If you want a Wi-Fi 6 mesh system for less, the feature-packed TP-Link Deco X20 may just suit your needs.
- Great value
- Excellent parental controls
- Easy to expand
- Average network speed
- UKRRP: £269.99
- USARRP: $269.99
- Wi-FiThis is a Wi-Fi 6 mesh system, available in one, two or three packs. It is a dual-band system: AX1800 (2×2 1201Mbps 5GHz, 2×2 574Mbps).
Although Wi-Fi 6 routers and mesh systems started out at almost ridiculous prices, recent months have seen prices fall, particularly with the launch of mode budget systems such as this, the TP-Link Deco X20.
Using dual-band Wi-Fi helps keep the price down, but TP-Link certainly hasn’t ejected any features, making this one of the most feature-packed mesh systems that I’ve tested. Decent performance helps cement its place as a great budget mesh system.
- Small and easily blends in with the environment
- One-, two- or three-pack systems available
- All devices are the same
- Useful number of Ethernet ports
The Deco X20 ships in one-, two- or three-packs, depending on the level of coverage that you need. I’d say that the single-pack is only useful if you’re upgrading and need to add another access point, and most people will be better off with the two- or three-pack system. For me, three devices is best as I have three floors, and also have trouble getting a signal at the rear of the house.
Unlike Netgear, TP-Link doesn’t provide its mesh systems with separate routers and satellites. Instead, the Deco X20 system uses identical components. Here, each satellite is a small tube finished in white (114 x 110 x 110mm), which makes them easy to place and unobtrusive.
Each device has two Gigabit Ethernet ports at the rear. The first device that you connect becomes the primary device and your router, so either Gigabit Ethernet port can be used for the internet connection. It would have been nice to have a 2.5Gbps internet port, but I can forgive this omission at such a low price.
On the router, then, that leaves you with just one Ethernet port for wired devices, so it’s likely you’ll need to buy a separate Gigabit Ethernet switch.
On the satellites, you get two Gigabit Ethernet ports for wired devices, although you can also connect the devices together using Ethernet rather than Wi-Fi (Ethernet backhaul). This is useful if you’ve either got real wireless interference issues or you need to put a device at a greater range, such as in a garden office.
- Parental controls and security provide a fully featured mesh system
- Built-in parental controls and security
- Can’t change the wireless channel
- Full remote control
As with other TP-Link mesh systems, the X20 is controlled via the TP-Link Deco app. This takes you through the initial configuration getting the primary satellite working, before taking you through configuring any other satellites.
Each satellite has a status LED (you can disable this if you don’t like seeing it, or just turn the lights off at night), which tells you if the device is connected or not. If you want more detailed information, the app has a signal strength indicator.
Inside the advanced settings, I recommend turning on Fast Roaming, which forces devices to connect to the strongest satellite. This makes particular sense with portable devices, such as phones and laptops. Without fast roaming, portable devices have a nasty habit of maintaining a connection to one satellite, even as the signal degrades at range; with fast roaming, your devices will switch to get a better signal from a new satellite quicker.
From the app, you can change the wireless name and toggle the guest network on. Strangely, there’s no way to manually change the wireless channels used, and the Deco X20 manages this automatically.
Homecare is built-in, which gives you antivirus protection (provided by Trendnet), simple QoS (you can set a device for priority, or change the router’s mode to prefer a type of content such as streaming or gaming).
You also get full parental controls, so you can turn on profiles for each member of your family, and tell the mesh system which devices they own. From here, you can then filter websites based on age, regardless of which devices a person uses, as well as set usage times and enforce bedtimes. It’s an excellent and flexible system that’s particularly good for parents trying to deal with internet access across a range of devices.
The app says that there’s IFTTT support, but this isn’t technically true, as TP-Link stopped supporting this service back in 2020. You do get Amazon Alexa support, though, so you can toggle the guest network and router lights, and turn on WPS mode for connecting new devices.
- Stable and reliable where it counts
- Dual-band Wi-Fi 6
- Fast close up
- Speed drops off at range
For this mesh system, TP-Link has used dual-band Wi-Fi 6. The 5GHz channel has two streams running at 600.5Mbps each (1201Mbps in total). You also get two streams on the 2.4GHz channel, with each running at 287Mbps (574Mbps in total).
In the Trusted Reviews guide to Wi-Fi 6 you can see why streams are important, but the short version is that each stream can act like a dedicated network or multi-stream devices can use more than one stream to get more throughput.
Four streams in total is an entry-level system, although between three satellites (as I had), that’s a total of 12 Wi-Fi 6 streams spread out throughout your home. It’s worth pointing out that this router also has to share its client-facing network to communicate between satellites; buy a more expensive system, such as the Orbi RBK852 and you get a third Wi-Fi 6 network dedicated for communication between satellites.
To test the router I used a Wi-Fi 6 laptop with a two-stream card inside of it. At close range, I saw throughputs of 424.03Mbps, which is quick and faster than the similar Orbi RBK352. Moving to the first floor, speeds dropped to 199.87Mbps, and fell further to 138.74Mbps on the second floor. The Orbi system proved better at range. However, moving the third satellite out of the kitchen to the second floor boosted speeds up there to 187Mbps, so positioning satellites is important.
For comparison, the dual-band TP-Link Deco X60, which has more Wi-Fi 6 streams proved faster overall.
Place the satellites carefully and the TP-Link Deco X20 will give you good coverage and results, although the similar Netgear Orbi RBK853 system proved better at range. However, while the Orbi system may be slightly faster in my tests, it lacks the Deco X20’s parental controls, making TP-Link’s mesh system a more complete user experience.
If you can afford a bit more, the Deco X60 will give you better performance, while the Orbi RBK852 remains the pinnacle of Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems despite being expensive. If you’re after something else, my guide to the best routers can help you find an alternative.
- UKRRP: £269.99
- USARRP: $269.99
Should you buy it?
Wi-Fi 6 can be expensive but it is the future of home networking. Offering one-, two- or three-pack systems, the Deco X20 is a great-value way of getting the latest technology.
Close up this mesh system is fast but I found that it suffered a little at range, although the network was reliable and stable. If you can afford more, you can buy faster Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems.
Cheap and available in one-, two- or three-satellite versions, the TP-Link Deco X20 is a low-cost Wi-Fi 6 mesh system that’s easy to buy for the size of house you have. Dual-band Wi-Fi means that performance is a little off the best mesh systems, although the Deco X20 is certainly stable and provides reliable Wi-Fi everywhere. What the system may lack in speed it makes up for in features.
Yes, you can link the satellites together with Ethernet if you’re having problems with Wi-Fi between satellites.