The 3 Best Wi-Fi Mesh-Networking Kits of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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The 3 Best Wi-Fi Mesh-Networking Kits of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

Slow Wi-Fi can be more frustrating than no Wi-Fi at all, and the culprit in many cases is one router trying to cover too much house. Mesh-networking systems take the weight off just one router, instead spreading multiple access points around your house to improve the range and performance of your Wi-Fi.

After spending hundreds of hours evaluating and testing 77 Wi-Fi mesh-networking systems in home and lab environments over the past five years, we’re confident that the Eero 6 system is the best mesh router for most people who need one.

The Eero 6 serves steady Wi-Fi on a busy network and surpasses pricier options. It’s also much easier to set up than more complex systems.

The ZenWiFi AX (XT8) has significant upgrades in speed and Ethernet connections over our top pick. We’d suggest it if you have a gigabit (1,000 Mbps, or close to it) internet service plan or are adding multiple smart-home devices.

The TP-Link Deco S4 outperformed mesh networks that were hundreds of dollars more expensive. It’s our choice for a cheaper way to share a Wi-Fi network around a large living space.

The Eero 6 serves steady Wi-Fi on a busy network and surpasses pricier options. It’s also much easier to set up than more complex systems.

The Eero 6 provides lag-free Wi-Fi all over your home, takes just a few minutes to set up, is easily (and relatively cheaply) upgradable, and can be managed remotely from a mobile phone app. If all you want is reliable Wi-Fi, you can set it and forget it.

Our tests showed it easily streams multiple 4K videos and is more than capable of handling your family’s growing collection of smart devices.

The ZenWiFi AX (XT8) has significant upgrades in speed and Ethernet connections over our top pick. We’d suggest it if you have a gigabit (1,000 Mbps, or close to it) internet service plan or are adding multiple smart-home devices.

The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) is the right choice if you currently use or are planning to upgrade to a gigabit or faster internet connection. It’s worth the added expense if you’ve already invested in gigabit internet service and need a powerful mesh setup to work with all that bandwidth. It’s the upgrade pick for those who need Wi-Fi 6 technology to squeeze out the fastest connection, always.

The TP-Link Deco S4 outperformed mesh networks that were hundreds of dollars more expensive. It’s our choice for a cheaper way to share a Wi-Fi network around a large living space.

TP-Link’s Deco S4 will spread solid Wi-Fi 5 signals to dozens of devices throughout a large home, but it doesn’t have the top speed or flexibility of our other picks. It’s best if your broadband internet service is 500 megabits or slower. And if you have more than 50 devices on your network—increasingly possible when you add smart-home products on top of phones, laptops, and streaming boxes—there’s a higher chance the S4 will be overtaxed.

Before joining Wirecutter, Joel Santo Domingo tested and wrote about PCs, networking, and personal tech at, PC Magazine, Lifewire, and HotHardware for more than 17 years. Prior to writing for a living, Joel was an IT tech and system administrator for small, medium-size, and large companies. Metaphorically, Joel has been a wire cutter for more than two decades: Testing wireless home networking has been a part of his life for the past 20-plus years through all versions of Wi-Fi, back to the wireless phone extension he tacked onto the back of his Apple PowerBook.

Before you toss everything out and get a mesh system, you should try moving your router to a central location—in smaller houses a single router can actually be more effective than mesh networking.

But if you have a house that a single powerful router can’t cover well, you probably need a mesh system. A home larger than 2,300 square feet (depending on the layout), a large apartment or small house with signal-killing interior walls made of lath-and-plaster, brick, stucco, or concrete blocks, or a tall, narrow building like a three-story townhouse could all benefit from a mesh setup with multiple nodes.

Even one device with a poor connection can bring the quality of the entire network down.

If you already have a good router that you like and need just a little more range in part of your house, you might consider adding a wireless extender. (Here’s our comprehensive guide to wireless extenders.)

Another option is a mesh extender, which, like a mesh-networking system, automatically hands your connection off from router to extender and back, using the same network name; that makes the mesh experience a little more seamless. Mesh extenders may improve coverage in dead spots if you already have a decent wireless router, though they showed mixed results in our extender guide testing compared with full-blown mesh networking systems.

If your house is wired for Ethernet, you don’t need a mesh-networking system. Mesh shines when you don’t have wires, don’t want wires, and have lots of trouble spots (or one really big trouble spot) with poor or no coverage.

A mesh system won’t necessarily make your internet faster at short to medium range. As shown in the performance testing of standalone routers, the best Wi-Fi mesh systems did just as well as our upgrade standalone router pick, the Synology WRX560. Mesh can offer better coverage and lower latency in a wider area, which makes your connection feel faster throughout the house because your devices aren’t grabbing at faint wisps of signal.

Mesh shines when you don’t have wires, don’t want wires, and have lots of trouble spots (or one really big trouble spot) with poor or no coverage.

A good standalone Wi-Fi router can handle multiple devices, as long as those devices all have good connections. Even one device with a poor connection can bring the quality of a single router’s network down, eating up all of the available airtime, starving the rest. The best mesh networks ensure good connections among devices, the base unit, and any satellites, reducing the likelihood of a poorly connected device slowing down the others.

Over the past few years, we’ve tested more than 70 Wi-Fi mesh-networking systems from 15 manufacturers (AmpliFi, Arris, Asus, D-Link, Eero, Google, Gryphon, Motorola, Linksys, Netgear, Synology, TP-Link, Trendnet, Ubiquiti, and Vilo) in order to find the best Wi-Fi mesh network system.

To reproduce the real-world activity of a busy home network, we used laptops simulating everyday tasks, spaced around 3,000 square feet of a three-and-a-half-story suburban home.

We tested for top speeds (streaming simulated 4K video and file downloads), good coverage in spots around the house, and responsiveness (simulating three simultaneous browsing sessions on a busy network).

Here are our key criteria:

One more thing: Don’t confuse the test results in our guide with the internet speed you’re paying for. For example, the Asus ZenWiFi AX is capable of throughput over 600 megabits per second at close range with no obstructions, but you still can’t get more than about 100 megabits per second from the internet if you have a 100-megabit plan from your ISP.

The Eero 6 serves steady Wi-Fi on a busy network and surpasses pricier options. It’s also much easier to set up than more complex systems.

The Eero 6 is an excellent choice for setting up a lag-free Wi-Fi network in a sprawling home. We tested the Eero mesh system all over a three-story house, where it outperformed systems costing two or three times as much.

It’s pretty speedy. During our testing, the Eero 6 offered fast performance when our laptop was close to the base router. Eero advertises that it is suitable for homes with 900 Mbps (or slower) broadband connections, though we only reached about 600 Mbps on the laptop connected to the main base unit. Only a handful of the mesh systems outpaced the Eero, including the TP-Link Deco XE200, which reached up to 657 Mbps in our testing. The median speed for fixed broadband, which includes both cable and fiber internet service providers, is 205 Mbps, so a range of 100 Mbps to 600 Mbps should be acceptable for many homes in the US.

Setup is simple. The Eero 6 is easier to set up than some of the other mesh systems presented here. After plugging in the Ethernet cable from your cable modem or fiber gateway, and the included USB-C power adapter, there are the usual prompts for setting your network name (SSID, for service set identifier) and network password, then the app gives you some tips for placing the add-on extenders.

After placing the extenders (and performing an automatic firmware update), you should have a functioning mesh network in your home.

The Eero app is easy to use. It lets you switch between WPA3 security and the WPA2 security built into older routers, but that’s one of the few settings you can change beyond network name and password—which makes it simple for a novice or remote administrator to monitor the network. All Eero and Eero Pro systems have a temporary off switch for their 5 GHz network, which makes it easier to connect smart devices like cameras and doorbells.

Compatibility and support are solid. All currently available Eero systems are compatible with each other. For example, you can add an Eero Pro 6 system to an existing Eero 6 network, if you need to cover more space throughout your house. The Eero 6 (and other Eero systems) supports HomeKit, Matter, Thread, and Zigbee, four smart-home standards for controlling your devices. Because Eero’s parent company is Amazon, the Alexa voice assistant is also supported.

It can handle a lot of traffic. In our latency tests, the Eero 6 was competitive with the best mesh systems. Even when the Wi-Fi network was at its most congested, the Eero 6 was able to stream 4k videos, download large files, and keep multiple web browsing sessions lag-free. Other more expensive systems like Google’s Nest Wifi Pro slowed down when the network was busy.

While it is now owned by Amazon, the Eero company developed and released its first two generations of mesh networks independently of Amazon. We think that Eero’s ease of setup, frequent firmware updates (as needed), ability to add additional Eero units to expand coverage, ability to manage a network remotely, and the company’s longevity and its proven track record outweigh these concerns.

In general, we’ve had good to excellent experiences with the Eero 6 and other Eero models. As my family’s technology manager, I’ve kept my parents’ Eero home network glitch free, while remotely managing it and monitoring automatic firmware updates from my phone. Senior staff writer Tim Heffernan installed an Eero 6+ (see below) to provide a “strong, solid” connection to a back room that our Wi-Fi extender upgrade pick couldn’t reach in their apartment. Senior editor Christine Ryan’s partner, who owns and manages an Airbnb rental, “loves his Eero mesh network, because it provides good Wi-Fi throughout the unit (which is two floors plus a loft), and he gets a notification any time someone logs in, so he knows when guests have arrived.”

The ZenWiFi AX (XT8) has significant upgrades in speed and Ethernet connections over our top pick. We’d suggest it if you have a gigabit (1,000 Mbps, or close to it) internet service plan or are adding multiple smart-home devices.

The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) is the right choice if you currently (or plan to) use a gigabit or faster internet connection like Verizon’s FIOS—otherwise, you may only get minimal benefit for the much higher price.

It supports Wi-Fi 6 and many devices. The XT8 supports Wi-Fi 6 (instead of Wi-Fi 5, which was common for the past eight to nine years) and improved security called WPA3. Among other improvements, Wi-Fi 6 should help keep the XT8 relevant in a rapidly changing smart home with more and more devices to manage.

It’s speedier than our top pick. The XT8 can serve a strong, responsive signal to all corners of a larger-than-average home, and it outperformed most of the pack in top speed and alleviating a congested network in almost all of our tests. The extra performance will help if you have gigabit internet service.

It has extra useful ports. The XT8’s additional Ethernet ports can be used for a wired connection between the routers, which will be faster than the wireless connection, or to connect PCs and game consoles. You’d have to upgrade the Eero 6’s base system to a three pack of routers for an additional $50 to get the same functionality.

The XT8’s USB port can be used for network storage with a portable SSD, as a printer connection, or with a cellular modem.

In my long-term testing at my family’s home, the XT8 has performed well with both spouses working remotely, and my son playing online games at home. We’ve had occasional hiccups, but most of the time the root of the problems has been external, like Slack being down or an outage with our Verizon Fios service.

The TP-Link Deco S4 outperformed mesh networks that were hundreds of dollars more expensive. It’s our choice for a cheaper way to share a Wi-Fi network around a large living space.

The TP-Link Deco S4 costs half as much as our top pick, and when put to use in our test home of 3,000-plus square feet, it provided steady wireless coverage. We believe it would work well with up to 50 devices on the network, and if you have 500 Mbps internet service or slower.

It has minimal slowdowns. The Deco S4 was one of the Wi-Fi systems that performed well on our web browsing congestion test. This relatively inexpensive mesh system was able to quickly feed simulated web traffic to our three test laptops while three other laptops were streaming 4K video and downloading files simultaneously.

Notably, this $130-ish mesh system outperformed the $280 Netgear Orbi RBK752 and the $180 TP-Link Deco X20 under the same conditions.

It’s easily expandable. The Deco S4 is available in one-, two-, and three-pack mesh systems, so it’s relatively easy to expand upon (th3 recommended maximum is 10 Deco units) if you’re setting them up wirelessly. Using the built-in Ethernet ports as a wired backhaul, you can increase the number of Deco units above this limit.

It’s quick and easy to install. The Deco S4 is easy to set up and administer, since it has fewer settings to fiddle with than the Asus ZenWiFi mesh systems. Also, TP-Link Deco mesh systems come pre-paired in the box: Just hook one up to your cable modem, then plug the other two in their ultimate locations. After you choose the network name and password in the app, the Deco S4 will finish its setup automatically.

But there are security and port trade-offs. As a Wi-Fi 5 mesh system, the Deco S4 lacks WPA3 security. That’s not a dealbreaker yet, because most home PCs, phones, and streaming devices use Wi-Fi 5 and WPA2 security.

The Deco S4 is also limited to two Ethernet ports per node, but that’s better than the Eero 6, which has only one free Ethernet port on its base router (and none on the add-on extenders).

And it has speed limits. If you have an internet plan faster than 500 Mbps, the Deco S4 might limit speeds in some situations, as it lacks top throughput rates that pricier mesh systems can claim.

Transfer speed was an excellent 430 Mbps at 10 feet with no obstructions, but slowed to 170 Mbps when bounced through one of the distant nodes over 30 feet away and two stories up, and a slower but still smooth 48 Mbps through several walls on 2.4 GHz to our worst-case laptop in a bedroom.

If you have a faster internet plan and want additional wired connections: Consider the Eero 6+, an upgraded and more expensive version of our top pick. Instead of the Eero 6’s purely wireless add-on extenders, the Eero 6+ comes with one, two, or three router units, with two Ethernet ports per node. We tested the pack of three and found that since all three nodes have the same processing power, top speeds are ultimately faster on an Eero 6+ network compared with the Eero 6. That’s nice for the occasional large file download, like an update to a PlayStation game. The wired ports also allow you to use the Eero 6+ routers as wired extenders, similar to the Asus XT8. The Eero 6+ was also a bit faster than its cheaper sibling in the other rooms of the home, away from the main router.

However, when we tested on a more congested network, the Eero 6+’s latency scores were very close to that of the Eero 6. We’d say the additional $100 or more for the 6+ is worth it if you’re on an internet plan that’s faster than 700 Mbps, or if you have Ethernet pre-wired in your home to connect the Eero 6+ routers together.

If you are willing to take a chance and save a few bucks: The $155 Vilo 6 is a contender that challenges our budget pick, the TP-Link Deco S4, when found on sale for $135. The system with two routers tested well and was simple to set up, but its normal price puts it closer to our top pick, the Eero 6, and it doesn’t have as many useful features. Both the Deco and Eero systems allow expandability with Wi-Fi 5, Wi-Fi 6, and Wi-Fi 6E extenders from the same brand, but the Vilo 6 isn’t compatible with the older Wi-Fi 5 Vilo Mesh system. Vilo sales are limited to their online site and a store on Amazon, while TP-Link and Eero are easy to find at a wide range of retailers. The older Vilo Mesh has many middling online reviews, including our testing from last year, but there are few reviews online for the new Vilo 6 system.

We’ll monitor other reviews to see if they confirm the Vilo 6’s worthiness, and we hope the price doesn’t jump like the older Vilo Mesh. If you’re willing to take a chance, the Vilo 6 could be a good mesh network for a home with fewer devices.

Every time we update our router or mesh-networking guides, readers ask us about enterprise-level networking options like Ubiquiti’s UniFi networking line. Its rack-mounted models are decidedly overkill for most homes, but the UniFi Dream Router (UDR) seems tailor-made for homes and small businesses. We tested the Wi-Fi 6–compatible UDR in our router guide as well as with a pair of Ubiquiti mesh extenders.

The UDR’s administration app and web interface look polished and professional compared with those of home routers, and they offer plenty of settings and monitor screens familiar to network engineers. But to folks who just want a simple-to-use router, Ubiquiti’s interface could look like an impenetrable wall of technical details.

The UniFi Dream Router with a pair of U6 mesh extenders tested well compared with our picks, but its complexity makes it difficult to recommend for most people. Look for detailed test results in an upcoming standalone review.

With just a few exceptions, the testing for most Wi-Fi router reviews consists of connecting a single device to Wi-Fi at various distances, trying to get the biggest throughput number possible, and declaring the router with the biggest number and the best range the winner, at least in terms of raw performance. The problem with this method is that it assumes that a big number for one connected device divides evenly into bigger numbers for all devices. This is usually true for wired networking, but it doesn’t work well for Wi-Fi.

Instead of testing for the maximum throughput from a single laptop, we used six, spaced around our test home, in order to simulate the real-world activity of a busy home network. The test home measures over 3,000 square feet, with three floors of living space and a garage with cinder block interior walls.

We verified that the core features of a mesh network were enabled, namely using a single network name (or SSID) to allow roaming for both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz channels.

We placed the main router or node in the living room, in the center of our testing space, and connected it to our cable modem via Ethernet. We placed the second node in the attic on the third floor of the home, and the third mesh node (if we used one) was positioned in the primary bedroom on the first floor, with one interior wall between it and the base router.

The six laptops (see the diagram above) were placed throughout the home, on all three floors and in the garage situated close to the cinder block foundation. If the mesh system supported Wi-Fi 6E or 7, we placed a Wi-Fi 6E laptop in the kitchen.

During testing, the six laptops, our wired controller laptop, and an Apple iPhone running the router app (if needed) were the only devices connected to the test network. We let the surrounding Wi-Fi networks and wireless devices like Google Home speakers do their usual noisy things, just as they probably do in your home. The neighbors and our home network also kept their Wi-Fi networks going, which left somewhere in the vicinity of a half dozen to a dozen network names visible at any given time.

Our seven laptops ran the following tests:

These tests simultaneously evaluated range, throughput, and the router’s ability to multitask. We ran all these tests at the same time for a full five minutes to simulate a realistic extra-busy time on a home network. Although your network probably isn’t always that busy, those busy times are when you’re most likely to experience slowdowns. We ran each test six times and averaged the results.

Testing mesh systems this way—in the most difficult spots to reach, in a space with a mix of building materials—ensures that we find the ones that work best throughout your house, rather than just looking good in the easy spots.

We also tested raw speed in terms of throughput at the farthest spot in the attic/sunroom, at a closer spot about 15 feet away with no obstructions, an unobstructed spot in the kitchen 25 feet away (when testing Wi-Fi 6E), and in a bedroom on the second floor with several interior walls in between the laptop and the main router.

Testing mesh systems this way—with a mix of easy and difficult spots to reach—ensures that we find the ones that work best throughout your house, rather than just looking good in the easy spots.

In addition to testing for raw throughput and the quality of web browsing, we made sure roaming worked well on our picks by checking each router’s interface (if present) to confirm that all the laptops weren’t bunched on a single node, router, or satellite.

We believe that mesh’s purpose isn’t to make Wi-Fi fast somewhere—it’s to make Wi-Fi fast everywhere.

So we tested throughput in three spots in our test space, with increasing degrees of difficulty: a spot in the living room, with a clear 15-foot run to the mesh base unit; in the attic, where the test laptop would be best situated to connect to the satellite node there; and a spot in one of the home’s bedrooms, where the laptop could choose to connect to a satellite or through several walls to the main router.

Speed (aka throughput) is the statistic that most mesh system manufacturers promote. The better-performing mesh systems, including our upgrade pick, the tri-band Asus ZenWifi AX (XT8), were able to handle each situation adroitly and provided over 600 Mbps at close range and 100 Mbps to 500 Mbps in the other situations.

This efficient relay system is the hallmark of a good mesh network—you can see that in the “one jump” results in the attic. Good tri-band systems like the Asus ZenWiFi utilized an extra 5 GHz radio to relay network signals efficiently to the base station.

That throughput graph is worth looking at to get an idea of your best-case performance when you’re the only one on the network, but those test results don’t tell the most important story. To do that, we needed multiple laptops, simulating a busy real-world network, as we described above. A brief recap: We had two laptops simulating 4K video screens, one or two downloading large files, and three laptops browsing the web.

The web browsing test is both the most realistic representation of your experience in using your Wi-Fi and the test that almost always fails before any other test does.

Check out this graph, which gives you a sense of how long you might have to wait around for things to load. Bad numbers indicate a poor browsing experience, and, as we’ve said, slow internet sucks.

For web browsing, latency—how long it takes between a request and a response—is more important than raw throughput. High latency, or lag, can make an otherwise speedy connection seem to drag, especially when the network is busy. By looking at slowdowns while all six laptops were working simultaneously, we got a good measure of how well the network handles congestion.

The chart shows what percentage of the time our test networks delivered a satisfactorily fast browsing experience. While some of the other networks were dragged down when the Wi-Fi was congested (the yellow, orange, and red areas), our top performers easily handled the vast majority of these tests.

If a mesh network rockets above 2,000 milliseconds, for example, that means a high percentage of frustratingly slow page loads. This is a tough test, but we think a good network should respond reliably all the time.

We wanted to test an inexpensive mesh system like the TP-Link Deco S4 and compare it with the other mesh networks here. The Deco S4 also showed excellent performance on our tests overall, remaining competitive with much more expensive systems like the AmpliFi Alien, Gryphon AX, and Eero 6. That rock steady connectivity on a busy network earned the Deco S4 a spot as our budget pick.

A mesh network extends Wi-Fi to all corners of your home by using multiple plug-in boxes generically called mesh nodes or extenders. These nodes pass and repeat Wi-Fi around signal-blocking materials such as masonry walls or metal doors, or bring Wi-Fi service to parts of your home that are out of range of a single standalone router.

Mesh’s purpose isn’t to make Wi-Fi fast somewhere—it’s to make Wi-Fi fast everywhere.

A regular or standalone router sends data packets (streaming videos, music, Slack messages, etc.) from a central location in your home to all your wired (Ethernet) and wireless (Wi-Fi) devices.

A mesh network is usually a system of two to four boxes—usually sold together—that work together to relay the Wi-Fi signal around your house or business. Those boxes might be called mesh routers, mesh extenders, satellites, or nodes, depending on the manufacturer.

You’d want to use a mesh network if the Wi-Fi signals from a single router are too weak to reach all the corners of your home.

A Wi-Fi extender, or signal booster, is a relatively simple device that receives Wi-Fi signals from your router, and then repeats them to a laptop, tablet, streaming box, or other device in a dead zone in your home, and vice versa.

Extenders are best used when you have a small area in your home that doesn’t receive a good connection to your standalone router.

If you have several dead zones in your home and are willing to spend more money to ensure the speed and quality of the Wi-Fi signal in those dead zones, a mesh network is a better solution.

Here are a few terms that describe the various parts of a mesh network:

Router or base unit: This is the device you set up first. It connects to your home’s internet (via an Ethernet connection to a cable modem or the gateway router) and broadcasts Wi-Fi.

Mesh node or satellite: These are the devices that connect back to your router (or another node) to extend that network and provide a more reliable Wi-Fi connection over a greater area. Most systems come with one or two of them. Sometimes they are physically identical to the base unit, sometimes they aren’t.

Access point: An access point provides a Wi-Fi connection to your devices but passes all its data back to the main router via an Ethernet cable to be sorted. If Ethernet is an option in your home, you should use wired access points rather than wireless mesh.

Wi-Fi range extender: Wi-Fi range extenders (also known as Wi-Fi signal boosters) are less expensive than mesh nodes but are also slower and less capable. A range extender will generally create a second network name (SSID) when you set it up.

SSID or network name: An SSID is the fancy term for a Wi-Fi network’s name.

Bands and channels: A dual-band mesh system communicates with devices on two sets of radio frequencies (aka bands), 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, while a tri-band system has an extra 5 GHz (or 6 GHz) band that can help with communication between the router and satellites.

2.4 GHz versus 5 GHz versus 6 GHz: The 2.4 GHz band is slower but is compatible with more devices and can reach farther and through walls better. The 5 GHz band is faster but has a shorter range. And 6 GHz is potentially even faster but may have an even shorter range.

Dedicated backhaul: Dedicated wireless backhaul is a wireless band that serves only the communication between the router and its nodes, not the connection to computers, phones, or other devices. Some mesh networks can use Ethernet wires as a backhaul, which is even faster.

Wi-Fi 6 (aka 802.11ax): The 802.11ax protocol, also known as Wi-Fi 6, will replace the current 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) protocol over the next year or two the same way 802.11ac replaced 802.11n nearly a decade ago.

Some improvements will help with overall speed, but we’re most interested in improvements like MU-MIMO and OFDMA—clunky acronyms that ultimately should make Wi-Fi better at managing busy home networks full of computers, phones, streaming boxes, smart devices, and the like.

These technologies tout new capabilities to help avoid interference in dense areas where neighboring networks fight one another. Wi-Fi 6E is an extension of Wi-Fi 6 technology, using the 6 GHz radio bands mentioned above.

Wi-Fi 7 (aka 802.11be) is the newest of the Wi-Fi technologies. Like Wi-Fi 6E, it uses the 6 GHz radio band in addition to the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz radio bands. Wi-Fi 7 promises to improve throughput and bandwidth by widening the radio channels (320 MHz channels), more efficiently packing those channels with data (4K QAM), allowing connections on two separate channels simultaneously (MLO), and being able to transfer data in unused portions of an otherwise congested channel (Multi-RU puncturing). We’ll of course test these claims when Wi-Fi 7 laptops become available, but suffice to say Wi-Fi 7 is engineered to increase speeds and function efficiently in an increasingly crowded wireless environment.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has officially approved the Wi-Fi 7 standard, and new mesh networks are on the way. Wi-Fi 7 delivers faster speeds, lower latency, and improved simultaneous connections, but mesh networks that support the new standard are extremely expensive, and few devices are capable of taking advantage of the new features — yet. All Wi-Fi 7 mesh networking systems are compatible with Wi-Fi 5, 6, and 6E.

Wi-Fi 7 mesh systems announced at CES 2024 included the Asus ZenWifi BQ16 Pro and the ZenWifi BT10, Acer Predator Connect T7, and MSI Roamii Mesh system, which starts at $300 for the base Roamii Mesh BE Lite 2-pack. We plan on testing these mesh networks as soon as they are available, along with previously announced systems like TP-Link’s Deco BE95, BE63, BE65, and BE16000, Linksys’ Velop Pro 7, as well as Netgear’s Orbi 970 series. The Orbi 973SB is $2,300 for a three-pack. Prices for some of these systems haven’t been announced.

Amazon’s mesh system, Eero Max 7, includes 10-gigabit Ethernet and 2.5 GbE ports for cable modem and local connections. Note that you’ll need to have 10-gigabit internet service and 2.5-GbE NAS or PCs to take full advantage of these ports. Like our pick and other current Eero systems, it includes support for smart home technologies like Matter, Thread, and Zigbee. We plan to test Eero Max 7 soon, but given the system’s high price — $1,700 for a three-pack — and the scarcity of Wi-Fi 7 laptops and phones, we believe the Eero Max 7 is probably overkill for most people.

There are several Wi-Fi mesh network systems that we considered and tested that we don’t recommend as much as our picks.

We expanded our testing to include Wi-Fi 6E, and ran the Eero Pro 6E, Google’s Nest Wifi Pro, Linksys Velop Pro 6E, TP-Link Deco XE200, Deco XE75 Pro, Wi-Fi 7-compatible Deco BE85, and Wyze Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Router Pro through an updated test cycle including a Wi-Fi 6E Dell laptop. None of the new mesh systems were able to beat our picks, especially when you consider the extra price premium for Wi-Fi 6E and 7. Some of the Wi-Fi 6E–compatible routers did not have 2.5 gigabit Ethernet ports, which we’d consider a must have for an upgrade pick. Surprisingly, some of these expensive mesh systems became bogged down while trying to serve a congested network. We recommend waiting until prices come down and the technology spreads out to more laptops and phones.

New Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems we tested included the Asus ZenWifi Pro XT12, ZenWifi XD5, TP-Link Deco X55 Pro, and Wyze Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router. The Asus XT12 had a price double what the XT8 goes for, which is a huge markup for an extra 2.5 GbE port on each node. The XT12’s top speed was faster than XT8, but its browsing responsiveness was only okay when the network was busy. The other routers were priced more competitively but ultimately outclassed by our picks.

Like its budget-priced cousin, the Eero Pro 6 is easy to set up and removes many router settings for simplicity’s sake. However, as a three-pack of identical Wi-Fi 6 routers, it’s one of the more expensive mesh systems, almost three times the price of the Eero 6, our pick.

The Eero Pro 6 is a solid alternative as a simple, set-it-and-forget-it networking solution, if you can afford it, but ultimately, we prefer the Asus WiFi AX due to its lower price and included extras like parental controls and internet security.

We tested two WRX560 tri-band routers bound together as a mesh network. While they performed decently together, less expensive mesh systems, including our upgrade pick, are more affordable. Synology’s interface is more customizable than the other consumer-oriented mesh systems here, so it’s an option for IT folks who need more settings to tweak.

We’ve tested dozens of mesh systems for previous versions of this guide but dismissed them because they lacked features, were significantly more expensive, or lagged our picks in some way. Arris sent their Surfboard Max AX6600. Asus models we tested included the ZenWiFi XD6, ZenWiFi ET8, and ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4). From D-Link we tried the M15 and DIR-X1870. Google Wifi, Google Nest Wifi, and Google’s Nest Wifi Pro were easy to set up, but finished behind the Eero 6 picks and the Eero Pro 6E. Gryphon routers emphasize parental controls, which is useful, but the Guardian didn’t perform as well as our picks and the AX was speedy but expensive. Linksys models included the Atlas 6, Atlas Max 6E, Velop AX4200 (MX12600), WHW0303 and WHW0103. We tested the Motorola MH7603, Q11 and the Q14. We dismissed the Netgear Nighthawk MK62, the MK63, MK83, Orbi RBK752, RBK852, RBK853, and RBKE963. Other Synology routers we tested and dismissed include the RT2600ac and RT6600ax. We tested multiple TP-Link models: the Deco AX4300 Pro, M4, M5, W2400, X20, X55, X68, XE75, and X90. We also tested the budget Trendnet TEW-830MDR2K and Vilo Mesh Wi-Fi System.

This article was edited by Signe Brewster and Caitlin McGarry.

Joel Santo Domingo is a senior staff writer covering networking and storage at Wirecutter. Previously he tested and reviewed more than a thousand PCs and tech devices for PCMag and other sites over 17 years. Joel became attracted to service journalism after answering many “What’s good?” questions while working as an IT manager and technician.

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