Allion Labs / Ryan Huang
With the rising number of Mesh Wi-Fi AP products on the market that are quite pricey, consumers may be skeptical of whether the products meet their expectations. We’ve selected three mesh Wi-Fi routers, Netgear Orbi RBK50, Asus Lyra MAP-AC2200, and eero Pro Wi-Fi System and made comparisons in ther SPEC (product specification), Heat Map wireless signal coverage, and Performance (transmission speed) to determine which Mesh Wi-Fi AP set has the best wireless network signal under different user scenarios.
・Basic specifications comparison
From the basic comparison table above, it is evident that the specifications of the three products are very similar. Among them, Netgear Orbi RBK50 stands out with the 3×3 feature in terms of the number of antennae. Another point worth mentioning is that both Netgear Orbi RBK50 and Asus Lyra MAP-AC2200 are equipped with the signal strength detection function, which gives users a reference for when they first deploy the Mesh Wi-Fi AP.
・Heat Map wireless signal measurement comparison
For this item, we set up the three Mesh Wi-Fi AP sets in an open office environment, using measurements taken with professional Heat Map wireless signal software. As Netgear Orbi RBK50 is normally sold as a set with a router and a Mesh Wi-Fi AP, the signal result is only measured up to the deployment of the second Mesh Wi-Fi AP. We first put the first router of each brand in the same place and measure the signal quality, then arrange the positioning of the second Mesh Wi-Fi AP based on the results.
The color distribution of Heat Map ranges from red to blue, indicating signal strength from strong to weak. If the color changes from dark blue to white, it means that there is no signal. From the above table, we can see that on a 2.4G frequency band, with only one router placed in the center of the testing environment, a dark blue region on the upper right surrounds a white no-signal corner, which is expected to have been caused by signal interference in the actual environment. On the 5G frequency band, we can see that Netgear Orbi RBK50 has better signal coverage. We then place a second Mesh Wi-Fi AP (as shown in the diagram below) as far away from the first router as possible, where the signal strength is at around -50dBm, but not affecting the wireless quality.
From the table above, we can see that after placing the second Mesh Wi-Fi AP on the upper right, there are hardly any no-signal corners for the Netgear Orbi RBK50, and most regions still maintain the yellow signal quality. However, for Asus Lyra MAP-AC2200 and eero Pro Wi-Fi System, there are still blue regions indicating insufficient signal even after the placement of a second router. A third Mesh Wi-Fi AP is needed to attain a better wireless signal quality.
・Performance: Transmission speed comparison
The signal quality measurement results lead to another question: In the environment where the three sets of Mesh Wi-Fi APs are deployed, what is the transmission speed of the AP positions when the signal is strong, moderate, and weak? Hence, with the results of the Heat Map after placing a second AP, we measure the individual throughput rate for regions where signal strength is strong, moderate, and weak to see which set of mesh Wi-Fi AP shows better performance.
From the above results, we can see that Netgear Orbi RBK50 has the most outstanding performance in terms of transmission speed when the signal strength is strong to moderate, while Asus Lyra MAP-AC2200 shows better performance when the signal strength is weaker.
The three tests above show that for Mesh Wi-Fi AP deployment, the number of AP installed doesn’t necessarily affect signal strength as other factors such as installation distance, external signal, etc., may come into play. Only by understanding the products’ specifications and functions and applying them to actual measurements can we find out the real connection issues and potential factors influencing signal strength.
In the next article, Allion will make a comparison on the functionalities of different Mesh APs, targeting the degree of difficulty in the setup, APP function, as well as their roaming and steering functions, so stay tuned!