TP-Link Deco M5 Whole-Home Wi-Fi System review: An excellent Wi-Fi system, especially if security is key
On the down side, like many other Wi-Fi systems, the M5, connects to its vendor at all times, which can be a privacy risk. Those wanting to keep their existing router, or those who have a router/modem combo that can't be replaced, should also note that the M5 currently doesn't work in the access point mode. This means it will create a separate network on top of the existing network, making devices connected to it and those connected to the original router not able to communicate with one another locally -- your wireless speakers or network streamers might not work as expected.
All things considered, though it's far from perfect, the M5 is an excellent Wi-Fi solution if you want to quickly bring internet to every corner of a large home (up to some 5,000 square feet) and have a layer of protection against online threats.
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, then 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. I was able to get the system running in less than 10 minutes.
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. This means 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. Apart from privacy concerns, accidents like the one that took place with the Google Wifi could happen at any time.
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, which the company says guards the entire network, including smart appliances -- IoT devices -- against online threats. According to TP-Link, the antivirus feature monitors internet traffic for suspicious pattern in real time, prevents port scanning and stops compromised IoT devices from sending out signals to unknown sites, in real time.
All of these features are well-designed and easy to manage via the Deco app. Most importantly, they worked as intended in my trial. I wasn't able to do a thorough test of its antivirus' effectiveness, but when I tried accessing known bad websites, I did, instead, get a warning that the sites are blocked. The feature, which doesn't incur extra cost, is powered by Trend Micro, so generally it's safe to say that it's as effective as Trend Micro's antivirus software.
The M5 is not the first Wi-Fi system with built-in protection; the Amped Wireless Ally -- which costs $299 for a set of two units -- also has a similar feature powered by AVG.
No back-haul band
Unlike the Ally, the M5 doesn't have a dedicated band for backhaul, the job of connecting its units together wirelessly. For this reason, in my testing, the system clearly suffered from signal loss, meaning devices connected to the satellite units have a net connection speed more than 50 percent slower than those connected directly to the main router units.
The good news is that the M5 allows you to link the units together using network cables, which will eliminate signal loss completely. TP-Link says you can connect up to 10 M5 units together and can even connect some of them via network cables and the rest wirelessly.
Great range, reliable performance
I tested the M5 over a week and it delivered reliable Wi-Fi with similar performance to other dual-band systems like the Google Wifi or the Eero. And even with the signal loss, its Wi-Fi speed was still faster than most residential broadband connections.
It has excellent Wi-Fi coverage, too. I was able make it cover some 4,000 square feet of residential setting with a sustained Wi-Fi speed of more than 100Mbps. Like all systems, you can adjust the Wi-Fi coverage by placing the units at different distances from one another. However, keep in mind that large Wi-Fi coverage always means slower Wi-Fi speed, so pick a balance that you're comfortable with.
Should I get it?
If you already have a Wi-Fi system, the M5 doesn't have enough to qualify as an upgrade, unless you really want the antivirus feature. However, if you're using a single router and having problems getting Wi-Fi everywhere, you should definitely consider replacing it with the M5. TP-Link told me that comes June, it will update the M5 with the access point mode, allowing it to work seamlessly with an existing router. That said, if you're using a modem/combo device, maybe wait a month or two before getting your own. And by then, chances are there will be even more options on the market.
AC1300 Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System
Fast. Stable. Everywhere.
Whole Home Mesh Wi-Fi System
AC1300 Dual-Band Wi-Fi
Deco is the simplest way to guarantee a strong Wi-Fi signal in every corner of your home. Enjoy fast, stable connections for an army of devices in homes up to 5500 square feet (3-pack) / 3800 square feet (2-pack). Setup couldn’t be easier with the Deco app there to walk you through every step.
- Wi-Fi dead-zone killer
- Connects over 100 devices
- Enhanced 11AC speeds
Eliminate weak signal areas with whole-home Wi-Fi. No more searching around for a stable connection.
Want more coverage? Simply add another Deco.
No More Buffering
Tired of endless loading? With an ever increasing number of bandwidth-hungry gadgets in our homes, you need a network that can rise to the challenge. With network speeds three times faster than the previous generation routers thanks to 802.11ac wireless technology, Deco can provide lag-free connections for over 100 devices.
Decos work together to form one unified Wi-Fi network. Your phone or tablet will automatically connect to the Deco that provides the fastest speeds as you move through your home, creating a truly seamless online experience.
Router’s Wi-FiRE’s Wi-Fi 1RE’s Wi-Fi 2
Router + Range Extenders
Setup Just Got a Lot Easier
Unbox Deco, install the app and then simply follow the on-screen directions. Deco will take care of the rest, getting your network up and running in minutes.
- Connect Deco to your cable modem and power on both devices
- Download and launch the Deco app
- Follow in-app instructions to configure your Deco system.
TP-Link HomeCareTM ensures every device on your network remains protected, with a threat database updated live by Trend MicroTM.
Powerful parental controls can limit online time and block inappropriate content according to unique profiles created for each family member.
Robust Parental Controls
Block inappropriate content and restrict time spent online
Protect all connected devices in your home from online threats
Quality of Service
Prioritize devices and applications for faster performance when needed
Fits Every Type of Home
The Reviews Are In
“The M5 can protect the entire network from online threats.”
“If you're looking to ditch your traditional router-extender setup for a whole-home Wi-Fi system, put the TP-Link Deco M5 Wi-Fi System on your short list”
Deco Whole Home Mesh WiFi
*Maximum wireless transmission rates are the physical rates derived from IEEE Standard 802.11 specifications. Range and coverage specifications along with the number of connected devices were defined according to test results under normal usage conditions. Capability to connect 100 devices is based on testing using a mixed combination of devices. Actual wireless transmission rate, wireless coverage, and number of connected devices are not guaranteed, and will vary as a result of 1) environmental factors, including building materials, physical objects and obstacles, 2) network conditions, including local interference, volume and density of traffic, product location, network complexity, and network overhead and 3) client limitations, including rated performance, location, connection quality, and client condition.
**Free lifetime subscription to TP-Link HomeCare™ is included with purchase on select TP-Link routers at no additional cost. “Lifetime Subscription” refers solely to the life of the purchased device and can not be transferred. TP-Link reserves the right to modify the service and feature at any time. Please visit and check: www.tp-link.com/homecare
***According to a 2018 study by Allion USA in a 3,000 sq. ft., two-story home.
‡Seamless roaming/No-Drop Wi-Fi refers to the Wi-Fi roaming that supports IEEE 802.11 k/v/r protocol, helping connected devices search and shift from one AP to another within 0.3 second. Clients need to support 802.11 k/v/r and may require additional setup. Performance may vary depending on the client device.
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Mesh tp m5 link
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