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Linksys Velop Whole Home Wi-Fi System review: A fast but overpriced home mesh system

CNET Labs' Wi-Fi system performance.

Portal (single router)
Netgear Orbi (single router)
Netgear Orbi (via one extender)
Almond 3 (single router)
Linksys Velop (single router)
Linksys Velop (via one extender)
Eero (single router)
Almond 3 (via one extender)
Google Wifi (single router)
Google Wifi (via one extender)
Portal (via one extender)
Eero (via one extender)


Close range
Long range


Measure in megabits per second. Longer bars mean better performance.

Good, but not great performance

As a single unit, the Velop was about as fast as most 2x2 routers, with a top speed of 383Mbps at close range (less than 15 feet). When I increased the distance to 70 feet with one wall in between, it then averaged 209Mbps; again, about the same as similar routers. However, when used as a system with two or three nodes, it was clearly faster than the Google Wi-Fi and the Eero, though still far behind the Netgear Orbi.

In terms of coverage, I found that one Velop unit could cover about 1,800 square feet, two nodes, about 3,000 square feet and with all three, the system could handle about 4,000 square feet, all in a typical residential settings. I calculated this based on the need to maintain a speed of at least 100Mbps between nodes. Technically you can get larger coverage by placing the nodes farther apart, but clients connected to the satellite nodes will get very slow speed. By the way, you can link the nodes together using network cables, in this case, there's no speed degradation no matter how far you can place them from one another. But if your home is wired for this, the Google Wifi will deliver the same performance, or you can just get a regular router and a few access points for much less than any Wi-Fi system.

The Velop passed my 48-hour stress test -- during this time it was set to transfer large amounts of data between multiple Wi-Fi and wired clients -- without disconnecting even once. The system also delivered very good signal hand-off. No disconnection was detected when a client moved from one node to another. I figured this out via the data speed since there was no way to know to which node a client is connected.

Limited feature

I lamented the lack of features and settings in the Google Wifi, the Velop is even worse. The home network powered by the Velop is hardly customizable, if at all. For example, you can't change the system's IP range, nor can you customize any settings of the Wi-Fi network, other than changing its name and password. Most consumers won't miss those setting options, but for those that tend to dig deeper into their home network configuration, this mirrors the trend towards simplicity we have across most of these new mesh routers.

Right now the Velop has just two main features, namely the parental controls and bandwidth prioritization. Neither is comprehensive or worked well in my trial. The parental control, for example, only allows for manually blocking a single device at a time from certain websites, or turning its internet access off completely. There's no scheduling or blocking a group of devices at a time. Worse, websites seemed to be blocked only when accessed via a browser, so if you block a mobile device from Facebook, the Facebook app on the device might still has access as it did in my trial.

Should I get one?

I can't find any reason that makes the Velop a must-have, at least for now. This is an effective Wi-Fi system that's faster than the Google Wifi, it's just not $200 better. And compared to the $400 Netgear Orbi -- which doesn't require an account with Netgear to work, has more network ports, much faster speed, and all the features and settings you can expect from a regular router -- the Velop's only saving grace is its compact design.

Belkin told me that it's working on adding more features and improvements (including to issues I mentioned here) via firmware updates. That said, I suggest you wait for those updates to emerge, and for the price to drop, before getting your own. But if you don't care about the cost and just want to have a solid system to deliver your fast broadband connection, the Velop will get the job done, with flying colors.

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