6 Best Mesh Wi-Fi Routers (2023): For Large Homes and Small Budgets
As TP-Link’s budget mesh offering, the extras are barebones. There are no additional security features, and the parental controls are limited, but they include basics like filters and time limits. QoS only covers device prioritization, and as a Wi-Fi 5 system there’s 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 little slow and basic but deliberately simple. Anyone who likes to tinker or check up on the speed their ISP delivers will be disappointed.
If you can stretch your budget to the frequently discounted Deco X20, I think you should, as you will get Wi-Fi 6, beefed-up security, and slightly better performance. For busy homes with several folks online at the same time or connections above 500 Mbps, you should go for something more powerful. But if money is tight, this is your best option.
Google Nest Wifi Pro (3-Pack)
Best for Simplicity
Mesh systems don’t come much simpler than this one. You don’t even need to install an app to use Google’s Nest Wifi Pro (7/10, WIRED recommends) because you can add it via Google Home. These shiny 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 sports two 1-gigabit ports.
Setup is super simple, as you scan QR codes and follow feedback on positioning for a strong signal. The backhaul employs the 6-GHz band, and you must keep your router and nodes relatively close together because it has limited range. Each router is supposed to cover up to 2,200 square feet and can connect up to 100 devices. Coverage and performance were solid and consistent, and testing was refreshingly free from glitches and buffering. But the Nest Wifi Pro came mid-table in raw speed at short, mid, and long range.
The Wi-Fi section in the Google Home app is barebones. Scant options include guest network support, parental controls (Safe Search, scheduled downtime, adult website blocking), and prioritization for specific devices. But this is chiefly a mesh system for folks who don’t want to have to configure anything. Nest Wifi Pro also has built-in Thread and Bluetooth LE, and will support Matter very soon, so, like the Eero, it’s a good choice for folks with smart home devices.
Disappointingly, it is not backward compatible with older Nest routers, and the Nest Wifi Pro does not have any special security software. With gigabit ports, this system is no good for anyone with a faster internet connection. But for folks pulling down 1 Gbps or less, this is a reliable, straightforward mesh system that you can set and forget.
Netgear Orbi AX4200 RBK753 (3-Pack)
Best for Large Homes
The enormous 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 at this point) mesh system I tested falls somewhere in the middle of the range and proved suitable for a large home. Setup was surprisingly tricky, taking more than an hour and several restarts to complete, as the app kept sticking on a loading screen. The router and nodes are large, but I like the curved design. I also appreciate the LED light turning off when things were working and displaying different colors to flag issues; every router should work this way. There are three gigabit Ethernet ports on the main router and two on each node.
Once up and running, the coverage, speeds, and stability proved to be worth the wait, and each node was able to deliver similar speeds as the main router. Speeds were a hair behind the Asus XT8, with some limitations at longer distances for individual units. But with two nodes, this system offers expansive coverage. The simple mobile app allows you to pause the internet entirely or by device or profile, see what devices are connected, check speed, analyze Wi-Fi (see the connection strength as you move around), set up a guest network, and a few more things. It’s very good at recognizing devices, which makes dividing them into profiles easier. You must access the web interface for advanced features.