Tenda nova MW6 review: What you get from the cheapest mesh WiFi system?

Rating:
2 out of 5 stars

If you are looking for cheap mesh WiFi systems, you may have encountered the Tenda nova MW6. On paper, this system looks promising: it has an affordable price, it is not bad looking, it has many of the features other mesh WiFi systems offer, and it can be remotely controlled from anywhere on the internet. Is it a good deal? To find out, read our detailed review for Tenda nova MW6:

Tenda nova MW6: Who is it good for?

This whole-home mesh WiFi system is a suitable choice for:

  • People who desire a mesh WiFi system that is very affordable
  • Users who are not interested in security and privacy
  • Owners of Alexa powered devices who want to voice control their home network

Pros and cons

Tenda nova MW6 has the following positives:

  • Easy to set up (the nodes are paired by the manufacturer)
  • Low price
  • It can be remotely controlled from anywhere on the internet
  • It is integrated with Amazon Alexa

There are also important downsides to consider:

  • Updating the firmware can be a frustrating experience
  • The Tenda WiFi mobile app requests access to personal data it should not have access to
  • High variability when transferring data through WiFi
  • Low-quality bandwidth management which leads to network clients getting disconnected temporarily
  • It cannot reach more than 700 Mbps on Ethernet connections
Product Rated
2/5

Verdict

The main selling points of the Tenda nova MW6 mesh WiFi system are the low price and its ease of set up. If you value price above anything else and you do not have many devices in your network, then Tenda nova MW6 is a decent choice. Otherwise, you should look at mesh WiFi systems from other brands which offer better firmware, apps with fewer privacy issues, and better quality WiFi.

Unboxing the Tenda nova MW6 mesh WiFi system

The Tenda nova MW6 whole home mesh WiFi system comes in a black box with orange accents. On the top, you see a picture of the devices that make up the kit. On the sides, you have a description of some of its most important technical characteristics and features.

When you open the box, you find another black box. Open it, and you finally see the devices that make up the mesh system.

When you take everything out, you find the following elements: the mesh devices, their power adapters, an Ethernet cable, the quick install guide, the warranty and other legal information.

Unboxing the Tenda nova MW6 takes a while, unlike other similar mesh systems. However, the experience is relatively pleasant. Inside the package, you find all the accessories you need to set up and use the mesh system.

Hardware specifications and design

Each Tenda nova MW6 station has a Realtek RTL8197FS SoC (System on a Chip) which integrates a 1 GHz processor, 128 MB of RAM, and 16 MB of storage. It offers support for the 802.11ac Wave 2 networking standard, and 2x2 MU-MIMO transfers. Tenda nova MW6 is a dual-band mesh WiFi system, with a total theoretical maximum bandwidth of 867 Mbps for the 5 GHz band, and of 300 Mbps for the 2.4 GHz band. This leads to a total of 1167 Mbps.

Each station looks like a cube with a small LED light on a corner on its top side. This LED colors differently, depending on the status of the station.

On the bottom of each node, you have two Ethernet ports working at 1 Gbps, and the power jack.

There is also a Reset jack which is difficult to see, that can also act as a WPS button. On the bottom of each station, you can also find a sticker with a QR code that you can use to add the node to the mesh system, the network name and password that is broadcast by default, and other information.

Each station weighs around 664 grams or 1.46 pounds. It also has a size of 3.1 x 3.1 x 3.1 inches or 10 x 10 x 10 cm in width, depth, and height.

If you would like to read all the official specifications of this product, go to this page: Tenda nova MW6 Specifications.

Setting up and using the Tenda nova MW6

To set up the Tenda nova MW6, you need the Tenda WiFi mobile app for Android and iOS. A big issue is the fact that it requests access to many things it shouldn't have access to. Things like your SMS messages, your camera, your call information, files, device and app history. The Tenda WiFi app has complete access to everything that you do on your smartphone. That is not OK and most probably does not respect data protection legislation like Europe's GDPR. This app should not request access to anything else other than WiFi, and Bluetooth, because they are the only services it needs to provide you with what you need from Tenda nova MW6.

On the upside, the setup is more straightforward than in the case of other mesh WiFi systems, because Tenda pairs your kit before you buy it. Therefore, you configure the central station, turn on the other two, and they are immediately added to the mesh system. Also, you can remote control Tenda nova MW6 from anywhere on the internet, if you create an account with Tenda. Unfortunately, that account is not protected with two-step verification, and can only be accessed from the mobile app, not from a web browser.

One thing that you should do as soon as possible is firmware updates. Unfortunately, this is another problematic area. The app said that it failed to download the firmware update, but our Tenda nova MW6 rebooted nonetheless, and it appeared as if some partial firmware updates were performed. Then, the Tenda WiFi mobile app lost access to the mesh system, and we had to reset it and reconfigure it one more time. Then, the firmware update was performed correctly on all stations. This was not a positive beginning.

After the firmware update was correctly applied to all nodes in the system, we were finally able to use Tenda nova MW6 and the WiFi it broadcasts. We had no issues joining all kinds of gadgets, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, smart plugs, a wireless printer, a smart bulb and an Xbox One gaming console. The Tenda WiFi mobile app offers the basics you need to configure the mesh system, without any advanced extras that you see on wireless routers.

A positive is that the Tenda WiFi mobile app includes a Help section where you can contact the company's support service, in case of issues. There is are also some Frequently Asked Questions documented, but the answers you get are few, and without much explanation.

The wireless signal we enjoyed was strong, but the quality of our wireless connection was not the best we've seen. For example, look at the graphic below. It shows how a network transfer was made on the 5 GHz wireless frequency, in the same room with the main Tenda nova MW6 station. Not only was the average speed lower than when using other mesh systems, but we had high variations, including drops to 0.

When we moved to another room, separated by two walls from the main station, but which had a Tenda nova MW6 nearby, the variability was more dramatic, and the drops to zero more frequent.

Also, when downloading games from Steam, we noticed that wireless clients had trouble getting a quality wireless connection. For example, one smartphone was briefly disconnected from the WiFi, and the YouTube video that we watched hung for a couple of seconds, while on another smartphone, the messages sent through the Messenger app, had an unusual delay. All these problems signal that algorithms used by Tenda to split the available bandwidth between network clients need improvements. Also, such problems were not encountered when testing mesh systems from other brands.

We are not impressed by the quality of the wireless networking experience offered by Tenda nova MW6. The mobile app has privacy issues, and wireless network transfers have a high degree of variability. Also, the bandwidth management done by Tenda nova MW6 is underwhelming.

If you want to know more about the real-world performance offered by Tenda nova MW6, go to the next page of this review.