7 Multi-room wifi systems tested: a hot mesh

Mesh is nice when it works, but no universal solution

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Test setup

All mesh-systems we tested offer router functionality and they have all been tested as routers, but for this article we focus purely on mesh operation. We have therefore created a setup in which we can specifically measure the connection between a client and the different nodes of a mesh-system. For this we use the same three laptops with an Intel Wireless-AC 7260 network adapter, which we also use for router testing. The layout of the test setup is different: the router node, or rather node 1, is in the same place as the ordinary routers we test. The 3 meter laptop will also remain in place.

Right next to node 2 we place a laptop, which is about 7 meters away from node 1 and laptop 1, with a thick concrete wall in between. The third node and laptop we place in a closet in the corridor about 10 meters from node 2 and laptop 2. Just apply the Pythagorean theorem and we know that the distance between node 1 and node 3 is about 12 meters as the crow flies. Please note that there is not only a thick concrete wall between the two, but also a steel lift cabin and a normal door. The cabin, in particular, is a serious obstacle to WiFi signals - just perform a network test while standing in a lift.


A floor plan of the test set-up that we have developed especially for testing mesh-systems.

To determine whether, and if so to what extent, mesh systems ensure a fast and reliable connection to the periphery of a network environment, we conduct a number of tests using the familiar TCP High Performance script from IxChariot. We test the speed between the node and the nearest laptop as well as between each node and the two laptops further away. Moreover, we do this in both directions and therefore end up with 12 tests in total.

To ensure that the right node connects to the right laptop in every test, we use WirelessMon. This allows us to select the correct access point on the basis of the MAC address. In order to give as accurate a picture as possible of the performance of each mesh system, we perform all tests at three different times, on three different days, just as we do with normal routers. Of these three results we take the average and these are the test results that you can find in the comparison table that you can find here.


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