The 10 Best Mesh Wi-Fi Network Systems of 2020

Make spotty Wi-Fi a distant memory

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Netgear Orbi at Amazon

"Boasting lightning-fast throughput speeds."

Best for Large Homes: Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD at Amazon

"Made for large, multi-story houses with dense walls and other obstructions."

Best Design: Google Wi-Fi at Amazon

"Wins our pick for best design not just for its hardware, but its software, too."

Best for Simplicity: eero Pro at Amazon

"A quick and easy way to bring reliable mesh networking to your home."

Best for Speed: Linksys Velop Tri-Band AC6600 at Amazon

"Offering fast performance and a plethora of features customizable in the mobile app."

Best Budget: TP-Link Deco M5 at Amazon

"Save a little money and still reap the benefits of mesh Wi-Fi."

Best Security: Gryphon Secure Mesh System at Amazon

"Incorporating AI-based intrusion detection and Malware protection by ESET."

Best for Smart Homes: Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi at Amazon

"Takes the synergy a step further by serving as both a mesh Wi-Fi network and smart home hub."

Best Value: Tenda Nova at Amazon

"Giving you a near-invincible connection to your Wi-Fi system."

Best Mobile: Gotenna Mesh at Amazon

"Lets you set up a portable mesh network to stay in touch in remote areas"

The best mesh Wi-Fi network systems are one of the easiest ways to ensure effective uninterrupted coverage of your Wi-Fi network. Mesh networks operate something like a Wi-Fi network extender on steroids. Providing multiple broadcast points throughout your home or office, eliminating dead zones and reduced signals.

While they can be a bit more expensive than your conventional network extender, they provide unrivalled performance and are generally easier to set up.

Best Overall: Netgear Orbi

4.5
What We Like
  • Very fast with great coverage

  • Easy to set up

  • Highly configurable

What We Don't Like
  • Bulky

  • Expensive

A name synonymous with Wi-Fi, Netgear takes the top spot on the list with its Orbi High-Performance AC3000, which offers 5,000 square feet of coverage.

Complete with an identical router and satellite, the Orbi system boasts lightning fast throughput speeds, MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming and a number of customizable features. It’s a tri-band system with six internal antennas and can deliver throughputs speeds of 1,266Mbps (400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 866Mbps on the 5GHz band). Its additional 5GHz band communicates solely between the router and the satellite and hits speeds up to 1,733Mbps. At the base of the router, there are three Gigabit LAN ports, a WAN port and a USB 2.0 port, while the satellite has four Gigabit LAN ports and a USB 2.0 port, giving you stellar connectivity options.

"Google Wifi is good enough for most people, but the Netgear Orbi beats it where it matters: sheer power." — Bill Thomas, Product Tester

Best for Large Homes: Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD

What We Like
  • Extensive range

  • Boosts Wi-Fi speed

  • Built-in touchscreen for status

What We Don't Like
  • A bit bulky

  • Expensive

  • No Ethernet ports on the MeshPoints

Of Ubiquiti’s devices, the AmpliFi HD is the most robust. Made for large, multi-story houses with dense walls and other obstructions, this device uses six high-density, long-range antennas to cover up to a whopping 20,000 square feet. (Don’t worry, the antennas are internal, so it keeps a sleek aesthetic.) The system consists of a router and two plug-in mesh points which, while rather large, are nearly works of modern art. The front of the router has a beautiful full-color LCD touch screen that displays the time and date, and you can tap the screen to reveal stats such as current Internet speeds (upload and download), router and WAN IP addresses, as well as current throughput speeds.

The router houses a single-core CPU, 802.11ac circuitry that supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi bands and delivers up to 5.25Gbps aggregate speed. Similar to other systems, the AmpliFi HD has a mobile app that lets you manage settings, but it also uniquely allows you to segregate its two radio bands and have separate SSIDs, letting you manage traffic more easily. Unfortunately, there are no parental controls on this unit, but most won’t find that to be a deal-breaker.

Best Design: Google Wi-Fi

4.7
What We Like
  • Super-easy to set up

  • Attractive design

  • Reliable performance

What We Don't Like
  • Limited configurabilty

  • Single Ethernet port

  • No USB ports

Leave it to Google to design the best-looking anything. Its Wi-Fi system is no exception. The set contains three satellites, which Google call “Wi-Fi points,” each of which covers 1,500 square feet, for a grand total of 4,500 square feet of blanketed coverage. The points are shaped like thick hockey pucks and sit beautifully in plain view. Unfortunately, they lack USB ports, which mean you can’t connect peripherals.

Each point houses a quad-core Arm CPU, 512MB of RAM and 4GB of eMMC flash memory, plus AC1200 (2X2) 802.11ac and 802.11s (mesh) circuitry and a Bluetooth radio. Google combines its 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands into a single band, which means you can’t designate a device to a single band, but on the upside, it uses beamforming technology, which automatically routes devices to the strongest signal.

Google Wi-Fi wins in our testing for best design not just for its hardware, but its software, too. The accompanying app (for Android or iOS) is intuitive and lets you manage the status of your points, as well as set up guest networks, test speeds, port forwarding and more. Unfortunately, there are no parental controls, but regardless, Google Wi-Fi will get your household online quickly and easily.

"The Google Wifi might just be one of the best wireless routers on the market, and it’s hard to think of someone we wouldn’t recommend it to." — Bill Thomas, Product Tester

Best for Simplicity: eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System

What We Like
  • Relatively inexpensive

  • Easy to set up

  • Stable and reliable connections

What We Don't Like
  • Not as fast as other mesh systems

  • No USB ports

  • Lacks advanced features like QoS

A cheaper option than some of the other items on this list, eero wants to bring fast, reliable Wi-Fi into your home without any hassle. Everything about this system is designed with simplicity and convenience in mind. Setup takes less than 10 minutes and is compatible with any internet provider. Further management of the system can all be done on the straightforward eero app on your phone. The system automatically updates to improve itself and keep your network safe and secure.

eero offers a dependable connection through your entire home with a connectivity range of 1,500 square feet. The dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz set up allows for speeds up to 550 Mbps which will support any of your family's streaming, gaming, and working needs. eero's TrueMesh technology also intelligently routes traffic to avoid congestion, buffering, and dropoffs. For any problems that cannot be immediately solved using their app, eero also offers US-based expert Wi-Fi troubleshooting free of charge to all their customers.

Best for Speed: Linksys Velop Tri-Band AC6600

What We Like
  • Fast Wi-Fi

  • Sleek Design

  • Easy to set up

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Lacks some basic settings

  • No parental controls

The Linksys Velop Tri-band AC6600 consists of three sleek white nodes that are each roughly the size of a Jenga tower and good-looking enough to sit on display rather than be tucked away. Each node covers 2,000 square feet, together covering a 6,000-square-foot home, so this is a great option if you have a large home. (If you don’t need such vast coverage, you can purchase nodes individually.)

Each node is an AC2200 router that delivers up to 400Mbps maximum speeds on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on each of the two 5GHz bands. Velop is one of the few systems that supports Multi-User Multiple Input, Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) data streaming, which translates to faster throughput speeds. It also offers a plethora of features customizable in the mobile app, including parental controls, device prioritization and guest networking.

Best Budget: TP-Link Deco M5

What We Like
  • Affordable mesh system

  • Fast and easy to set up

  • Ethernet ports for wired devices

What We Don't Like
  • Slower performance than rivals

  • No access point mode

If you want to save a little money and still reap the benefits of mesh Wi-Fi, the TP-Link Deco M5 is perfect. Setup is quick and easy via the downloadable smartphone app. Utilizing Bluetooth 4.2 connectivity, the hardware quickly connects to your smart device. It should take less than 10 minutes to be up and running. Once set up, the two-pack can establish a signal that hits nearly every corner of your home or office—up to 3,800 square feet. Within the square footage, the system can keep up to 100 devices connected at the same time.

Ideal for internet plans up to 500Mbps in speed, the system uses Adaptive Routing Technology to find the best connection for each device. Beamforming and MU-MIMO (multi-user, multiple input, multiple output technology) also serve to increase signal strength. Connecting via Ethernet cable, each unit offers two-gigabit Ethernet ports, USB-C power, and an LED indicator for device status. Those with small kids also appreciate the system's built-in parental controls. By creating individual profiles for each user, parents can set filters, time limits, and block websites they don't want their children accessing. 

Best Security: Gryphon Secure Mesh System

What We Like
  • Fast and powerful CPU

  • Easy setup with smartphone app

  • Good parental controls

What We Don't Like
  • Malware protection requires a subscription

  • Expensive

  • Limited configuration settings

In large part because of its comprehensive approach to security vulnerabilities, the Gryphon Smart Mesh Wi-Fi system is well worth its price tag. Today, everything from light bulbs to cameras to washing machines is connected online. Each connected device creates a security threat and that’s where the Gryphon comes in. Incorporating AI-based intrusion detection and Malware protection by ESET, Gryphon keeps an eye on all your electronics. Active malware filtering of incoming data streams alongside enterprise-grade security keep unwanted files and websites out. If a security threat is detected, the compromised device is quarantined off the network until resolved.

Managing of all this protection is the Gryphon smartphone app. The app allows any owner to view currently connected devices and browsing history. The app also assists with the plug and go setup that gets you online within minutes. Additionally, the smartphone app includes parental controls for creating a safe browsing environment for kids. Each Gryphon unit can cover up to 3,000 square feet of network coverage. Two synced Gryphon units create a true mesh network system for up to 6,000 square feet of connectivity. 

Best for Smart Homes: Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi

4.4
What We Like
  • Adaptive intelligent Wi-Fi network

  • Easy to set up

  • Doubles as a smart home hub

What We Don't Like
  • Smart hub configuration requires multiple apps

  • No USB ports

Mesh Wi-Fi, unlike range extenders, makes a lot of sense if you have many smart home devices throughout the house that need a constant internet connection. The Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi takes the synergy a step further by serving as both a mesh Wi-Fi network and smart home hub all in one. With Bluetooth, Zigbee, and Z-Wave connectivity in addition to Wi-Fi, you can use the SmartThings app to control any of 100+ compatible devices like lights, doorbells, thermostats, cameras, and of course any SmartThings products you may have. You can also use voice commands from Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and set up automated routines for when you wake up or leave the house.

A set of three SmartThings routers provides 4,500 square feet of coverage, and you can add up to 32 hubs. Our testing revealed that each unit is a dual-band 802.11ac router, rated for 866Mbps speeds on the 5GHz band and 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. Its performance doesn’t match other top-quality options, but this iteration of Samsung’s mesh Wi-Fi system also incorporates Plume adaptive Wi-Fi technology. The cloud-based control system uses artificial intelligence to continuously learn about your network and optimize performance. Besides recognizing which devices need the most capacity, this lets you monitor and personalize individual device/user access, such as for kids or guests. 

"If your main purpose is to blanket your home with reliable WiFi, the Samsung SmartThings Wifi Router is the most economical option." Benjamin Zeman, Product Tester

Best Value: Tenda Nova

What We Like
  • Strong and reliable connectivity

  • Dynamic reconfiguration

  • Inexpensive

What We Don't Like
  • No Tri-Band Wi-Fi

  • Lacks QoS

  • No USB ports

Offering up to 6,000 square feet of Wi-Fi coverage, this system from Tenda is great for large homes (though it might struggle in medium-sized offices). Much like the rest of the systems on the list, this one will seamlessly connect as one Wi-Fi network, but it uses a really unique technology to help focus those connections to stay connected to all your devices at once. That tech is called Wave2 MU-MIMO and is paired with Tenda’s equally cool beamforming technology, which focus-transmits signal to your devices, giving you a near-invincible connection to your Wi-Fi system.

They’ve also included a network optimization technology that maintains the integrity of the system, even when one unit goes down. If you disconnect to one unit, then it’ll automatically search and find the nearest available one. Plus it’s been designed to require no special setup, offering you plug-and-play simplicity with an easy-to-understand LED status indicator.

Best Mobile: Gotenna Mesh

What We Like
  • Communicate without cellular or Wi-Fi service

  • 24-hour battery life

  • Basic maps included

What We Don't Like
  • Requires cellular service for initial set up

  • Annual fee for advanced maps

While most Mesh Wi-Fi networks systems are designed to provide internet access to your home or office, Gotenna’s Mesh takes a completely different approach, using mesh networking technology to set up your own mesh network in the field, allowing you to stay in communication with your travelling companions even when there’s no cellular service or Wi-Fi for miles.

Gotenna Mesh lets you and one or more friends or family members go totally off the grid with your smartphones while still being able to exchange text messages and share locations with each other, so it’s great when hiking in remote areas, avoiding roaming fees when travelling internationally, or even just staying in touch on large cruise ships. Each Gotenna unit pairs up to a smartphone via Bluetooth and then communicates with the other units at distances of up to four miles. Messages can also be relayed through each unit, allowing you to set up one to act as a hub at your base camp or spread out across an even wider area.

The Gotenna app also includes free basic offline maps, although you’ll need to subscribe to an annual plan for more advanced maps. Everything that travels between the Gotenna Mesh devices is encrypted, of course, and although you won’t need any kind of internet or cellular service once you start using it, you will need to have your smartphone connected to the internet for the initial set up, so be sure to prep it before you head out into the bush. 

Final Verdict

Anyone that has a large home or office that needs a fast and reliable network connection will find a lot to love with this router. Even if your home isn’t 5,000 square feet, the speed and reliability that you get through the AC3000 connection and MU-MIMO support can’t be understated. Overall, if you’re looking for the highest possible level of performance from your wireless router, the Netgear Orbi is the way to go.

About our Trusted Experts

Bill Thomas is a Denver-based freelance writer who covers technology, music, film, and gaming. They began writing for Lifewire in January 2018, but you can also find their work on TechRadar. Bill has also worked as an editor at Future. 

Benjamin Zeman is a business consultant, musician and writer based in southern Vermont. When he’s not reviewing tech products for Lifewire, he’s getting nerdy fixing them or solving complex problems for businesses in need of an outside perspective.

The Ultimate Mesh Wi-Fi Network Buying Guide

Every wireless router, no matter how many antennas it has or how powerful it is, suffers from the same issue: radio signals weaken when they pass through walls, floors, and other obstructions. Mesh Wi-Fi network systems are designed to solve this problem by placing a number of nodes throughout your home or business, creating a uniformly strong signal with no dead spots.

Unlike traditional routers with wireless extenders and access points, mesh systems are designed from the ground up to work as a node-based system. Setting up a mesh Wi-Fi network system is typically a lot easier than connecting range extenders to an existing system, and they automatically pass your connection from one node to the next as you move around your home.

The main drawback of mesh Wi-Fi network systems is price, as they tend to be more expensive than traditional routers. You can typically buy a nice router and some extenders for less than a mesh Wi-Fi starter kit, but if your situation really calls for a mesh system, it’s well worth the additional investment.

Netgear Orbi
Lifewire 

Wireless Router Standards and Bands: Less Variety Than Traditional Routers

When you buy a traditional router, you are presented with a lot of choices in terms of available router standards and supported bands. Since mesh router systems are uniformly high end, most of those choices are wiped away. Every competent mesh Wi-Fi network system supports the 802.11ac standard and is backwards compatible with older standards.

There is some variety in terms of bands, as some mesh systems are dual-band and others are tri-band. Dual-band mesh routers are capable of connecting to your devices via either 2.4GHz or 5GHz, and tri-band systems add a second 5GHz signal for additional connectivity or for exclusive use by the nodes to communicate with each other and the base station. There are no single-band mesh systems.

While tri-band mesh routers are theoretically better, the nature of mesh systems, and the way nodes are able to pass data between each other, means that dual-band systems are also able to work quite well.

Range: Massive Coverage By Adding Nodes

When selecting a mesh Wi-Fi network system, the size and configuration of your home should take center stage. Mesh systems have greater range, by design, than traditional routers, but they aren’t all created equal.

Most mesh systems are designed to cover about 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, while a couple are rated to cover up to 20,000 square feet, or even have a theoretically unlimited maximum coverage.

If your house isn’t that big, but you’re dealing with dead Wi-Fi zones due to issues with signals passing through floors and walls, then pretty much any mesh system will work just fine. If your house is below 2,000 square feet, you may even be able to save money with a good long-range router and an extender to erase the odd dead spot.

Google Wi-Fi box

However, if you have a particularly large house, need to pass Wi-Fi signals from one building to another, or have other specific size or configuration concerns, then you should select a mesh system that provides a larger maximum range.

For larger homes, and complicated configurations, mesh Wi-Fi systems are highly superior. They can provide more bandwidth, cover more space, and even extend Wi-Fi from your home to another nearby structure if the distance isn’t too great.

The most important thing to keep in mind is coverage area, since each system has a recommended area for the basic starter kit and a maximum area if you add additional nodes. If you have an especially large home, make sure to go with a system that’s capable of providing complete coverage.

Speed: Mesh Systems Are Typically Fast

Since mesh Wi-Fi network systems are uniformly high end, they tend to be fairly fast as well. There is some differentiation, but you won’t have the opportunity to save money by going with a slower option.

If your home internet connection isn’t very fast, then there really isn’t any benefit to choosing a faster mesh system over a slower one. The rule of thumb is that if you pay for a router that’s faster than your internet connection, then you’ve wasted your money. You can check your internet connection speed with any of these free speed tests if you aren’t sure what it is.

If you have a consumer-grade internet connection, the fastest connection you are likely to have available is 1Gbps, or 1,000Mbps, through cable or fiber. Due to the way mesh systems work, with individual nodes communicating with each other and the base station as well, some mesh systems provide remarkably high wireless connection speeds between different devices on the same network. In fact, some mesh systems offer speeds of 3,000Mbps to 6,000Mbps.

If you stream media from a local server, or transfer a lot of large files between your devices, then you will see some benefit from a speedy mesh system even if your internet connection speed isn’t that great. If you primarily use your Wi-Fi just to connect to the internet, then a system that offers speeds in the 1,200Mbps is more than fast enough for even the fastest internet connections.

Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi Network & Hub

Ports and Connectivity: Nodes Can Have Ports

Mesh Wi-Fi system base stations and nodes tend to be simpler and more modern in design in comparison to traditional routers, which means they tend to lack the massive external antennas and arrays of ports you may be used to seeing on routers.

With that said, every mesh router has at least one Ethernet port, and some have up to four. If you want to connect multiple devices, like a computer, game console, and printer to your base station, then you should look for a mesh Wi-Fi system that has four or more Ethernet ports. If you select a device that has only a single port, you’ll have to purchase an additional network switch.

In addition to the base station, you will often find ports on mesh Wi-Fi system nodes. Some have none, but most nodes have between two and four Ethernet ports. If you have multiple home offices, with multiple desktop computers, printers, and other devices scattered throughout your home, then nodes that include Ethernet ports can come in very handy.

Smart Home Integration: Which System Do You Use?

Most mesh Wi-Fi network systems support a single smart home integration system, and a few support more than one. Alexa is the most commonly supported, with integration from manufacturers like Eero, Linksys, Netgear, and more. Philips Hue, IFTTT, and others see less integration.

If you already have some smart devices in your home, and you’re already tied into either the Alexa or Google Home ecosystem, then that should inform your decision regarding which mesh Wi-Fi network system to choose.

For example, Alexa is not supported by Google’s Nest mesh Wi-Fi system, but it is supported by most other mesh systems. If you use Google Home, on the other hand, it is highly integrated with Nest, making that an excellent choice.

Security and Parental Controls: Check For Hidden Costs

Since mesh systems are high end equipment, they typically include robust security options and parental controls. There are a handful of systems that don’t include either, so look for those if you don’t have kids and prefer to manage security on individual devices.

Mesh systems that include robust built-in security and parental controls typically allow you to manage both through the same app that you use to manage the rest of the network. Each one has its own system though, so make sure to check out the specifics if security and parental controls are important to you.

Some mesh Wi-Fi systems are capable of scanning for viruses and malware at the router level, blocking ads at the router level, and blocking sites for specific devices at the router level.

The most important thing to check in this area is whether or not the security and parental controls of the mesh system you’re interested in require a subscription. Basic security options are often free, but the best advanced protections and parental controls often come at the cost of an ongoing monthly subscription, so make sure to take that into account.

Setting up the Netgear Orbi router
Netgear 

Accessories: May Need to Buy Extra Nodes

When you buy a mesh Wi-Fi network system, the most common configuration is to purchase a starter kit. The contents of these kits differ from one manufacturer to another, but you’ll typically get a base station, one or two nodes, and all the cables required to connect everything.

Before you buy your mesh system, check the range of the base station and nodes and come up with a rough estimate of how many nodes you will need. If you have a large house, you may find that you need more nodes than the starter kit includes. You can always go back and add more nodes later, but a little math ahead of time can get you pretty close.

Aside from potentially purchasing extra nodes, you may need to pick up a longer Ethernet cable. The Ethernet cables included with most mesh systems are fairly short, so make sure to buy a longer one if you need to place your main router more than a few feet from your modem.

If you want to plug devices into your nodes, and the nodes have Ethernet ports, then you may also need to buy cables for that purpose. You’ll typically find enough Ethernet cables packed in to account for each node, but they may not be long enough depending on how far away you want to place your devices.

If you do need to purchase additional cables, make sure to buy high quality CAT 6 or CAT 7 Ethernet cables, and keep them as short as possible unless you only care about reliability and aren’t concerned about speed.

Brands/Manufacturers

Most of the major router manufacturers have a mesh Wi-Fi system, and a handful of newcomers have also made very interesting contributions to the field. Here are some of the most important mesh Wi-Fi system manufacturers that are worth checking out as you search for your ideal system.

Netgear

Netgear has been in the router business for more than two decades, and their Orbi is an Alexa-enabled mesh Wi-Fi system that’s capable of handling about 4,000 to 5,000 square feet of space depending on the system. While it’s on the pricey side, Netgear’s Orbi has a lot of great features, like up to four Ethernet ports on some of their hardware.

Linksys

Linksys is a well-known brand name with decades of history that has been owned by the likes of Cisco and Belkin. Their Velop is one of the more expensive Wi-Fi mesh systems on the market, but it offers up to 6,000 square feet in coverage and tri-band connectivity for speeds of up to 867 + 867 + 400 Mbps per node on the two 5GHz and single 2.4GHz bands.

Google Wi-Fi

Google

Google is a newcomer to the router space, but their Nest Wi-Fi router is an intriguing option. It doesn’t work with Alexa, so it’s a bad choice if you’re deeply entrenched in Amazon’s ecosystem, but it does work very well with Google Home. Additionally, every Nest Wi-Fi node also functions as a smart speaker with built-in Google Assistant functionality.

Eero

Eero is another relative newcomer that has some very interesting hardware. The router base station and nodes are quite small, and you’ll only find a single Ethernet port on the main router. The primary unit covers about 1,750 square feet, and each node adds about 1,500 square feet, with no theoretical limit as you add more nodes. The nodes plug directly into wall outlets and include built-in night light functionality that you can manage through the convenient app.

Conclusion: How to Pick the Best Mesh Wi-Fi Network

Buying a mesh Wi-Fi network system is a lot like buying a regular router, and all of the same technology and terminology applies. In fact, you can check out our guides to the best wireless routers and the best Wi-Fi extenders for more in-depth information on the subject.

Beyond that, look for a tri-band system if you do a lot of streaming, make sure the system you choose is compatible with your current smart speakers and other smart home devices, and pay special attention to the parental controls if you have kids. Some of the best, most comprehensive offerings are locked behind a subscription, so keep that in mind as well before you pull the trigger.