The 9 Best Mesh Wi-Fi Network Systems for Full Coverage

Make spotty Wi-Fi a distant memory

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If you live in a larger house you may notice some areas in your home suffer poor connectivity. This is where mesh Wi-Fi network systems come into play, using multiple units to extend the Wi-Fi network. One of them is designated as the “main” unit, and connects to your Internet service (such as a cable modem or DSL router). You can then place one or more “satellite” units to cover areas the main unit can’t reach.

If you're not worried about specs and just need to boost your Wi-Fi, we think you should just buy the Eero Pro — it performed well in our tests and was by far the easiest to set up and use.

Best Overall: Eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System

4.3
Eero Pro kit with two Eero Beacons

Amazon

What We Like
  • Very easy to set up

  • Practically unlimited expandability

  • Real-time content filtering & malware protection

What We Don't Like
  • Limited Ethernet ports

  • Lacks PPPoE support

  • Content filtering requires monthly subscription

If you’re looking for a mesh Wi-Fi system that just works, then the Eero Pro is for you. Not only will the intuitive mobile app have you up and running in just a few minutes with basically no networking expertise required, it also lets you monitor and manage your configuration from anywhere.

Unlike many other mesh Wi-Fi systems, Eero also lets you mix-and-match between three different types of units. Powerful Eero Pro stations support three network for the fastest home broadband connections (i.e. more than 1Gbps), while more affordable standard Eero units will fit the bill if your ISP doesn’t have a super-charged network (less than 500Mbps).

Each one also offers two Gigabit Ethernet ports for connecting network devices that need a wired connection. The system also supports Eero Beacons, small access points that plug into any wall outlet to add an extra 1,000 to 1,500 square feet of wireless coverage. While the Beacons omit any wired Ethernet ports, as an added bonus, they can double as night lights around your home.

One of the best parts about Eero’s system is there’s also no practical limit to how many units you can add, and our tester Jeremy said it's a "remarkably flexible system".

While three Eero Pro units will give you 6,000 square feet of coverage, you can get even more by just adding more Eero units as your needs grow. An optional Eero Secure feature, available for a small annual subscription fee, provides a robust set of parental and malware controls. Sadly, as great as Eero’s system is, it’s also one of the very few routers that lacks support for the PPPoE protocol used by some ISPs, which can be a dealbreaker unless you’re willing to connect it to a separate router - so check with your internet provider before buying.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: Eero Secure, WPA3 | Standard/Speed: AC2200 | Bands: Tri-band/Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 2

Tested by Lifewire

The Eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi system is an expandable router-and-beacon networking solution that virtually anyone can set up with zero prior experience. A smartphone app walks you through the entire process, and overall it's one of the easiest I've ever seen. Over a wired connection, the Eero Pro averaged about 937Mbps during tests. Over Wi-Fi, without beacons connected and standing about three feet from the router, I averaged 265Mbps download speeds. That's significantly slower than other 5GHz routers I've tested, but still fast enough for 4K video streaming and gaming. I also achieved the same speeds while standing 15 feet away. At 30 feet away, speeds began to drop. If you have a large house with multiple floors, or you suffer from strange Wi-Fi dead zones, I'm confident the Eero Pro and enough beacons will do the trick. — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Eero Pro Mesh Wi-Fi System

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Best Parental Controls: Netgear Orbi Whole Home Wi-Fi System

4.5
Netgear Orbi RBK50 Mesh Wi-Fi System

Amazon

What We Like
  • Fast and reliable coverage

  • Easy to set up

  • Highly configurable

What We Don't Like
  • USB ports don't support shared storage

Netgear’s Orbi strikes an almost perfect balance of performance, price, and features among mesh Wi-Fi systems. With only two units, Orbi can provide fast and stable Wi-Fi over an area of up to 5,000 square feet. And this range can be easily extended by adding additional units.

Netgear promises that Orbi can deliver at least 150Mbps anywhere in your home, which was more than evident in our testing. This means you’ll be able to enjoy smooth online performance throughout your living space without worrying about buffering Netflix 4K UHD streams or stuttering Zoom calls.

Orbi accomplishes this by dedicating the fastest of its three Wi-Fi bands to be used as a backhaul channel. Keep in mind that in a mesh network, data to or from your device may pass from one access point to the next multiple times before it reaches your router and moves on to the network of your Internet Service Provider. The backhaul channel provides dedicated bandwidth for this pass-through traffic, ensuring you’ll get the same great wireless performance whether your devices are closer to the main unit or one of the satellite units.

This also makes the generous collection of four Gigabit Ethernet ports found on each unit even more useful, as you can plug in things like a TV and not see a drop in speed. There’s also a USB 2.0 port on each unit for sharing printers around your home, and advanced security and parental controls offered through the partnership between Netgear and Circle with Disney.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: NETGEAR Armor, WPA2, Guest Wi-Fi Secure Access, Circle with Disney | Standard/Speed: AC3000 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

Tested by Lifewire

The Netgear Orbi is one of the fastest and most reliable wireless routers on the market today. It's a big device, but that's not necessarily a problem. It sports a beautiful white design that’s free of illumination except for when something is wrong, making it look more like a piece of decor rather than a wireless router. While I had problems connecting some smart home gadgets to the network, once everything was set up performance was fantastic. I tested the speed in several parts of my home and the only time I saw less than 290Mbps was when I walked to a neighbor's house. If you’re paying for high-speed internet, you're doing yourself a disservice by not picking up the Netgear Orbi. Bill Thomas, Product Tester

Netgear Orbi

Lifewire / Bill Thomas

Best Value: TP-Link Deco X20 AX1800 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System

TP-Link Deco X20 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System

TP-Link

What We Like
  • Affordable Wi-Fi 6 technology

  • Small footprint

  • Great range

What We Don't Like
  • No dedicated backhaul channel

  • No USB ports

TP-Link has built a reputation for itself recently with some surprisingly affordable Wi-Fi 6 routers, and the Deco X20 is no exception. This small but mighty mesh system represents a way to get into Wi-Fi 6 technology without emptying your wallet.

The X20 is a good choice for users who need broad coverage, with three units easily handling homes of up to 5,800 square feet. The dual-band AX1800 Wi-Fi 6 support offers a comfortable 1.8Mbps of bandwidth, although this is not quite on-par with some of the pricier alternatives in this list.

But more importantly, the Deco X20 lacks the dedicated backhaul channel found on more advanced mesh Wi-Fi systems. This means it may not perform as well on busy and heavily congested home networks — those with a dozen or more devices gaming, video calling, and streaming in 4K — but it should be more than enough for the online needs of smaller families.

The Deco X20 is a breeze to set up, thanks to TP-Link’s aptly named Deco app, which can help even the most inexperienced home networking users get up and running within a few minutes. It also includes TP-Link’s new HomeCare security suite, powered by Trend Micro, offering up anti-malware features and parental controls to keep your home network safe against intruders and your kids away from the darker corners of the internet. Each unit includes two Gigabit Ethernet ports to connect non-wireless devices, but sadly there aren’t any USB ports for sharing external storage devices.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: HomeCare, WPA3 | Standard/Speed: AX1800 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 2

Best Range: Linksys Velop AX4200 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System (MX12600)

Linksys Velop AX4200 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System (MX12600)

Linksys

What We Like
  • Tri-band Wi-Fi 6

  • Expansive coverage

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Requires mobile app for initial mesh set up

  • Not suitable for multi-gigabit broadband services

  • Lacks advanced features

When it comes to getting maximum coverage out of your mesh Wi-Fi system, Linksys’ Velop system will give you the best bang for your buck. The MX 12600 bundle includes three identical Wi-Fi 6 capable AX4200 mesh units (three times 4,200 is 12,600, see?) for less than most other systems charge for only two. This means solid and reliable performance for homes of up to 8,100 square feet at an affordable price.

You’ll designate one of these units as the main router that hosts your broadband connection, then place the other two wherever you need the best and strongest coverage in your home. The Velop system also features a “dynamic” backhaul channel: The system intelligently decides which of the three Wi-Fi bands is best suited to move traffic between the mesh stations, and which ones should be available for your Wi-Fi clients.

Each unit also includes four Gigabit Ethernet ports, letting you hardwire in non-Wi-Fi devices. And thanks to a high-speed USB 3.2 port on the back of each unit, you can also connect multiple hard drives or other storage devices for sharing files or even streaming media (check out our guide to USB for details on the benefits of USB 3.2).

Linksys’ mobile app also makes the system a cinch to set up, walking you through the process of getting the first unit online and then joining the other two into a single mesh network. Although you’ll need to use the mobile app for the initial configuration, you can manage the system from the more typical web interface once the mesh has been configured.

The MX12600 system offers all the basic networking features you’d expect from a modern router, including elementary Quality of Service (QoS) support (which prioritizes devices based on the type of service they’re using. There’s fairly rudimentary parental controls, but they should be enough for most typical users. Those hoping for advanced features like a built-in VPN server or online malware protection will want to look elsewhere however.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: WPA3 | Standard/Speed: AX4200 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

Best Splurge: Netgear Orbi AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System

4.7
Netgear Orbi RBK852 AX6000 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System

Amazon

What We Like
  • Blazing fast performance

  • Excellent range

  • 2.5Gbps WAN port

What We Don't Like
  • Very expensive

  • Lacks some advanced features

  • No USB ports

If you want to stay ahead of the curve by investing in the latest high-speed Wi-Fi technology, then you'll want to check out the AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 version of Netgear's Orbi, which offers amazing performance and coverage for even the largest and busiest homes.

Thanks to its use of Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax technology, it's one of the fastest mesh network solutions available, even when you have a lot of devices on your network; the much higher network capacity offered by Wi-Fi 6 means it can easily handle up to 100 devices without breaking a sweat.

Not only does the Orbi system offer 6Gbps of total bandwidth, but we found it’s able to maintain these impressive speeds even at the edges of its range. Since a two-unit system will give you 5,000 square feet of Wi-Fi coverage (which can be expanded by adding up to five more satellite units), you'll be sure to see consistently fast speeds anywhere in your home.

Netgear has also packed in four Gigabit Ethernet ports on each station, so you'll have plenty of room for wiring in devices like game consoles for maximum performance. The main router on this higher-end model also offers a high-speed 2.5Gbps Wide Area Network (WAN) port to make sure you're ready for the fastest home broadband connections.

One disappointing aspect of Netgear's newer Wi-Fi 6 solution is the omission of the USB ports found in earlier Orbi versions. Power users may also be let down by the lack of advanced configuration settings compared to other Wi-Fi 6 routers. But if you don't want to make any compromises on getting the best performance possible, even if it means sacrificing some network management features, this is the mesh system for you.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: WPA3 | Standard/Speed: AX6000 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

Tested by Lifewire

The Netgear Orbi AC6000 is an impressive Wi-Fi 6 mesh router system that allows you to custom tailor your Wi-Fi network according to the specific requirements of your space. Setting it up via the smartphone app isn't difficult but takes longer than it needs to. It uses QR codes to set up satellites, and it took a few tries before the codes worked. The app kept detecting the wrong network. That said, once the installation was finished, it was a fast and responsive network. It reached 939Mbps download speed during testing when measured at the router. On a Wi-Fi 6 compatible laptop in close proximity, it reached a maximum download speed of 642Mbps, The verdict here is that just one base station is powerful enough for a moderately sized house, and adding a satellite can vastly improve speeds and range. — Jeremy Laukkonen, Product Tester

Netgear Orbi AX6000

Lifewire / Jeremy Laukkonen

Best for Gaming: Asus ZenWiFi XT8 AX6600 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System

3.8
Asus ZenWifi XT8 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System (Charcoal)

Amazon

What We Like
  • Compact, fashionable design

  • Lots of advanced features

  • Parental and security controls

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Although Asus’ AiMesh technology will let you join almost any combination of Asus routers to form a mesh network, the company’s ZenWiFi XT8 takes that a step further. It’s a “mesh-first” system that works right out of the box to give you maximum coverage and performance throughout your home with minimum fuss.

It’s also one of the most advanced and highly configurable mesh Wi-Fi systems available, making it a great pick for those who like to tinker. Don’t worry, though, as Asus’ mobile app makes it so easy to get up and running you won’t even notice how much power it packs under the hood.

The ZenWifi XT8 not only offers cutting-edge 802.11ax Wi-Fi 6 technology, but it also packs in many of the gaming enhancements that have become synonymous with Asus routers. The low latency means you’ll get lag-free performance in all of your favorite online games. While the ZenWiFi system lacks the full suite of game optimization features found on Asus’ ROG series of routers, it still includes the adaptive QoS feature to give your gaming traffic a nice boost.

A single ZenWiFi unit can cover up to 2,750 square feet by itself, so each one you add increases that accordingly, meaning a standard two-pack is good for up to 5,500 square feet. Even better, Asus' aforementioned AiMesh technology means you can easily add other Asus router models into the mix, or even add the ZenWiFi system to your existing wired Asus router.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ax | Security: AiProtection, WPA3 | Standard/Speed: AX6600 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

Tested by Lifewire

The ZenWiFi XT8 sports a classic rectangular shape and is small enough to fit on any side table. Setting it up is a simple, refreshing experience. Swapping out my old router for the ZenWifi changed my gaming life—the first time I checked my internet speed, I saw speeds skyrocket to 300Mbps. These speeds and low latency levels of 6ms unloaded, and 18ms loaded, held consistently throughout two weeks of testing. One neat feature is the ability to see in the app exactly what's connected to the network and how much bandwidth it's using. The ASUS ZenWifi AX6600 mesh router system is a wonderful way to have all of your Wi-Fi needs met, so long as the price isn’t too high for your budget. — Rebecca Isaacs, Product Tester

ASUS ZenWiFi AX6600

Lifewire / Rebecca Isaacs

Best for Smart Homes: Google Nest Wi-Fi (2nd Generation)

4.4
Google Nest Wi-Fi (2nd Gen)

Amazon

What We Like
  • Attractive and simple design

  • Integrates with Google Home

  • Point units double as smart speakers

What We Don't Like
  • No Ethernet ports on points

  • Lacks a dedicated backhaul channel

Google’s Nest Wi-Fi is a straightforward mesh system that provides some nice integration features for users of Google Assistant and Google-compatible smart home devices. The second generation of Google’s mesh solution, Nest Wifi’s satellite units (called “point” units) double as Google Assistant smart speakers. So it’s an especially great choice for anyone already invested in the Google ecosystem, as you can issue voice commands for everything from home control and checking the weather to sending messages and setting up calendar appointments.

Three units—the main base station and two points—provide up to 5,400 square feet of coverage. Google’s Home and Wi-Fi apps make this one an absolute cinch to set up and manage, so you can be up and running within minutes with little to no effort. It even lets you set up a guest network for your friends and other visitors and let them get online simply by scanning a QR code.

The main downside to Nest Wi-FI is that the base station includes only one Ethernet LAN port, and you won’t find any at all on the satellite points, so you’ll need to add your own network hub if you want to hardwire in some of your devices at the router. And if you need to wire in devices at the points, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Additionally, the Nest doesn’t support the newer Wi-Fi 6 standard like some of the other systems here, so if you need maximum performance or are a stickler for future-proofing your network the Nest may not be the best option.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA3 | Standard/Speed: AC2200 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 2

Tested by Lifewire

Google Nest Wi-Fi excels at delivering whole-house coverage, impressive speeds, excellent hardware design, and a foolproof setup process. Once the network was up and running, my whole house was blanketed in connectivity. I tested reception in every room of the house and saw consistent performance across the board with only modest differences in speed. I measured a 616Mbps download speed on a OnePlus 7 Pro, which was higher than average. Even in my large backyard, I saw decent Wi-Fi speeds all the way to the back—approximately 75 feet away from either router. A lack of Ethernet ports is the Nest's biggest downside, and it's definitely an investment. But, Google Nest is one of the best options around if you make the investment. — Andrew Hayward, Product Tester

Google Nest Wi-Fi

Lifewire / Andrew Hayward

Best Design: Linksys Velop AC6600 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi System

4.1
Linksys Velop AC6600 Tri-Band Mesh Wi-Fi System

Courtesy of Walmart

What We Like
  • Strong, consistent connection

  • Sleek Design

  • Great range

What We Don't Like
  • Lacks some basic settings

  • Some features cost extra

Linksys' first whole home Wi-Fi system, the Velop Tri-Band AC6600, is one of the more attractive designs we've seen. Each of the sleek white nodes is roughly the size of a tower of Jenga blocks, and they look nice enough to sit on display rather than being hidden away. Linksys sells Velop nodes individually or in packs of two or three, and each one will give you about 2,000 square feet of coverage. So a complete system can blanket a 6,000 square foot home.

The Velop AC6600 system includes tri-band Wi-Fi, and it dedicates the second 5GHz band as a backhaul channel. This means it can keep traffic moving smoothly between all of the units for maximum performance throughout your home even if one of them is under heavy usage. The downside is that your devices won't be able to take advantage of the extra 5GHz band, so even though each of these AC2200 routers can theoretically provide 2,134Mbps of throughput, only 1,267Mbps of that total is available to your devices.

The Velop offers a fairly simplified setup process thanks to the Linksys smartphone app. However, if you like to tinker with your network settings you'll probably want to look elsewhere since its configuration options are fairly limited. There's also no malware protection to speak of, and parental controls are confined to blocking websites and manually disabling internet access from specific devices.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC6600 | Bands: Tri-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 4

Tested by Lifewire

The Linksys Velop is a powerful mesh Wi-Fi system that suffers from a few flaws. It's unassuming, yet slick and it can fit in with any decor. Setup is done via a smartphone app, but I had significant difficulty getting it connected to my modem and Linksys' tech support wasn't helpful. Once everything was set up, though, my Wi-Fi signal never dropped in strength within my 4,000 square foot home. Speeds were consistent throughout my home, though they started to drop off once I went outdoors and put considerable obstacles between me and the router nodes. The Velop is quite pricey, and there are additional services hidden behind a paywall, but overall it's a high-quality mesh Wi-Fi device (as long as you're willing to overlook a few irritations). — Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Linksys Velop AC6600

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Best Hybrid: TP-Link Deco P9 Hybrid Mesh WiFi System

4.8
TP-Link Deco P9 Hybrid Mesh Wi-Fi System

Amazon

What We Like
  • Powerline Backhaul covers dead zones

  • Expansive coverage

  • Parental controls

What We Don't Like
  • Middling Wi-Fi speeds

  • No USB ports

TP-Link makes some of the best Powerline network adapters on the market, so it's probably not surprising that with its Deco P9, the company has created a unique mesh Wi-Fi system that leverages Powerline technology to allow it to get wireless coverage into places where traditional mesh Wi-Fi systems can't reach.

On the surface, the Deco P9 looks much like most of the other mesh Wi-Fi systems you've seen, with two or three cylindrical units that you place around your home to blanket it with Wi-Fi coverage. Where it differs, however, is that while most mesh Wi-Fi systems use actual Wi-Fi to keep the units in contact with each other, the Deco P9 runs over the electrical wiring in your home instead, using the AV1000 HomePlug AV2 protocol as its backhaul channel.

This not only ensures all of its Wi-Fi bandwidth is available for your devices but also has the advantage of letting you place satellite units in areas where their Wi-Fi connection (i.e. the “mesh” in your mesh network) wouldn't otherwise be able to reach each other. You'll be able to get Wi-Fi into any area of your home that has a power outlet handy.

Each Deco P9 unit offers dual-band AC1200 Wi-Fi, which may seem lacking compared to other mesh Wi-Fi systems. But it’s because the communication between them is handled over your electrical wiring, which means your devices get full use of the 3.6Gbps of total available bandwidth. A pair of Gigabit Ethernet ports are also available on each station to let you wire in devices, so these can be used as traditional Powerline network adapters as well.

Wireless Spec: 802.11ac | Security: WPA2 | Standard/Speed: AC1200/AV1000 | Bands: Dual-band | MU-MIMO: Yes | Beamforming: Yes | Wired Ports: 2

Tested by Lifewire

The Deco 9P is a tastefully designed mesh Wi-Fi device, but it's not perfect. The solid plastic walls of the router nodes trap heat, so the system gets quite hot. Setting it up was one of the most painless processes I've ever encountered. Once all three units were installed in the attic, main floor, and basement of my 4,000 square foot home I was able to enjoy complete coverage. The Deco P9 outstripped both the wired connection and Wi-Fi of my single unit router by a few megabytes. Although I found the network quite reliable, my internet connection did drop for a minute or two. This was an infrequent problem, but it was annoying when it did occur. — Andy Zahn, Product Tester

TP-Link Deco P9

Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Final Verdict

We like the Eero Pro (view at Amazon) best for its simplicity and versatility. This particular mesh Wi-Fi system lets you mix-and-match between three different types of units to configure the best setup for your space.

FAQ
  • What’s the difference between a mesh Wi-Fi system and a Wi-Fi extender?

    Mesh Wi-Fi systems and Wi-Fi extenders are similar in concept in that they both extend the reach of your wireless signal beyond your main router’s range. Mesh Wi-Fi systems, however, are typically more tightly integrated, with the main and satellite devices being expressly designed to work in concert. This guarantees everything will work together seamlessly, saving you the trouble of configuring and managing each extender separately.

  • Are mesh Wi-Fi systems faster?

    Technically speaking, a mesh Wi-Fi system won’t offer better performance than an equivalent standalone router when you’re sitting right beside it. Since speed always falls off due to a weaker signal as you move farther away from your router, however, mesh systems can make a huge difference in larger homes. The purpose of a mesh Wi-Fi system is to give you consistently stronger signal (which translates to faster speeds) no matter where you are in your home by making sure you're never too far away from a wireless access point. This is especially true of systems with dedicated backhaul channels.

  • Do you need to replace your existing router?

    In most cases, the answer is yes. Although there are some mesh Wi-Fi systems that are designed to work with existing routers, you’ll generally get better performance and a much better user experience if you simply go with a full mesh Wi-Fi system. That said, if you’re a cable internet subscriber, you’ll still need to hang onto your cable modem, although if you’re using a cable modem/router combo, you should be able to disable the router portion and use it strictly to manage your cable connection.

  • How fast is a mesh Wi-Fi system?

    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.

  • How many mesh nodes do you need?

    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 a Wi-Fi extender to erase the odd dead spot.

    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.

What to Look For in a Mesh Wi-Fi Network

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.

"(Mesh Wi-Fi networks) replace the units of your current router and offer long-range signals to connected devices. So if you complain of not having a strong Wi-Fi connection in your space, you may need to use a mesh Wi-Fi system to improve the connectivity of all the electronic devices in your office or home." — Sam Brown, Radio Engineer

The main drawback of mesh Wi-Fi network systems is the 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 

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, but keep in mind that you don't technically need your router to support your smart home assistant unless you need to be able to control its features with voice commands, such as enabling your guest network or blocking access to your kids' devices.

If you're an Apple HomeKit user, then the iPhone maker has taken a different approach. You won't find any routers that can be controlled via Siri, however, a few mesh systems are adding HomeKit-specific security features to keep your smart home devices protected from network intrusions, which is something that neither Google Home nor Amazon Alexa yet offers.

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.

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.

About Our Trusted Experts

Jesse Hollington is a freelance writer with over 10 years of experience writing about technology and three decades of experience in information technology and networking. He's installed, tested, and configured just about every type and brand of router, firewall, wireless access point, and network extender in places ranging from single-family dwellings to office buildings. university campuses, and even coast-to-coast wide-area network (WAN) deployments.

Bill Thomas is a Denver-based freelance writer who covers technology, music, film, and gaming. They praised Netgear's Orbi for its speed and reliability.

Jeremy Laukkonen is an experienced tech journalist with a background in automotive repair that has taught him the importance of breaking down complex technical subjects in understandable ways. He is an expert in consumer technology, including mesh Wi-Fi network systems.

Rebecca Isaacs is passionate about how technology can improve daily life. She works in higher education, and when she’s not checking out the latest tech gadgets or writing about them, she’s snuggling up with a good book and her beloved cat, Hobbes. Rebecca has been covering consumer tech, games, and networking devices for Lifewire since 2019, with a particular focus on Wi-Fi adapters and mesh Wi-Fi systems.

Andrew Hayward is a Chicago-based writer who has been covering technology and video games since 2006. He tested the Nest Wi-Fi router on our list and appreciated its large coverage area and integration features for smart home devices.

Andy Zahn began writing for Lifewire in April 2019. His areas of expertise include smart home and consumer technology, such as mesh Wi-Fi network systems.

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