Best Mesh Routers for 2022

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It’s no surprise that the pandemic caused a huge , with millions of Americans transitioning to and , not to mention the increased number of people , with friends and with loved ones. Now, over two years later, it doesn’t look like these new habits will be going away anytime soon — and that means it’s more important than ever to have a strong internet connection at home.

One of the best moves most households can make is to upgrade from a router to a mesh system. With multiple devices spread throughout your home, a good 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. And there are lots of new, next-gen options on the market, so it’s a prime time to make the switch.

With the right system quarterbacking your connection, you could enjoy total wireless coverage and fast speeds throughout the majority of your home, if not the entirety of it. Better yet, you won’t have to juggle your connection between your main network and a separate extension network like you will with a lot of . Given that range extension is already baked into the system, the mesh router will automatically route your connection accordingly within a single, unified network.

$700 at Netgear

Amazon

Eero was an early pioneer of the mesh networking approach, and in 2019, it got . Then, in 2020, we got two new versions of the Eero mesh router: the and , 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, vmessage67315 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, too, 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 really come in handy.

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Chris Monroe/CNET

Several years ago, 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. Now, there’s the 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. 

The price is a little lower this time around, too — $269 for the two-piece setup above, with roughly the same area of Wi-Fi coverage as a three-piece, $300 Google Wifi setup from years back. That’s less of a good deal now than it was when the system first launched, but there’s still plenty of reason to consider the Nest Wifi if you catch it on sale (the most recent of which brings the price down by $50, to $119 for the single router at Amazon — and we’ve seen several deals come and go on the 2-pack at Google).

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). Plus, the two-piece setup offered enough signal strength to provide sufficient coverage at the 5,800-square-foot . It also aced our mesh tests, never once dropping my connection as I moved about my home running speed tests, and I never caught it routing my connection through the extender when connecting directly to the router was faster, either.

The lack of Wi-Fi 6 support , but the Nest Wifi 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 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 — even among new competition, the Nest Wifi mesh router fits that bill. Just try to catch it on sale.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

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 .

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 . 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 pretty interesting. There was also a new dual-band ZenWifi system last year called the — 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.

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Ry Crist/CNET

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  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 .

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 budget-friendliest Netgear Orbi definitely deserves your consideration. 

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A graph comparing the download speeds of our top picks for mesh routers.

With a fiber internet connection of 300Mbps in my home, these are room-by-room average download speeds for each mesh router I’ve tested with a Wi-Fi 6 client device. The Netgear Orbi AX6000 is our top performer, but the TP-Link Deco W7200 is right behind it and costs less than a third as much.

Ry Crist/CNET

At-home speed tests

Router manufacturers make a lot of big claims about top speeds,  or at least confusing when you’re shopping for a new one. I’m more interested in knowing the ins and outs of how they’ll perform in people’s homes, where incoming speeds might be limited and multiple devices might be competing for bandwidth. 

To find out, I test all of the routers I review out of my home, a one-story, 1,300-square-foot house in Louisville, Kentucky, with incoming fiber internet speeds of 300Mbps, upload and download. Up until 2020, I ran the majority of these at-home tests using a Dell XPS 13 laptop that uses Wi-Fi 5. Then, once Wi-Fi 6 became available, I started running two separate sets of tests: one to measure speeds to that Wi-Fi 5 laptop, and another, separate set of tests to measure speeds to a client device that supports Wi-Fi 6. That means that there are some routers listed in this post that were tested before we were able to run our at-home tests to a Wi-Fi 6 device (I’ve starred them in the leaderboard graph below).

A graph comparing the aggregate speed ratings for our top mesh routers.

After running countless speed tests in multiple spots throughout my home, where I have fiber internet with upload and download speeds of 300Mbps, I average the results together to get these aggregate speed ratings for each mesh router I test. Here’s the leaderboard as it currently stands. (Routers with stars were tested with a Wi-Fi 5 client device, before we were using Wi-Fi 6 devices for our at-home tests.)

Ry Crist/CNET

The biggest names that are still waiting for Wi-Fi 6 speed test data are the Nest Wifi mesh router and the Asus ZenWifi XT8, both of which performed well when I tested them with my old Wi-Fi 5 laptop. The latter is a tri-band router with support for Wi-Fi 6, so it would likely be a spot or two higher on that leaderboard (and potentially higher than the dual-band ZenWifi XD6) if we had tested it with a Wi-Fi 6 device.

I’ll update this post when I’m able to add those results, and I’ll also continue to run tests on both types of client devices in order to get a good sense of how well these routers perform with both current- and previous-gen hardware. You can check out my full reviews for more information on that breakdown. 

The short version is that newer client devices that support Wi-Fi 6 will typically be able to hit sustained speeds that are noticeably faster than what you’ll get with older, Wi-Fi 5 devices — but previous-gen devices like those can still benefit from a mesh router that supports Wi-Fi 6.