Although mesh networks aren’t a new invention, this is the first year that they have become popular for home use. We’ve reviewed many of the new systems available in the UK, and will be adding more as they launch. Your buying guide to the best mesh Wi-Fi network in 2019 Put simply, a mesh network
Although mesh networks aren’t a new invention, this is the first year that they have become popular for home use. We’ve reviewed many of the new systems available in the UK, and will be adding more as they launch.
Your buying guide to the best mesh Wi-Fi network in 2019
Put simply, a mesh network is two or more Wi-Fi routers which work together to provide much wider Wi-Fi coverage than a single router can. This gives you a single Wi-Fi network even though in the background your devices will seamlessly connect and disconnect from individual routers in the background as you move around.
Some kits have just two units and can’t be expanded, while others can be bought in one, two or three-packs and allow you to add extra coverage when you can afford it or when you need it.
Does it replace my existing router?
No. It’s best to think of mesh system as a replacement for your existing router’s Wi-Fi. You attach one of the devices from a mesh Wi-Fi kit to a spare network port on your router and it creates a new Wi-Fi network to which all your phones, computers, tablets and Wi-Fi smart home gadgets connect.
You then place the second (and third if relevant) mesh device somewhere else in your house, typically on another floor.
The devices all talk to each other and create a single Wi-Fi network that’s both strong and fast across your entire home.
That’s the theory, anyway.
You may find that you can’t get whole-home coverage if a) you have an extremely large home or b) your home has very thick stone, brick or concrete walls. Our reviews are based on a typical three- to four bedroom UK home. If you suspect that a Wi-Fi mesh system won’t work in your home due to its construction, consider Devolo’s Magic 2 Wi-Fi which connects its Wi-Fi hotspots using your existing mains wiring – a technology called powerline networking.
Don’t confuse these with traditional powerline adapters as even kits with Wi-Fi create single hotspots and those don’t use mesh standards for a seamless Wi-Fi network around your home.
Are powerline adaptors a cheaper alternative, though?
Yes. If you just need to get a Wi-Fi signal in one room that your current router can’t reach, you might be able to save money by buying the type of Wi-Fi-enabled powerline kit that we’ve just mentioned.
Check out our powerline reviews for more, but bear in mind that not all powerline kits include Wi-Fi, so cheaper kits will only connect gadgets that have an Ethernet port.
What other benefits do mesh Wi-Fi systems offer?
They’re usually controlled via an app. In some cases this exists mainly just to help you install the system in the first place, but it can also be used to monitor which devices are connected to which hub.
Some apps also let you ‘pause’ the Wi-Fi network but the best let you stop Wi-Fi on certain devices, so you could prevent your kids watching more YouTube videos, for example.
Others include parental controls or scheduling so Wi-Fi is only available at certain times or to certain devices.
Anything else to watch out for?
Yes. Some mesh systems (but not all) prevent Wi-Fi devices from talking to other gadgets that are connected to your main router’s wired network ports. That’s because they don’t support Bridge mode.
For example, you might find you can’t print from your PC as your printer is connected to the Wi-Fi network but your PC is connected via a network cable to your old router.
We explain these limitations in each of the reviews below.
Best mesh Wi-Fi systems 2019
Although the app and setup process could be a bit better, we really have no other major complaints about the Linksys Velop kit.
This new Dual Band mesh system still provides a reliable network with speeds decent enough for most homes. Most of all, it’s far more affordable than many other rivals and the pricey Velop Tri Band.
The Velop Dual Band is a well balanced mesh network that’s unlikely to disappoint.
Read our Linksys Velop Dual Band review.
We can’t fault the Deco’s performance and ease of use, although not many UK homes will need the 4500 square foot of coverage offered by the three-pack. But if you’re looking for a mesh networking kit that can provide a fast, reliable Wi-Fi signal throughout your home, then the Deco will really earn its keep.
Read our TP-Link Deco M5 review.
The cheapest mesh networking system we’ve tested so far, the Nova MW3 can’t match the performance of its pricier competitors, but it still does a great job of delivering a strong Wi-Fi connection in larger homes.
Even if you need three routers rather than two, a 3-pack Nova MW3 costs just £86 from Amazon.co.uk and $95.99 from Amazon.com. That makes it a terrific bargain if you just need to provide a good internet connection around your whole home rather than the ultimate wireless network speeds.
Read our Tenda Nova MW3 review.
The Orbi Voice is very expensive compared to rivals but you have to factor in the way you’re buying multiple products in one. It’s a smart speaker with Alexa as well as a mesh network, and if you already have Orbi kit then you can buy the Voice on its own.
We like the idea of combining what would normally be something you’d hide away with something useful like a smart speaker. Add in that this is one of the fastest mesh networks we’ve tested and you can’t go too wrong.
The app is decent enough so you just need to check if the speaker supports the music streaming service you use.
Read our Netgear Orbi Voice review.
The Whole Home Wi-Fi does a great job in an average UK home and should eliminate any deadspots.
It should also give you a reliable connection at the farthest points from the router, enabling HD video streaming in places where before you may have had a very weak signal.
It’s good to see BT updating the Whole Home Wi-Fi and adding features such as a guest network, with more promised in the future.
It’s great value at this price, and you can buy two extra discs for under £100.
Read our BT Whole Home Wi-Fi review.
Devolo’s Magic Powerline & Mesh Wi-Fi system offers the best of both worlds in terms of home networking. Using the latest G.hn network standard, it has the potential to blow away other Powerline adapters, and with advanced Mesh capabilities (Fast Roaming, Band Steering, Config Sync, and Airtime Fairness) it should excel in larger homes that require more than one extra Wi-Fi hotspot.
Speeds are fast, but you’re paying for Powerline and Mesh so this is best suited to homes that require more than one extra Wi-Fi hotspot. If you’re after a fast Mesh system this one really delivers.
Smaller homes (where you don’t need an extra Wi-Fi hotspot or just the one) might get much the same performance from cheaper non-Mesh Powerline-only systems.
Read our Devolo Magic 2 Wi-Fi review.
If you’re after a mesh Wi-Fi system in a large home with thick walls where Wi-Fi cannot penetrate, the P7 could be exactly what you need. It’s more expensive than other mesh systems, but worth it if a Wi-Fi-only mesh system won’t work in your situation.
Read our TP-Link Deco P7 review.
Although its app is a little basic, most people won’t care or need the advanced options it lacks. Plus, the new lower price makes this latest Orbi kit a decent deal for those with smaller homes, but with the peace of mind that it can also be expanded with extra satellites.
Read our Netgear Orbi RBK30 review.
9. Google Wifi
Google’s mesh system is both good looking and fast. It isn’t the cheapest, but you can buy the routers singly so you only buy what you need.
Overall, it provides a good all-round combination of performance, reliability and ease of use.
Read our Google Wifi review.
The Gryphon Smart WiFi Mesh doesn’t win an award for value. In fact, it’s one of the more expensive systems you can get.
However, if you need a mesh network that combines nice design, but more importantly performance and parental controls then this is a great option.
It’s particularly noteworthy what a good job Gryphon has done with the app, giving parents an excellent amount of control over users and even individual apps.
Read our Gryphon Smart WiFi Mesh System review.