An Eero mesh router on a table.
Amazon

This holiday there’s an easy way to make providing family tech support easier and your parents’ Wi-Fi network speedier and safer. Give the gift of a new mesh Wi-Fi router.

Why Give the Gift of Mesh Wi-Fi?

If your parents are aggressively tech-forward folks that don’t need you for tech support, it’s probably safe to skip this article.

But if you’re a How-To Geek reader, there is a good chance that you’re the go-to tech support person in your family, just like we, in turn, are the go-to tech support people in our families.

And if so, there’s an equally good chance that without your intervention, your parents and other family members would still be using an ancient 802.11g router with security and transmission power equivalent to a potato with a coat hanger stuck through it.

By gifting your parents a current-generation mesh Wi-Fi system, you’re giving a gift that keeps on giving. You won’t have to worry about your parents’ router running vulnerable or outdated firmware, as modern mesh systems automatically update themselves in the background—set and forget is a mesh network selling point second only to the increased Wi-Fi coverage.

Speaking of that, you won’t have to worry about troubleshooting calls centered around poor Wi-Fi coverage as long as you spend a few minutes putting the mesh nodes in optimal spots for them. And if you visit later and find a dead spot, you can drop an additional mesh node or two into the system without disrupting their setup.

It might not a gift as traditional as a warm scarf or a new tackle box, but it’s a gift that anybody suffering with cruddy Wi-Fi will be sure to appreciate.

Our Suggestion? Go With Eero

There are quite a few mesh platforms on the market now. While you’ll find some really premium picks marketed toward people who want the absolute cutting-edge Wi-Fi experience, there’s no need to spend a thousand dollars on a mesh platform to upgrade your parents’ home.

Instead, we’d encourage you to focus on mesh platforms that are very (novice) consumer-friendly and pack in additional features your parents might find useful.

And in that regard, for a dead simple perfect-for-non-techie-parents solution, it’s really hard to beat the Eero mesh platform. We recommend starting with at least the Eero 6+ to ensure your parents have the current version and will get the years of use out of it.

Eero 6+ Mesh Wi-Fi 3-Pack

With Wi-Fi 6 support, automatic updates, and an integrated smart home hub, it's tough to beat the value of this mesh Wi-Fi pack.

If they have a lot of devices and you want to even further future-proof the purchase, consider the Eero Pro 6E. Whichever you choose, you really can’t go wrong.

Not only is the Eero platform reasonably priced, but it has top-notch extensibility. You can mix and match all the Eero components on the market, making it unbelievably easy to drop in additional nodes.

Even better, the 5th generation Echo Dot can function as a Wi-Fi extender if you have an Eero system. So not only can you extend your parents’ Wi-Fi coverage with ease, you can do so inexpensively and with an extender that offers additional functionality like access to Alexa, music playback, and more. (Do note when looking at the Amazon listing for the Echo Dot the “with Eero Mesh Router” option is for the Dot, which is an Eero extender, plus an actual Eero router too.)

On top of all that, Eero has a built-in smart hub and is slated for a Matter smart home update in 2023. Perhaps your parents aren’t super interested in smart home gadgets at the moment but show them how to automate their holiday lights with smart home accessories, and we’re sure they’ll be hooked.

While we’re firmly of the mind that Eero platform is the best all-around value—especially if you’re deploying the network for folks that just want a fire-and-forget solution they don’t have to manage.

But it’s not the only game in town, and if you want to save a few bucks and still give the gift of upgraded mesh Wi-Fi, consider the more economically priced options from TP-Link like the Deco X20 system. You miss out on the smart home hub, and there’s no cool speaker-as-extender option, but you get Wi-Fi 6, great coverage, and TP-Link’s rock-solid hardware.

Some Bonus Tips for Your Consideration

While you’re thinking about giving the gift of Wi-Fi this holiday season, here are a few useful things to keep in mind.

Avoid These Common Mesh Network Mistakes

If you’re the tech support guru deploying Wi-Fi for your family members, there’s a good chance none of these tips will be news to you, but it never hurts to brush up on things (especially when you’ll likely be installing the mesh network during a busy holiday visit).

Before you go over the hill and through the woods to grandmother’s house, now is a great time to review these common mesh router mistakes and look over these tips on mesh router placement to get their whole mesh Wi-Fi experience off to a strong start.

Oh and while you’re at it, don’t forget to copy over their old Wi-Fi settings, like reusing the same network name and password, so you don’t have to spend half of Christmas day putting a new login into all their devices.

You Can Split (Most) Mesh Packs

You can split up most mesh router multi-packs. Why does that matter? If you’d like to upgrade Wi-Fi for multiple people in your family you can buy a multi-pack, break it up, and install the individual nodes where they’re needed.

Maybe your folk’s house needs two mesh nodes, and your grandma’s place only needs one near her smart TV and computer. Or maybe you could use an extra node at your house, but your parents and your grandma have smaller homes and just need one.

It might sound counterintuitive, but a strong case exists for using a mesh platform even for single-node installations.

You Can Add Yourself As a Network Manager

When you install their new mesh network, put the network management app on your phone. Now even when you’re not at their home you can check the status of the network, remotely restart it, make sure it’s up-to-date, and otherwise do router-based troubleshooting.

You’ll also get proactive notices about the router’s state from most apps without them calling you. If the router goes down or one of the nodes is constantly dropping, you’ll know about it.

Don’t worry if you use the same platform as you’re putting in their home. Most mesh network apps allow you to switch networks. Eero, for example, makes it easy to switch between your home network and the networks of other locations you’re managing.

And finally, while planning your trip home for the holidays, don’t forget to bring something to fill the gaps between fielding tech support questions, like some of these inexpensive board game stocking stuffers.

The Best Mesh Routers of 2023

ASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8)
Best Mesh Router Overall
ASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8)
TP-Link Deco X20
Best Budget Mesh Router
TP-Link Deco X20
ASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8)
Best Wi-Fi 6 Mesh Router
ASUS ZenWiFi AX (XT8)
ASUS ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Best Wi-Fi 6E Mesh Router
ASUS ZenWiFi Pro ET12
Amazon Eero Pro 6
Best Mesh Router for Gaming
Amazon Eero Pro 6
Netgear Orbi RBK753
Best Mesh Router for Large Homes
Netgear Orbi RBK753
Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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