TP-Link offers a large number of mesh systems. For this test, we look at the Deco X20 kit. This is the most affordable mesh Wi-Fi 6 system from the manufacturer. It offers a cumulative Wi-Fi speed of 1800 Mb/s and two Gigabit ports. The Deco X20 kit is available in two versions: 2 modules that can cover 250 m², depending on the manufacturer, or 3 modules covering up to 400 m².
The modules that make up the Deco X20 are strictly identical, strictly speaking, there is no router and no satellite. In the same way, the two RJ45 ports installed on each module can be connected to your operator box or to a peripheral.
As for Wi-Fi, the Deco X20 is a dual-band model (2.4 and 5 GHz) that supports the 802.11ax standard, better known as Wi-Fi 6. The 2.4 GHz band has a theoretical speed of 574 Mb/ s, while the 5 GHz band has a speed of 1200 Mb/s.
Since the Deco X20 is a strict dual-band model, the communication between the two modules is done in the 5 GHz frequency band. Therefore, the bandwidth is shared for the communication between the modules and the connected peripherals. to the module that acts as a repeater, theoretically dividing the available bandwidth by two. However, it is possible to free up all the bandwidth by connecting the two wired boxes through the Ethernet backhaul functionality.
The connection is limited to two RJ45 ports to the Gigabit standard. A fair number, especially for the module connected to the box, since there will only be one socket available to house another device.
TP-Link is also aware of the shortcomings of the Deco X20, as it offers the Deco X50, a more powerful version (3 RJ45 ports, 5 GHz band with a theoretical speed of 2400 Mb/s) for a higher price, without embargo.
Possible interactions with the Deco X20 are limited as the modules only have an indicator light that changes color depending on its status and a reset button. The WPS button is for absent subscribers. So you will need to go through the app to pair a device this way.
As for the indicator light, it changes from yellow to indicate that the module is starting up, to green to indicate that everything is functional. It flashes blue during pairing and remains solid red in case of a connection problem. It is also possible in the application to program the extinction of the light according to a time slot or simply deactivate it.
The Deco X20 modules are particularly compact (11.5 cm high and 11 cm in diameter). The white coating is matt, which allows the Deco X20 module to be easily integrated into your interior.
Installation of the Deco X20 is simple as long as it is equipped with a smartphone. You have to download the Deco app and create an account. Then it is enough to follow the step by step proposed by the application; If you’re comfortable with an RJ45 cable, this shouldn’t be a problem.
After installing the first module, you will need to set the SSID (network name) and password. Only one SSID will be created, either for the 2.4 GHz band or for the 5 GHz band. Finally, the application proposes to add the additional modules and the installation ends with the update of the internal software of the modules.
Once the mesh system is configured, the app interface is divided into 4 tabs (Overview, Smart Actions, Home Care, and Settings).
The overview allows you to know the devices connected to your network and access individual settings. In this way, you can see which device is connected to which model and get its statistics.
The Smart Actions tab is used to define usage scenarios applicable to home automation or a connected device; for example, put my game console in high priority by pressing this shortcut.
HomeCare is the parental control built into the Deco X20. It allows you to create users, attach devices, and assign a profile (child, tween, teen, and adult). It is also possible to define Wi-Fi access time bands according to the days of the week, school days, etc. Of course, it is also possible to exclude websites or keywords from the navigation.
The Settings tab provides access to the Deco X20’s network settings through VPN, port forwarding, guest wifi, or even indicator light programming.
More experienced users used to using the web administration interface will be dissatisfied. If it is present, it is limited to displaying connected devices and some basic configuration like rebooting or updating modules.
To evaluate the performance of the TP-Link Deco X20 mesh system, we connected the first module to our operator box to which we connected a laptop via a 2.5 Gb/s adapter. We transferred a 4.73 GB file (a disk image) from the first laptop to a second laptop equipped with an Intel AX200 Wi-Fi 6 chip, but also to a stationary desktop PC upstairs connected to a Gigabyte GC card. -WBAX200 PCIe with external antenna and upgraded with Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 chip supporting Wi-Fi 6E.
As close as possible to the main module, the Deco X20’s 5 GHz frequency band allows reaching almost 700 Mb/s, i.e. an average transfer rate of 87.5 Mb/s, but the bandwidth drops to 288 Mb /s. s once connected to the module acting as a repeater (Point2). Our fixed PC prefers to connect directly to the main module, which allows it to reach 489 Mb/s despite the three walls that separate them (Point 3). Finally, in our Point 5, the most critical, the Deco X20 does it honorably with 132 Mb/s in reception; enough to get the most out of your favorite SVOD platforms.
In the 2.4 GHz band, the maximum speed is around 270 Mb/s, either near the main module or near the one that acts as a repeater. The speeds are identical in the main module and in the satellite, because they communicate in the 5 GHz band, thus fully reserving the bandwidth for the connected devices.