Review TP-Link Deco Wifi 6 Mesh Router

The TP-Link Deco X60 is TP-Link’s Wi-Fi 6 mesh router system that competes with the Nest Wi-Fi, Eero and Orbi. It’s been six months since we got ours from TP-Link and I’m gonna take you through what it’s been like to use over the long term and if I think it’s worth it to pick up a Deco X60 system.

TP-Link Deco Wifi 6 Mesh Router Design

First up, let’s talk about the design of these routers and the setup process. Overall, I like the design of the routers, they look nice and are a bit tall compared to something like the Eero but are similar in size and shape to the Nest Wifi.d The Wi-Fi points have an additional Ethernet port which is a big plus over competing products like the Nest Wi-Fi point The only thing I don’t like about the devices design are the power bricks. They’re long and rectangular and if you’re plugging them into a search protector power strip, that’s already pretty full, it’s going to be a challenge to get it to fit.

Setup experience

Now one of the most critical parts of any Wi-Fi experience and where a lot of people actually run to issues with their Wi-Fi router is the setup experience. Thankfully with Deco the setup experience is dead simple. It took me like five minutes to set this thing up.

You just download the TP-Link Ceco app on your phone from the Play Store or App Store. Plug in the first point that is your main router connected to your modem and then follow the on-screen instructions. To add a new point to the Wi-Fi network, all you have to do is plug it in and it’ll automatically be added to your system. One setup, I’d recommend spending some additional time going through the Deco app because there are likely a few settings you’ll want to tweak and learn more about.

LED status light control

One of the things I always look for when setting up a new router is the ability to turn on and off that LED status light. That’s because my routers typically sit behind my television and yes I do know that is not the best place to put a Wi-Fi router.

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The Deco does have a way to turn off the LED status light and you can do that by going into the Deco app which isn’t the best designed app in my opinion and you’ll see why as we go through some of the features. You go into the app, click on more advanced and then LED. Then turn the selector on or off. You don’t have the ability to turn on or off the status indicator on individual points or the ability to just dim the indicator lights.

Main page of the app

All right back to the main page of the app. One thing that keeps tripping me up in this app is how to actually see the different points in the system. To do this, you need to tap the internet globe symbol which there isn’t any indication from the design that it can be tapped so it just kind of have to know, which isn’t the most intuitive design. This is the area where you can see the Decos in your system and see which devices are connecting to which Deco point.

Smart Home device control

One interesting thing that TP-Link built into the app is the next tab over called Smart Actions for Smart Home Devices. It’s not something I’ve ever used and I’m sure that people are going to choose their Wi-Fi router app for their home automation versus something like the Amazon Assistant app, Google Home app, or Apple Home app. So, I’m not really sure that this setting deserves its own tab within the Deco app, but you know, I got to give it to them, it’s an interesting idea nonetheless.

Parental Controls

Parental controls are table stakes for routers nowadays and are built into the Deco and no additional cost. These settings are found in the home care tab. You can filter content by creating profiles and then selecting specific filters for that profile and then block specific categories of content as well as apps or websites.

You also have the ability to set time control so you can limit the time each profile has on Wi-Fi for weekends and weekdays and there’s also a bedtime feature that you can set up for a profile to make sure your kids aren’t staying up too late using Wi-Fi.

The last step in creating a profile is attaching specific devices to it, so the router knows which devices to turn Wi-Fi on or off for. Once you have a profile set up, the app makes it really easy to instantly pause or resume Wi-Fi for a profile.

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QoS Application Priority

QOS is another setting you may see in the home care section of the app and that feature allows you to prioritize specific kinds of traffic on the network as well as specific devices. So, for example, if you’re uploading a video to YouTube, you might want to prioritize the computer uploading.

You can set devices to always be a priority device or only prioritize devices for a specific duration. In the more settings section of the app, you’ll find advanced features like being able to turn on and off the 2.4 gigahertz and 5 gigahertz networks you get from the router which can be useful if you need to force some smart devices onto one or the other.

Here you can also test internet speed which is only testing the speed from the internet to the main router not to your end device, which I do think TP-Link should have included.

Network optimization

Network Optimization is a feature that was added during our six months of testing and when you select it it gives absolutely no explanation whatsoever for what it’s doing. People on the TP-Link Forums had the same reaction and according to someone who reached out to the Development team of the Deco, network optimization “let’s Deco intelligently scan for a clearer channel to switch your devices to, guaranteeing optimal Wi-Fi performance.” It would have been helpful if they had included that description in the app itself because without it it comes across as more of a gimmicky feature than an actual serious one.

Managers

One other really important feature that you’ll see in this section is managers. You can invite others in your household to help you manage the network and this is really useful if you’re setting up the router system for a grandparent or a parent. It allows you to monitor the network remotely and help them troubleshoot issues. Alright so those were some of the core features now let’s talk about performance. This Deco mesh router system is a Wi-Fi 6 system.

Why is Wi-Fi 6 important? Well, while Wi-Fi 6 does offer increased speeds over the previous generation of Wi-Fi, where I’ve actually seen the biggest impact with Wi-Fi 6 router setups, including the Deco, is when you have multiple devices like a large number of them connected to your network simultaneously.

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I typically have anywhere from 40 to 50 devices on the network at any given time. With that amount of devices, I have noted. An increase in stability of overall network performance with my Wi-Fi 6 setup. Also this system has great range. One reason I always go for a mesh Wi-Fi system is I need enough signal to be able to get out of my Model 3 across the street in its garage for software updates and this system is able to push out enough signal for my 3 to pick up which is great.

Issues and downsides

All right, now let’s talk about issues and downsides. The biggest issue I’ve had with this system is overall network performance. Initially my Google Nest speakers would drop Wi-Fi connection at random and the upload speed on my iMac inexplicably dropped to three megabits per second whereas on my Nest Wi-Fi I was getting close to 10.

I tried changing some of the settings on my router and I looked at the TP-Link Forums to try to see if anyone else was running into the same issue I was and some people were but they didn’t seem to have any resolutions at the time so eventually I just ended up getting two Eero routers because it was the pandemic and I needed Wi-Fi that worked and worked really reliably.

Now over the past few months, I’ve switched back and forth between the Deco and my Eero system and I’m happy to say that subsequent firmware updates seem to affixed my initial issues and why I now recommend this system.

The Deco system is definitely competitive with other systems out there but with the added advantage of Wi-Fi 6 and the advanced controls this system brings a lot of value. The only thing I think is still a slight disadvantage with the Deco is its app.

There are just some UI and UX decisions that make it a bit more difficult to use than it should be. Now, I wouldn’t say that’s a reason not to go for this router system, but something to keep in mind as you compare it to competing routers.