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AmpliFi vs. Orbi vs. Eero vs. Google Wifi: Battle of the Wi-Fi mesh routers!

With rumors of Apple leaving the Wi-Fi router game, attention is turning to next-generation alternatives. Namely, mesh networks that offer easier setup and better coverage than the single routers — and bridging them — of yore. But of the three leading contenders, eero (opens in new tab), Ubiquiti's AmpliFi (opens in new tab), or Netgear's Orbi (opens in new tab), is best for you?

Dave Hamilton, writing for Mac Observer:

I've tested three currently-available mesh offerings: eero, Netgear's Orbi and Ubiquiti's AmpliFi. While they all solve the same problem in basically the same way, they each have strengths and weaknesses. If you're finished reading and just want to buy, my TL;DR advice is that, at this very moment, I feel like Eero is the best product to recommend to most users. That said, it's worth watching what Netgear does with Orbi over the next six months. If they keep adding features to it, Orbi could easily take the lead due to its tri-band Wi-Fi hardware. Still, even today Orbi or AmpliFi might be right for you, and I've listed more than a few points of comparison to help you make your choice. For those details… read on!

I went in considering both AmpliFi and eero, now I'm leaning towards the latter. And though I have privacy concerns, others might want to consider Google's new Google Wifi (opens in new tab) system as well.

My colleague, Jerry Hildenbrand, recently reviewed it for Android Central:

I heartily recommend Google Wifi to anyone looking for a way to cover their whole house with a network connection. But I also can recommend the Amplifi system and have plans to look at what Eero and Luma have to offer. I can't say one is any better than the other, but I can tell you that each is a good choice. This is a good place to be, where we have a choice of products that work the way we expect them to work. If you're deeply tied into the Google ecosystem, go with Google Wifi for a multi-device setup. You'll like the On.Here integration for connected devices, and the Zigbee and BLE radios mean more functionality may be coming, though we heard that before with OnHub and it didn't materialize.

Either way, if mesh is your next network step, give Dave and Jerry a read and let me know which system you're getting.

Rene Ritchie
Contributor

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

19 Comments
  • I'm more of the type that slaps on DD-WRT/OpenWRT/Tomato on whatever he buys on day one, but if I were considering one of these running the stock firmware they come with for basic home use, it'd most probably be the AmpliFi HD. The AmpliFi is less exacting with placement, the magnetized/detachable satellite units seem a bit more accommodating to clumsiness while cleaning the house, and most importantly, Ubuiquiti seem to have a decent record for support and security with their corporate Unifi line. With that last point, Eero don't have much history one can look back on (can be a good or bad thing, depending on how you view your glass) and Netgear don't inspire any confidence whatsoever. Another thing important to me is an OS agnostic web interface as a fallback. Eero is iOS/Android only with no web interface or even a desktop client, which makes it even worse than Apple's AirPort Utility in my book. Orbi has a web interface only with no mobile app, which is good enough for me since it'll work with most browsers on most operating systems, desktop or mobile. AmpliFi takes the cake here by having a decent enough (though not spectacular) OS agnostic web interface as well as a decent iOS app. Still, for my needs and the size of my small apartment, mesh networking isn't a big requirement. I'd rather have more granular control with open source tools on a semi decent consumer router.
  • The Ubiquiti update schedule has been great. I have actually missed updates a couple times in the last year because I didn't see the announcement. I have some of their pro-sumer/soho gear for my house. I compare that with other device companies like Netgear which might release 2-3 updates (bug fixes) within a year of when a device hits the market and then MAYBE 1 per year until they replace that market segment in 2-3 years. The R6200 would be an example of something they released in 2012, issued a few bugfixes, then came out with an upgraded V2 and have only done a couple firmware updates since. Although Netgear seems to release more updates for more expensive devices, the R6200 was still $180 at launch.
  • Thanks for pushing your ideals onto the readers and not including Google Wifi into the mic. Shameful but of course you are a mini Tim Cook that spreads propaganda. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • If you read the article he says he tested 3 AVAILABLE offerings. Google Wi-FI is not available yet. So thanks for pushing your hate. From the article..."Google Wifi looks very interesting but was not yet available for us to actually test."
  • First of all the revamp of iMore called out that these linked articles were going to go by the waste side unless contextual commentary ciuld be added. There was none. Only an agenda push. Therefore i didn't bother nor care to read the linked articke. I come to read iMore articles. 1 or 2 of the writers here are very good, knowledgeable, insightful and hold all systems to the same standard.
    Secondly, Rene is very critical to editorials that call out miss-information from other news/blogs and will go to extremely lengths to prove otherwise and provide facts. Here, even though there is a full clear page on Google's support page dedicated to Google Wifi and Google Wifi app, he didn't even bother to do so and instead pushed an agenda that Google has privacy issues when in fact the user is in full control over the privacy shared. Making an assumption that privacy issues are imminent when the product isn't even out yet is ridiculous. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • Once again, the key word is AVAILABLE.
  • cmdacos doesn't read. He just sh*tposts
  • The Google Wifi is just another Onhub + mesh. Go read the copious reviews on that, then add mesh and viola. If you are happy with what the onhub offers you will love Google Wifi. If you aren't then there's that too. Not sure what you think you are missing out on.
  • I didn't write the article, I link to it, but I also linked to Google Wifi as another option, and it sounds like Dave will be including it in a future update. Hope that helps!
  • I am doing well with my MiFi router but interested to see where Wi-Fi mesh routers are going. I feel QoS is important so would go with the eero, if I was buying now.
  • I recently purchased the Amplifi and love it. While it doesn't have some of the nicer software features that the Eero does, the price makes up for it. I also believe those updates will come. I also trust Ubiquiti to know what they are doing since they've been in this industry so long. I'm loving all the competition in this area now. There are a ton of different takes on how to do wireless and it's interesting to watch.
  • Is there any word as to whether or not they'll open up the USB port to allow for attaching a HDD? I like the look of the Amplifi, and once my TimeCapsule is done I would prefer to replace it with another router which can support Time Machine.
  • The fact that eero requires the cloud to even work is crazy. That is a complete non starter for me.
  • I currently use an Airport Extreme (Current model). Concurrently, I have a USB drive plugged in to backup a couple of laptops via Time Machine. Unless I'm missing something (Entirely possible), none of these Mesh solutions could be used in a similar fashion since their USB ports are not currently usable. Correct? What would be an alternative solution (I want backup to be totally automated.)?
  • eero, orbi, and amplifi all have a USB (2.0) port, but it's not (yet) active on any of them. Right now, you'd need a NAS, connect by ethernet to the router (or mesh-point of eero or orbi; amplifi does not have ethernet on mesh-points).
  • The problem with all of these are, if you want raw speed I.e you have a server or a NAS these mesh networks are rubbish, the eero isn't even AC! The AirPort Extreme does ac1300 (people say it's dated but it's still the fastest standard). It's mesh networking just works and it does zero handover meaning you can roam between ap's whilst Ina Skype or FaceTime call or more importantly if your using wifi calling on a iPhone! None of these do that properly apart from Apple. People hate on the apple gear but they have features some Cisco stuff at twice the value doesn't
  • Except that eero IS 802.11ac. The eero UNITA also support 802.11r handoff. It's pretty good based on personal experience. Is it as fancy as a Unifi setup? Of course not, but it's also a set-it-and-forget-it type product.
  • Unfortunate that Apple looks to be leaving the wireless router business. I've installed a lot of Airport Extremes and Time Capsules over the years; they just work, look great, and are easily extended. I would like to see two additional Ethernet ports added.
  • This would be a good topic to update. A lot of reviews are getting old, and same for how much time has passed since Apple got out of this business. You should look at the software releases of existing systems because features have been added. Also concentrate on the radio power and adjustability. New systems look nice but as an example, the Ubiquiti AmpliFi design lets you tune strength and coverage very well. Someone still using their older model Apple setup and especially with an AirPort as a repeater will get a really big surprise if they do a meshed upgrade.