Mesh Wi-Fi vs. Traditional Wi-Fi Routers: Which is Better?

Having a good internet connection is an absolute must for every home. Whether you’re working from home and taking Zoom calls all day, you have kids doing online classes or you’re bingeing a show with your significant other once the kids are asleep, reliable Wi-Fi is not a maybe but a necessity.

The main difference between mesh Wi-Fi and traditional Wi-Fi is that mesh Wi-Fi systems use two or more units to disperse the internet connection throughout your home. In contrast, standard Wi-Fi utilizes a single hub to get you your internet.

While traditional Wi-Fi routers have served us well for quite some time, mesh Wi-Fi has become increasingly popular in the last five years, which has many individuals asking themselves which is better, mesh or traditional Wi-Fi routers?

Traditional Wi-Fi Routers

A traditional or standard Wi-Fi router usually looks like a box and sometimes has antennas on top. 

When you have a traditional Wi-Fi router, you have a single hub working hard to get a good Wi-Fi connection to every part of your home. Everything comes through this single access point, and it is accessible by password. 

Advantages of Traditional Wi-Fi Routers

So what are some of the advantages of choosing a traditional Wi-Fi router? For one, you only have to worry about one router for your whole house. You won’t find yourself needing to stay on top of multiple modules or diagnose connectivity problems throughout the house. 

With that, you’re looking at a one-and-done solution. It’s much less of a hassle than mesh Wi-Fi, where you’re setting up multiple units to get a reliable Wi-Fi connection. You have a single unit to rely on, significantly simplifying your internet solution.

Traditional routers also allow you to set up multiple networks such as one for you, your children or a guest network.

Lastly, one capability you get with traditional Wi-Fi routers that you won’t get with a mesh system is you’re able to hook up your devices directly to your router. This guarantees a lightning-fast connection without fail.

Whatever your residential internet plan looks like, a traditional Wi-Fi  router is going to serve you well and get you the reliable internet connection you’re looking for.

Disadvantages of Traditional Wi-Fi Routers

Of course, there are some disadvantages when it comes to traditional Wi-Fi routers.

One challenge you may face with a traditional router is spotty coverage. You may find that your router struggles to reach all of the corners of your home, which may result in slow and spotty coverage in those areas.

This is one reason why it’s so important to put your router in a central location. This will make it infinitely more accessible for your router to provide excellent coverage throughout your home. You might also consider investing in range extenders. These extenders communicate with your router and boost the connection throughout your home, ensuring more reliability.

You may also find that your traditional router can become easily overloaded. With just one unit supporting all of your internet activity, it can become overwhelmed. It would take quite a lot to overload your router, but this is an issue some users run into from time to time.

Mesh Wi-Fi Routers

As stated earlier, mesh Wi-Fi routers operate on a system with multiple nodes spread throughout your home. The nodes work together to ensure reliable internet in your house. This provides a seamless connection throughout your home. 

There is one primary router that all of the nodes are connected to, so if any adjustments need to be made, it’s done through the primary router.

Advantages of Mesh Wi-Fi Routers

One of the most significant driving points pushing people to invest in a mesh router system is that you get better overall coverage throughout your home. You install the nodes throughout your home in areas where the internet is frequently used or where a traditional router might struggle to reach.

Whatever node you’re closest to is what your devices will automatically connect to. You won’t find yourself needing to manually connect as you move throughout the house.

Another significant advantage you’ll find with mesh Wi-Fi systems is that many providers will let you control your Wi-Fi through an app. Traditional Wi-Fi routers are typically adjusted through an online website. This makes mesh Wi-Fi a very user-friendly option.

Disadvantages of Mesh Wi-Fi Routers

Perhaps the most significant deterrent for people with mesh Wi-Fi systems is that they’re more expensive than a traditional router. Depending on how large your home is and how many nodes you’re setting up, you’re looking at a pretty hefty price tag.

You may also find that some mesh systems aren’t as fast as traditional routers. Sure, your connection is more accessible throughout your home, but this does not guarantee that the connection will be as fast as you’d prefer.

Mesh systems also have a time-consuming setup. Think about it: with a traditional router, you have one unit to prepare and then you’re done. With a mesh system, you have to make sure all of the nodes are properly set up, connected and configured to get the effect you’re looking for. Getting your mesh system up and running may be more time consuming, but the app will generally help you with proper placement in your home.

What to Look For in a Wi-Fi Router

So what are some of the different qualities to look for in a Wi-Fi router? Some aspects to consider include:

  • Speed: While different speed options come with separate price tags, if having fast internet is a priority for you, it is worth the added expense. Make sure you’re getting a router that supports the speed you’re looking for.
  • Coverage: If you’re trying to choose between a mesh and a traditional router, it’s because you want the best coverage. Do your due diligence to make sure you’re getting the best option.
  • Software Ease of Use: Mesh Wi-Fi systems come with an app to manage settings while  traditional routers utilize an external website. Keep this in mind when making your router decision.
  • Price: As stated above, mesh Wi-Fi systems can be far more expensive than traditional routers, simply because they utilize multiple nodes to get you your coverage. If you’re looking for a cost-effective option, traditional routers are the way to go.
  • Set-Up: Make sure you’re getting a Wi-Fi router that is easy to set up. It’s hard to justify a Wi-Fi router that takes hours to set up when you can get reliable coverage with a router that requires much less effort.
  • Compatibility: Before investing in a new router, make sure it’s compatible with your internet provider and devices.
  • Primary Use of the Internet: What are you primarily using your internet for? Are you working from home? Streaming shows? Gaming? Browsing social media? Ensure you’re getting a router that supports your internet habits and that the right amount of bandwidth accompanies it.
  • Look/Design: Get a router with a look and design that you’ll like! It’s going to be in a highly frequented area of your home, which means it’s something you’re going to be looking at often. Find one that you’re going to be okay with looking at daily.

Finding the Right Router

At the end of the day, the right router is going to change from person to person. We live in a world with various options to choose from in just about every aspect of our lives, and our internet is no different. Do your research and make sure that you’re finding the best router to meet your needs!

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