If you need to improve or extend your Wi-Fi coverage, you have two options. The first is an extender, and the second is a mesh router. An extender, otherwise known as a repeater, retransmits your Wi-Fi’s data stream. A mesh router acts as a Wi-Fi hub in whichever room it is located.
Both options will improve a weak connection over a broad area, but mesh routers are better for a full replacement, and they’re generally easier to set up. Here’s a list of the best on the market today, starting with‘s excellent app-managed mesh routers.
Best mesh Wi-Fi systems
- Nest Wi-Fi
- Netgear Nighthawk MK62
- Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi system
- Eero 6
- TP-Link Deco
- Linksys Atlas Max
- Netgear Orbi RBKE963
- Asus ZenWiFi XT8
Why you should buy this: Google Nest delivers great Wi-Fi coverage in a well-designed package that fits into most homes.
Who’s it for: Home users who don’t want to mess with complex Wi-Fi settings and value ease of use.
Why we picked the Google Nest mesh system:
The Nest Wi-Fi system is a mesh Wi-Fi solution that offers aC2200 speeds designed for large spaces — two models can cover as much as 4,400 feet when linked together, and you can make the system larger or smaller depending on how many units you buy. We liked Google’s first attempt at mesh Wi-Fi for its ease of use, but Nest Wi-Fi makes it even easier to set up and manage the router, especially if you have any experience with the Google Home app.
They’re also smart. Specifically, they have speakers and include Google Assistant, so you can give them voice commands and use them throughout the day (as opposed to most routers, which just sit there). The speakers aren’t quite big enough for impressive music, but they’re great for changing your schedule or getting updates and answers to your questions. If you have other Nest or Google Assistant devices around the home, then you also can control them via these routers. You can read more details in our full review.
Note that you have options to buy anywhere from one to three units ofdepending on the space that you want to cover.
Why you should buy this: Netgear’s Nighthawk delivers fast speeds and can blanket a large area with great signal.
Who’s it for: Gamers and streamers who value speed.
Why we picked the Netgear Nighthawk MK62:
The Nighthawk line also has a highly capable mesh router, and if you’ve used a Nighthawk router before then you know the app is highly capable when it comes to monitoring your system, making settings changes, and enabling more security. The AX1800 router supports coverage up to 3,000 square feet with its included satellite and can handle more than 25 devices.
The dual-band router can offer speeds up to 1.8Gbps across four Wi-Fi streams, plus two Gigabit Ethernet ports (one per device) for wired connections that may require higher speeds or more reliability.
The also Wi-Fi 6 ready, so if you have compatible Wi-Fi 6 devices you can enjoy the big boost in bandwidth. Even if you don’t, the router still supports beamforming and MU-MIMO for older devices.router is
Why you should buy this: Vilo makes getting started with a mesh network simple and affordable.
Who’s it for: Home users on a budget who want to get started with a mesh network.
Why we picked Vilo’s mesh Wi-Fi network:
Vilo‘s mesh network may not sound as impressive as some of its more modern contemporaries on this list — the system tops out at Wi-Fi 5 support and it doesn’t support WPA3 security protocols — but at $20 for a single node or $60 for a complete multipack mesh system that can blanket a home as large as 4,500 square feet, it’s the most affordable pick. At that price, it makes Vilo’s mesh network a great option for those dipping their toes into the mesh ecosystem, and given that most electronics that you own aren’t Wi-Fi 6 ready yet save for the newest smartphones and laptops, being constrained to Wi-Fi 5 may not be so bad if it means saving a few hundred dollars.
Like its more expensive competitors, Vilo’s system benefits from an easy-to-use app that you will use to set up the network, establish parental controls, and create a guest network. Vilo’s app appears to be more advanced than some others on the list — the guest network, for example, can expire after a set number of hours. Firmware updates are downloaded in the background to ensure that everything runs smoothly, and the router’s compact size keeps it out of view if you don’t want unsightly tech in your living space.
Why you should buy this: Eero 6 brings Wi-Fi 6 speeds and features in a minimalist design.
Who’s it for: Home users needing Wi-Fi 6 coverage and who have broadband speeds of 500Mbps or less.
Why we picked the Amazon Eero 6 mesh network:
Like the company’s previous Eero mesh router system, the new Eero 6 mesh router adds support for the newer, faster dual-band Wi-Fi 6 standard. Available in retail packs with a single hub, a hub, and two beacons, or even three hubs, the Eero 6 can blanket large homes up to 5,000 square feet in size, and you can add even more beacons to expand your coverage for outdoor spaces. The company claims that its Eero 6 mesh system is great for internet connection speeds up to 500 Mbps. If you have a fiber broadband plan with gigabit speeds, you’ll want the faster Eero Pro 6, which benefits from a tri-band antenna and comes with a smartphone hub built-in so you can connect your Zigbee devices without needing a separate base station.
The company also offers its own parental controls through a subscription service called Eero Secure. If you opt in to the package, you gain access to tools like VPN, access to 1Password password manager, Malwarebytes anti-malware tools, and more insight and control over your home network. The router stays updated with automatic firmware updates in the background, and you’ll benefit from Eero’s simple ease of use.
Why you should buy this: TP-Link’s Deco allows up to 100 devices to be connected at any time.
Who’s it for: Home users looking to host a network of IoT devices.
Why we picked the TP-Link Deco:
The set of threedevices 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 on 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.
Why you should buy this: Linksys’ Atlas Max 6E delivers strong Wi-Fi 6E coverage across a wide space in a very compact form factor.
Who’s it for: Home users wanting a compact but advanced Wi-Fi 6E mesh router that can fit in with their decor.
Why we picked the Linksys Atlas Max 6E:
Linksys needlessly made its mesh Wi-Fi lineup confusing, with distinct sub-brands that look similar and all serve to achieve one common goal: To blanket your home or workspace with reliable Wi-Fi coverage. Despite the confusing branding, the Atlas Max 6E packs the latest Wi-Fi 6E technology in a form factor that resembles the company’s Velop mesh systems, which were among the first whole-home mesh products on the market. Unlike some other models in Linksys’s lineup, the Atlas Max does not come with HomeKit support, but it does come with support for the new 6GHz band as part of the unit’s tri-band antenna design for even more robust speeds. The Atlas Max retains the Velop’s minimalist and simple design, allowing it to comfortably fit into any home.
Linksys claims that the 4×4 radio with MU-MIMO radio can blanket homes as large as 9,000 square feet with speeds up to 8.4Gbps, making this a future-proof investment for years to come for those who need the latest in Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E technology today. Linksys offers the Atlas Max 6E in varying configurations, and owners of larger homes may want to consider a three-pack unit for the best coverage. Unlike competing brands that ship their mesh system with a dedicated base router unit and purpose-built nodes or satellites, the best part about the Atlas Max 6E is that any of the units in the multi-pack can serve as the base or the node, making setup fool-proof and user friendly. The companion app will give you access to a plethora of features, security settings, and the ability to set up guest networks without overwhelming first-time users.
Why you should buy this: Netgear’s quad-band Wi-Fi 6E Orbi RBKE963 is perhaps the most advanced mesh Wi-Fi system on our list, delivering up to 10Gbps speeds and wide coverage.
Who’s it for: Gamers, 4K/8K streamers.
Why we picked the Netgear Orbi RBKE963 Wi-Fi system:
Retailing at $1,500, Netgear’s latest Orbi RBKE963 is perhaps the most expensive whole-home mesh networking solution on our list, but it packs enough punch to justify its premium price. The Wi-Fi 6E model replaces the company’s prior Wi-Fi 6 Orbi on our list, and the update brings a lot of technology not found on cheaper alternatives, like a quad-band antenna setup that delivers up to 10.8Gbps of speed across your home. It’s not the most discrete or compact mesh design on the market, but the company’s engineers claimed that the larger design allows for bigger, better antennas to help deliver reliable Wi-Fi coverage. The three-pack solution — which includes a base station and two satellites — is capable of covering up to a 9,000-square foot home, making it a powerful addition to larger living spaces and offices.
Netgear claims that the Orbi RBKE963 can deliver up to 16 simultaneous Wi-Fi streams for uninterrupted, buffer-free video and lag-free gaming, provided your home broadband plan is powerful enough to take advantage of this system’s full potential. You can create multiple Wi-Fi networks with this solution to manage and secure your traffic, and Netgear says you can have a main home network, a guest network, a dedicated network for Internet of Things devices, as well as a separate Wi-Fi 6E network for high bandwidth applications. Like most other mesh systems, the Orbi is controlled by a smartphone app, which gives you access to plenty of settings and features as well as the option to purchase Netgear’s subscription services. Most recently, Netgear announced an optional game optimization service, which result in the Orbi being a versatile router for home and productivity use, video streaming, and gaming.
Why you should buy this: Asus’s Zen WiFi pairs with the company’s existing routers, making it easy to expand from a single router to a whole-home mesh network.
Who’s it for: Gamers, home users, and 4K video streamers.
Why we picked the Asus Zen WiFi XT8:
Asus supports AiMesh software to make its ZenWiFi routers easy to operate and compatible with any additional routers that also have AiMesh, which means an older router may be able to help serve as a satellite device without extensive work, expanding coverage even farther beyond the 5,500 square foot coverage the powerful router pack already offers. The router also comes with free parental controls and security software for extra management options.
The router system is Wi-Fi 6 and ready to provide all the latest features for compatible devices, including MU-MIMO direct connections, OFDMA data compression, and other improvements from faster Wi-Fi generations. Its three bands can provide a combined speed of 6600Mbps.
Theis another pricey model compared to a traditional router, but an excellent choice if you want a particularly powerful system that is ready with Wi-Fi 6 features.
Mesh Wi-Fi system buying guide and FAQs:
- Why a mesh system over a traditional router?
- Do I need a smartphone to set up a mesh network?
- What controls are available through my mesh network app?
- Are mesh systems expensive?
- Should I upgrade to a Wi-Fi 6 system?
- How many nodes do I need?
- Can I get wired Ethernet through a node?
While standard routers are often more affordable than mesh Wi-Fi systems, going with the latter allows you to have a much more reliable connection. Multiple nodes help to blanket your entire home with a good Wi-Fi signal, and mesh systems improve coverage and reliability. Additionally, many mesh Wi-Fi systems allow for a simple setup with intuitive, easy-to-use apps rather than an intimidating web-based user interface that’s used by traditional routers. Many mesh networks come with support for MU-MIMO — or multiple user, multiple input, multiple output — support, which helps to keep data speeds fast when multiple devices are connected simultaneously to the network. This can help in households where you’re streaming multiple video feeds and gaming. Even in smaller homes, you can opt to use a mesh system rather than a traditional router. Here, we recommend you use a single node instead of buying a multipack bundle with three nodes.
Oftentimes, the answer is yes. You’ll need to have a modern smartphone or tablet running Apple’s iOS or iPadOS or Google’s Android OS. The requirements for which operating system version will be required will vary based on the mesh system you choose. Mesh systems require you to install a mobile app, create a login with a username and password, and then access the app to both set up the network and access your home Wi-Fi network’s controls.
This will vary based on the device and manufacturer you choose. The mesh network app will give you basic and advanced controls, like the ability to either restart your network on-demand or create a schedule so that your network automatically restarts every week or every night. Many of the mesh systems allow you to either choose the band that’s best for your device — either 2.4GHz or 5GHz — or give you the ability to manage band steering yourself manually. Wireless security, device usage reports, and parental controls are also features that you can set up. Parents can set up downtime, allowing them to restrict internet access to specific devices rather than turning off internet access for the whole house. Parents can also generate a usage log of how much traffic each specific device used during a specified period. And lastly, if you have visitors, you can also set up a guest network with its own specific SSID and password to log in, keeping your main network secure.
Fortunately, older mesh networks relying on Wi-Fi 5 technology — also known as 802.11ac — are coming down in price. If you don’t have a fast enough broadband connection at home or you don’t have Wi-Fi 6 devices, a Wi-Fi 5 mesh network will be more affordable, and some mesh devices, like those made by Vilo, start at just $20 for a single node or $60 for a three-pack bundle that will allow you to create a true mesh network. Mesh systems from larger manufacturers generally start over $100 for a single node and can top out in the hundreds of dollars for multipack bundles.
If you choose to upgrade to a home mesh Wi-Fi system that uses Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, you will need devices that are Wi-Fi 6 compatible. If you want to benefit from it more than just transferring files quickly over the network, you’ll also want a very fast internet connection, too. Most households will be fine with Wi-Fi 5 mesh networks, as even basic fiber internet doesn’t get close to saturating it. Even Wi-Fi 6 clients, like Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S21 smartphones, are backward compatible to work on Wi-Fi 5 networks. To get the most bang for your buck, check to see if the fastest speeds offered by your home broadband are within range of your mesh system. For example, while the Eero 6 supports speeds up to 500Mbps, the Eero 6 Pro tops out at gigabit speeds, making it more ideally suited for homes with fiber. If you have 400Mbps home internet, you’ll be fine with the standard Eero 6, but investing in the more costly Pro model could future-proof your investment if you foresee yourself choosing a faster broadband plan down the road. Even though Wi-Fi 6 routers are only beginning to be adopted in the home, Wi-Fi 7 will eventually be its successor. Routers supporting the new Wi-Fi 7 standard are not, however, expected to hit the market until 2024.
In general, a single node will cover between 1,000 to 1,500 square feet of living space. If you own a smaller house or live in a small apartment, having a single node will be fine. But depending on the construction of your home, adding a second node to a small space could be beneficial. In particular, if you’re running IoT devices, like a smart doorbell, having a second node near the door may be useful, as it can be difficult for Wi-Fi signals to penetrate the thick construction of your front door. Larger homes will likely need three or more nodes to extend the coverage to the garage and outdoor spaces, and you can add even more nodes to your network between what’s available in three-pack bundles. Three nodes are generally recommended for homes with more than 4,000 square feet.
Connecting your media streaming box, gaming console, or home PC to a wired network produces a more reliable connection than a wireless connection, and some users may want the benefit of having an Ethernet connection to these devices. In general, while the main node often comes with an Ethernet port — to connect your main mesh node to your home modem — some companies, like Amazon’s Eero, do not build Ethernet ports into their satellite nodes. This keeps things clean. To have Ethernet ports with Eero’s system, for example, you’ll need to purchase another main node and set it up on your network as a satellite node rather than use a dedicated satellite receiver. Other systems, like Orbi and Linksys’s Velop, come with interchangeable satellites with built-in Ethernet ports to handle one or two wired connections.
- Critical Mac update fixes Safari bug that leaks user data
- The best 13-inch laptops for 2022
- Best Apple deals and sales for January 2022
- This key Windows 11 app is getting an interesting new look
- World’s first Wi-Fi 7 demo runs 2.4x faster than Wi-Fi 6