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TP-Link Deco M5 vs. Deco M4: Which should you buy?

TP-Link Deco M5 with PC
TP-Link Deco M5 with PC (Image credit: TP-Link)

TP-Link Deco M5 3-pack

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TP-Link crams some impressive features in the Deco M5's small form factor. This router kicks out AC1300 Wi-Fi speeds with four internal antennas as well as two gigabit Ethernet. Getting a mesh network online with the M5 should be a snap. It can be easily concealed in any room.

Small with Power

Fast AC1300 speeds
Two Ethernet ports
Small size
Works with other Deco products
Boring design
Setup requires an app

TP-Link Deco M4 3-Pack

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Doing its best to live up to its art deco name, the M4 features an interesting appearance and some impressive specs to back it up. With support for AC1200 Wi-Fi speeds and two gigabit Ethernet ports, the M4 will fit in well with your existing Deco mesh or be a solid foundation for a new one.

Tall and Handsome

Adequate AC1200 speed
Two Ethernet ports
Eye-catching design
Works with other Deco products
Difficult to conceal
Low speeds on 2.4Ghz
Setup requires an app

The newer TP-Link Deco M4 tries to replace the Deco M5 with similar specs and a more inspired design. In many ways, it's a more interesting product to look at and will likely be more visually cohesive with the decorations you already have in your home. The hockey puck design of the M5, however, makes it much easier to conceal at the back of a shelf or even mounted on the wall like a smoke detector. The Deco M5 also boasts slightly beefier specs, including 2.4Ghz speeds at 400 Mbps speeds, which is 100 more than the M4. Overall, the size and speed advantage make the Deco M5 the better device for your mesh.

Fast Hardware and Fast Wi-Fi

TP-Link Deco M5 on a nightstand

Source: TP-Link (Image credit: Source: TP-Link)

To be fair, both of these products are very similar in the speed they will deliver to your Wi-Fi devices. They can both push speeds of 867 Mbps at 5Ghz. However, the Deco M5 pulls ahead with 2.4Ghz speeds at 400 Mbps versus the Deco M4's 300 Mbps. While the majority of new devices with Wi-Fi support 5Ghz, there are a lot of older devices that only support 802.11n, recently renamed Wi-Fi 4, on the 2.4Ghz band. This includes the original PS4, which will be held back at 300 Mbps.

Both the Deco M5 and M4 support MU-MIMO, which stands for multi-user, multiple-input, multiple-output. This technology helps keep speeds consistent and buffering to a minimum if you have a lot of devices connected. With many people carrying two or more Wi-Fi devices all the time, such as a smartphone and smartwatch, MU-MIMO keeps these devices running normally. You can even add guests and all their devices without a severe impact on performance.

TP-Link Deco M5TP-Link Deco M4
Wi-Fi SpeedAC1300AC1200
Ethernet Ports22
Antennas42
MU-MIMOyesyes
Wireless StandardsIEEE 802.11 ac/n/a 5 GHz, IEEE 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 GHzIEEE 802.11 ac/n/a 5 GHz, IEEE 802.11 b/g/n 2.4 GHz
Frequency2.4 GHz and 5 GHz2.4 GHz and 5 GHz

All Deco products can work together as part of the same mesh, so if you already have one of these products you can make your decision on which one to get without worrying about compatibility. Both products feature two Ethernet ports so you can connect additional wired devices to your network. One port will be used for the connection to the modem on the primary unit. These routers can also be set up with an app available on Google's Play Store or Apple's App Store.

Aesthetic network equipment

TP-Link Deco M4 on a table

Source: TP-Link (Image credit: Source: TP-Link)

When it comes down to it, the biggest difference between the Deco M5 and the Deco M4 is the design. The Deco M5 has a much smaller space requirement and can be worked into nearly any area, making it easy to place it in the most optimal spot. The Deco M4 requires a lot more vertical space. That being said, the brave appearance of the Deco M4 fits its art deco inspired name with great vertical lines and an ornate vent pattern on top that beautifully blends function with design excess.

Still, there is no substitute for raw performance when it comes to your network and the power and small size of the Deco M5 make it easy to recommend. Even when compared to some of the other best wireless routers. When it comes to your mesh network where every device needs to be able to efficiently talk to one another, speed is king and the Deco M5 reigns supreme.

When Samuel is not writing about networking or 5G at Android Central, he spends most of his time researching computer components and obsessing over what CPU goes into the ultimate Windows 98 computer. It's the Pentium 3.