TP-Link Deco X20 vs. Meshforce M7: Which budget mesh router system should you buy?

TP-Link Deco X60
TP-Link Deco X60 (Image credit: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

TP-Link Deco X20

The Deco X20 is a great compact node with enough performance for most people and support for Wi-Fi 6. This system also comes with TP-Link HomeCare software which includes advanced parental controls and improved network security. Your Deco mesh is also easy to expand with support for all other Decos, including faster versions.

Compact Wi-Fi 6 mesh

Great 5,800 sq ft of coverage
AX1800 speeds
HomeCare is free
Compact and attractive nodes
Dual-band connection will limit mesh performance
Only two Ethernet per node

Meshforce M7

Meshforce M7

The Meshforce M7 is a nicely thought out mesh system with a tri-band AC2100 connection enabling consistent speeds thanks to a dedicated mesh link. Each node includes three Ethernet ports, making it easy to connect to a home office or entertainment area. With up to 6,000 square feet of coverage, the M7 is a solid choice.

Meshforce M7

Tri-band performance

Impressive 6,000 sq ft of coverage
Tri-band AC2100 connection
Dedicated backhaul
3 LAN ports per node
Lacks advanced parental controls
No Wi-Fi 6

The TP-Link Deco X20 and the Meshforce M7 are compact mesh systems with three nodes and a ton of coverage. The Meshforce M7 takes the lead with 6,000 square feet of coverage compared to the Deco X20's 5,800 square feet. The Deco X20, however, uses a newer Wi-Fi 6 connection though it takes a cut in top speed with only a dual-band connection. The Meshforce M7 sticks with Wi-Fi 5, but thanks to its tri-band connection, it can deliver more consistent speeds, especially when connected to a node.

The Deco X20 comes with a dual-band Wi-Fi 6 connection with up to 1201Mbps at 5GHz and 574Mbps at 2.4GHz. In a mesh system, one of these bands, typically the faster 5GHz band, will link the different mesh nodes. In a dual-band system like the Deco X20, this has the effect of splitting the speed between the mesh connection and your connected devices.

AX1800 speeds are common among other cheap and great Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems like the Eero 6. However, this limitation is barely noticeable in practice as even speeds around 600Mbps are more than fast enough for bufferless 4K streaming, web browsing, and even large downloads.

The Meshforce M7 sidesteps sharing resources by including a third band that can be dedicated to the mesh connection. With a Wi-Fi 5 connection, that works out to 867Mbps per 5GHz band. This gives the M7 a serious advantage in speed consistency, especially when connected to a mesh node. So if you're looking to get as much mesh speed as possible in this price range, the Meshforce M7 is a great pick.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 TP-Link Deco X20Meshforce M7
WirelessDual-band Wi-Fi 6Tri-band Wi-Fi 5
SpeedAX1800574Mbps at 2.4GHz1201Mbps at 5GHzAC2100300Mbps at 2.4GHz2x 867Mbps at 5GHz
Ethernet2 per node3 per node
Coverage (3 nodes)5,800 sq ft6,000 sq ft

Both nodes are fairly compact when it comes to hardware, though the Deco nodes are a bit smaller. With its extra size, the Meshforce node includes an extra Ethernet port and slightly greater coverage.

Deco and Meshforce M7

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Though subjective, the Deco nodes feel a bit more premium with slightly thicker plastic and more weight. On the other hand, the Deco also has an aggressive design that makes it look more modern. Still, neither node looks bad, and both will blend in easily on a shelf and can even fit in behind something like a photo frame.

Meshforce M7 shelf

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

When it comes to coverage in a mesh system, it's important to remember a few things. First, coverage in your home will be greatly affected by interference. This can be from a neighbor's Wi-Fi system or even electrical interference from HVAC systems. Second, thick walls such as those made from blocks or concrete can also reduce Wi-Fi coverage. Finally, you may need to place your nodes closer to one another in challenging conditions reducing your maximum coverage.

Wi-Fi 6 is a bit better at resisting interference though the most important thing will be to make sure you have as clear a line of sight as possible between the base node and the remote nodes.

The Deco X20 three-pack has great coverage at an estimated 5,800 square feet. You can expand this coverage down the line with additional X20 nodes, which can also be purchased individually. Deco has another trick up its sleeve in that all Decos work together. That means that you can expand your Deco mesh with other models, including older Wi-Fi 5 nodes. If you want to add a faster node like those in the Deco X68 it should be placed at the center of your mesh connected to your modem.

The Meshforce M7 three-pack covers up to 6,000 square feet. Your Meshforce M7 mesh can be similarly expanded though your options to do so are much more limited. You can add more Meshforce nodes to your system, but Meshforce has fewer options to do so with the M1 and M3 series. So if you're expanding your Meshforce M7 mesh, you should use more M7s to do so.

TP-Link HomeCare on a Deco X60

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

Both systems are quickly and easily set up via an app. If you can download an app and connect to a WI-Fi point on your phone, you're qualified to complete the setup process. The Deco system is set up with TP-Link's Deco app, and the Meshforce system is set up with the MyMesh app.

When it comes to app features, TP-Link takes the cake. You can adjust basic Wi-Fi settings, including your Wi-Fi name and password, basic devices management, and the router's connection mode. You can also connect via a web browser interface, and unlike a standard router, settings are still minimal.

TP-Link excels by including HomeCare, which includes antivirus protection, QoS settings, and parental controls. HomeCare's parental controls are some of the best in the business, with the ability to group several devices under a single profile and apply filters and time schedules. This allows you to manage all of a person's connected devices under a single profile.

Meshforce M7 app

Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central (Image credit: Source: Samuel Contreras / Android Central)

The MyMesh app is fully featured with all of the settings most people need. Like most mesh systems, you don't have access to advanced settings anywhere, but it's more than enough for most users. QoS is included with settings per device. MyMesh does have parental controls, but they are rather simple with the ability to block websites for individual devices and schedule offline time for those devices.

Both of these systems deliver with the simple goal of providing solid Wi-FI coverage for a huge area. The Meshforce M7 has slightly greater speed capabilities and more consistent performance thanks to its tri-band connection. The Deco X20 has a lot more going on under the hood. The excellent HomeCare software makes it a better fit for someone who wants parental controls and more flexibility in expanding coverage. The software edge, compact housings, and adequate performance for most people make the Deco X20 the better overall buy, even if only by a hair.

Samuel Contreras

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.