Mesh networks sound complicated, but the good news is that they're really easy to install and take your home Wi-Fi to the next level. No more weak signals or dead zones: mesh Wi-Fi solves those problems and provides a fast, reliable connection all around your home.
We’ve reviewed and ranked all the latest systems for all budgets.
What's the best mesh Wi-Fi network you can buy?
Put simply, a mesh network is two or more Wi-Fi routers which work together to provide much wider Wi-Fi coverage than a single router can. This gives you a single Wi-Fi network even though in the background your devices will seamlessly connect and disconnect from individual routers in the background as you move around.
Some kits have just two units and can’t be expanded, while others can be bought in one, two or three-packs and allow you to add extra coverage when you can afford it or when you need it.
Does it replace my existing router?
No. It’s best to think of mesh system as a replacement for your existing router’s Wi-Fi. You attach one of the devices from a mesh Wi-Fi kit to a spare network port on your router and it creates a new Wi-Fi network to which all your phones, computers, tablets and Wi-Fi smart home gadgets connect.
You then place the second (and third if relevant) mesh device somewhere else in your house, typically on another floor.
The devices all talk to each other and create a single Wi-Fi network that’s both strong and fast across your entire home.
The only reason you may find you still don't get whole-home coverage is if a) you have an extremely large home or b) your home has very thick stone, brick or concrete walls. Our reviews are based on a typical three- to four bedroom UK home.
If you suspect that a Wi-Fi mesh system won't work in your home due to its construction, note that our number-one choice - the TP-Link Deco P9 - uses powerline networking as well as Wi-Fi, so the units can talk to each other using your home's electrical wiring, meaning thick stone walls aren't an issue.
Devolo's Magic 2 Wi-Fi works in a similar way, connecting its Wi-Fi hotspots using powerline networking.
Don't confuse these with traditional powerline adapters with built-in Wi-Fi.
Are powerline adapters a cheaper alternative, though?
Yes. If you just need to get a Wi-Fi signal in one room that your current router can’t reach, you might be able to save money by buying the type of Wi-Fi-enabled powerline kit that we've just mentioned.
Check out our roundup of the best powerline adapters for more, but bear in mind that not all powerline kits include Wi-Fi, so cheaper kits will only connect gadgets that have an Ethernet port.
What other benefits do mesh Wi-Fi systems offer?
They’re usually controlled via an app. In some cases this exists mainly just to help you install the system in the first place, but it can also be used to monitor which devices are connected to which hub.
Some apps also let you ‘pause’ the Wi-Fi network but the best let you stop Wi-Fi on certain devices, so you could prevent your kids watching more YouTube videos, for example.
Others include parental controls or scheduling so Wi-Fi is only available at certain times or to certain devices.
Anything else to watch out for?
Yes. Some mesh systems (but not all) prevent Wi-Fi devices from talking to other gadgets that are connected to your main router’s wired network ports. That's because they don't support Bridge mode.
For example, you might find you can’t print from your PC as your printer is connected to the Wi-Fi network but your PC is connected via a network cable to your old router.
Best mesh Wi-Fi systems 2020
1. TP-Link Deco P9 - Best Overall
It's easy to set up, has a well-designed and feature-packed app and offers great performance, so it’s tough to fault TP-Link’s Deco P9 mesh Wi-Fi system. It’s only available as a three-unit package, bumping up the price, but the claimed 6000 square foot coverage you get in return should be more than enough for most homes.
Unlike other systems here, the Deco P9 uses hybrid connectivity: a combination of mesh Wi-Fi and powerline networking which helps to provide a reliable connection even through thick walls.
If you want a no-fuss mesh Wi-Fi system that works well, the Deco P9 system won’t disappoint.
Read our full TP-Link Deco P9 review
2. Linksys Velop Dual Band - Best dual-band system
Although the app and setup process could be better, we really have no complaints about the Linksys Velop kit.
Via the app you can manage the network, enable guest Wi-Fi and create basic access rules to limit internet time for specific devices.
This dual-band system provides a reliable wireless network with decent speeds that should satisfy most families. Importantly, it's far more affordable than the pricey tri-band version of the Velop.
Read our full Linksys Velop Dual Band review
3. TP-Link Deco M5 - Best value
We can’t fault the Deco M5's performance and ease of use, and the coverage is also impressive considering the price. You also get an antivirus subscription bundled which is a bonus.
The app offers parental controls, though not the most granular control, and also lets you create a guest Wi-Fi network.
If you’re looking for a mesh networking kit that's not too expensive and which can provide a fast, reliable Wi-Fi signal throughout your home, then the Deco will really earn its keep.
Read our full TP-Link Deco M5 review
4. Tenda Nova MW3 - Cheapest mesh Wi-Fi
The MW3 is the cheapest mesh networking system we've reviewed. And it has dropped in price since it was launched, making it a tempting option for those on a budget.
As you'd expect, it can't match the performance of its more expensive rivals, but it still does a great job of delivering a strong Wi-Fi connection and eliminating dead zones.
That makes it a terrific bargain if you just need to provide a good internet connection around your whole home, rather than have the ultimate Wi-Fi speeds.
Read our full Tenda Nova MW3 review
5. Google Nest Wifi - Mesh with built-in smart speaker
The latest version of Google's mesh Wi-Fi system has evolved quite considerably. The main unit is also a smart speaker with the Google Assistant, making this more than simply a mesh network.
It doesn't support the latest Wi-Fi 6 standard, which you might expect from a new device at this price, but Nest Wifi is plenty fast enough for the average home and will improve signal around even smaller house vs a regular router.
Of course, the extra money also buys you great Google software which makes the whole process simple and easy to use. Not only it is a breeze to get set up, but the features are accessible and helpful including a guest network, priority devices and parental controls. You can even pause the network with your voice via the Google Assistant.
Read our full Google Nest Wifi review
6. BT Whole Home Wi-Fi
The Whole Home Wi-Fi is the original mesh system from BT and still does a great job in an average UK home.
It should eliminate any dead zones you might have and you can add to the kit buy buying single discs. It's also possible to connect discs with an Ethernet cable so you can extend the network into, say, a separate garage or other outbuilding.
Read our full BT Whole Home Wi-Fi review
7. Nokia Beacon 1 - Basic mesh Wi-Fi system
The Beacon 1 is a relatively affordable three-piece kit which is very easy to set up and offers good Wi-Fi speeds. It's also possible to connect the units via Ethernet cables if you want to place them further apart than they can communicate using Wi-Fi alone.
You can add single units if you need extra coverage, too.
The mobile app is a bit basic, though, and doesn't offer the greatest range of features nor parental controls.
Read our full Nokia Beacon 1 review
8. Tenda Nova MW5 - Great value mesh Wi-Fi
Even though it's better specified than the MW3, the MW5 is still very affordable. It isn't the last word in speed or coverage, but it isn't meant to be: it's designed for smaller homes and people with smaller budgets.
And it succeeds in its goal admirably, and is the ideal upgrade if you're getting by with the Wi-Fi from your ISP-supplied router.
Read our full Tenda Nova MW5 review
9. Devolo Magic Powerline & Mesh Wi-Fi kit - Powerful Hybrid Mesh
The Devolo Magic Powerline & Mesh Wi-Fi kit offers the best of both worlds in terms of home networking. Using the latest G.hn network standard, it has the potential to outperform other powerline adapters, and with it's solid mesh Wi-Fi performance it should excel in larger homes that require more than one extra Wi-Fi hotspot.
With powerline tech, mesh Wi-Fi, pass-through sockets and two Ethernet ports, the Magic 2 is loaded with features.
Speeds are fast, but you do pay for them: this isn't the cheapest option by any stretch. However, if you're after a fast Mesh system for a larger home, this one really delivers.
Smaller homes (where you don't need an extra Wi-Fi hotspot or just the one) might get much the same performance from cheaper non-Mesh Powerline-only systems, or the non-Wi-Fi Magic versions, such as the Magic 2 LAN.
Read our full Devolo Magic 2 Wi-Fi review
Mesh Wi-Fi is a smart solution, but there may well be other ways to speed up your home network.