The Bottom Line
I early April, TPLink launched alongside its new Archer products, a new Deco platform with the same intention; lowering the cost of multiple node mesh platforms.
The Deco M4 is the latest mesh platform to be added to TPLink' growing portfolio. As mentioned above, this solutions intention is to enable cost-effective mesh connectivity for those that need a larger swath of Wi-Fi on a budget. The Deco M4 is a three-node product offering 2x2 dual-band connectivity with 2.4GHz offering 300 Mbps and 5GHz 867MBps. Each node is setup with two auto-sensing RJ45 ports for WAN and LAN expansion.
Underlying hardware includes the Qualcomm QCA9563 operating at 750MHz paired with 16M of flash and 128MB of memory. The 9563 also controls ethernet switching along with the 2.4GHz radio, TP-Link has added a QCA9886 for Wi-Fi 5 functionality.
MSRP of the TPLink Deco M4 comes in at $179.99 with a two-year warranty.
Packaging follows the white a teal colorway of past TPLink solutions, On the front, you will find an image of the nodes along with marketing to the left.
The back goes into more detail about the features of the Deco platform.
Included within the box, we have three nodes with power adapters and ethernet cables.
The nodes feature a new tower design with slightly more circumference than the Velop from Linksys. We have a very elegant black on white with smooth plastics.
The backside offers two RJ45 ports.
Underneath is the power input and reset.
App Setup and Testing
The Deco M4 works with the TP-Link Deco app on iOS and Android platforms.
Pushing through setup, we identify which platform we are setting up; for us the M4.
We then connect to the default Wi-Fi of the unit using the info on the back of the node.
Once we are in, we have a list of devices connected along with their network speed to the right. At the top right, we can add nodes, and to the bottom, we have a "more" menu item.
The "more" item brings us here, to the setting for the Deco M4. Within here, you can change Wi-Fi SSID and passwords along with enable/disable the guest network.
The advanced settings menu gives access to IPV4 and 6 settings, VLAN and Port Forward setup. Further, you can enable fast roaming for quick switching between nodes, LED control, and change the operating mode.
In the Homecare section of the app, you can setup parental controls along with QoS.
Putting the Deco M4 through our standard test routine, we came up with 71.6Mbps throughput on the 2.4GHz band. On the 5GHz band, we were able to reach 503 MB/s while Backhaul was quite good too reaching 504 MB/s.
The Deco M4 uses a SmartConnect feature that chooses the best band for your device. Since we do range testing with an iPhone X, the Deco M4 would only connect at 5GHz, that said you can imagine the 2.4GHz band with slightly stronger range but lower throughput when compared to 5GHz.
In testing, seen above, the Deco M4 was tested as a standalone node in green and with all three nodes setup in blue. With a single node, we see performance start at 504 MB/s and drop rather quickly to 420 MB/s at 10Ft. At 20Ft, we see 280 MB/s and 30Ft 50 MB/s. Adding in the "mesh" nodes, we hold onto starting performance through 15Ft, which then falls off to 280 MB/s. At 30Ft, the added mesh nodes offer a 165 MB/s boost in performance at 215 MB/s.
Closing out this review, I must say I really enjoy the design of the Deco M4. The plastics are of high quality and should be plenty durable for a consumer networking platform. Setup is extremely simple with the Deco app although you may need to take a few to create an account with TP-Link.
Once setup is complete all nodes share one name and one password allowing you to seamlessly move throughout your home while keeping connectivity. Adding to the feature list, the Deco M4 is compatible with Amazon Alexa allowing you to manage your entire network including activity and the ability to make changes.
As for performance, the M4 did quite well in 5GHz reaching 503 MB/s with a backhaul that was equally impressive at 504 MB/s. wired performance gave us the reliability of gigabit ethernet, and 2.4GHz came in at 71 MB/s.
With all of that said, the one place the M4 really shines is pricing. At the time of writing the Deco M4 is $179.99 while comparable units like Google Wi-Fi, Linksys Velop Dual-Band and Orbi are coming in at $250 and above.
Tyler's Test System Specifications
- Motherboard: ASUS Prime Z370 (buy from Amazon)
- CPU: Intel Core i3 8350K (buy from Amazon)
- RAM: Corsair Vengeance 32GB 4x8GB DDR4 3200 (buy from Amazon)
- Cooler: Corsair Hydro H115i (buy from Amazon)
- Case: Corsair Air 540 (buy from Amazon)
- OS Storage: Samsung 960 EVO 250GB (buy from Amazon)
- Power Supply: Corsair RM850x (buy from Amazon)
- OS: Microsoft Windows 10 (buy from Amazon)
- Wi-Fi NIC: ASUS PCE-AC88 (buy from Amazon)
- 10Gbe NIC: ASUS XG-C100C (buy from Amazon)
- Thunderbolt 3: ASUS Thunderbolt EX3 (buy from Amazon)
When it comes to value the Deco M4 hits all points bringing a cost effective dual band mesh solution to the masses.