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Best mesh Wi-Fi systems for 2021: Mesh Wi-Fi routers and points

best mesh routers

You can upgrade the wireless coverage for even the largest homes with one of the best mesh routers. Whether you're dealing with a multi-story home or signal-dampening brick walls, a mesh router can do what a standalone router simply can't, pushing strong Wi-Fi signal to every part of your home. With multiple devices creating a single Wi-Fi network that blankets a home in strong signal, a mesh router is the best option for solving problems of weak or missing signal.

Whether you want better Wi-Fi in the farthest room, the top floor of the house, or even getting coverage in the garage or backyard, even a basic mesh system is a step up. We've tested and reviewed the most popular mesh routers you can buy, from wireless-AC models to the best Wi-Fi 6 mesh kits, evaluating the performance, range and usability of each one to help you find the best mesh system for your home.

Whether you need a mesh router for inexpensive whole-house coverage or security that covers all of your connected devices, here are the best mesh Wi-Fi routers to buy now.

The best mesh routers for going back to school

Going back to school has changed in the last year, with remote learning and online study taking center stage like never before. You need great Wi-Fi that can handle the demands of the whole family, in every part of the house. 

When you're likely to have children from elementary school to college trying to handle online classes while parents work from home, you need the best Wi-Fi coverage you can get. Something that covers every room, without lag, and offers security and parental controls as part of the package.

Thankfully, whether you want a modest two-unit system for a medium sized home or a three or four-pack to cover larger houses, the mesh routers listed here all offer great speeds, excellent performance and plenty of handy features. They'll walk you through the set up, protect you from hackers and malware, and even offer Wi-Fi 6 at pretty reasonable prices.

Check out our picks for the Ultimate back to school guide 2021 for the best gear and deals for this school year.

What are the best mesh routers?

Our pick for the best mesh routers is the Nest WiFi, Google's own mesh Wi-Fi solution. It offers excellent performance throughout the house, and features easy setup and great smart home integration. It also has a killer feature the other best mesh routers can't match: Built in Google Home smart speakers in every mesh extension, giving you voice interaction that can extend to every room of the house. 

The Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) is another mesh networking favorite, with great Wi-Fi 6 performance and easy setup. The individual units deliver some of the best data speeds available, and Netgear offers a range of extensions, including weatherproof outdoor extensions and the Netgear Orbi Voice, which has Amazon Alexa built in.

The best mesh routers right now

Best mesh routers: Nest WiFi

(Image credit: Google)

1. Nest WiFi

The best mesh router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/dual band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 4/No
Ports: Two 1-Gbps LAN
Peak Throughput: 653.2 Mbps
Size: 4.3 x 4.3 x 3.6 inches
Reasons to buy
+Excellent performance+Google Assistant built in+Easy setup
Reasons to avoid
-Short range-Minimal configuration options

If you want the best mesh Wi-Fi solution available, Google's Nest WiFi is the best you can get. It offers superb performance, a dead-simple setup process and it delivers Wi-Fi coverage that can expand coverage to handle everything from a small home to large estate.

But the Nest WiFi has something no other mesh kit does, with a Google Home smart speaker built into every mesh extension. The compact units let you control the router with voice commands, along with every other connected device in your house, from smart lights to your smart TV.

Adding additional Nest extensions adds new Google Home units in other rooms, seamlessly giving you a voice assistant in any room of the house. And if you still have an old Google WiFi system gathering dust, you can add those to extend the mesh coverage, too. If you want the best and simplest mesh WiFi solution for your home, this is it.

Read our full Nest WiFi review.

Best mesh routers: Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852)

(Image credit: Netgear)

2. Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852)

The best Wi-Fi 6 mesh router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: AX6000/Tri Band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 8/No
Ports: Router – 1 WAN/4 LAN; Satellite – 4 LAN
Peak Throughput: 883.6Mbps
Size: 10.0 x 7.5 x 2.8 inches
Reasons to buy
+Top Wi-Fi 6 mesh performance+Malware protection+Excellent wall and ceiling penetration
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Large

The Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) is the Orbi we have been waiting for, combining everything we love about Netgear's premiere mesh Wi-Fi solution with the futureproof capabilities and blinding speeds of Wi-Fi 6. Easy setup and a great performance are the hallmarks of the Orbi model line, and the newest model doesn't disappoint.

The RBK852 serves up category leading performance with strong signal that punched through ceilings, floors and walls with ease, and built-in security blankets your home with a layer of online protection along with the zippy Wi-Fi. If you’re looking for the easiest and fastest mesh networking kit on the market, the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) does the trick with excellent performance, particularly for those in older homes with lots of walls. When it comes to mesh Wi-Fi 6 devices, the Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) is the one to beat.

Read our full Netgear Orbi WiFi 6 (RBK852) review.

Best mesh routers: TP-Link Deco X20

(Image credit: TP-Link)

Best value mesh Wi-Fi system

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 4/No
Ports: 1 WAN Gigabit Ethernet, 1 LAN Gigabit Ethernet
Throughput: 574 Mbps (2.4 GHz)/1201 Mbps (5 GHz)
Size: 4.33 x 4.33 x 4.49 inches
Reasons to buy
+Small router and satellites+Inexpensive+Excellent range+Extra security
Reasons to avoid
-No dedicated backchannel for data-Lack of customization options

Inexpensive, small and easy to set up, TP-Link’s Deco X20 mesh networking kit is a cheap thrill that can help fill a home with Wi-Fi 6 data while protecting a family’s identities with an extra layer of online security. If you want mesh capability and Wi-Fi 6, the TP-Link Deco X20 is the best budget option for covering larger homes with better speed and capability than any older 802.11ac system can match. It even earned the runner up for best mesh router in our 2021 Tom's Guide Awards. Selling in a 3-pack of matching units, the Deco X20 covers up to 5,800 square feet, and can manage up to 150 separate connected devices.

With dual-band connectivity and two gigabit wired connections on each node, the Deco X20 offers great coverage and connectivity with easy setup and management. TP-Link gives you all the tools you need in the accompanying Deco app, which lets you set up your network quickly and control the individual features of the network with illustrated, easy-to-navigate menus. It also protects, with WPA3 encryption and a lifetime subscription to TP-Link HomeCare security and antivirus included with the set.

Read our full TP-Link Deco X20 review. 

Linksys Velop AX4200 review

(Image credit: Linksys)

4. Linksys Velop AX4200

Affordable Wi-Fi 6 for bigger homes

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Tri-Band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 8/No
Ports: 1 WAN/3 LAN, USB 3.0 (per unit)
Peak Throughput: 507.7Mbps
Size: 9.6 x 4.5 x 4.5 inches
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive mesh kit+Good throughput with dynamic tri-band operation+Three-year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-No security software-Slow set up

The Linksys Velop AX4200 mesh kit offers tri-band Wi-Fi 6 that can cover a large home in Wi-Fi signal without the higher prices of many Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems. That was enough to get it named the best mesh router in our 2021 Tom's Guide Awards. With decent throughput and great range – the three-pack we reviewed can fill 8,000 square feet, and is easily expanded with additional units – this affordable mesh system offers simple configuration tools and a generous three-year warranty. It also has USB connectivity, a small touch, but one that some users will hugely appreciate.

But it's not the fastest mesh kit on the block, lagging behind more expensive competitors and offering none of the extra security and customization options you'd get from other manufacturers. That said, the three-pack Linksys Velop AX4200 is one of the best bargains in mesh networking at the moment, offering a relatively cheap way to set up a wide-ranging Wi-Fi network in a big house.

Read our full Linksys Velop AX4200 review.

Eero Pro 6 review

(Image credit: Eero)

5. Eero Pro 6

Wi-Fi 6 speeds with incredible convenience

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Tri-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 7/No
Ports: 2 Ethernet on each unit
Throughput: 438.2Mbps
Size: 5.3 x 5.3 x 1.9 inches
Reasons to buy
+Great range+Dynamic tri-band operation+Easy fast setup
Reasons to avoid
-Devices have only two Ethernet ports-Moderate throughput close up-No USB ports

The Eero Pro 6 combines tri-band Wi-Fi 6 networking with a mesh setup that's quicker and easier than pretty much any mesh system we've reviewed, making it the best way to get great performance throughout your home without much hassle. With a single unit covering 2,000 square feet with reasonably fast Wi-Fi, the three-pack Eero Pro 6 will blanket up to 6,000 square feet with ease - and we set up the three-piece system in about 11 minutes.

It may not have the highest throughput, but the Eero Pro 6 mesh kit does well at mid-range distances where others peter out, is quick to set up and automatically adjusts just about everything. If you want granular customization, then tools like band steering, local DNS caching and home automation tools, it's got those, too. But the Eero Pro 6 does it's best when it lets you set it and forget it, giving you speedy Wi-Fi 6 without the hassles.

Read our full Eero Pro 6 review. 

Netgear Orbi RBK752 review

(Image credit: Netgear)

6. Netgear Orbi RBK752

A less expensive version of the Wi-Fi 6 Orbi

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Tri-Band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 6/No
Ports: Router – 1 WAN/3 LAN; Satellite – 2 LAN
Peak Throughput: 506.7 Mbps
Size: 9.4 x 6.5 x 2.0 inches
Reasons to buy
+Malware protection+Tri-band operation+Easy setup
Reasons to avoid
-Large-90-day support policy-Short range

The Netgear Orbi RBK752  is the smaller and cheaper alternative to one of the best Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems on the market, the highly ranked Netgear Orbi RBK852. Selling in a two-pack that can cover up to 5,000 square feet, the cheaper Orbi RBK752 has fewer internal antennas and a less powerful processor, which translate into reduced throughput and range. That makes it well-suited to mid-sized homes, but you'll want to step up to the 3- or 4-packs for larger coverage areas. They may be more expensive, but buying them as a package will be cheaper than adding single satellite units.

The cheaper Wi-Fi 6 Orbi doesn’t place as much emphasis on raw performance, but does manage to include an impressive array of customization options, and offers a way to get the ease of Netgear's excellent mesh networking gear and decent speeds throughout your home for less than the more expensive version.

Read our full Netgear Orbi RBK752 review.

Best mesh routers: TP-Link Deco M9 Plus

(Image credit: TP-Link)

Convenience meets security

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Tri-Band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 8/No
Ports: Two 1Gbps LAN, USB (“reserved”)
Peak Throughput: 570.5Mbps
Size: 6.0 by 6.0 by 1.5 inches
Reasons to buy
+Home Automation connections+Simple, straight-forward setup+Network security software
Reasons to avoid
-Need to use TP-Link Deco app

With a quick setup process and the ability to offer whole-home Wi-Fi connection while controlling all sorts of smart home devices, TP-Link's Deco M9 Plus Smart Home Mesh Wi-Fi System (sold in a three pack) can almost do it all. The Deco M9 Plus uses a trio of compact extensions that are easy to hide or mount on the wall and can cover up to 6,500 square feet with a strong wireless signal.

Built-in conveniences like security – including intrusion prevention, a malicious-content filter and infected-device quarantine – make it easy to manage your home network, but we did find the overall performance to be mediocre when the system had to deal with walls and ceilings.

While it lacks top performance, the Deco M9 Plus is still the best mesh Wi-Fi kit to get if you care more about a simple setup procedure than about top speed. And while each Deco unit has a built-in USB port, it's not enabled (yet), so there's no way to connect USB devices like printers and storage.

Read our full TP-Link Deco M9 Plus review.
  

Best mesh routers: Eero

(Image credit: Eero)

8. Eero Mesh Wi-Fi Router

A great mesh bargain

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Dual Band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 4/No
Ports: Two 1Gbps LAN
Peak Throughput: 342.1 Mbps
Size: 3.9 x 3.9 x 2.4 inches
Reasons to buy
+Easy setup+Small, easy-to-hide devices+Extra security available
Reasons to avoid
-Low performance-Expensive security options

If you want a simple Wi-Fi solution that won't leave dead spots in your home, the 2019 Eero mesh router is one of the best bargains in mesh networking today. The Eero three-pack of mesh devices is affordable, and each unit is easy to hide away, thanks to its compact design. While the range and performance aren't groundbreaking, it's easy to fill a home with capable Wi-Fi signal without spending an arm and a leg.

Set up is easily handled with a smartphone, and configuration is designed for anyone to use. There's even an option for robust network security, though it comes with a monthly subscription fee. You can also connect the Eero system to an Alexa smart speaker if you want to add voice controls to your home network.

Read our full Eero mesh router review.
  

Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) review

(Image credit: Asus)

9. Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8)

A great whole-home solution

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Tri-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 6/No
Ports: 1 WAN (2.5Gbps)/3 LAN (Gbps), USB 3.0
Throughput: 701.0Mbps
Size: 6.6 x 6.3 x 2.9 inches
Reasons to buy
+Good Wi-Fi 6 performance+Protects against malware+Tri-band design+Two-year warranty
Reasons to avoid
-Can take long time to reconnect satellites-Short range

The Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) puts Wi-Fi 6 mesh networking into an easy-to-use package that's excellent for all sorts of mid-range homes. With its tri-band design and Wi-Fi 6 performance, the Asus ZenWiFi AX comes through with the ability to fill a moderate-sized home with wireless data. It may not be the fastest mesh kit, but the ZenWiFi AX’s two-year warranty and built-in security can give a family network “administrator” the peace of mind that the data will get through.

The sleek-looking design isn't festooned with antennas, nor is it blinking with an array of lights. Instead the ZenWiFi keeps things sedate with a design that could be used as bookend on a shelf, and a size that makes competing mesh systems look downright bulky. Plus, if you already have an Asus router at home, chances are pretty good that you can add it to the ZenWiFi's mesh network for even more coverage area, making it a great way to expand the coverage without giving up current hardware that you love.

Read our full Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8) review.

Best mesh routers: Linksys Max Stream MR9600

(Image credit: Linksys)

10. Linksys Max Stream MR9600

Our favorite mesh-capable router

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 4/No
Ports: 1 WAN/4 LAN gigabit per second, 2 USB 3.0
Throughput: 822.0 Mbps
Size: 11.0 x 6.8 x 5.6 inches
Reasons to buy
+Can create mesh network with other Linksys equipment+Small and easy to hide
Reasons to avoid
-Mediocre performance-Lacks port aggregation

The Linksys Max Stream MR9600 is a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 router that is among the smallest and least obtrusive Wi-Fi 6 routers, but promises huge coverage when you need it. Able to work either as a standalone router or to create a mesh network by linking it with other Linksys networking gear, the MR9600 offers the choice of a single unit for smaller homes and apartments, or it can be incorporated into a mesh setup with other Linksys networking devices, giving you the unique ability to expand coverage for larger homes.

The small size makes it easy to fit onto a shelf or desk, but the streamlined design does leave little room for ports -- with only a WAN port, four LAN ports and two USB 3.0 connectors, the rear panel of the Linksys Max Stream MR9600 is uncluttered, but we wish it offered the two-line aggregation seen on many competing Wi-Fi 6 models.

Read our full Linksys Max Stream MR9600 review.  

Best mesh routers: Netgear AX1800 4-Stream Mesh Extender (EAX20)

(Image credit: Netgear)

11. Netgear AX1800 4-Stream Mesh Extender (EAX20)

Best mesh extender

Specifications
Wi-Fi Spec: Wi-Fi 6/Dual-band
Number of Antennas/Removable: 4 internal/No
Ports: 4 gigabit Ethernet
Throughput: 375.4Mbps
Size: 9.5 x 6.7 x 2.5 inches
Reasons to buy
+Wi-Fi 6 support with 802.11ax operations+Customization and built-in security+Offers mesh compatibility with other devices
Reasons to avoid
-Large-No USB ports

If you want to switch to a mesh network without ditching your current router, there's no better option than the Netgear AX1800 Mesh Extender (EAX20), a desktop Wi-Fi extender that can create a mesh network with just about any Wi-Fi router or ISP gateway. With Wi-Fi 6 speeds and even mesh capability built right in, the Netgear EAX20 is one of the best Wi-Fi extenders you can get, and the only choice for adding mesh coverage to a standalone Wi-Fi 6 router.

While not everyone will be excited about it's large desktop design – without a plug-in design, there's no hiding this extender behind the couch or in the corner – and a price that's more expensive than some routers, the proof is in the performance. And boy, does the Netgear EAX20 deliver, with category-leading speeds and an awesome 95-foot range.

Read our full Netgear AX1800 Mesh Extender (EAX20) review.

How to choose the best mesh router for you

Finding the right mesh Wi-Fi system starts with deciding whether you even need one. 

Coverage: If you have a large home of 3,000 square feet or more, a regular router won't cut it. The same is true of multistory homes and oddly laid out houses, which don't necessarily match the range pattern of coverage most standalone routers deliver. And even if your home looks like it may be well-served by a regular wireless router, there are plenty of obstacles and signal-disruptions that can make it difficult to get strong Wi-Fi coverage in every part of your home.

The basic guideline is this: If your router leaves you with dead spots in your home or even in your yard, you would probably be better off with a mesh Wi-Fi system instead.

Speed: Picking the right mesh Wi-Fi system is much like any other Wi-Fi device. Our reviews look at design, range and throughput performance,  setup, and which settings you can adjust. We look at security protections and parental controls. We even look at whether a mesh extension is easy to adopt into your home decor, or whether it's something you'll want to tuck away out of sight. Any of our reviews will dig into these aspects of a product, and will also highlight any unique features you may want to consider in your decision making, like whether you want voice interaction, or how well a mesh solution pairs with other connected devices in the home.

Ports: Though wireless connectivity is the main thing you want from a mesh Wi-Fi kit, you'll also want to think about wired connections. Ethernet offers faster connectivity for devices like game consoles and smart TVs that use more bandwidth, and USB ports are handy for attaching a printer or storage to your network. But not every mesh system has physical ports, so make sure you get a system that will meet your needs.

Price: For many shoppers, though, it all comes down to value — which extender provides the most for the lowest cost. So we also consider what you really get for your money, weighing what features and performance are worthwhile, and how any given product compares with other devices from other manufacturers.

Mesh routers range in price from $120 to $400 or more. Because mesh systems use multiple devices, you can generally buy a complete mesh system as a two- or three-unit package. You can also buy individual satellite units to extend a mesh network to a broader area. Individual units generally sell for $100 to 200, although specialized units offering added functions may cost more.

In the end, our top picks are listed here because they are the best mesh Wi-Fi systems you can buy. Whether it's a question of performance, value or features, we call out the products that deliver the best bang for your buck, and explain why it might be the right choice for your home.

How we test mesh routers

Every router we review has been rigorously tested in our Utah and New York facilities, using Ixia's IxChariot software to measure throughput at distances that are between 5 and 150 feet. As with standard routers, we test performance at a distance to provide real-world information about coverage and speeds.

We also test how well each router transmits and receives signals through drywall, brick, concrete and even metal walls; and how each handles coverage of a two- or three-story home.

Mesh Wi-Fi spreads wireless signal throughout the home.

Mesh routers get additional testing to see how well each system does when sending a signal through the main router and through the included satellite units. Beyond simple throughput tests, we also perform detailed heat map testing to determine how well a mesh system distributes signals over a larger coverage area — a test that involves taking dozens of measurements throughout our lab space. We use each mesh router with several connected devices in a real home that contains thick walls.

Other factors used in evaluating the routers include ease of setup and use, software features and available ports.

Check out all of our home networking coverage:

Best Wi-Fi routers | Best Wi-Fi 6 routers |  Best gaming routers |  Best Wi-Fi extenders | Best powerline extenders 

Brian Westover
Brian Westover is an Editor at Tom's Guide, covering everything from TVs to the latest PCs. Prior to joining Tom's Guide, he wrote for TopTenReviews and PCMag.
  • jacksmith21006
    Two things not considered and should be. First, is security. Google has found Broadpwn, Cloudbleed, Heartbleed, Shellshock, Meltdown and Spectre and have a security chip inside the GW.

    Google developed their own security chip which is inside the GW to lock the boot image to the hardware. So you are going to get a far more secure solution then any other.

    The other aspect is the Google App is just a lot better then any other router. We have the Google WiFi and could not be happier.
    Reply
  • ale5506
    In amazon comparison, it says 3,000 Mb/s as data transfer for Netgear Orbi, against 1,200 Mb/s for Google Wifi. Does it mean I will have a faster connection speed on Netgear ? My network speed is 240 Mbps.
    Reply
  • wolfc01
    Please advice readers and point to forums where experiences are shared about those stuff.

    I share here my experience with linksys: it is good stuff hardware-wise, but Linksys definitely does not have the firmware software quality under control.

    I had 2 systems of linksys: (One wrt router, and a VELOP 3 node system later on) both were suffering from bad automatic firmware updates. The VELOP worked flawlessly for 3 months then broke as result of a firmware update.
    Reply