TP-Link Deco BE85 review
Image: Chris Button.

TP-Link Deco BE85 review: powerful Wi-Fi 7 mesh at the ready

One of the first officially certified Wi-Fi 7 mesh systems on the market, the TP-Link Deco BE85 is a strong networking solution for power users and multi-storey homes. Considering the relative infancy of Wi-Fi 7 technology, its full potential is yet to be seen, but it’s still a great set of heavy-duty routers made for modern households.

Just recently, NBN Co, the organisation behind much of Australia’s internet infrastructure, revealed that the average household has 22 internet-connected devices. That figure is expected to grow exponentially as smart device adoption grows and our internet demands increase. To keep apace, more people will need better routers capable of managing simultaneous traffic.

Theoretically, the Deco BE85 can handle more than 200 devices at once. While I wasn’t able to test this claim specifically, it did handle our household’s flurry of internet activity without trouble.

Multi-storey homes are where the Deco BE85 truly excels. While a router like the Archer BE800 performs well in a smaller space, the simplicity of Deco Mesh makes setting up a multi-satellite network delightfully easy. For a two-storey place like my own, the BE85 produces a terrific, if overpowered, network environment.

TP-Link Deco BE85 review

First impressions

My existing network uses multiple Deco X60 Wi-Fi 6 units, which do the job quite well. Sitting next to one of the older satellite units, the Deco BE85 looks huge. Each unit is large and heavy compared to other mesh devices I’ve used, even towering over the powerline PX50 model. So, make sure you’ve got space to accommodate the kit.

Before you rush out and buy a new router, know that TP-Link has two types of mesh technology: Deco Mesh, and EasyMesh. As I learned when testing the Archer BE800, the two technologies are not cross-compatible. Oddly, they also use two different apps. However, the good news is that Deco units work seamlessly between models, enabling backwards compatibility.

TP-Link Deco BE85 size comparison
Almost as tall as the Archer BE800, the Deco BE85 absolutely towers over the older X60 model. Image: Chris Button.

This meant an effortless setup process via the Deco app, which as far as networking apps go, is excellent in its ease of use. All you need to do is plug one Deco BE85 unit into your internet source – depending on your connection, this might be a modem or an NBN box – and let the app do the rest of the work. Additional units find each other in a flash, and voila, you have a functioning mesh system.

Specifications

Wi-Fi technologyWi-Fi 7 tri-band technology 6GHz: 11520 Mbps 5GHz: 8640 Mbps 2.4GHz: 1376 Mbps Support for over 200 devices with 8 internal antennas Deco Mesh compatible
PortsFour Ethernet ports: 1× 10 Gbps 1× 10 Gbps SFP+/RJ45 Combo 2× 2.5 Gbps One USB-A 3.0 port
SecurityWPA-Personal WPA2-Personal WPA3-Personal
Price (RRP)From $1,199 (one unit)
Warranty12 months
Official websiteTP-Link Australia

Performance

One thing you need to know about my place is that it’s where Wi-Fi signals go to die. There are pockets known for poor connectivity, namely the dining area and living room. This review is by no means a scientific lab test, but one based on real-world performance.

Also, Australian internet generally isn’t fast enough to take full advantage of modern routers’ multi-gigabit speeds. I have an NBN 250 plan, limiting the extent I can push routers to the limit. Regardless, greater bandwidth still helps ensure multiple devices get strong access simultaneously.

For multi-storey homes like my own, a mesh system is your best bet for getting a reliable internet connection across all rooms. Mesh networks operate by designating a main router, the one connected to your internet access point.

Additional mesh units receive and amplify the signal, which would otherwise be weakened by distance or obstacles like walls. It does all this while functioning as one convenient network, letting your devices pick up the best signal. In the case of the Deco BE85, roaming between units, like when streaming videos on your phone while moving between rooms, is seamless.

What does the Deco BE85 do differently?

One of the main benefits of the Deco BE85 is its tri-band technology, encompassing 2.4, 5, and 6GHz network bands. First seen in Wi-Fi 6E routers, the 6GHz band enables even faster connections for compatible devices. Wi-Fi 7 makes this 6GHz band even faster due to a wider 320MHz frequency.

Wi-Fi 7 technology produces faster speeds, larger capacity and even further reduced latency than previous-gen devices. Arguably the biggest drawcard is Multi-Link Operation (MLO), enabling Wi-Fi 7 devices to access both the 5GHz and 6GHz bands at the same time. If one channel drops out or another offers a better connection, a device can easily get the best signal. Because 6GHz doesn’t reach as far, the ease of switching network bands is a common sense feature.

TP-Link Deco BE85 ports
The latest Deco also has plenty of ports and a WPS button to make connecting easy. Image: Chris Button.

Of course, Wi-Fi 7 is still fairly new, having only recently been officially certified by the independent Wi-Fi Alliance organisation. Not many devices support the technology yet, bar some of the latest phones like Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra and the Google Pixel 8 Pro. Expect to see this change in the coming months, particularly as newer laptops adopt Wi-Fi 7.

Putting the Deco BE85 to the test

To start testing TP-Link’s router, I began by connecting just one unit, which was in the upstairs study where the NBN box resides. I then measured speeds via Ookla Speedtest in different rooms throughout the house. Trying to replicate a typical home environment, I ran a Kayo Sports stream downstairs while the rest of the household continued downloading, browsing, and gaming.

To get a cross-section of devices, I ran tests on two Wi-Fi 6E-capable devices, including an iPhone 15 Pro, and a ROG Zephyrus G14 laptop. I also used an M2 MacBook Air, which supports Wi-Fi 6, meaning no 6GHz band connectivity.

Before even beginning the test, I noticed that some of my Wi-Fi 6E devices struggled to pick up the 6GHz signal from downstairs. It wasn’t surprising, given the network band’s shorter range, and it reinforced the importance of a multi-unit mesh network for larger homes.

DeviceAverage download speed
Deco X60 (one unit)149.14 Mbps
Deco BE85 (one unit)232.06 Mbps
Archer BE800 (one unit)204.93 Mbps
Deco X60 (three units)265.4 Mbps
Deco BE85 (three units)267.29 Mbps

What’s clear here is that the Deco BE85 is a powerful standalone unit even by itself. In testing, I excluded some outliers, which included very low speeds in the dining room. This isn’t a fault of any router – it’s just the reality of the house requiring more than a solo router to reach certain areas.

When you isolate the 6GHz tests for both the Deco BE85 and the Archer BE800 (the Deco X60 does not support 6GHz), the average download speeds jump to 248.2 Mbps and 213.03 Mbps respectively.

Most importantly, the testing shows that with multiple mesh units, there’s not much difference between the Deco X60 and the Deco BE85 models at lower speeds. However, take this observation with a grain of salt, because a 250 Mbps internet connection doesn’t get close to fully testing the limits of either device.

For example, the BE85 supports total speeds of 1,376 Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 8,640 Mbps on the 5GHz band. Meanwhile, the Deco X60 caps out at 574 Mbps (2.4GHz) and 4,804 Mbps (5GHz), and that’s even before factoring in the lack of 6GHz support. In other words, faster internet connections will benefit more from the BE85, as will households with more connected devices.

Who is the Deco BE85 for?

Simply put, the TP-Link Deco BE85 is a future-proofing device, like all Wi-Fi 7 technology right now. It’s an extremely powerful mesh system best suited to people with high-speed internet connections who use a lot of devices at the same time.

There’s no rush to jump on the Wi-Fi 7 bandwagon, aside from early adopters eager to get ahead of the curve. Over the next 12 months, many more compatible devices will enter the market, making Wi-Fi 7 more useful in the real world. Once that happens, the Deco BE85 will really show its prowess over older routers.

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TP-Link Deco BE85
Bringing fast Wi-Fi 7 tech to mesh systems, the TP-Link Deco BE85 might be early on the scene, but it lives up to its speedy promise.
Features
9
Value for money
7.5
Performance
9
Ease of use
9
Design
8
Positives
Extremely powerful
Effortlessly easy setup and management with the Deco app
Plenty of ports
Negatives
Limited Wi-Fi 7 device availability
Main benefits are only for power users
8.5