Amazon’s new mesh has some attractive features, but we don't advise anyone to invest in Wi-Fi 7 right now
- Early adopter bragging rights
- Very fast with Wi-Fi 6 and 6E devices
- Smart management app
- Wi-Fi 7 performance is unproven
- Key software features are subscription-only
- Stiff competition is on the way
String up the bunting: Wi-Fi 7 is here. Amazon’s Eero Max 7 is the first mesh (or router of any kind) we’ve seen to support the latest 802.11be technology, with the manufacturer promising wireless speeds of up to 4.3Gbits/sec.
Hold up, though, you might be thinking – that figure sounds surprisingly low for a next-generation technology. Indeed, it’s slower than many Wi-Fi 6 routers, which support connection rates of 4.8Gbits/sec. But because Wi-Fi 7 allows devices to communicate across multiple radio bands at once, a Wi-Fi 7 router can achieve a much higher effective data rate than a Wi-Fi 6 model with the same speed rating.
This new trick does require Wi-Fi 7-compatible clients and those are currently very thin on the ground, with mass market adoption not expected until well into 2024. That’s reason enough not to rush out and buy the Eero Max 7: your current devices won’t see the full benefit, and by the time Wi-Fi 7-enabled devices are commonplace there will be a wider range of routers and mesh systems to choose from.
Eero Max 7 review: What you need to know
Amazon sells the Eero Max 7 in packs of one, two or three units. The manufacturer claims a three-pack will provide Wi-Fi coverage over an area of 697m2, while two stations will cover up to 464m2. If your home has a floor area of 232m2 or less you can use a single Eero as a standalone router.
Each Eero unit contains three Wi-Fi radios, running on the standard 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz bands. Oddly, Amazon hasn’t made the technical details of these radios public, so it’s not clear whether the advertised 4.3Gbits/sec download speed is the maximum on a single band, or an aggregated rate across all radios.
What I can say is that my Wi-Fi 6 clients saw a top connection speed of 2.4Gbits/sec over a 2×2 MIMO link. Since the Eero Max 7 supports 4×4 MU-MIMO on both its higher bands you might in theory be able to double this if you had a 4×4-compatible network card, but those are very uncommon.
Wi-Fi 7-capable clients can expect even higher speeds, thanks to the new MLO (“multi-link operation”) mode, which allows devices to connect across the 2.4GHz, 5GHz and 6GHz bands simultaneously. This brings a big boost in bandwidth and also helps maintain a stable connection, as the link is maintained even if one band is affected by interference or signal-blocking obstacles.
The Eero Max 7’s wired networking capabilities are impressive, too, with two 2.5Gbits/sec Ethernet sockets on the back of each unit, plus another pair going all the way up to 10GbE.
Eero Max 7 review: Price and competition
The Eero Max 7 is one of the most expensive Wi-Fi meshes we’ve ever tested. You’ll pay £600 for a single unit, £1,150 for two or £1,700 for three. Obviously, that’s an enormous price, but if you want to be the first on your block with the new wireless technology it’s currently your only choice.
It won’t be for long, though. Two major competitors have already published details of their own Wi-Fi 7 offerings. The more ambitious, by a long chalk, is Netgear’s Orbi 970 mesh, expected to arrive in the UK in the next few months. With an RRP of £800 for a single unit, £1,500 for two or £2,200 for three it’s even pricier than the Eero, but it offers a whole load more bandwidth, totalling more than 18Gbits/sec across its three radio bands, plus a fourth radio dedicated to backhaul traffic.
Meanwhile, the upcoming Linksys Velop Pro 7 comfortably undercuts the Eero on price: you’ll pay £400 for one unit, £750 for two or £1,000 for three. Despite the aggressive positioning, the Velop claims connection speeds of 5.8Gbits/sec on the 6GHz band, 4.3Gbits/sec over 5GHz and 600Mbits/sec on 2.4GHz, making it a strong potential challenger to the Eero.
Unless you have an urgent need for Wi-Fi 7 today, therefore – and it’s hard to imagine who would – it’s worth waiting to see how the Orbi and Velop systems measure up. With any luck prices will fall over time, too, although it may be a year or two before we see any significant discounts.
For the time being, there are plenty of excellent current-generation meshes out there. Our Best Mesh recommendations start at just £100 and, as we’ll see below, a Wi-Fi 6E system such as the TP-Link Deco XE75 can give the Eero Max 7 a fair run for its money for just £340. Alternatively, you can get a pair of high-end TP-Link Deco XE200 stations for less than the price of a single Eero Max 7 unit. The only 6E mesh that’s in roughly the same price bracket as the Eero is the mighty Netgear Orbi RBKE963, which costs £1,200 for two units or £1,700 for three.
Eero Max 7 review: Design and features
Previous Eero systems have been quite squat and dinky, but the Max 7 units are wide, upright monoliths measuring 184 x 90 x 222 (WDH). This makes them harder to tuck away inconspicuously around your home, especially with their high-gloss white plastic finish. Perhaps, though, when you’ve paid this much for your mesh you don’t mind attracting a little attention.
Aside from the shine, the design is very plain, save for the chrome-style Eero logo on each unit and a small multicoloured status LED above it, which glows through the casing when the unit is powered on. The back is perhaps more interesting: the twin pairs of 2.5GbE and 10GbitE connectors add up to the best wired networking provision we’ve seen on any mesh, at any price. It’s also nice that you can use any socket for your internet connection.
There’s no USB support, however, which is a bit of a shame, as a single port could have offered a beautifully simple way to provide ultra-fast NAS services.
One quirky thing about the Eero platform is that it offers no web interface at all: setup and management is handled entirely from the Eero mobile app. Still, this makes a good first impression, walking you smoothly through the few steps of initially configuring the mesh. Logging into your Amazon account enables remote management, so you can monitor activity and adjust settings, even if your phone isn’t on the Eero network, and you can optionally nominate additional administrators to share the burden of responsibility.
The Eero app is also pretty easy to use for everyday management. I really like the way it lets you check the status of your Eero stations and devices with a quick tap, and see what’s connected to what. Neat Amazon-exclusive features include the ability to configure compatible Amazon Echo devices to act as Wi-Fi extenders, and Amazon’s “Frustration-Free Setup” technology, which helps new IoT devices automatically get online. Once they’re deployed, you can also manage your Zigbee smart-home devices from inside the app.
There are some frustrations, though. There’s no way to mark individual devices as high or low priority, nor can you bind a client to a particular Eero unit, or steer it onto a preferred radio band.
What’s more, many of the best features require a subscription to Eero Plus. This isn’t cheap at £100 a year, but that does include the router-level Guardian VPN service with servers in 17 countries worldwide, plus a 1Password family plan.
However, if you don’t cough up, you also miss out on network security, ad-blocking, web-content filtering, app and URL blocking, dynamic DNS support, internet failover to a nominated secondary wireless network, and Wi-Fi analytics for checking congestion and interference across the various supported bands. After you’ve paid this much for the mesh, it rankles that so much of its functionality is locked behind a pricey additional subscription.
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Eero Max 7 review: Performance
Testing the performance of the Eero Max 7 is a little problematic, as Wi-Fi 7 laptops are currently so scarce as to be virtually nonexistent. However, the new standard is starting to appear on high-end smartphones – so for my first ever Wi-Fi 7 performance test I used a Xiaomi 13T Pro phone running the free AndSMB Android app, to copy a 1GB test file to and from an Asustor AS3304T NAS connected one of the Eero’s 2.5GbE ports.
The results were, frankly, disappointing. At short range, I saw average speeds of 34.2MB/sec downstream and 20.2MB/sec upstream, which is about what you’d expect from a decent Wi-Fi 5 connection. In truth, this merely exposes the hardware limitations of the first-gen Wi-Fi 7 phones: the router itself is capable of much, much higher speeds.
I say that with confidence, as I also tested the Eero Max 7’s performance with a laptop over Wi-Fi 6 and 6E – which is, after all, what most connections will be using for some years to come.
I did this in my usual way, setting up a two-node Eero 7 Max system in my home, with the first unit in the upstairs study and the second at the far end of the adjoining bedroom. I then carried my test laptop around my home and again copied files to and from the NAS appliance, measuring average read and write speeds as I went.
I did hit a few hiccups along the way. At first, the 5GHz network seemed surprisingly slow; this turned out to be not the Eero’s fault, but rather a quirk of my particular Dell Inspiron 7610 laptop model, which doesn’t pair well with the Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E card I was using for testing. Stick with your laptop’s built-in Wi-Fi card and you should be fine.
Even after fixing that issue, I found I couldn’t get a 6GHz connection at all – until I realised that WPA3 is disabled by default on the Eero. This latest security standard is required for Wi-Fi 6E, and as soon as I enabled it in the Eero app I was able to get a solid, speedy 6GHz connection. A nice easy fix, but a poor show from Amazon: the setup process ought to flag up this important setting, rather than hiding it away in the “Labs” section of the app.
Still, having sorted out my issues on both the 5GHz and 6GHz radio bands, I was able to get some seriously impressive wireless speeds out of the two-node Eero system:
Overall, this is the best set of download speeds we’ve ever seen. Yes, the standalone Netgear Nighthawk RAXE500 router was a tiny bit faster than the Eero Max 7 in the study, while the TP-Link Deco XE200 nosed ahead in the bedroom. But nothing else, at any price, has ever delivered such a consistent lightning-fast connection all through my home.
It’s notable too that the Eero mesh achieved most of its best speeds on the 5GHz band. I put this down to the limited penetration of 6GHz radio waves; by far the Eero’s worst performance on 6E was in the bathroom at the back of the house, which is separated from the bedroom by a thick brick wall, not to mention various pipes and fittings. Whatever the explanation, it’s hard to complain, as the ubiquity of 5GHz networking means almost every client you own should be able to get the best from the Eero system.
I also tried using the Eero Max 7 as a standalone router, by unplugging the bedroom station and repeating the file-transfer tests using the primary station alone. In four out of my five test locations, this served up download speeds that were practically identical to the two-unit mesh – and that’s another fantastic result. The Netgear Nighthawk RS700S (the only other Wi-Fi 7 router we’ve seen so far) lagged well behind, despite costing £200 more.
To be fair, this still yielded an average download speed of 11.7MB/sec – more than fast enough for 4K HDR streaming and other online tasks. In this context, though, it’s a disappointment, representing less than 10% of the performance available in the study and living room. This is where the Eero’s total lack of band-management settings is frustrating, as I suspect even a weak 5GHz signal would have been faster.
A final point to note is that the Eero Max 7 is a power-hungry beast. I measured a continual draw of 26W from the primary unit when sitting idle, rising to around 28W under load, while the secondary station drew 23W idle and peaked at 25W during my performance tests.
Eero Max 7: Should you buy it?
Although the Eero Max 7 is the first Wi-Fi 7 mesh to reach the UK, it certainly doesn’t feel like a rush release. Performance over Wi-Fi 6 and 6E is outstanding – as long as you don’t trip over the issues that initially stymied me. It comes with some decent software features too, especially if you’re willing to pay the premium for Eero Plus, and best-in-class wired connectivity doesn’t hurt either.
The biggest catch is that we don’t yet have the whole picture: it remains to be seen how the Eero will work with the next generation of Wi-Fi 7-equipped laptops and devices. Early indicators are certainly encouraging, but by the time Wi-Fi 7 is commonplace there’ll be other routers and meshes vying with the Eero Max 7 – some cheaper, and some likely even faster.
For now, therefore, we have to reserve final judgment. We’ll be excited to see what the Eero Max 7 is capable of when partnered with client hardware that unlocks its full potential. But until that day comes, as with all Wi-Fi 7 networking gear, we’d recommend a wait-and-see approach.