There is no question that mesh WiFi systems are gaining popularity over regular wireless routers. They keep on working in the far corners of your house where regular routers can offer only dead zones and frequent signal drops. While they don’t offer the same level of advanced options and features like regular routers, they can be a reasonable alternative to most routers. One of these devices is the Tenda Nova Wave that it is in for a review today. Let’s take a look at it:
Tenda Nova MW6 Review
Tenda is a relatively budget networking manufacturer from China. In the past, they never really shook the market with anything substantial, at least up until now. They have a variety of budget wireless routers, adapters and repeaters in their portfolio, but all of them are budget and in the low-end of the market. The Tenda MW6 Nova Wave is no different in terms of price, but the performance and features are excellent compared to one of the best selling mesh wifi systems on the market – the Google WiFi home system. Let’s take a close look:
Design And Features
In term of design, the Tenda Nova Wave doesn’t seem that much different from its main competitor – the Google WiFi. It is an elegant white cube device and it comes in a pack of three – much like Google WiFi and some other mesh wireless systems. There is a small “Nova” sign on each cube and any of them can be used as the “main” router – the one that provides the original Internet connection. On the bottom of each cube, there are two Gigabit Ethernet ports, power connector and a small reset button. Unfortunately, there is no USB option but that can be rarely found on most multi-router systems anyway.
Let’s take a look at the most important features:
- Dual-Band Wireless
- AC1200 Standard
- Concurrent 2.4G/5G bands
- Fast Roaming Handoff
- Wave Two MU-MIMO
- Beam Forming
As we can see, it has all the components that make a kit great – strong signal, beamforming and MU-MIMO – all important features in any modern Wifi system. The dual-band wireless can deliver a theoretical performance of up to 1167Mbps on both bands. They translate into 300 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on the 5Ghz. Working together, they add up to 1167, or as they call it – AC1200.
There is no real QoS or traffic prioritization in the Tenda MW6, at least none that we know of. However, it seems to be prioritizing traffic just fine since I had no problem continuing to play my Battlefield round as my significant other started streaming some Netflix in the living room.
Tenda MW6 Setting Up
Setting up Tenda Nova Wave is quite easy. All you need to do is connect one of the nodes to a modem and use the Tenda WiFi app ( available for both iOS and Google Play). Unfortunately, there is no web-based interface so you can’t set up the MW6 like a traditional router – by accessing an IP address like 192.168.0.1 or 192.168.1.1. That puts certain sorts of limitations on the setup process. The Tenda uses Bluetooth for the initial connection but we didn’t have any issues setting it up like we did with the Linksys Velop we tested earlier. Overall, it is a very easy process and most people are not expected to have any issues with it.
Of course, that’s why we are here of – to see the Tenda MW6 Nova Wave performance in real life scenarios. Being a mesh WiFi system we expect it to be able to easily cover 2500 square feet house and reliably saturate a connection of 100Mbps. Yes, we know that 100Mbps is not widely available everywhere but we have set it up as a benchmark in previous articles and that’s what I get at home so we’ll stick to it.
In our “Top Mesh WiFi” list we compared ten different wireless systems, but the testing process was a bit different to what we’ll see here. There, we wanted to see if a dedicated backhaul communication channel will help when extending the distance between nodes and how will the signal drop with each extension. Certainly, it does help and it is a major improvement, mainly seen in the Netgear Orbi, but the Tenda MW6 doesn’t have such channel. The main competitor, Google WiFi, doesn’t have one either so it’s fair to see how the two stack against each other:
Tenda Nova MW6 Speed Test:
|Node||Speed At 3Ft||Speed At 15Ft|
|Main||289 Mbps||234 Mbps|
|Second||114 Mbps||98 Mbps|
|Third||40 MBps||34 Mbps|
Google WiFi Wireless Speed:
|Node||Speed At 3Ft||Speed At 15Ft|
|Main||279 Mbps||228 Mbps|
|Second||121 Mbps||106 Mbps|
|Third||50 Mbps||36 Mbps|
As you can see, the performance is almost identical. the thing is, the Nova Wave system offers a bit more features than the Google Wifi – network bridging, guest networking and a few more. The Tenda MW6 has another advantage over the Google WiFi as well. The Tenda doesn’t need to keep a constant connection to Google servers in order to keep working. To us it is. a major privacy concern, although Google says that it doesn’t keep track of what we do and all that with the Google WiFi. However, the Tenda needs to have an active account in order to setup and connect, but it is easily created via the app.
VerdictAs we can see from above, the Tenda Nova MW6 is major competitor for the best budget wireless system. It offers almost identical performance to the widely praised Google WiFi system. It costs significantly less than the Google router and it actually has a few more tricks up its sleeve than it.
While the performance seems to drop with each extension, in real life you’re very unlikely to connect to the Internet over more than a single node away from the “main” router. That can almost guarantee that if you have a 100Mbps connection at home you will experience no slowdowns or signal loss over the entire house.
Overall, it is a solid choice for people with large homes that experience signal loss and dropouts when using an ordinary wireless router, even a high-end one. It doesn’t have a dedicated channel for communication between the nodes and that can certainly affect the performance of the system when extending the mesh network beyond the three units. That is not a problem for the average home but if you plan on blanketing a larger building or an office with the Tenda units it is something to keep in mind. Otherwise, it is a highly recommended mesh wireless system for home and small office use!