Tenda Nova MW5s Mesh WiFi System Review

Despite some design foibles, the MW5s Wi-Fi mesh offers easy setup, good performance, plus convenience at a low price.

Tenda Nova MW5s Mesh WiFi System Review

Into the saturated mesh Wi-Fi market, Tenda has launched a new AC1200 system. Two questions immediately spring to mind: why should we care and who the heck is Tenda?

We’ll answer the second question first because, despite reviewing Wi-Fi products since the beginning of Wi-Fi products, we had to look up who Tenda was.

The Shenzhen-based company states on its website, “Founded in 1999, Tenda technology is the recognised leading supplier of networking devices and equipment.

Tenda has committed to delivering easy-to-install and affordable networking solutions, offering innovative, cutting-edge products to realize people’s intelligent life.”

A partnership with Broadcom adds credibility to its anonymity outside of China, but what makes this kit interesting is that it’s ranged by Office Works.

Enthusiast consumers might roll their eyes, but many workers will know that, when you absolutely need something (potentially) business related, Office Works can be convenient to the point of feeling like a life saver.

A three-node kit costs $179 (two-nodes are $129) which is relatively cheap. But is it any good? Set-up is simple: you plug in the primary node and connect to it, via a QR code, on the partner smartphone app.

You don’t even have to add extra nodes via the app, you simply power them on and the system does the rest.

Just note that there are only subtle visual differences between the primary node and two secondary nodes so keep the instructions handy in case someone needs to set the system up again down the line.

Each node has two Ethernet ports though only the primary node offers Gigabit speeds.

Features include Guest Network and Parental Controls which allow you to select if-and when individual devices can access the internet.

There’s UPnP and (unusually for mesh devices) Port Forwarding while QoS functions priorities Gaming and, er, web browsing.

It offers a theoretical bandwidth of 1,200Mbps spread across 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. But how does it perform in the real world?

We tested it in a three storey Sydney Town House by downloading large video files from a Synology DS1019+ NAS to a WiFi 6 equipped Dell XPS 15 OLED laptop.

We did this near the nodes, at close range, one floor up and two floors up – all while simultaneously streaming a 4K movie to a TV plus YouTube videos to two, old, Android tablets.

We compared results with our similarly-specified, three year-old, Google Wi-Fi mesh. Up close, Google pulled ahead with speeds of 178.5Mbps compared to 131.3Mbps.

However, once we started climbing stairs Tenda took over. One floor up it scored 119.7Mbps compared to Google’s 50.9Mbps while two floors up the scores were 81.3Mbps (Tenda) and 43.7Mbps (Google).

The superior performance at range makes the Tenda a clear winner. We still prefer TP-Link’s Archer AX6000 Wi-Fi 6 router due to it being a singular entity with superior range, speed and future-proofing but, at $400, it’s more-than double the price.

As such, the Tenda represents great value, decent performance and, if you live near an Office Works, you can pick one up immediately without waiting days for delivery.

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