TP-Link Deco X60 Review: a Mesh System for Stable and Efficient Wi-Fi 6

With the TP-Link Deco X60 Wi-Fi system, TP-Link promises a fast wireless network solution capable of covering a large area and operating in difficult conditions. It takes the form of a kit of 3 satellites operating in Wi-Fi 6.

Presentation

TP-Link is not reinventing the wheel when it comes to Wi-Fi. TP-Link Deco X60 kit consists of three modules that work together to create a wireless mesh that is both transparent and efficient. The explanation may seem obscure, but the concept is simple. Rather than offering a single box that provides the Wi-Fi network for an entire home, “mesh” systems involve several boxes that communicate with each other to provide optimal wireless coverage.

TP-Link Deco X60 is also not to be seen as a Wi-Fi repeater that extends the wireless coverage of Wi-Fi from any box or router. No, this kit replaces the Wi-Fi already in place, Wi-Fi that can then simply be deactivated on your router or box.

The TP-Link kit is based on three dual-band type satellites. No tri-band connection, as can be found on the most high-end Wi-Fi systems. This is an important detail to consider because it means that the boxes use the same band – the same pipe – to communicate with each other that is used to transfer data. A saving that is usually not without impact on practical throughput; we will come back to this in the section devoted to flow rates.

Each case is otherwise identical; there is no server module and satellites, all are alike. Each offers Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) compatibility at 2402 Mb / s on the 5 GHz band and up to 574 Mb / s on the 2.4 GHz band. Obviously, backward compatibility is ensured with previous Wi-Fi standards. Each module also has two Gigabit Ethernet sockets. It is possible to use one to set up what is called the Ethernet Backhaul. It is an interesting system that allows boxes to no longer communicate with each other by Wi-Fi, but by Ethernet. This makes it possible to free up bandwidth on the Wi-Fi but requires positioning the boxes near a network outlet.

TP-Link Deco X60

Image Source: amazon.com

If TP-Link had accustomed us to offering fairly compact Wi-Fi modules with its Deco M5 and Deco M9 Plus, the switch to Wi-Fi 6 comes with a little overweight – without reaching the exuberant size of Orbi from Netgear. The diameter of the small cylinders is thus 11 cm and the height points to 11.4 cm. In absolute terms, it remains quite discreet and allows to fit 4 antennas per box. Each unit also has a small LED giving an indication of the status (connected, disconnected, etc.). It is, however, possible to shut off this illumination.

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Ergonomics

The installation could at first glance seem complicated for the average person. In reality, no need for special computer skills. After installing the appropriate application on his smartphone, it guides us in a clear and very simple way through the various configuration steps, from connection to network creation. At the end of the process, the application will offer to add additional boxes. And once these have been added, an update of the different boxes will be carried out automatically. Extremely simple.

Once this configuration has been carried out, the application is used to manage the boxes. It is first of all possible to choose the operating mode of the installed system, namely router or access point. The first mode is to be preferred to take full advantage of the potential of the TP-Link Deco X60. A “HomeCare” tab houses various options for setting up a QoS (Quality of Service) system and thus prioritizing certain types of uses or devices.

This tab also gives access to parental controls, which can be adjusted according to the age of the children – with the possibility of customizing the settings – as well as an antivirus system. “HomeCare” is offered for 3 years, after which it remains functional, but without being able to update its databases.

Alexa compatibility is also a must. Enough to activate the guest network on the fly, launch WPS recognition or change the priority of QoS mode (to switch to game or streaming mode, for example).

Debits

We conducted several tests on a network initially composed of a TP-Link Archer AX11000 Wi-Fi 6 router. To carry out the measurements, we used a laptop computer equipped with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity based on Killer AX1650 chipset and a stationary computer equipped for its part with a TP-Link Archer TX3000E Wi-Fi 6 card. We then positioned the laptop near the first X60 module (about 1m), then at a distance of about 8m and separated by a floor and several walls (including a carrier).

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As a first step, we set up a single X60 module. There, the maximum speed obtained at 1 m was 360 Mb / s (or 45 Mb / s). By moving to our second measurement point, the speed dropped to 199 Mb / s (or 25 Mb / s). By adding a second X60 module halfway, the throughput did not really improve, our situation not seeming tough enough for a single module. On the other hand, by connecting the second module in Ethernet, we find a speed close to 360 Mb / s.

We carried out the second battery of tests, this time connecting our wired fixed computer to the first X60, so as to obtain an optimal result on this dual-band system. There, at a distance of 1 m, we measured 816 Mb / s, or all the same 102 Mb / s. This is roughly what a wired Gigabit network can achieve. At 8 m away, we drop to 192 Mb / s (24 Mb / s) using a single X60 module. With a second module placed halfway, the speed goes up a little (287 Mb / s, or 36 Mb / s).

These different values ​​are obtained with a whole hardware ecosystem operating in Wi-Fi 6. The TP-Link Deco X60 kit remains compatible with the previous Wi-Fi standards, however, at the cost of a lower speed, quite logically. By forcing operation in Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), we were able to measure a peak at 602 Mb / s (or 75 Mb / s), which is excellent on this protocol. At 8 m, we fall at the worst case to 165 Mb / s (or 21 Mb / s), which is once again very good.

Consumption

The power consumption of each module is around 7 watts, with a few peaks towards 10 watts during data exchanges, and a drop to around 5 watts during times of low activity. This is a fairly usual consumption for this type of device, on the order of what we find on the Orbi AX Mesh (RBK152). On the other hand, we regret that the power connector is of the coaxial type. Replacing the power adapters is much more restrictive than if TP-Link had opted for a USB-C power supply.

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Strong Points TP-Link Deco X60

  • Easy installation and configuration.
  • Excellent network coverage.
  • Very good speeds in Wi-Fi 6 and Wi-Fi 5.
  • Parental control and antivirus suite included.
  • Efficient and comprehensive administration interface.

Weak Points TP-Link Deco X60

  • A functional USB port or a 3rd RJ45 port would have been a plus.

Conclusion

TP-Link Deco X60 is a mesh Wi-Fi solution that is certainly expensive, but particularly successful. With its well-designed mobile application, it is very easy to use, including for network novices. The speeds are also very high, both in Wi-Fi 6 and in Wi-Fi 5. With its three modules to be distributed in the housing, we obtain wireless coverage that is both stable and efficient. Perfect for large homes or for harsh conditions.

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