TP-Link Deco M5 Whole Home Wi-Fi System 2020 Latest Updated Review
TP-Link has regularly topped the list of our favourite wireless routers, but with mesh networking providing the best way to improve your Wi-Fi coverage at the moment, it’s having to play catch-up.
The TP-Link Deco is the firm’s first mesh networking kit and, just like Google Wifi and BT’s Whole Home WiFi, it aims to improve wireless coverage around your home by using multiple boxes to bounce the wireless signal from one to the other.
TP-Link Deco M5 review: What you need to know
The TP-Link Deco M5 is the firm’s first mesh networking system and it aims to improve wireless coverage around your home
It uses multiple boxes to bounce the wireless signal from one to the other, spreading it into former black spots and reducing load on your router.
The Deco M5 kit consists of three of these “nodes”, one more than Google Wifi and the same number
As included with BT’s kit, and it works in largely the same way by hanging off one of the Ethernet ports on your existing router and extending an existing wireless network instead of replacing it.
Design and Setup
An important aspect of this new breed of wireless solutions is that they’re not the traditional routers and extenders that the more tech savvy are used to. Gone are they unruly antennas of yore, replaced by stylish designs and simple interfaces.
Indeed, on the Deco M5 M5 units there’s a single LED at the centre of the unit that lets you know everything you need to about its current status
red means there’s a problem, orange and blue only appear when it’s being set up and green indicates that everything is working as intended.
You do get more information from the app that runs on your smartphone, but even here it’s generally broad strokes stuff to do with the devices that are connected
It’s simplistic in a way that your average joe can get it up and running and doesn’t require that they fancy themselves as a would-be networking engineer on the side.
The TP-Link Deco M5 units are focused more on coverage than high-throughput, although the connection was much, much stronger than what we had previously.
Going from a single router with a smattering of powerline gear to the Deco M5 was a revelation.
The network may not be super fast, but it does work, and affords total house coverage seamlessly – with connected devices jumping between the various Deco M5 unitss as needed.
What is Hot
The TP-Link Deco M5 is incredibly easy to set up, and the coverage it provides from the three units is a genuine revelation.
The design is pleasing and minimalist, and including two Ethernet ports on each unit gives plenty of connection possibilities.
The accompanying app is easy to use, and makes monitoring the network as straightforward as possible. The inclusion of the security software is just the icing on the cake.
What is Not
We would have liked the app to provide a bit more information on the network itself, but this is a minor criticism.
As a Wi-Fi system, you connect one of the M5’s three identical hardware units to an internet source, such as a broadband modem, to work as the router unit,
Place the rest of the units about 40 feet away to work as satellite units. The three link to one another to create a seamless Wi-Fi network.
As long as you have an internet-connected smartphone or tablet, setting up the M5 is as easy as running a mobile app.
All you need to do is download the free Deco app (iOS or Android) and follow its instructions to create an account with TP-Link. After that the rest is self-explanatory.
The app enables users to manage their home network from anywhere. This is because both the app and the M5 system connect to TP-Link servers at all times.
Everything you do in your home network can be reported to the company. Controlling your home network via the vendor is convenient but comes with its own risks
Like most Wi-Fi systems the M5 severely lacks features and settings compared to single routers. It doesn’t even have a web interface.
However, it indeed has more features than many other mesh systems. For parents, it has a comprehensive web-filtering and internet usage control options (pausing, scheduling and so on).
And everybody can appreciate its quality of service (QoS), which prioritizes internet traffic for different applications and antivirus
According to TP-Link, the antivirus feature monitors internet traffic for suspicious pattern in real time,
Installing the Deco system was quick and easy. I downloaded the mobile app to my iPhone and created an account using my email address and a password.
I followed the in-app instructions to connect a Deco unit to my modem, waited 30 seconds for the LED to pulse blue, and hit Next. It took several seconds for the app to recognize the Deco.
I chose a location from the list and within 2 or 3 seconds I was online. I tapped Add Another Deco and followed the same instructions.
As with the first Deco, the node was discovered within seconds, only this time the app performed a 30-second connection test between the main Deco and the node.
I chose a location for this node and repeated the process for the third node.
- Solid throughput performance.
- Robust parental controls.
- Built-in virus and malware protection.
- Easy to install.
- Well-designed mobile app.
- No web interface.
- Does not support dedicated band control.