[eltd_highlight background_color=”#EBFC6F” color=””]This article was originally published on March 22, 2017. It was revised on May 1, 2017 to include performance results when Node 3 was connected to an ethernet cable.[/eltd_highlight]
If the $650 price tag wasn’t a strong enough clue, the premium cardboard box with a magnetic lock says that you have bought a premium product. Linksys sent me the top of the line 3-pack Velop Whole Home WiFi system.
The Nodes as Linksys calls them are well designed and the build quality is excellent. Finished in matte white plastic, with a grey rubber base, they stand at 185mm tall and have a 76mm-wide, square footprint. The design means that the nodes don’t scream “I am a router” when mixed in with your home decor.
There is a price to pay for the slim design. Tucked in the bottom are two ethernet ports, power port,switch and reset button. There is no USB port so if you are using a USB printer for example, you will have to find another way to hook it up. One of the ethernet ports functions as a WAN port connected to your modem with a supplied ethernet cable. That leaves one ethernet port, so if you have more than one ethernet device to connect you will have to buy a switch. Not an expensive purchase but after spending 650 bucks it is a bit of a pain.
So much for design, now to the technical details. The 3-unit Linksys Velop is marketed as an AC6600 system. A single node features a maximum theoretical data transfer rate of 400 Mbps, on the 2.4GHz radio band and a maximum theoretical data transfer rate of 867 Mbps for each of the two 5Ghz radios for a total of 2134 Mbps thus the advertised 2200 Mbps. As well, each node features MU-MIMO technology which is starting to become available on new devices. This new technology improves bandwidth by allowing the router to serve multiple compatible devices at the same time instead of sharing a single channel.
Each unit is powered by a quad-core ARM Cortex A7 processor, with 512MB of memory and 4GB of internal flash storage. The system supports dual-stream (2×2), 802.11ac networking over multiple wireless bands – two 5GHz and one 2.4GHz. One of the 5GHz wireless bands is used to communicate between the nodes which is key to the efficiency of the mesh network. You can also use one of the ethernet ports for the backhaul if it is available at the location. It will be automatically detected and configured during the setup process.
Speaking of the setup it uses the Linksys Smart WiFi app for iOS or Android. The app is very user friendly and with the use of pictures and text, it walks you through the installation of the first router (node) The whole process took about 15 minutes plus about 10 minutes to download and install a firmware update. Adding nodes was just as simple and took about 10 minutes plus the 10 minutes for the firmware upgrade. The upgrade seems to speed things up quite a bit, after a reset the first node install took less than 10 minutes and additional nodes were up and running in 5 minutes.
Router controls in the app are equally user friendly if limited. The dashboard only displays a small number of useful functions, with the more advanced settings accessible from a menu on the left. It shows, at a glance, the number of connected devices, internet connectivity status, a toggle control for guest access and shortcuts to the parental controls and device prioritization settings.
All the settings are pretty much limited to the basics. Regular Linksys users will miss the comprehensive controls available in the Linksys Smart WiFi Web app. It is available on the Velop but access is limited to Linksys technicians. There is a way to access the Velop with the Web App and a simple Google search will lead you to it. I you do use it you are are on your own and Linksys suggests the possibility of messing up the Velop settings with the web app. I suspect pressure from experienced users will force Linksys to make the Web App access universally available in the future.
Now that I have the Velop up and running, how does it perform? In a word Impressive! I tested with 1,2 and 3 nodes active using iPerf3 on a Apple Macbook. I also tested with Node 3 in the Family Room connected to an ethernet cable available there. The results in both difficult areas as well as other adjacent rooms and the patio were spectacular. Here are the results in the Office within 5 feet of the principal node as well as the two locations in my home that have proven to be WiFi challenged.
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The Linksys Velop Whole Home WiFi System has been running in my home for a month now and it has been perfectly stable with no connectivity issues. Roaming from node to node was seamless with my iOS and Android devices, less so with my Macbook. The most impressive was the fact I could get full use of my 120Mbps download/20Mbps upload internet connection everywhere in my house, including the basement and outside well beyond the borders of my 7000 square foot lot.
The three pack I tested is pretty expensive at $650 but that is the price you have to pay for this kind of spectacular performance and range. The Router/Extender combination in the table is about the same price for less performance. However 2 Velop nodes provided great performance in my 2500 sq. ft. 2 storey home for a more reasonable $500 and would be a good choice for most situations.
The Linksys Velop definitely sets the bar for how a mesh network should perform in a large house and surrounding property. The three node setup is overkill for smaller homes where a two node system would work well. Velop provides a stable and seamless wireless connection to a large number of devices and overall, does most things right. There are some shortcomings, such as a pretty basic interface. but I expect Linksys will fix this in the near future. Still, even with these shortcomings and the high price the Linksys Velop is a pretty impressive system.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css_animation=”bounceInRight”]This article was originally published on March 22, 2017 and updated on May 1, 2017 to include performance figures when Node 3 was connected to an ethernet cable.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]