TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) review – how to setup?

TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) review
As a Resource Person, share with your network

With Mesh Wi-Fi 6 TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) is strong enough to cover up to 5800 square feet with seamless high-performance and connect up to 150 devices with strong and reliable Wi-Fi. Smartphone/Tablet. Manage limit and monitor internet use with profiles that let you customize Wi-Fi access for every person and device in your home. TP-Link HomeCare features powerful antivirus, robust parental controls and advanced QoS. 4. Is it worth buying? Get details in TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) review.

Pros & Cons

PROS

  • Reasonably priced
  • Easy to install
  • User-friendly app
  • Robust parental controls
  • Free anti-malware tools

CONS

  • Middling performance in testing
  • Doesn’t support 160MHz channel bandwidth
  • No USB ports

TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) specs

Wireless Specification 802.11ax
Number of Bands 2
AC Speed AX1800
Number of Antennas 4
Number of Wired LAN Ports (Excluding WAN Port) 1 on router, 2 on satellites
MU-MIMO Yes
Quality of Service (QoS) Yes
Security WPA2, WPA3
Parental Controls Yes
IPv6 Compatible Yes
Coverage Area for Hardware as Tested 5800 sq ft
Number of Nodes 3
Anti-Malware Tools Yes
Number of USB ports 0
Separate Bands No
DD-WRT / Tomato-Compatible No

TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) review

Design

The squat cylinders are 4.3 x 4.3 x  4.5 inches and slightly taller than a Planters Mixed Nuts can. They’re tiny compared to the mammoth Orbi RBK852 or Arris SURFboard mAX Pro units.  

LED indicator

Deco X20 devices have LED indicator lights that cast a glow from underneath. When it’s solid yellow, the system is starting up, followed by a pulsing blue light to show it is ready to be set up. When the light is green, everything is OK, but if it blinks red, the device has lost its Internet connection. 

Ports

The back of each unit has two gigabit LAN ports, one for the incoming WAN connection and the other for a networking appliance, like a storage system or a wired connection to a Deco X20 satellite. It, however, lacks the ability to aggregate ports for higher throughput or a USB connection for a printer or direct connection to a storage device. The devices do have a reset button underneath for returning the system to its factory settings.

Room coverage

The Deco X20 may be small but it’s a big value for Wi-Fi 6 mesh networking. The three-device kit can cover 5,800 square feet, according to TP-Link. The two-piece Deco X20 kit costs $200 and should be good for about 4,000 square feet. 

Processor – TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack)

Each X20 node has four internal antennas, a 1GHz quad-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, and 128MB of flash memory. It’s a dual-band AX1800 system that can reach (theoretical) maximum data rates of up to 575Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 1,200Mbps on the 5GHz band. It uses 802.11k/v/r technology for mesh communications and supports most of the latest 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) technologies, including 1024 QAM, WPA3 encryption, Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) data transmissions, MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming, and direct to client signal beamforming.

WiFi Band 12.4GHZ Wireless AX up to 574Mbps (2X2 40Mhz)
WiFi Band 25Ghz Wireless AX up to 1201Mbps (2X2 80Mhz)
CPUQualcomm Quad-Core CPU
RAM512MB
Ports2 x Gigabit Ethernet LAN/WAN Port

Speed

With a minimum download speed of 26MB/sec over Wi-Fi 6, and 13.5MB/sec for Wi-Fi 5, it delivered easily enough bandwidth to watch UHD videos in any part of the house, and to throw big files around your network while you’re doing so. It’s hard to see what more a typical domestic user could ask for. Indeed, you might even be able to improve performance by experimenting with node placement.

Parental control

Parental Controls are robust and easy to use. You can create profiles for each user, check their internet browsing history, set access time limits, and assign age-based filters that automatically block access to sites that offer gambling, social networking, gaming, chat rooms, and other adult content. QoS settings make it easy to assign bandwidth priority based on application, with preset choices for Gaming, Streaming, Surfing, and Chatting. Here you can also create custom bandwidth settings and see which clients have been given priority. 

TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) Setup

TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) is an App only setup device.  There is a web-based interface once it is all up and running, but the initial setup is all via the App. The setup is extremely easy to follow and installation takes just a few minutes. Compared to the Netgear Orbi units, which seem to take forever to connect to each other, the X20 was ready to go in under 5 minutes.

Via the Deco App, available on both iOS and Android, the setup simply involves connecting the first unit to your Router/Modem and following the App instructions. Once this first unit is up and running you then power on the second unit and add it via the App and do the same with the third. It really couldn’t be any simpler, there are no settings to configure, it’s all a very easy and quick process to setup.

App usage – TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack)

Antivirus settings allow you to enable or disable network security options including a Malicious Content Filter and the Intrusion Prevention System. You can also enable the Infected Device Quarantine option to prevent infected devices from infecting others. Tap the alert icon in the upper right corner to view a list of security alerts. 

At the bottom of the dashboard screen are Overview, HomeCare, and More buttons. The Overview button takes you back to the dashboard from wherever you are in the app, and the HomeCare button opens a screen where you can configure Anitvirus, Parental Control, and QoS (Quality of Service) settings. 

TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) review – how to setup
TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) review

Advanced settings include IPv4 and IPv6 settings, MAC Cloning, Address Reservations, and Port Forwarding. You can also configure alerts and notifications, enable/disable beamforming, and configure the router to operate in Access Point (AP) mode.

The More button takes you to a Router Settings screen where you can configure Wi-Fi and guest network settings, blacklist clients, test your internet speed, update firmware, view monthly security reports, and see how many devices have connected to your network each day.

TP-Link Deco X20(3-pack) Performance review

The X20 turned in mediocre scores on our throughput performance tests, but it should be noted that most of the competing Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems we’ve tested are more expensive, so it makes sense that they offer more powerful components and faster data rates.

The Deco X20 satellite node scored 449Mbps on the close-proximity test, compared with the TP-Link Deco X60’s 521Mbp and the Linksys Velop AX4200’s 667Mbps. The Asus ZenWiFi XT8 took top honors with a speed of 675Mbps.

The X20’s main router speed of 654Mbps on our close-proximity (same room) test was approximately 100Mbps slower than the TP-Link Deco X60, and more than 200Mbps slower than the Linksys Velop AX4200 and the Asus ZenWiFi XT8. At a distance of 30 feet, the X20’s speed of 225Mbps once again trailed the pack and was 122Mbps slower than the leader, the Asus ZenWiFi XT8.

We measure Wi-Fi signal strength with an Ekahau Sidekick Wi-Fi diagnostic device and Ekahau’s Survey mobile app. This combination generates a heat map that displays wireless coverage throughout our test home, pictured below.

The X20 satellite garnered 301Mbps on our 30-foot test, compared with 386Mbps for the TP-Link X60, 611Mbps for the Linksys Velop AX4200, and 619Mbps for the Asus ZenWiFi XT8. 

TP-Link Deco X20 signal strength test

The darker green areas on the map indicate the strongest signal measurements, and lighter green and yellow areas show a weaker signal. The circles represent the location of the router and the satellite node. As shown on the heat map, the Deco AX20 system does a good job of delivering a relatively strong signal to the entire house and the garage.  

When it was zipping data back and forth, the Deco X20 used 10.2 watts. If it’s always left on and you pay the national average of 13 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity, expect that the mesh network will cost about $23 for two and $34 for three devices. 

It also passed our saturation test, where I streamed Youtube videos to an iPad Pro and a Lenovo ThinkPad T470 while my Macbook Air played an Internet radio station feed and an HP Elite Dragonfly moved data onto and off of a networked storage system. All the audio and video came through without any artifacts.

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