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Eero Mesh Wifi review: A fine, functional mesh system

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
249
inc VAT

This compact mesh system is perfectly serviceable but it doesn’t stand out from the crowd

Pros 
Attractively small and simple
Great performance at close range
Cons 
Basic feature set
Dual-band design limits performance
Ungenerous Ethernet support
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Eero has been producing wireless extender hardware in the US for the past few years, and now its latest mesh system has finally come to the UK. Although you wouldn’t immediately know it from the branding, the company is owned by Amazon, and you’ll find currently the whole family of Eero gear on the retail giant’s site at prices starting at £99.

Before you get too excited, though, note that this only gets you a single Eero node, which functions as a standalone router. If you want to make use of the Eero’s mesh capabilities you’ll need to buy multiple units, or splash out on a three-pack for £249. But I digress: the question is whether the Eero can hold its own against the numerous other mesh systems out there.

READ NEXT: Best mesh Wi-Fi router

Eero Mesh Wifi review: What you need to know

The Eero Mesh Wifi is a dual-band 802.11ac mesh extender system. Like most such systems, it’s designed to replace your existing router but if that’s not an option you can use it in bridge mode to extend your wireless network. It’s configured through a smartphone app and, while it’s not exactly loaded with exciting features, it does include guest network and parental control options.

Eero Mesh Wifi review: Price and competition

If you’re happy with a two-node system, a pair of Eero units works out to £198. As we’ve noted, a box of three can be currently had for £249. 

Within that price range there are plenty of alternatives. Our favourite all-rounder is the BT Whole Home Wi-Fi kit, which offers great performance for a dual-band extender system, and now costs just £150 for a triple-pack.

If you’re more focused on value, the Tenda Nova MW3 mesh system isn’t as fast, but delivers decent coverage from three nodes for an absurdly cheap £69.

Those seeking top performance meanwhile may want to step up to a tri-band mesh system, which maximises your bandwidth by using a separate 5GHz radio channel for backhaul traffic. Eero offers its own tri-band alternative (dubbed the Eero Pro): regular pricing is set at £179 and £429 respectively. 

We haven’t yet had an opportunity to test the Eero Pro, but it’s going up against some strong competitors, including the £250 Zyxel Multy X system and the Netgear Orbi RBK50, which will set you back £300 for two nodes.

Eero Mesh Wifi review: The hardware

The Eero units are pleasingly small and unobtrusive, with a shiny, rounded, slightly wedge-shaped design. A single LED, tucked away beneath the top cover, shines and pulses softly in various colours to show the status of the unit; there are no buttons, save for a reset button set into the base. At the rear there’s a USB Type-C socket for power and a pair of Gigabit Ethernet connectors.

The compactness and simplicity of Eero units has its appeal, but I really would have liked to see more Ethernet ports. While it’s common for mesh systems to skimp on wired connections, two is frankly nowhere near enough for a modern switched-on home – especially since one of the sockets on the primary unit will be taken up by the connection to your modem. You may find you need to partner the Eero with a standalone switch, which rather undermines the cleanness of the whole design.

Eero Mesh Wifi review: Setup and features

As is fashionable these days, the Eero comes with a companion app for Android and iOS, which handles setup and all subsequent administration tasks. Those of us who prefer an old-school web interface are out of luck: trying to connect to the Eero in a browser yields only an unceremonious error message.

Still, the Android app detected my Eero units without fuss, gave me some general advice about positioning them, checked the strength of the connection and automatically installed the latest firmware. Once this is done you land at the main app screen, which shows an overview of your nodes and connected devices, along with the results of your most recent internet speed test. There’s no WPS support, but you can generate a QR code that compatible clients can scan to instantly connect to the network.

You can tap to inspect more details of any device and optionally assign a “family profile” to apply parental controls. These are very basic, however: you can set a weekly schedule to suspend internet access for devices in a particular group but there’s no way to limit total usage or block access to unsavoury websites.

Guest network settings are similarly rudimentary. You can turn the guest network on and off, give it its own name and password and generate a quick-connect QR code, but you can’t set up multiple networks, or grant access from the guest network to specific resources.

One of my favourite features of the Eero is tucked away in the Network Settings page. Here you can activate a pop-up notification whenever a new device joins your network – a simple but smart way to spot hackers and freeloaders. Under Advanced Settings you can also adjust a few key administrative things like your IP and DNS settings, IP address reservations and port forwarding rules.

One thing that’s conspicuously absent, however, is wireless options. The app gives you no visibility into, nor control over, which channels your Eero system is using. Nor is there any way to split the network into separate 2.4GHz and 5GHz SSIDs; you can enable band steering, which tries to move 5GHz-compatible clients on the 5GHz band, but this option is filed under a tab called “Labs” and labelled with the word “BETA”, which makes me a bit nervous of relying on it.

As you’d expect from an Amazon-owned product, the Eero has its own Alexa skill but it’s remarkably flimsy: all you can do is suspend internet access for family groups, turn the device LEDs on and off, and find out which node a particular device is connected to. There’s no equivalent support for Google Assistant fans, but I doubt they’ll shed many tears over that.

Eero Mesh Wifi review: Performance

I tested the Eero Mesh Wifi system in my usual way. I started by installing the system as recommended, with the primary node next to the fibre modem in my living room, the second unit in the adjacent kitchen and the third in the utility room at the back of the property. I then took my laptop – a Microsoft Surface Laptop equipped with a Marvell Avastar 802.11ac network card – to various parts of the house and tested file copy speeds to and from a NAS appliance connected to the primary node by Ethernet.

Here are the results I saw, along with scores from two similarly priced three-node, dual-band mesh kits. I’ve also included the Zyxel Multy X, a premium tri-band system, for comparison:

Speeds over 802.11ac (MB/sec)Eero uploadBT Whole Home Wi-Fi uploadTenda Nova MW6 uploadZyxel Multy X uploadEero downloadBT Whole Home Wi-Fi downloadTenda Nova MW6 downloadZyxel Multy X download
Living room25.49.314.61132.217.42116
Rear terrace7.94.24.99.113.211.811.414
Bedroom6.211.65.59.312.912.811.417.1
Bathroom7.78.86.79.99.612.514.816.1

The Eero performed exceptionally well at close range: even the tri-band Zyxel system couldn’t match its same-room speeds. And while moving out onto the rear terrace saw the Eero’s performance fall slightly behind the Multy X’s, the gap wasn’t huge, and the Eero still did better than its dual-band rivals.

Upstairs in the bedroom and bathroom things were less clear-cut. Here, BT Whole Home Wi-Fi was faster than the Eero overall, while the Multy X’s download speeds convincingly outshone any dual-band system. Even so, the Eero didn’t disgrace itself in any area, and even its worst performance – 6.2MB/sec in the bedroom – was equivalent to around 49Mbits/sec, which is approximately double what Netflix says you need to reliably stream 4K video.

It’s worth reiterating that I carried out these tests with a single laptop connected to the Eero system. The Eero’s 2x2 MU-MIMO capability should help when multiple devices want to connect, but if you have a house full of wireless gadgets then the dual-band design is likely to slow things down, as device-to-node and node-to-hub communications all have to share a single 5GHz radio channel.

Eero Mesh Wifi review: Verdict

The Eero Mesh Wifi system does a decent job of extending wireless coverage, and short-range performance is very creditable indeed. The low-key design of the units won’t ruin the feng shui of your home either.

The feature set feels somewhat limited, however: other mesh platforms have better parental controls, not to mention proper wireless settings. The Eero’s minimal Ethernet provision is an irritation as well, albeit one that many mesh systems share. 

If you can find the Eero system at discount prices, which is normal, you might be inclined to forgive those foibles. Even with the discount, however, we don’t we see any compelling reason to pick this mesh system ahead of one of its similarly priced rivals.