TP-Link makes some of the more affordable Wi-Fi mesh routers around. Take its latest Deco X50 for example. A pack of three costs around S$400, which is competitively priced for a Wi-Fi 6 mesh system. In addition, the X50 has three Gigabit Ethernet ports, which is one more than most models. It also supports 160MHz channel width, which should enable faster speeds for compatible devices.
- Dual-band Wi-Fi 6 (AX3000)
- 3x Gigabit LAN/WAN ports
- Supports WPA3 encryption
- Coverage of up to 6,500 sq feet (603 sq metre) with three units
While the Deco X50 has three Gigabit Ethernet ports, it still lacks a USB port. But I should not quibble over this. The additional port means I don't have to choose between my TV and my game console. Both can now enjoy fast and reliable wired connections. Design-wise, the X50 is identical to the older Deco X60 — it's white, compact, and pleasant-looking. Its two internal antennas offer Wi-Fi speeds of up to 2.4Gbps over 5GHz and up to 574Mbps over 2.4GHz. There's no wireless backhaul, which typically improves performance. But you can link up each X50 node via Ethernet backhaul instead. TP-Link says three units provide wireless coverage of up to 603 sq metres, which should suffice for most homes. I actually feel two is enough for my apartment.
You'll need the Deco mobile app (for iOS and Android) to set up the X50. It will guide you through the setup process with the aid of the bottom front status LEDs. It shouldn't take more than 10 minutes. Once you have set up the main node that's connected to your modem, just power up any additional units and they will automatically join the network. I like how TP-Link has included a bunch of network tools, from standard ones like a speed test to a camera detection test to scan the network for any connected IP cameras. But advanced users will probably be unsatisfied by the overall lack of settings in the app. And unlike some other brands, Deco's browser interface has even fewer options. In short, the X50 caters to the average homeowner who won't check the app again after the initial setup, unless there's a connectivity issue.
As mentioned in my Deco X68 review, the included HomeShield suite comes with fewer free features compared to the previous iteration, dubbed HomeCare. For example, DDoS protection and Internet time limits are now available only with the paid HomeShield Pro (at S$8.98 a month). You can check out the differences between the free and the paid plans here. A free one-month trial of HomeShield Pro is available with the Deco X50. Personally, I like the assurance of having a security suite. The parental controls are handy for those with kids, too. But I would shop around first if you need these features. There are no lack of alternatives to HomeShield Pro from third-party vendors. ISPs also offer similar services via monthly add-ons. Or you could pick brands like Asus that offer them for free for the lifetime of their routers.
The TP-Link Deco X50 produced impressive transfer speeds of around 924Mbps between two notebooks in ideal conditions. The two laptops were in the same room as the primary mesh node and no other devices were using the Wi-Fi. Moving a laptop to the bedroom caused the speed to dip to around 258Mbps, which is still decent. Overall, I'm very satisfied with the performance. And given the ease of use and affordable price (around $400 on Lazada and Shopee), I would recommend the X50 for mainstream users who aren't too bothered with the paucity of settings.
Note: Review unit provided by TP-Link.
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