The old-fashioned router is on the decline, Mesh WiFi solutions are the future, and with the Deco M4, TP-Link makes Mesh WiFi cheaper than ever. Is this the solution we've been waiting for, or is cheap expensive?
TP-Link Deco M4Connections 2x 10/100/1000 network connection per satellite
Mesh WiFi class AC1200; 2.4GHz 2x2.5GHz 2x2 802.11b/g/n/ac
Opportunities AP Mode, Wired Backhaul, Guest Network, Firewall
app Android and iOS App
Dimensions 19 x 9.1 x 9.1 (H x W x D)
9 Score 90
- Easy installation
- Top performance in AC1200 class
- Dirt cheap for Mesh
- Limited capacity
- No VPN or web interface
A short refresher course on what a Mesh WiFi system is: a combination of several satellites (access points), usually two or three, that significantly increase the WiFi coverage in your home. They do that without needing (network) cabling. Mesh solutions are also easy to install, which actually makes them an ideal way to provide good WiFi easily, quickly, and without expensive help from outside your home and garden.
TP-Link's Internal Struggle
Two years in a row, the Deco M5 from TP-Link is already the undisputed budget king in our Mesh roundup, where we compared all Mesh solutions sold in the Netherlands for a large comparison. The M5 was already relatively cheap and performed well and we wondered why they would release an alternative.
The flat cabinets of the M5 make way for charming white turrets on the TP-Link Deco M4, each equipped with two network connections. The installation was again done in no time, the app turned out to be neatly user-friendly again, and only the extra Trend Micro security package from the M5 is missing; not a huge loss. Some pro-sumer functionality such as VPN or the web interface is unfortunately missing, but with things like guest network, AP mode, wired backhaul (if part of your house is wired) and port forwarding, the Deco M4 is complete enough for anyone who is not likes to tinker with his network.
Breaking the price
In terms of performance, the M4 turned out to achieve almost exactly the same results as the M5, with differences small enough that you won't notice anything in practice. At 149 euros for a 3-pack, however, the Deco M4 is tens of dollars than the M5, and is even the cheapest Mesh set on the market. Considering the performance is again among the better in the class up to 250 euros, that is not only objectively good, but the M4 clearly presents itself as a real budget winner.
TP-Link does not make mistakes. The main limitation of the M4 is inherent in the AC1200-AC1750 class that the M4 falls into. That class is ideal for significantly increasing your WiFi range, but due to the lack of extra antennas to handle the mutual communication between the three satellites, they lack the capacity for intensive environments. Families with several really active users or other data guzzlers look better at an AC2200 solution or higher, you can pay at least 249 euros for a 3-pack.
With excellent performance, an easy installation and a great app, the Deco M4 makes a big impression, and the extremely competitive price turns it into the entry-level mesh kit of the moment.