ROUTER OR MESH?
A MESH NETWORKING SYSTEM CAN PROVIDE SCREAMINGLY FAST SPEEDS THROUGHOUT YOUR HOME, BUT DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED ONE?
This month we’ve focused on conventional standalone routers, but what about mesh networking systems? The promise of a consistent signal coverage throughout your home sounds great, but there are reasons why it may make sense to pick a conventional router instead.
1 HIGHER PRICE
High-quality mesh networking gear isn’t cheap. And that’s hardly surprising – the best systems use no fewer than nine Wi-Fi radios, spread across three nodes. While mesh prices are generally higher; you might be better off with a cheaper router and a separate extender.
2 LIMITED CONNECTIVITY
Many mesh systems have only two Ethernet sockets per node, which is hardly ideal if you have lots of wired devices. They normally lack USB connections too, so you can forget about le and printer sharing, and while WPS is sometimes supported, it’s rare that you get a physical button. If you need lots of connection options, a traditional router is a better bet.
3 FEWER FEATURES
Most mesh networking systems support basics such as a guest network, port forwarding, IP address reservation and simple parental controls. If you want more advanced capabilities, though – such as wireless bridging, 3G failover and built-in VPN support – you’re far more likely to nd them in a standalone router.
4 LESS BANDWIDTH
Multi-node systems may advertise high data rates, but some of that bandwidth is eaten up in passing packets around from node to node. If you opt for a tri-band mesh system with a dedicated
backhaul channel, your clients will only get the same bandwidth as you’d see from a regular dual-band router. And if your mesh system doesn’t have a dedicated backhaul, that leaves less capacity for your downloads and le transfers.
With all those caveats, however, mesh systems still have a role to play. If you live in a big old house with thick stone walls, a mesh system can give you a better, faster, more pervasive connection than an individual router.
Mesh systems such as the Zyxel Multy X offer fast speeds over a wide area, but is it worth paying extra?