I have reviewed enough traditional network routers, repeaters, homeplugs, as well as the new Mesh Wi-Fi systems to conclude that the newest mesh router is the best way to achieve best home network coverage.
- Mesh Wi-Fi allows a single network name (SSID) to be used across the entire location. There is no need to manually switch to other routers.
- Mesh Wi-Fi extends my home coverage conveniently, like never before. Even my furthest corner of my house, the bedroom toilet, is covered.
- Mesh Wi-Fi comes with user-friendly UI to help manage the network traffic.
- My favourite feature in Mesh Wi-Fi is UI-driven parental control.
- They are extremely easy to setup. Some models took me just 3 minutes.
Why are normal routers better?
- Normal routers have more LAN ports and USB ports.
- Normal routers have more advanced networking configurations.
- Normal routers can be faster and more cost-effective.
- You have a small area where a standard router suffices.
What about Powerline or Repeater?
Powerline, or homeplug, only works if your home is optimised for use. Unfortunately, this “optimisation” cannot be easily tweaked, unless you want to rewire your whole house. Some homes work, some doesn’t. So if you haven’t tried powerline yet, you might want to consider buying a set. I have tried homeplugs for many years and initially I got average 70Mbps speed, which I am quite contented. Then after I upgraded to the TP-LINK WPA8730, I hit almost 200Mbps. Not bad, but still far from the touted 1200Mbps it is supposed to deliver. After moving on to repeaters, I got 300Mbps! Then I tried Mesh and it gets me 250Mbps. However, it gives me more benefits, and frankly, bandwidth speed is just a number. What matters is that the home network experience, which is really seamless. I no longer have to switch around different SSID manually.
How about “hybrid” Mesh Systems?
If you have existing ASUS routers and they are in the list of supported AiMesh products, then good for you. Using normal routers as mesh nodes are definitely better in coverage because these are more powerful devices. What they lack is an intuitive UI to manage the mesh. If you are a demanding home networking user, then by all means. If you are just a consumer who wants the best home Wi-Fi coverage without the tech stuff, then nothing beats a proper Mesh System.
As for the Aztech AON Mesh, sadly they are not true mesh. Each node can only talk to the primary router, so it’s technically a Star network system. The disadvantage is that the nodes cannot be out of reach from the main router, unlike a true Mesh System. Furthermore, the Aztech AON Mesh system is hard to set up for a noobie. Having said that, once it’s up and running, it works great.
The latest mesh hybrid from D-Link, EXO series, uses traditional routers (with 4 LAN ports) and extenders and binds them together like mesh, achieving the best of both worlds. The disadvantage is that the extender units are rather chunky and requires a spacious 3-pin plug.
If you are not happy with your existing home Wi-Fi and want to upgrade the router, go for Mesh.
If you are moving to a new home, go for Mesh.
If you are concerned with lack of LAN ports, just connect the Mesh node to the normal primary router and disable Wi-Fi on the primary router so that only the Mesh is broadcasting Wi-Fi signals.
Do some research if you are studious, but if you are lazy and want the easy way out, go for Mesh.
Related product reviews that you might want to check out:
- D-Link EXO Series Mesh Router and Extender
- TP-Link Deco M9 Plus Mesh Router with Integrated Smart Hub
- Google Wifi
- ASUS Lyra Trio Wi-Fi Mesh
- Tag: Mesh Router
My recommendation? TP-Link Deco M5. I am using it for more than 2 years, it works great, and it’s one of the cheapest.
Thanks for reading. If you have any questions, just Ask Chester.