WiFi mesh routers


#1

Hi all,

As I am in the market for a new wifi system, I am hoping to pick your brains on the topic. I am moving to a larger house, so my old D-Link won’t be sufficient. A mesh system will probably be the best choice, and this far I am leaning towards the Ubiquiti AmpliFi Mesh.

Important factors are

  • performance
  • configurability
  • periodic security updates

What are your experiences with wifi mesh systems?


#2

Do you have the ability to hardwire in access points, or run new ethernet drops since you’re moving to a new house? If you can, then I definitely recommend the UniFi lineup from Ubiquiti.

If a mesh system is the best choice though due to how everything is currently set up, then I agree with going for the AmpliFi setup, I’ve heard great things about it and it makes sense especially with Eero being acquired by Amazon.

Good luck!


#3

This article was linked by someone else on here in one of the other threads (sorry, I can’t remember who or where) regarding mesh systems which I found very helpful: https://www.macobserver.com/tips/how-to/best-mesh-wireless-system/

I went with the TP-Link Deco system, I picked that one as 1) Eero isn’t available where I am; 2) it supports ethernet backhaul (although I’m not actually using that at the moment); 3) it had AV & intrusion detection built in. It has fixed the issue of dead spots around the house, my only grumble has been that it doesn’t appear to have MAC address white-listing which is something I’d have liked.


#4

I know there are some concerns post its acquisition by AMZN, but we have loved our Eero system since installing about a year ago. We have stone, brick, and odd angles in our house that is not friendly for WiFi…eero has cured all those ills. Very easy to set up and use. Enjoy the UI to see who and what is connected to which eero device, speed test, guest network, etc. Signed up for the eero Plus which effectively offsets 1Password cost, which is included in eero Plus.


#5

I may have ended up going a bit overboard with the Mesh setup at home, since it should be sufficient to cover 4-5 times the space I have. But it works wonderfully! :smiley:

I have Linksys’ Velops. They’re not the cheapest and not even sure if they’re the most feature rich anymore, So don’t take specific purchasing pointers from me, but the more general “mesh is a wonderful thing!” advice I can stand behind. :slight_smile:


#6

This topic has been discussed here recently, so you might want to search the forum.

Once Wi-Fi 6 gets finalized and emerges in products I’ll be buying my own mesh units.

From what I’ve read, and from recommendations from Dave Hamilton (of MacGeekGab/MacObserver) I’m personally looking at the Plume Superpods, which gain extra speed by AI optimization of the home network based on environment, device connected… Hamilton said he thinks the best two consumer mesh systems out now are the Plume and the Eero. Here is an Arstechnica review of the older model Plume pods (which are still available):

If you’re more technically-minded, there are consumer and business lines sold by Ubiquiti which are very well regarded.

Personally, I’m a big user of Amazon’s site for ordering things, but I’m less of a fan of their electronics products, especially when they potentially can involve tracking.


#7

Just to clarify, the Prosumer/Enterprise Unifi Ubiquiti line also supports mesh. Every AP can be meshed, there is no longer a distinction of Ubiquiti only be a wired backhaul.

Having said that, the consumer oriented Unifi Amplifi product line is much simpler to deploy and more akin to all the other consumer Mesh solutions such as Eero, Netgear Orbi, Google Wi-Fi, TP-Link Deco, etc.

I’ve used a lot of Eero and it performs very well. A little more expensive, but it is truly the “Apple” of mesh-wifi with elegant packaging, smooth install, and clean user interface.

As one of the first new generation mesh systems, they were able to command price premium and which may or may not still be deserved.

I’ve heard good things about Unifi Amplifi, but two points - be absolutely sure you understand it is a very different product than Unifi Ubiquiti. Most uber-Geeks are familiar with the Ubiquiti but may not even know the Amplifi exists so be clear when asking (or receiving) advice as to which system they use.

My only reservation about the Amplifi is that the mesh points that plug directly into AC power outlets are butt ugly and the rotating antenna mount works, but since there is no locking mechanism it is easy for kids or pets to accidentally (or intentionally) move the antennas around/play with it.

A relative newcomer is the Synology MR2200AC mesh point router. I haven’t used them, but this is a very interesting product as it works with the well liked Synology RT2600AC which is one of the best singlebox “mega router” Wi-Fi systems.

So if you aren’t sure you really need mesh you can start with the Synology RT2600AC and then add the Synology MR2200AC later only if you need them for more coverage.

Synology is widely known for their NAS storage boxes, but the RT2600AC router is one of their best-kept secrets. It is a workhorse with 4x4 radios, excellent range, and a rich set of features including a well done GUI interface.


#8

I have the google wifi at home and I think it’s great! But a lot of people here are a bit down on google and I am hoping for a hardware revision soon as it’s been awhile.


#9

Thanks all, a lot of great input and links to read!

@Tyler - I have not explored the house to the detail of cable ducts yet, but I will definitely be able to run Ethernet cables to the mesh-points. The Ubiquiti ones support PoE as well, so only one cable will be required. I have been looking at the UniFi as well, but not sure if I will use the extras that come with it. I don’t really need a lot of enterprise scale management tools. (At least, I don’t think I do.)

@stu_w The TP Link is also on my list of systems to consider. Intrusion detection sounds like a useful feature actually.

@arjunmurti As I am in Sweden, the eero isn’t an option. They currenly only ship in the US and Canada. Glad to hear you have good experience with mesh-systems for increased coverage!

@herrevjan Takk for det! Will also take a look at what Linksys is currently offering as well then.

@bowline Yeah, Wi-Fi 6 is kinda close by now… unfortunately, I need to install this system in late April, early May, so I’m not really in the position to wait it out this time. However, AC speeds have not been an issue for me this far so I should be good.

@SpivR Yes, I am looking at both systems, and as mentioned above, I’m not sure the enterprise line will give me a lot of extras that I will actually need and/or use. As long as I can configure the IP ranges and have DHCP reservations by MAC-address, I should be kinda covered. This system will connect to my Ubiquity EdgeRouter X that acts as my NAT router to the internet provider.

As far as I understand, the antenna does support PoE, so it won’t need to sit in a socket, if I pull an Ethernet cable connected to a PoE power source.

I wasn’t aware of the Synology option, but as this new house is stretching out quite wide, I doubt that a single access point will be able to cover it all at decent speeds.

@Ben_Lincoln Thanks! Have not seen any Google offerings locally, but I’m happy to hear it works well for you!

Again, thanks all, most helpful!


#10

We love our Orbi (Netgear).

Here’s a good article about many of them and what to consider.


#11

We have the Amplify HD is has worked flawlessly. Super easy setup through app and mesh coverage is excellent. I am very pleased with the throughput even with almost everything in the house pulling on WiFi.

My only ding is the out of home control is lacking. Otherwise it’s a great system.


#12

AmpliFI does not support PoE power. The base unit has a USB-C power input plug, and the mesh point antennas connect directly to AC power. (https://amplifi.com/docs/AmpliFi_UG.pdf)

Again, you might be thinking of the actual Ubiquiti UniFi mesh capable Access Points which are all PoE powered. They are sold either AP only, or AP plus PoE power injector, but the device itself only has an Ethernet PoE RJ-45 for inputs.

Having worked for Cisco previously (my bias stated upfront), and having used multiple systems, I would say Unifi is a “prosumer” not an “Enterprise” class product.

Nonetheless, the prosumer features are extremely useful - especially if you use Unifi managed switches to power and control everything. Having a single dashboard that is available in both a web interface and a smartphone app is a big convenience over juggling multiple interfaces to see various settings across all your network devices.

The thing to remember, is that although Unifi is prosumer and has a Linux/Unix operating system at it’s core, just about everything is configured from a web browser, so really straightforward to use and not much different than previous generation of routers and Wi-Fi with traditional web browser interfaces.

Personally, I find the “dumbed down” smartphone-only systems like Eero to be a real PITA. you must squint on a very small screen and lots of more advanced capability simply doesn’t exist. You don’t have to use the advanced stuff in many systems, so if it stays out of your way in the UI, it is better to have it there as you grow into it in the future.


#13

If you can run ethernet to stragegic locations for WiFi access points. Ideally connect computers and AV equipment (Apple TV etc) with ethernet.

For example you can use Ubiquity UniFi network equipment:
USG security gateway (router)
UniFi POE Switch
UniFi WiFi Access Point

https://unifi-sdn.ui.com


#14

I was planning to add an Eero beacon to my existing 1st gen router when I read about the Amazon acquisition. I chose to purchase a new AmpliFi router and MeshPoint instead.

Easy setup, good performance, and zero problems after 3 weeks.

I managed a UniFi system from the same company, Ubiquiti, for my previous company. Support was excellent.


#15

Thanks Rogier!

I understand the router and switch, but on the Access Point page I count 12 (!) different products, all white and round, but at widely differing price points and specs and my eyes glaze over… :slight_smile:

Luckily, I found this comparison chart that explains the specs and use cases for the different models.

The UAP-AC-Pro looks like a good model, but this setup will be a bit more costly. Might be worth it if I can deploy Ethernet cables where needed… Hooking up the Apple TV, Sonos etc to wired would also be sweet.

Thanks!


#16

I loooooooove mesh routers. I have the Netgear Orbi. Bought at Costco, which had a great deal. As I recall, the Orbi comes in at least two flavors and the slower of the two will be adequate for most users. The package I got has two satellite units, but most homes really only need one.


#17

A couple of the lite or the LR will be sufficient for you.


#18

For what it’s worth, I’ve been using my Eero system since well before the Amazon purchase. The system is phenomenal, the setup and the app are perfect, and it is the perfect balance for me between flexibility / customizability and simplicity. I’m definitely a nerd, definitely enjoy networking, but I have limits. The Eero system hits the sweet spot for me.

A couple specific things:

  • The app is truly super easy, and it’s nice to be able to check in on the network from work.
  • I needed a wired connection in some locations, so I purchased a second base station and I’m actually getting ethernet out of it, as the base station’s wifi is definitely faster than any of the devices connected to it.
  • It’s definitely pricey.
  • I’m not sure yet whether I’m going to stick with it post-Amazon. I’m not in a position where I can just run out and drop $300+ on a new networking setup a year later, so I’m at least going to wait until Amazon inevitably starts screwing it up.

Hope this helps!


#19

I agree with johndelfino. I am running a 3 base station Eero setup in my house for almost 2 years now. The Eero hardware and software are incredible, easy install, easy setup and consistent reliability. Eero is a set it up and let it run networking solution. The Eero support has always been very helpful and gets back with an answer very fast. My Eero system replaced my Airport Extreme and two Airport Expresses. As to Amazon buying Eero, I’m going to wait and see were it goes. I also have a Nest thermostat and since Google brought Nest a few years ago my Nest is still getting updates and my house stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I have not seen any info about Google doing anything to disrupt the Nest and DropCam devices.


#20

I’ll add a vote for Orbi, with the benefit that the wireless backhaul can handle multicast traffic (not all can do this), with is great for turning, say, an IPTV set top box effectively into a wireless device.

Great reach and speeds, too.

I’ve also tried AirTies, but found their reach to be smaller and overall speeds not as high.

ScottyJ