If your current router can’t deliver a usable Wi-Fi signal throughout your home, it may be time to consider a whole-home solution like the Motorola MH7603 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System ($239). Designed for medium to large homes, the MH7603 is a three-piece mesh system that’s easy to install and manage. Strong parental controls and antimalware software add to its appeal. It’s a solid performer for the money, but it can’t quite keep up with our most expensive Editor’s Choice winner, the Asus ZenWiFi XT8.
Discreet design, but without 160 MHz bandwidth
The MH7603 is a three-piece system that provides up to 5,000 square feet of coverage (2,000 square feet for the router and 1,500 square feet for each node). For smaller homes, you can purchase a single router node for $119.99 and add more nodes as needed.
The three low-profile nodes are identical. They sport a white finish, measure 2.6 inches tall and 5 inches wide, and contain two internal antennas. There is a Motorola “M” logo on top and a small LED indicator on the front that lights up solid white when everything is connected and working properly, or solid amber when a node has a poor connection to the router . A slow flashing blue indicator means the system is in setup and pairing mode, while fast blue flashes indicate a firmware update.
The MH7603 lacks the multigigabit WAN/LAN connectivity that you get with more expensive systems like the TP-Link Deco X90 and the Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8), but it is equipped with one gigabit WAN/LAN port and one gigabit LAN port. When serving as a node (extender), both ports can be used as LAN ports, or you can use one for wired backhaul. However, link aggregation is not supported here, which means that ports cannot be joined for multi-gigabit speeds. Along with the LAN ports on the back panel, there’s a USB-C port used exclusively for power and a reset button to the left of the other ports.
The system is powered by a 1.5GHz quad-core CPU, 256MB of DDR3 RAM, and 128MB of flash memory. It is a dual-band AX1800 system, which means it is capable of maximum (theoretical) data rates of up to 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and up to 1200 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. It is compatible with most of Wi-Fi 6 technologies, including 1024 QAM, direct-to-client beamforming, 2×2 MU-MIMO data transmission, and OFDMA transmissions. But it lacks support for WPA3 encryption and 160MHz channels, two key features we expect to see in mid-range and high-end Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems.
The MH7603 does not offer a web management console. Instead, use the new motosync mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The easy-to-use app opens to a network screen with icons for each node and an icon showing the number of connected devices. Tapping on the router icon allows you to see what devices are connected to it and allows you to reboot the node. Tapping on any satellite node allows you to see its current and historical signal strength and bandwidth usage. Here you can also run an internet download and upload speed test, see which clients are connected to the node, and see which channel it is using for the backhaul.
If you scroll down the Network page, you will see Security, Full Startup Filter, Connection, and Main Data Usage panels. The security dashboard tells you if your network is secure or has any malware, intrusion, or known vulnerability issues. The Full Home Filter panel allows you to configure filters to block websites with adult and malicious content, and enable ad blocking for all connected devices. If you don’t want to impose restrictions on each user connected to the network, you can create profiles for each user and set individual filters.
The main Data Usage dashboard displays hourly, daily, and weekly bandwidth usage for each client device and for each user profile. The Connection panel shows the results of your latest speed test and tells you if your network is optimized for things like gaming, streaming 4K video, web browsing, and music playback.
At the bottom of the Network screen are five buttons. The Network button takes you back to the Network screen from anywhere within the app, while the Profiles button takes you to a screen where you can create individual user profiles, assign devices to each profile, apply filters, set access times and limits time, and view usage reports for each profile.
The Timeline button allows you to view a log of network events, such as configuration changes, new device connections, and speed test results. The Support button provides access to an online user guide and offers a support chat option and support contact information. Lastly, the Settings (gear) button takes you to a screen where you can enable or disable web filtering, add new users, add more satellite nodes, set the time zone, and configure port forwarding and internet connection.
Solid performance, easy setup
Mesh systems are known for their easy installation. The MH7603 is no different, although with two satellite nodes, it takes a bit longer to set up than two-piece systems with a single satellite. I downloaded the motosync app, created an account, and tapped “Set up a new device” on the Get Started screen. I then used my phone to scan the QR code on the base of the router node and followed the instructions to unplug my modem, connect the router node to my modem using the included LAN cable, and power on both devices.
When the LED started flashing blue, I tapped “I see the light” and waited about 30 seconds for the router to connect to the motosync cloud. After a quick firmware update, I tapped “Add Extender,” scanned the QR code on one of the nodes, and tapped “Set Up My Device.” Following the instructions on the screen, I plugged the node into a power outlet near the router, confirmed that the LED was blinking blue, and waited about five minutes for the satellite node to pair with the router node. I tapped Next, updated the node’s firmware, and repeated the process for the last node. I then relocated both satellite nodes to their respective rooms, tapped “Optimize My WiFi”, set up my WiFi credentials, and the installation was complete.
The MH7603 doesn’t support band splitting, so we let the system pick the best band during testing, which was always the 5GHz band by the way. The system didn’t break any speed records, but it did get solid performance scores. performance.
The router node got 700 Mbps in the proximity (same room) test, which was almost identical to what we saw with the Eero Pro 6 router (701 Mbps), but somewhat slower than the TP-Link W7200 router (771 Mbps). ). The Asus ZenWiFi XT8 led with a score of 860 Mbps. In the 30-foot test, the MH7603 router’s score of 245 Mbps was faster than the Eero Pro 6, but not the TP-Link W7200 (298 Mbps). Once again, the Asus ZenWiFi XT8 took top honors with a score of 347 Mbps.
The 458 Mbps satellite node MH7603 score in the proximity test was just a hair faster than the Eero Pro 6 node (455 Mbps), but was slower than the TP-Link W7200 node (528 Mbps) and still to the Asus ZenWiFi XT8 node (675Mbps) for 217Mbps. In the 30-foot test, the MH7603 node achieved 383 Mbps, once again beating the Eero Pro 6 node (353 Mbps) but not the TP-Link W7200 node (475 Mbps). The Asus ZenWiFi XT8 node’s score of 619 Mbps topped them all.
To test Wi-Fi signal strength, we used an Ekahau Sidekick Wi-Fi diagnostic device and the Ekahau Survey mobile app to generate a heat map showing router and satellite node signal strength across our network. test house. (Note: Ekahau is owned by Ziff Davis, the parent company of PCMag.) The circles on the maps represent the location of the router, and the node and colors represent the signal strength. Dark green indicates the strongest signal, yellow is the weakest, and gray indicates no measurable signal reception.
As shown on the map, the MH7603 router and satellite node delivered strong combined wireless signals (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) to every corner of our test house and garage.
Not class leading, but close
You won’t get class-leading performance from the Motorola MH7603 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 system, but our tests showed it can deliver ample signal coverage and relatively good throughput speeds in a medium-sized home. It’s very easy to install, and the motosync mobile app makes it easy to assign parental controls that allow you to monitor user activity and apply filters to prevent access to certain types of websites.
This system lacks multigigabit and USB connectivity, but both are relatively rare with mesh systems in this price range. That said, WPA3 encryption and the ability to operate on 160MHz channels would be welcome additions. If you need a mesh system that offers superior performance, multi-gigabit WAN/LAN, and a USB port for connecting external devices, consider our current Editors’ Choice winner for mesh Wi-Fi systems, the Asus ZenWiFi XT8. It will cost around $200 more than the MH7603, but it uses two nodes to provide more coverage, offers faster throughput speeds, and comes with a lifetime subscription to Asus’s AIProtection Pro parental control and network security suite.
Motorola MH7603 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System
The bottom line
The Motorola MH7603 is a three-piece Wi-Fi mesh system that delivered solid performance and signal performance in testing. It offers free parental controls and network security software, but it lacks some essential Wi-Fi 6 features.
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