June 17, 2024

TP-Link Deco: Affordable and Usable!

TP Link Deco M3 Thumbnail

A family member of mine was renting a WiFi modem from Comcast for many years. But, I finally convinced her to purchase her own “whole-home” WiFi solution. Originally, we were going to purchase a simple Amazon Eero setup, and then place those points around her home. But quickly after I started searching on Amazon for WiFi setups, I stumbled across the TP-Link Deco setup.

Deco M4R with two Deco M3W Extenders

I really was interested in a TP-Link WiFi router since I wanted to see how a network company such as theirs would work with routers. So, I purchased a TP-Link M3-3pack, which is really just a TP-Link M4R, along with two M3W extenders. The router, along with the extenders, formed a strong, secure WiFi network that finally utilizes the speeds that my grandmother is paying for. In this article, I’m going to be explaining exactly what the TP-Link Deco system is and why you should consider buying one if you’re an average user.

The Design

Obviously, it isn’t something tiny. The main router looks almost like an Apple Airport and is a little smaller when compared to the TP-Link Google OnHub from over six years ago or so. The range extenders are pretty small and can take up an entire outlet to make it look flush with the wall. The best part of the TP-Link Deco system is the customizability. If you don’t like mesh nodes that are little plug-in things, then you can just buy one of the cylinder models of a Deco router, and you’ll be good to go. It’s super easy to add an extra node to your system.

The M4R has two gigabit ethernet ports, and one of them can be used for IPTV or VLAN service provided by your ISP. Since I use Comcast with this router, I just have a CM500V modem hooked directly up to the Deco router, and it has been working perfectly for months now…knock-on-wood.

TP Link Deco App
A Screenshot of TP Link Deco Companion App for Android

The Deco system featured doesn’t include any of the HomeCare or Zigbee features, but there wasn’t any need. The Router can handle custom DNS servers, as a router should. You can configure your DHCP server to your liking, but you can’t turn it off. Also, the router does not include a DNS suffix. That’s a big deal if you use network appliances, such as Pi-Hole. If you do end up using Pi-Hole, you also don’t have the option to disable the router’s DHCP server. That is really annoying if you want to see hostnames in your Pi-Hole console. But, aside from that, the router can handle anything that a typical consumer would use. If you aren’t really getting into the nitty-gritty of your network configuration, the Deco M4R can be a really good choice for you.

It Integrates With ALEXA!

Alexa Wifi Router TP Link Deco
The Alexa Wifi Router Dashboard, but it’s kinda empty

The ability to toggle your guest wifi is available through either IFTTT or Alexa! Because of this, you don’t need another wifi network hogging up and cluttering your RF frequencies. Because of that, your primary network can be a smidge faster and more reliable. The Router and Extenders are dual-band, but that doesn’t affect performance too much. With Alexa, you’re also able to group connected devices for advanced capabilities. Any basic tasks that you could accomplish in the TP-Link Deco app, you’ll be able to do using Alexa.

Speeds and Coverage

I am testing this router in a three-story condo and 300mbps Download speeds, with 10mbps Upload speeds. When wired on ethernet, I get the full speeds. All tests below were when the test device had a signal strength of 100%, according to the status indicator. For my testing, I used a Moto G7, and the link speed to the TP-Link Deco was 150Mbps.

While connected to the main router, I was able to get about 130Mbps on 5GHz when 30 feet away. When I tested the first mesh point, closest to the router, the speed bumped down to 90Mbps. But it was still a good signal nonetheless. My last test was connected to the furthest point and I got to about 80Mbps down. I was able to get two streams of 1080p60fps content consistently. The reason why that is important is that streaming is a big must in that location.

If you don’t need an advanced router, the Deco M3 is a great starter/budget option. You’ll be able to accomplish any network task that you would need to accomplish and without any problems. Since I set up the router back in February, I haven’t had any problems with the network slowing down or having any problems. So, I would give this router an 8/10 because it lacks a few advanced features. But it is still quite a great option for a budget consumer.

Final Rating: 8/10

If you are looking for a new phone, take a look at the Pixel 4a review. Tested by Chaney Goldstein, the device receives a very strong Wi-Fi signal on almost any router. Also, when using the Pixel camera, you’ll look great for your Zoom calls as well.

Chaney Goldstein

I'm a consumer technology reviewer who likes to take a deeper dive into technology and how it affects the average day-to-day life of someone. You can count on me for reliable and up-to-date technology reviews about any field of tech.

View all posts by Chaney Goldstein →

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