The best mesh routers and Wi-Fi extenders for 2019

The top mesh routers for a bigger, better, and faster Wi-Fi network

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Mesh networks are just like traditional Wi-Fi networks, but bigger. They use extra satellite devices to expand network range and help make sure there are no dead zones within that radius. Our favorite option is the Google Wi-Fi system, which makes network setup effortless, but other models also have plenty to offer.

These mesh networks are ideal solutions for offices, public Wi-Fi, and larger homes where a single router may not be enough to provide reliable connections everywhere they’re needed. After reviewing dozens of routers, these are our top choices.

At a glance

Google Wi-Fi

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When Google decided to enter the mesh networking world, it did so with both style and authority. This router (three are in a pack) can be used as a solo network device for smaller areas, or you can string three of them out for a powerful mesh network that can cover up to 4,500 square feet. Google’s intelligent network assist features will also automatically select the best channels for devices.

When we tested it, we were huge fans of how easy this router was to set up: You simply download the app, sign into your Google account, and make sure the router is connected and on. Google handles the rest with some basic on screen instructions and a quick QR code scan. It’s finished in a couple of minutes, and you’re good to go. The LED strip in the middle of the router devices can indicate status and will turn to red if it looks like one of the routers isn’t functioning correctly. However, this simplicity also means that there are not a lot of port options—you get a couple Ethernet jacks, and that’s about it.

Samsung SmartThings Router

samsung smartthings w-fi box
Terry Walsh/Digital Trends

Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi is a mesh router and smart device controller rolled into one. A single device can cover around 1,500 square feet, while three devices properly positioned can cover around 4,500 square feet. The smart hub home technology supports more than 100 devices, and may be particularly useful for those who have a mix of various smart devices around the home, both old and new: It supports Zigbee, Z-Wave, and cloud to cloud communication technologies.

Like Google Wi-Fi, Samsung’s router also has adaptive channel switching to find the best connection for devices. However, the smart home controls do require micromanagement of apps and some research. For example, while the router works with other SmartThings devices, it doesn’t work with Samsung Connect Home devices, and so on. Make sure you know what’s supported before buying.

Eero Home Wi-Fi System

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The Eero mesh router system uses a primary router hub and two “beacons” to extend the network over a wider area, ultimately wide enough to cover a two to four bedroom home comfortably. You can add more beacons for even larger areas, too, and they can even serve as nightlights if you want. The second generation of the system also got a speed boost and compatibility with other services like Alexa for control (thanks to Amazon’s current ownership of the company, one optional package throws in a free Echo Dot). The Eero app is also very easy to use and makes setup a breeze.

We also appreciated security features like one-time passwords for limited app access, the ability to “pause” the internet quickly for parental control, and only WPA2 encryption allowed. The package comes with a free year of subscription to Eero Plus, which adds even more security features such as browser filters. It’s a nice family option, but does add an ongoing cost to the router when there are more affordable parental control options out there.

TP-Link Deco

TP-Link Deco M5 Wi-Fi system

The set of three TP-Link Deco devices can extend a wireless network up to 4,500 square feet and can connect more than 100 devices at once, which may be a nice feature for a public or business environment. The control options offer plenty of customization options too, including device prioritization, filtering internet content, and Wi-Fi pausing for the kids. When left to its own devices, the Deco uses adaptive routing to choose what looks like the fastest connection for devices in a first come, first served basis. You also get three free years of Trend Micro antivirus security. All in all, it’s one of the best packages for businesses that want to provide reliable Wi-Fi to their customers.

Ubiquiti Amplifi HD Wi-Fi System

Ubiquiti Amplifi
Ted Kristonis/Digital Trends

Amplifi comes with a main router hub that features a very nifty round screen that can display your current router speeds and other useful information at a glance. Then it uses two antenna-shaped “mesh points” for extending the network even farther — up to an impressive 10,000 square feet for extra-large spaces. The mesh points use a very handy set of LEDs to show signal strength so you can choose the best spots to place them. If you’re a big fan of on-device information, this system has your back — but there’s also an easy app to use for setup and management.

NetGear Orbi

Netgear Orbi AC2200 tops
Kevin Parrish/Digital Trends

Orbi’s mesh network offers a variety of packages with a different number of router devices: Three of them — a hub and two similar satellites — will cover an impressive 7,500 square feet. NetGear also uses its router experience to load the mesh network with additional features. The tri-band router uses a dedicated backhaul connection to help keep speeds high even when the network is under heavy use, and it includes built-in antivirus and data theft prevention free of charge. You also get compatibility with Alexa and Echo devices. However, these features add up to a higher price than other available systems.

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