What is the best mesh router overall?
The further you get from your router, the weaker your internet connection tends to be. The best thing you can do to fix the issue is to upgrade to a mesh router. For most homes, our top pick is the TP-Link Deco W7200, a two-piece mesh system that offers excellent performance for around $200. There are lots of other top-tier mesh routers worth considering, too, and we’ve spent years testing them out in order to find the best systems of the bunch.
Why does mesh Wi-Fi matter? Between working from home, gaming online, video chatting, and streaming shows and movies, there are plenty of reasons to want a fast, reliable Wi-Fi signal throughout the entirety of your home.
With multiple devices spread throughout your home, a mesh router is like a team of routers that can relay your wireless traffic back to the modem better than a traditional router. They’re particularly good fits for large or multistory homes where your Wi-Fi network has a lot of ground that it needs to cover — and walls to travel through — but they can also help boost speeds at range in small- or medium-sized homes, too. And in 2023, there are lots of new, next-gen options on the market, so it’s a good time to make the switch.
Some of the most consistent mesh router performance we’ve seen in our tests comes from systems from Eero, which popularized mesh networking before being bought by Amazon in 2019, as well as the latest setups from the TP-Link Deco, Asus ZenWiFi, Netgear Orbi and Google Nest product lines. Mesh systems regularly sold for as much as $500 a few years ago, but now these manufacturers offer multipoint mesh router systems — including the main router and the additional satellite extenders — for closer to $200. Though we’d recommend aiming a bit higher, you can even find basic, entry-level mesh systems for as little as $40 per device that can provide strong Wi-Fi signal throughout your entire home.
We’ve still got lots of routers and mesh systems we’d like to try out, the majority of which use Wi-Fi 6 technology, promising better performance and faster speeds. Shop around, and you’ll find mesh routers from Eero, Nest, Netgear Orbi, Linksys and others that support Wi-Fi 6E, which means they can also access a newly unlocked mass of fresh bandwidth in the 6GHz band.
Expect regular updates to this post as new Wi-Fi mesh routers like those make it to market. For now, here are our picks for the top-tested systems you should be considering first if you’re shopping for the best mesh Wi-Fi system options available now.
Best mesh Wi-Fi router systems of 2023
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Here’s how we speed test mesh routers
Router manufacturers make big claims about top speeds, many of which can be misleading or at least confusing when you’re shopping for a new one. That’s why we put every router we review through our own, independent speed tests in a real-world test environment. For much of the past few years of working from home, that test environment has been my house, but in 2023 CNET’s been working to relocate those tests to our test lab, where we can do more to control for variables in the environment.
Specifically, we’ve set up a five-room, 1,300-square-foot test space for home networking tests, with incoming gigabit internet speeds (940Mbps downloads, 880Mbps uploads). It’s not as big as the multibedroom, multistory homes where mesh routers really shine, but it’s still enough space to see separation between the top mesh systems on the market.
To get there, we set each mesh system up in the same locations within the environment, and then we start running Wi-Fi speed tests across each of the five rooms. That includes tests during morning and evening hours, and tests to a variety of client devices, including both Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E devices. For half of my tests, I start by connecting in the same room as the router and then work away from it — for the other half, I start by connecting at the farthest point from the router and then work towards it. In the end, I average it all together to get a good, comprehensive look at how each system performs.
You can see those results for yourself in the bar graph above, which shows the overall average Wi-Fi 6 upload and download speeds for each system we’ve tested. We’re still working to re-test the top-rated systems from previous years alongside new systems as they come out, so you can expect regular updates to this post whenever I’ve got new data to share.
For now, the system that kept my Wi-Fi 6 downloads the highest was our top performance pick, the Asus ROG Rapture GT6. In second place is the TP-Link Deco X4300 Pro, followed closely by our top recommended system for most homes, the affordable TP-Link Deco W7200. At this point, it’s been a performance standout across multiple rounds of exhaustive speed tests in multiple locations against dozens of competitors. It’s always been right at the top of the pack in terms of speeds and reliability, so it remains my top overall recommendation among Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems, especially considering that it isn’t too expensive at $209 for a two-pack.
Top picks aside, some interesting new competition has entered the scene in recent months. Most notable are the two newest mesh systems from Amazon, the Eero 6 Plus and the Eero Pro 6E. Like the Deco W7200, each of those systems has held up well across multiple rounds of speed tests, with demonstrably stronger speeds than previous-gen Eero devices. The two offer a similar level of performance to Wi-Fi 6 devices, so the less expensive Eero 6 Plus is probably the better pick for most homes at $300 for a three-pack (or less, if you can catch one of Amazon’s frequent sales).
That said, if you’re starting to use devices at home that support Wi-Fi 6E, then the Eero Pro 6E might be worth the extra expense, as it adds in access to the 6GHz band to deliver faster speeds to devices like those. I re-ran my speed tests on a Wi-Fi 6E test device capable of connecting over 6GHz and the only Wi-Fi 6E system that returned faster speeds than the Eero Pro 6E was the AXE11000 version of the Netgear Orbi, which costs a whopping $1,499 for a three-pack. From a performance standpoint, it’s our top-tested Wi-Fi 6E system — but the Eero Pro 6E is right behind it and costs less than half as much at $550 for a three-pack or less. Just note that the system that finished in first place in these tests was, again, the Asus ROG Rapture GT6, which isn’t a Wi-Fi 6E router at all, but rather, a super speedy Wi-Fi 6 router.
Meanwhile on the Wi-Fi 6E front, I was less impressed with the speeds I saw from the Motorola Q14 and from the Nest Wifi Pro, both to my Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 6E test devices. Both were workable systems that did the job in my tests — but with 6GHz speeds that fell short of Eero and Netgear, neither system offers a noticeable speed upgrade over the competition, and that makes them harder to recommend. Still, give Nest Wifi Pro some credit for stable speeds, strong smart home chops and good value at $395 for a three-pack.
If you’re living with a slow ISP connection and you don’t need Wi-Fi 6, Wi-Fi 6E, or a fancy tri-band build, then there’s nothing wrong with skipping those upgrades and going with something simpler in order to save some money. I’ve tested a number of bargain picks like that in recent years — among them, the AC1200 version of the Netgear Orbi, currently available in a three-pack for under $200, is my top recommendation, with the right balance of performance and value.
If you want to get dirt cheap, you could opt for something like the Vilo system, which costs around $40 per device, plus shipping. It’s the slowest mesh router I’ve ever tested, which wasn’t surprising, but it was still functional and able to maintain workable average download speeds at range.
Other mesh routers we’ve tested
We test lots of routers at CNET HQ — mesh and otherwise — so we’re constantly updating our rundowns of the top systems on the market. I’ll note any new mesh systems we test here as we go, along with a quick summary of my takeaways. Please note that this list includes several systems that were tested at my home during the pandemic, and not in our latest test setup.
Amplifi Alien: An early Wi-Fi 6 mesh system, the Amplifi Alien sports an attractive, gamer-friendly design, complete with touchscreen controls on the main router. At $350 for a single device, it’s a bit overpriced, but the unique build and the focus on advanced features should keep it on the radar for some.
Arris Surfboard Max AX6600: Another high-powered Wi-Fi 6 system with an upright, cylindrical design, the Surfboard Max Pro was able to deliver fast speeds to other Wi-Fi 6 devices in my tests, but the performance was inconsistent with earlier-gen Wi-Fi 5 devices. I also didn’t like the Ethernet jacks on the bottom of the device, which force you to bend your cables to the extreme in order to plug the router in.
Asus ZenWifi XD5: The ZenWifi XD6 is close to the Eero 6 Plus in both specs and price, and at $300 for a three-pack, it’s one of the more affordable Wi-Fi 6 devices you’ll find. Its performance, however, was less consistent across the home. In the garage, I only got 284Mbps upload speeds with the XD5 compared to 494Mbps in the living room, while the Eero 6 Plus returned 706 and 486Mbps for the same price.
Asus ZenWifi XD6: The middle child from the Asus family of Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers, the ZenWifi XD6 is a dual-band mesh system. It won’t give you the tri-band build of the ZenWifi XT8, nor will you get that system’s multi-gig Ethernet jack. Still, the system performed as well as any dual-band mesh router I had ever tested when I first reviewed it, so it isn’t a bad pick by any stretch. At less than $300, it’s a decent price for a high-performance system.
Asus ZenWifi XT8: One of the most powerful ZenWifi systems, the tri-band XT8 performed well in our speed tests, and was among the first mesh routers to include multi-gig Ethernet WAN ports on each device. Available in a two-pack for about $350, the former CNET Innovation Award winner is a reasonable midrange pick in 2023, but it isn’t quite as good a value as the TP-Link Deco W7200 or the Eero 6 Plus.
Asus ZenWifi AX Mini: Also known as the ZenWifi XD4, the ZenWifi AX Mini is a pint-sized smaller sibling to the larger and more powerful ZenWifi XD6 and XT8 systems recommended above. Performance was scattered in my tests, with annoying speed drop-offs whenever I’d connect at a distance, so it isn’t as recommendable as other ZenWifi offerings.
Eero 6: Amazon’s first Wi-Fi 6 mesh router, the Eero 6 hit the market back in 2020, but it didn’t blow us away during our tests. Eero systems that followed it did a lot better in my speed tests, and they offer the same smart home perks, like built-in radios for Zigbee and Thread.
Eero Pro 6: While the standard Eero 6 system was a bit underwhelming in 2020, the beefier, more powerful Eero 6 Pro left us impressed, particularly for fast average uploads and low latency. The Eero Pro 6E system that followed it is the better upgrade pick for most thanks to the addition of the 6GHz band, but if you’re skipping Wi-Fi 6E and just want a solid, tri-band Wi-Fi 6 system, this one still fits the bill.
Eero Pro 6E: Amazon’s most powerful Eero model to date, the Eero Pro 6E did an excellent job in our speed tests, finishing towards the top in just about every category while also delivering a noticeable speed bump to Wi-Fi 6E devices that can connect over the 6GHz band. The smaller-sized Eero 6 Plus is the better pick for most households, but if you’re a Wi-Fi 6E power user with gigabit speeds at home, then it merits strong consideration.
Linksys Velop MX2000: Available in a two-pack for $240, the Linksys Velop MX2000, also known as the Velop Atlas 6, is decent enough as baseline Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers go, but you’ll find better value and faster speeds if you shop around.
Motorola Q14: With full support for Wi-Fi 6E, the Q14 is a simple mesh system that brings the 6GHz band into play. It wasn’t able to keep up with our top Wi-Fi 6E systems when I tested it out and it didn’t deliver a noticeable speed bump to my Wi-Fi 6E test device, but it’s a solid value at $250 for a two-pack.
Netgear Orbi AX6000: Originally released as the Netgear Orbi 850 series, and recently updated to the 860 Series, both generations of Netgear’s flagship AX6000 mesh router offer strong performance, but I wasn’t as impressed with the system’s speeds on a gigabit network, where several systems that cost less have managed to outperform it in my tests. Even so, this is one of the most consistent mesh routers I’ve tested, with reliable speeds from test to test. If that type of steady performance is what you’re after, then it belongs high on your list.
Nest Wifi Pro: The Nest Wifi Pro mesh router reworks the original Nest Wifi pitch by ditching the built-in Google Assistant smart speakers and adding in access to the 6GHz band via Wi-Fi 6E support. With a built-in Thread radio and robust smart home controls via the Google Home app, it’s a decent pick for smart home enthusiasts, and it was as stable a performer as I’ve seen in my speed tests. Still, those speeds were a bit lackluster, and the system also lacks backwards compatibility with previous Nest Wifi and Google Wifi hardware. At $400 for a three-pack, it’s a bit expensive for such middle-of-the-road performance.
Netgear Orbi AXE11000: The AXE11000 version of the popular Netgear Orbi router is a high-powered Wi-Fi 6E tank that leads all other routers I’ve tested in terms of its speeds to Wi-Fi 6E devices. It’s a strong performer over plain ol’ Wi-Fi 6, too, but not nearly as dominant as you might expect given that it costs $1,500 for a three-pack.
TP-Link Deco X4300 Pro: Available in a three-pack for $350, the Deco X4300 Pro is an impressive system that features some of the best Wi-Fi 6 speeds we’ve seen, plus multi-gig Ethernet jacks on each device. The Deco W7200 still seems like the better value for most homes, but if you’re looking for a step up from that system, put the X4300 Pro on your radar.
TP-Link XE75: TP-Link’s first Wi-Fi 6E mesh router, the XE75 did a decent job in our initial tests in 2022, though the system’s average upload speeds were lower than I’d expected. It’s a clear value pick and currently available in a two-pack for well under $250, so give it a look if you’re curious about Wi-Fi 6E but fearful about breaking the bank. I’ll update this page once we’ve retested it in our lab, so stay tuned for that.
TP-Link Deco X90: With a multi-gig WAN port and a faster speed rating, the Deco X90 is a midrange upgrade pick over the Deco W7200, and it costs as much as $300 for a two-pack. It performed well in my tests, but not enough that I’d recommend paying nearly $100 more than the Deco W7200 for it.
Vilo: The Vilo mesh router was one of the most affordable mesh routers I had ever tested back in 2021, when devices were available for about $20 each. These days, you can snag it for a little less than $40 per mesh device, but you shouldn’t expect high speeds from a low cost Wi-Fi 5 system like this one — in fact, it rang in with the slowest average uploads and downloads among any system I tested it against. Still, it got the job done, so if you just need something dirt cheap, speeds be damned, give it a look.
How to choose a mesh Wi-Fi router
Performance and value are probably the first things you’ll look for as you shop for a mesh router, but there are other factors worth taking into consideration as well. Take features, for instance. Mesh routers typically don’t come with many unique bells and whistles, but there are some standouts. The Amplifi Alien mesh router from Ubiquiti is a good example — apart from a unique-looking build, it features touchscreen controls on the front of each device, along with a feature called Teleport that lets you establish a VPN-style connection to your home network when you’re traveling. That’s a useful trick that lets you make use of your home network’s security capabilities when you’re connecting to a public Wi-Fi network.
Speaking of security, if you’re buying a new router, then it’s worth looking for one that supports the latest encryption standards. Most of the new models released in the last year or two support WPA3 for stronger defense against things like brute-force hacking attempts — I’d want a model like that if it were me making the upgrade.
There are a number of other factors that we take into consideration whenever we test a mesh router. Latency is a good example. I run each of my speed tests to the same server, which gives me a good, comparative look at how quickly each one is able to send and receive data. Most of the mesh routers I’m testing these days do just fine, with average latency usually coming in between 15ms and 20ms per ping, but some systems will see latency spikes when they’re routing your connection through a satellite extender. That means connecting to a mesh system at range might not be the best bet for gamers, or for anyone else particularly concerned with latency.
Something else to think about as you shop is data security and privacy. WPA3 is the newest encryption standard for web traffic, and most of the newest mesh routers on the market offer it. If you’re buying a new router of any kind at this point, that’s a standard worth prioritizing.
Mesh router FAQs
Got questions? Look me up on Twitter (@rycrist) or send a message straight to my inbox by clicking the envelope icon on my CNET profile page. In the meantime, I’ll post answers to any commonly asked questions below.