How to Choose the Best Mesh Wireless System For Your Home

[Update #6, May 20, 2019 – Anti-malware is a theme of this update, with Plume SuperPods, Orbi, and Linksys Velop all joining the club with solid offerings in this regard. eero and Plume both solved their LAN persistence problems, keeping your Wi-Fi alive even if your Internet connection goes down. AmpliFi is doing some cool things for IoT users with regards to setting up separate SSIDs for that, too. Removed Luma and Amped ALLY from the list due to lack of attention from both companies. See Changelog]

Mesh wireless systems are all the rage these days, and for good reason. Mesh networking technology now allows us to have high-speed coverage everywhere in our homes with no dead spots and, equally as important, simple setup and management.

There are a lot of products calling themselves “mesh”, and not all of them share the same features or capabilities. For our purposes, we define mesh as a system that uses multiple wireless access points positioned throughout your home that all broadcast the same wireless network name (SSID) and are all managed from one interface. This last bit is important because, in most cases, being managed from one interface means that all the devices are aware of each other and can work together to manage the Wi-Fi throughout your home without you having to worry about it.

Sorting your way through this mess of mesh can be a bit tricky, especially as software updates roll out and features previously missing from one are added or enhanced. Remember: software can be changed after you buy, hardware cannot. And while hardware may seem to be the most important factor to consider when buying, you need to discern whether your vendor of choice is likely to update their software at a pace that’s acceptable to you.

I’ve personally tested every one of the systems here, and they all perform quite well. Still, there are specific features that we find important, and even more that you might find important. Read on, and we’ll teach you how to decide which mesh wireless system is right for you.

Summary Chart

Let’s do this in reverse and give you the overview right up front. If you need or want details, we’ve got them for you in spades, but here are the broad strokes.

Mesh Wireless Key Feature Summary

Model Wi-Fi


eero 3 (or 2) Yes Yes** Yes  $319
Google Wifi 2 Yes $259
Linksys Velop 3 (or 2) Yes**  $349
Netgear Orbi 3 Yes  Yes*** Yes  $279
Plume SuperPods***** 3 Yes Yes $399
TP-Link Deco 3 (or 2) Yes Yes  $245
Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD 2 Yes**** Yes** $379

*All prices are in USD for an Amazon Prime-shipped standard packages from each vendor, current as of the listed publication date. We’ve attempted to standardize this list with tri-band systems with three physical units each (one base and two satellites). Exceptions include Netgear Orbi and TP-Link Deco M9Plus, which come standard with two units (one base and one satellite, more can be added), and the AmpliFi HD, which only comes in a dual-band radio configuration. Less expensive, dual-band configurations are available from three vendors: eero, Linksys Velop, and TP-Link Deco.

**Ethernet backhaul is only available on devices with Ethernet ports, and the eero Beacons, AmpliFi Mesh Points, and Linksys Velop Plug-ins all just plug directly into AC outlets and have no other ports available.

***Orbi’s Ethernet Backhaul continues to have issues. In our tests it works if you give it time.

****AmpliFi added BufferBloat/WAN-based QoS to their Gamer’s Edition only.

*****We don’t recommend Plume Pods, only SuperPods.

Hardware: Streams/Antennas/Radios

The number of antennas describes both the maximum number of streams any one mesh access point can deliver simultaneously, as well as how flexible it can be in terms of getting the best connection to your existing devices. This is expressed by Transmit x Receive, which you’ll see written as 2x2, 3x3, and even 4x4 at times.

Mesh access points with two radios have one each of 2.4GHz and 5GHz. Devices with three radios include a second 5GHz radio for enhanced bandwidth to high-speed clients and/or backhaul (that being the communication between the mesh itself).

  • eero: All first-generation eero devices have two 2×2 radios, as do the new wall-plug-only Beacons. 2nd gen eero units have three 2×2 radios within.
  • Google Wifi: Two 2×2 radios.
  • Linksys Velop: Three 2×2 radios in tri-band units, Two 2×2 radios in dual-band units.
  • Netgear Orbi: Two 2×2 radios for your client devices, one additional radio only used for backhaul between the Orbi devices. The AC3000 units have a 4×4 backhaul radio, the AC2200 units have a 2×2 backhaul radio.
  • Plume SuperPods: Three radios per SuperPod. One 4×4 and two 2×2.
  • TP-Link Deco: Three 2×2 radios in tri-band units (M9Plus), Two 2×2 radios in dual-band units (M5 and M4). The M9Plus also includes a Zigbee radio for connecting to compatible smart-home devices.
  • Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD: Two 3×3 radios in all HD units.

Advice: In our practical experience, most homes do just fine with the basic two 2×2 radios. However, if you have a lot of client devices that are often simultaneously streaming data, having that third radio of the Plume SuperPods, 2nd gen eero, or Velop can be extremely helpful. Additionally, if you have a very long backhaul between mesh points (stretching to an outbuilding, for example), Netgear’s AC3000 Orbi unit can maintain a 100Mbps connection over more than 100 feet of distance, including through walls.

Hardware: Ethernet Backhaul

Most of us buy mesh systems because our homes are not wired and we cannot easily run Ethernet wires in our walls. That said, if you happen to have wires in your walls (or plan to install them), that can make a mesh system remarkably more efficient. Ethernet Backhaul support means that the mesh access points will link with each other over Ethernet, freeing up the wireless radios for client communication.

  • eero: First and second gen eero units are all capable of Ethernet backhaul. The new Beacons lack Ethernet ports and, as such, are unable to use it.
  • Google Wifi: Supported.
  • Linksys Velop: Supported for everything except setup. Use Wi-Fi backhaul for setup, then once the system is working you can move the nodes to Ethernet cables and the system will automatically reconfigure itself.
  • Netgear Orbi: Ethernet backhaul was added December, 2017 with firmware
  • Plume SuperPods: Supported.
  • TP-Link Deco: Supported for everything except setup.
  • Ubiquiti AmpliFi HD: The base units are all capable of Ethernet backhaul, but the kits come with the mesh points that plug into the wall, and these do not have Ethernet jacks on them.

Advice: if you have wires between your rooms or plan to install them, make sure you get a system that supports Ethernet backhaul. Otherwise, don’t sweat it.

Table of Contents

  1. Summary Chart, Hardware: Streams/Antennas/Radios, and Ethernet Backhaul
  2. Software: QoS and BufferBloat Protection, Band Steering and Access Point Steering, and Cloud vs. Local Management
  3. Software: Intrusion/Malware Protection, and Parental Controls
  4. Geekier Features, Buying Advice, and Article Changelog

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Dave, I was wondering when you might update your article?  Some mesh makers are now offering WIFI 6 and while I am very happy with my Orbi’s performance I will need to update my son’s home someday soon and he may be the recipient of my Orbi’s.  With all the chatter about the super plume, Ubiquiti, and others I would like to be able to make the best choice when his system fails. Is Synology going to have a new WIFI 6 mesh system?  Also I thought that the ability to use WPA3 was controlled by the router but my network… Read more »


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Thumbs up and thanks…


Where are the tips?

Greg Gehr

Hi Dave
Can’t wait much longer, need to either put in Synology mesh to extend my 2600 router, or scrap it and buy another mesh system (ouch), any hints or preview you are willing to share of your review findings so far?  

Greg Gehr

I have just completed the installation of a MR 2200ac Synology Mesh router extending my 2600AC to my entire house. I started by following the instructions to set the two units physically together and go through the setup process via a wireless connection, then moved the 2200ac to the other side of my house and connected it via ethernet (for a wired ethernet backhaul) between the two units. It took a while for the units to complete each step, but the process was fairly painless and the units now appear to be working flawlessly. Speeds are at the max expected… Read more »


I wonder how the new UniFi Dream Machine (and the pending “Pro”) will fare?

Greg Gehr

Hi Dave! Any updates on your Synology mesh test?


thanks, I will try

Phillip Comer

@Dave, thanks for the great comparison. Since you’ve used them all I wonder if you could answer 2 questions? Is there any other difference in the Ubiquity Gamer Edition? And do you HAVE to connect a social media account to do remote administration or can you creat an account with username/password?


John Kheit

Great compendium Dave. Any chance you might add the Synology mesh to this list? Also, any thoughts on if when we will see AX and/or AD added to these mesh offerings?


@Dave Hamilton sounds good — I’m already such a huge fan of Synology that it might be nice to just use their mesh and be done with it. Looking forward to that review!


I got the two node Orbi system for a little over $200 back in Black November and it has been great. The three node (AC3000) system is regularly available at Costco for for about $300. A friend of mine put one of those in his more challenging for wifi home and it has also worked out very well. In both cases, wifi performance now matches the performance of ethernet direct to the cable modem anywhere in the house. The Orbi app and admin web page both are mediocre. Strangely, there are some functions one can only do on the app… Read more »


Great article. With the demise of Apple’s offering, the search for a worthy replacement has been daunting. This article definitely helps. However, I recently switched to CenturyLink fiber 1Gbs service. I’m told I don’t need a modem if the router supports PPoE and VLAN tagging. Do any of these mesh systems support those?


Thank you so much for info!


Nice article. Can you also visit how well Apple AirPlay works with the various mesh Wi-Fi systems? I installed Google WiFi and it substantially degraded the Airply performance between a newer iPad and older Apple TV located just 3 feet away.

Seran Seran

thanks for that  


In the conclusion, you cited Plume’s adaptive management service as one of the features that earned Plume its recommendation. However, I have scanned the article (albeit from my phone) and cannot find any mention of such a service. Can you help me by pointing to what I am missing?

Mary Lovato

thanks for that 


Thanks for this article! 🙂