Best Mesh Router System: Eero vs. Google Wifi vs. Orbi vs. Velop
Eero is a mesh network that uses multiple routers to eliminate dead spots and produce maximum speed from anyplace in your house.
Watch Eero’s marketing video. It speaks to the struggles people have had with Wifi for years, including setup problems, issues updating software, manual resets, and the ugliness of most routers.
Eero was the pioneer of mesh Wifi systems, but a lot of copycats have come to the market since (i.e. Netgear, Google, and Linksys).
I tried the first generation Eero last year. It was a solid router system, but I stuck with my previous setup. The Wifi speeds didn’t increase inside my small house where there aren’t many interfering signals from other houses.
In June, Eero released a second version of their innovative system to catch up to copycats who surpassed them.
I decided it was time to reevaluate the mesh router landscape. In this comparison post (Eero vs. Google Wifi vs. Orbi vs. Velop), I’ll evaluate the pros and cons of each router to find out which is the best.
#4 – Solid but overpriced.
Eero Gen 2 (C+)
- Eero makes it easy to give friends access to your Wifi by sending them a token via text message. There’s no need to give them a WPA2 password.
- The boxes are small (4.75″ x 4.75″ x 1.34″) and beautiful.
- Sometimes we have buffering issues while watching a movie. With other routers, in order to fix this, we’d unplug the router, wait 30 seconds, and pray for it to work. Eero automatically detects such issues and resets itself in the background. Also, you can use the app to reset the router without getting off the couch.
- Installation is easy, and the instructions are easy to follow. They tell you where to place routers and offer tips to improve the signal if it isn’t ideal.
- You can create groups with “Family Profiles” and pause devices remotely.
- Eero is a startup company trying to disrupt the router industry status quo. I love their mission to simplify complex internet components. Companies like Google, Netgear, and Linksys all have other focuses, but the router is Eero’s sole focus right now.
- With Eero’s second iteration, they introduced a version that looks like the previous but has 20-30% better performance. They also introduced Eero Beacon, which plugs into the wall without a cord. Beacon has the same specs as the original Eero.
- The newest Eeros are backward compatible with the first generation.
- Eero is future proof with Thread support. This means in the future when smart devices support Thread, you’ll be able to use Eero as your smart hub, rather than needing an additional hub.
- You can prioritize your Wifi devices for a set period, which allocates the majority of internet power to the device you’re actively using. For instance, let’s say I’m uploading a time-sensitive video and it needs to go live quickly. Typically, bandwidth is shared between all the devices on the network, but I can change the settings to upload the video quickly.
- Family settings allow you to control when certain devices have internet access.
- There are only two Ethernet ports on each. One Ethernet input is for the broadband modem, and the other is output for hardwired devices (like the Philips Hue hub). However, the lack of ports doesn’t affect me and won’t affect 95% of users. Plus, if you have more than one of those routers in your house, you’ll already have more ports.
- I’m worried about how hot the Eero Beacon runs. I haven’t had productivity issues, but it’s hot to the touch most of the time.
- You shouldn’t use Eero as a solo router (although you can). It got killed in my tests by the other three competitors.
- Because you’ll need at least two of these, you’re looking at at least the two-pack for $300. Eero is still priced higher than the rest when you consider the two-pack only covers the amount of most of the single mesh routers.
- The second generation Eero is supposed to be faster, but I didn’t see it in my tests. My internet maxed out at 50/mbps with two Eeros, but with all the other systems I was getting at least 60/mbps with the mesh set up.
- They have an optional subscription service called Eero Plus. It’s $10 a month and seems pretty pointless. Eero’s CEO compares Eero Plus’ utility to Amazon Prime because it’s going to keep bringing more value to the table. This is laughable now, but if they were to add a free VPN service to the Eero Plus plan, I’d be interested in buying it.
#3 – Beast with dumb app.
Netgear Orbi (B+)
- Orbi is a beast. I don’t recommend buying Orbi as a solo router (you’ll understand why as you read). But if you do, it’ll give you the most coverage and speed by a solid margin.
- It has five Ethernet ports and a USB. (This is not for me, but I know there are people out there who like their ports.)
- Orbi is a tri-band router, but it leaves one of the 5GHz bands as a dedicated backhaul channel. What’s this mean in English? The backhaul channel is used for the Orbis to communicate with each other only. This leaves the other two channels open for clients, which is why Orbi gets the best performance of all the mesh systems.
- The setup was straightforward through the app. It’s not as nice as the other three, but there is no way to customize anything inside the app. This doesn’t make sense or jive with the market Orbi seems to be going after. Someone who thinks they need six different ports on their router probably likes to tinker with things. But they can’t in the settings through the app?
- These things are HUGE and ugly. It’s about 10 times bigger than Eero.
- Related to the first point, there are no smart features, like auto reset or the ability to control devices through the app.
- With the three other mesh systems, each router is interchangeable. The Orbi mesh system, on the other hand, has a base “router”, as well as “satellites”. The router and satellites look identical (minus the ports), but function differently. This makes things confusing.
#2 – Great value and simplicity.
Google Wifi (A)
- Google’s Wifi router is $129 for one or $299 (as low as $270 on Amazon) for the whole system. That’s $200 cheaper than Eero’s three-pack.
- I was concerned with the hardware since Google didn’t start making physical devices until this year (router, phone, speaker). But Google has the same internal specs as the first Eero. I tested the speed from all corners of my house, and it matched the performance of the first Eero, so the hardware seems to check out.
- I wasn’t worried about the software because Google has always been on top of its game in that regard. The app is basic, but it’s going to get better with time, and it’s easy to use.
- Instead of giving your Google account information to everyone who wants access to the network settings, you can add people’s Google accounts and make them managers.
- There is basic integration with smart hubs. If you have Philips Hue lights, you can control the lights from Google’s app rather than the Hue app. It’s nice to have everything in one place.
- You can see the stats for each device on the network and rename the devices that aren’t labeled correctly. With the stats, you can see how much each device is downloading (per 5 seconds, hour, day and month). This is a great way to see who’s taking advantage of your resources if you live with multiple people. Also, you might catch a device downloading things in the background that are slowing down your network.
- As with Eero, you can prioritize and pause devices.
- There are no network optimization suggestions. Google doesn’t tell you about router placement when creating a mesh system. It’d be nice to play around with the router placement to get the best optimization. This is something that can be built into the app, and I expect it in the future.
- As with Eero, there are only two Ethernet ports on each router.
- Ideally, you shouldn’t put a router next to a wall if you can avoid it. During some experiments, I put Google Wifi on the window sill and it was barely able to function while all the others did just fine. Interesting, but not a big deal.
- With the second generation of Eero, Google Wifi is the only mesh router in this comparison that isn’t tri-band. Google Wifi is only a dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz).
- There is no VPN pass-through or IPv6 support.
#1 – Powerful with great app.
Linksys Velop (A+)
- Velop’s phone setup and app are great. As with Google Wifi and Eero, you can prioritize devices.
- You can pause any device using your network. For example, let’s say you don’t want your kids to use the internet at night. You can use the app to off the internet on any device. This is a valuable tool for parents with young kids. Though it isn’t new technology, the user-friendly interface makes it much easier to implement. If you know how to turn on a smartphone, you can change the settings.
- It updates automatically; you don’t have to do anything.
- The performance with just ONE Velop was way better than a single Eero or Google Wifi. The range is much better, covering up to 2,000 ft.
- Linksys bribes its users with incentives to post positive reviews on Amazon. They’re not the only company who does this, but I don’t like it.
- There are only two ports. Like I’ve said, this shouldn’t be an issue.
- It’s not as ugly as the huge Orbi, but it’s got nothing on Eero.
Which one is for you?
If a router is doing its job correctly, it should be unnoticeable, working seamlessly in the background. It’s tough to get excited about routers, but these mesh router systems are my favorite products I’ve reviewed this year because they resolved a lot of frustration.
All four are great options and an upgrade over traditional routers.
One mesh router is sufficient for at least a 1,200-square-foot house. If you’re in a bigger space, you can add more routers as needed to create a mesh system to cover the entire area.
Eero’s a solid system. But it’s overpriced because two of the routers aren’t as powerful together compared to the others. You’ll need to spend $500 to get a comparable mesh network like the others.
I’m all for paying an “Apple Tax” for innovation, but the problem is you’re not getting premium performance or extra simplicity from Eero to justify the Apple Tax. If you believe in supporting the original mesh router, you like Eero’s mission and don’t want them to go out of business, go with the Eero.
Netgear’s Orbi is a great system and performs the best of all four routers. You’ll enjoy great speed and coverage, but you won’t get any smart features in their phone app, and they’re expensive. Plus, you’ll be stuck looking at these giants.
Google Wifi is about simplicity and affordability.
Velop is everything Eero promises, without the high price tag or fancy marketing.
Google Wifi and Velop will work great as individual routers, or in a mesh system (as intended). To get coverage equal to three Google Wifis, you only need two Velops.
I went with two Velops for my house for $300. I love it! But I had Google Wifi for a year and loved that too.