Who doesn’t want fast wi-fi in every nook and cranny in their house but doesn’t want to be spending an utter fortune? It can be done but there are always compromises. We have been trying out the S12 three-pack from Mercusys and have been impressed.
At the time of writing, they cost around £60, so that’s £20 a cube, or Halo as they call them. That should be enough for most homes, but there are always exceptions, back to some of those compromises again. Wall thickness and density is the prime enemy of wi-fi, along with chunky floors, other electronics and appliances, and even people walking about.
So our findings here are typical for us, and results will differ between households. Even the height and position of any wi-fi device will have an effect. Bottom line for us is this – it worked and it worked well. More on that a little later.
So, getting it out of the box, the first thing that is a shocker is just how light each of these cubes are. It feels like there is nothing inside, and even power adapters seems like there is nothing to them. We are on Virgin Media, so grab the included Ethernet cable, grab a cub and power supply and connect. Stick the ethernet cable in to the Virgin hub and cube, power on the cube. Use a wireless device to visit the Mercusys setup site, and follow the instructions. You may need a magnifying glass to read the cube’s SSID on the bottom label. Or am I getting old.
Follow the instructions which is basically give it a password and you are done. Save and that’s it. Word of warning – the save took many minutes, so be patient. It really was many minutes. However, once done, you are away.
Power up second cube, touch the tiny pair button on the front of your first cube, and then on the second cube, sit back for more many minutes and they will link up together. And then the same for the third and any subsequent Mercusys cubes. It was all rather painless, once you know about the wait times. I was convinced ours was broken, but happened to walk away to do something else, returned a while later, and it was all working. So, once again, and can’t stress this enough, be patient.
And now some speeds. We have a five-bed house that is not actually that big, but bigger than a two up, two down. It is over two floors and a mezzanine.
I used my Galaxy S10 Plus and an old laptop for comparisons. The laptop is so much slower than the phone. Speeds were measured on each device using Speedtest from Ookla.
The first cube was in the office, the second in the mezzanine lounge and third in the master bedroom. Together they form a mesh network providing seamless roaming where your device connects to whichever cube is delivering the most signal. With three halos, they claim blanket coverage of 320 square metres. That means eliminating dead zones.
In the office sitting next to a Halo, the phone reported 76Mbps download and 21 upload. The laptop was 40 down and 20 up. In the lounge with the halo behind a sofa, both devices were more or less same at 39 up and 20 down. Upstairs, furthest away from the third halo but above the office halo, the phone was 66 down and 21 up with half that for the laptop down but same for upload.
And finally, for the big test, outside in the garden at least 14 metres from the lounge halo, the phone was 41 down and 21 up, with the slower laptop managing an impress 27 down and 15 up. A more modern laptop with better wireless would do better, but useful to have an idea.
The company claims the system is “self-healing” which sounds nice and help eliminate those areas without coverage. As mentioned, we are super–pleased with these results from something that costs so relatively little. Easy setup, so long as you are patient, and excellent coverage, even from a distance, albeit pretty much open land in the garden. And if you do find there is a dead spot in your home or office, just add another cube.