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Best Mesh Wi-Fi Systems 2020

Our five best mesh Wi-Fi systems fit every need, speed, and budget.

Best overall

Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8)

Price: $449.99
Coverage: 5,500 sq. ft.
# of devices: 2 pack

Best for simplicity

Google Nest Wifi

Price: $299.99
Coverage: 3,800 sq. ft.
# of devices: 2 pack

Best for reliability

NETGEAR Orbi RBK50

Price: $369.99
Coverage: 5,000 sq. ft.
# of devices: 2 pack

Best deal

NETGEAR Orbi RBK13

Price: $229.99
Coverage: 4,500 sq. ft.
# of devices: 3 pack

Best deal on Wi-Fi 6

TP-Link Deco X20

Price: $269.99
Coverage: 5,800 sq. ft.
# of devices: 3 pack

Amazon.com price as of 10/6/20 8:15 a.m. PDT. Read full disclaimer.

Bottom line

Move over, Wi-Fi router—mesh Wi-Fi systems are the hot new way to get home Wi-Fi. You can create a Wi-Fi signal throughout your house with a mesh network without degrading your connection quality.

Still, mesh Wi-Fi systems aren’t cheap. We recommend you make the investment only if you’re facing one of these issues that commonly lead to Wi-Fi dead spots:

  • Your home is over 3,000 square feet
  • Your home has thick internal walls that lead to Wi-Fi dead spots
  • Your home has an unusual floorplan that leads to Wi-Fi dead spots

If any points in the list above sound like you, don’t worry—we’ll help you find the best mesh Wi-Fi system. Otherwise, check out the fastest wireless routers or best Wi-Fi extenders.

P.S. This article has oodles of Amazon links, so you can easily find a place to buy these products. And since we’re an Amazon affiliate, we thought you should know your purchases from those links may earn us a cash kickback. Thanks!

Best mesh networks

To make a mesh network, you need a mesh router (sometimes called a hub) that connects to your modem and one or more satellite modules (or nodes) that carry Wi-Fi signals farther than your router can alone.

In our chart below, you can find a quick overview of the best mesh networks (or systems or kits—there’s a bunch of names folks use interchangeably for these little guys).

Specs and Features Comparison

Model
Best overall
Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8)
(2 pack)
Best for simplicity
Google Nest Wifi
(2 pack)
Best for reliability
NETGEAR Orbi RBK50
(2 pack)
Best deal
NETGEAR Orbi RBK13
(3 pack)
Best deal on Wi-Fi 6
TP-Link Deco X20
(3 pack)
Price Total coverage Wi-Fi 6?
$449.99 5,500 sq. ft.

View on Amazon
$299.99 3,800 sq. ft.

View on Amazon
$369.99 5,000 sq. ft.

View on Amazon
$229.99 4,500 sq. ft.

View on Amazon
$269.99 5,800 sq. ft.

View on Amazon

Amazon.com price as of 10/6/20 8:15 a.m. PDT. Read full disclaimer.

You probably noticed Wi-Fi 6 called out as a mesh network spec. We’ll talk more about Wi-Fi 6 in our “what to look for” section, but the quick and dirty details are that Wi-Fi 6 is the newest Wi-Fi standard for routers.

Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) still works just fine, as it has for years, but Wi-Fi 6 opens the door for even faster speeds—but that doesn’t mean a middle-of-the-road Wi-Fi 6 router will be faster than a top-of-the-line Wi-Fi 5 router.

If you’re investing in the best mesh Wi-Fi system, you should have the best internet service too. Enter your zip code below to find all the internet service providers in your area. (We never share or store this info—no worries.)

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Best overall: Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8)

Price: $449.99 (set of 2)
Coverage: 5,500 sq. ft.
Wireless standard: Wi-Fi 6
Number of bands: 3
Recommended for internet plans: up to 2 gigabits (2,000 Mbps)

Amazon.com price as of 10/6/20 8:15 a.m. PDT. Read full disclaimer.

Pros

  • Powerful performance
  • Built-in security
  • Parental controls

Cons

  • Big price tag

The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) is easily the best Wi-Fi mesh system out today. Its mesh network outperforms the competition, and its mobile app helps guide easy installation, provides mesh network monitoring, and has parental controls.

Even if you’re not a computer expert, the ZenWiFi AX makes it easy to keep your home and family safe and connected.

Plus, this mesh router system won’t take up much space, since it needs only two devices to cover 5,500 square feet. And with options in black or white, you can even match them with your decor.

Go for the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) if you want a high-performing Wi-Fi network and more control over your internet connection.

Mesh network buyers tip:

The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) is the mesh networking kit we’re recommending here, but you might run into similarly named mesh kits on Amazon:

  • Asus ZenWiFi AC (CT8): This model looks almost identical to the ZenWiFi AX, except the Asus logo is silver instead of gold. While it still covers a lot of ground and supports the ZenWiFi app, it doesn’t have Wi-Fi 6.
  • Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini (XD4): This mini model doesn’t provide as much coverage as the ZenWiFi AX, but it offers Wi-Fi 6 at a lower cost.

As a heads up—those links will take you to Amazon, where we might earn money on qualifying purchases.

Best for simplicity: Google Nest Wifi

Price: $299.99 (2 pack)
Coverage: 3,800 sq. ft.
Wireless standard: Wi-Fi 5
Number of bands: 2
Recommended for internet plans: up to 200 Mbps

Amazon.com price as of 10/6/20 8:15 a.m. PDT. Read full disclaimer.

Pros

  • Simple setup
  • Google Assistant in satellites
  • Cute marshmallow look

Cons

  • Few ethernet connections
  • Higher cost than devices with similar coverage

If you need a mesh Wi-Fi system, but all this technical jargon is freaking you out, don’t worry—Google has you covered.

The Google Nest Wifi mesh system is designed for easy setup under ten minutes, with step-by-step instructions on a smartphone app. Everything is integrated, so no high-tech specs will distract you from using a mesh Wi-Fi network.

The satellites have speakers and work as voice-activated Google Assistants (the main router doesn’t), which can make it easier to control other smart devices in your home. And while the router is available only in marshmallow white, the satellites have two more color options.

The Google Nest Wifi has few Ethernet ports, so it’s not the right choice if you prefer a wired internet connection. Google passed on the latest Wi-Fi 6 technology too, but since there aren’t many Wi-Fi 6 compatible devices yet, you won’t be missing out on anything for a while.

Choose the Google Nest Wifi system instead of picking up Mesh Wi-Fi Systems for Dummies. This mesh router system is cute, and it works great without you having to study up.

Best for reliability: NETGEAR Orbi WiFi System (RBK50) AC3000, “Performance 2 Pack”

Price: $369.99 (2 pack)
Coverage: 5,000 sq. ft.
Wireless standard: Wi-Fi 5
Number of bands: 3
Recommended for internet plans: up to 500 Mbps

Amazon.com price as of 10/6/20 8:15 a.m. PDT. Read full disclaimer.

Pros

  • Been around since 2016
  • Voice, security, and outdoor add-on options

Cons

  • A high cost for an aging system
  • A bulky design

If you feel more comfortable with devices that have stood the test of time, the NETGEAR Orbi RBK50 is right up your alley. NETGEAR has tons of mesh Wi-Fi systems available—some newer, cheaper, or faster—but the Orbi RBK50 is still a fan-favorite.

This well-established mesh system offers robust coverage up to 5,000 square feet, and it’s compatible with all other Orbi devices. If you want a satellite for a speaker or one that works outdoors, Orbi has options for you.

The NETGEAR Orbi RBK50 isn’t the most up-to-date option out there, but it’s reliable. If you crave that added security when you’re busting out the big bucks, this is a great choice.

Orbi buyers tip:

Before checkout, you want to be sure you’re ordering the mesh system you set out to find. But with so many Orbi mesh routers and satellites out there, distinguishing between them gets confusing—fast.

We believe you could figure it out, but we also like you, so here’s a cheat sheet to tell Orbi devices apart by model designation:

  • RBK__ is a complete mesh Wi-Fi system
  • RBR__ is a mesh Wi-Fi router
  • RBS__ is a mesh Wi-Fi satellite
  • _____V is a smart speaker with built-in Amazon Alexa
  • _____S includes security with a 1-year NETGEAR Armor™ subscription
  • _____Y works indoors and outdoors

These models always have numbers in the titles. The first one or two numbers are the model type, and the last one is how many devices are included in the set, although sometimes the number is left as “0” if the number of devices isn’t specified.

For example, an Orbi RBK50 two-pack would be called RBK52 (we used RBK50 because you’ll probably see it called that on most other websites). A three-pack would be RBK53. And if you had a pack with one router, one satellite, and one speaker satellite, that would be RBK53V.

With all that cleared up, read on to discover another great Orbi system—the NETGEAR Orbi RBK13.

Best bargain: NETGEAR Orbi WiFi System (RBK13) AC1200

Price: $229.99 (3 pack)
Coverage: 4,500 sq. ft.
Wireless standard: Wi-Fi 5
Number of bands: 2
Recommended for internet plans: up to 100 Mbps

Amazon.com price as of 10/6/20 8:15 a.m. PDT. Read full disclaimer.

Pros

  • Gets the job done
  • Doesn’t take up space

Cons

  • Needs at least three devices to cover much ground

“I. Just. Need. Cheap. Wi-Fi!” you shout from a dead spot in the basement of your 4,500 square foot house. We hear you, as we hear all those lost and yearning for internet connection. We’d suggest snagging the NETGEAR Orbi RBK13.

These tiny little buddies are too small to disrupt your decor, but they’re big enough to wrap your home from head to toe in a big Wi-Fi hug.

And while the Orbi RBK13 has a smaller price tag than other notable mesh systems out there, it’s not fall-apart-garbage cheap.

We recommend the Orbi RBK13 for anyone searching for a deal on a mesh system. Be forewarned, though—these buggers sell out fast, so you’ll have to be ready to pounce when they restock.

Best deal on Wi-Fi 6: TP-Link Deco X20 WiFi 6 Mesh WiFi, AX1800

Price: $269.99/mo.
Coverage: 5,800 sq. ft.
Wireless standard: Wi-Fi 6
Number of bands: 2
Recommended for internet plans: up to 300 Mbps

Amazon.com price as of 10/6/20 8:15 a.m. PDT. Read full disclaimer.

Pros

  • Complete with the newest Wi-Fi standard
  • Fast enough for the average home Wi-Fi needs

Cons

  • 3.7 times slower than Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8)

If you don’t see the point in getting a Wi-Fi 5 device (ye ole 802.11ac) when Wi-Fi 6 is available, but you still want a bargain, you want the TP-Link Deco X20.

A three-pack TP-Link Deco X20 covers about as much ground as the two-pack Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8). But the Deco X20 is 3.7 times slower than ZenWiFi AX, and it has only two bands compared to the ZenWiFi AX’s three.

But on the other hand, it’s a tad faster than the NETGEAR Orbi RBK13 without being much more expensive. So while the TP-Link Deco X20 isn’t taking full advantage of Wi-Fi 6 speeds, it still offers the newest Wi-Fi standard without breaking the bank.

In the end, this choice is best for someone who wants to dabble in next-gen router tech without fully committing to an extra expensive mesh system.

What to look for in a mesh Wi-Fi system

If you’re rearing to head out into the brave new world of mesh Wi-Fi systems and find an option of your own, look for details on each system’s square-foot coverage, Wi-Fi standards, and the number of bands.

Coverage

Wi-Fi coverage is the whole reason to go for a mesh Wi-Fi system in the first place. If your house is sprawling, oddly shaped, has a lot of levels, or has brick, metal, or thick walls—mesh networking will make your life easier.

When you buy a mesh Wi-Fi system, consider how much ground each mesh router and mesh satellite can cover.

Some devices have a lot of coverage, so just two devices will support most homes. Devices that come in three-packs aren’t usually as strong, but if you have a thin three-story house, a three-pack system might be precisely what you need.

If you have your heart set on a specific mesh router, but the pre-built packs can’t cover your square footage, don’t despair. Most brands sell additional satellites, which you can add to your mesh network to extend the range.

Wireless standard

In 2019, 802.11ax debuted as the new Wi-Fi standard with speeds up to 10 Gbps (theoretically, in a lab, and with optimal conditions). That’s about 30% faster than the previous standard, 802.11ac, could ever dream of being.

Along with faster speeds, 802.11ax brought about a lovely change in naming conventions. It’s the sixth generation of the 802.11 wireless standards, so the Wi-Fi alliance dubbed it Wi-Fi 6, and retroactively numbered the previous generations.

Right now, most routers you’ll find on the market are still Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), but some early adopters use Wi-Fi 6 tech.

If you love high speeds and want to be ready for any advances in internet network technology, there are plenty of super-fast Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems out there right now. Try the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) on for size.

But if you’re a pragmatist, either Wi-Fi tech is capable of supporting the download speeds that internet service providers offer today—just be sure to check that the router you buy advertises that it supports the internet speeds you already pay for.

Number of Wi-Fi frequency bands

For traditional routers, two Wi-Fi frequency bands can do the job just fine. You’ve probably run into these when you’re trying to connect to your internet and see one Wi-Fi connection with the router’s typical name, and one with that name plus 5G.

The connection with no number in the name is a 2.4 gigahertz (GHz) frequency, which can support speeds only up to 600 Mbps, but works great as a dedicated connection for your smart home devices.

The connection with the 5G in the name is a 5.0 GHz frequency, which supports speeds up to 1,300 Mbps on high performing Wi-Fi 5 routers. The 5.0 GHz connection works best for your phone, TV, and computer.

Tri-band routers take your connection one step further by adding a second 5.0 GHz frequency band.

In mesh systems, this second 5.0 GHz band (third total) plays an important role because it is dedicated solely to sending your internet data between the satellites and routers in your house without interfering with your current connection’s speed.

While dual-band routers can work just fine for slower internet plans, your tri-band router will be perfect for supporting gigabit mesh Wi-Fi. If you have gigabit speeds (1,000 Mbps) in your large home, make sure you go for a tri-band mesh system to get all the speeds you’re paying for.

Combine your knowledge: Wi-Fi performance names vs. actual speed

Routers often include performance names like AC1800—that’s a Wi-Fi 5 router which can theoretically, in a lab, reach 1,800 Mbps.

But since those theoretical speeds vary from the actual way your router will perform in your home, it’s tricky to nail down which Wi-Fi performance number will support the speeds you pay your internet service provider for.

A Wi-Fi 6, tri-band router with high theoretical speeds is best suited to support a gigabit-speed internet plan. It can use one of its two speedy 5.0 GHz bands specifically to send information from your satellite nodes to your router hub without slowing down your internet performance.

But if your internet plan doesn’t reach gigabit speeds, a superfast router won’t give you faster home Wi-Fi than you pay for. Check below for our recommended router performance benchmarks to match your internet plan.

Wi-Fi performance
AC1200 (dual-band)
AC3000 (tri-band)
AX1800 (dual-band)
AX6600 (tri-band)
Theoretical speed Our recommended plan*
1,200 Mbps 100 Mbps
3,000 Mbps 500 Mbps
1,800 Mbps 300 Mbps
6,600 Mbps 2,000 Mbps (2 Gbps)

*based on the fastest internet plan speed for best performance

To get the most of your internet speeds, reserve the smaller capacity 2.4 GHz for your smart home devices so you can use all the higher speeds from your 5.0 GHz frequency for your phones, tablets, TVs, and computers.

And, as we always harp on here at CableTV.com, an Ethernet cable is still the best way to get all the speeds you pay for. Being wired down is less elegant than home Wi-Fi, but if you need all your bandwidth for a big download, dig an Ethernet cable out of your closet.

Our final take

Mesh Wi-Fi systems are overkill for many homes—strong traditional routers cost less and do the job just fine.

But if your home is large or you’re struggling to transmit Wi-Fi signals through old brick walls, a mesh Wi-Fi system will be a great way to take your Wi-Fi farther.

We wholeheartedly recommend the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8), but we recognize the high cost isn’t in the cards for everyone. Your best option may be a smaller but cheaper set of Wi-Fi mesh devices.

At the end of the day, the most important thing about a Wi-Fi mesh system is that it keeps you and your whole home connected.

Mesh system FAQ

Are Wi-Fi mesh systems worth it?

If your home is over 3,000 square feet or you get dead spots from thick walls or have an unusual floor plan, mesh systems will significantly improve your home internet experience.

However, mesh systems are costly, and we don’t recommend forking out all that cash when another solution will work just as well. If you need your Wi-Fi signal to reach just a bit farther, try a range extender instead.

What is the best Wi-Fi 6 mesh system?

The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) is the best Wi-Fi 6 mesh system, thanks to its fast speeds, strong Wi-Fi signal, and easy-to-use app. It’s also less expensive than many other Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems on the market.

Will a mesh network improve speed?

Your new mesh network may improve your home internet speeds if any of the following points are true:

  • Your new mesh router supports faster speeds than your old traditional router.
  • Your new mesh router replaces range extenders that typically cut speeds in half.
  • Your new mesh router covers areas in your home that used to be dead zones.

However, if your current router already provides the download speeds you’re paying your internet service provider for, you probably won’t see any rise in your home Wi-Fi speeds.

What are the disadvantages of a mesh network?

The main disadvantage of a mesh network is the small fortune it costs to buy the devices.

Mesh networks are necessary only in specific homes that traditional routers struggle to support (the big, the thick-walled, and the strangely-shaped).

And if you start setting up your mesh network now and need more mesh satellites later down the road, you’ll have to buy from the same company as your original system—most mesh routers aren’t compatible with those from other brands.

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CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links. Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on Amazon.com at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. CableTV.com utilizes paid Amazon links.

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