If you’ve decided to make your next home Wi-Fi system a mesh one, it’s worth knowing the pros and cons of each solution on the market.
These days, there are plenty of options in the mesh networking space to choose from. Traditional networking brands like Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link and D-Link incorporate mesh Wi-Fi systems into their wider product portfolio in one way or another. Meanwhile, brands like Amazon and Google are also making in-roads in the space.
Here’s everything you need to know before buying in:
What is Mesh Wi-Fi?
Mesh Wi-Fi can allow for faster speeds, better reliability and greater wireless coverage of your home than a conventional router would.
The way this works is simple. Rather than force every device in your home to wirelessly connect to the internet through the same router, Mesh Wi-Fi systems rely on multiple Wi-Fi nodes. They start from a place of accepting that your regular router probably isn't located in the perfect spot to serve every connected device in your house and work forward from there
If you’re in the living room, you’ll connect to the closest Wi-Fi node. If you’re in the kitchen, you’ll connect to the closest Wi-Fi node. If you’re in the backyard, you’ll connect to the closest Wi-Fi node. It's all the same network but your devices will connect in the way that makes the most sense. This allows for better performance and less network congestion.
TP-Link currently offer three Whole Home Wi-Fi packages:
The TP-Link Deco M9 Plus (also available either as a single unit or 2-pack)
- The TP-Link Deco M9 Plus supports tri-band Wi-Fi speeds of up to 2134Mbps.
- The TP-Link Deco M5 boasts dual-band Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1267Mbps.
- The TP-Link Deco M4 offers dual-band Wi-Fi speeds of up to 1167 Mbps.
A pair of TP-Link Deco M9 Plus nodes can deliver Wi-Fi to an area of up to 420 square metres. While a Deco M5 single pack delivers up to 140 square metres of coverage, the full trio offers up to 420 square meters of Wi-Fi coverage. Finally, The TP-Link Deco M4 two-pack offers Wi-Fi connectivity of up to 260 square meters.
The coverage of all three Deco units is also expandable via additional nodes.
- The TP-Link Deco M9 Plus supports up to 100 concurrent devices.
- The TP-Link Deco M5 supports up to 100 concurrent devices.
- The TP-Link Deco M4 supports up to 100 concurrent devices.
The TP-Link Deco M9 Plus features a built-in ZigBee smart hub plus integration with TP-Link HomeCare. Powered by Trend Micro, this software offers built-in antivirus and powerful parental controls that allow you to limit online time and block inappropriate content on a per-user (or per-device) basis. There are also several quality-of-service features that allow you to prioritise devices and applications for faster performance when needed.
The TP-Link Deco M5 and M4 feature most of the same functionality, minus the built-in smart home hub.
- The TP-Link Deco M9 Plus has a recommended retail price of $549.95.
- The TP-Link Deco M5 has a recommended retail price of $349.95.
- The TP-Link Deco M4 has a recommended retail price of $229.95.
Google Nest Wi-Fi
The Google Nest Wi-Fi is Google's second-generation mesh Wi-Fi solution, it was introduced alongside the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL in October 2019.
Like the original Google Wi-Fi, Nest Wi-Fi is a dual-band AC1200 router, so it offers speeds of up to about 1200Mbps.
Google say that Nest Wi-Fi router has a range of approximately 200 square meters on its own with additional nodes increasing the possible range of the system by another 150 square meters.
The Google Nest Wi-Fi is ready to handle up to 200 connected devies on its own. Adding extra satellite units increases that limit by about 100 connected device per node.
The setup experience for the Nest Wi-Fi system is tightly tied into the newly redesigned Google Home app. In addition to letting you manage your smart speakers and other smart gadgets, this app now lets you easily manage your home network, share a guest password and even remotely control other Nest Wi-Fi networks remotely - so long as things are all neatly tied to your Google account.
In Australia, pricing for the Nest Wi-Fi starts at AU$399 for the standard two-pack. There's also a larger three-pack that includes the router and two nodes available for AU$549.
You can read our full review of the Nest Wi-Fi here.
D-Link currently offers two mesh Wi-Fi systems:
- The D-Link Covr C-1203 Seamless Dual Band Wi-Fi system supports speeds of up to 1200Mbps.
- The D-Link Covr C-2202 Seamless Tri-Band Wi-Fi System supports speeds of up to 2200 Mbps.
The D-Link Covr C-1203 Seamless Dual Band triple-pack offers network coverage of up to 465 square meters.
By contrast, the more-powerful (and expensive) Covr C-2202 Tri-Band system offers network coverage of 560 square meters using just two nodes.
Both the Covr C-1203 and C-2202 are integrated with the D-Link Wi-Fi app. This allows network administrators to use parental controls to see what devices are connected to Covr, schedule when devices can be used, create a guest login for when you have visitors, and block any devices you don’t know.
- The D-Link Covr C-1203 Seamless Dual-Band Wi-Fi system has a recommended retail price of $399.95.
- The D-Link Covr C-2202 Seamless Tri-Band Wi-Fi system has a recommended retail price of $499.95.
Next Page: Netgear Orbi, Linksys Velop, Eero & Which Mesh Wi-Fi System Should You Buy