These are the best routers and multi-room wifi systems

Best buy guide for everyone that is looking for a new (mesh) router

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Finding the best multi-room WiFi system

There are situations where even the most advanced router, with dizzying Wi-Fi speeds and the thickest antennas you can find, is not enough to provide a home with a Wi-Fi network that is both fast, reliable and covering. If you live in a mansion of a house, a concrete bunker or if you are sentenced to a certain place where your router has to be placed in a fixed spot, a multi-room WiFi system - also referred to as mesh - can be a good solution.

Compare all tested multi-room WiFi systems here

Read more about multi-room WiFi systems (mesh)

The challenge

As a user you have various possibilities to prevent signal loss due to interference and a limited range due to obstacles. The most effective way to do this is to strategically position wired access points. However, running cables is a job that not everyone is looking forward to, and sometimes it is simply not possible. Possible affordable alternatives are to use a wifi repeater or range extender. An important disadvantage is that you can then strip away half of your bandwidth in return for the extra range. Then there is always the possibility of powerline out, with which you can send your data wired via the existing electricity infrastructure, after which you can send it into the air via a built-in or externally connected access point. The downside of powerline is that the connection is highly dependent on the quality of the electricity grid and is also sensitive to interference.

An elegant solution

The solution to all the above challenges is to buy a multi-room WiFi system and thus create a mesh network. This is done by installing various wireless access points, which can both send and receive information and where each individual node is connected to all the other nodes. The latter means that such a star network is self-healing and therefore more reliable: after all, if a node fails, a new route will automatically be searched for via other available nodes. The computing power required is an important reason why multi-room WiFi systems are relatively expensive. 

Of course, not every multi-room WiFi system is the same. Besides the price and ac class, there is another important difference: the presence of a so-called dedicated backhaul. Each mesh-system in fact has two communication flows, one between the clients and the nodes and one for the nodes themselves. With cheaper multi-room WiFi systems, all communication is over the same connection, which means you have less bandwidth below the line for client traffic. More expensive systems with a dedicated backhaul have their own radio (tri-band) for both communication flows. With some mesh-systems you can create a dedicated backhaul with an Ethernet cable, but then cables have to be ran, which you might as well do with cheaper access points.

Mesh at its best

Of the multi-room WiFi systems tested by us, there are three sets that stand out. Two of them are the best choice on the basis of pure speeds; the third mesh system boasts an unrivalled price/performance ratio. Coincidence or not; the sets in question come from the three network manufacturers who were the first to enter the market with such a system.

Velop is the multi-room WiFi system from Linksys that has been on sale since the beginning of 2017. At the time of writing, a 3-pack costs an average of 500 dollars, which makes it considerably cheaper since its introduction. Velop falls into the AC2200 class with an available bandwidth of 400 Mbit/s at 2.4 GHz and twice 867 Mbit/s at 5 GHz. The system has a dynamic wireless backhaul - Velop assigns the 5 GHz radios at its own discretion - and offers support for MU-MIMO. The design of Linksys' mesh-system, like most competitors, is white in color but looks a bit like an old-fashioned speaker, unlike the mostly round nodes of other manufacturers... The nodes are interchangeable and each offer two gigabit Ethernet ports, one of which can be used as a wall port. In terms of performance, it is excellent across the board. Velop takes the stage on nine of the twelve individual parts (five gold, one silver and three bronze medals) and arrives at a total average speed of 167 Mbit/s per second. 

Linksys Velop 3-pack
Linksys Velop 

If you simply want the best-performing multi-room WiFi system, you'll find it in the Orbi from Netgear. You will have to put with average price of 700 dollars for a 3-pack, but you will also get something in return. Orbi is a mesh-system from the AC2900 class and offers support for MU-MIMO. In addition, it combines 450 Mbit/s at 2.4 GHz and 867 Mbit/s at 5 GHz for client traffic with a wireless dedicated backhaul of up to 1733 Mbit/s at bandwidth. In terms of hardware, Orbi is therefore the best equipped mesh solution available. The nodes in this case are not interchangeable, you get a base station and two supports that all have the same elegant design. Each unit has four gigabit Ethernet ports, with one serving as the wall port on the base station. In addition, each satellite station has a USB 2.0 connection. Finally, the test results of this multi-room WiFi system are also exceptionally good. Orbi manages to secure a podium place on no less than ten of the twelve parts and the average total speed is no less than 175 Mbit/s.

Netgear Orbi Whole Home AC3000 Tri-b
Netgear Orbi

The Chinese TP-Link has long been the undisputed market leader in the Dutch router market and with its Deco M5 system has an excellent introduction into the world of multi-room WiFi systems. Deco M5 has a subdued white design, which is a bit like a smoke detector. Just like on the router market, TP-link is able to offer an unprecedented price-quality ratio: you will find a 3-pack Deco M5 for an average of 315 dollars in our Price Comparison. For that you get an AC1300 mesh system without dedicated backhaul but with support for mu-mimo on board. The system offers a total bandwidth of 1267 Mbit/s, consisting of 400 Mbit/s at 2.4 GHz and 867 Mbit/s at 5 GHz. Here too, each node can be exchanged and you will find two gigabit Ethernet ports on each station, one of which can be used as a wall port. Despite the unbeatably low price for a mesh solution, Deco M5 ends up in the top three in nine out of twelve test items (one gold, three silver and five bronze slices). The average speed is therefore 149 Mbit/s, which is impressive for this price point. 

TP-Link Deco M5 3-pack
TP-Link Deco M5

  • Linksys Velop
  • Netgear Orbi
  • TP-Link Deco M5
  • Limited number of connections
  • It is possible, but difficult, to bypass user registration from Linksys during the initial installation. 
  • Dynamic dedicated backhaul with a bandwidth of 867 Mbit/s 
  • Performance not far from Netgears Orbi at a lower price
  • Design

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  • High price
  • Dedicated backhaul with a bandwidth of 1733 Mbit/s 
  • The best performance
  • It has the most connections
  • Quality design

  • No dedicated backhaul
  • It is operated entirely via an app; there is no web interface.
  • Unrivaled price/performance ratio
  • Accessibly priced
  • Support for MU-MIMO, Alexa and IFTTT (If This, Then That)

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