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The best mesh Wi-Fi systems for 2021

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 Nest‘s excellent app-managed mesh routers. 

Best mesh Wi-Fi systems

Nest Wi-Fi

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 of Nest WiFi depending on the space that you want to cover.

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 Netgear Nighthawk MK62 router is also Wi-Fi 6 ready, so if you have compatibile 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.

Samsung SmartThings Mesh 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 SmartThings Mesh 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

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. The Eero Home Wi-Fi System 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 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.

Ubiquiti Amplifi HD Wi-Fi System

The Ubiquiti Amplifi HD Wi-Fi System 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 system uses three devices, with satellite devices serving as particularly powerful repeaters. Orbi’s mesh network covers an enormous amount of ground by using a tri-band hub and identical devices that act as satellites. All of this together covers up to 7,500 square feet.

For those who desire a fast and simplified setup process, Orbi should satisfy you. For those looking to customize, Orbi offers a plethora of advanced features. Some extra features include setting parental permissions, protecting from online threats, and tweaking your network. The great thing is that all of this can be changed using Orbi’s mobile app. To conserve WiFi, Orbi’s system uses its frequency to communicate between the other Orbi units. This leaves more leftover Wi-Fi band for Orbi-to-device data transmission.

Orbi also works with Alexa and Echo devices. Unfortunately, all these features do come with a hefty price tag. This system is more expensive because at least two Orbi devices are needed. The price also rises as you add more satellites.

Asus ZenWiFi 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 mangement 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.

The Asus ZenWiFi XT8 is 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.

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