When we reviewed the Motorola MH7603 mesh system earlier this year, we were impressed with its ease of use, built-in network security and parental control software, and solid performance. But we lamented the lack of multi-gig LAN and USB ports, and the lack of support for some Wi-Fi 6 technologies. With the Motorola Q11 ($329.99) reviewed here, you still don’t get multi-gig or USB ports, but this mesh system supports 160 MHz channels and WPA3 encryption, and it performs better than the MH7603. It can’t match the performance and features of our lowest-priced Editors’ Choice winner for Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems, the Eero 6 Plus, but it’s a solid choice for larger homes and a good choice. if the price is low enough.
Available in single or three node packages
We’re looking at Motorola’s three-node Q11 combo package, which provides wireless coverage for homes up to 5,000 square feet. For smaller spaces, you can purchase a single node for $129.99 and get 2,000 square feet of coverage. The low profile nodes are identical to the nodes used by the MH7603 system, at least on the outside. They measure 5 inches wide and 2.6 inches high and have a white finish with an M logo on top.
You won’t find multi-gig LAN ports or USB ports on this system like you will on the killer Asus ZenWiFi ET8 Wi-Fi 6E system. Instead, each node has two gigabit LAN ports, one of which serves as the WAN port for the router node, and a USB-C port which is used exclusively for power. A reset button is located next to the ports on the back of each node. The Q11 does not support link aggregation, but you can use the LAN ports for a dynamic wired/wireless bonding solution if you have the ability to run Ethernet cables between nodes.
Each node has a small LED indicator on the front edge. The LED lights solid white when the router node is connected to the Internet or when a satellite node is connected to the router, and flashes blue when the router tries to connect to the Internet or a node tries to connect to the router. A solid amber light on a node indicates a poor connection to the router, while rapidly flashing blue indicates the router and nodes are updating their firmware.
Each node also has two antennas, but they’re internal for a cleaner look. Inside is also a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 256 MB of DDR3 RAM and 128 MB of flash memory. The Q11 is a dual-band system that can achieve maximum data rates of up to 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and up to 2,400 Mbps on the 5 GHz band, for a maximum of 3,000 Mbps, hence its AX3000 classification. As with the MH7603, you cannot separate the bands to give each its own network name.
The Q11 uses Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) technologies, including Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) data transmissions, MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming, signal beamforming directly to the customer and 1024 QAM. As mentioned, unlike the MH7603, the Q11 also supports 160 MHz channels and WPA3 encryption.
The mobile app: painless network adjustments
The Q11 uses the same user-friendly Motosync mobile app as the MH7603 system, but a few changes have been made since the app was last used. For example, the Timeline button, which has been moved to the top right corner, is replaced with a button that takes you to Motorola’s website.
When you launch the app, it opens to the My Network screen, which shows icons for each of the three nodes, the network name, and the number of connected devices. Tap any node to see what devices are connected to it or to view information such as IP address, MAC address and firmware version. There is also a restart button to restart the node. Scroll down on the My Networks screen to access Wi-Fi settings, where you can change the SSID and password, and see which devices are currently connected via Wi-Fi. Settings are missing to select a Wi-Fi channel, QoS settings to assign bandwidth priorities and the ability to separate radio bands.
Below the Wi-Fi panel is a Security Center panel that tells you if there are any security issues. Tap the panel for a more detailed look at recently detected malware, intrusions, and known vulnerabilities. Keep scrolling down to show the login panel. Here you can run a speed test to measure upload and download speeds to see if your current internet connection supports SD, HD, and 4K video streaming, as well as games, music, and web browsing.
At the bottom of the My Networks screen is a Profiles button which takes you to a screen where you can create user profiles, assign devices to each profile, and view network usage statistics for each user, including time spent online and the sites visited. Here you can also enable filters that will block websites with adult and malicious content, and block ads and ad tracking. You can also see how many visits have been blocked and manually add websites to your blocked list.
To access System Settings, tap the gear icon in the lower right corner. Tap Notifications to view a list of notifications, such as when a new device has joined your network or a network security issue has been detected. Advanced settings include port forwarding and LAN settings, Wi-Fi optimization, and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) settings. Other options let you add users, enable web filters, and change network name and time zone settings.
Easy setup (with a QR code wizard)
Installing the Q11 system is easy. The Motosync mobile app was already installed on my mobile device. So I connected the router node to my modem, powered it up, and opened the app. I selected Set up a new device on the home screen and scanned the QR code at the bottom of the router node when prompted. The node was automatically added to my account, so I pressed Next, then Add Device. I scanned the QR code on the satellite node, checked that the LED was flashing blue, and waited several minutes for the node to be added to my network.
Once the node was added and the LED was white, I moved the node to another room, pressed continue, and repeated the process for the second satellite node. Once the second node was installed, I pressed skip and finish setup and gave the network a name. I let the app optimize the new network and created a name for the guest network to complete the setup.
The Q11 delivered acceptable, but not best-in-class, throughput scores in our benchmarks. The Router Node scored an impressive 895 Mbps in the proximity test, beating both the Asus ZenWiFi XT8 (860 Mbps) and the Motorola MH7603 (700 Mbps). The Eero 6 Plus leads the pack with a score of 938 Mbps. In the 30-foot test, the Q11 router managed 315 Mbps, again beating the Motorola MH7603 (245 Mbps) but not the Asus ZenWiFi XT8 (347 Mbps) or Eero 6 Plus (367 Mbps).
Satellite node performance was not as good. During the proximity test, the Q11 satellite node could not keep up with the competition. It scored 441 Mbps while the Motorola MH7603 Node scored 458 Mbps, the Eero 6 Plus Node scored 538 Mbps, and the Asus ZenWiFi XT8 scored 675 Mbps. In the 30-foot test, the Q11 Node’s score of 410 Mbps beat the Motorola MH7603 Node (383 Mbps), but came in behind the Eero 6 Plus Node (508 Mbps) and the Asus ZenWiFi XT8 Node (619 Mbps).
We use an Ekahau Sidekick Wi-Fi diagnostic device and the Ekahau Survey mobile app to measure Wi-Fi signal strength. Together they generate a heat map that displays the signal strength of the router and satellite node throughout our test house. (Note: Ekahau is owned by Ziff Davis, the parent company of PCMag.) The circles on the maps represent the location of the router and node, and the colors represent signal strength, with dark green representing the strongest signal and yellow representing a weaker signal. Gray indicates no measurable signal reception.
As shown in the map, both Q11 nodes did a good job delivering Wi-Fi to every corner of our test home and garage. Signal strength dropped off a bit in the furthest corner of the room, but was still reasonably strong.
Verdict: A Robust Three-Part Mesh System
The Motorola Q11 Mesh WiFi 6 system is easy to set up and manage, and comes with robust parental control and network security software. It also got respectable throughput scores and showed pretty good signal strength in our benchmarks.
The Eero 6 Plus is still our Editors’ Choice for Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems, however. Its clear advantage is faster performance for a little less money than the Q11, but it also offers additional features (like doubling as a home automation hub) while rivaling the easy app-based setup and configuration capabilities that the Q11 offers.
Motorola Q11 Wi-Fi 6 Mesh System
The Motorola Q11 is a three-piece, dual-band mesh system that’s an excellent choice for delivering strong Wi-Fi 6 signals to homes up to 5,000 square feet.
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