A friend of mine recently told me that while he appreciated that I could use the incredible speed of the Netgear Orbi Wi-Fi 6E, he could never justify buying it. I got it. The high-end Orbi (see my review) is for people who should have the fastest Wi-Fi possible. For everyone else, there’s the affordable Motorola MH7603 mesh router.
The MH7603 three-module mesh router uses Wi-Fi 6, also known as 802.11ax, to deliver speeds of up to 692Mbps in the same room. At 10 yards and through a wall, it delivered an honest speed of 287 Mbps. Jaw drops? No. Pretty darn good? defy.
You do not like
- No WPA3 Security
- There is not enough management control for small businesses to use
To test it, I used the IxChariot networking benchmark from Ixia and my two Galaxy S21 Ultra smartphones. This was supported by my 1 Gigabit Charter internet connection.
Now, in theory, the AX1800’s dual-band 2.4 and 5GHz system can reach speeds of up to 574Mbps on 2.4GHz and up to 1,200Mbps on 5GHz. Practically no one ever reaches these speeds on any Wi-Fi device.
Supports most Wi-Fi 6 technologies, hence its speed. However, it does not have WPA3 encryption or support for 160MHz channels. For home users this is not a big problem.
Mesh network also has good reach and penetration. This is a must for me. I have a 3,000 sq ft historic home with thick walls that comes with an early 1900s home and a 1,000 sq ft modern office. The MH7603 can cover an area of up to 5,000 square feet. A main router can cover 2,000 square feet, while each network node can handle 1,500 square feet. It took some positioning, but the Motorola unit was able to cover both buildings when I was done. If you don’t need this type of coverage, you can buy a single router node for $129.99.
Under the hood is a 1.5GHz quad-core ARM CPU, 256MB of DDR3 RAM, and 128MB of flash memory. Each unit also contains a pair of internal antennas.
Now, the MH7603 will not win any design awards from Jony Ive. They are three identical white boxes, measuring 2.6 inches high and 5 inches wide. Inside are two internal antennas. At the top, there is the Motorola “M” logo. To indicate what is happening in the box there is one small LED indicator on the front. When everything is OK it shows a steady white light. When there is poor contact, amber appears. If you see a blue indicator blinking slowly it is in setup mode. Fast blue flashes? The unit upgrades its firmware. But, while it might not be pretty, it works just fine, and when it comes to Wi-Fi units that’s all I want.
The units come with two Gigabit Ethernet ports. You can use both ports as LAN ports, or you can use one of them for Gigabit Ethernet. Personally, I always use cable for my connection whenever possible. Wi-Fi gets faster, but you still can’t beat cable for the sheer speed and slow response time.
Unlike high-end network Wi-Fi equipment, the MH7603 does not have a web management user interface or a command line interface. Instead, you should use the Android or iOS motosync mobile app. It is a very simple application. It starts with the Network screen that displays icons for each node and the devices connected to it. Clicking on the icons enables you to see the connected devices, signal strength, and bandwidth usage. You can also restart the units and run a speed test. It’s as simple a network interface as you’ve ever seen.
On them you will also find as you scroll down the Security panels, the full Home filter, Connectivity, and Top Data usage. Again, they are all very simple. The Security panel tells you if your network is secure, while the Full Home Filter panel blocks adult and malicious sites for all or some of the users. It also comes with adblocking.
Now, for me, a former NASA network administrator, that’s not like enough control. But this mesh network is not for me or anyone who runs even a basic business network. It’s for anyone who needs a good, reliable home Wi-Fi, and for those people, it works just fine.
It is also very easy to set up. You can connect them, create an account and then click “Set up a new device” on the start screen. That’s pretty much it. You just follow the instructions. The most “technically” thing you need to do is scan the QR code on the base of the node.
The best news? For this, easy to use, powerful and fast Wi-Fi, MH7603 will cost you 238.97. You won’t find an equivalent cheaper.