Best mesh Wi-Fi 2019: banish dead spots and boost your broadband

Tired of patchy Wi-Fi? Maybe it's time to upgrade to a mesh system

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 mesh product is best for your home or office? There's a whole range of brands offering mesh solutions for home and business, from Draytek to Zyxel. 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.

Zyxel Multy Plus

Zyxel's Multy mesh Wi-Fi system has long been an IT Pro favourite. It comes in packs of two, and can be expanded to connect up to six stations. It's ideally suited to smaller businesses, with fast speeds and simple setup. It also comes with a year's subscription to Zyxel's AiShield service, which provides a variety of network-level security features.

Larger enterprises might find the limit of six nodes restrictive, and the lack of PoE support is a disappointment too, but SMBs may well find the Multy Plus perfect for their needs.

MIMO Channels2x2 on each band
MU-MIMOYes
Ports per node4 x Gigabit Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £368 exc VAT 

Read our full Zyxel Multy Plus review for more information.

Draytek VigorAP 903

DrayTek's VigorAP 903 isn't just another Wave 2 802.11ac AP - it provides self-healing mesh technology at a very SMB-friendly price. You don't even need to buy two of them to start with, as a single VigorAP 903 will happily work on its own, presenting both 2.4GHz and 5GHz services concurrently.

Wired connections are well served too. The first Gigabit Ethernet port accepts a PoE source, while the fifth can be employed to create an isolated LAN with its own wireless services. If you don't have a dedicated IT department, you'll also be pleased to know that it's a cinch to deploy.

MIMO Channels2x2 on each band
MU-MIMOYes
Ports per node5x Gigabit Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £114 exc VAT 

Read our full Draytek VigorAP review for more information.

Google Wi-Fi

Google's mesh Wi-Fi offering is simple and user-friendly on the surface, but surprisingly powerful once you dig a little deeper: we're big fans of the buit-in network monitoring tools, device prioritisation options and even a built-in app for testing the speed and strength of your connection.

It must be admitted that the Google Wi-Fi isn't the fastest mesh system we've seen, but it does a great job of extending coverage, and its seamless setup and management options elevate it above the competition.

MIMO channels2x2 on each band
MU-MIMOYes
Ports per node2 x Gigabit Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £190 exc VAT (twin pack)

Read our full Google Wifi review for more information.

Netgear WAC564

Netgear's WAC564 is ideal for growing businesses. It works on its own as a router, but once you invest in additional units - or Netgear's WAC540 APs - it seamlessly turns into a mesh controller, allowing you to effortlessly extend your network with no need for extra cabling.

Performance is strong, thanks to a dedicated 5GHz backhaul radio that frees up bandwidth for client devices - we saw short-range download speeds of an astonishing 65MB/sec - and while mesh configurations of more than two nodes require you to subscribe to Netgear's Insight Premium cloud service, that won't break the bank, costing just £4.47 per device per year for mobile management or £8.95 for access to the full desktop portal.

MIMO channels2x2 on each band, 4x4 on backhaul
MU-MIMOYes
Ports per node2 x Gigabit Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £161 (exc VAT)

Read our full Netgear WAC564 review for more information

Zyxel Multy X

Two Zyxel Multy X nodes

The Zyxel Multy X is the domestic version of the Multy Plus (see above), and it retains the same fast radios and big antennae, meaning performance is excellent. It's good to see four Ethernet ports on each node too, and you can manage the network from either a web portal or a smartphone app. It doesn't have all the business-friendly frills of the Plus, but home users won't miss them - and they'll appreciate the distinctly lower price.

MIMO channels2x2 (client bands), 4x4 (backhaul) 
MU-MIMOYes
Ports per node4 x Gigabit Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £224 exc VAT

Read our full Zyxel Multy X review for more information.

TP-Link Deco M5

In our view, TP Link's Deco M5 system is one of the most attractive Wi-Fi mesh systems out there, with a twirly design that's interesting and eye-catching without being obnoxiously showy.

Aesthetics aren't the system's only strength, either: the M5 backs up its good looks with capable performance and a good amount of extra features, including three years of Trend Micro antivirus coverage. You'll have to pay to continue the service after that, but by then your Wi-Fi will likely be due an upgrade anyway.

MIMO channels2x2 on each band
MU-MIMOYes
Ports per node2 x Gigabit Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £192 exc VAT

Read our full TP-Link Deco M5 review for more information.

Tenda Nova MW3

If you want a solid mesh Wi-Fi system at a rock-bottom price, you can't get much better than the Tenda Nova MW3. A pack of three units costs less than £70 before tax, meaning you can put together a six or even nine-node network for less than the ticket price of some of the others on this list.

As you'd expect, wireless connections aren't as fast as you'll see from some competitors, while wired performance is limited to 100Mbits/sec, rather than the Gigabit speeds we're accustomed too. If you're primarily focused on value, however, then the MW3 can't be beaten.

MIMO channels2x2 on each band
MU-MIMOYes
Ports per node2 x 10/100Mbits/sec Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £68 exc VAT

Read our full Tenda Nova MW3 review for more information.

Ubiquiti Networks UniFi Dream Machine

The name writes a big cheque, but if your office needs a simple, one-stop networking solution, the Dream Machine is so good you might need to pinch yourself. It handles all the essential router tasks, with built-in enterprise-grade security - and if you kit out your premises with UniFi APs it can instantly configure them as a high-performance mesh, with all the high-end administration options you're likely to need.

Best of all, you don't even need to be glued to your screen to manage the Dream Machine: free smartphone and tablet apps give you instant control no matter where you are. Harried network managers everywhere, rejoice.

MIMO channels4x4 on each band
MU-MIMOYes
Ports per node5 x Gigabit Ethernet

Price when reviewed: £248 exc VAT

Read our full Ubiquiti Networks UniFi Dream Machine review for more information.

Featured Resources

Navigating the new normal: A fast guide to remote working

A smooth transition will support operations for years to come

Download now

Leading the data race

The trends driving the future of data science

Download now

How to create 1:1 customer experiences at scale

Meet the technology capable of delivering the personalisation your customers crave

Download now

How to achieve daily SAP releases

Accelerate the pace of SAP change to support your digital strategy

Download now

Recommended

Zyxel Unified Pro WAX650S review: A tempting Wi-Fi-6 upgrade
wifi & hotspots

Zyxel Unified Pro WAX650S review: A tempting Wi-Fi-6 upgrade

30 Jul 2020
How to create a mobile hotspot
wifi & hotspots

How to create a mobile hotspot

17 Jun 2020
Businesses are building their future with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 in mind
5G

Businesses are building their future with 5G and Wi-Fi 6 in mind

1 Jun 2020
Intel releases Wi-Fi and Bluetooth driver updates for Windows 10
Network & Internet

Intel releases Wi-Fi and Bluetooth driver updates for Windows 10

26 May 2020

Most Popular

16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

16 Sep 2020
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

16 Sep 2020
Google Pixel 4a review: A picture-perfect package
Google Android

Google Pixel 4a review: A picture-perfect package

18 Sep 2020