Should you invest in a mesh network or range extender for your home Wi-Fi network?
We use hundreds of accessories including routers, mesh networks, and range extenders, to bring you the very best products and recommendations we can.
Futuristic mesh network
Google's mesh network is fast, easy to set up, and very easy to expand, making it an excellent choice for your first mesh network. With a mesh network, you can blanket coverage all around your house but you will need to find a home for them first. Plus, setting one up can be expensive.
- Extendable throughout the house
- Small and unobtrusive
- Available in packs of three
- Can be costly
Cheap and effective
The TP-Link range extender is a sleek, simple to use device that will allow you to use a wired connection as well as a wireless connection. These are great for giving your existing Wi-Fi network a bit of boost but can leave gaps if you aren't careful.
- Works with your existing router
- One-touch setup for ease of use
- Can leave gaps in the network
If you have a large house with a lot of modern devices, a mesh network like the one you can get with Google WiFi is something to seriously consider. If you're in an apartment or smaller home and you only need to boost your Wi-Fi a small distance, then an extender like the cheaper TP-Link is probably your better bet.
A range extender can boost the signal of your router by extending the entire network. This means that the extender is broadcasting all the data, even the data for devices that are not in the extenders range, reducing the available bandwidth for those devices inside the extenders range.
While range extenders have been around a long time, mesh networks are a relatively new product in the consumer market. A mesh network, in contrast to an extender, uses adaptive software to use the parts of your network that are the clearest. This means you get a clear, strong signal in any part of your home and each mesh node only relays information from devices on its network. Using something like Google Wifi is far more efficient and gives you a better overall experience, especially when you have more space to cover.
Google WiFi also comes with added features like a mobile app for managing the devices on your network. It even has parental controls to allow you to monitor your child's internet usage and, if necessary, disconnect them from the network.
|Header Cell - Column 0||Google WiFi||TP-Link extender|
|Band||2.4GHZ, 5GHZ||2.4GHZ, 5GHZ|
|WiFi type||IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac||IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac|
For our money, you should definitely invest in a mesh network if you can. They are a little pricier than range extenders, but when you have phones, computers, Alexa, tablets, gaming consoles, smart light bulbs, plug sockets, and even refrigerators, all on your wireless network, you really must have a reliable system in place.
That being said if you're in a smaller home or apartment all of that expense might not be needed. If you're only having issues with the low signal at the edges of your living space, then a well-placed range extender will probably be enough for you.
The future is bright, the future is mesh
While a little pricey, the Google WiFi mesh system is one of our favorite networking solutions right now. With just three nodes you can cover 4,500 square feet, giving you strong, fast internet wherever you are.
Easy and cost-effective
A one-touch setup for easy range extension.
The TP-link range extender is perfect for those small jobs in small places. If all you need is a little more signal in your bedroom or to add some range in your apartment, this is the perfect product. All you need is to plug it in, press the button, and you're good to go.
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James built his first PC when he was 13 and has never looked back. He can be found on Windows Central, usually in the corner where all the 3D printers are, or huddled around the Xbox playing the latest games.