Eero is an Amazon company, and its routers come with Alexa support. Enable the Eero skill, and you can pause the internet with a voice command through your Echo device, which is very handy when your child won’t get off the computer to eat dinner. The Eero 6 router supports Thread and can pull double duty as a ZigBee smart home hub in the same way Echo devices can, allowing you to directly connect some smart lighting, smart locks, and other ZigBee devices.
The simplicity will appeal to anyone who hates digging into settings, but there’s a cost. You won’t find any Quality of Service features for prioritizing activities, and you can’t separate bands. If you like the sound of the Eero but want something a bit faster, then the Eero Pro 6 ($599) is an upgrade worth considering
★ A Good Alternative: The Plume SuperPods with Wi-Fi 6 ($297 for 3-pack) (7/10, WIRED Recommends) are one of the simplest mesh systems to set up, and the HomePass app is very accessible. SuperPods deliver fast, reliable Wi-Fi, and they outperformed the Eero Pro 6 system in my testing. The essential HomePass subscription is a hefty $99 per year but provides solid security features, parental controls, ad-blocking, and motion alerts. The cloud service handles firmware updates automatically and is continually assessing your Wi-Fi and making tweaks to improve performance, without the need for any input from you.
Most mesh systems are expensive, but the Deco S4 from TP-Link is a solid choice that won’t break the bank. Sporting a familiar cylindrical design, this three-pack of routers offers pleasingly wide coverage and stable connectivity. Setup through the Deco app was straightforward and trouble-free. Each router has two gigabit ports, and this is an easily scalable system (you can wirelessly link up to 10, with additional nodes at $50 apiece).
The S4 is a dual-band system and the only recommendation in our guide that does not support Wi-Fi 6. But I was surprised by how well this system performed, coping admirably with multiple video streams and gaming sessions. While the range is generally good, speed drops off swiftly with distance and obstacles. If you don’t have the internet speed or devices to take advantage of Wi-Fi 6, or stability and range are more important to you than outright speed, the Deco S4 is still a good buy.
As TP-Link’s budget mesh offering, the extras are barebones. There are no additional security features, and the parental controls are limited, but they include basics like filters and time limits. QoS only covers device prioritization, and as a Wi-Fi 5 system there’s no support for WPA3 security. But you can split the 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz bands and create guest networks. Finally, the Deco app is a little slow and basic but deliberately simple. Anyone who likes to tinker or check up on the speed their ISP delivers will be disappointed.
If you can stretch your budget to the frequently discounted Deco X20, I think you should, as you will get Wi-Fi 6, beefed-up security, and slightly better performance. For busy homes with several folks online at the same time or connections above 500 Mbps, you should go for something more powerful. But if money is tight, this is your best option.
Netgear Orbi AX4200 RBK753 (3-Pack)
Best for Large Homes
The enormous Netgear Orbi range has a strong reputation, but the company’s many similar models make it tricky to choose the right one for you. The AX4200 RBK753 (I swear they’re just mashing the keyboard at this point) mesh system I tested falls somewhere in the middle of the range and proved suitable for a large home. Setup was surprisingly tricky, taking more than an hour and several restarts to complete, as the app kept sticking on a loading screen. The router and nodes are large, but I like the curved design. I also appreciate the LED light turning off when things were working and displaying different colors to flag issues; every router should work this way. There are three gigabit Ethernet ports on the main router and two on each node.
Once up and running, the coverage, speeds, and stability proved to be worth the wait, and each node was able to deliver similar speeds as the main router. Speeds were a hair behind the Asus XT8, with some limitations at longer distances for individual units. But with two nodes, this system offers expansive coverage. The simple mobile app allows you to pause the internet entirely or by device or profile, see what devices are connected, check speed, analyze Wi-Fi (see the connection strength as you move around), set up a guest network, and a few more things. It’s very good at recognizing devices, which makes dividing them into profiles easier. You must access the web interface for advanced features.