Best mesh wi-fi systems for 2021: Mesh wi-fi routers and points
The best mesh routers can fill your home with strong Wi-FI, no matter how big it is, or how many floors or brick walls you may have to deal with. A mesh router is the best option for fixing weak and missing signal in large homes, with multiple devices creating a single Wi-Fi network that blankets a home in strong signal. They handle all the farthest rooms and corners with ease, and can provide coverage to different floors of multi-story homes.
Even a basic mesh system can give you whole-home coverage and superb, seamless Wi-Fi performance everywhere in the house. And that includes your backyard and garage. We’ve tested more than a dozen mesh routers, from wireless-AC models to the best Wi-Fi 6 mesh kits, evaluating the performance and usability of each one to help you find the best mesh Wi-Fi kit for your home.
Whether you need a mesh router for inexpensive whole-house coverage or security that covers all of your connected devices, here are the best mesh Wi-Fi routers to buy now.
What are the best mesh routers?
Our pick for the best mesh routers is the Nest WiFi, Google’s own mesh Wi-Fi solution. It offers excellent performance throughout the house, and features easy setup and great smart home integration. It also has a killer feature the other best mesh routers can’t match: Built in Google Home smart speakers in every mesh extension, giving you voice interaction that can extend to every room of the house.
The Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) is another mesh networking favorite, with great Wi-Fi 6 performance and easy setup. The individual units deliver some of the best data speeds available, and Netgear offers a range of extensions, including weatherproof outdoor extensions and the Netgear Orbi Voice, which has Amazon Alexa built in.
The best mesh routers right now
If you want the best mesh Wi-Fi solution available, Google’s Nest WiFi is the best you can get. It offers superb performance, a dead-simple setup process and it delivers Wi-Fi coverage that can expand coverage to handle everything from a small home to large estate.
But the Nest WiFi has something no other mesh kit does, with a Google Home smart speaker built into every mesh extension. The compact units let you control the router with voice commands, along with every other connected device in your house, from smart lights to your smart TV.
Adding additional Nest extensions adds new Google Home units in other rooms, seamlessly giving you a voice assistant in any room of the house. And if you still have an old Google WiFi system gathering dust, you can add those to extend the mesh coverage, too. If you want the best and simplest mesh WiFi solution for your home, this is it.
Read our full Nest WiFi review.
The Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) is the Orbi we have been waiting for, combining everything we love about Netgear’s premiere mesh Wi-Fi solution with the futureproof capabilities and blinding speeds of Wi-Fi 6. Easy setup and a great performance are the hallmarks of the Orbi model line, and the newest model doesn’t disappoint.
The RBK852 serves up category leading performance with strong signal that punched through ceilings, floors and walls with ease, and built-in security blankets your home with a layer of online protection along with the zippy Wi-Fi. If you’re looking for the easiest and fastest mesh networking kit on the market, the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) does the trick with excellent performance, particularly for those in older homes with lots of walls. When it comes to mesh Wi-Fi 6 devices, the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) is the one to beat.
Read our full Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) review.
Inexpensive, small and easy to set up, TP-Link’s Deco X20 mesh networking kit is a cheap thrill that can help fill a home with Wi-Fi 6 data while protecting a family’s identities with an extra layer of online security. If you want mesh capability and Wi-Fi 6, the TP-Link Deco X20 is the best budget option for covering larger homes with better speed and capability than any older 802.11ac system can match. Selling in a 3-pack of matching units, the Deco X20 covers up to 5,800 square feet, and can manage up to 150 separate connected devices.
With dual-band connectivity and two gigabit wired connections on each node, the Deco X20 offers great coverage and connectivity with easy setup and management. TP-Link gives you all the tools you need in the accompanying Deco app, which lets you set up your network quickly and control the individual features of the network with illustrated, easy-to-navigate menus. It also protects, with WPA3 encryption and a lifetime subscription to TP-Link HomeCare security and antivirus included with the set.
Read our full TP-Link Deco X20 review.
The 802.11ac Netgear Orbi (RBK50) checks all the right boxes: strong performance, easy setup and flexibility to handle homes large and small. It’s a long-time leader in the mesh Wi-Fi category, and is still one of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems you can get.
Even without the mesh extensions, the Orbi’s base unit is one of the fastest routers we’ve ever tested. Pair it with an Orbi extension and the system easily covers a 5,000-square-foot home, and it does just as well through walls and up and down floors in a multistory home.
On top of this great performance, the Orbi also offers best-in-class flexibility, with add-on units that make it one of the best Alexa speakers, plug-and-play expansion and even weatherproofed satellite units for outdoor coverage. Pair this with excellent security and parental controls, and it’s no wonder so many people love the Netgear Orbi.
Read our full Netgear Orbi (RBK50) review.
The Eero Pro 6 combines tri-band Wi-Fi 6 networking with a mesh setup that’s quicker and easier than pretty much any mesh system we’ve reviewed, making it the best way to get great performance throughout your home without much hassle. With a single unit covering 2,000 square feet with reasonably fast Wi-Fi, the three-pack Eero Pro 6 will blanket up to 6,000 square feet with ease – and we set up the three-piece system in about 11 minutes.
It may not have the highest throughput, but the Eero Pro 6 mesh kit does well at mid-range distances where others peter out, is quick to set up and automatically adjusts just about everything. If you want granular customization, then tools like band steering, local DNS caching and home automation tools, it’s got those, too. But the Eero Pro 6 does it’s best when it lets you set it and forget it, giving you speedy Wi-Fi 6 without the hassles.
Read our full Eero Pro 6 review.
With a quick setup process and the ability to offer whole-home Wi-Fi connection while controlling all sorts of smart home devices, TP-Link’s Deco M9 Plus Smart Home Mesh Wi-Fi System (sold in a three pack) can almost do it all. The Deco M9 Plus uses a trio of compact extensions that are easy to hide or mount on the wall and can cover up to 6,500 square feet with a strong wireless signal.
Built-in conveniences like security – including intrusion prevention, a malicious-content filter and infected-device quarantine – make it easy to manage your home network, but we did find the overall performance to be mediocre when the system had to deal with walls and ceilings.
While it lacks top performance, the Deco M9 Plus is still the best mesh Wi-Fi kit to get if you care more about a simple setup procedure than about top speed. And while each Deco unit has a built-in USB port, it’s not enabled (yet), so there’s no way to connect USB devices like printers and storage.
Read our full TP-Link Deco M9 Plus review.
If you want a simple Wi-Fi solution that won’t leave dead spots in your home, the 2019 Eero mesh router is one of the best bargains in mesh networking today. The Eero three-pack of mesh devices is affordable, and each unit is easy to hide away, thanks to its compact design. While the range and performance aren’t groundbreaking, it’s easy to fill a home with capable Wi-Fi signal without spending an arm and a leg.
Set up is easily handled with a smartphone, and configuration is designed for anyone to use. There’s even an option for robust network security, though it comes with a monthly subscription fee. You can also connect the Eero system to an Alexa smart speaker if you want to add voice controls to your home network.
Read our full Eero mesh router review.
The Linksys Max Stream MR9600 is a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router that is among the smallest and least obtrusive Wi-Fi 6 routers, but promises huge coverage when you need it. Able to work either as a standalone router or to create a mesh network by linking it with other Linksys networking gear, the MR9600 offers the choice of a single unit for smaller homes and apartments, or it can be incorporated into a mesh setup with other Linksys networking devices, giving you the unique ability to expand coverage for larger homes.
The small size makes it easy to fit onto a shelf or desk, but the streamlined design does leave little room for ports — with only a WAN port, four LAN ports and two USB 3.0 connectors, the rear panel of the Linksys Max Stream MR9600 is uncluttered, but we wish it offered the two-line aggregation seen on many competing Wi-Fi 6 models.
Read our full Linksys Max Stream MR9600 review.
The Netgear Orbi holds it’s spot as the best mesh Wi-Fi system, in part, because it has unmatched flexibility, with Netgear offering several specialty units for extending coverage and adding functionality. Our favorite add-on has to be the Netgear Orbi Voice, which combines the Orbi’s excellent performance and impressive range with speakers and Alexa voice control.
Officially called the Orbi RBS40V, the Alexa-fied extension adds a 35-watt amplifier, 3.5-inch woofer, 1-inch tweeter and passive bass-reflex port – all tuned by Harman Kardon audio engineers – to Netgear’s signature tri-band 802.11ac Orbi extension. With it, you can use Alexa as your consolidated smart home interface, stream music right from the Orbi Voice and use any of the best Alexa skills for all of the Alexa Echo devices.
Read our full Netgear Orbi Voice review.
If you want to switch to a mesh network without ditching your current router, there’s no better option than the Netgear AX1800 Mesh Extender (EAX20), a desktop Wi-Fi extender that can create a mesh network with just about any Wi-Fi router or ISP gateway. With Wi-Fi 6 speeds and even mesh capability built right in, the Netgear EAX20 is one of the best Wi-Fi extenders you can get, and the only choice for adding mesh coverage to a standalone Wi-Fi 6 router.
While not everyone will be excited about it’s large desktop design – without a plug-in design, there’s no hiding this extender behind the couch or in the corner – and a price that’s more expensive than some routers, the proof is in the performance. And boy, does the Netgear EAX20 deliver, with category-leading speeds and an awesome 95-foot range.
Read our full Netgear AX1800 Mesh Extender (EAX20) review.
How to choose the best mesh router for you
Finding the right mesh Wi-Fi system starts with deciding whether you even need one.
Coverage and range: If you have a large home of 3,000 square feet or more, a regular router won’t cut it. The same is true of multistory homes and oddly laid out houses, which don’t necessarily match the range pattern of coverage most standalone routers deliver. And even if your home looks like it may be well-served by a regular wireless router, there are plenty of obstacles and signal-disruptions that can make it difficult to get strong Wi-Fi coverage in every part of your home.
The basic guideline is this: If your router leaves you with dead spots in your home or even in your yard, you would probably be better off with a mesh Wi-Fi system instead.
Speed and performance: Picking the right mesh Wi-Fi system is much like any other Wi-Fi device. Our reviews look at design, range and throughput performance, setup, and which settings you can adjust. We look at security protections and parental controls. We even look at whether a mesh extension is easy to adopt into your home decor, or whether it’s something you’ll want to tuck away out of sight. Any of our reviews will dig into these aspects of a product, and will also highlight any unique features you may want to consider in your decision making, like whether you want voice interaction, or how well a mesh solution pairs with other connected devices in the home.
Price: For many shoppers, though, it all comes down to value — which extender provides the most for the lowest cost. So we also consider what you really get for your money, weighing what features and performance are worthwhile, and how any given product compares with other devices from other manufacturers.
Mesh routers range in price from $120 to $400 or more. Because mesh systems use multiple devices, you can generally buy a complete mesh system as a two- or three-unit package. You can also buy individual satellite units to extend a mesh network to a broader area. Individual units generally sell for $100 to 200, although specialized units offering added functions may cost more.
In the end, our top picks are listed here because they are the best mesh Wi-Fi systems you can buy. Whether it’s a question of performance, value or features, we call out the products that deliver the best bang for your buck, and explain why it might be the right choice for your home.
How we test mesh routers
Every router we review has been rigorously tested in our Utah and New York facilities, using Ixia’s IxChariot software to measure throughput at distances that are between 5 and 150 feet. As with standard routers, we test performance at a distance to provide real-world information about coverage and speeds.
We also test how well each router transmits and receives signals through drywall, brick, concrete and even metal walls; and how each handles coverage of a two- or three-story home.
Mesh routers get additional testing to see how well each system does when sending a signal through the main router and through the included satellite units. Beyond simple throughput tests, we also perform detailed heat map testing to determine how well a mesh system distributes signals over a larger coverage area — a test that involves taking dozens of measurements throughout our lab space. We use each mesh router with several connected devices in a real home that contains thick walls.
Other factors used in evaluating the routers include ease of setup and use, software features and available ports.
Check out all of our home networking coverage:
Best Wi-Fi routers | Best Wi-Fi 6 routers | Best Wi-Fi extenders | Best powerline extenders
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