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24 May 2019

Wi-fi boosters and extenders from Netgear, TP-Link and Plume on test

We've reviewed some of the latest mesh systems to find out how good they really are at boosting your wi-fi

Mesh systems, although pricey, are a great solution to wi-fi that doesn't reach every room of the house. The best work together with your router and devices to offer a single, seamless, reliable connection.

We've tested three of the latest models from Netgear, TP-Link and Plume to see which do the best job at extending your coverage throughout the whole home, and offer greater speeds at long range.

All three promise seamless connectivity throughout the home, and to help with the congestion you might experience when using lots of different devices, a problem that's becoming more and more common. These modern solutions have options to add extra devices to the mesh network if the standard packages don't increase your coverage enough, which is great for particularly large homes, and increasingly we're seeing security features and technology built into the partner apps to offer anti-virus protection and parental controls.

Thinking of upgrading your router? See all of our best routers here.

Netgear Orbi AC2200 Whole Home WiFi System (RBK20), £230

The Orbi RBK20 is a mesh system of two devices which work together to offer one connection, over a space of up to 3,000 square feet. Netgear promises the best of performance, with no dips in video quality, streaming, speed or loading times. It's a tri-band device, which means it operates over three frequencies to help reduce congestion.

The Orbi also has good connectivity options, so you'll be able to use it alongside smart home systems such as Alexa and Google Assistant.

Security features include parental control software called Circle With Disney - this allows you to play around with time limits, set bed times and filter content by device, so you can reward and limit your kids' screen time however you see fit.

Read our full Netgear Orbi AC2200 Whole Home WiFi System (RBK20) review to see if it does a good job at extending your wi-fi.

Thinking of switching broadband? Read our guide to the best and worst broadband providers for 2019.

TP-Link Deco M9 Plus, £249.99

TP-Link's Deco M9 Plus promises huge connectivity - supposedly more than 100 devices over a range of 4,500 square feet. The mesh system works together with your router and chooses the best connection for your device as you move throughout the home - so you can just connect and let the Deco do everything for you.

Designed to eliminate cold spots and keep the connection steady, TP-Link has included two 5GHz frequencies and one 2.4GHz frequency, meaning devices can be spread between the three, reducing overload on one frequency and ultimately allowing faster speeds.

It also includes a range of security features, which include parental controls, built-in anti-virus (which will block malicious content, prevent hacking and quarantine infected devices) and unlike with other manufacturers, TP-Link offers this free for three years.

To find out how well it performed in our tests, read our TP-Link Deco M9 Plus review.

Plume Adaptive Wi-fi, £198

Plume Adaptive Wi-fi is a group of devices that form one unified wi-fi system, working with a partner app. Plume works as both a standalone mesh system, or with a subscription. A Plume subscription will allow you to access a wide range of security, parental and personalisation features such as online protection (against malware, botnets, phishing sites, etc), ad blocking, content access (allowing you to decide which devices can access which type of content - great if you want to keep adult content blocked) and advanced internet of things (IoT) protection, which constantly monitors the normal uses of smart IoT devices, making sure to alert you if something is amiss.

Plume is also tri-band, so devices can be shared over three separate frequencies, allowing less chance of traffic and poor performance due to congestion or overloading to one frequency.

We really liked the partner iOS app during our tests. Check out our full Plume Adaptive Wi-Fi review to see our verdict on speed and coverage.

Should I buy a mesh system or a wi-fi extender?

Deciding between a mesh system and a wi-fi extender depends on the issues you're experiencing with your wi-fi and your budget.

Mesh systems are great if you have a large house with lots of devices and want a connection that is stable and steady throughout the whole home. All components work together with your router to offer one unified connection, so you don't have to worry about it once you're connected. They often also have partner apps with additional features that allow you to personalise and control your network.

However, although they can offer really good speed and coverage in general, they do come at a price, and you'll find most are around the £200 mark. Wi-fi extenders, therefore, are a suitable solution to wireless issues on a budget. With an extender, you won't find the features, or a connection that's as speedy or powerful, but they can be a good solution for blackspots and short-reaching signal for less than £100.

Browse all of our wireless extenders and mesh reviews.