Best cheap mesh Wi-Fi systems of 2024

Best cheap mesh Wi-Fi systems
(Image credit: Tenda)

With one of the best cheap mesh Wi-Fi systems you can fill a moderate-sized home or even a large apartment with a strong Wi-Fi signal on a budget. This can be a lifesaver when one of the best Wi-Fi routers just doesn’t cut it and you have internet dead zones in the farthest rooms of your house or even in your garage.

Unlike the best mesh Wi-Fi systems which can range from anywhere to $200 all the way up to $1500 for one of Netgear’s Orbi mesh kits, all of the devices in this guide can be had for $100 or less. While they may lack some premium features like additional Ethernet ports and support for Wi-Fi 6E or even Wi-Fi 6, these cheap mesh Wi-Fi systems allow you to spread your Wi-Fi signal even further.

Although you can use one of the best Wi-Fi extenders to improve the coverage of your existing Wi-Fi router, these devices often create separate networks. This means that you will have to constantly switch networks manually which can get annoying real fast. With a mesh Wi-Fi system though, the router and its satellites create one Wi-Fi network that is spread across your whole home or apartment.

These are the best cheap mesh Wi-Fi systems we’ve thoroughly tested and reviewed so that you can find the right device for your needs without breaking the bank.

The best cheap mesh Wi-Fi systems available today

Why you can trust Tom's Guide Our writers and editors spend hours analyzing and reviewing products, services, and apps to help find what's best for you. Find out more about how we test, analyze, and rate.

Front view of TP-Link Deco M3

(Image credit: TP-Link)
The best cheap mesh Wi-Fi system overall

Specifications

Wi-Fi spec: AC1200
Number of antennas/removable: 2/No
Ports: 1 WAN, 1 LAN (router), no ports (satellites)
Measured peak throughput: 544.5Mbps (at 15 feet)
Size: 7.4 x 3.6 x 3.6 inches (router): 4.9 x 2.7 x 1.3 inches (nodes)

Reasons to buy

+
Quick setup
+
Wi-Fi optimization
+
Two-year warranty with 24/7 support

Reasons to avoid

-
Two antenna design
-
Satellites lack Ethernet ports

The Deco M3 from TP-Link looks a bit different than most other mesh Wi-Fi systems as its satellites look a lot more like Wi-Fi extenders. Don’t let that turn you off though as this mesh Wi-Fi system performed quite well in our tests despite its lower price. With our test system 15 feet away, it was able to reach speeds of 544.5 Mbps. 

While the Deco M3’s router looks similar to other mesh products from TP-Link, its satellites actually plug directly into the wall and don’t require a separate power cable. This makes them easier to hide around your house, but they don’t have an Ethernet port for connecting other devices like a laptop to them. An LED light at the top of the router provides information on the status of your network with green indicating its online but it turns red if there’s an issue with the connection. The M3’s router also has an additional Ethernet port that you can use to connect other devices or even a network switch if you need more ports.

Read our full TP-Link Deco M3 review.

MeshForce M3

(Image credit: MeshForce)
The best looking cheap mesh Wi-Fi system

Specifications

Wi-Fi spec: AC1200
Number of antennas/removable: 2/No
Ports: 1 WAN, 1 LAN (router), 1 gigabit Ethernet port (satellite)
Measured peak throughput: 198.4Mbps (at 15 feet)
Size: 4.0 x 4.0 x 3.6 inches (router): 4.4 x 2.6 x 1.8 inches (satellites)

Reasons to buy

+
Attractive design
+
Satellites have an Ethernet port

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor performance
-
Two antenna design
-
Extra nodes cost $69

Just like with the TP-Link Deco M3, the MeshForce M3’s satellites plug directly into a wall outlet, though they stick out a bit further. However, they have one gigabit Ethernet port for connecting wired devices. This budget mesh Wi-Fi system is available in either black or white to match your home’s decor. If two satellites aren't enough for you, you can also buy extra units, though they are a bit on the expensive side at $69 each.

According to MeshForce, the M3 three-piece kit can cover up to 4,500 square feet with Wi-Fi. Although the M3 had a range of 105 feet during our testing, performance wasn’t that great with a speed of 198.4 Mbps at 15 feet. Still, the MeshForce My Mesh app makes it easy to see how many devices are connected and you can also turn the satellite’s LEDs on or off. The M3 also comes with a one-year warranty and lifetime support.

Read our full MeshForce M3 review.

Vilo VLWF01

(Image credit: Vilo)
A powerful and compact cheap mesh Wi-Fi system

Specifications

Wi-Fi spec: AC1200
Number of antennas/removable: 4/No
Ports: 3 gigabit Ethernet ports (router and satellites)
Measured peak throughput: 455.4Mbps (at 15 feet)
Size: 5.8 x 2.7 x 2.7 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Four antenna design
+
Kit includes three units
+
Small towers with easy setup

Reasons to avoid

-
Lacks 24/7 support

The Vilo VLWF01 looks a lot more like other mesh Wi-Fi systems with its three mini towers that are only 5.8 inches tall. Each unit has three gigabit Ethernet ports and you need to choose which one will act as the router during setup. Like with the MeshForce M3, you can add other Vilo units to your network at a much cheaper $40 a pop, but Vilo recommends you don’t use more than eight in the same network.

Each Vilo unit can cover up to 1,500 square feet with Wi-Fi and the three pack can fill a 4,500 square foot home. During our testing, this mesh Wi-Fi kit had a range of 95 feet and was able to reach speeds of 455.4 Mbps at 15 feet. The LED above the button at the front of VLWF01 glows blue when it’s online and changes to red if there’s a problem with the network.

Read our full Vilo VLWF01 review.

Tenda Nova MW6

(Image credit: Tenda)
An affordable, cube-shaped cheap mesh Wi-Fi system

Specifications

Wi-Fi spec: AC1200
Number of antennas/removable: 2/No
Ports: 2 gigabit Ethernet ports (router and satellites)
Measured peak throughput: 277.1Mbps (at 15 feet)
Size: 3.9 x 3.9 x 3.9 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Quick, easy setup
+
Wall-mountable

Reasons to avoid

-
Low throughput
-
Two antenna design

The Tenda Nova MW6 is a two or three-piece mesh Wi-Fi kit that stands out due to the cube-shaped design of its devices. At the bottom of each unit, you’ll find two gigabit Ethernet ports along with a hole for the power cable. Managing the cables coming from each MW6 device is also easy thanks to a cutout at the back but they can even be wall mounted if you’re short on bookshelf or counter space.

According to Tenda Nova, each MW6 device can cover up to 2,000 square feet with Wi-Fi which means the three pack can cover 6,000 square feet. In our testing, this mesh Wi-Fi system had a range of 95 feet and was able to move 277.1 Mbps at 15 feet. The Tenda app makes it easy to manage your mesh network. The MW6 comes with a one-year warranty with lifetime tech support.

Read our full Tenda Nova MW6 review.

WavLink Halo Base X2

(Image credit: WavLink)
The best cheap mesh Wi-Fi system on a shoestring budget

Specifications

Wi-Fi spec: AC1200
Number of antennas/removable: 4/No
Ports: 2 gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 100 Mbps Ethernet port (router): 2 gigabit Ethernet ports, 1 100 Mbps Ethernet port (satellites)
Measured peak throughput: 409.1Mbps (at 15 feet)
Size: 4.0 x 3.6 x 3.6 inches

Reasons to buy

+
Four antenna design
+
Touch to connect technology built-in

Reasons to avoid

-
Poor performance
-
Some Ethernet ports are just 100 Mbps

The WavLink Halo Base is available in either a two-piece or three-piece kit, but the company doesn’t sell additional satellites on their own for those that want to expand their network later. While each of the units has three Ethernet ports, only two of them are gigabit speed while the other is limited to just 100 Mbps. At the same time, the Halo Base units may look similar in design, but they’re actually preconfigured with one acting as the router and the others as satellites.

According to WavLink, each unit can cover 1,500 square feet and a three-pack can fill 4,500 square feet with Wi-Fi. In our testing, we saw download speeds of 409.1 Mbps at a distance of 15 feet though each unit has a range of 95 feet. Unlike with some of the other mesh Wi-Fi systems on this list, WavLink lets you configure your network using either its WavRouter app or a connected browser.

Read our full WavLink Halo Base review

Is it worth buying a cheap mesh Wi-Fi system?

Infographic showing mesh Wi-Fi router system in use

(Image credit: Future)

The answer to this question actually depends on your internet speed and your current internet plan. If you have a gigabit internet plan and want to take full advantage of the speeds you pay for, you’re likely better off going with a slightly more expensive mesh Wi-Fi system like the TP-Link Deco X20 ($179, Amazon) which has Wi-Fi 6 and can support even more connected devices. 

However, if your internet plan is less than 500 Mbps and you don’t really want to pay a whole lot for better Wi-Fi, a cheap mesh Wi-Fi system might be worth it. Since all of the systems listed above are so inexpensive, they’re actually not that much more than what you would pay for two Wi-Fi extenders with the added bonus that you don’t have to manually switch networks. 

It’s really up to you, but if you have internet dead zones, lots of connected devices or a large apartment or even a house, a mesh Wi-Fi system can truly change the way you get online at home. Once you use one, you’ll likely ask yourself why you didn’t make the switch sooner.

How we test the best cheap mesh Wi-Fi systems

We test every mesh Wi-Fi system to measure performance and range, using Ixia's IxChariot software. Testing is done in a multi-story home with brick walls. As with standard routers, we test performance at a distance to provide real-world information about coverage and speeds. In addition to lab testing, we evaluate the ease-of-setup and features of each device.

We measure performance at a 5-foot distance without obstructions, so that we can gauge the maximum amount of data that the router can move. Higher throughput will serve you better in data-heavy uses, like streaming video, gaming, or connecting multiple users at once.

Range measures the furthest usable distance for the router. Longer ranges are better for larger homes, where rooms are spread out at a distance. We measure how much data a router can move at 5, 50, 75 and 100 feet, as well as what the maximum coverage area of a mesh Wi-Fi system is.

We also test how well each mesh Wi-Fi system transmits and receives signals through drywall, brick, concrete and even metal walls; and how each handles coverage of a two- or three-story home. They also get additional testing to see how well each system does when sending a signal through the main router and through the included satellite units.

For more information, check out our how we test page for Tom's Guide.

Anthony Spadafora
Senior Editor Security and Networking

Anthony Spadafora is the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to password managers and the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. Before joining the team, he wrote for ITProPortal while living in Korea and later for TechRadar Pro after moving back to the US. Based in Houston, Texas, when he’s not writing Anthony can be found tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.