Rating: $ 700 is too much for Linksys Velop's 6-mesh CNET Wi-Fi router

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Earlier this month, I was impressed with the speed and performance of the Netgear Orbi 6 Wi-Fi 6 mesh routerWith a two-part setup of $ 700, the recommendation was too expensive for most readers. However, Netgear is not alone – there are a number of premium mesh routers sold in this price range from $ 600 to $ 700, including options from Arris. Ubiquiti and from Linksys, In particular, this would be the Linksys Velop MX10. As with the Orbi 6 system, a Velop two-pack rings with a router and satellite for the princely sum of $ 700.

To like

  • The Linksys Velop MX10 is easy to set up and use. Linksys grants a three-year warranty on purchase. In our real speed tests for the entire home area, the second highest average download speed of all mesh routers I tested was determined.

I do not like it

  • Velop devices do not include multi-gig ethernet jacks, and their top speeds are more limited than other WiFi 6-mesh routers. You won't find any unique features or design details either.

Another Orbi similarity: the new Velop takes over the existing triband pitch, giving the router and its satellites their own 5 GHz band to route data back and forth without reducing bandwidth Wi-Fi 6, This is an approach that pays off, as our tests show that even households without Wi-Fi 6 devices on the network can still benefit from it faster and more efficient transfers between mesh points. The practical effect is that Wi-Fi speeds near the satellite are almost as good as near the router itself, with a shorter range than previous generation 5 system Wi-Fi.

Sure enough, the Velop worked well when I tested it in my home. After 180 controlled speed tests at different times of the day and in different rooms throughout the house, the Velop achieved the second highest average download speed of all mesh routers I tested. However, it wasn't as fast as the equally expensive Orbi 6 and only slightly faster than my best-tested Wi-Fi 5 system. Nest wifi, This two-part mesh router is less than half the cost of Linksys Velop – and other similarly affordable systems that support Wi-Fi 6 comes later this year, All of this makes it difficult to recommend the Velop MX10 if there is no significant sale.

What you pay for

The nice thing about tri-band mesh routers like the Velop MX10 is that the router and satellite get their own private backhaul band. This means that your transmissions do not consume valuable bandwidth on the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands used by your phone, laptop, media streamers, smart home devices and other devices on your network.

Each Velop device is interchangeable and can be used either as a main router or as a satellite. In addition to the USB 3.0 socket and the Gigabit WAN connection for connecting to your modem, you will find four Gigabit LAN connections for media streaming or a wired backhaul connection on every device. None of these jacks support multi-gig speeds, which is a missed opportunity.

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

Along with the faster, Wi-Fi 6 speeds and Velop, it looks like a future-proof system that will continue to improve as ISP speeds increase. But there are also some shortcomings, especially since a two-part setup costs $ 700 and additional satellites are sold for $ 400 apiece.

First is the design. I don't mind the blocky, monolithic aesthetic, but it would have been nice if Linksys had done more to differentiate the new Wi-Fi 6 system from others previous versions it looks more or less the same. And unlike the first generation Velop system, where black was offered as an option, the new Velop is only available in white.

Technical omissions are more important. For example, Linksys did not provide you with a multi-gig WAN port like that of the Netgear Orbi 6 router. Instead, you're stuck with a standard single gig jack, which means that your internet speed coming in from the modem is always limited to 1 Gbit / s. It's about as fast as it is common these days – but who knows where the speed will be in a few years. At the very least, a $ 700 system should include the option to aggregate the incoming speeds from two of these single gig ports. This is a trick that many routers today use. Not the Linksys Velop.

Other high-end mesh routers have design elements like better looking indicator lights and touchscreen interfaces, or also built-in smart speakers to stand out from the crowd and justify the premium price tags. Not the Linksys Velop.

You can set up and control your Velop system using the Linksys app on your Android or iOS device. In addition to basic functions such as network settings and guest access, the app offers parental controls and device prioritization.

Screenshots from Ry Crist / CNET

The faster WiFi speeds remain the main selling point here – but Velop is not as fast as other systems in the same price range. In particular, Linksys specifies the theoretical maximum speeds of 1,147 Mbit / s in the 2.4 GHz band and 1,733 Mbit / s in the 5 GHz band and 2,400 Mbit / s in the second 5 GHz band, which is the backhaul of the system acts. Orbi 6 offers theoretical maximum speeds of 2,400 Mbit / s on both 5 GHz bands, which is an improvement over Linksys. Now it's $ 650 Arris Surfboard Max Pro and $ 700 AmpliFi alien each offers backhaul tapes with theoretical maximum speeds of up to 4,800 Mbit / s, This is a big step from Linksys.

Based on the technical data on the packaging, the AX5300 Linksys Velop MX10 seems to be the weakest of these four top tier systems. However, our numerous speed tests are designed to find out for sure. And hey, what are you talking about:

The Linksys Velop router lagged behind other Wi-Fi 6 routers in our lab-based high-speed tests – and was also completed behind the Wi-Fi 5 Nest wifi router.

Ry Crist / CNET

A story of two tests

Let's start with the bad news. You know how Linksys lists top speeds for the Velop MX10 that are slightly behind those you get from Orbi 6, the Surfboard Max Pro and the AmpliFi Alien? That's exactly what we saw in our top speed tests – and the Velop was a little more than "light" behind the pack.

To be precise, a single Linksys Velop device connected to a local server returned a top wireless speed of 510Mbps when we were on the network with a Wi-Fi 6 laptop and files from a distance of downloaded one meter. That speed dropped less than 25% to 396 Mbps when we moved 75 feet away, which is a decent result – but I was still unimpressed. The AmpliFi Alien, Arris Surfboard Max and Netgear Orbi 6 routers can achieve a speed of well over 800 Mbit / s at close range. The same applies to the Asus RT-AX92U, which is more of a mid-range Wi-Fi 6-stitch pick.

In the meantime, the Nest WiFi router reached a maximum speed of 612 Mbit / s in the close range. Yes, this Wi-Fi 5 system was actually about 100Mbps faster than the Wi-Fi 6 Linksys Velop in this test.

These overwhelming speeds would probably hold you back if you have a gigabit internet plan – but the average internet connection in the US is only around 100 Mbps. If your plan is less than 500 Mbit / s, the Velop MX10 offers more than enough muscle to get your money's worth.

The Linksys Velop MX10 (red) achieved an average download speed of 243 Mbit / s throughout my house, while my internet plan limited a speed of 300 Mbit / s. The only router I've tested that exceeds this average is the equally expensive Netgear Orbi 6.

Ry Crist / CNET

A typical example: My own home, where we conduct our second test round. I have a 300Mbps AT&T fiber plan that is within Velop's capabilities, and at only 1,300 square feet, my range plan shouldn't be a big challenge for any mesh system in terms of range. A high-end system like the Velop MX10 should shine in such an environment.

Sure enough, that's what happened. It was not as impressive as the Orbi 6, which achieved an average speed of 289 Mbit / s after 180 controlled speed tests, which were carried out in different rooms throughout the house at different times of the day. Has been tested for the entire home with an average download speed of 243 Mbit / s.

In my back bathroom, the farthest point from the router, I saw average speeds of 212 Mbps, which was 78.6% faster than my average speeds when I was in the living room, in the same room as the router. That's a bigger "reach ratio" than any Wi-Fi 5 system, but it's not quite as strong as the 82.7% I've seen with the AmpliFi Alien or the ridiculously impressive 96% I've seen with the Netgear I saw Orbi 6.

The Linksys Velop MX10 covered the entire CNET Smart Home adequately – but the signal strength was not as good as that of other triband WiFi 6 mesh routers we tested, especially Netgear Orbi 6.

Steve Conaway / CNET

Coverage tests too

After testing the top speeds in our laboratory and the real speeds in my house, we bring every mesh router we check to a size of 5,800 square feet. CNET Smart Home for testing signal strength. To do this, we set up the router and its satellite on the ground floor and then use the NetSpot software to log the signal strength of dozens of points in the two-story house. Mind you, the signal strength is not the same as the speed – but the stronger your signal, the faster you can connect.

The test brings us these nifty-looking heat maps. In everyone, blue is bad, green is good, yellow is great – and orange is absolutely great. Netgear Orbi 6 is our clear leader among the four high-end tri-band mesh routers we've mapped so far, and the first router we've ever tested to show so much orange in one of these cards , The Linksys Velop MX10 was less impressive, but it managed to get enough coverage over the entire area, which is a solid result for a two-part system.

Still, it was a bit disappointing that the Velop was unable to outperform the Wi-Fi 5 systems we planned. Coverage appears to be just as high as systems like Nest Wifi, Eero, and the dual-band Wi-Fi 5 version of Netgear Orbi, all of which cost less than half the Velop MX10.

Linksys velop-Wi-Fi-6 mesh router

Tyler Lizenby / CNET

The judgment

The Linksys Velop MX10 is a decent mesh router, but in our tests it didn't match the price of $ 700. With full support for Wi-Fi 6 and a dedicated backhaul band, it offers fast speeds and strong performance within range – but not as fast or as strong as other, equally expensive systems. And without a multi-gig ethernet port or the option to aggregate the incoming signal from multiple ports, your incoming wired signal is in the same bottleneck as previous-generation routers. For me, that is not future-proof enough to ask you to think about bankruptcy.

Patience pays off for those who can only sustain a network upgrade for a while. New, more affordable 6-band dual-band WiFi router are on the way – and with prices Starting at $ 190 for a two-part setupThey are probably much closer to most houses. But if you really have to spend $ 700 to get a triband mesh system with Wi-Fi 6 support in your home, you have other options, such as Netgear Orbi 6 and the AmpliFi alien This is more to justify the waste. I say stay with them – or, if you can, hold back until Black Friday rolls around again.