An effective true mesh Wi-Fi system that’s quick and easy to set up, but it’s costly even after a price drop
Linksys Velop has the same appeal on paper as the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi. It’s easy to set up and spreading a strong signal across your home is as easy as plugging extra nodes in where you need coverage.
Once you’ve done that, you shouldn’t need to touch it. As you move around the house, your devices connect to the node with the strongest Wi-Fi signal and requests are passed around the mesh until they reach the base unit, which is attached to your main router or modem.
Setup is super simple. Each Velop node has built-in Bluetooth, so there’s no need to faff around entering usernames and passwords first, and once you’ve chosen the type of router
or modem you’re connecting to, the system sets itself up, checking as you add extra nodes to ensure you’ve put them in the best place for optimal throughput and signal strength.
There’s no integrated DSL modem, meaning BT, TalkTalk and Sky customers will need to keep hold of their existing routers, but we had no trouble connecting the system to a spare Ethernet port on our Sky Q Hub.
When it comes to features, Velop is slightly better off than BT Whole Home Wi-Fi in that it has two Gigabit Ethernet ports per router and a more fully featured app, with access to device prioritisation and advanced wireless settings such as channel scanning. In other respects, the BT system forges ahead, with a 1,733Mbits/sec top speed and 4x4-stream MIMO support to the Velop’s 867Mbits/sec, 2x2-stream MIMO support.
The Velop is tri-band and uses a dedicated 5GHz network for internode communication: it automatically and dynamically switches Wi-Fi channels on the fly, and performance is excellent. Up close, download speeds hit 78.8MB/sec, while in our tricky kitchen location with a twin node setup, we saw speeds maintained at 54MB/sec. Adding a third node in the kitchen cut throughput to 29.6MB/sec, but it’s still our best performing system this month.
The Velop’s problem isn’t one of performance but expense. A twin pack costs more than the Google Wifi, even after a recent price drop from Linksys, while BT’s system is cheaper if you’re after three nodes. Still, if you’re willing to pay more, it offers faster speeds and some nice extra features.
ABOVE As you move around the house, your device will connect to the node with the strongest Wi-Fi signal