Haven’t heard of Mesh Wi-Fi yet? Or maybe you are just looking for such a solution for your home and do not know what to choose? Regardless of the answer, we have a short article for you that will answer many bothering questions.
Let’s start with what Wi-Fi Mesh is, because although products of this type are not new at all, they only started to enjoy greater popularity some time ago. In a nutshell, it is a system of cooperating routers that form a common Wi-Fi network, and it is distinguished from traditional solutions by intelligent management, i.e. automatic connection optimization without user interaction. So when we decide on this type of network, after the initial configuration, we can forget about it and enjoy comfortable internet access. What’s more, Mesh Wi-Fi also has another big advantage, namely it is a very flexible network that can be expanded at any time – just buy another unit and a problem with your head.
However, as you can easily guess, this is not a solution for everyone, because a good-sized flat can handle a single router of good quality (well, unless we gave the bodies during planning and we have an internet socket in the wrong place or an unusual arrangement of rooms), but if we live in home and we really have enough of a constant battle with the net and places where this simply does not exist, it can be a hit. And what exactly set should you choose? One of the most interesting proposals is the nova MW6 system from Tenda, which some time ago came to us for testing. For about PLN 739, we get a set of three routers, which according to the manufacturer is enough to cover a network of up to 500 m2, so we’re talking about a really big house or office space torrent websites directory.
Kit and first configuration
Nova MW6 is an AC1200 dual-band equipment that offers high performance, and boasts modern design, so we won’t have to think about how to hide it from other people’s eyes. Especially that we can also forget about the onerous wiring – we connect the internet cable only to the central unit, with which the rest connects wirelessly, so all they need is a thin power cord. As we have already mentioned, three identical units in the form of cubes with a side of 10 cm are waiting for us in the set, made of hard white plastic, whose simple design is broken by decorative shiny gouging, giving an interesting visual effect (the effect is not spoiled by protruding antennas, because the manufacturer decided to use two internal ones). Each unit has an additional LED diode, which informs us in different colors about the strength of the network signal, the reset button and the Ethernet WAN, LAN and power ports.
And when we unpack the set and find the right place for it, the time comes for an activity that many people are afraid of the most, namely the first configuration. If you have any experience in this topic, then you probably know that at this stage something must always go wrong 🙂 But not this time, because according to the idea of Mesh Wi-Fi the manufacturer decided to simplify it as much as possible and focus on a highly automated process. It is worth adding here that the entire management is done through an application for mobile devices, which must be downloaded and installed. Then we connect the first unit to the power supply and the network, log in to the network it generates and step by step we make notifications on the screen that have clear and extremely helpful illustrations. And that’s the whole philosophy, then all you need to do is change the login details to the network of your choice and you can forget about the existence of the whole set.
The application also has other functions thanks to which we can manage and control our network, but as we have already mentioned in vain to look for more advanced options here, because this set is directed rather at the average user who does not need them at all. The software is therefore divided into two subpages, with many names called My Wi-Fi and Settings. The first one contains a diagram of our network, data on the current use of the Internet connection and connected units – each of them can be assigned a room, turn on / off LED signaling (e.g. that it does not disturb at night or encourage children to play) and check the serial number, version software, MAC addresses of WAN and LAN ports, IP and addresses of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands.
The second tab contains wireless network options (name and password), the ability to create a guest network, internet settings or parental control options that are extremely important to many users. Here we can select devices that are to have access to the network, set specific schedules for devices or pick up access with one click (in more expensive constructions they are usually much more developed, but in this form they also fulfill their task, and at a favorable price the producer had to decide on some cuts). We will also find here QoS (Quality of Service) allowing to set a higher priority for games and websites, the option of adding a new nova device, fast roaming, port forwarding, UPnP and DHCP server. So, as you can see, there are no functions for more advanced users or additional software, e.g. anti-virus, but we must not forget that we are talking about one of the cheapest sets available on the market, which in addition was to be the most user-friendly.
Well, theory, theory, but how does it work in everyday use and does it actually provide maximum comfort of using the network with minimal user activity? Let’s start with the fact that information about only two internal antennas slightly worried us, that’s why the distribution of Wi-Fi networks in the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands went first. Fortunately, it quickly turned out that our fears were unfounded, because the device copes well with the coverage of the surface with a network – but we must remember that we did not have at our disposal the declared maximum 500 meters (and a flat with an area of about 60 meters with 5 measuring points, which see the plan below), so in such a situation the results may change slightly, but everything indicates that Tenda really did her best in this respect.
The bad word can not be said about the bandwidth of WAN and LAN interfaces – in the case of LAN the device uses the almost full potential of gigabyte Ethernet connectors, and with WAN it is even better, so nothing will limit the signal provided by an external operator. When it comes to wireless connections, there is also nothing to fault, although thorough testing of them presents some problems and you have to remember that due to additional factors, such as the density of other networks in our area, the results will vary depending on the time of day or place of testing (measurements made in the iperf3 program). Finally, we carried out one more test, namely energy consumption, because some users are afraid that subsequent devices still working will strongly affect the electricity bill – nothing more wrong, each unit consumes only 3.4 W at rest, and this result during intensive work it rises to a maximum of 6.5 W, i.e. we are dealing with a really energy-saving set.
As we mentioned at the beginning, Mesh Wi-Fi is not a solution for everyone, because for most of us a good single router is enough. However, if we live in a house, where traditional solutions often have problems with access to the network, we have an unusual layout of the apartment / poorly located internet socket or we want to cover a large office space with the network, such a 3-element set can be a hit. And why choose the Tenda nova MW6 model? Because this one offers a great price-performance ratio and although it is one of the cheapest solutions of this type on the market, in some issues it can embarrass more expensive competition.
What’s more, the appearance of the devices does not reveal their budgetary nature in any way, because we get a really modern style and units that can be put on display without any embarrassment. For this you can not forget about the trouble-free configuration and management of the network, which take place almost automatically, freeing us from the obligation to watch everything or manually switch between devices. The Mesh network is really intelligent and most will do it for us, just download the application on mobile devices and we can enjoy uninterrupted internet access. In addition, without worrying about additional costs, because the set is energy-saving and we probably won’t notice its impact on our bills at all. In short, the future of home Wi-Fi belongs to smart solutions, which is why it is worth getting acquainted with the topic and using a convenient 21st-century network.