There are some great routers out there, but you know what really ups the coverage quotient, making dead spots a long forgotten memory?
Wireless mesh systems.
These are the next level of wireless routers and to us, they are the next logical step to making your home truly wireless.
If you have a large home, you might have faced areas where your signal just seems to fade or doesn’t reach. But understanding this very real problem, the BlueGadgetTooth team tested and compared the best and hottest wireless mesh systems available to check which option would be a better fit for your home.
The top picks which are the Eero vs Google wifi vs Orbi, were tested thoroughly over a two week period, to really check out their functionalities and capabilities to write this guide.
Why Use A Wireless Mesh System
Wireless Mesh Systems utilise multiple APs which can be placed all around your home, and are a great alternative to single wireless routers which don’t offer great coverage, especially in larger areas.
Who Came First – Eero vs Google Wifi vs Orbi
Eero was launched first and introduced the concept of wifi mesh systems to the market, being the true pioneers in mesh technology, but they didn’t hold the monopoly in this segment for long. Google, being the veritable giant in its own right, decided to use its experience in the tech and online arena to bring its own device to compete with Eero.
If that wasn’t enough competition, Netgear Orbi was also introduced, taking the multi node concept to a whole new level.
Competition breeds better products, as each company tries to outdo the other in terms of price, performance, range and more – and it was fun testing the Eero vs Google Wifi vs Orbi.
Who Needs a Wifi Mesh System (Eero, Google Wifi, Orbi)
Before you think that a wifi mesh system is not for you, think again.
Even though large homes benefit the most from a wireless mesh system, that isn’t to say that most of us with average sized houses can’t make the most of it. The BlueGadgetTooth team tested the three in a 2,400 sq foot home, with multiple levels.
While before there were dead spots in the basement or no signal in the far corner of the house, with a wifi mesh system, this problem became obsolete.
We have to admit, what makes a mesh system more appealing is that you don’t have to buy the whole 3 unit system if you feel it is not required. Settle for just one or two.
Eero vs Google WiFi vs Orbi - Wireless Mesh Systems
1. Eero Home WiFi
2. Google WiFi System
3. Netgear Orbi
Wifi Mesh System vs Wireless Router
In all honesty, a wireless router can only do so much. You can buy a powerful router, tweak settings, invest in better antennas and basically spend a lot more money on your existing router to improve its performance.
Is that a good idea? We don’t think so.
Wireless routers are great for small homes, we don’t dispute that fact. However, a single wireless router usually doesn’t cover ground very well, leaving you with either a weak signal or dead spots in certain areas. It’s nice to be connected in every part of your home, which is why wireless mesh systems are a great choice.
They can be conveniently placed all throughout your home to eliminate dead spots, and are quite attractive to look at as well! Say bye bye to alien spaceships and say hello to the beaming light of clean visual design and smart technology.
Being the pioneer in the wifi mesh system world, Eero was revolutionary in its own right. However, with competition from Google Wifi and Orbi, Eero launched their second generation Eero which is newer, better, faster. Well, do we sound like fans? That’s because we are!
Sleek and white, each unit of this mesh system stands at 1.3 inches in height and 4.75 inches in width. That means it is small, minimalistic and compact and perfect for placing anywhere in your home. Available in pristine white, it is created to blend in with urban settings. The beacons almost remind us of an Apple mouse.
As it is, the set up process was relatively quick and simple in the first gen Eero, but the 2nd gen Eero had updated software which made the process even faster! The Eero probably had the fastest set up time as compared to other mesh systems we tested, with an app that guides the user through the process. The Eero was built keeping speed and coverage in mind and it delivered speeds above the plan we had, which really impressed us. It’s always great getting more without paying for more, and the speed was consistently fast. Also, the beacons worked significantly faster than the previous first generation beacons.
The main USP of mesh systems is seamless roaming and great coverage handled by multiple nodes. Eero also offers you more, showing you which band is being utilised by your device, the signal strength of the node and the activity levels as well. The switches between nodes were faster and smoother, as you can see the smooth transition from one node to another as the signal weakens in one node.
- Tri Band: Having tri band radios helps reduce congestion on the bands. With more devices connecting to the faster 5.2GHz band, it is important to have a third band, solely for the 5.8GHz band to allow more devices to be connected, without causing a bottleneck on the existing 5.2GHz band.
- 2x2 MU-MIMO + Beamforming: Connect faster and smarter with beamforming technology.
- Multiple Networking Services: you can access port forwarding, VPN Passthrough, NAT, UPnP, DHCP, Static IP and more.
- Wifi AP: Simply plug in the Eero beacon into a wall outlet to expand your wireless coverage.
Eero Home WiFi System Pros
- Simple and easy set up process
- Easy navigation with mesh technology between APs
- Automatic software updates
- User friendly app to control and manage the mesh system
- Beacons plug into wall outlet directly with no additional processes or wiring needed
- Flexible network management
- Strong base wireless router
Eero Home WiFi System Cons
- We could always use more than 2 Ethernet ports
- A little on the pricy side
2. Google Wifi System (set of 3)
Google always launches revolutionary designs and gadgets that are meant to make your life easier and the Google Wifi System is no different. Targeting those with a larger home, the Google Wifi helps to eliminate dead spots and buffering issues.
The look of the Google wifi system is pretty cool, looking rather unobtrusive, almost like an attractive decoration piece for your shelf or table. It looks like two hockey pucks put together, to tell you the truth, but in a much cooler way, with a very sci-fi look with the led lights beaming softly from the center.
Being a product of the Google giant, we had high expectations, and as usual, we walk away happy with yet another Google product. One unit of the Google Wifi system can cover an area of 1500 sq. feet, and our 2,400 sq. ft. testing area revealed real world test results. A single Google wifi unit gave us good coverage and signal strength, even in the corner of the rooms furtherest away from the unit. Imagine us leaning as far back with our devices trying to check for signal. It was funny, but the test was worth it.
However, being a 2,400 square foot house, we needed to use only two units. The speeds remained consistently near the max speed we could receive from our ISP, and the satellites too delivered near perfect speeds.
Having multiple devices connected to the network (as it is with most homes), we had devices ranging from our PS4, Xbox One, multiple smart phones, laptops, computers and Smart TVs located all over our testing area. Each device was well connected, and the app guided us on finding the perfect location to place the Wifi system.
- Network Assist: The best channel is always selected with the help of this advanced software, which works quietly in the background, helping you manage your network.
- Parental Controls: You can pause your Wifi on your kids' devices, so they can’t access the network during bedtime or mealtimes.
- 2 Gigabit Ethernet Ports: Get connected to your WAN or LAN. Both ports can act like LAN ports on additional nodes.
- Dual Band: Your devices can get connected to both the 2.4GHz and the 5GHz bands.
- 802.11AC: And backwards compatible
- Simple management control via Google Wifi App: You can check your app stats, wireless point stats and other data via the Google Wifi App, but no personal info is tracked when you browse through websites.
- Guest Network: For better security of your personal Private home network when guests come over.
Google Wifi System Pros
- Attractive design
- Simple and easy set up process
- Very user friendly app UI
- Full home coverage with mesh system
- Not as expensive as other mesh systems
- Auto updating software
- Great for multiple connected devices
- Can control device bandwidth usage via the app
- Smallest mesh device in market
Google Wifi System Cons
- Not for someone who wants to really get into the advanced settings of the router as it has been constructed for simple and easy use for the average user.
- Only dual band
3. Netgear Orbi Mesh WiFi System (Set of 2)
Netgear’s routers have always been legendary for their performance and price points and Netgear’s foray into the wireless mesh system market has not disappointed its loyal fan base.
The white towers loom over any surface and are quite large in size, especially when compared to its competitors which are a fraction of the Orbi’s size. Measuring 8.9 inches in length, and 6.7 inches and 3.1 inches in width, the Orbi is definitely not built to hide somewhere unobtrusively in the any background. However, it is not aesthetically unpleasing, and when it gets the job done better than its counterparts, who’s to complain?
Performance wise, the Orbi beat the Eero and Google wifi system hands down. The speeds did drop marginally over distance, but to give you a better idea, the speeds delivered by the Orbi at a distance of 75 feet was comparable to another brand’s router’s speed. This is definitely a winner, one worth having.
Unlike its competitors, the Orbi needs only 2 units to cover 5,000 square feet instead of 3 units, so this is a huge plus point. It does have higher per unit area coverage than its competitors and offers unparallel coverage. We couldn’t find any dead spots at all.
- Parental Controls: Uses Disney Smart Parental controls and you can manage your home network via the app, website or device.
- Guest Network: For visitors and guests who want to be connected, without compromising the safety of your private home network.
- Tri-Band: Dedicated backhaul connection ensure maintained data flow
- Total LAN ports: 7
- 6 high performance antennas: Inbuilt to support the dedicated backhaul channel
- MU-MIMO enabled
- Qualcomm IPQ4019 Wifi control chip
Netgear Orbi Pros
- Excellent performance
- You have the choice to opt for a set up process via a web browser or the app
- Dedicated high bandwidth wireless connectivity between base and satellites for best throughput
- Provides features of a high end router which is perfect for advanced users
- Super easy set up process
- Great coverage
- Tri band technology
- Single name for your wifi network
Netgear Orbi Cons
- Large size
- Have to manually install firmware updates
- Even though the main router and satellite look alike, they are not interchangeable in functionality and fixed unit capabilities.
- The satellites communicate directly with the hub, instead of a true mesh arrangement, i.e., from one satellite to another. But keep an eye out for updates.
How To Set Up a Mesh Network For Your Home
If you really want better coverage, there’s nothing better than creating a mesh network for your home. All hope is not lost if you don’t have the funds to invest in the mesh systems available right now. You can even make do with your own gadgets you have at home. All you need is a router, and some APs to extend your network coverage.
You will also need open source firmware installed in your router like DD-WRT, which has WDS implemented which will help you create your own mesh system with AP devices.
However, for this to work, your devices will need to run the same chipset. Making your own mesh system is an entirely possible alternative to buying the Eero vs Google wifi vs Orbi, but most of the time, the hassle is not worth it. You also need to know what to do, so the average tech beginner will not find it too easy.
It’s not as simple as taking your APs, routers and wireless extenders and deploying them all over your house, because although you may extend your network, it essentially won’t be a mesh system, but it can come close and do the job well enough.
What you get with a mesh system is centralized management of your network, which will help you control and manage all your connected devices from one place. This is the huge plus point for mesh systems, as well as a stronger bond and connection between nodes to provide a stable and strong connection to all points of your home.
However, patching your old routers, doubling them as APs if you have multiple old ones lying around at home is a viable option if you don’t want to relegate them to the junkyard, and they are still good to function. In our honest opinion, it is definitely more of a hassle getting them all connected than getting an integrated mesh solution.
Results: Eero vs Google WiFi vs Orbi
The testing of these three mesh systems was quite an eye opener as well as enjoyable and each of these three mesh systems has strengths of their own over their counterparts.
If you are looking for best coverage, you will be choosing between the Eero vs Orbi.
Coverage: Eero vs Orbi
As revealed in our reviews, the Eero has a lot going for it, and the three unit system does cover ground very well. However, there are small differences that could tip the scales in favour for either mesh system, depending on your needs. Here are our comparisons between the two.
Speed: The Orbi mesh system revealed that the speeds were faster than the Eero, even though it wasn’t by a huge margin. If even an extra 10Mbps means a lot to you, then the Netgear Orbi is your mesh system. This is what our speed tests revealed, but in actual usage, you don’t really notice the difference. We streamed our HD shows, downloaded heavy files and there was no noticeable difference between the two.
Coverage: The Netgear Orbi has been built with more power, which is why you only need two units instead of three. This two unit mesh system covers a larger area than the Eero, undoubtedly.
However, three units are always better than two, when it comes to covering larger area, so in the battle between Eero vs Orbi, we have to choose the Eero as the best Choice for Best Coverage.
Performance: Eero vs Google Wifi vs Orbi
All three are strong contenders in the performance arena, but for the BlueGadgetTooth team, there were only two real participants – The Eero vs Orbi. This is not to discount Google Wifi system, but the Eero and Orbi have been built with many features that take it far beyond what the Google Wifi system can do.
We choose Orbi for Best Performance as the powerful units hide a powerhouse of features that kick your network into another level altogether. The powerful hidden six antennas, the strong range and amazing speeds definitely makes the Orbi our top choice for Best Performance.
Best Mesh System for your Budget – Google WiFi
Hands down, the winner is the Google Wifi System.
Why? That is because as of now, it is priced a lot more competitively than its counterparts, without losing out on coverage, performance and user friendliness. In fact, for the average user, we would choose the Google Wifi system as our Editor’s Pick.
We look at how easy it is to set up, the overall performance, price points and coverage and the Google Wifi system covers all segments. This is a real winner, and although there are a few features and advanced settings lacking in this that are present in the Eero vs Orbi, we see Google taking its gear to the next level with future updates. All you have to do is stay tuned.
The mesh system segment is still relatively new as compared to the world of wireless routers, but it is one that we see taking over in the coming years. This is the way to go for better network coverage, and with the number of devices that are connected to our networks only increasing day by day, with smart home appliances, gadgets and everything in our homes transitioning to smart technology, we see the need for a mesh system that can handle the load, while proving a stable connection to all devices located in every corner of your home.
After our findings, we can clearly give our recommendations for the option for Best Budget option or Editor’s Choice, Best Coverage and Best Performance. Whatever you’re looking for, even in the world of wireless mesh systems, there is something out there that caters to your internet needs.
The BlueGadgetTooth team is always here to help.