what mesh network for our 2-story house?
October 13, 2020 8:22 AM   Subscribe

(Please assume for purposes of this question that we can't currently rewire our house so we're working with putting in a mesh system.) Having trouble deciding which mesh network to purchase.

Currently have a Netgear modem in the basement to push wifi (provided by Wave Internet) to the upstairs. Smart devices in the house include one tv (soon to be two), two iPhones, my work laptop, our home laptop, a desktop computer, a PS4, a Switch, and soon a PS5. Some of those devices will soon move to the basement, including the PS5, which is the only device we're planning to have wired.

We're getting lost looking at all the recommendations for mesh networks. We've mostly decided on Netgear, either the Orbi or the Nighthawk, but are having trouble choosing. Every time we settle on one, we find an article that strongly recommends the other. It's also getting harder these days to sort out legitimate articles and reviews from clickbait bullshit. Is one of these going to be definitely better than the other for our needs? Is there something else we aren't thinking about?
posted by skycrashesdown to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We have a large and sprawling house that is much too old and rambly for us to want to mess with rewiring. We use what can only be described as a ludicrous number of electronic devices (three computer geeks, all working from home at present). We upgraded to the the Orbi (AX4200) this summer, and are incredibly happy with it. We didn't go with the newest version, because it does not yet have satellites, but the one right before that, which has WiFi6. So much better than the extenders we were struggling with. We even put one satellite way out in the yard for days when work can be conducted on a laptop in nice weather.
posted by instead of three wishes at 8:32 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]


wirecutter is the best place for unbiased reviews and testing - I trust them with almost everything. They liked the Orbi last year, but this year recommend Eero.
posted by bbqturtle at 8:34 AM on October 13

I used an Eero for a similar setup. It's very easy to use, the wifi is fast, the only thing that annoys me about it is that if I lose power to the router I have to restart the Eero after the power comes back on. But other than that minor annoyance I recommend it.

Previously I used it for a three story house with thick concrete walls so that every floor could have strong wifi, and now I'm using it to provide wifi to my small ranch house + wifi to another completely separate unit about 30-40 feet away on our property, which is a vacation rental. I've had people stay there who are working from home including Zoom and such. No one has complained yet. It supplies two smart TVs, multiple laptops and phones, and two wifi security systems/multiple cameras.
posted by zdravo at 8:40 AM on October 13 [1 favorite]

All of the mesh networks are frankly pretty good now. They had some glitches initially but any reputable brand has fixed their products. I ended up buying an eero Pro system and am happy with it. I happen to work for the parent company of eero but their products get consistently good reviews.

Netgear is also a brand I'd trust. I have one of their cable modems and haven't even needed to reboot it in more than three years. I'd lean toward the Orbi here myself as the signal quality of the Nighthawk setup seems like it'd depend a lot on your existing router.

If you like your existing router, have a lot of port forwarding or firewall rules set up, and don't want to do it all over again on the mesh system, consider putting the mesh system in bridge mode. Wire up one of the mesh nodes to the router, turn off the router's Wi-Fi, set the mesh's SSID and password to be the same as the router's was, done.

I'd also suggest getting the most radios and latest WiFi 6 standard if you can afford it. The Orbi seems to have you covered here. (The extra radio is the reason I got the eero Pro rather than the regular eero.)
posted by kindall at 8:46 AM on October 13

UniFi is pretty amazing. Business grade gear at not much more than consumer prices. I would grab a UniFi Dream Machine and then a couple of the wall outlet access point extenders. They even have waterproof access points for outdoor installation -- good wifi for the back yard is amazing for fall.

UniFi also has a more consumer oriented product line which is supposed to be very good, but I haven't used it.

I've done some testing and at least with my UniFi gear and my wired/wireless computers, using wireless only increases my latency by 1ms. So I would at least test your PS5 wirelessly before dealing with wiring it.
posted by gregr at 9:00 AM on October 13

Came in to also suggest UniFi. When my old Apple Airport Extremes shit the bed -- although that just doesn't seem to be happening! -- I plan to get the AmpliFi.

Avoid any set that doesn't have the 3rd carrier band. Without that it is really just an extender and not mesh. And others have said, look for Wi-Fi 6. [I am so glad they have come up with a better, less confusing naming system!]
posted by terrapin at 9:26 AM on October 13

I have an Orbi and a satellite and I couldn’t be happier with them. They were easy to set up, and just work really well in our three storey house.
posted by spikysimon at 11:18 AM on October 13

Eero systems are discounted as part of the Amazon Prime day deals today and maybe tomorrow.
posted by zeikka at 11:18 AM on October 13

I've had my eero system for going on five years and I *love* it. Easy to use, works well, and when SOMEBODY chewed through 2 of the cords, they shipped me new ones out for free, right away. And their customer service is great.
posted by cyndigo at 7:29 PM on October 13 [1 favorite]

If your house has cable TV wires, you needn't rewire to have multiple wired APs. You only need two or more MoCA adapters from Amazon or Newegg or eBay, one for each room where you want a Gigabit Ethernet outlet.
posted by wierdo at 4:02 AM on October 15

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