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Linksys Velop AC3900 Review - Affordable whole home WiFi

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The Linksys Velop AC3900 promises to provide a large 420 sqm. Meter WiFi coverage over multiple floors in a single home with seamless connections!
Linksys Velop AC3900 Review - Affordable whole home WiFiode!
The Linksys AC3900 node!

More homes aren't getting enough coverage from their single WiFi router with some resorting to a WiFi extender. This creates a new problem where a user's device tries to transition from one router to another but experiences problems.

These transitional problems are what this Linksys Velop AC3900 by creating a Mesh network which allows for a seamless connection between each node, it is like being connected to only one router with out transition problems!

It removes a lot of the guessing game in traditional networking, which are rigid and have to be thought out. Nodes in the network detect other nodes and rearrange themselves for the benefit of the network. Traditional networks look like a chain but mesh networks work more like a web. For example, if one node in the network is turned off, and if one node is close enough to another backup node, the two nodes will connect so the chain is not broken. 

Nodes can be connected to each other by ethernet or over wifi without the need for manually inserting IP addresses or touching settings. Nodes can be moved from place to place and the network will auto correct itself. In short, nodes in a mesh network behave in a decentralized fashion. The more nodes, the better, thus one node on its own is not much different from a regular router. Another benefit is the easier transition between wifi nodes since the entire network recognizes each device.

Let's see how it performs!

Unboxing/Accessories

Inside the box are documentations, driver disks and three sets of node, power plug, plug adapters and Ethernet cables!
Inside the box are documentations, driver disks and three sets of node, power plug, plug adapters and Ethernet cables!

It comes in a white box with sky blue accents. Inside are the documentation and driver disks along with three sets of nodes, power plugs, plug adapters, and Ethernet cables.

Build Quality/Design

Linksys Velop AC3900 on the desk!
Linksys Velop AC3900 on the desk!

The nodes themselves have a textured hard polycarbonate shell that is rectangular in shape with a solid but lightweight feel to them.
White textured surface!
White textured surface!
Two Ethernet ports and the power-in port!
Two Ethernet ports and the power-in port!
Ventilation holes and LED light up power button on top!
Ventilation holes and LED light up power button on top!
At the bottom are the regulatory information, power switch, reset button and two screw ports!
At the bottom are the regulatory information, power switch, reset button and two screw ports!

On one side of the node is the Linksys logo and at the opposite side of this are the two Ethernet ports with the power-in port. The other sides have nothing on them.

On top are the exhaust vents along with the RGB light up power button while the bottom has the intake vents, regulatory information, the square shaped rubber feet for added grip to the the table along, the power switch and the reset button.

The power adapter that comes in the box is rated for 12V/1A. 

The two Ethernet ports at the rear side are Auto-sensing which automatically detects whether to connect as input or as output. It can distinguish between connecting two computers or one modem and one computer into a node. It works for the most part. 

However, we encountered a problem when we tried to attach a router to the node to have more than two ports as it got confused as to which one is the source of the internet. Additionally, we found that two ports is not enough for the main hub since we had a computer, NAS and a CCTV system attached to it. In the future they can add a model that has additional ports as the main hub and keep the two ports for the other nodes.

Performance

Node A, B, C's coverage range across two floor home!
Node A, B, C's coverage range across two floor home!

Each node is represented as the letters with A being the main node and B and C are nodes connected to A. B is the area of WiFi from B in the second floor. All the walls were concrete. The circles depict the approximate area of WiFi effectiveness.

Whole home WiFi!

Do note that it weakens significantly when passing through walls. A room with green means the WiFi is fast while rooms in red have bad WiFi speeds and rooms in yellow have ok WiFi. 

We set up the nodes so that they are as far while still maintaining the blue light on the nodes meaning it has a good connection. We approximate the range of a node to be 10 meters omnidirectionally if there is no wall but quickly loses power after passing two or more walls. Mesh networking works great. 

There are less dead zones between the nodes, which we had with router+extender. Transitioning between WiFi zones is now seamless unlike the former 5-10 seconds lag we had before.

We can also switch the nodes around and the network will automatically reconnect to the closest node and fix the system as if nothing happened. If we ever have Ethernet through the house, we can quickly connect it.
The app allows for monitoring and controlling the each node!
The app allows for monitoring and controlling the each node!

The setup is simple but requires using the app and not possible via browser/computer. This involves turning on a node and waiting until the app detects it via Bluetooth or WiFi. Then doing that again for each node.

We recommend setting up the node near the main node and then moving it to its final destination connected either by WiFi or Ethernet. There is no complicated IP addresses to deal with. After the setup, you can now manage via a PC as well as the app. There are the features for MAC filtering, Guest mode and WiFi securities. 

Other features include device prioritization and Channel finder which automatically sets the nodes’ WiFi channels for less congestion and removes the busy work for manually optimizing WiFi channels. The extent of parental controls are only blocking at a certain time or blocking a specific website per device. There is no way to block a certain website temporarily or block websites based on a list. 

There is a prioritized device feature but no way to reduce bandwidth to particular devices. Additionally, you can manage the network remotely by using a Linksys account. It is a nice added feature. Updates are also automatically installed at night. One feature we wish to see is to individually reboot one node from the app as you can only reboot as the entire network currently.

Pros - Mesh networking system is great and is a good way to future proof a home network,  Solid and beautiful design, app is robust
Cons Not worth as a single node, It works best as a set, 2 Ethernet ports maybe lacking for power users, price of one node PHP 5,995/price of the 3-pack is PHP 15,995

Linksys Velop AC3900 Specs

Processor: 716MHz quad-core
Connectivity: WiFi  802.11 b/g/n/ac (2.4GHz/5GHz) AC1300 (867 + 400Mbps) with MU-MIMO node, Bluetooth 4.1, 2 auto-sensing Gigabit Ethernet ports for WAN/LAN
Security: WPA2 Personal Encryption
Antennas: 3 Antennas and high-powered amplifiers
Range: 420 sqm
Others: Self-healing, app Set-up, parental controls, modular system and Alexa compatible

Price: PHP 5,995 (1x node), PHP 15,995 (3x nodes)

Verdict

The Linksys Velop aims to solve the problem with the limited range of a single router by creating a PHP 15,995, the three node mesh network WiFi solution in one package.

It is able to solve this with its current specs though for power users, more Ethernet ports would be more beneficial!

Aside from that minor gripe of the main node needing more ports, the Linksys Velop AC3900 three pack is a great starter pack if you want your whole house to be covered by a seamless mesh network WiFi network.

Build and Design - 4
Software - 4
Performance - 4
Average - 4/5
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