Linksys Aims to Fill Apple's AirPort Void With Cheaper Dual-Band Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System

Discussion in 'Mac Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 30, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    Last Thursday, Apple announced the discontinuation of its AirPort lineup of wireless routers, marking the end of an era that at times saw the company push the boundaries of wireless networking. Apple says it will continue selling the existing AirPort products until supplies are gone, which leaves the Velop mesh system from Linksys as the sole Wi-Fi router product sold by Apple.

    Linksys debuted its tri-band Velop system last year, and Apple began selling it around the beginning of this year, priced at $350 for a two-pack or $480 for a three-pack. With a mesh Wi-Fi system, multiple nodes work seamlessly together to provide greater coverage than a traditional access point.

    The tri-band Velop system is a bit pricey compared to some other options on the market, but it works well, providing strong coverage throughout your home and offering features such as guest networking, parental controls, and device prioritization.

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    Original tri-band (left) and new dual-band (right) Velop systems from Linksys

    While the original Linksys Velop remains a highly rated router option and Apple's third-party system of choice, the fairly high price can be a barrier to entry, and so users who have so far held back from taking the plunge into mesh Wi-Fi networking may be interested to know that Linksys today is launching its lower-cost dual-band Velop system. I've had a brief opportunity to try out the new dual-band system, and while it doesn't have quite the high-end specs of the original tri-band system, it still appears to be a solid option for many users as long as your house isn't too large, and it comes with a much lower price tag.

    I have Google Fiber with a 100/100 Mbps connection in my 1800 square foot home, but my office is at the farthest point from the fiber jack and my Wi-Fi speeds suffer significantly at that distance. Upon activating my Google Fiber service earlier this year, I quickly found that my AirPort Time Capsule provided a stronger signal than Google's router, so I initially used the Time Capsule to provide my Wi-Fi but even that offered inconsistent performance in my office, occasionally reaching 90/90 Mbps speeds but frequently managing only in the range of 5-10 Mbps despite typically showing full signal bars.

    When I moved from the single AirPort access point to the tri-band Velop, I immediately saw full coverage throughout my home using a three-node system including a node in my office, giving me essentially full speed from anywhere in my home.

    Linksys touts the tri-band Velop system as covering up to 6,000 square feet at 2,000 square feet per node, so there was plenty of range to spare in my home. The tri-band system offers one 2.4 GHz and two 5 GHz 802.11ac Wi-Fi radios, as well as MU-MIMO and beamforming support for maximum throughput of up to a theoretical 2200 Mbps.

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    Dual-band Velop node

    Competitively priced at $129 for a one-pack, $199 for a two-pack, or $299 for a three-pack, the new dual-band Velop system drops one of the 5 GHz radios, reducing theoretical throughput to 1300 Mbps. Range is also slightly less, with each node covering up to 1500 square feet for a maximum of 4500 square feet with the three-pack system. The dual-band Velop nodes also come in slightly smaller than the tri-band models, measuring about two inches shorter and the same 3.1 inches square in the base.

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    Screenshots from Velop setup process in iOS app

    In my brief testing of the new dual-band Velop, I was definitely able to see the reduced coverage, as I did run into a couple of issues during the setup process where I was unable to add additional nodes due to various Wi-Fi connection issues. I eventually did get everything configured with blue status lights indicating solid Wi-Fi signals on all nodes.

    Speeds were also not as fast through the dual-band system, as I consistently saw download and upload speeds around 30 Mbps from my office. It definitely appears to be an issue with pushing the range of the dual-band system despite the modest size of my home, as moving my devices closer to the primary node delivers fast speeds in excess of 90 Mbps.

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    Wi-Fi download and upload speeds on dual-band Velop at farthest reaches of my home

    As with the tri-band model, all nodes in the dual-band Velop system are designed to work together to optimize coverage of your floor plan, making the most efficient use of bands and channels based on your usage habits. The network is also self-healing, with nodes able to reconnect to each other and the network if one of the nodes goes offline for some reason.

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    Linksys iOS app with main dashboard, parental controls, and device prioritization

    Each node has a pair of Ethernet ports that automatically configure themselves as one WAN and one LAN on the first node, and two LAN ports on other nodes. If you have a wired network in your home, Velop nodes can be connected via Ethernet for wired backhaul that leaves more of the wireless network available for general data transmission.

    Cable management is a bit different on the dual-band model, with the power and Ethernet ports located on the rear of each node. On the tri-band models, the ports are located on the bottom of the nodes with some extra space underneath and a cable management guide to help keep everything neat and tidy.

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    Ports on bottom of tri-band Velop (left) vs. rear of dual-band system (right)

    Velop also works with Amazon Alexa, with skills allowing you to activate Velop's guest network and read network credentials aloud.

    Linksys certainly isn't the only vendor in the mesh network game, with notable competitors like eero, AmpliFi, Netgear's Orbi, and Google Wifi all proving popular. But with Linksys proving to be Apple's partner of choice so far, the Velop systems undoubtedly have some advantages when it comes to visibility for Apple users. Pricing on the new dual-band Velop is also competitive, which will likely attract new potential customers who don't need everything the tri-band system offers.

    The dual-band Linksys Velop launches May 15 with pre-orders going up through Amazon at $130 for a one-pack, $200 for a two-pack, or $300 for a three-pack, and it will be available from a variety of other retailers as of the launch date. Apple has not yet committed to selling the new dual-band system, but Linksys tells me discussions about carrying the dual-band Velop are ongoing.

    The tri-band Velop system is available from a number of retailers such as Amazon in one-pack ($200), two-pack ($338), and three-pack ($450) options. The tri-band and dual-band Velop nodes are also interchangeable, so if you've already got some in the house you can mix and match types.

    Note: Linksys provided the Velop systems to MacRumors free of charge for the purposes of this news coverage. No other compensation was received. MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon and Linksys and may earn commissions on purchases made through links in this article.

    Article Link: Linksys Aims to Fill Apple's AirPort Void With Cheaper Dual-Band Velop Mesh Wi-Fi System
     
  2. mrbrown macrumors 6502

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    #2
    I just bought a Tenda Nova MW6 mesh WiFi system, two pack, on an Amazon lightning deal for half of the cost of a single pack of this thing and so far, have been very impressed.
     
  3. Desert-Mac macrumors newbie

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    NY
    #3
    The apple eco system is what brought me in years ago, and has kept me in. Apples thunderbolt displays, air play on the routers where I plugged speakers into them as well as usb devices that are older with no wireless connectivity, and the Mac mini are all products that I love. I also use many others, Apple TV, iMac, iPhone, and such plus iCloud and much of the apple software.... It just always seems to be a huge disappointment when part of the eco system gets chipped away, and and always keeps me wondering where apples comprehensive approach to the user has gone, or how the priorities have changed at least. It doesn't give me much long term faith that the immersive and cohesive experience, efficiency, and utility will be valued by apple in the future.
     
  4. nibfiledotcom macrumors member

    nibfiledotcom

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    #3
    Linksys? Hardly a name I'd associate with quality products, especially where configuration user experience is concerned. Maybe I'm pessimistic, but it feels like Apple is setting themselves up for another debacle like the LG UltraFine 5K Display. There's no way I'd waste good money on this ugly trash when companies like Ubiquiti exist with product lines like Amplifi and UniFi. It's pricey, but so is was Airport, and Ubiquiti makes better stuff, with gorgeous iOS apps.
     
  5. jgbr macrumors 6502

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  6. BlazednSleepy macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    Don't get me wrong, I was skeptical at first when I bought the original Velop. Linksys isn't exactly a brand you think about when it comes to quality products. But I haven't had a single issue with this thing since I got it last November. It's been absolutely flawless and I have yet to restart it for any reason. I now get consistent speeds throughout the house, speeds that I actually pay for (300mbps). The Velop is a phenominal router and I suggest anyone still holding onto their airports to jump ship and get a Velop.
     
  7. yelnam macrumors newbie

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    Feb 3, 2017
    #6
    MacRumors: could you guys make a guide to the best WiFi/router/storage setup to replace the venerable TimeCapsule for network backups?

    I’m actually looking forward to better WiFi coverage with a mesh system once my TC dies. But it’s the network backup thing that is challenging. Yes, I could get a NAS, but they don’t seem assured to be trouble free and don’t have full third party support from Apple, at least for Time Machine.

    And I’m intrigued by how the latest macOS includes Time Machine Server so you don’t need to set up a Mac with macOS Server. (Any Mac can backup other macs on the network ..., and this could be to a shared folder on an external drive). But this option seems to be complicated by the transition from HFS+ to APFS for disk formatting as it seems there is conflicting info from Apple on drive formats for the shared drive.

    Maybe I’m overthinking things, or maybe I’ve gotten something wrong. But it seems clear that the options moving forward are not as simple for network backups as they were with the Time Capsule.
     
  8. LiveM macrumors 6502a

    LiveM

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    #7
    Screw this. I’m getting another AirPort to complete my network in our new home. No other brand seems able to perform with full reliability, which is more important to me than next-gen speed.

    I hope some more “ex-Apple engineers” set up their own businesses rather than letting the Airport legacy die.
     
  9. bartvk macrumors 6502

    bartvk

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    #8
    So this new Linksys line drops the 5 GHz band, and offers 2.4 GHz for all devices, and uses 2.4 GHz as well for its backhaul? In other words, everything is 2.4 GHz?

    My neighborhood is a typically Dutch city with quite a dense population, and I can easily see ~30 to 40 wireless networks in the 2.4 GHz range. I suspect that these cheaper dual-band Velop sets will be more susceptible to interference and failure.
     
  10. Baumi macrumors regular

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    Mar 31, 2005
    #9
    For those wondering: 6,000 square feet = 558 square meters, and 2000 square feet = 186 square meters.

    1500 square feet = 140 square meters, 4500 square feet = 420 square meters.

    Note to MacRumors: Most people outside the US don’t have any idea how big or small a square foot is, so it’d be a nice service for your international readers if you provided these kinds of measurements in both imperial and metric. That way, everyone could easily make sense of them.
     
  11. rynx9 macrumors newbie

    rynx9

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    #10
    The new Linksys has one 2.4 band and one 5 GHz band. The more expensive one has two 5 GHz bands and one 2.4 band.
     
  12. simonmet, Apr 30, 2018
    Last edited: May 1, 2018

    simonmet macrumors 68000

    simonmet

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    #11
    Apple is bigger and more profitable than ever yet they can’t support or maintain as many product lines? How does that even make sense other than extreme (and short-sighted) economic rationalism? Whatever happened to “Think Different(ly!)”?

    Fine, if they don’t want me to buy Apple products apart from a phone or laptop (where they, for now at least, still lead) then I’m happy to not do so, but I won’t be purchasing from Apple. I’ll investigate the market fully and get the cheapest price elsewhere.

    Then, once I’ve got third-party everything else who’s to say I won’t be tempted by competing brands of laptop and phone?

    Apple is killing its image and reputation for integration. Already I’m getting mightily pissed off with iOS 11. I literally had to edit this post in a separate app and paste it back here because the text entry field on this site (and many others) is no longer working properly in Safari on iOS. This is basic stuff they used to have have down pat, now the OS feels like perpetual beta software.
     
  13. pat500000 macrumors 604

    pat500000

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  14. Bacillus, May 1, 2018
    Last edited: May 21, 2018 at 8:20 AM

    Bacillus macrumors 68000

    Bacillus

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    #13
    So what Windows laptop can Tim advise me in my (former Apple) setup - now with a Linksys router, Brother Laserprinter, Yoghipyama monitor ?
     
  15. twistedpixel8 macrumors regular

    twistedpixel8

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    #14
    Airport was so limited though. It forced you to do things you didn’t want with options you couldn’t configure. I used to have two Extremes and an Express for music and while the music streaming was nice, USB drive never worked, your only options were changing the network channel and the range was horrible. Also did you ever try to set up a network in any other mode than default? Bridge mode for example? Nightmare.

    I replaced all three with an ASUS and it knocks them out the park.

    Airport was good for people who just wanted plug-and-play with average speeds but was just too limited for the price. Sadly, a recurring theme with Apple these days.
     
  16. Bacillus macrumors 68000

    Bacillus

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    #15
    I am mentally preparing for the first Windows-based WWDC
     
  17. robinp macrumors 6502

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    #16
    Those upload / download speeds are bad if they are constrained by the WiFi
     
  18. jettredmont macrumors 68030

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    #17
    While I understand the choice of Velop is driven by Apple including them in their stores, I think anyone looking for a mesh WiFi system really should look beyond this review. Ars Technica and Tom’s Hardware both had fairly comprehensive looks at several systems, and Velop did not come out near the top (Orbi came out on top for raw throughput in both, Plume for resiliency and reliability at Ars).

    I am personally very happy with our Orbi system. Orbi has offered two strengths for quite some time, although their devices are strong enough that a two unit system covers the same area as a three unit system from other vendors. The really important thing about Orbi is that the “backhaul” - the communications between the satellites and the router - is on a dedicated channel, even if you do not have wired Ethernet connecting it all together.

    In any case, if you are plunking down several hundred dollars on a new network system for your home, you owe it to yourself to do more research than “it is in the Apple store.”
     
  19. Ca$hflow macrumors 6502

    Ca$hflow

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    London, ON
    #18
    What the hell are we supposed to do with Time Machine? I’m considering ubiquity. Now I need to research the big Skeleton in everyone’s mind.... Time Machine. I’m Not dragging a usb HDD around with my laptop throughout the house. Welcome to Post Steve Jobs Apple.
     
  20. jettredmont macrumors 68030

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    #19
    I haven’t used it so can’t vouche for it completely (our old Time Capsule Airport Express is still sitting on the network catching backups), but Orbi supports Time Capsule on a USB drive attached to the router - https://kb.netgear.com/21360/How-to-setup-Time-Machine-with-your-NETGEAR-router

    Not as easy as TimeCapsule, but you only have to set it up once.
     
  21. elvisimprsntr, May 1, 2018
    Last edited: May 1, 2018

    elvisimprsntr macrumors 6502

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    #20
    Good luck getting support and timely security vulnerability firmware updates.

    Let's give anyone access to your network. Convenience over security. Nice!

    goodidea.jpeg

    When the time comes to upgrade my APs, I first look to see what is currently supported by open source firmware (DD-WRT, LEDE/OpenWRT. etc.), read forum posts, make a product selection, then put it behind dedicated firewall appliance running open source enterprise class firewall software.
     
  22. Arran macrumors 601

    Arran

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    Atlanta, USA
    #21
    Apple’s plan is that what little data you still control will make the final leap into icloud and you’ll start paying rent! When that happens, local backup becomes less urgent.

    Photos, Music, contacts, email and calendars have hopped over already. Now for your really valuable stuff.
     
  23. alexmarchuk macrumors 6502a

    alexmarchuk

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    New Jersey
    #22
    I’m also looking at ubiquit, heard they were phenomenal products, I have 300 down with Comcast and using their all in one Wifi and modem, can someone chime in about ubiquiti experience? Would I have to get a stand-alone modem and stop renting the Comcast all in one?

    Was looking at the AmpliFi system, don’t know much about their products.
     
  24. picaman macrumors newbie

    picaman

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    Oct 6, 2005
    #23
    I currently have an AirPort Extreme and two Expresses throughout my home and everything works fine — I go months without having to restart. I believe Apple recently updated the software and firmware. Can someone explain to me why I need to worry about any of this in the short term? And when would I need to buy something new?
     
  25. Rhabdo macrumors newbie

    Rhabdo

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    Jan 26, 2018
    #24
    --- Post Merged, May 1, 2018 ---
    Ok so help me out here. If my airport and airport express dies does anyone make a similar set-up so I can still connect my iTunes music from my iMac to my receiver and control it all from the iphone? I need access to my music library via the phone and the remote app played through my home audio system.
     
  26. elvisimprsntr macrumors 6502

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    Florida
    #25
    I think that depends on what other Comcast services you are using. If you are using their video or VoIP, then you may be stuck with their modem/router. If you have internet only, then you can buy your own modem and drop your own router behind it. I ran my Comcast service that way for a decade+ until I switched to ATT Fiber last year. I still have to use the ATT modem/router since it handshakes with the optical ONT box, but I put their router in IP passthrough mode and disable the internal WiFi.
     

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