Wi-Fi is brilliant – as long as you can get a decent signal. Unfortunately, the connection can be severely affected by thick walls, obstacles or simply distance from the router. A mesh system is an elegant way to extend your coverage, using multiple transmitters to broadcast your network over a wider area than a standalone router could ever manage.
The question is, which is the best home mesh wifi? There’s a whole range of brands offering mesh solutions for home and business. Needless to say, however, the various systems have different features and capabilities – not to mention prices. It’s important to buy the one that suits your needs, and the number of users or devices who need coverage. Here’s our guide to the best of the bunch.
Top 10 best home mesh wifi in UK 2021
For now, here are the best home mesh wifi we’d recommend right now for anyone ready to make the upgrade.
1. Google Nest Wifi
What’s better than the best mesh router? Well, a mesh router with a smart speaker, that’s what. Especially if you’re a smart home fiend, you will appreciate the pure genius of this upgrade in Google’s Wifi line.
The Google Nest Wifi kicks things up a notch, taking Google Wifi’s incredible yet simple design and performance then merges it with the convenience of a smart speaker so you’ve got a two-in-one device in an even sleeker and more attractive package. And, if you’re tired of the color white, this one also comes in Mist and Sand colors. As far as the best mesh Wi-Fi routers go, the original Google Wifi is still the one to beat. This one just gives it that extra oomph.
2. Netgear Orbi RBK752
This is the best mesh wifi system that supports wifi 6 from our tests. It made light work of extending a 350Mbps internet service across the whole of a 2,700 square foot property, including the garden. The connection was only 10% slower than the speed quoted by the ISP in all rooms in the house except the one furthest away from either access point. In the garden, the speed was 50% slower (the ISP’s router couldn’t even reach this far).
It’s a sleek-looking device that’s simple to set up. However, while there are network management controls, it doesn’t offer any parental controls at present (although Netgear says it plans to add these in the future).
3. BT Whole Home Wi-Fi
BT’s Whole Home Wi-Fi now comes in a few different flavours: the original, which we have here; the Premium version, which is faster but a lot pricier and the Mini (see below), which is the cheapest but not as fast as the original. The original system is getting on a bit these days but it’s still the best value mesh W-Fi system you can buy.
The system acts as a wireless extender system for your existing router, connecting via a simple Gigabit Ethernet cable. This means it doesn’t mess with your network settings, and there’s very little to configure – although the system does offer a guest network facility and simple group-based parental controls. The nodes look a bit odd, standing upright like mini-satellite dishes, but their small footprint means it’s easy to find suitable places for them around the home.
BT claims it will cover an area of 420m², which is on the low side for a three-node network – but it certainly eradicated the not-spots in my home. No matter where I wandered, I got a rock-solid 5GHz connection, with download speeds never dipping below 11.8MB/sec.
The extender-only approach does mean that you’re stuck with your old router: if you were planning to replace it, a different mesh system might make sense. On the upside, it keeps the price almost irresistibly low: if you just want to banish those irritating dead spots with minimal upheaval, it’s an absolute bargain.
4. Linksys WLAN Mesh System
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.
5. ZyXEL Multy X Tri-Band AC3000 Whole Home Wi-Fi Mesh System
There’s a lot to like about the Multy X system from Zyxel, including the 3,000 Mbps maximum speed and the rock-solid strength of the connections. Oh and it works with Alexa too, so if you’ve got a few Amazon Echo devices dotted around the home then you can control your internet with your voice.
As well as excellent speeds, you get extras like three Ethernet ports on each of the nodes, plus a USB port – it’s only USB 2.0, which is a shame, but it should be speedy enough to use a printer or external hard drive and share it around the network.
From the software angle, the supplied Zyxel app is a little rough around the edges but just about does the job. Other apps are friendlier and more intuitive but we got there in the end with the Zyxel app – and at the end of the day you just want fast, comprehensive Wi-Fi first and foremost from the best mesh network hardware, don’t you? You don’t even have to use the app if you prefer telling Alexa to turn off the internet instead.
On the downside, the kit is a little on the expensive side and isn’t the most compact or well-designed system we’ve ever seen. Overall though, the problems are minor and the pluses are major, and we’d recommend putting this any shortlist of the best mesh networking gear in 2021.
6. Eero mesh Wi-Fi system
Eero is far from the new kid on the block, but in the last couple of years, its outlook has changed significantly after being bought out by Amazon. Now, after that merger, its first new generation of mesh extenders are as impressive as you’d hope, although they surprisingly don’t have Alexa built-in.
These diminutive little extenders are really affordably priced and have that Nest Wifi invisibility factor that will see them blend into the background of your home, quietly ensuring quick networking and easy connections. A great companion app to manage your settings lets you keep in control of everything, and that price means that Eero now offers a superb entry-point to home networking.
7. Razer Sila – High Performance Gaming Mesh Router
With a sleek look, this system can be optimised solely for gaming, or for the entire household. It works to prioritise devices and apps for high-speed gaming and streaming. When used as a mesh network, it’ll reach up to 9,000 square feet, but you’ll have to purchase two more nodes for that.
It provides a lot of gamer-friendly settings, including a gaming mode that will be sure to pump bandwidth to your gaming device when you most desire, without leaving other connected devices high and dry. The multi-channel ZeroWait DFS Technology makes for reliable, lag-free performance, and self-optimising network and swarm intelligence ensure a congestion-free connection.
For all it has in gaming specs, it lacks when it comes to parental controls and malware protection, so if these are important to you, this may not be the system you’re looking for.
8. NETGEAR Nighthawk Whole Home Mesh WiFi 6
The Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System is one of the first mesh routers designed to support Wi-Fi 6 and it surprisingly doesn’t cost much (or even costs less) than most of the other options on this list. That 802.11ax support means this Wi-Fi mesh system is powerful enough to deliver up to 1.8 Gbps of throughput. Additionally, the Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System supports the recently instated EasyMesh standard, so it’s easier to connect to other EasyMesh-certified products even those not made by Netgear.
For gaming and streaming, users can enable a Dynamic QoS feature that corners off and prioritizes your network bandwidth for these two tasks. You get a router and a satellite in the box (or two satellites if you opt for the bigger combo) and each unit can cover up to 1,500 square feet, so you shouldn’t have any trouble creating an expansive home network with the Nighthawk Mesh WiFi 6 System.
9. Nova AC1200 Whole Home Mesh WiFi System
The cheapest of the mesh WiFi devices on this list and frankly, it shows. The nodes themselves are white plastic cubes with a textured top. They look and feel cheaply made.
Still, they work just fine and are just as simple to set up as the rest of the mesh networks on here (though the app is weird and doesn’t seem to have been written by someone with a great grasp of English.)
Considering the value on offer, why are these so far down the list? Well, I encountered a few problems. Just as with Google WiFi, the Nova series sets up a brand new network which you can name and choose a password for. The trouble is that you then have to connect to that network which is less easy than it should be. You’ll find that during set up, you’ve already connected to this network. But then you have to forget the network and reconnect to it. It’s just an unnecessary hassle and not something the instructions prepare you for. For a while I thought they simply weren’t working before I worked it out.
Also, I found the range on each individual node left something to be desired compared to the competitors.
Finally, the amount of separate controls you get in the app isn’t quite as extensive. There’s no internet security or firewalls for example, you can’t group devices, there’s no facility to pause the whole network at once.
All in all, considering the price, the Nova’s not half bad, though corners have clearly been cut.
10. ASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8)
Without a doubt, the ZenWiFi AX (XT8) is the most advanced mesh networking system we tested. And Asus has taken the kitchen sink approach here — it’s a tri-band system with a single lane for 2.4 GHz and two lanes for 5 GHz. You can opt to broadcast a single network, combining all three bands, or split them up if you want to decide which network a device connects to. Additionally, the XT8 offers a built-in VPN that will keep your coffee shop Wi-Fi sessions safe and allow you to access your home network. It also works with Amazon’s Alexa platform, or you can create automations with the website If This Then That (IFTTT).
The XT8 will block malicious sites, allows for parental controls and will even let you designate which device or content types should be prioritized across your home network. Each access point supports an external hard drive for network access, which, if combined with VPN features, will put your files at your fingertips no matter where you are.
Our lone complaint about the XT8 has nothing to do with performance but rather the overall interface for managing the network. There are so many options; this system is clearly designed for someone who is comfortable with managing a network, and even then it’s still somewhat intimidating.
How to choose the best home mesh wifi for you
Not all wireless mesh systems are made equal. They all have different abilities, and some are more powerful than others. Here are some things to consider before you invest in one model over another.
Coverage is perhaps the single most important thing to consider when you’re buying a Wi-Fi mesh system. The main draw in purchasing wireless mesh is the improved coverage, after all. Although coverage area is critical, it should not be your only basis for comparison, however.
2. Modem and Router
One thing that’s important to remember is that Wi-Fi mesh systems come with their own router. This is because mesh systems distribute wireless signals differently than standard routers. They still require a modem, however, so modem/router combos will not work well with Wi-Fi mesh systems.
3. LAN ports
One of the benefits of mesh systems is that mesh hubs typically come with LAN ports for direct internet connections. As you may know, Ethernet connections provide a better internet connection, which is ideal for online gaming. Because of this, you can easily set up a gaming system in a room and still plug it in directly to your cable internet.
4. Number of Units
The number of units in your mesh system has a lot to do with coverage, but it is a separate consideration, as different brands offer different areas of coverage. What’s important to note is that you only need one unit for the mesh to work, but there is no limit to how many you can implement in your home or office.
Just like modems and wireless routers, the price of Wi-Fi mesh systems can vary dramatically. When it comes to price, it’s important to see how many hubs are included in your purchase.
There is no second opinion about the Mesh networking technology itself. It is the way to go with home connectivity and seamless operation even when you are not static in one place. The technology is even providing platforms to centralize smart home applications.
As far as the choice of the best home mesh wifi is concerned, it largely depends on the requirements of the user as all the products available in the market have their pros and cons, different companies trade off one of the features for some other. Having said that, there is an appeal to the overall balance. A product that could potentially satisfy the majority of the users out there without compromising too much on any of the aspects. In the spirit of that, I have an editor’s choice for you. In my opinion that product is Google Wi-Fi System.