We’ve been reviewing a lot of exciting new Mesh systems recently and the latest on our list is the TP-Link Deco X20 AX1800, which we’ll mainly refer to as the X20 for short for the rest of this article.
This awesome kit, the little sibling of the more advanced (but more expensive) Deco X60, is a great solution for those looking to get Mesh on a budget.
How did we come to that conclusion? By putting it to the test, of course! Deep in the Networks Hardware secret lab, we’ve been putting the X20 through its paces in a number of ways. What you’re reading today is the results of those tests.
Overall, we found the X20 to be pretty spot on considering the price. Naturally, any budget Mesh system is going to leave the more demanding network user wanting more but what you get for the price here cannot be complained about.
There’s a lot more unpacking to do before you decide whether it’s the right tool for your home though. So stay with us as we bring all the info on the TP-Link Deco X20.
|Model||Deco X20 AX1800|
|Max Tested Wi-Fi Speed||695.05 Mbps|
|Wireless Standard||Wi-Fi 6|
|Bands||2.4 GHz, 5 GHz|
|WAN Port||1x Gigabit|
|LAN Port||1 on main router, 2 on each satellite|
|Dimensions||4.33 × 4.33 × 4.99 in|
To get started on your Deco X20 journey, you’ll need to buy a two-pack or three-pack system. You can buy single satellites, but if you’re going for a Mesh setup there’s really no point.
The reason for that is that the whole point of Mesh is to extend the range of your home network.
With two or more satellites on a Mesh system, you’ll constantly be on the same network. So, you won’t have to connect to a new network name when you go out of range of the original router signal, as you do with a standard Wi-Fi extender.
And that’s the big selling point of Mesh as a whole. But to find out how good a Mesh system is, we need to look at each satellite’s range, the speed of the network it provides, and a few other factors.
The speed of this thing isn’t bad at all. We tested it from 5ft away with a Wi-Fi 6 device and managed to clock in at a cool 695.05 Mbps. That’s not bad at all! So let’s find out what else is in store with this router.
To find out how quick the Deco X20 was, we ran a series of speed tests from different distances. This gave us an idea of how fast it could be and the overall range of the individual satellites.
The top speed we managed to clock from the X20 overall was 695.05 Mbps from 5ft away. That’s pretty quick for a budget Mesh system.
To put that into perspective, it’s a lot faster than the similarly-priced Google Nest Wi-Fi. Nest doesn’t even support Wi-Fi 6 so it’s a lot slower, and then some. Our test showed that Google Nest only managed a speed of 87.76 Mbps! There are some pros about the Nest but overall, the X20 is way better for the price.
That being said, it’s not quite as fast as the similarly priced ASUS alternative, ZenWiFi AX Mini XD4. Our tests clocked a speed of 721.67 Mbps. The 25 Mbps here doesn’t seem like much but once you move further away, the gap in performance quality becomes more apparent.
From a distance of 50ft away, the X20 managed a speed of 313.18 Mbps. However, the ZenWifi Mini managed to hold onto its speed a lot better – it clocked an impressive 450.94 Mbps. That extra 140 Mbps or so will really go a long way.
That being said, we found that the overall range of the X20 satellites was better than the ASUS offering. At around 70ft, the signal of the XD4 seems to just drop off whereas the X20 can maintain a connection from around 95ft away.
So with the X20, a pack of two nodes would give you substantially more range than an XD4 would. Although, we would be reluctant to space out the nodes on the X20 too far away from each other such is the lack of speed at further distances.
So while your connection won’t be as fast further away with the X20, you can cover more space. In that sense, it seems like a sensible option for those with larger homes but slower internet plans.
Even though the X20 is a budget Mesh system, it comes with a handful of cool features that are certainly worth noting. Here’s an overview of each of them.
Of course, the big selling point of the X20 is its Mesh. So, if you’re not sure what that is, let’s have a quick look.
The point of Mesh is to expand the range of your home network while keeping things all under one network name. With standard Wi-Fi extenders, you’ll need to reconnect to a new name when you go out of range of the original signal.
But with Mesh, you’ll stay connected no matter where you go in the home. You could be streaming live video and never have to drop a connection when you move into another room. And that’s pretty awesome in our eyes!
Pretty much everything you need to control with your home network can be done through the very neat Deco app. This app becomes important from the moment you unbox your Deco satellites, as it is the best way to set them up.
We’ll cover the setup process in more detail later on but for the time being, it’s also worth noting that you can control your network settings in the Deco app. Features such as QoS and parental controls are controlled here, and the attractive interface makes that easy and satisfying.
If you have a Mesh network, there’s a good chance you’ll have a lot of devices connected to it. For this situation (as well as others!) QoS is a really important tool.
QoS, short for Quality of Service, is a network feature that allows you to select a handful of devices for internet priority. This means they’ll get lower latency and faster speed, which is great for anyone looking to download a large file or embark on a mega gaming session.
The way QoS achieves this is by restricting network access to other devices connected to it. But that’s not such a bad thing, as idle devices can often eat up your bandwidth without you realizing it.
The Deco X20 QoS is pretty decent. We have seen better, such as ASUS’s take on things, but we’ve also seen a lot worse. The bottom line is that you can control which devices receive priority and that’s going to be enough for most people.
Another way to control the likes of parental controls and QoS, as well as a handful of other settings, is with the sound of your own voice. X20 supports Alexa, which means you can ask your Mesh system to do certain things.
Some examples of voice commands you can use with your X20 are ‘set parental controls to iPad’ or ‘remove the TV from the network’. This makes being able to adjust your network a lot quicker.
TP-Link is offering two years of warranty with the X20. That’s double the legal minimum in the US (and therefore the warranty of a lot of routers), and that gives you a lot more peace of mind.
Interestingly, TP-Link’s regular routers provide a lifetime of warranty but they don’t extend that to their Mesh systems. We doubt that means anything for the reliability of the devices though.
If you want to protect your home network even further, we recommend TP-Link’s HomeCare. It comes free with the TP-Link Deco X20 and we’re huge fans of that. For such a cheap system, getting this included is a real bonus.
HomeCare is two things: antivirus technology and advanced parental controls. The former is fantastic for keeping away outside threats whereas the latter protects your network from the inside.
It does this by restricting certain types of content to certain devices. Enable parental controls and you’ll be able to control what some network users see. This can, for obvious reasons, be a really important feature to have for those with young children in the home.
Parental controls with HomeCare are truly some of the best out there. You can create profiles for individual users and bundle all their devices to that profile so that you can control them all as one.
After that, you can then set levels of access to the users. Plus, you can choose to create schedules so that users can only access certain things at certain times. That could be a great thing to use to make sure the kids are going to sleep at night rather than watching YouTube!
One security feature that does come for free with the X20 is WPA3. This is the latest Wi-Fi security protocol and it’s all about looking after your personal data.
WPA3 protects your credit card details, passwords, and more a lot more safely than previous security protocols so it’s always a relieving thing to see in a list of router features.
No 160 GHz bandwidth
One ‘feature’ that the X20 is lacking is a 160 GHz bandwidth. This could be the reason the satellites aren’t able to unlock the top speeds of some of the more expensive models.
160 GHz is part of the 5 GHz band and it unlocks the fastest speeds available at Wi-Fi 6. But if your internet plan doesn’t support hyperfast speeds, this won’t be a problem. Plus, not all devices will be able to support this technology anyway.
Furthermore, 160 GHz channels are very prone to interference which makes them less than ideal in a lot of cases. You’re not missing a lot without them!
We’re fans of the way the Deco X20 looks. It’s modern and exciting but also nice and minimal so it won’t look out of place in anyone’s home. Plus, the satellites are nice and small. They’re actually exactly the same size as that of the X20’s big brother, the X60.
This, alongside the fact that the devices are fairly light at well under a kilogram, means that moving the satellites around your home is easy too. This could be particularly useful as a bit of trial and error may be required to find the sweet spots for your Mesh satellite setup.
But it’s not all just about aesthetics by any means. There are a couple of cool design features that can help us in a practical way as well. Mainly, there are some good ports.
On the router, there’s a Gigabit WAN port to get you hooked up to the internet plus one Gigabit LAN port to connect devices for a wired connection over Ethernet. On the satellites, there are two LAN ports so you can get the best speeds with a wired connection/
On the downside, there aren’t any USB ports on either the router or the satellites. So if you’re looking to plug in any external hardware to your network, such as a printer, you’re out of luck here.
Setting up your Deco system with the X20 is a dream. It really could not be much easier thanks to the Deco app! When we tried it out for ourselves, the setup process took no more than a couple of minutes and required the minimum of effort from us.
All you need to do is plug your satellite in. If you have fiber, this will be a direct connection whereas those with cable internet will need to plug into a modem first. For some help with finding a modem, you can check out some of our best ones here.
After you’ve done that, just power it on and load up the Deco app. It should find any satellites you have plugged in immediately and set them up for you. You barely have to do anything, and that’s the beauty of it.
If you don’t have a smartphone to be able to download the Deco app, you can get around this but it is a bit more long winded. You’ll need to go into your browser on a computer and enter “192.168.1.1” into the address bar.
This will take you to the network configuration page. On this screen, you’ll be prompted through the instructions on what to do. Again, it should only take a couple of minutes or so.
When it comes to budget Mesh systems, there’s no denying that the Deco X20 is one of the best. It offers a lot of bang for your buck and comes in cheaper than more expensive systems.
The only system that beats its value for money wise is the ASUS ZenWiFi Mini. This thing is in the same ballpark financially but is a bit more powerful. Check back to the performance section for a look at how they match up.
And the best part of it all for us is that you get HomeCare free for life. Being able to bundle in a pair of tools (antivirus and parental controls) that usually costs quite a few dollars a month is awesome.
Over time if you keep the X20 long enough, HomeCare will pay for itself!
Opinions From Across the Web
To really provide you with the most accurate info, we read through some other reviews. Sometimes, this can throw up alternative viewpoints but when it comes to the X20, it seems that opinions are pretty aligned.
Of course, no one is truly blown away by the X20 as it doesn’t particularly excel at any one thing. However, it does have very good reviews across the board due to the fact that it satisfies most criteria and for a very good price indeed.
We’ve seen a lot of praise not only for the price of the system but for the physical design of the satellites and also specifically for the inclusion of HomeCare. It seems like a lot of reviewers are just as impressed as we are by the inclusion of free antivirus technology and advanced parental controls for such an affordable system.
In fact, the only real criticism we have seen for the X20 is that the performance is not quite as good as some of the competition. But even then, reviewers are quick to point out that the value for the performance you get is still very good overall.
Alternative Mesh Systems For Your Consideration
The X20 is a cracker but there are a lot of awesome Mesh systems out there to consider. Take a look at these.