TP-Link's been on a hot streak for the past year or two, with a string of budget-friendly Wi-Fi routers that stand out for their performanceThere's the (our top value pick ), the (our top value pick ), and even the , which currently sits atop our list of .
Suffice it to say, my eyebrows went up when TP-Link announced a new mesh router with support for, which takes and adds access to . Most appealing is the price tag: just that includes your main router plus a range-extending satellite device. That's hundreds less than other systems that support Wi-Fi 6E, including the ( ), the ( ), and the (a whopping ).
- Terrific value for a mesh router with support for Wi-Fi 6E
- Fast, consistent download speeds
- Auto-pairing Deco devices make for simple setup
- Relatively weak upload speeds
- No multi-gig internet support
- Most homes won't see much benefit from 6E connections over the 6GHz band
The Deco XE75 is a clear value pick relative to routers like those, but it's average internet speeds aren't fast enough for Wi-Fi 6E to really flex its muscles.. With lots and lots of bandwidth and no interference from previous-gen devices, the 6GHz band makes perfect sense as a sort of VIP section for overcrowded networks in dense environments like airports and stadiums -- but the benefits are much less clear in a residential setting, where the majority of your devices won't be able to connect over 6GHz, and where
That said, if you're lucky enough to enjoy gigabit-or-better internet speeds, then Wi-Fi 6E might make sense as a forward-looking home networking upgrade -- and the Deco XE75 gets you there for a lot less than its competitors.
It isn't a slam dunk, though. Downloads were as snappy as I've seen in my tests, but the system's average uploads couldn't keep up with theor with last-gen standouts like the . And unlike either of those alternatives, the Deco XE75 doesn't include an Ethernet LAN jack capable of accepting incoming speeds any faster than a single gigabit per second. That means that the Deco XE75 will bottleneck your connection if you spring for like those now available from providers like , , , and others.
Still, there's a lot to like about this easy-to-use mesh system, and at $300 for a two-pack the price is right. If you can live with the compromises -- and keep your expectations for Wi-Fi 6E in check -- then the Deco XE75's rare combination of value and upgrade appeal merits consideration.
Design and features
There's nothing terribly distinctive about the way this mesh system looks. With a white, cylindrical build that's black up top, the Deco XE75 is practically identical to previous-gen TP-Link systems, including the. There are some distinctive ripples on the top of each device and a new "6E" logo stamped on the front, but that's about it.
That's not to say that the Deco XE75 is just the Deco W7200 with a new lid. For starters, the XE75's AX5400 build is faster than the W7200's AX3600 build, bumping the top 5GHz speed up from 1,802Mbps to 2,402Mbps and replacing the second 5GHz band with the new 6GHz band, which also tops out at 2,402Mbps. On top of that, the Deco XE75 features a slightly faster processor (1.7GHz quad core, up from 1.5GHz), along with a trio of gigabit Ethernet jacks on the back of each device, up from a pair of them with the W7200. With HE160 support, the Deco XE75 also allows for wider channels of up to 160MHz. That's the same upgrade that helped the newoutperform its predecessor in dramatic fashion.
You'll find the regular mix of TP-Link features in the Deco app, available for Android and iOS. The app also does a good job of walking you through the setup process, which is already simple. The two Deco devices are identical and interchangeable, so you'll pick either one to serve as your main router: Plug it in, connect it with your modem and pair with it in the app. Even better, the second Deco device will automatically join the mesh as soon as you pick a spot for it and plug it into power.
Apart from the setup assistance, the Deco app offers a quick overview of all the devices connected to your network, along with access to your network settings and other features, including parental controls and a quality of service engine for prioritizing traffic to specific devices. For $6 per month or $55 per year, you can subscribe to HomeShield Pro, which offers deeper control over those features, as well as detailed network usage reports and device-specific security scans. Most will be fine without it, but it's a nice option for power users, and TP-Link isn't too pushy about trying to get you to sign up.
Performance and speed
I've spent the past few weeksat my home, a single-story house of about 1,300 square feet in Louisville, Kentucky. I also ran tests at the much larger, multistory CNET Smart Home to get a good sense of the system's range. In each location, I ran multiple rounds of tests in multiple rooms across multiple days, and I did so on two different client devices, a Lenovo Thinkpad laptop that supports Wi-Fi 6, and a Samsung Galaxy S21 smartphone that supports Wi-Fi 6E.
CNET Smart home tests
Let's start with the CNET Smart Home, where the fiber connection nets us matching upload and download speeds of 150Mbps, which is roughly comparable to the average internet speed in the US. The Deco XE75 and the routers I tested it against are all capable of hitting speeds several times faster than that, but the tests still help me see how well the system performs in the type of large-home environment that mesh routers are really intended for.
Sure enough, with the main router situated on the main floor and the extender plugged in on the basement level down below, the Deco XE75 did an excellent job of spreading fast speeds throughout the entire house. Upstairs, closer to the main router, my Wi-Fi 6 test laptop averaged download speeds of 132Mbps; in the basement, nearer the extender, those average download speeds only fell to 124Mbps.
That's a solid result in a 5,800 square foot home, but all of the mesh routers I've tested at the Smart Home have been able to deliver download performance like that. In fact, it's difficult to see much of a speed difference between any of them -- and that includes previous-gen systems like the Deco W7200 and that ultra-fancy, $1,500 Netgear Orbi AXE11000 setup. There isn't even much difference in average speeds to my Wi-Fi 6E test device. Older mesh routers that don't support Wi-Fi 6E at all were able to deliver speeds just as strong as the Deco XE75 and the Orbi AXE11000, the other Wi-Fi 6E mesh router in the mix. Bottom line: With an internet plan like the 150Mbps connection we have at the CNET Smart Home, you shouldn't expect any router upgrade to deliver game-changing performance, and you shouldn't expect Wi-Fi 6E to offer any sort of meaningful speed boost.
The last thing I tested at the Smart Home was the Deco XE75's 6GHz band. By default, that band is used as the dedicated wireless backhaul connection between the router and its extender -- so even if you're using a Wi-Fi 6E device, you'll be connecting to the Deco's mesh over the standard 2.4 and 5GHz bands. However, the Deco app lets you change that setting, making it so the system shares that backhaul band with any 6E devices on your network. Would that speed things up?
The answer, somewhat surprisingly, was no. With my Galaxy phone now connecting to the Deco's network over the 6GHz band, my average download speeds throughout the entire home fell from 137Mbps to 131Mbps, and my average upload speeds fell from 115Mbps to 92Mbps. I call that "somewhat" surprising because: The 6GHz band comes with weaker range than the 2.4 or 5GHz bands, particularly with respect to uploads, so you might see your speeds start to dip a bit sooner as you move farther from the router. In a big house like the CNET Smart Home, that's exactly what happened.
At-home speed tests
With my tests finished at the Smart Home, I brought the Deco XE75 back to my place, where I have fiber speeds of 300Mbps and the fastest devices I test typically top out at about 375Mbps. I've tested dozens of mesh routers here over the past few years, and the Deco XE75 held up fairly well in comparison, with an average download speed throughout the entire place of about 334Mbps. That's a top-ten result, as you can see in the scoreboard below:
I've ordered the routers in that chart according to the blue bars representing their average download speed, from highest to lowest. Now, take a closer look at the red bars representing their average upload speed, and note that the Deco XE75's is relatively short compared to other top picks like the Netgear Orbi AX6000 and the Eero Pro 6E. That's a good reminder that this is a budget-minded router we're talking about, so you shouldn't expect uploads to have quite as much oomph as you'll get from something slightly higher end.
As for Wi-Fi 6E, my Galaxy test device saw slightly faster download speeds than the Wi-Fi 6 laptop did, bumping the overall average up from 334Mbps to 361Mbps. But again, that was with the 6GHz acting exclusively as a backhaul and the phone connecting over 2.4 and 5GHz. And, just like at the Smart Home, my average speeds actually fell once I changed that setting and brought the 6GHz band into play, with the downloads dropping to 354Mbps and the uploads falling from 315Mbps to 255Mbps. My connection was still plenty fast, mind you, but it'd arguably be even faster without Wi-Fi 6E at all.
One last note: I recently upgraded my home network to a gigabit connection (940Mbps down, 880Mbps up), and I'll be re-testing all of my top picks to generate some fresh data on a much faster network, hopefully to show even more differentiation from system to system. I haven't tested many systems yet, but the Deco XE75 was the first, and I made sure to test the Eero Pro 6E and the Netgear Orbi AX6000 alongside it to see if it could keep up.
In terms of download speeds to my Wi-Fi 6 laptop, the Deco XE75 beat them outright with an overall average of 654Mbps, but it was close... and again, the upload speeds fell short, finishing at just 292Mbps. Download speeds to my Wi-Fi 6E Galaxy device were a bit lower, finishing at 571Mbps, but that improved slightly to 588Mbps once I opened the network to allow me to connect over the 6GHz band. Still, I'd recommend leaving that setting off, as my Samsung Galaxy smartphone's uploads were, once again, noticeably lower over 6GHz, dropping from 374Mbps to 319Mbps.
That makes three separate tests where the 6GHz band offered my Wi-Fi 6E device no discernible benefit over connecting via 2.4GHz and 5GHz. I don't necessarily fault TP-Link for that, but it does reinforce my suspicion that Wi-Fi 6E isn't going to be a terribly meaningful upgrade in most people's homes any time soon.
I'll have more to report from my gigabit speed tests in the coming weeks, once I've had more time to re-test systems and examine some new ones, so keep an eye out for that.
The TP-Link Deco XE75 is a decent mesh router that's capable of delivering download speeds that are about as fast as you could expect throughout homes both large and small. However, the average upload speeds leave a bit to be desired, and the addition of Wi-Fi 6E support isn't likely to make much of a difference in most homes, if any.
At $300, you aren't paying that much of a premium for this system compared tothat don't include 6GHz access, so if you're itching to run some Wi-Fi 6E speed tests of your own, the Deco XE75 is probably your most affordable way in. On top of that, its performance held its own against well-reviewed competitors that cost more, like the and the . If I wanted superior mesh router performance, I'd probably spring for one of those, especially since both support incoming wired speeds faster than a single gigabit. Even so, the Deco XE75 stands out as a home networking value pick, so it's worth a look.