Linksys Velop dual-band vs. tri-band: Which should you buy?

Mesh Wi-Fi systems, like the Linksys Velop, are ideal for covering a large area in wireless internet. They usually incorporate a few nodes that pump out a seamless wireless signal, acting more like one big blanket than a number of smaller, separate sections. The Linksys Velop, one of our top picks for a mesh Wi-Fi system, originally only came as a tri-band model with one, two, or three nodes. However, Linksys has now also introduced a dual-band model, likewise available with one, two, or three nodes. Let's take a look at the difference between the two systems, helping you decide which is best for your home.

Linksys Velop dual-band vs. tri-band: At a glance

Dual-band Linksys Velop

If you were to set the tri-band and new dual-band Velop nodes next to each other, you wouldn't likely be able to see much of a difference other than that the newer nodes are a bit shorter and a bit more squat. They still come with two Ethernet ports each, setup is virtually the same (which is about as painless as it gets thanks to a streamlined app), the quad-core processor (CPU) inside operates at the same 716MHz frequency, and nodes are completely interchangeable within a network. Yes, you can combine dual-band and tri-band nodes for a seriously sweet wireless setup.

Both systems offer MU-MIMO capabilities for better data delivery, and both systems can handle the spectrum of 802.11a/b/g/n/ac devices. It's easy to set one of these nodes down somewhere and let it blend into the background, though each does require an external power source. Once set up, both the tri-band and dual-band models should operate on their own without hassle, at least until you need to change a setting or reorganize the network layout.

Linksys Velop (Tri-Band) mesh router review: Towers of Wi-Fi power

Linksys Velop dual-band vs. tri-band: Ideal usage

Tri-band Velop

The tri-band Velop is classed as an AC6600 device, but that's if you add up all three nodes. The theoretical speed per node is rather AC2200, thanks to two 5GHz bands at 867Mbps each and one 2.4GHz band at 400Mbps. Why have two 5GHz bands? More people these days need higher speeds for their devices ― to stream, download, and game ― so one 5GHz band can get clogged up quickly if you're in a home with a lot of other people.

The dual-band Velop is classed as an AC3900 device, but that's again only if you add up all three nodes. Theoretical speed per node is instead AC1300, with one 5GHz band at 867Mbps and one 2.4GHz band at 400Mbps. If you're living alone or with one or two other people who are regular internet users, a dual-band Velop can likely serve you well.

Dual-band Linksys Velop

You don't want to only consider who's using the Velop on this side; you also have to consider the speed of the internet you're paying for from your Internet Service Provider (ISP). Linksys claims that the tri-band Velop is best suited for plans that deliver up to 300Mbps ― dual 5GHz bands deliver the higher speed to more data-hungry devices at once ― whereas the dual-band Velop is best suited for plans delivering up to 100Mbps.

You don't want to overspend, so if your internet is slow right out of the wall, the dual-band system probably makes more sense. If you think one day you'll be upgrading your ISP plan to something much speedier, you might consider the tri-band Velop. However, there's another factor to add to the equation: coverage.

Linksys Velop dual-band vs. tri-band: Coverage

Tri-band Velop

Due to the tri-band Velop having twice as many antennas that can utilize beamforming technology to deliver a better signal farther away, you should realistically be able to cover an area somewhere between 5,000 and 6,000 square feet. If you're living in a large home with five or more bedrooms, the tri-band Velop might make more sense no matter your basic internet speed.

On the other hand, the dual-band Velop is better suited to covering somewhere between 4,000 and 4,500 square feet, which is still respectable. If you have a small apartment or condo, the dual-band system is no doubt ideal, though it can also definitely prove its worth in a standard home.

Keep in mind that both systems can also be had in one- and two-packs. This cuts down on the price, but it also cuts down on the range of coverage. If you, for example, have a lot of people in one room constantly clogging up a single 5GHz band, the two-pack tri-band Velop would probably make sense, delivering higher speeds to more devices without having to cover such a large area. Extra Velop nodes can be added at any time, so, as another example, if you're living in a small apartment, you can pick up a single dual-band node now and expand your setup later.

Related: Netgear Orbi vs. Linksys Velop: Which Wi-Fi system is best?

Linksys Velop dual-band vs. tri-band: Price

Two-pack tri-band Velop

Finally, one of the biggest deciding factors between these two products will be the price. For a three-node, tri-band Velop setup, you're looking at spending about $500. That's a lot of dough to spend on Wi-Fi, especially compared to the three-node, dual-band Velop's price of about $300.

If you want to start with just one node and work your way up, a dual-band Velop costs about $130, whereas a single tri-band Velop node costs about $200. Considering you can use the dual- and tri-band nodes together in the same network, you can always start out with budget in mind and expand as the needs arise.

The tri-band Velop is available now, and the dual-band Velop is expected to be released May 15, 2018. You can pre-order now at Amazon.

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