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Science And Nature

Can I Use a Single Mesh Router By Itself?

A Nest Wifi router sitting on a rustic wood table.
Nest/Google

When you shop for a mesh network, they usually come in packs of two or three, with the option to buy extra nodes if you need them. Can you just use a single mesh network node by itself, though?

You might be surprised to find that you can, with ease even. Although they are usually sold as bundles—which certainly implies that the collection of mesh nodes you get in the box is intended to be used together—you don’t actually have to use all of them. In fact, you could simply plug in one of them and stop there or not purchase a bundle in the first place and pick up a single unit instead.

While both the marketing and very design of the product are centered around you using mesh nodes together, the base unit will always function independently as a stand-alone unit.

Sure, you need at least two nodes to make a mesh network, but as long as you have one node plugged into your modem, that single node will act exactly as if you had plugged in a traditional stand-alone router.

Because, after all, that’s what a mesh network system is: a node that functions as a router with all the associated functions like DHCP assignments, Quality of Service rules, and so on, and a set of additional nodes, linked by either a wireless or wired backhaul, that function as sophisticated and interlinked Wi-Fi extenders.

So for folks with small homes who want the features that many mesh network platforms offer—like polished smart apps, automatic updates, and easy-to-use parental controls—there’s no reason they can’t pick up, say, a single eero 6 or a Google Nest Wifi router to enjoy all those features.

And hey, better yet, should you find you need more coverage, or you move to a bigger home, you can skip buying a third-party Wi-Fi extender (and putting up with their shortcomings) and just buy another node for your mesh platform. That’s a much smoother upgrade path (with a healthy dose of future-proofing) than buying a similar price stand-alone router.

The Best Wi-Fi Routers of 2022

Best Wi-Fi Router Overall

Asus AX6000 (RT-AX88U)

TP-Link Archer AX3000 (AX50)

TP-Link Archer A8

Asus GT-AX11000 Tri-Band Router

ASUS ZenWiFi AX6600 (XT8) (2 Pack)

TP-Link Deco X20

NETGEAR Nighthawk CAX80

Linksys WRT3200ACM

TP-Link AC750

Asus ROG Rapture GT-AXE11000

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