Motorola MH7603 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System Review
If your current router isn’t able to deliver a usable Wi-Fi signal throughout your home, it might be time to consider a whole-home solution such as the Motorola MH7603 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System ( $239). Designed for medium to large homes, the MH7603 is an easy-to-install and manage three-part trellis system. Strong parental controls and anti-malware software add to its appeal. It’s great value, but it can’t keep up with our most expensive Editors’ Choice winner, the Asus ZenWiFi XT8.
Discrete design, but no 160 MHz bandwidth
The MH7603 is a three-part system that provides up to 5,000 square feet of coverage (2,000 square feet for the router and 1,500 square feet for each node). For smaller homes, you can buy a single router node for $119.99 and add more nodes as needed.
All three low profile nodes are identical. They sport a white finish, are 2.6 inches tall and 5 inches wide, and contain two internal antennas. There’s a Motorola “M” logo on the top and a small LED indicator on the front that glows white when everything is connected and working properly, or amber when a node has a bad connection to the router. A slow flashing blue indicator means the system is in setup and pairing mode, while fast blue flashes indicate a firmware upgrade.
The MH7603 lacks the multi-gig WAN/LAN connectivity you get with more expensive systems such as the TP-Link Deco X90 and Asus ZenWiFi AX (XT8), but it does come with a WAN/ gigabit LAN and a gigabit LAN port. . When serving as a node (extension), both ports can be used as LAN ports, or you can use one for wired backhaul. Link aggregation is not supported here, however, meaning it is not possible to join ports together for multi-gigabit speeds. In addition to the LAN ports on the rear panel, there is a USB-C port used exclusively for power and a reset button to the left of the other ports.
The system is powered by a 1.5 GHz quad-core processor, 256 MB of DDR3 RAM and 128 MB of flash memory. It is a dual-band AX1800 system, which means it is capable of maximum (theoretical) data rates of up to 574 Mbps on the 2.4 GHz band and up to 1200 Mbps on the 5 GHz band. It supports most Wi-Fi 6 technologies, including 1024 QAM, direct-to-client beamforming, 2×2 MU-MIMO data streaming, and OFDMA transmissions. But it doesn’t support WPA3 encryption and 160 MHz channels, two key features we’d expect to see in midrange and high-end Wi-Fi 6 mesh systems.
The MH7603 does not offer a web-based management console. Instead, it uses the new motosync mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The user-friendly application opens to a Network screen with icons for each node and an icon indicating the number of connected devices. Tapping the router icon lets you see what devices are connected to it and allows you to reboot the node. By tapping on any satellite node, you can see current and historical signal strength and bandwidth usage. Here you can also run an internet upload and download speed test, see which clients are connected to the node, and see which channel it is using for backhaul.
If you scroll down on the Network page, you’ll see panels for Security, Full Home Filter, Connection, and Best Data Usage. The security panel tells you if your network is secure or if you have malware, intrusion, or known vulnerability issues. The Full Home Filter panel lets you set filters to block websites with adult and malicious content, and enable ad blocking for all connected devices. If you don’t want to impose restrictions on each user connected to the network, you can create profiles for each user and set individual filters.
The Top Data Use panel displays hourly, daily, and weekly bandwidth usage for each client device and for each user profile. The connection panel shows the results of your last speed test and tells you if your network is optimized for things like gaming, 4K video streaming, web browsing, and music playback.
At the bottom of the Network screen are five buttons. The Network button takes you to the Network screen from anywhere in the app, while the Profiles button takes you to a screen where you can create individual user profiles, assign devices to each profile, apply filters, set access schedules and time limits, and view usage reports for each profile.
The Timeline button lets you view a log of network events such as configuration changes, new device connections, and speed test results. The Support button provides access to an online user guide and offers a support chat option and support contact information. Finally, the Settings (gear) button takes you to a screen where you can enable or disable web filtering, add new users, add more satellite nodes, set the time zone, and configure port forwarding and internet connection settings. .
Solid flow, easy setup
Mesh systems are known for their ease of installation. The MH7603 is no different, although with two satellite nodes, setup takes a little longer than two-room systems with a single satellite. I downloaded the motosync app, created an account and pressed “Set up new device” on the start screen. I then used my phone to scan the QR code on the base of the router node and followed the instructions to unplug my modem, connect the router node to my modem using the included LAN cable, and turn on the two devices.
When the LED started flashing blue, I pressed “I see the light” and waited about 30 seconds for the router to connect to the motosync cloud. After a quick firmware update, I pressed “Add Extender”, scanned the QR code on one of the nodes, and pressed “Set up my device”. Following the onscreen instructions, I plugged the node into an outlet near the router, confirmed that the LED was flashing blue, and waited about five minutes for the satellite node to pair with the router node. I pressed next, updated the node firmware, and repeated the process for the last node. I then moved the two satellite nodes to their respective rooms, pressed “Optimize my WiFi”, configured my WiFi credentials, and setup was complete.
The MH7603 doesn’t support band splitting, so we let the system choose the best band when testing, which incidentally was always the 5GHz band. The system didn’t break any speed records, but it achieved solid throughput scores.
The Router Node scored 700 Mbps in the proximity (same room) test, which was almost identical to what we saw with the Eero Pro 6 router (701 Mbps) but a bit slower than the TP-Link router W7200 (771Mbps). The Asus ZenWiFi XT8 leads with a score of 860 Mbps. In the 30-foot test, the MH7603 router’s score of 245 Mbps was faster than the Eero Pro 6, but not the TP-Link W7200 (298 Mbps). Once again, the Asus ZenWiFi XT8 took top honors with a score of 347 Mbps.
The MH7603 satellite node’s score of 458 Mbps in the proximity test was just a hair faster than the Eero Pro 6 node (455 Mbps), but was slower than the TP-Link W7200 node (528 Mbps) and trailed the node Asus ZenWiFi XT8 (675 Mbps) by 217 Mbps. In the 30-foot test, the MH7603 node managed 383 Mbps, once again outperforming the Eero Pro 6 node (353 Mbps) but not the TP-Link W7200 node (475 Mbps). The Asus ZenWiFi XT8 Node score of 619 Mbps beat them all.
To test Wi-Fi signal strength, we use an Ekahau Sidekick Wi-Fi diagnostic device and Ekahau’s Survey mobile app to generate a heat map that displays router and satellite node signal strength 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 the node and colors represent signal strength. Dark green indicates the strongest signal, yellow is the weakest, and gray indicates no measurable signal reception.
As shown in the map, the MH7603 router and satellite node delivered strong combined wireless signals (2.4 GHz and 5 GHz) to every corner of our test house and garage.
Not class leader, but close
You won’t get peak performance from the Motorola MH7603 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 system, but our tests have shown that it can provide wide signal coverage and relatively good throughput speeds in an average-sized home. It’s a cinch to install, and the motosync mobile app makes it easy to assign parental controls that let you monitor user activity and apply filters to prevent access to certain types of sites. website.
This system lacks multi-gig and USB connectivity, but both are relatively rare with mesh systems in this price range. That said, WPA3 encryption and the ability to run on 160 MHz channels would be welcome additions. If you need a mesh system that offers superior performance, multi-gig WAN/LAN, and a USB port to connect external devices, consider our winner of Editors’ Choice for Wi-Fi Mesh Systems, the ‘Asus Zen WiFi XT8. It will cost around $200 more than the MH7603, but it uses two nodes to provide more coverage, offers faster throughput speeds and comes with a lifetime subscription to the AIProtection Pro network security and parental controls suite d ‘Asus.
Motorola MH7603 Mesh Wi-Fi 6 System
The Motorola MH7603 is a three-piece Wi-Fi mesh system that provided solid throughput and signal performance in testing. It offers free parental control and network security software, but lacks some essential Wi-Fi 6 features.
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