Linksys is often a go-to name for routers that are easy and relatively fuss-free to use and the Velop AX4200 is no different. It’s like a partner you bring home to delight your parents but whom your beer buddies will find painfully boring.
It’s an extreme example but don’t worry, it’s just for juxtaposition’s sake. The Linksys AX4200 Velop Tri-band Mesh WiFi 6 System is actually quite fetching, looks-wise. It’s equally at home next to your salt and pepper dispenser as it would be next to a NAS. The AX4200 is ultimately a lifestyle device and designed as such. Its small footprint means that you can place this pretty much anywhere, save for the tightest of spots.
Typically, these devices are meant for big spaces where range might be an issue and a mesh is the most elegant solution. While space is not something we are blessed with, for the most part, we have iron and concrete in abundance. God bless them, they keep our structures solid as a rock, it’s just that it so happens they do a good job of blocking Wi-Fi as well. A first-world problem requires first-world solutions and it doesn’t get any more first world than the AX4200, in more ways than one.
Linksys says a single unit (which they designate as MX4200) covers about 2,700 square feet while the two-node configuration covers up to 5,400 square feet and the three-node setup brings you to 8,100 square feet. But even my apartment of 900 square feet can’t be optimally serviced by a single node in every area of the house.
The reality is that the number of units you need depends on the number of dead spots that you are aware of. I certainly use the word ’need’ rather loosely, because we can generally get by if those spots aren’t in prime locations. Two units should be sufficient for most HDB households but there’s no definitive answer. Three should give me optimum performance in almost every single part of my house, but I cannot justify with a straight face why I need a strong Wi-Fi signal in the toilet. Some of you may disagree. In any case, if you want a two-pack, it’s designated as MX8400, while the three-pack, which we’re looking at, is called MX12600. To be honest, go with three only if you staying on landed property.
The Linksys app is fairly easy to work with, and you can simply download the app on your phone and set up your router with it (in fact, you have to). Simply turn on your node and it will search and activate the node. The app will prompt you if you wish to add more nodes as well. Adding another node isn’t instant but it does take less than ten minutes. More importantly, the app holds your hand throughout the process, so it’s really difficult to mess up.
Mesh systems will conveniently keep everything on a single SSID if you deem it so but you can find out which node you are attached to via the app. Advanced users might find the Linksys app a little simplistic, but at the same time I do appreciate that it only offers the essentials like port forwarding. If you prefer a more conventional approach, you can use a web interface once you set up the first unit. I’m not a part-time gamer and nor am I someone who does a lot of large file transfers so this is acceptable to me. However, those who are looking to tweak every single drop of throughput out of their routers should do well to look away; this isn’t the router for you.
Linksys keeps things simple when it comes to ports as well – you get four ethernet ports for each node; one for WAN while the other three are Gigabit ports. You also have a USB port to possibly connect a storage device – and in the case of MX12600, up to three. And underneath the device, a WPS button, a reset button and an on-off switch. As such, the AX4200 is also a convenient way to add a hub for legacy wired devices without too much effort.
As with new devices, the Velop routers support Wi-Fi 6. The Velop also uses dynamic backhaul, which means any of the three bands can be used to link the nodes and the system decides as and when to switch bands for your devices. The 2.4 GHz band can reach up to 600 Mbps, the first 5 GHz band can reach 2,400 Mbps and the other, 1,200 Mbps. The upside of this is that the system works seamlessly for the most part, but on the flip side, it’s difficult to tweak if you want the network to operate in a certain fashion. Needless to say, the Velop is not for you if you are the hands-on type who’s all about having full control of how the router operates. The AX4200 doesn’t support the 160 MHz channel either, which lends further proof to the thinking that this router was built to maximise compatibility.
If I haven’t mentioned it enough times already, it’s good for the average person who doesn’t have demanding applications and isn’t keen on spending time to make sure everything is tip top. hence, this would be great for the mothership household because of its simplicity. However, in this regard, I wonder why there aren’t any built-in anti-malware tools offered, like what Asus or TP-Link does, which would have added plenty of value as a one-stop solution.
As to be expected, one unit wasn’t enough for me and I needed a second node to create a network with relatively consistent signal strength throughout the house. It’s just as well that Linksys manages the backhaul dynamically – the 2.4GHz band is very crowded where I am. The Velop stayed clear of the 2.4GHz channel most of the time and kept me on the 5GHz band.
Generally, the Velop performed well without much fuss. Transitioning from one node to another was relatively seamless and trouble-free. It takes about 10-15 seconds thereabouts for the router to switch over to a better signal, and I never encountered any annoying interruptions.
I initially thought I needed three units to get decent coverage but it seems like two units were enough, with download speeds of around 60Mbps and upload speeds of around 40Mbps in the worst possible circumstances – in practice I was perfectly fine since I don’t plan to game competitively in the bathroom. In the best circumstances, I get around 775Mbps downstream and 562Mbps upstream, though the average performance was more in the region of around 300Mbps downstream and around 240Mbps upstream. In all, the numbers were decent for everyday use.
I’m honestly on the fence with this one. I really enjoyed my time with the Velop; it’s polished, simple to use, and it plain works. At the same time, I can’t help but baulk at the price tag. As much as I appreciate the fact it is not easy to make complex things simple, it is a hefty premium after all. How much are you willing to pay for ease of mind? On the bright side, the price of two nodes, which is more often than not what you need, is slightly more palatable than three. Then again, if you need a third node, chances are, money is no object.
At the moment, Lazada and Shopee are offering the MX12600 at discounted price of $905 (SRP $1,099) while Challenger and Hachi.tech are offering it at $898 for ValueClub members. If a two pack is what you need, it’s going for $604 on Lazada and Shopee (SRP $799) while Challenger stores and Hachi.tech are retailing it for $598 for ValueClub members.
Price MX8400 $799, MX12600 $1,099
Processor 1.4GHz Quad core
Memory 512MB Flash, 512MB RAM
Wi-Fi Tech AX4200 MU-MIMO Tri-Band Gigabit, 600+1200+2400 Mbps
Wi-Fi Bands 2.4GHz, 5GHz, 5GHz, 600+1200+2400
Wi-Fi Range up to 8100 square feet
- Easy Setup with the Linksys App
- Tri-Band Dynamic Backhaul
- 4×4 MU-MIMO
- 1.4GHz Quad Core Processor
- Next-Gen OFDMA Technology
- Advanced Security
Networks 802.11a, 802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n (WiFi 4), 802.11ac (WiFi 5), 802.11ax (WiFi 6)
Ports USB 3.0, Gigabit Ethernet (3 Gigabit LAN + 1 Gigabit WAN)
Storage File System Support FAT, FAT32, NTFS, HFS+
Encryption/Security up to 128-bit / WPA2, WPA3, WPA2 / WPA3 Mixed Mode
Dimensions 114.3 x 243.8 x 114.3 mm
Linksys Velop AX4200 Tri-Band Mesh WiFi 6 System (MX12600)
Features – 7/10
Value Proposition – 6/10
Performance – 8/10
Design & Build Quality – 7/10
It’s easy to find better performing routers but the rock-solid coverage and reliability is good for households that aren’t technically savvy.