Thanks for tuning into our TP-Link Deco S4 review! After some extensive testing of this three-piece Mesh kit, we’re ready to show you everything you need to know in order to decide whether to buy it or not.
Those who have an internet plan of 500 Mbps or less should pay close attention to this Mesh system as it’s probably the most well-priced out there for that kind of performance. Why? Because our download speed test found that it maxes out at 317.27 Mbps.
And if you’ve got a large house (or even a workplace) then the TP-Link Deco S4 could be just the ticket.
The Deco S4 comes as a three-piece that you can lay out around your home or workplace for seamlessly extended Wi-Fi, as is the beauty of Mesh.
But do you need it? And is it worth it? These are just two of the pressing questions we’ll be answering today.
|Max Tested Wi-Fi Speed||317.27 Mbps|
|Wireless Standard||Wi-Fi 5|
|Bands||2.4 GHz, 5 GHz|
|WAN Port||1x Gigabit|
|LAN Port||1x Gigabit|
|Dimensions||3 devices, each 3.6 in. x 6.4 in.|
|Weight||3 x 480g|
You can find the official specification sheet here.
The Deco S4 sits in the ‘mid-tier’ Mesh router range. There are certainly more powerful pieces of kit out there such as the Netgear Orbi RBK852. But for that, you’ll need to pay a premium which probably isn’t worth it for most people.
In fact, the Deco S4 is pretty accessible in its price. While it’s still a lot more expensive than the Google Nest system, it’s a lot more powerful in terms of speed and we know how desirable that is.
With the three-piece kit that the Deco S4 is, you’ll get up to 4000 square feet of range. However, this could be impacted by other things such as… well, walls.
Don’t worry, though. If you do have walls (!) you can just add more satellites to increase the range. And that’s because of a little something called Mesh.
Mesh is effectively an upgraded technology from traditional Wi-Fi repeaters. When you move from Mesh satellite to Mesh satellite, you won’t need to reconnect your device to a new network name each time. It does that for you, and seamlessly. It won’t even interrupt your Netflix stream.
Mesh can be quite pricey but the Deco S4 ain’t too bad. You just need to decide whether it’s right for you or not. If your internet plan offers anything faster than 400-500 Mbps, it might not be. But those limited to less than that should read on.
The performance of the Deco S4 is one of the big questions we need to ask when deciding whether to buy this system or not. So, the first thing we did was test its download speed.
From 5ft away from a satellite, the Deco S4 achieved a top download speed of 317.27 Mbps.
So what does that mean? Not long ago, we asked ‘Is 300 Mbps fast?’. And the answer? Well, fairly! It’s certainly not slow and would be suitable for most households and some businesses.
In theory, it could handle as many as 100 HD Zoom Calls. Just note that a lot of internet service providers (ISPs) put a limit on upload speeds so this won’t always be the case.
(Coincidentally, the Deco S4 allows for up to 100 device connections so if you fancied a massive Zoom party then maybe you should get this device!)
What else can 317.27 Mbps achieve? You could download Adobe Photoshop for Windows in just 30 seconds.
Imagine being able to install the world’s industry standard photo editing software in the time it takes for the kettle to boil. That’s what the Deco S4 is all about. Kind of.
If you wanted to opt for a more expensive Mesh system, there’s no doubt that you’d get faster performance. Here’s what doubling (and then some) the price would get you if you were so inclined.
The Netgear Orbi RBK752 is another home Mesh system but it’s a lot more powerful. From the same distance away, a satellite from this system would get you a download speed of 802.61 Mbps.
An extra 500 Mbps brings that Photoshop download size down substantially and throws an extra 150+ Zoom calls into the mix if you really wanted to ramp things up.
What’s the Deco S4 range? How long is a piece of string? That’s the beauty of Mesh! All you have to do is add more satellites and you can just keep on going and going.
Okay, so it’s not quite as unlimited as we’re making it out to be. For a start, TP-Link recommends that you keep each Deco within 50ft of each other.
They also recommend that you add no more than 10 total satellites to the network as a whole. Based on this, a quick bit of math tells us that the range here would be 500ft.
That’s not as far as the Netgear Orbi RBK752. This kit can handle a distance between 60 and 75ft satellite to satellite. That being said, Netgear only recommends 7 satellites to be connected with the Orbi. And as we said, it’s a whole lot more expensive to buy this kit…
Deco S4 isn’t exactly loaded with features but it does have a few cool ones that are worth mentioning. Of course, there’s Mesh, its stand out selling point. But that’s not all there is to it. Take a look at a few more of those features with us now.
Deco Mesh technology
As we’ve been saying, Deco S4 is a Mesh system. So let’s quickly recap what that means before we find out how good TP-Link’s take on it is.
Mesh allows you to connect to multiple access points seamlessly. With it, there’s no need to change to a different network name every time you move into a new room like you need to do with a normal Wi-Fi repeater.
It all counts as one network. And you won’t even break the connection when you move to a different satellite!
A lot of manufacturers are putting Mesh systems into the world right now and TP-Link are the latest up to the bat. Their Mesh system is called Deco and… it’s pretty good!
While the satellites themselves don’t have the best range in the world, the fact that you can connect up to 10 of them together with one network is rather impressive.
If you managed to check out our review of the TP-Link Archer AX50, you’d know how much we love their app. But actually, TP-Link have switched things up a little bit for their Mesh network and dropped a new app called Deco.
It’s pretty cool! In fact, the Deco app pretty much has all the same functionality of the regular app except it allows you to have control over your Mesh system.
Setting up new satellites with this app is nice and simple. Plus, you can control other parameters such as QoS or parental controls through it too.
Speaking of those parental controls, then. What do they actually do? There are a few functions to them, in fact.
Basically, they help keep your kids safe. Attach parental control settings to your children’s devices on the network and they won’t be able to access any malicious or adult content.
You can have this function running 24 hours a day or only for particular times, depending on how you want things to go down. Or, you cancel a device’s access to the network altogether if you’re prepared to feel the wrath of that decision…
If you’d like to have even greater control over the devices on your network than through parental controls, you can try out TP-Link’s Quality of Service (QoS). This allows you to direct more bandwidth to particular devices.
The benefit of this is that you can pool all the network energy to one device when you need to. So, if you’re about to have a hardcore gaming session and need all the ping you can get, just set your games console to priority in the app.
There are even special modes for gaming, although it’s kind of unclear what that actually does. It seems to work, though!
QoS can be set up through the app or by opening the network configuration page. That being said, it’s a lot more simple doing it through the app.
An even easier way to set up the preceding router functions (and do some other cool bits) is just by chatting to Alexa!
That’s right. A lot of functions of the Deco S4 can be controlled with the sound of your voice.
Want to turn off the network for a troublesome child? No problem. Evening time and the router lights are getting on your nerves? Just ask Alexa to turn them off! Perform a virus scan? Easy. Just ask.
This makes life a lot easier. Believe us. Like you might be feeling right now, we thought it might have been a bit of a gimmick when we first heard about it. But after trying it out, we can tell you: it’s pretty awesome actually.
Access point or router?
A cool thing about Deco S4 is that you can set every satellite to function as either a router or just an access point. This dual functionality makes setting up the system a lot easier.
One of the areas in which some reviewers have criticized the Deco S4 is its security. That’s because it used to not have the WPA2-PSK [AES] security protocol. But TP-Link has fixed that now.
What does that actually mean? Well, WPA2 is kind of a big deal. It’s the next generation of Wi-Fi encryption and has the potential to massively boost the security of your home network. It does require a lot of processing power, but the Deco S4 can easily handle it.
Things are looking alright in terms of security then! The Deco S4 will protect you against viruses thanks to its antivirus technology. Just make sure that you keep your firmware up to date to enable it to do this.
It’s important to note that security like this really is crucial in a router. If a router doesn’t protect itself from viruses and becomes infected, it can be drastic. At this point, every single device on the network can be compromised and that really could be a nightmare!
Time to look at the practicality and aesthetics of the Deco S4 hardware itself. At first glance, the individual nodes look really nice. They’re futuristic but minimal and we’re sure they’ll look good on any shelf in any home.
On top of that, they’re light and small. Each satellite is just 6.4 inches tall with a circular base of the circumference 3.6 inches. That’s little! Each one only weighs just under half a kilogram as well. It’s lighter than most other network hardware we’ve seen recently, that’s for sure.
This means they won’t take up too much space in a room and are easy to move around as and when you choose.
In terms of ports, there isn’t much going on. You won’t get a USB port so you can forget external hardware, although that’s not the end of the world as you probably won’t need it.
Each satellite has two Ethernet ports as well, so you can choose to make it the router and/or connect an external device via Ethernet such as a desktop computer.
Make sure you download that Deco app if you’re looking to set up the Deco S4! It makes life a whole lot easier.
In fact, setup with Deco is about as easy as it gets. All you need to do is connect the router satellite to your smartphone via Bluetooth then follow the instructions on the app.
Connecting the individual nodes together is really easy, too. As soon as you power it on in the app, you’ll see it listed there and will be able to connect to it via Bluetooth once again at the press of a button.
If you don’t have a smartphone, you can do all this through the network config page although it is a little more long-winded.
Another big thumbs up for the setup of the Deco S4 is the fact that each satellite can either be a router or an access point, like we mentioned earlier on. This makes adapting your setup a lot easier. And you can save time in the initial setup from having to work out what’s what.
It’s crunch time: the price. And this is one of the best things about the Deco S4.
The Deco S4 is substantially less expensive than one of the competitors we’ve been comparing it to thus far: the Netgear RBK752. In fact, it’s quite a bit less than half of that price.
Amazingly, it’s actually a similar price to the Google Nest Mesh Wi-Fi system. But with the Deco S4, you get a lot more performance.
Sure, the Nest satellites double up as smart speakers and integrate better with other smart home devices. But if it’s performance for money you’re looking for (as most are with Mesh systems, understandably), we think the Deco S4 is better value overall.
In fact, it’s better value than most other Mesh systems on the market. For anyone with an internet plan download speed of 500Mbps or even 600 Mbps (or less, of course), the Deco S4 could well be the best option to go for.
You just need to justify buying a Mesh system to yourself if your home or workplace is big enough in the first place!
Views from the critics
You can trust us. You know you can! But why not double down on that by checking out some extra opinions as well? We’ve already even gathered some of those for you as well…
So what is the main consensus among other reviewers? Value for money, really! A lot of folks seem to be pleasantly surprised by the amount of performance you get for your money with this setup. It really is good.
And just like us, many other reviewers online are pleased with the extra features. There has been consistent praise for the app, the Alexa compatibility and the antivirus software (which is better than that of the Google Nest setup, by the way).
In fact, one of the main talking points surrounding the Deco S4 has been its security. Of course, security is a huge topic, as it should be. Every single router manufacturer has a responsibility to protect their kit as much as possible.
But what about TP-Link? They’ve certainly never struggled before. The Archer AX50 and other devices we’ve reviewed have had great antivirus software etc. And while some were quick to criticize Deco S4 because of its settings previously, the updates have fixed it over time.
All-in-all, reviews for the Deco S4 are very strong across the board. Like us, many reviewers have recommended this kit to a large target audience.
Which other Mesh systems are on the cards?
Don’t hit the order button just yet. We need to take a closer look at some of the other options before you do that. There’s always a chance you might find a Mesh system that’s better suited to your personal situation. Indulge us.