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Best Mesh Routers for 2023: Top-Tested Systems for Whole-Home Wi-Fi

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Best Mesh Routers

Best Mesh Routers for 2023: A good mesh Wi-Fi system will spread fast, reliable internet speeds throughout your entire home. After countless tests, here are the models we recommend.

Broadband use surged during the pandemic, and that means that the quality of our home internet connections is more important than ever. Between working from home, gaming online, video chatting and streaming shows and movies, there are ample reasons to want a fast, reliable Wi-Fi signal throughout the entirety of your home — and one of the best ways to make that happen is by investing in a good mesh router setup.

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, especially when you’re connecting at range. 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, but they can help boost speeds at range in small- or medium-sized homes, too. And there are lots of new, next-gen options on the market, so it’s a good time to make the switch.

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Some of the strongest 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 — that cost less than $300, or even below $200. Though we’d recommend aiming a bit higher, you can even find basic, entry-level mesh systems for as little as $20 per device.

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 buying now. 

Best mesh Wi-Fi router systems

TP-Link Deco W720

Wi-Fi Standard

Wi-Fi 6

Speed Rating

AX3600

Range

Up to 5,500 sq. ft. (two devices)

Wireless Networking Security

WPA2, WPA3

Bands

Tri-Band (2.4 and two 5GHz)

For a mesh router upgrade that really feels like an upgrade, you’ll want to look for these things: Wi-Fi 6 support and a tri-band design with the usual 2.4 and 5GHz bands. You’ll also want a second 5GHz band that the system can use as a dedicated backhaul connection for wireless transmissions between the main router and the satellites. The problem is that tri-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers like that are typically expensive. Not too long ago, I was commending Asus and Eero for bringing the cost of a two-piece system like that down to around $400 or so.

Now, TP-Link is doing even better and selling the Deco W7200 mesh router, a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 system that only costs $233 for a two-pack. That’s an excellent value — and the even better part is that it performs like a champ, with fast, stable speeds, decent range and a setup process that’s about as easy as it gets, with satellite extenders that automatically join the mesh as soon as you plug them in.

All of that makes the Deco W7200 an outstanding value and the first mesh router I’d point people to if they asked for a recommendation. Just know that it’s been in and out of stock this year on Walmart’s website, so it might not be immediately available in your area. If it isn’t, you could also consider stepping up to the TP-Link Deco XE75, a similar system that adds Wi-Fi 6E support at $300 for a two-pack. There’s also the TP-Link Deco X90, a Wi-Fi 6 mesh system that outperformed the W7200 in my tests and adds in a multigig Ethernet jack for high-speed internet plans. It typically sells for close to $450 for a two-pack, but it’s worth a look if you can catch it on sale. 

Eero 6 Plus

Wi-Fi Standard

Wi-Fi 6

Speed Rating

AX3000

Range

Up to 1,500 sq. ft.

Wireless Networking Security

WPA2, WPA3

Bands

Dual-Band (2.4 and 5GHz)

Eero was an early pioneer of the mesh networking approach, and in 2019, it got scooped up by Amazon. Then, in 2020, we got two new versions of the Eero mesh router: the Eero 6 and Eero Pro 6, both of which add in support for — you guessed it — Wi-Fi 6.

I liked the Eero Pro 6 as an upgrade pick, but the standard Eero 6 wasn’t quite strong enough for me to recommend it. Flash forward to 2022, and the release of the Eero 6 Plus. With a list price of $299 for a three-pack, it offers the same strong pitch as the Eero 6 — a relatively affordable and easy-to-use three-piece Wi-Fi 6 mesh setup, complete with a built-in Zigbee radio for connecting things like lights and locks with your network. Best of all, with a faster AX3000 design (up from AX1800 with the Eero 6) and support for full-width, 160MHz channels (up from 80MHz), the performance is significantly improved.

In my at-home tests, the Eero 6 Plus returned average download speeds that were in the top 10 of the 30 or so mesh routers I’ve reviewed here — and none of the systems that outperformed it offer as good a value. Its upload speeds were strong as well, and it works great with previous-gen, Wi-Fi 5 client devices, too — that’s important, because gadgets like those still comprise the majority of Wi-Fi devices in our homes. With three mesh devices for $299 and range of up to 4,500 square feet, it’s an excellent pick for large homes, where that additional extender will come in handy. 

Netgear Orbi AX6000

Wi-Fi Standard

Wi-Fi 6

Speed Rating

AX6000

Range

Up to 5,000 sq. ft.

Wireless Networking Security

WPA, WPA2

Bands

Tri-Band (2.4 and two 5GHz)

At a retail price of $699 for a two-pack, the AX6000 version of the Netgear Orbi is too expensive to recommend outright — but if you just want one of the fastest mesh routers money can buy, look no further.

With full support for Wi-Fi 6 and a second 5GHz band that serves as a dedicated backhaul connection for the router and its satellites, the powerful system has been downright impressive across multiple years of speed tests, with top wireless speeds of nearly 900Mbps at close range in our lab. That’s one of the fastest numbers we’ve ever seen from a Wi-Fi 6 mesh router in that test, and it only fell to 666Mbps at a distance of 75 feet — which is still faster than we saw from the Nest Wifi up close, just 5 feet away.

Things got even more impressive when we took the Orbi AX6000 home to test its performance in a real-world setting. With an incoming internet connection of 300Mbps serving as a speed limit, the system returned average speeds throughout the whole home of 289Mbps to Wi-Fi 5 devices and 367Mbps to Wi-Fi 6 devices, including speeds at the farthest point from the router that were 95% as fast as when connecting up close. That’s an outstanding result, and it’s held up as I’ve continued my controlled mesh router speed tests, which repeatedly show that the AX6000 Orbi’s downloads and uploads marry speed and stability better than just about any other mesh router on the market.

Again, the problem is the price: $699 is simply too expensive for most folks, especially given that you’ll need a connection of at least 500Mbps in order to notice much of a difference between this system and others we like that cost less than half as much. 

Nest Wifi

Wi-Fi Standard

Wi-Fi 5

Speed Rating

AC2200

Range

Up to 2,200 sq. ft.

Wireless Networking Security

WPA3

Bands

Dual-Band (2.4 and 5GHz)

Several years ago, Google Wifi became a breakout hit thanks to its easy setup and its ability to spread a fast, reliable Wi-Fi connection throughout your home for all of your connected devices. Then, there was Nest Wifi, a second-gen follow-up that adds in faster internet speeds and a better-looking design, plus Google Assistant smart speakers built into each satellite extender. It was an immediate standout in our tests, and our top-recommended mesh router prior to the arrival of Wi-Fi 6.

Nest Wifi debuted at $269 for a two-pack with the main router and one range-extending satellite, but now there’s a new, third-gen follow-up called Nest Wifi Pro that adds in support for Wi-Fi 6E. That system failed to wow us, though — and in the meantime, the second-gen Nest Wifi is still a solid mesh router that costs a lot less than before, down to as little as $140 for a two-pack when it’s on sale. 

On average, the Nest Wifi notched the fastest top speeds that I saw in my tests from any Wi-Fi 5 mesh router (and faster speeds than some of the Wi-Fi 6 systems I’ve tested, too). It also aced our mesh tests, never once dropping my connection as I moved about my home running speed tests. I never caught it routing my connection through the extender when connecting directly to the router was faster, either, which is a common pitfall for mesh connections.

Make no mistake, the lack of Wi-Fi 6 support means that the second-gen Nest Wifi is a somewhat dated system at this point, but it does include support for modern features like WPA3 security, device grouping and prioritization, and 4×4 MU-MIMO connections that offer faster aggregate speeds for devices like the MacBook Pro that can use multiple Wi-Fi antennas at once. It’s also fully backward-compatible with previous-gen Google Wifi setups, which is a smart touch. All of it is easy to set up, easy to use and easy to rely on. Among dual-band mesh routers, I’d much rather have a top-of-the-line Wi-Fi 5 system than an entry-level Wi-Fi 6 system, and even among new competition, the Nest Wifi mesh router fits that bill. 

Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8)

Wi-Fi Standard

Wi-Fi 6

Speed rating

AX6600

Range

Up to 2,750 sq. ft. per node

Wireless Networking Security

WPA2

Bands

Tri-Band (2.4 and two 5GHz)

It isn’t quite as fast as the AX6000 version of the Netgear Orbi listed above, but the Editors’ Choice Award-winning Asus ZenWiFi AX (model number XT8) came awfully close — and at $400 or less for a two-piece system, it’s a lot easier to afford.

In fact, the ZenWiFi AX offers the same multigig WAN ports as the Orbi AX6000, which is a great piece of future-proofing that you don’t always get in this price range. The tri-band build means that it also boasts the same dedicated backhaul band to help keep the system transmissions separate from your network traffic, and it offers the same ease of setup, the same steady mesh performance, and the same strong speeds at range, too. 

All of that makes it a future-ready upgrade pick at a fair price. It even comes in your choice of white or black. I also appreciated the depth of control in the Asus app, which lets you manage your network and customize that backhaul as you see fit.

If $400 is a bit too much for your budget, know that there’s a smaller version of this system called the Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini. It isn’t as high-powered and it isn’t a tri-band system like its big brother, but it comes with three devices that all support Wi-Fi 6 for $250, which makes it interesting. There was also a new dual-band ZenWiFi system last year called the ZenWiFi XD6 — it performed quite well in our tests, but it only costs slightly less than the XT8. Between the three of them, the XT8 is the one I’d be looking to buy first. 

Netgear Orbi AC1200

Wi-Fi Standard

Wi-Fi 5

Speed Rating

AC1200

Range

Up to 4,500 sq. ft. (with two satellites)

Wireless Networking Security

WPA2

Bands

Dual-Band (2.4 and 5GHz)

The AC1200 version of Netgear Orbi is a smaller, simpler version of the popular mesh system. It doesn’t offer blazing-fast speeds, but the performance is consistent, and it costs a whole lot less than other, fancier Orbi builds.

Netgear brought the cost down by sticking with Wi-Fi 5, ditching the built-in Alexa speaker that comes with the Orbi Voice and skipping the tri-band approach and the dedicated 5GHz backhaul band that other Orbi systems use to connect each device in the mesh. I wonder if Netgear missed an opportunity by not branding this system as “Orbi Lite.”

It all makes for a less robust mesh system than other Orbi setups, but I hardly noticed in my tests. Among the Wi-Fi 5 systems I’ve tested, the dual-band Netgear Orbi actually notched the fastest top speeds at close range, it kept up with the Nest and Eero in our real-world speed tests and it offered excellent signal strength in the large-sized Smart Home.

Netgear’s app isn’t as clean or intuitive as Nest’s or Eero’s, and the network didn’t seem quite as steady as those two as it steered me from band to band in my tests, but those are quibbles at this price. If you just want something affordable — perhaps to tide you over until you’re ready to make the upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E — then the most budget-friendly Netgear Orbi definitely deserves your consideration.  

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about based on editorial merit. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

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 here in 2023, we’ve 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, 1,350-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 a