Reviewed by David Savage
Access to the internet is something that we all take for granted. We all have it in our homes, workplaces, on our phones and even smart devices in our home use it. Like a lot of homes, the wireless router supplied by the internet service provider isn’t always the best and the wifi signal can have trouble reaching out through the entire house. With a poor wifi signal, devices that are used every day that require internet access can suffer from poor connectivity, which when using streaming sites such as Netflix can cause buffering issues and ruin the enjoyment of sitting down to watch television.
Current research suggests that around 30% of us use around 5 connected devices within our home. With more and more smart tech and smart home devices becoming cheaper, more accessible and on the rise within our homes, a fast and reliable Wi-Fi connection becomes an essential part of life.
There are a variety of different ways to improve the internet within our homes, with the first with being to replace you ISP router with a much better and more powerful one. This will generally improve performance, have a stronger wifi signal with more reach and depending on the router, allow you to connect more devices (our previous router from our ISP seemed to have a limit of 10 connected devices, but with several smart speakers throughput the rooms, internet connected tv’s and several phones in the house, the limit was soon exceeded – the new router we have doesn’t seem to have this issue).
To get the best wifi signal:
- Place your router in the best position – away from metal, glass, wood, plastics. Foam and cardboard can also disrupt the signal.
- If your router has an antenna, replace the antenna with a more powerful one with bigger gain (these tend to be a lot bigger in size).
- Make sure that you use a strong password for your router and wifi so that your neighbours aren’t leaching your signal.
- Try using different wifi channels (check your router user guide to find how to change your settings).
- Purchase a WiFi Repeater/Booster/Extender to extend the wifi signal.
- Alternatively, you can use Powerlines that use the house electrical wiring to extend your internet into different rooms without the need to run long lengths of ethernet cable everywhere.
We use a wifi extender upstairs in our house to improve the signal upstairs. Whilst wifi extenders are a good solution, the further away from the router means the more signal they lose. If you have a large house, you may need more than one extender and they have to be configured individually and logged into individually, so no seamless switching resulting in connection issues when wandering around the house.
A mesh wifi system is a better and more reliable way to extend the wifi throughout your home and we were delighted to be asked to review the Zyxel Multy X AC3000 Tri-Band WiFi System.
A mesh system is a system with a main device that connects to your mode/router and then a series of satellite modules placed around the house and daisy chained together, creating one network and extending the wifi signal.
The Zyxel Multy X AC3000 Tri-Band WiFi System extends the wifi signal and provides 100%, full-strength WiFi—without degradation (unlike traditional wifi extenders) to provide reliable coverage on 2.4GHz and 5GHz.
Setting up the Multy X is simple, it is installed and managed using the app on your phone (there is no web interface so you cannot access from a computer). It takes around 10-15 minutes to set up and requires that Bluetooth is enabled on your phone. The first node in the system has to be near your modem as it has be plugged into it using an Ethernet cable (additional nodes can be placed anywhere around the house to get the best signals).
The Multy X unit is quite a large white box, it looks plain and simple but maybe just a bit too big to be aesthetically pleasing in your home. As well as wifi and Bluetooth connectivity it has three gigabit LAN ports, a WAN port and one USB 2.0 port (unfortunately this doesn’t support NAS storage). It can even integrate with Alexa to use voice control to check broadband speed etc.
Once set up, it is pretty much forgot about it as you don’t have to do much with it unless you want to block other users access.
With it up and running it meant, for the most part, that we didn’t need the upstairs wifi extender installed as the Multy X provided the same level of signal. There are still some parts of the house it doesn’t reach. Where the signal does reach, we have consistent wifi speed.
We were only sent one unit so we couldn’t really try out home the full capabilities of the system, you really do need at least two units for it to work properly. With one unit, it replaced the need for the wifi extender upstairs (although we have installed it in the room that the Multy doesn’t quite reach, but that it a very expensive way to get the same outcome).
A two-unit system would cover approx. 2000 square feet to give whole home coverage (one node would be placed upstairs somewhere to extend the signal further) and as I understand it, would provide seamless switching between nodes to give the best connection and signal, you can set up the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks using the same name and password to allow band-steering, which will help your devices choose the strongest connection – with one node I can’t comment on how well this works.
With the Multy X up and running, most users can just leave it and forget about it. If you do want to have a bit of control over it, it is all done by the app. The app is very basic but easy to use. You can:
- Install first and any additional Multy X nodes
- Run a speed test on your internet connection
- See how many devices are connected
- Block users from using the internet for an amount of time you set
- Set up profiles, e.g. kid’s profiles could be set so that they are blocked from using the internet overnight
Overall, the Multy X (one node) works very well and does deliver a strong, stable and reliable internet connection to the rooms it does reach. Using one node is a false economy as it is a rather expensive way to replace wifi extenders that will do the same job, just not quite as well. If you are looking at a mesh system for your home or office then I would recommend getting the dual pack (more nodes can easily be added at a later time if required).
The wifi signal is strong and the internet speed and connection is stable to the router.
As we only had one node installed, we couldn’t test the mesh system properly but for what one node did, it did it well. We had various devices connected and all performed well with no drop of signal and all had a solid connection (unless the router itself dropped its connection).
As a one unit system, I would have to rate it 4 out of 5.
Prices start from £137.45 (one node) to £313 (three nodes)