Mesh Wi-Fi vs. traditional router: Which one's best for your home?
PCWorld|November 2021
You can go with the easy answer—or the one that’s actually best for you.
ALAINA YEE

Nearly everyone is familiar with traditional routers—they’ve been around pretty much forever at this point. You need just one to manage the internet connection that’s provided through your modem. For some folks, this may be the combination modem and router (also known as a gateway) that you received from your internet service provider.

Mesh routers (fave.co/3DXf5d0) came on the scene around 2015, and with them came a different kind of setup that relied on multiple devices. Usually you place at least two nodes around your house, with the option to easily add more for thorough coverage. The arrangement can be repositioned and/or expanded as needed to eliminate dead zones.

Though mesh routers are newer, they don’t make their traditional counterparts obsolete. They’re just different. And because mesh routers are generally pricier when compared to traditional routers with similar features, people often wonder if they’re really worth it. So we’ve laid it all out here in a showdown, so you understand the pros and cons of each option when it comes to key features. Spoiler: A lot of what makes one better depends on your living situation.

WI-FI COVERAGE

Everyone wants a router that provides a strong, stable signal no matter your location in a home. And both mesh and traditional routers can provide that out of the box— depending on the type of home you live in.

Because a mesh network relies on multiple nodes, it’s a good option for homes with multiple stories or a wide, spread-out floor plan. The coverage works like a series of dots all interconnected to one another, hence the name “mesh.” The nodes can talk to their nearest neighbor(s) to relay the signal back to the node that is connected directly to the internet and is managing traffic on your network, which provides two benefits. First, the signal can stay stronger because it doesn’t have to travel as far between nodes. Second, delays at the hub are minimized because the data can take different paths to get there. And should your home still have any dead zones, you can just reposition the nodes or buy more to ensure thorough coverage.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM PCWORLDView All

3 Things We Love in Windows 11 (and 3 Things We Hate)

Windows 11 has some great features, as well as reasons not to upgrade.

4 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

How to make Windows 11 look like Windows 10

Windows 11 gives Microsoft’s operating system a bold new look, but you can still make it feel (mostly) familiar.

5 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

How to upgrade to Windows 11: Every option explained

Microsoft has several tools to upgrade you from Windows 10 to Windows 11 in a matter of minutes.

8 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

How to watch TV on your PC

There are several ways to watch live TV on your PC, some much easier than others. We walk you through your options.

5 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

SOME OF THE BEST WINDOWS 11 FEATURES ARE HIDDEN

HERE’S WHERE TO FIND THEM.

7 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

Mesh Wi-Fi vs. traditional router: Which one's best for your home?

You can go with the easy answer—or the one that’s actually best for you.

7 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

AMD Radeon RX 6600: Finally, a true 1080p graphics card

It’s good, though pricey.

10+ mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

Acer Predator Triton 500 SE: A gaming laptop that's safe for work

The 16:10, 1440p, 165 Hz display is great for more than just gaming.

7 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

Microsoft Surface Pro 8: A superior Windows 11 tablet

Microsoft's latest Surface ushers in Windows 11 with an outstanding new Surface tablet.

10+ mins read
PCWorld
November 2021

PNY LX3030 SSD: Incredible durability for twice the price

This PCIe 3 drive sustains long writes with the top performers and is rated for a staggering 27,000TBW per TB of capacity.

5 mins read
PCWorld
November 2021
RELATED STORIES

Y&R: BILLY PLOTS TO SAVE CHANCCOMM

Big Talk: A desperate Billy (Thompson) has a plan to undo the problems he caused for ChancComm.

2 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
December 13, 2021

HyperX Cloud II Wireless

Durable, comfortable and a reliable timeless design.

3 mins read
Maximum PC
Holiday 2021

GH PREVIEW: LAURA LEARNS VICTOR IS ALIVE!

Homecoming Float: Martin (Knight) worries that Laura (Genie Francis) may put herself in the line of fire.

2 mins read
Soap Opera Digest
December 13, 2021

NZXT H510 Flow - Compact Brilliance

AS YOU MAY KNOW, we’re big fans of small cases here at Maximum PC. It’s perhaps a bit of an Achilles heel of ours that we don’t focus on the larger chassis out there. But there’s just something about compact chassis that really hits home. For the vast majority who don’t hoard TBs of data and process vast simulations or render video footage, a compact machine like this is all you really need. On-board audio killed the sound-card, Nvidia killed SLI, Intel killed networking cards, and the M.2 drive has decimated every other storage form. Because of that, for most people, a small case that you can lift off the ground and plonk on your desk is a smart move.

2 mins read
Maximum PC
Holiday 2021

Intel Core i9-12900K

Finally, Team Blue’s Hybrid 10nm design is here

3 mins read
Maximum PC
Holiday 2021

XFX Radeon RX 6600 Speedster SWFT 210

Not the fastest card on the block

3 mins read
Maximum PC
Holiday 2021

Razer Huntsman V2 Analog

Pure precision or gimmicky overkill?

3 mins read
Maximum PC
Holiday 2021

MSI GE76 Raider

Strong, sharp, and bulky. This is no shy beast.

4 mins read
Maximum PC
Holiday 2021

GEAR of the YEAR

IT FEELS LIKE only yesterday we were gearing up for last year’s Gear of the Year awards. That prestigious moment where we gather our thoughts on the very best hardware that has been launched in the last year (or at least the gear we’ve had the opportunity to test) and give you our picks for where you should invest your money. It has certainly been an interesting year, that’s for sure, and jam-packed with a ton of new releases. Last time around, we were still reeling from the first year of the pandemic, the world of computing had just arrived at a rather abrupt silicon shortage, and Nvidia had just launched its latest and greatest 3000-series GPUs as well. Life was, fair to say, a little odd. And, arguably, it still is.

10+ mins read
Maximum PC
Holiday 2021

Editor's Pick: Nighthawk 5G WiFi 6 Mobile Hotspot Pro

Aside from the crazy name, this is pretty cool

3 mins read
Maximum PC
Holiday 2021