Best mesh wifi systems in the UK 2023

Before you buy, it’s worth knowing that a mesh wifi system is a bit more intimidating than the traditional wifi routers you’ll be used to. And they’re more complex, requiring you to spend a bit more time on setup and in an app tinkering with settings. However, it can feel like a substantial upgrade too, so it’s worth paying attention to the following key factors to find the best mesh wifi system for your needs:

Coverage

A mesh wifi system should cover an area of at least 2,000 square feet but some cover more. You’ll need to figure out how much space you’ll need to be covered including any outdoor areas you want to connect in like balconies or gardens.

The number of node units

You can get anywhere between one and three nodes for most models. How many you need will depend on several things, including where in your home your wifi hub is situated. Coverage areas are a useful indicator of potential performance, but the variations in different buildings will have a vast impact on these. Overall you’ll want two units for larger flats and apartments, and three for smaller houses. Most systems allow you to connect more units if necessary, so if your mansion proves particularly wi-fi-resilient, adding more units will solve the problem.

Speed

As explained above, the speed delivered by your mesh wifi system is theoretical, and will be split across the bands. The maximum speed the best mesh wifi systems can achieve currently usually ranges between 1,000Mbps and 3,000Mbps, but some go to as much as a blazing-fast speed of up to 5.4Gbps. For most of us, the maximum speed offered on your line won’t reach anywhere close to this, but a higher total speed device is better for faster speeds overall.

Dual or tri-band

Modern routers broadcast wifi networks on at least two different bands: 2.4GHz, which is good for long distances but can be slower, and 5GHz, which offers faster speeds but only covers shorter distances. All mesh wifi networks come with both 2.4GHz and 5GHz (called dual-band), but some have two 5GHz bands and a 2.4GHz band (known as tri-band). This means the access points can exchange information about the wifi network between each other using one band, freeing up the other two to keep your internet consistent. Confusingly, newer mesh systems with wifi 6E (more on that below) offer 6GHz band coverage as well, in some cases also calling this ‘tri-band’. It’s worth checking exactly which of these options you’re dealing with.

Wifi 6 support

What is wifi 6? This new internet connection standard uses different tech to ensure it’s as fast and efficient as possible. Only newer devices support this standard (while older devices use wifi 5) but if you’re looking to future-proof your wifi network and plan to upgrade your laptops and smartphones soon, it may be worth getting a mesh wifi system that supports wifi 6.

We’d suggest getting at least a wifi 6-compliant network (although we still recommend some more affordable wifi 5 models), and the very latest releases have upgraded this to wifi 6E, which can deliver speeds up to 2x faster than wifi 6.

Wifi 6E support

Intrigued by wifi 6E? This is the latest wireless standard and can boost speeds by opening up a 6GHz channel (cutting out interference from devices connected to 5GHz and 2.4GHz channels) but the downside is that not many devices (like your iPhone 14, PlayStation 5 or even your internet router) support it at this stage. Those that do are still expensive but are likely to become more affordable over time.

Subscriptions

A key element when choosing the best mesh wifi system is whether there are any ongoing costs, which many manufacturers have incorporated, especially for arguably essential functions like parental controls. We’ve highlighted these in particular, especially as some of the more expensive subscriptions bundle in other online security tools as well, which you may already be paying for through other providers.

Parental controls

As mentioned above, most mesh wifi systems have tools to manage the network built into smartphone apps so you can adjust the settings. This includes parental controls that let you pause the internet. That’s ideal if you don’t want family time to be interrupted by phones. Mesh systems also offer the option to set up guest networks, so you don’t have to give visitors your main password.

Voice integration

The majority of mesh wifi networks work with Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa and allow you to turn on guest networks or pause the internet simply by asking your smart speaker. Some mesh systems have the voice assistant built into their access points too, so you don’t need a separate smart speaker. Make sure you choose a mesh network that’s compatible with the current voice assistant you use. You also can find mesh systems that work with HomeKit – like this Linksys model – but there are fewer of these.

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