The 8 Best Mesh Wi-Fi Network Systems to Buy in 2017

Make spotty Wi-Fi a distant memory

NETGEAR Orbi Home WiFi System
NETGEAR Orbi Home WiFi System. Photo from Amazon

If you live in a large home, especially one with dense concrete or brick walls, your Wi-Fi router probably isn't cutting it. Range extenders might help, but what you really need is a mesh Wi-Fi system. Designed to blanket your home with coverage free of dead spots, Wi-Fi systems consist of a router that connects to your modem, plus satellite units that communicate both with the router and with each other, freeing up 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands for you.

Sound complicated? It’s really not. Wi-Fi systems are aimed at people with limited technical knowledge so setup and monitoring is a snap. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites to make the process even easier.

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, meanwhile the satellite has four Gigabit LAN ports and a USB 2.0 port, which give you stellar connectivity options.

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.

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 our pick 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.

While most Wi-Fi systems on this list hover in $300 to $500 range, the Securifi Almond 3 system will get your entire home connected for about half of the price. At that low price, you’ll be making some sacrifices, and in this case that comes in the form of an AC1200 (2x2) router that delivers max speeds of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on the 5GHz band. Still, that’s not too shabby.

The design is a bit of a departure from what you might be used to, but it’s sleek nonetheless. It comes in either black or white and uses Windows-like tiles on its touchscreen to guide you through setup and customization. Parental controls are limited – you can’t restrict access to certain websites – but you can shut off access to specific devices, which is done through a handy mobile or desktop app.

Perhaps one of the more unique features of the Almond 3 is the fact that it can double as a home automation system. It works with devices such as Philips Hue lightbulbs, the Nest thermostat and Amazon Alexa, which is something no other system here can say.

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.

If Wi-Fi security keeps you up at night, the Ally Plus will let you rest easy. The system is made up of two identical units: a router and a satellite. It’s only a two-band network, lacking a third band to connect the two units together, so speeds will be slower than that of the tri-band systems on this list. But luckily, the Ally Plus uses a tri-stream (3x3) 5Ghz wireless band that caps at 1,300Mbps band and a quad-stream (4x4) 2.4Ghz signal that caps at 800Mbps (compared to most dual-stream systems), so you can still maintain fast speeds despite signal loss.

Our favorite part of the Ally Plus is its security features. Through the mobile app, not only can you manage your Wi-Fi networks, but you can enable AVG security. This protects you against harmful websites, phishing attacks and downloading malware. You can also block certain websites from groups of devices or restrict access based on time of day, and if you have kids, you know that will come in handy. 

Common to most all mesh Wi-Fi systems is their ease of setup, but the eero takes easy to a new level. The company claims you’ll be up and running in just a few minutes with help from its mobile app and Amazon reviewers can back up that up. All you need to do is connect it to your modem via the included Ethernet cable, wait for the indicator light to blink blue and follow the on-screen instructions. After you’re done setting up, the app also comes in handy for testing Internet speeds, managing networks, creating guest networks and more.

The eero’s design is also praiseworthy. After all, it’s named after famed architect and industrial designer Eero Saarinen for a reason. The three identical units (one router and two satellites) measure 4.75 x 4.75 x 1.34 inches and are white high-gloss on the top, but matte on the edges. Inside is a 1GHz dual-core CPU with five internal antennas and AC1200 Wi-Fi circuitry, all of which contribute to solid throughput speeds.

Fast and simple Wi-Fi sounds like a blessing, but if you have a home full of kids, you know it can also be dangerous. Luckily, the Luma comes stocked with great parental controls, so you don’t have to worry about what your kiddos are up to. In the settings, accessed through the mobile app (no desktop support, sorry!), you can set a content filter policy using five rating levels: Unrestricted, R-rated, PG-13, PG and G. You can then add users and specify their access level. There’s also a handy Pause feature that lets you freeze Internet access across the whole network.

Beyond parental controls, the Luma offers solid performance, thanks to its three modules that each contain an 802.11ac router, a quad-core processor and two radio bands (2.4GHz and 5GHz). They are AC1200 routers with a max speed of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on the 5GHz band. Its automatic band steering directs traffic to the most efficient band, giving you the fastest speeds. Overall, it’s a hassle-free way to get your Wi-Fi up and running that still lets you maintain control over the kids.

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