The Difference Between Wi-Fi Range Extenders vs A Mesh Network

If there’s one thing that frustrates many of us about our Wi-Fi network, it’s dead spots. You know, those mystery spots in your home where you get no signal at all. These spots feel like a mystery worthy of calling in Agents Scully and Mulder, but the truth is that they are easily solved without delving into the X-Files.

Mesh network systems are a great way to fix those dead spots in your home, because they cover your entire home so that there are no dead spots. You probably already know that range extenders do the same thing, so how are they different? And are mesh systems worth the extra cost?

Wi-Fi Range Extenders

ASUS Dual-Band Gigabit WiFi Gaming Router (AC3100)

Range extenders communicate with your router re-broadcasting the signal, and they are usually a separate Wi-Fi network. So what you have are two networks instead of one and your devices mostly stay on one until they are completely out of range. So you’ll still have slow Wi-Fi in certain areas of your home unless you manually switch back and forth between the networks as you move around the home. That isn’t very practical. It is also very inefficient.

You also have to be aware that most range extenders cut your bandwidth in half, so they can’t send and receive information at the same time, thereby slowing everything.

And if you need to manage your settings or even access them, it is a real pain with this setup. You usually have to go to a web page to change your settings or download updates for the router. Now you have to do this for your extender too. Again, this is very inefficient and outdated.

Mesh Networks

Where extenders simply add to your network and repeat the signal, a mesh network will completely replace your home network. They replace your router/extender setup and you can have multiple units placed around your house, to completely cover your home. They don’t create a separate network. You stay connected no matter what room you are in.

Mesh systems also do not cut your bandwidth in half. This is because it uses multiple radios when sending and receiving. You can look forward to better speeds, less bottlenecking and seamless operation. And when it comes to changing settings and managing your network, that is just as seamless. Gone are the days when you had to go to a special admin web page. Your whole network can now be managed from one smartphone app.

As an added bonus, many mesh routers will also update their firmware automatically, which keeps things much more secure. You won’t have to do a thing to get the latest security patches and other updates.

So as you can see these two technologies are completely different beasts. Mesh routers are more expensive, but the ease of use and added security make them well worth the price. It will be nice to be able to get a signal in every room of your home without any problems whatsoever. It’s no wonder mesh network sales are projected to continue to be on the rise.

NETGEAR Orbi Ultra-Performance Home Mesh WiFi System

Reviewer: Conner Flynn

The Difference Between Wi-Fi Range Extenders vs A Mesh Network

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