Mesh networks are designed to eliminate Wi-Fi black spots by placing a network of range-extending nodes around the home, giving your signal a more even spread and greater stability. If your router is already reaching parts other broadband routers can’t, you’re fine as you are, no real need to read on, see ya.
Some providers like BT and Virgin offer their own mesh network add-ons with select packages that work specifically with their home hubs; other router makers incorporate mesh smarts into their modems to tempt you into staying with the same brand if you expand your network.
In truth, it doesn’t really matter which network you opt for as most will work with your provider. They’re not exactly cheap, but could come in cheaper than a kneejerk reaction to upgrade your broadband package. Here are some that we like the look of.
Linksys AXE8400 ($450)
Linksys was hot off the blocks in 2017, launching one of the first true home Wi-Fi mesh networks. In truth, we found the original Velop system to be pretty buggy and the nodes suffered from numerous dropouts.
But superfast broadband wasn’t built in a day... and now Linksys has something new. The AXE8400 system retains the brand’s usual straight-up tower-like design, only now it packs in Wi-Fi 6E technology for blazingly fast speeds and superspreading of the good sort: bandwidth. In fact, Linksys says it can manage the demands of more than 65 devices.
The catch is that it’s very expensive indeed – about a grand for a three-node pack – but then, each node is supposed to be good for 3000ft2 of coverage. It’s worth noting that the AXE8400 is also backwards-compatible with previous versions of the Velop series – so even though they won’t be Wi-Fi 6E certified, or feature the motion detection tech, that won’t stop the spare nodes from coming in handy to kill dead spots.
TP-Link Deco X20 AX1800 (£107)
Not to be confused with a network of cookie jars, the cylindrical Deco system is Wi-Fi 6-ready, WPA3-protected and compatible with Alexa. Each node is good for 200m2 of coverage and TP-Link, the mad buggers, reckon it’s been tested to connect over 150 devices without affecting performance.
Asus ZenWifi (£220)
Each ZenWifi node will cover a massive 2750ft2 and, unlike a lot of the offerings here, is available in white or black. Wi-Fi 6 and WPA3 are both on board, and a lifetime subscription to Trend Micro’s cybersecurity tools is included. That’s plenty of poke for the price – and the overall design doesn’t scream ‘IT manager’ either.
Google Nest Wifi (£129)
Not to be outdone for sheer lunacy, Google reckons one Nest Wifi point can handle 200 connected devices and is fast enough to stream multiple 4K videos at once. In a nice touch, each node doubles as a smart speaker and is good for 120m2. As it’s Google, setup is simple; you don’t get Wi-Fi 6 but you do get WPA3.
Netgear WiFi 6 Orbi (£700)
The Orbi system is multi-gig-ready and can also handle hundreds of devices. It comes with top-level cybersecurity, though that’s only free for the first year. Castle-owners will be pleased to know it’ll cover 4000ft2, and it works with both Alexa and Google Assistant. Not bad, eh?