Access to the Internet is probably something that we easily take for granted, but its importance is felt when suddenly taken away from us. A spotty network can be a source of great frustration when it comes to working, studying, gaming, and even watching movies and in a world where internet access is vital to so many activities, a smooth and stable Wi-Fi is a need. Enter the Mercusys MR70X, a budget Wi-Fi 6 router for those who want an affordable upgrade from the free telco router they get when they sign up for a broadband plan, or for those who still haven’t upgraded to the stronger and more powerful Wi-Fi 6 hardware, but don’t want to spend too much for it.
While Singapore has the fastest fixed broadband connection speed in the world, a fast network is only as good as the hardware connected to it. With the hybrid work environment a reality for the last two years, homes are now frequently clogged up with many devices connected to a Wi-Fi network at the same time, and inevitably causing some level of connection hiccups. If you live in a home where a single Wi-Fi network has to support movies streaming in the living room on Netflix, and music streaming in another room, while someone is gaming online, while another is stuck in a corner taking a Zoom meeting, you know what we’re talking about.
With a recommended retail price of S$95, the Mercusys MR70X is much more affordable compared to most other Wi-Fi 6 routers out there, which can go up to several hundred dollars. Design-wise, the router is a flat black hunk of plastic that looks like a UFO with four antennas. It is bigger than the size of one’s palm, and won’t be difficult to find a place to set down.
While the antennas cannot be removed, they allow for 180 degrees of movement, and can be easily adjusted. It is also simple to set up and just needs to be connected to the fiber network’s modem. Next, users have to go to the network site, mwlogin.net, and type in the login details. There are more options to click through, but for those who don’t want to bother too much with those and simply want to enjoy their new router, they can just click ‘Next’ a few times and get right into the action. For those who want to customise their Wi-Fi setup more, there are options such as assigning IPv6 addresses, parental controls, toggling smart connect, and so on.
With four Ethernet ports comprising of one Gigabit WAN port and three Gigabit LAN ports, this router offers the same connectivity as other routers that can cost five times as much. The only thing missing is the lack of a USB port, to connect to an external hard drive that everyone in the home can link to, but that’s hardly a necessity.
When it comes to performance, it is speedier than the bundled Singtel AirTies Air 4920 router. Based on the results from speedtest.net, a laptop linked to the Mercusys MR70X hit an average download speed of between 500 to 600Mbps, and an average upload speed of between 280 to 400Mbps. Meanwhile, the AirTies Air 4920 averaged between 370 to 490Mbps for download speeds, and 250 to 330Mbps for upload. When the laptop is used two rooms away from the Mercusys MR70X, the average download speed is between 360 to 480Mbps.
On an iPhone 12 Pro Max, the Mercusys MR70X offered an average download speed of between 520 to 700Mbps, compared to the AirTies Air 4920’s 430 to 560Mbps. On the most basic level, the Mercusys MR70X is a solid router that comes with Wi-Fi 6 capabilities. When it comes to coverage, however, it cannot compare to a system of mesh routers, which can have nodes placed around a home strategically, to extend coverage. But for its price, the Mercusys MR70X offers an overall faster performance for a small set-up, even if the signals have to travel through the walls of one or two bedrooms.
Sure, these tests are hardly the most rigorous, but it does simulate the performance of the router in the context of a nuclear family. More notably, despite the seeming weakness in terms of coverage compared to a mesh router setup, there seem to be fewer Wi-Fi ‘blind spots’ where connection lags or drops off inexplicably. After a month of use, the device hasn’t produced any frustration, offering smooth, speedy performance.
Is the Mercusys MR70X the best Wi-Fi 6 router out there? If you live in a bigger place, a mesh might work better but for those in smaller homes, the added benefit of Wi-Fi 6 is a bonus and a great choice for any home that wants an upgrade. This is the entry-level Wi-Fi 6 router for those who find themselves getting occasionally frustrated with their Wi-Fi 5 setup.
GEEK REVIEW SCORE
The Mercusys MR70X is likely the cheapest router with Wi-Fi 6 support, and thus a great choice for those looking for an upgrade from the bundled router that comes with their fibre service.
Aesthetics - 7/10
Build Quality - 6.5/10
Performance - 8.5/10
Value - 9.5/10