Maximizing Wi-Fi connectivity is becoming a priority as our devices become more compact and portable.

Big on speed

TP-Link Deco M9 Plus

$ 250 at Amazon

Pros

  • Fast AC2200 Wi-Fi speeds
  • Tri-band signal
  • MU-MIMO support
  • 2 Gigabit Ethernet ports
  • ZigBee smart home hub

Cons

  • Boring design

The TP-Link M9 Plus offers great specs in a tiny package. This white plastic puck can use its tri-band Wi-Fi to create a fast mesh network at speeds up to AC2200. This router makes a great start to a mesh network in an unexpectedly small package.

Big on value

TP-Link Deco M5

$ 140 at Amazon

Pros

  • AC1300 Wi-Fi speeds
  • Small footprint
  • 2 gigabit Ethernet ports

Cons

  • Boring design
  • No MU-MIMO

Punching well above its weight in performance, the TP-Link Deco M5 surprises with its snappy AC1300 Wi-Fi speeds and mesh capabilities. The small package and expandability with other Deco products makes it a great starter for your mesh network.

Sitting a bit taller and a couple centimeters wider, the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus looks nearly identical to the Deco M5. They pack similar capabilities as well, though, the Deco M9 Plus has several technical advantages. It has more Wi-Fi bands allowing for a higher top speed and a better quality backhaul. It also has a built in ZigBee hub to control compatible smart home equipment. With networks needing more speed all the time, the Deco M9 Plus offers the better overall package for a future-proof mesh network.

Coverage and speed

With a very competitive price for its feature set, the Deco M5 brings all the essentials in a small package. The Deco M9 Plus takes the lead when it comes to the its larger coverage area at 4,500 sq ft with two units compared to the 3,800 sq ft covered by the Deco M5. Of course, every house will be different depending on building materials and layout. A weak spot in the house can be covered by the addition of any Deco router, so a Deco M5 could be added to a Deco M9 Plus setup for a little more coverage.

Deco M9 Plus Deco M5
Dimensions 144 mm x 46 mm 120 mm x 38 mm
Wi-Fi speed AC2200 AC1300
Wi-Fi connectivity Tri-band radios at 2.4GHz and 5Ghz (x2) Dual-band radios at 2.4GHz and 5Ghz
Antennas 8 4
MU-MIMO yes no
Ethernet ports 2 2
Coverage up to 4,500 sq ft up to 3,800 sq ft

The Deco M5 pushes fast AC1300 Wi-Fi speed as long as there are only a few connections. The AC2200 Wi-Fi speed along with support for multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output or MU-MIMO of the Deco M9 Plus will hold up better if there are a lot of simultaneous connections and high definition streaming. MU-MIMO is technology in the router that can manage traffic when things get congested to keep speeds consistent.

When it comes down to speed, the Deco M5 will be enough for most people. If you have a lot of connections or live in an area with a lot of other Wi-Fi points, the Deco M9 plus a better choice for a new mesh. It is possible to use the two routers together if one area needs a stronger connection than another.

This can all be accomplished with an app from Google Play Store on Android or the App Store on iOS devices. This app can customize all of the router’s settings and help place additional mesh points in the most efficient area.

More bands

The speed difference in these devices mainly comes down to the third 5 Ghz band that’s available on the Deco M9 Plus. This additional band can be used to strengthen the connection between the mesh network points without giving up too much speed. A mesh network works by having the ability to intelligently direct data to the mesh point that’s closest to your device. The speed provided by a third band helps a connection stay fast when connected to a remote mesh point.

The details make a difference

A built in ZigBee smart hub contributes to the larger size of the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus compared to the Deco M5. If you have a compatible smart home hub already, this can save even more space and reduce the complexity of your home network. This feature is not that useful for someone that has yet to hop on the smart home trend but in the future, this support can be really convenient.

Speaking of convenience, both of these routers are small enough that they can be tucked out of sight without compromising on positioning. The matte white weather radar design on the top of the device does stand out a bit but should blend in well enough in any room of the house.

The point of a mesh network is to allow expansion and create greater convenience. With its tri-band connection the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus makes a superior wireless mesh with a better connection speed to the mesh points from the primary router. In every category except pricing, the Deco M9 Plus is the stronger product and an easy recommendation. If you already have part of a Deco mesh network and are looking to expand it where overall speed is not as important, the Deco M5 is still a very strong mesh router.

Big on speed

TP-Link Deco M9 Plus

No speed compromise

$ 250 at Amazon

Building a mesh network at home with the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus gives you a strong base that can be expanded as needed. The fast AC2200 Wi-Fi speeds and tri-band Wi-Fi will make sure the core of your mesh is strong.

Big on value

TP-Link Deco M5

Great features at a mid range price

$ 140 at Amazon

Representing one of the best values in smaller scale mesh networking, the TP-Link Deco M5 provides solid speeds in a small package. AC1300 Wi-Fi with two gigabit Ethernet ports on board each unit make this the start to a very flexible home network.

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