Top critical review
Terrible software; missing key features. Fantastic range.. returning to Amazon, bummer!
Reviewed in the United States on May 30, 2021
OVERVIEW: I really wanted to love this: The price is FANTASTIC ($279) for a tri-band WiFi 6 Mesh networking solution. That sounds great! If you are reading this review, you are probably wondering, "What's not to love?" Well, here is the Achilles' heel for this and every other TP-Link mesh networking product: YOU CAN ONLY CONFIGURE IT ON YOUR SMART PHONE USING AN APP. That's right, you can't use a web interface on your computer! And there are several missing features. If you have basic needs & don't care about the below features, then this may be a good product for you. Otherwise, I strongly recommend considering something else.
REVIEW: OK, so one of the main reasons why TP-Link seems to be pushing use of an app is to make this easy to set up. The experience is very straightforward, walking you though the steps. I have a lot of experience setting up network gear, so was very appreciative of the great guided software setup. I am confident my mom would be able to install this (and she can barely figure out how to use the microwave). So good job on that, TP-Link.
One issue did occur during setup: I followed all the steps (including using MAC clone - thank you for including that in the setup options!), but the TP-Link router failed to connect to the internet (just had a red light, indicating an issue). I let it sit for about 10 minutes, then it magically fixed itself. I assume it was doing a firmware update or something along those lines, but the app didn't show anything. It would be good for TP-Link to check this and update the app/software, so users know what the setup is doing.
I knew I'd have to use an app to configure the product before buying this, and wondered to myself, "How bad could it be? I'm sure it has all the features, you just have to use the app." Well, it does have common features like Port Forwarding and the ability to set up a Guest network, for instance. But these are some features which are NOT present and are an absolute deal breaker for me:
* No MAC address filtering (just a blacklist to ban IPs): Ok, that's great that there's a blacklist, but how do you know who to block? And, I understand fully that MAC addresses can be spoofed and it is NOT a replacement for good encryption (WPA2, WPA3, etc.). But MAC address filtering is yet another feature that can be used to help strengthen a network. And TP-Link's mesh solutions do not have this feature, a basic option that has been available in networking products for over 10 years.
* No ability to create separate 2.4ghz and 5ghz networks: I'm sure many of you have smart plugs and other "internet of things" devices that only function on 2.4ghz bands. Well, with this product, you can't set up a separate WiFi network for them. I did some searching on the internet and TP-Link's suggestion is to set up the Guest network to only use 2.4ghz, and then put smart plugs on that. While that works.. this then means that your guests, if they use your guest network, will only have a 2.4ghz band to use. That's OK for basic stuff but to stream video and do other high-bandwidth activities, you'll want to use 5ghz. Hence, I don't think this is a good workaround. Some folks on TP Link support forums claimed they could create the main network as 2.4ghz only, join smart devices to that, THEN enable 5ghz and things still worked. But I was so frustrated by having to search support forums on this topic that I just left this as is.
* Guest network is TOTALLY isolated from main WiFi network and cannot talk to intranet devices: I use an adblocking server and have other resources within my network that I would like everyone on my intranet to be able to access (including those on my Guest network!) So as you saw above, smart plugs etc. can't talk on 5ghz so I tried the workaround to use a Guest network with only 2.4ghz. However, this broke several of my devices I put on the guest network, which were then unable to resolve DNS entries on the internet due to my setup leveraging an adblocker.. WHICH IS HOSTED ON THE MAIN WIRELESS NETWORK, as one would expect. There is also NO ability to toggle this setting at all. It is fixed in stone: Guest network devices will NEVER be able to talk to the intranet or other devices on your main WiFi network. This is clearly done for security, but since I am managing my own network, I know who should have access to what, and I should have the ability (in software!) to configure this the way I want to. Nope! Not possible with the current version of TP-Link's Deco app...
CLOSING THOUGHTS: If you have basic requirements (just need to setup a wireless network, don't care about smart devices using a 2.4ghz guest network, no custom adblocking solution and no need for deep configurability of your network), then this TP-Link product is a great value. The price is very reasonable, and the range/speed provided by this product is FANTASTIC. I had nearly 100% of my rated internet speed EVERYWHERE in my house, wirelessly, even though the TP-Link router was upstairs and the node was downstairs. They were using the 2nd 5GHZ band for wireless backhaul and it was amazing to see! I love the power and capability of the mesh system. I was concerned there were only 2 devices included (instead of 3), but TP-Link knows what they are doing with coverage and speed: No dead zones, and the product performed rock solid for the days that I had it.
However.. if you have other needs or aspirations for your network, and want more configurability, then this is not a good option. For a point of reference, consider how TP-Link compares to ASUS's fantastic software:
* MAC Address filtering: ASUS has it, TP-Link doesn't.
* Separate 2.4ghz and 5ghz networks for main WiFi network: ASUS has this, TP-Link doesn't.
* Guest network: Both offer guest networks, but ASUS offers the ability in some products (example: ASUS RT-AX3000, and I'm sure many others) to create up to *six* guest networks (three for 2.4ghz band, three for 5ghz band). And for each of those, you can control whether they are isolated or have access to your intranet. THANK YOU, ASUS!
By the way, I've used Netgear products as well (Nighthawk), and they also offer these features. Not sure why TP-Link isn't providing these basic features. Check the support forums for TP-Link and you'll see many threads where customers are complaining about this, and TP-Link mentions sometimes it'll be added to a future firmware release, but these threads are years old and this brand-new product still doesn't offer a complete feature set. So, if the software doesn't have what you need today, there is no guarantee it will tomorrow. If the product's current limitations fit your needs, then this product is highly recommended & you will be absolutely THRILLED and DELIGHTED by the speed and range of this system. Otherwise, I advise using something else.
I really wanted to like the TP-Link Deco X68, but the software and lack of configurability is a massive letdown. If I kept this, I would have had to reconfigure my network, figure out another way to block ads on my network, etc. Not worth the hassle.. so I returned this. The search continues for a good, affordable, Tri-Band WiFi-6 Mesh networking product.