while the Amplifi router has four spare ports.
Looks better than it performs.
The Amplifi HD mesh system is attractive and does provide coverage for a huge area, but it doesn’t deliver lightning-fast speeds in a home with dozens of connected devices.