Popular DIY Mesh Wi-Fi: Build 100% the Best System Today!

Popular DIY Mesh Wi-Fi: Build 100% the Best System Today!

When it comes to home Wi-Fi systems, the first thing that comes to our mind is generally not a DIY mesh but one of the purposed-built options — or “canned” systems as I often call them.

Examples are Amazon’s eero, Google’s Nest Wifi, Netgear’s Orbi, and TP-Link’s Deco, etc. And in most cases, or to a certain extent, they will work.

But they all are often restrictive in one way or another or just too expensive. The good news is they are not your only options. There are much better alternatives for your hard-earned money.

You’ll find in this post four of the best do-it-yourself Wi-Fi mesh approaches that allow you to start with a standalone router and scale up the courage seamlessly.

DIY Mesh Wi-Fi: Even the best purpose-built mesh system only give you so much.
DIY Mesh Wi-Fi: Even the best purpose-built mesh system only give you so much.

Mesh Wi-Fi systems you can build yourself

It’s important to note that DIY mesh systems are not meant to be easy. In fact, ease of use is the most significant appeal of any canned system — the only reason why you should get one instead one of these mentioned here.

So all of the Wi-Fi ecosystems below will require some work. But making your own mesh Wi-Fi gives you the best control over the hardware and, hence, the performance, features, and, most importantly, the cost.

And in my experience, none of those below are too complicated. If you’re willing to spend some time and have enough interest, you’ll be able to figure one out. And knowing one likely means you’ll be able to take on the rest.

With that, here’s the list of the best DIY mesh Wi-Fi systems. I’ve been using all of them in various configurations and locations.

1. Asus’s AiMesh

The Asus RT-AXE7800 Wi-Fi 6E comes in an interesting design with non-detachable antennas that can collapse on its top. It's also much smaller than Asus's first Wi-Fi 6E router, the GT-AXE11000.
DIY Mesh Wi-Fi: Almost all Aus routers can work as a member of an AiMesh Wi-Fi system.

AiMesh is by far the most popular in custom-built home mesh Wi-Fi systems thanks to the sheer number of available hardware — virtually all Asus Wi-Fi 6 and later routers support this feature.

Consequently, there are countless mesh combos, and since an Asus router generally has the most comprehensive network settings and features, AiMesh is also the most feature-rich.

AiMesh does have some shortcomings, the biggest among which is the likelihood that a new major firmware update might cause issues.

Pros

The most flexible way to build a robust, scalable home Wi-Fi mesh system

Excellent performance, top-notch feature set

Built-in online protection

No vendor login required or other privacy risks

Cons

Certain router combos can be buggy or have issues with new major firmware releases.

Rigid Wi-Fi management when mixing dual-band and tri-band hardware

Only Guest SSID (instead of three) per band can be made system-wide


2. TP-Link Omada

TP-Link Omada EAP670 vs EAP610: The access points and their retail boxes.
DIY Mesh Wi-Fi: The EAP670 and EAP610 access points are part of TP-Link’s Omada mesh family.

Omada is a family business access point. You can use a controller to manage multiple units as a robust mesh Wi-Fi system.

This approach is standard in business and enterprise Wi-Fi applications, available in known brands such as Cisco’s Meraki, Netgear’s Insight Managed, or Ingenious’s Go-to Cloud.

What sets Omada apart is its affordability — the hardware tends to cost a third or even lower than similarly-specced equipment from competing vendors. For a large home, it’s generally cheaper to go with Omada than with any canned system.

On the downside, these are PoE access points, meaning you generally need to get your home wired first. You’ll also need an existing router — a boon for those with an ISP-provided gateway they can replace.

Pros

Excellent Wi-Fi coverage, fast performance

Affordable; easy setup option; no additional cost for cloud-manage

Lots of mesh features and settings

APs include mounting accessories, and PoE or power adapter

The system can be managed via a local web user interface, a useful optional mobile app

Cons

The controller can’t work as a router, nor does it include a power adapter or PoE injector

Networking know-know and network cables are required


3. Synology Mesh

Synology WRX560 vs RT6600ax Back
DIY Mesh Wi-Fi: The WRX560 and RT6600ax make a Synology mesh combo.

Synology Mesh is what I call the no-name feature that turns select Synology routers into a mesh system. This feature is similar to Asus’s AiMesh in terms of customizability and features.

You start with a standalone router and add more to increase the coverage.

On the one hand, Synology Mesh tends to be a lot more stable than AiMesh. On the other, it has only a few hardware options and currently no support for Multi-Gig wired backhauling.

Pros

Fast, reliable, and extensive Wi-Fi coverage

Advanced interface with high-quality add-on features

Highly-customizable network and Wi-Fi settings

Effective Parental Controls and online protection

Cons

Limited hardware and combo options, no satellite-only hardware, users have little control over the satellites

No 10Gbps or 5Gbps Multi-Gig option, no hardware with two or more 2.5Gbps ports


4. Ubiquiti UniFi

UniFi is Ubiquiti’s enterprise family of hardware. It’s only relevant to home users, thanks to the release of the Dream Machine (UDM) and, subsequently, the Dream Router (UDR).

You can use either of the routers as the controller for a network and add an UniFi access point to scale up coverage.

An UniFi mesh system is excellent in reliability and features. However, it’s likely the one that requires the most networking know-how to figure out on this list. On top of that, it’s also limited in terms of hardware options.

Pros

Built-in support for all of Ubiquiti’s business hardware segments (Network, Protect, Talk, and Access)

Reliable Wi-Fi performance, excellent range, mesh-ready

Tons of useful networking features, comprehensive web user interface, and mobile app

Compact and beautiful design, two PoE ports

Comparatively affordable, quiet operator

Cons

No Multi-Gig, Dual-WAN, or Link Aggregation; middling Wi-Fi specs and modest processing power; only one additional app (Talk, Protect, or Access) is supported at a time

Security feature reduces Wi-Fi 6 speed, Power over Ethernet doesn’t support PoE+ or PoE++

Requires an account with UniFi, not wall-mountable, internal fan


The takeaway

Pick any of the options above, and you will get a mesh Wi-Fi system far better than any canned option of the same cost.

And the fact that you can say you built it yourself is a satisfying bonus.