Best Wireless Mesh Routers to Buy in 2019

Infrastructure

Internet connectivity is moving from a luxury to a necessity. With the ubiquity of devices available to almost everyone like laptops, smartphones, smart watches, and health trackers, and the extensive growth of the internet of things, you’d be hard-pressed to find a person who can do without a solid, constant connection to the internet.

The problem is, network infrastructures may not always provide the coverage needed, with many areas having limited or poor connectivity. This is where wireless mesh networks come into play.

 

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In this article, we will explore wireless mesh networks and the best wireless mesh routers available in 2019.

What is a Wireless Mesh Network?

In a regular wireless network, the network clients (devices that connect to the internet) all connect to the wireless router, which transmits information to and from the internet.

In a wireless mesh network, the network clients connect to each other as well as one or several wireless mesh routers, each of these clients or routers acts as a node.

The network protocols guide the information from any node in the network to the gateway – which is the router that transmits the information to and from the internet, called backhaul – by directing it through any number of nodes in the network, choosing the fastest route.

In contrast with Wi-Fi extenders, the whole network has a single SSID, allowing you to seamlessly connect from any covered point and leverage high bandwidth due to the presence of several routes. There can be several gateways providing connection to the internet.

Read more about wireless mesh networks.
 

What you need for a Wireless Mesh Network

In order to set up a wireless mesh network, you’ll need at least one router with mesh network capabilities. You’ll also need to set up nodes, which will probably need to be other mesh routers. Fortunately, many manufacturers provide their routers in sets (usually of 3) that you can use to set up the network. You can always add new nodes if the need arises.

In most of these systems, a primary node will need to be latched on to the modem you already have (which is embedded in your regular wireless router) through an Ethernet cable. You may need to disable your old router’s WiFi signal, which can be done from your router dashboard.

Additional nodes in the network usually only require a power outlet and to be placed where they can access the network transmitted from the primary (wired) node.

 

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Best Wireless Mesh Routers in 2019

We will now explore different brands of wireless mesh routers and mesh network setups.

Eero 2nd Generation


  • Coverage: Each unit (whether the gateway or the beacons) can cover 1000 sq. ft. (92.9 m2)
  • Management: The network is managed through a mobile app
  • Appearance: The router looks like a square hockey puck
  • Size: 4.8 X 4.8 X 1.2 inches (12.19 X 12.19 X 3.05 cm)
  • Price:
    • 1 Eero gateway and 1 beacon: $299.00
    • 1 Eero gateway and 2 beacons: $398.99
    • 1 Eero gateway and 3 beacons: $498.98
  • Smart Home Compatibility: Can integrate with Alexa
  • Parental Controls are available, but some features require a subscription

Google Wifi

  • Coverage: A single unit covers 1500 sq. ft. (185.81 m2)
  • Management: The network is managed through a mobile app
  • Appearance: The router looks like a round hockey puck
  • Size: 17 in (diameter) X 2.7 in (height) (10.59 X 6.86 cm)
  • Price: 
    • Individual router sells for $103.96 – $159.00
    • Available as a 3-pack for $264.53 – $299.99
  • Smart Home Compatibility: Integrates with Phillips Hue smart lighting system and IFTTT
  • Parental controls allow pausing of WiFi on children’s devices and preventing access to explicit websites

Linksys Velop

The Linksys Velop Mesh Routers come in two flavors: Dual-band and tri-band.

Dual-band wireless devices transmit radio waves over 2 frequency bands: 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz. As you probably guessed, the 5 GHz band is able to transmit information much faster than 2.4 GHz, but many more devices (especially older ones) will transmit over 2.4 GHz.

Tri-band routers transmit one 2.4 GHz band and two 5 GHz bands. This makes them capable of reaching speeds well over 4000 Mbps.

LinkSys Velop Dual-Band (AC 1300)

  • Coverage: A single unit covers 1500 sq. ft. (139.35 m2)
  • Management: The network is managed through a mobile app
  • Appearance: The router like a small tower or a loudspeaker
  • Size: 1 X 3.1 X 5.6 inches (7.87 X 7.87 X 14.22 cm)
  • Price: 
    • Individual unit sells at $129.95
    • Available as a 2-pack for $199.99
    • Available as a 3-pack for $299.99
  • Smart Home Compatibility: Integrates with Alexa
  • Parental controls are available
  • Available in white and black

LinkSys Velop Tri-Band (AC 2200)

  • Coverage: Single unit covers 2000 sq. ft. (185.81 m2)
  • Management: Mobile App
  • Appearance: Small tower
  • Size: 1 X 3.1 X 7.3 inches (7.87 X 7.87 X 18.54 cm)
  • Price: 
    • Individual unit sells for $196.96
    • Available as 2-pack for $349.97
    • Available as a 3-pack for $499.97
  • Smart Home Compatibility: Integrates with Alexa
  • Parental controls are available
  • Available in white and black

 

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TP-Link Deco M5

This is the most economical system reviewed! The TP-Link Deco M5 may not be as powerful as other models, but it may be the best option for someone wanting to ‘try out’ the technology but not willing to invest a lot of money into it.

  • Coverage: Single unit covers 2000 sq. ft. (185.81 m2)
  • Management: The network is set up and managed through a mobile app
  • Appearance: Round hockey pucks
  • Size:7 X 4.7 X 1.3 inches (11.94 X 11.94 X 3.3 cm)
  • Price:
    • Single unit sells for $78.61
    • Available as a 2-pack for 159.99
    • Available as a 3-pack for 179.99
  • Smart Home Compatibility: Integrates with Alexa
  • Parental controls are available including restricting internet access to certain times and blocking certain websites
  • Rated The Highest in Customer Satisfaction for Wireless Routers by J.D. Power
  • Rated Excellent by PC Mag

Honorable Mentions ..

Gryphon Smart WiFi Mesh System

  • A Tri-band router
  • Price for one unit is $229.99
  • Each Gryphon unit has a coverage of up to 3000 sq. ft.

Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD

  • $324.99 for a router and 2 nodes.
  • Can be managed through a built-in touchscreen, in addition to a mobile app and through a browser.

Netgear Orbi

Home

  • Price: $319.00 for a 2-pack
  • Coverage: 5000 sq. ft.
  • Has won awards from PC Mag, CNET, Wirecutter, Forbes, SmallNetBuilder

Business

  • Price: $499.99 for a  2-pack
  • Coverage: 5000 sq. ft.
  • Tri-band wireless
  • Can accommodate up to 80 simultaneous connections

Samsung SmartThings

  • $279.99 for a 3-pack

 

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Conclusion

It may feel like a huge transition from what we’re used to in the world of WiFi, but wireless mesh networks may very well be the future of internet connectivity, being able to connect – not only homes – but entire cities.

As it becomes more available, it will inevitably become more affordable and will find its way into most homes, commercial zones, and hopefully provide ubiquitous internet connectivity all over the world.