ESR580: Tri-band Mesh system by EnGenius
Back in July, our own John Weland did a review of the EnGenius ESR530. Today, we’ll be looking at its big brother/sister, the EnGenius ESR580 kit.
|Standards||802.11ac Wave 2|
|Frequency||2.4Ghz, 5Ghz + 5Ghz|
|Max. Data Rates||400, 867 + 867|
|Streams||2 x 2:2|
|Antennas||2 x 2.4Ghz: 4.4 dBi|
4 x 5Ghz: 5.6 dBi
In the box
The ESR580 kit comes with:
- two wireless router nodes
- two power adapters
- two wall mount kits
- one ethernet cable
The nodes have two Gigabit Ethernet ports (one each for WAN and LAN), a USB3.0 port, and a DC jack. The size of each node is about the same size as a Playstation 4 controller. Although it’s a decent size, the slick design also allows the mesh router to blend anywhere in a room.
The ESR580 Setup
The process for configuring both the ESR530 and the ESR580 router models is fairly easy; just download the app and follow the prompts. Then you’ll be able to filter sites, change your Wi-Fi SSID name, forward ports, set up guest networks, etc. Router settings are similar, with the difference being that the ESR580 has the additional 5Ghz band..
I set up my Wi-Fi as simply as possible. First, I configured the Wi-Fi settings. Then I changed the SSID name and password. I also made sure that the mesh nodes were at an optimal distance from each other. I haven’t dealt with port forwarding while gaming, so I had no need to tweak those settings.
With a tri-band connection, you have three bands to carry traffic: a slower 2.4GHz channel and two faster 5GHz channels. This is useful for avoiding issues like buffering. When traffic backs up on the first 5GHz channel, device connections are re-routed to the second 5GHz channel, thus avoiding a slowdown. The 2.4GHz band is slower, but does travel further. That’s ideal when you’re not near the router. But it’s not great if you need bandwidth speed for streaming movies, downloading content, or playing video games.
Testing the ESR580
For my “best-case scenario”, I set up the main mesh router on the second floor of the home, then placed the second node down in the basement on the opposite side from where the mesh router was. The transfer rate between the two units tested at about 127Mbps. The Wi-Fi speed between my LG V30 and the main mesh router averaged 227Mbps. The expected speed from my provider was 400Mbps.
With both tests, I connected several devices:
- three Amazon Fire tablets
- two non-4k Chromecast devices
- my LG V30 cellphone
- a Surface Pro
While all the devices were streaming video content from various sources, I didn’t see any drop in speeds when I ran a test from the Surface Pro. Meanwhile, all the connected devices kept right on truckin’ through movies.
When I tested the basement node, I moved all the devices down there and set them all within ten feet of the router. When had I looked at the speeds between the router and the mesh node earlier during set-up, the average transfer rate I got was around 127Mbps. But even in spite of that slower speed, the movies still continued to stream smoothly on all devices.
The EnMesh Genius ESR580 2-pack can expand the range of a Wi-Fi connection to provide network connectivity in very large homes. A bonus is not having to drag ethernet cables throughout the house. Although the app and set up is a little clunky, the web-based configuration portal is available after setup. Additional features like file sharing via USB make the ESR580 a little more appealing.
At the time of writing this review, Amazon.com had the the EnMesh Genius ESR580 2-pack priced at $229.99 (originally $269.99). For that kind of money, I wouldn’t mind snatching this up if I were considering a mesh system at home. After all, some routers at this pricepoint don’t even begin to match the capabilities of a mesh system.