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Best mesh routers for 2021: The best mesh Wi-Fi systems

best mesh routers

The best mesh routers can give your home stronger and wider-reaching wireless internet coverage than any solo router or Wi-Fi extender could hope to manage. With multiple devices creating a single Wi-Fi network that blankets a home in strong signal, a mesh router is the best option for fixing weak and missing signal in large homes. They handle all the farthest rooms and corners with ease, and can provide coverage to different floors of multi-story homes.

Even a basic mesh system can give you whole-home coverage and superb, seamless Wi-Fi performance everywhere in the house. And that includes your backyard and garage. We've tested more than a dozen mesh routers, from wireless-AC models to the best Wi-Fi 6 mesh kits, evaluating the performance and usability of each one to help you find the best mesh Wi-Fi kit 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.

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

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

Excellent performance
Google Assistant built in
Easy setup
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

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

Top Wi-Fi 6 mesh performance
Malware protection
Excellent wall and ceiling penetration
Very expensive

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

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

Small router and satellites
Excellent range
Extra security
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. 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. 

Best mesh routers: Netgear Orbi

(Image credit: Netgear)

4. Netgear Orbi (RBK50)

An excellent mesh router for the whole home

Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Tri Band | Number of Antennas/Removable: 6/No | Ports: Four 1Gbps LAN, USB 2.0 | Peak Throughput: 552.1Mbps | Size: 8.9 x 6.7 x 3.1 inches

Great performance
Choice of app or browser setup
Relatively large devices

The 802.11ac Netgear Orbi (RBK50) checks all the right boxes: strong performance, easy setup and flexibility to handle homes large and small. It's a long-time leader in the mesh Wi-Fi category, and is still one of the best mesh Wi-Fi systems you can get.

Even without the mesh extensions, the Orbi's base unit is one of the fastest routers we've ever tested. Pair it with an Orbi extension and the system easily covers a 5,000-square-foot home, and it does just as well through walls and up and down floors in a multistory home.

On top of this great performance, the Orbi also offers best-in-class flexibility, with add-on units that make it one of the best Alexa speakers, plug-and-play expansion and even weatherproofed satellite units for outdoor coverage. Pair this with excellent security and parental controls, and it's no wonder so many people love the Netgear Orbi.

(One of our editors bought one, and he says "This mesh router is the best thing I bought during the pandemic")

Read our full Netgear Orbi (RBK50) review

Best mesh routers: Linksys Velop

(Image credit: Linksys)

5. Linksys Velop

Great for large homes

Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Tri-Band | Number of Antennas/Removable: 6/No | Ports: Two 1Gbps LAN | Peak Throughput: 527.1Mbps | Size: 3.0 x 3.0 x 7.5 inches

Dedicated connection between devices
Strong throughput at medium range
Uses latest Wi-Fi technologies
Inconsistent results during lab tests

The Linksys Velop mesh system consists of three tower-style mesh units that offer serious coverage for larger homes. Without adding additional units, this three pack can cover a 6,000-foot home with ease, and with daisy-chain support, it can stretch that coverage away from the base unit as far as you need. That wide coverage and flexibility make it one of the best mesh Wi-Fi options for larger homes.

But there are a few rough spots in the Velop's otherwise impressive mesh solution. The first is the inclusion of a ZigBee radio for connecting with and controlling a host of IoT devices – but Linksys has never enabled it.

The other is a lack of physical connections on the three Velop satellites. Each tower has a pair of Ethernet ports, but with no USB connection, it will be more difficult to use the mesh system with a printer or network-attached storage.

In our testing, the Velop was also inconsistent: It offered strong performance for one test and poor performance for the next, even when it was a second run of the same test. Given that the Velop is also one of the more expensive mesh routers we've reviewed, it won't be the best choice for everyone.

Read our full Linksys Velop review.

Best mesh routers: TP-Link Deco M9 Plus

(Image credit: TP-Link)

Convenience meets security

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

Home Automation connections
Simple, straight-forward setup
Network security software
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)

7. Eero Mesh Wi-Fi Router

A great mesh bargain

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

Easy setup
Small, easy-to-hide devices
Extra security available
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.

Best mesh routers: Linksys Max Stream MR9600

(Image credit: Linksys)

8. Linksys Max Stream MR9600

Our favorite mesh-capable router

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

Can create mesh network with other Linksys equipment
Small and easy to hide
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 Orbi Voice

(Image credit: Netgear)

9. Netgear Orbi Voice

The best functional add-on

Wi-Fi Spec: 802.11ac/Tri-Band | Number of Antennas/Removable: 6/No | Ports: Four 1Gbps LAN, USB 2.0 | Peak Throughput: 607.2 Mbps | Size: 8.6 x 6.5 x 4.9 inches

Excellent performance
Alexa voice assistant built-in
Built-in speakers and microphones
Muddy audio
Large devices

 The Netgear Orbi holds it's spot as the best mesh Wi-Fi system, in part, because it has unmatched flexibility,  with Netgear offering several specialty units for extending coverage and adding functionality. Our favorite add-on has to be the Netgear Orbi Voice, which combines the Orbi's excellent performance and impressive range with speakers and Alexa voice control.

Officially called the Orbi RBS40V, the Alexa-fied extension adds a 35-watt amplifier, 3.5-inch woofer, 1-inch tweeter and passive bass-reflex port – all tuned by Harman Kardon audio engineers – to Netgear's signature tri-band 802.11ac Orbi extension. With it, you can use Alexa as your consolidated smart home interface, stream music right from the Orbi Voice and use any of the best Alexa skills for all of the Alexa Echo devices.

Read our full Netgear Orbi Voice review.

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

(Image credit: Netgear)

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

Best mesh extender

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

Wi-Fi 6 support with 802.11ax operations
Customization and built-in security
Offers mesh compatibility with other devices
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. 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.

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.

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.

And check out the latest router news, like the best routers of CES 2021. Upcoming products from Netgear, Linksys, TP-Link and others pair mesh Wi-Fi with new standards, like Wi-Fi 6 and the new Wi-Fi 6e, as well as features like voice control. Stay tuned for more news and reviews.

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 mesh routers | Best Wi-Fi extenders | Best powerline extenders 

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.