Many people know the problems with a WiFi network in their own four walls. There are many solutions for this, but not all of them lead to the desired purpose of better coverage in the home wireless network. Linksys – an American company based in California that specializes in network solutions – promises almost loss-free reception with the modular Linksys Velop mesh router. We test whether this promise is kept and how the system performs in practice.
Design & Quality
The Linksys Velop, which consists of three identical access points, is tested. From a purely visual point of view, the white WiFi boxes, lovingly referred to as “nodes” by the company, look like Bluetooth speakers from various providers. Each “node” is quite compact with dimensions of 78 millimeters in width, 185 millimeters in height and 78 millimeters in depth. They are made of subtle white and durable plastic, with one of the four side surfaces being polished to a gloss. Two more are provided with ventilation holes just like the top to prevent overheating. There is also a small, multi-colored LED on the top that shows the status of the connection.
On the underside there are hidden 2 gigabit LAN connections as well as the reset button, the input for the power supply via power supply unit and an on / off switch. Very nice: A recess was left on the underside for the power supply cable so that the “node” does not wobble. The workmanship is very neat, the plastic is very difficult to indent and there are no annoying sharp edges or excessive gaps. The supplied network flat ribbon patch cable is a good 1.85 meters long, and the power supply cable is even 30 centimeters longer. Great!
Setting up the network or integrating the three access points, which according to the manufacturer should significantly increase the WiFi range in the apartment / house, is a little more time-consuming than expected. First, a smartphone and the Linksys Android / IOS app are required. Bluetooth must be switched on because a connection to the modules is established via the integrated Bluetooth 4.0. A Linksys account is also required in order to use the entire system.
First, we connect one of the three “nodes” as a base to our router via LAN, connect the device to the power supply and switch it on at the bottom. The app then guides the user through the installation process. This works well, but there is no other way to set up, for example via a web browser or simply via WiFi detection in the smartphone. The user must first define a name for the new network via the app. The base device is then searched for and found. However, setting up via Bluetooth takes a good four minutes (only on the base) and the smartphone must remain active in the immediate vicinity. The app then asks us whether we want to install the latest firmware update, which takes another three minutes. Once the setup has been completed and the “node” has been successfully integrated into the network, the user is asked whether he would like to add further “nodes”.
We like the fact that Linksys also gives tips on positioning and any problems with setting up the individual satellites. For example, the “nodes” should be as free-standing as possible and at an elevated position and not in direct proximity to one another. We follow this advice and position the two other access points in two more rooms. The first directly behind the dividing wall in the children’s room and the second in the kitchen about eight meters from the router and the base. In a further test section, we position the third “node” two rooms (bedroom) further, with the second “node” moving from the children’s room to the kitchen so that the distances between the access points are not too large.
But it takes a lot of time until we are finished with the complete assembly. This has to do with the fact that the integration of the second “node” takes a long time. The setup process takes at least six minutes from booting the access point to successful setup. It’s way too long. In addition, in the event of a setup error, the “Node” must be restarted manually (reset button on the bottom) and the installation must run through again. Sources of error are, for example, an unfavorable location or if the connection from the smartphone to the “node” breaks off when the phone switches to power-saving mode.
In our test, adding the second “node” does not succeed directly either. The box must be completely restarted twice – which is not necessarily mentioned in the instructions. It therefore takes a good ten minutes to successfully set up the first satellite. However, it then works and is displayed in the app, albeit with a little delay. Then, with this knowledge plus, we also add the third “node” and can put the entire mesh system into operation after a good 35 minutes. That is clearly too long, here we expect a little more comfort for a very high-priced product.
For the test setup, we use the Fritz! Box 7590 with a maximum bandwidth of 250 Mbit/s for downloads and 40 Mbit/s for uploads. The connection is stable. A Samsung Galaxy S20 + 5G, a Huawei P20 and an MSI Prestige P100 desktop PC are used for the test. The Linksys Velop Mesh router is equipped with three WiFi frequency bands per “node” – two with 5 GHz and a maximum transmission rate of 867 Mbit/s and one with 2.4 GHz and 400 Mbit/s. In purely mathematical terms, this results in a theoretical transmission speed of 2,134 Mbit/s per “node”, which is rounded up to 2,200 Mbit/s (packaging). Before the test, it seems extremely questionable to us that this combined speed could really be achieved, since manufacturers like to play with such “nice” numbers.
The mesh router from Velop works in such a way that the end device, depending on where the user is located, latches into the best available access point. However, it decides which one is there. According to Linksys, the same performance should be available on every “node”. In the test, of course, it also depends on how far the smartphone, tablet or desktop PC is from the dial-in point. We use the Samsung Galaxy S20 + 5G in the first test run and walk the test route from the living room (router + Velop base) via the children’s room (Velop Node 2) to the kitchen (Velop Node 3) and back again. Fortunately, the system moves permanently in the 5 GHz network, so that there are no major performance losses when switching to the 2.4 GHz network. So basically good conditions first.
While we can still measure a good 587 Mbit/s with the smartphone and the Fritz! App near the base, this value decreases significantly the further we move away. It is clear that the same good values cannot be measured everywhere and that the system delivers the same performance everywhere. At the second “node” in the children’s room, for example, we only measure 475 Mbit/s in the immediate vicinity of the access point. It gets even worse in the kitchen with only 280 Mbit/s. It should be mentioned positively at this point that there were no performance drops or major fluctuations during the entire test. The transmission speed decreases linearly with the distance from the base and increases again the closer we get to the living room.
A similar picture emerges in the second test setup with the bedroom much further away. Here we measure 590 Mbit/s on the basis, 400 Mbit/s in the kitchen and 250 Mbit/s in the bedroom. However, there are two reinforced concrete walls in between and a good 15 meters. We take this opportunity to do the test and leave out the “Node” in the bedroom so that only a set of 2 is in operation. Interestingly, that doesn’t have that big a negative impact – the differences are only marginal. We can measure similar values in the living room and kitchen as in the second test setup and in the bedroom with 240 Mbit/s only a good 10 Mbit/s less in the set of 3. We achieved minimally lower test values with the Huawei P20 smartphone. The desktop PC – MSI Prestige P100, on the other hand, is located in the same room as the Velop base and can therefore increase a bit with a transmission speed of 599 Mbit/s.
In the next step, we measure the real download / upload rate in the four rooms, which is not entirely unimportant in practice. We carry out these tests with the Ookla speed test. We also use Linksys’ internal speed test via the app. First of all: The internal speed test gives almost the same values at all four test stations, which seems a bit unrealistic (download: 252 Mbit/s, upload: 43 Mbit/s).
The picture is somewhat different with the external test media. With the Samsung S20 + 5G, for example, Ookla determined values of 223.4 Mbit/s (download), 42.9 Mbit/s (upload), while in the bedroom only values of 62.3 Mbit/s (download ) and 33.9 Mbit/s (upload) can be achieved. With the Huawei P20, we achieved values of 247.4 Mbit/s, 42.8 Mbit / s (living room) and 49.7 Mbit/s, 43.3 Mbit/s (bedroom) on the same test track. The stationary computer achieves values of 253.3 Mbit/s and 25.3 Mbit/s. Overall, not that great values.
Apart from the measured values, the Linksys Velop Mesh router also offers useful functions such as child safety, guest WiFi and the option of additionally protecting the entire system against unwanted dangers using the paid Linksys Shield software. The security level of WPA2 encryption is also included, but this is now standard everywhere. Overall, the app is very clear and once the system is running, it gives the user a good overview of the mesh system, the signal strength and the connected devices. In-depth professional settings cannot be found, however. Fortunately, due to the design, the entire system does not heat up noticeably, so it is maximally lukewarm, which is perfectly okay.
Conclusion: Linksys (WHW0303) Velop Mesh Router
The Linksys Velop made a good impression on us. Design and workmanship are good and very well thought out. However, the setup is a bit tedious. The performance of the system is good, but never reaches the theoretically possible values. The same applies to the achievable download / upload speed. However, the network stability after successful setup and the clear app should be mentioned positively
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Last product update on 2021-10-23 | Source: Amazon Affiliate