Millions of Americans worked and learned from home as a result of the pandemic, not to mention all of the Internet streaming and gaming with friends, as well as regular video conversations with loved ones. Many of those new habits appear to be here to stay now, more than two years later — and that increase in traffic means it could be time for a home-networking upgrade if you’ve been trying to get the greatest Wi-Fi connections imaginable.
Upgrading from a router to a mesh system is one of the finest options for many houses. A decent mesh router is essentially a team of routers that can relay your wireless traffic back to the modem better than a typical router, especially when you’re connecting at range, especially if you have several devices dispersed across your home. And with so many new, next-gen options on the market, now is a great time to upgrade.
You might have absolute wireless coverage and speeds that reach your network’s capability throughout the majority, if not the entirety, of your home with the correct system overseeing your connection. Better yet, unlike many stand-alone range extenders, you won’t have to juggle your connection between your main network and a separate extension network. The mesh router will automatically route your connection into a single, unified network because range expansion is built into the technology.
Systems from Eero, which popularized mesh networking before being bought by Amazon in 2019, as well as the latest installations from TP-Link Deco, Asus ZenWifi, Netgear Orbi, and Google Nest, are among the best mesh routers we’ve tested. Mesh systems used to sell for as much as $500, but now these manufacturers provide multipoint mesh router systems for less than $300, or even less than $200, which include the primary router and additional satellite extenders. Although we advocate aiming a little higher, basic, entry-level mesh systems can be found for as little as $20 per device.
We still want to test out a lot of routers and mesh systems, including a rising number that employ Wi-Fi 6 technology, which promises improved performance and quicker speeds. More mesh routers that enable Wi-Fi 6E, which means they can access a newly opened mass of new bandwidth in the 6GHz band, should appear throughout 2022, but it’s probably still too early to invest in such a system (and believe me, they won’t be cheap).
As new Wi-Fi mesh routers like those hit the market, this site will be updated on a regular basis. For the time being, here are our recommendations for the best-tested systems to examine first if you’re on the market.
Look for the following features in a mesh router upgrade that truly feels like an upgrade: Wi-Fi 6 capability, as well as a tri-band design that includes the standard 2.4 and 5GHz bands, as well as a second 5GHz band that may be used as a dedicated backhaul link for wireless transfers between the main router and satellites. The issue is that such tri-band Wi-Fi 6 mesh routers are often quite costly. I was just praising Asus and Eero for getting the cost of a two-piece system like that down to roughly $400 or so not long ago.
Now, TP-Link has outdone itself by releasing the Deco W7200 mesh router, a tri-band Wi-Fi 6 system that costs only $229 for a two-pack. That’s possibly the finest mesh router value I’ve ever seen — and the best thing is that it works like a champ, with fast, steady speeds, decent range, and a setup process that’s about as simple as it gets, with satellite extenders that immediately join the mesh as soon as they’re plugged in. In fact, the Netgear Orbi AX6000, the only mesh system that outperformed the Deco W7200 in my at-home speed tests, costs more than three times as much at $700 for a two-pack.
All of this adds up to the Deco W7200 being an excellent value and the first mesh router I’d suggest if someone asked. Just keep in mind that it’s been in and out of supply on Walmart’s website this year, so it might not be available right away in your area. If it isn’t, the TP-Link Deco X90, which performed even better in my tests and includes a multi-gig Ethernet port for high-speed internet plans, is another option. It’s more expensive at $450 for a two-pack, but it’s now on sale for $380 on Amazon, which isn’t a bad price. Read our TP-Link Deco W7200 review for more information.
The AX6000 version of the Netgear Orbi is too pricey to suggest outright, at $699 for a two-pack and presently on sale for just over $600 on Amazon — but if you just want one of the quickest mesh routers money can buy, look no further.
The powerful system impressed us in our tests, with top speeds of nearly 900Mbps at close range and complete support for Wi-Fi 6 and a second 5GHz band that acts as a separate backhaul link for the router and its satellites. In that test, that’s one of the fastest statistics we’ve ever seen from a mesh router, and it only dropped to 666Mbps at a distance of 75 feet, which is still faster than the Nest Wifi up close, just 5 feet away.
When we took the Orbi AX6000 home to put it to the test in a real-world environment, the results were even more astonishing. With a 300Mbps incoming internet connection as a speed restriction, the system delivered average rates of 289Mbps to Wi-Fi 5 devices and 367Mbps to Wi-Fi 6 devices across the home, including 95 percent faster speeds at the farthest point from the router than while connecting up close. That’s an excellent result, and it’s held up as I’ve continued to test the controlled mesh router speed. No other system I’ve tested has been able to take the top rank on the scoreboard in the two years since I first tested the Orbi AX6000 at my home, not even the newer Orbi AXE11000 system, which adds support for Wi-Fi 6E. (yes, really).
The issue here is the price: $699 is simply too much for most people, especially considering that you’ll need at least 500Mbps to see much of a difference between this system and others we like that cost less than half as much.
The Orbi mesh system’s AX4200 variant, which costs $350, is also available. It’s still a tri-band Wi-Fi router with Wi-Fi 6, but it doesn’t have the multigig WAN port that the AX6000 model has. We’ll keep an eye on it and update this space once we’ve put it through its paces. Read our review of the Netgear Orbi AX6000.
Eero was a forerunner in the mesh networking technique, and it was acquired by Amazon in 2019. Then, in 2020, two new versions of the Eero mesh router were released: the Eero 6 and Eero Pro 6, both of which had compatibility for Wi-Fi 6.
As an upgrade option, I enjoyed the Eero Pro 6, but the standard Eero 6 wasn’t quite up to par for me to recommend. Let’s fast forward to 2022, when the Eero 6 Plus is released. It has the same strong pitch as the Eero 6, which is a relatively affordable and easy-to-use three-piece Wi-Fi 6 mesh configuration with a built-in Zigbee radio for connecting devices like lights and locks to your network for $299 for a three-pack. Best of all, performance is greatly increased thanks to a faster AX3000 design (up from AX1800 with the Eero 6) and support for full-width, 160MHz channels (up from 80MHz).
The Eero 6 Plus delivered average download speeds in the top ten of the 30 or so mesh routers I’ve examined here in my at-home tests, and none of the systems that outperformed it offer a better bargain. It also has good upload speeds and works well with older Wi-Fi 5 client devices, which is essential because those devices still make up the majority of Wi-Fi devices in our homes. It’s a fantastic choice for large homes, where the additional extender will come in useful, with three mesh devices for $299 and a range of up to 4,500 square feet. Take a look at our Eero 6 Plus review.
Thanks to its simple setup and ability to extend a fast, dependable Wi-Fi connection throughout your home for all of your connected devices, Google Wifi became a breakthrough hit a few years ago. The Nest Wifi, a second-generation satellite extender with higher internet speeds and a better-looking design, as well as Google Assistant smart speakers embedded into each satellite extender, is now available.
This time around, the price is a touch lower, too: $269 for the two-piece system above, which covers around the same Wi-Fi coverage area as a three-piece, $300 Google Wifi setup from a few years ago. Although that isn’t as good a deal as it was when the system first launched, there are still plenty of reasons to consider the Nest Wifi if you catch it on sale (the most recent of which brings the price down by $80, to $189 for a 2-pack — I’ve seen that deal come and go in Google’s store multiple times over the past several weeks).
The Nest Wifi has the fastest top speeds of any Wi-Fi 5 mesh router I tested (and even quicker than some of the Wi-Fi 6 systems I tested). In addition, the two-piece arrangement provided enough signal strength to cover the 5,800-square-foot CNET Smart Home. It also acquitted itself admirably in our mesh tests, never losing my connection as I moved around my house doing speed tests, and never routing my connection through the extender when connecting directly to the router was faster.
The Nest Wifi’s lack of Wi-Fi 6 support may appear to be a missed opportunity, but it does support modern features like WPA3 security, device grouping and prioritization, and 4×4 MU-MIMO connections, which provide faster aggregate speeds for devices like the MacBook Pro that can use multiple Wi-Fi antennas at the same time. It’s also backwards compatible with previous-generation Google Wifi, which is a nice touch. Everything is simple to set up, operate, and rely on. I’d much prefer have a top-of-the-line Wi-Fi 5 system than an entry-level Wi-Fi 6 system among dual-band mesh routers, and the Nest Wifi mesh router fills that criteria even amid new competition. Just see if it’s on sale. Take a look at our Nest Wifi review.
Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8)
The Editors’ Choice Award-winning Asus ZenWiFi AX (model number XT8) got extremely close to the AX6000 version of the Netgear Orbi described above, but at $400 or less for a two-piece setup, it’s a lot simpler to buy.
The ZenWiFi AX, in fact, has the same multigig WAN ports as the Orbi AX6000, which is a nice bit of future-proofing that you don’t always get in this price bracket. The tri-band design means it has the same dedicated backhaul band to keep system transmissions separate from network traffic, as well as the same ease of setup, consistent mesh performance, and great range speeds. All of this combines to make it a cost-effective upgrade option for the future. It’s also available in either white or black.
I particularly liked the Asus app’s level of control, which allows you to monitor your network and tweak the backhaul as needed. If $400 is too much for your budget, know that the Asus ZenWiFi AX Mini is a smaller version of same system. It isn’t as powerful as its big brother, and it isn’t a tri-band system, but it does come with three devices that all support Wi-Fi 6 for $250, which makes it quite appealing. Last year, ZenWifi released the ZenWifi XD6, a dual-band ZenWifi system that performed admirably in our tests but costs only slightly less than the XT8. The XT8 is the one I’d go for first out of the three. Check out our review of the Asus ZenWiFi AX.
The Netgear Orbi AC1200 is a smaller, more basic version of the famous mesh system. It doesn’t have lightning-fast speeds, but it has steady performance and costs a lot less than other, nicer Orbi builds.
Netgear kept the price down by staying with Wi-Fi 5, foregoing the tri-band method and the specialized 5GHz backhaul band that other Orbi systems utilize to connect each item in the mesh, and sticking with the built-in Alexa speaker that comes with the Orbi Voice. I’m wondering if Netgear blew it by not naming this system as “Orbi Lite.”
It all adds up to a less stable mesh system than previous Orbi systems, although I didn’t observe any differences in my tests. The dual-band Netgear Orbi really had the fastest max speeds at close range among the Wi-Fi 5 systems I’ve tested, it held up with the Nest and Eero in our real-world speed testing, and it provided outstanding signal strength in the large-sized CNET Smart Home.
The Netgear interface isn’t as clear or easy as Nest’s or Eero’s, and the network didn’t appear as stable in my tests as it directed me from band to band, but those are minor quibbles at this price. If you’re looking for something inexpensive to tide you over until you’re ready to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 or Wi-Fi 6E, the Netgear Orbi is a great option.
The price of a three-pack was hovering around $100 for most of 2021 and the beginning of 2022, making the system my top value option in the mesh category. It’s already back up to $164, which is more than I’d pay for it, though I’m still seeing it for around $100 on sites like eBay. If the price drops at big retailers, I’ll update this post. Read our review of the Netgear Orbi AC1200.
Speed testing performed at home
When searching for a new router, manufacturers make a lot of large claims regarding top speeds, many of which can be false or at the very least confusing. I’d like to learn more about how they’ll operate in people’s homes, where inbound speeds may be limited and several devices may be fighting for bandwidth.
To discover out, I put all of the routers I review to the test in my home, a one-story, 1,300-square-foot residence in Louisville, Kentucky, where I have incoming fiber internet speeds of 300Mbps upload and download. I used a Dell XPS 13 laptop with Wi-Fi 5 for the majority of these at-home tests till 2020. After that, when Wi-Fi 6 became available, I began conducting two sets of tests: one to measure speeds to that Wi-Fi 5 laptop, and another to measure speeds to a client device that supports Wi-Fi 6. That implies that some of the routers featured in this post were tested before we were able to use a Wi-Fi 6 device in our at-home tests (I’ve highlighted them in the leaderboard graph below).
The Nest Wifi mesh router and the Asus ZenWifi XT8, both of which worked well when I tested them with my old Wi-Fi 5 laptop, are still waiting for Wi-Fi 6 speed test data. If we had tested it with a Wi-Fi 6 device, the latter is a tri-band router with Wi-Fi 6 capability, so it would likely be a position or two higher on that leaderboard (and possibly higher than the dual-band ZenWifi XD6).
When I have those data, I’ll update this piece, and I’ll continue to run testing on both sorts of client devices to get a solid feel of how well these routers perform with both current and previous-generation technology. More information on that breakdown can be found in my entire reviews.
The short version is that newer client devices that support Wi-Fi 6 will often be able to attain sustained speeds that are substantially quicker than older, Wi-Fi 5 devices — but older devices can still benefit from a Wi-Fi 6 mesh router.
My data suggests that range performance is improved, with speeds not dipping as much toward the back of my house. Speeds rarely fell at all with the top-performing Netgear Orbi AX6000 system and others like it. Connecting my old laptop in the master bedroom and back bathroom to the satellite was almost as good as connecting to the router in the living room.
This is most likely due to the fact that the router and satellite can use Wi-Fi 6 to send and receive signals more efficiently and at higher speeds. The tri-band design of the Orbi AX6000 helps here as well, as it allows the system to dedicate a whole 5GHz band to backhaul connections between the router and satellite.
Just keep in mind that adding another band to the mix will significantly increase the cost. A two-pack of the Asus ZenWifi XT8 and Eero Pro 6 costs around $400, while the Linksys Velop MX10, AmpliFi Alien, Arris Surfboard Max Pro, and Netgear Orbi AX6000 systems cost around $600 to $700. Meanwhile, the TP-Link Deco W7200, our top selection, is only $229 for a two-pack.
The Eero Pro 6 is a good option if you have a large home and need more than one satellite extender. It’s pricey at $599 for a three-pack, but it’s still less than any other tri-band three-packs with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity.
If you have a poor ISP connection and don’t require Wi-Fi 6 or a fancy tri-band configuration, there’s no harm in bypassing such upgrades and opting for something simpler to save money. I’ve tried a few of these budget selections, and the AC1200 version of Netgear Orbi, which is presently available in a three-pack for $100, is my best recommendation, with the appropriate mix of performance and value. If you truly want to save money, a system like Vilo, which costs only $20 per device plus shipping, is a good option. Although it’s the slowest mesh router I’ve ever tested, it was nonetheless functional and able to maintain average download speeds of over 100Mbps in my back bathroom. Tests on smart homes
We’re starting up where we left off in 2022, after pausing most of our lab and GGT Smart Home experiments in 2020 and 2021. For starters, at the GGT Smart Home, a 5,400-square-foot multistory home on the outskirts of Louisville, where we have a fiber internet connection with upload and download rates of up to 100Mbps, I’m running a separate set of tests for each mesh router I review.
I do repeated rounds of speed testing across eight rooms for those tests: four on the main floor, where the router is located, and four in the basement, where a satellite extender is installed. This method is repeated three times: once with an Apple iPad Air 2 from 2015 that uses Wi-Fi 5, again with a Lenovo ThinkPad laptop that supports Wi-Fi 6, and finally with a Samsung Galaxy S21 that connects over the 6GHz band using Wi-Fi 6E. Routers that don’t support Wi-Fi 6E will still work with such devices, but they’ll be treated as ordinary Wi-Fi 6 devices, thus the 6GHz band won’t be used.
The Netgear Orbi AXE11000, a quad-band system that costs a stunning $1,500 for a three-pack, is the only Wi-Fi 6E mesh router I’ve tested so far at the GGT Smart Home. It performed admirably in those tests, providing maximum speeds to all three devices across the entire or nearly entire house, but with internet speeds capped at 100Mbps, it didn’t provide a noticeable speed boost to my Wi-Fi 6E device, and it wasn’t noticeably better than systems that cost less, including some that cost over $1,000 less.
The rest of the models we’ve tested so far in 2022 have all been excellent performers, with none of them struggling to produce maximum download speeds across the house. Although there is more variation in upload speeds, our top picks all perform quite similarly in a real-world situation, which is one of the reasons why the TP-Link Deco W7200, the least expensive of these high performers, is our overall top recommendation.
It’s also worth noting that our Smart Home data reveals that Wi-Fi 6 devices have a clear advantage over Wi-Fi 5 devices in terms of upload performance. As more devices in our homes adopt Wi-Fi 6, having a Wi-Fi 6 router to use will become much more valuable than it now is.
Mesh routers aren’t worth it.
All well and good with router suggestions, but what about the mesh routers I don’t recommend? Glad you asked; let’s go over the ones I’d pass on unless they’re on sale.
Let’s start with the Netgear Nighthawk mesh Wi-Fi system, which is dual-band and supports Wi-Fi 6, but lacks a backhaul band. This implies that your network traffic will have to share bandwidth with router-to-satellite transfers, but it will save you money. It’s tempting at $230 for a two-pack, but the performance was too unsteady for me to suggest it.
The TP-Link Deco X20 mesh router is another dual-band alternative. The Deco X20 is identical to Amazon’s normal, non-Pro Eero 6 system, which is now available for $200 for a three-piece system with full support for Wi-Fi 6, but it did a better job in my at-home tests of steering me to the proper band, which increased its total speeds. It’s a good choice if you want a Wi-Fi 6 system with two extenders for a low price, but a two-pack of the top-rated Deco W7200 tri-band system costs only $30 extra. Even if I didn’t have a third device, I’d prefer the tri-band two-pack over the dual-band three-pack on the X20.
When it came to the ordinary Eero 6 system, it was a letdown when I tested it, with slow, inconsistent speeds across multiple rounds of testing. Specifically, depending on whether I started my connection in the same room as the router or not, I witnessed a night-and-day difference in my speeds. Even after moving closer to the network, the system would keep my connection on the slower 2.4GHz band if I connected from distance. The new Eero 6 Plus, which scored considerably higher in my tests, has a far less severe issue, so go with that newer system instead.
Fancier versions that actually finished quite high on the leaderboard are among the other routers I’d pass on. For example, I was impressed with the Asus ZenWifi XD6, a dual-band mesh router that kept up with the tri-band models I’ve tested, but the upload speeds were a little slow, and the value isn’t particularly strong at a price that’s similar to what you’d spend for the nicer, tri-band ZenWifi system. I’ve seen it sold down to around $300 for a two-pack, which is tempting, but at full price, I can’t suggest it.
I’d pass on the Arris Surfboard Max AX6600, which was also a strong performer. It performed admirably in my Wi-Fi 6 testing, with the third-best average download speeds of any system I’ve tested in my home, but performance was inconsistent with Wi-Fi 5 devices, making it difficult to recommend at the full price of $400 for a two-pack.
Configuration, security, features, and other factors to consider
While performance and value are likely to be your top priorities when shopping for a mesh router, there are a few additional elements to consider as well. Take, for example, features. Mesh routers aren’t known for having a lot of distinctive features, but there are a few that stick out. The Ubiquiti Amplifi Alien mesh router is an excellent example: it has touchscreen controls on the front of each device, as well as a function called Teleport, which allows you to establish a VPN-style connection to your home network while you’re traveling. When connecting to a public Wi-Fi network, this is a handy method that allows you to take advantage of your home network’s security features.
When it comes to security, it’s important opting for a router that supports the most recent encryption standards if you’re in the market for a new one. Most new models introduced in the last year or two enable WPA3 for improved security against brute-force hacking efforts; if I were upgrading, I’d choose a device like that.
When we test a mesh router, we take a lot of other aspects into account. A good example is latency. Each of my speed tests is sent to the same, stable server on the other side of Kentucky, which allows me to compare how rapidly each one can send and receive data. The majority of the mesh routers I’m testing these days perform admirably, with average latency of 15 to 20 milliseconds per ping, although certain systems will have latency spikes while routing your connection through an extension.
We’re also intending to begin signal strength testing at the 5,800-square-foot GGT Smart Home this year, after a hiatus during the epidemic. We can create a map showing the signal strength of each device in the mesh using NetSpot software, which gives you an excellent idea of the system’s range and connection quality. It’s worth noting that those maps display the combined signal strength of each system across the house rather than their real download speeds. Better signal strength, on the other hand, equates to faster wireless rates. “Yellow means you’re in bliss, green means good enough, and blue means WTF,” said my testing colleague Steve Conaway.
The main takeaway from those tests is that if you live in a home as large as our Smart Home, you’ll want to prioritize getting a system with more than one extender — in most cases, those extra extenders will make a much more noticeable difference in the strength of your connection at range than an upgrade to Wi-Fi 6 or a tri-band design will.
Is Wi-Fi 6E a viable option?
Wi-Fi 6E is a new name for Wi-Fi 6 devices that can send signals in the 6GHz band, something routers couldn’t do until recently, when the Federal Communications Commission opted to allow unlicensed usage of that spectrum. Because the 6GHz spectrum has more than twice the bandwidth of the 5GHz frequency and no older-generation Wi-Fi devices that use it, the pitch is that it’s like having your own private multilane freeway for your internet traffic.
A small number of routers that support Wi-Fi 6E are already available for purchase. The Linksys Velop Atlas Max 6E mesh system is one of the most costly mesh routers currently available, costing $900 for a two-pack or $1,200 for a three-pack.
Even while Wi-Fi 6E routers like that are remarkable pieces of gear, I won’t be recommending anyone buy one this year. Remember that only other Wi-Fi 6E devices can connect over 6GHz, and aside from the Samsung Galaxy S21 and a few others, there aren’t many of those on the market right now.
Even if you have such a device, you’ll probably be better off using the 5GHz spectrum rather than the 6GHz band. Seriously. In most circumstances, both will reach the maximum speeds offered by your internet provider, but the 6GHz frequency has a substantially shorter range than the 5GHz band.
Take a look at the test data for that Atlas Max setup I did at home below. I used a Galaxy S21 to run a full set of speed tests for each of the router’s three bands, with the main router in my living room and a single extension in my master bedroom. The router operated admirably, however the green 5GHz band outperformed all others. As I walked away from the main router, the 6GHz band, which is highlighted in yellow, saw its speeds drop. As I got closer to the extender, they started to rebound a little, but the speeds on 5GHz were faster overall, and there was no discernible difference in latency between the bands.
The 6GHz band’s lower range also casts doubt on the idea that it will boost mesh networks by acting as a backhaul channel for the router and its satellites. If you use the 6GHz band for backhaul, you won’t be able to distribute those satellites out as much throughout your home due to the shorter range. That implies you may need to purchase an additional satellite to cover the area, which is a costly prospect with Wi-Fi 6E. Perhaps tellingly, Netgear Orbi’s new Wi-Fi 6E mesh router still uses the 5GHz frequency for backhaul.
That isn’t to imply that Wi-Fi 6E is insignificant. It’s simply too early to invest. The 6GHz band, with so much accessible capacity and so little interference from other devices, could be excellent for next-generation, high-bandwidth connections, such as wireless VR headsets, which require to move a lot of data over a short distance with as little interference as possible. But that’s hardly a compelling reason to invest now, when such devices are available and Wi-Fi 6E is prohibitively expensive. With its reasonably fast speeds, room for everyone’s traffic, and fewer devices competing for bandwidth, a 6GHz network might be a true luxury if you’re at a crowded public place like an airport or a stadium. However, this is a case for acquiring a Wi-Fi 6E phone or laptop rather than a Wi-Fi 6E router.
Stay tuned as I continue to evaluate Wi-Fi 6E systems as they become available. I’ll update this article when I get more information on 6E, but for now, don’t rush out to buy a Wi-Fi 6E router, mesh or otherwise.
Questions and Answers on Mesh Routers
Is a mesh router superior to a traditional router?
A mesh router is usually better than a single, stand-alone router because it allows numerous devices to work together to spread a strong, usable connection across a greater area. This is especially true in medium to big homes. A mesh router may be overkill in a home or apartment with a floor area of less than 1,500 square feet.
Even tiny homes have dead zones, and mesh routers are better at addressing these issues than traditional routers. My house is 1,300 square feet and serves as an excellent example. My 300Mbps fiber speeds usually drop to double or even single digits in the back rooms farthest from the router when using an average single-point router like the one given by my ISP. I can still get triple-digit speeds in those rear rooms with a mesh router, which is about as fast as when I’m connecting closer to the router.
Is your router being replaced by mesh Wi-Fi?
Yes, a mesh router will take the place of your current router.
To set one up, use an Ethernet wire to link one of the system’s devices to your modem, exactly like your present router. Then, once you’re connecting from more than a few rooms away, you’ll plug in the other mesh devices in the system elsewhere in your home so they can start boosting the signal and relaying your data back to the modem-connected device.
What are the drawbacks of using a mesh network?
Mesh routers are great for providing constant speeds throughout your home, and the finest of them may even reach gigabit speeds. Single-point, stand-alone routers, on the other hand, are frequently less expensive than mesh routers with equivalent features, therefore they’ll normally provide higher top speeds for the money.
Mesh routers, on the other hand, typically have fewer ports than single-point routers. Some don’t have USB ports, and others just have one or two Ethernet ports for connecting to media streamers, smart home bridges, and other common devices. On the satellite extenders of some mesh routers, there are no additional ports at all.
When the system routes your connection through one of the satellite extenders, you may notice a minor but perceptible increase in latency — in my experiments, it usually amounts to a few extra milliseconds each ping.
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