Huawei Wi-Fi Mesh 7: A likeable mesh with decent performance
It's not particularly glitzy or ridiculously fast, but this mesh is a simple, solid performer
Are you looking for a Wi-Fi mesh that makes a real design statement? Huawei evidently hopes not, as even by the standards of networking gear its new Wi-Fi Mesh 7 looks bland.
That doesn't mean it's easy to ignore, however. The system comes as a pack of two sizeable stations, each of which stands 221mm tall, with a rounded footprint that extends to 76 by 150mm.
A few points of interest are dotted around the plain white casing: at the front, an ornamental "H" logo adorns what Huawei optimistically describes as a "HiLink" button -- known to the rest of us as WPS. On the top, a discreet NFC logo indicates another way to easily connect any Android device, by tapping it on the integrated tag. Round the back, a tight quartet of Gigabit Ethernet sockets provides scope for hooking up wired clients.
Each unit houses three Wi-Fi 6 radios: that's one legacy 2.4GHz radio with a maximum speed of 574Mbits/sec, plus twin 5GHz radios, one running at up to 1.2Gbits/sec, the other racing up to a theoretical 4.8Gbits/sec over a maximum 160MHz channel width. The tri-band design allows the units to forward wireless packets back and forth over a dedicated data lane, without affecting the performance of the main network. The network can be managed either from Huawei's AI Life mobile app or from a traditional web portal. The browser interface is clean and clearly laid out, with big graphical buttons along the top for the main functions, and a conventional pane view that appears when you click to access the advanced settings.
The app, by contrast, feels thrown together, with inconsistent visual styles across different pages and little clear structure. On the plus side, the app unexpectedly includes a complete heatmapping tool: you can use this to build a virtual model of your home, and then wander around the real thing with your phone to identify any not-spots.
Another surprise is the band-splitting option. With most meshes, the 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks appear under a single name, and the router takes charge of directing clients to the most suitable connection. With this one, you can optionally set different SSIDs for all three radios, making it possible to manually divide up your clients between the slower and faster 5GHz networks. The Wi-Fi Mesh 7 continues to take care of routing backhaul traffic; the only catch is that the 4.8Gbits/sec network uses the high-numbered 5GHz DFS channels, which some clients may be unable to connect to. There's little in the way of premium features. While rivals such as Plume and TP-Link provide optional network security services, the Mesh 7 has only a basic firewall that you can turn on and off.
Parental controls are similarly sparse: you can set access schedules for individual devices, but there's no smart content filtering, so if you want to block a particular website you'll have to enter its URL by hand.
Wireless performance is pretty good. After setting up the two units in suitable locations from home, we could download files at impressively consistent speeds: We measured an average 34MB/sec in the kitchen, 35MB in the living room and bathroom and 38MB/sec in the bedroom, while in the study, where the main mesh unit was located, the rate leapt up to 59MB/sec.
For sure, there are faster meshes out there. The TP-Link Deco X90 gave us over 60MB/sec in every room, while the Orbi RBK963E managed to top 100MB/sec in several locations thanks to its support for the latest Wi-Fi 6E standard. Those are much pricier propositions, however, at £440 and £1,260 respectively.
In fact, for its price, the Mesh 7 does a creditable job. We've seen similar top speeds from cheaper meshes, such as the Netgear Orbi RBK352 or the cheaper Huawei Wi-Fi Mesh 3. But neither of them could keep up those download rates throughout the whole building, which probably has something to do with the fact that they're both dual-band systems. With the tri-band Mesh 7 you can be more confident of a smooth experience, whatever the layout of your home.
While the Huawei Wi-Fi Mesh 7 isn't a conversation piece, it's a likeable mesh. With its tap-to-connect NFC tag, plus heatmapping and band-splitting features, it has a character of its own, and there's enough performance here for all but the most demanding environments.
Yes, you can get a basic dual-band mesh for less, or you can pay more for a faster system loaded with smart cloud features, but this unprepossessing Wi-Fi system does a decent job for a reasonable price, making it a solid foundation for almost any home network.
Huawei Wi-Fi Mesh 7 specifications
|Connection||Tri-band 2.4GHz/5GHz Wi-Fi 6|
|Ports||4 x Gigabit Ethernet (per unit)|
|Dimensions||76 x 150 x 221mm (WDH)|
|Warranty||2yr RTB warranty|
|Weight||895g (per unit)|
What 2023 will mean for the industry
What do most IT decision makers really think will be the important trends and challenges in the coming year?Free Download
2022 Magic quadrant for Security Information and Event Management (SIEM)
SIEM is evolving into a security platform with multiple features and deployment modelsFree Download
IDC MarketScape: Worldwide unified endpoint management services
2022 vendor assessmentFree Download
Magic quadrant for application performance monitoring and observability
Enabling continuous updating of diverse & dynamic application environmentsView Now