Early Black Friday router deals: Upgrade to mesh or Wi-Fi 6 at a holiday discount
This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.
Holiday buying season is in full swing, Black Friday draws near, and as usual, it’s a good time to catch a deal on a new router. That’s truer than ever in 2020, with all sorts of new mesh options on the market, as well as new routers that support Wi-Fi 6, the newest and fastest version of Wi-Fi. And hey, not for nothing, but with most of us doing our best to stay home as much as possible, having the right router quarterbacking your home network can make a world of difference.
If a new router sits on top of your shopping list, bookmark this post — I’ll be updating it regularly through Black Friday, Cyber Monday and beyond with all of the best home networking deals we’ve spotted across the web. With Thanksgiving still a few days away, we’ve already got one or two early-bird deals worth checking out, so take a look.
Deals live now
It’s still expensive, but you can currently save $50 on a two-piece Netgear Orbi AX6000 mesh router setup, bringing the cost down from $700 to $650. With full support for Wi-Fi 6, a triband design with an extra 5GHz band for system transmissions, and a WAN port capable of accepting incoming wired speeds as high as 2.5Gbps, the AX6000 is Netgear’s fanciest Orbi system — and it remains the fastest, best-performing mesh router we’ve ever tested.
Netgear tells me this deal will be live through Nov. 30, which is Cyber Monday. I might hold off on clicking the buy button to see if a better Orbi offer emerges by Black Friday, but I haven’t heard of any other AX6000 deals just yet. At any rate, if you’ve been waiting for a sale on the fastest, most reliable mesh system we’ve ever tested, this is the week.
Meanwhile, if you need more than one range-extending satellite to cover a large home, you might consider the AX4200 version of Orbi. It isn’t quite as fast as the AX6000 version, but it’s still a tri-band mesh router with full support for Wi-Fi 6. And hey, wouldn’t you know it, Netgear is currently offering a four-pack with the main router and three extenders for $660, which is $90 less than usual.
It doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, but the Nest Wifi mesh router still punches well above its weight with stable, reliable performance and enough advanced features to feel like an upgrade. The system’s main router is the slightly bigger device on the left in the image above, and it’ll work on its own without any of the range-extending Nest Wifi Point smart speakers. It usually costs $169, but this week, Google is offering it up for $139.
That’s not a bad deal, but if you’re starting from scratch, you’re better off just getting the two-pack with the router and one extender at the normal $269 combo price (those extenders cost $150 on their own). However, if you use the first-gen Google Wifi mesh system in your home, you can swap in the Nest Wifi router and use it with your first-gen Google Wifi extenders for faster speeds and better performance.
Here’s another Nest Wifi deal, this time from Buydig: a two-pack of Nest Wifi routers for $219, plus two free Deco Gear smart plugs once you add the deal to your cart.
A few things to know here. First, the Nest Wifi router is the central brain of the Nest Wifi mesh, and it doesn’t include a built-in Google Assistant smart speaker like the range-extending Nest Wifi Points. That said, you can use a second Nest Wifi router as a range extender, too, so this deal is basically the same thing as the Nest Wifi two-pack which usually costs $269. You’re just replacing the range extender with a second router.
That means you’re losing the built-in Google Assistant voice controls, but you also might see slightly better performance (the router is a bit stronger than the range extender). As for the smart plugs, I’m not familiar with Deco Gear and we haven’t tested their stuff out, but they claim to work with both Alexa and the Google Assistant. If you already use either of those voice assistants, then this deal just got a little bit better.
Eero Pro 6 is the fancier version of Amazon’s new Wi-Fi 6 mesh router, and it adds in faster speeds and an additional 5GHz band to help improve system performance. It tested well, and offers a lot of value even at full price, with a $599 three-pack that’s $400 less than the comparable Netgear Orbi AX6000 setup.
Now, for Black Friday week, Amazon has that three-pack marked all the way down to $479, which is about as good a price as I’ve ever seen for a three-piece, triband mesh router that supports Wi-Fi 6. It’s back-ordered until Dec. 10, so you’ll need to wait a couple of weeks for it to arrive, but the deal is live now and Amazon is taking orders.
It’s not the newest version of Eero that supports Wi-Fi 6, but last year’s Eero mesh router tested well at the CNET Smart Home, and you can nab a three-piece setup for just $174 on Amazon right now, saving you $75.
Meanwhile, that newer version of Eero is on sale, too (it’s called Eero 6), but it wasn’t as reliable in my tests as last year’s version, so read my review before making a purchase.
The Archer AX20 is one of TP-Link’s entry-level Wi-Fi 6 routers. With a dual-band design and AX1800 speeds, it isn’t going to be a game-changer for your entire home network, but it’ll still help you notch slightly faster Wi-Fi performance from any Wi-Fi 6 devices you might own, which might make it a sensible upgrade for anyone who just bought a new iPhone.
The router usually sells for $130, but TP-Link has it marked down to $100 as an early special for Black Friday week.
This TP-Link mesh router is basically the exact same thing as Amazon’s Eero 6, at least as far as specs are concerned. Both are dual-band AX1800 systems that support Wi-Fi 6, and both three-packs typically sell for $270. But right now, you can grab TP-Link’s system for $230, which saves you $40.
Don’t care about Wi-Fi 6? The TP-Link Deco M5 system is last year’s Wi-Fi 5 model — that three-piece system usually costs $170, but it’s available right now for $150, saving you a cool $20.
Deals coming soon
The usual starting price for this high-speed Wi-Fi 6 router is $300, which is admittedly pretty steep for a dual-band model that doesn’t have an extra 5GHz band. Sit tight, though, because on Saturday, Nov. 28 (the day after Black Friday), Best Buy will have it marked down by 50% to a sale price of $150. That’s a pretty darned good deal for a router capable of hitting top speeds as high as 4.8Gbps.
If you’re not looking for a router upgrade, and instead, just want a good deal on something simple and functional, then you might consider the Linksys EA6350. It’s a pretty basic Wi-Fi 5 router, but it’ll get the job done for browsing and light streaming.
Starting on Saturday, Nov. 28 (again, that’s the day after Black Friday), Best Buy will offer it for $55, which is $15 less than the current sale price and $35 less than the usual retail price.
These offers appear to be over or out of stock — we’ll keep an eye on them and update this post if that changes.
It doesn’t support Wi-Fi 6, but the AC1200 version of the Netgear Orbi is still a solid and dependable mesh router, and it impressed us with surprisingly strong signal strength when we tested it out at the CNET Smart Home. Back then, I called the two-piece version of this system a terrific value at $129 — now, as an early Black Friday special at Walmart, you can get the three-piece version with an extra range extender for just $99.
A three-piece mesh system like this one is the best way to cover a large-size home with a steady, reliable Wi-Fi connection, and $99 is as low a price as you’ll ever see for a well-reviewed, name-brand option like this one. If your home Wi-Fi network has a lot of ground to cover and you’re sick of dead zones, then this is a deal worth pouncing on. Note this is appearing out of stock to some CNET staff, but not others, so availability (and maybe price) may depend on your location.
I haven’t reviewed this particular model, but one of my CNET predecessors on the Wi-Fi beat was a fan of an earlier version of it back in 2017, calling it “a just-right router for small homes.” This one, the Linksys MR8300, is nearly identical to that one — an AC2200 router with four antennas and two 5GHz bands.
What’s best about it is the triband design, and the fact that you can use it with other Linksys Max Stream devices to create your own mesh network. The extra 5GHz band will help keep speeds fast across your entire home should you choose to go that route. Now, ahead of Black Friday, you can get it for $30 off at Best Buy, where it boasts a review average of 4.6, with over 1,000 five-star reviews.
Amazon-owned Eero released two new mesh routers this fall: the Eero 6 and the Eero Pro 6. Both include full support for Wi-Fi 6, but the Eero Pro 6 boasts faster top speeds and it adds a second 5GHz band for dedicated backhaul transmissions between the router and its range-extending satellites. That’s a key upgrade if you want your mesh router to make the most of Wi-Fi 6.
The Eero Pro 6 isn’t cheap at $599 for a three-pack, but that’s less than you’ll spend for other high-end, triband mesh routers that support Wi-Fi 6, including our top picks such as the Asus ZenWiFi AX and the AX6000 version of Netgear Orbi. And, if you’re willing to wait a couple of extra days for delivery, Amazon will include a free Fire TV Cube for folks who purchase through the link below. That’s a leftover deal from Prime Day, but it’s a good offer for a mesh system that held up well in our tests.