The three-piece Securifi Almond 3 Smart Home Wi-Fi System ($399.99) is designed to bring wireless connectivity to the far reaches of your home. As with other Wi-Fi systems, including the Luma Home WiFi System, the Eero, the Google Wifi, and the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD, the Almond 3 is a dual-band router that uses mesh technology to communicate with its satellites (nodes), which are placed in strategic areas around your home to provide a seamless wireless network. It also pulls double duty as a home-automation hub (we’ll test those capabilities in a separate review). It’s easy enough to install and manage, and offers multiple LAN ports and USB connectivity, but there are better performing Wi-Fi systems, including our top pick, the Netgear Orbi.
A Word About Wi-Fi Systems
Wi-Fi systems provide an easy way for non-technical users to install a far-reaching wireless network without the need for range extenders, access points, or additional wiring. Most systems, including the Almond 3, Google Wifi, the Luma, and the Eero, utilize satellites and employ mesh technology that allows the satellites to communicate with each other and with wireless clients throughout your home (the Netgear Orbi is a bit different; it uses a dedicated 5GHz Wi-Fi radio band to communicate with its satellites). The main benefit of a Wi-Fi system has to do with roaming connectivity; each satellite is part of the same network and provides seamless Wi-Fi from one point to another, which means you don’t have to worry about logging in to a range extender or an access point as you move from room to room. Moreover, they do not require much management or configuring, unlike a router/range extender or router/access point combination.
Design and Features
The Almond 3 comes in white or black and can be ordered as a standalone router ($149.99) or a three-piece Wi-Fi system, which we review here and which consists of a main router and two satellites. All three components share the same basic design as the Almond router that we reviewed a few years back, only bigger. The boxes sit vertically and feature a 2.8-inch, full-color touch screen on their face. The display uses Windows-like tiles to guide you through the various network and home-automation settings menus, but I found it a bit too small, especially if you happen to have big, stubby fingers. Thankfully, there’s a stylus nestled in a slot at the top of each router that makes selecting items a bit easier.
The display offers tiles for adding smart home sensors to the system, checking system status, configuring basic Internet settings, and running diagnostics. It also has limited wireless settings that allow you to select a channel and change the SSID name and password for each band, but the settings for hiding the SSIDs and turning each band on or off were not working at the time of this review. According to a spokesperson from Securifi, this will be addressed in a firmware update.
The Almond 3 is an AC1200 (2×2) router that supports maximum speeds of 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and 867Mbps on the 5GHz band. It’s equipped with a dual-core CPU and four internal antennas, and contains circuitry for the ZigBee wireless protocol (for use with home-automation devices). There’s also a built-in siren for home-automation use. The right side of the router holds a WAN port, two Gigabit LAN ports, and a USB 2.0 port, and the satellites have three Gigabit LAN ports and a USB 2.0 port. You can use the LAN ports to bring wired networking to devices like gaming consoles and HDTVs and for connecting the nodes with Ethernet cable rather than wirelessly. This router lacks band-steering technology, which automatically selects the best radio band for optimal bandwidth and signal strength, but it does offer separate radio bands, whereas the other Wi-Fi systems we’ve tested (with the exception of the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD Home Wi-Fi System) don’t.
You can manage the Almond 3 from your phone using an iOS or Android app or from your desktop using a Web-based console. The app is fairly easy to navigate, but it’s missing a few key options, and several settings are not yet working. For example, parental controls are limited to turning off Wi-Fi access to devices in the Kids group and creating an access schedule, but you can’t filter websites and content like you can with the Netgear Orbi and the Luma. Also missing are the Quality of Service (QoS) settings that let you prioritize network traffic.
The app opens to Dashboard screen that displays the network name, the number of active and inactive network devices, and any network notifications. Here, you’ll also see smart home notifications and smart home status (Home or Away). A bell icon at the top of the page takes you to a page with recent activities, such as router resets and the name of clients that have joined the network.
At the bottom of the screen are buttons for Dashboard, Devices, Scenes, Wi-Fi, and More. The devices buttons takes you to a screen that displays all connected smart home and network devices. Click on any network device to see its MAC and IP Address and connection method (wired or wireless). Here, you can choose to add the device to the aforementioned Kids group and create an access schedule. The Scenes button opens a screen where you can create rules to control multiple smart home devices at the same time, and the Wi-Fi button opens a screen where you can view network information, set up guest networking and change SSID names. You can also use Amazon Alexa voice commands to enable guest networking or to turn off Wi-Fi for devices in the Kids group.
Installation and Performance
Installation is easy. I connected the main router to my modem and to my desktop PC and waited around 45 seconds for the touch screen to initialize and ask me which language I wanted. It then wanted to know which region (country) I was in and needed another 30 seconds to save this information. Next, the setup wizard asked for a location (bedroom, den, office, etc.) and gave me three installations choices: Set up a Wi-Fi system or a standalone router, join an existing Wi-Fi system, or set up as a range extender. I chose the first option, hit Next, and was given the option of editing the SSIDs for both bands. I was then instructed to download the mobile app and create an account using my iOS or Android smartphone. Once I verified my account, I hit Add Almond in the app, entered the code shown on the router’s touch screen, and hit Link Almond to pair the router with my account. The router was paired immediately, and I clicked Add Almond to pair the two additional nodes to the router.
To add the first node, I chose wireless as the installation method and placed the node in the kitchen, (the same location where I tested the Google Wifi point). It took around a minute and a half before the app informed me that the node was found. I confirmed that the blue LED was blinking, and it took another 30 seconds for the node to join my network. I named the node Kitchen and repeated the process with the next node, only this time I installed it in my basement.
Since the Almond 3 doesn’t combine radio bands like most of the other Wi-Fi systems I’ve reviewed, I tested throughput performance on both bands. The main router’s score of 187Mbps in the 5GHz close-proximity (same-room) test was nearly identical to that of the Eero (188.7Mbps), but significantly slower than Google Wifi (491Mbps), the Luma (457Mbps), the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD (459Mbps), and the Netgear Orbi (460Mbps). The Almond 3’s satellites scored 90.3Mbps (kitchen) and 115Mbps (basement) in this test, while Google Wifi scored 182Mbps and 111Mbps, respectively, the Luma had a throughput of 106Mbps and 101Mbps, and the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD scored 193Mbps and 189Mbps. The Netgear Orbi led with an impressive 480Mbps.
In our 5GHz 30-foot test, the Almond 3 router scored 161Mbps, and the satellites scored 80.6Mbps and 96.2Mbps. These scores were better than the Luma (76.1Mbps, 77.2Mbps, and 75Mbps, respectively), but couldn’t match Google Wifi (175Mbps, 141Mbps, and 117Mbps) or the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD (223Mbps, 168Mbps, and 162Mbps). The Netgear Orbi scored 223Mbps, and its satellite had a throughput of 220Mbps. To compare these scores with a traditional router, our midrange Editors’ Choice, the Trendnet AC2600 StreamBoost MU-MIMO WiFi Router (TEW-827DRU), bested all Wi-Fi systems with a score of 590Mbps in the close-proximity test and 260Mbps in the 30-foot test.
Throughput performance in our 2.4GHz tests was mixed. The router’s score of 80.6Mbps in the close-proximity test was right up there with the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD (85.9Mbps), but the satellite scores of 35Mbps and 42.3Mbps trailed the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD’s scores of 76.1Mbps and 75.3Mbps by a healthy margin. Since the other Wi-Fi systems were tested with band steering (and therefore defaulted to the 5GHz band), I could not test their 2.4GHz performance, but to put these scores in perspective, the TrendNet TEW-827DRU scored 108Mbps in this test.
At 30 feet, the Almond 3 router managed 47.1Mbps, and its satellites scored 31.7Mbps and 40.1Mbps. Once again the Ubiquiti Amplifi HD led with scores of 76Mbps (router), 75.5Mbps (satellite), and 67.9Mbps (satellite). The Trendnet TEW-827DRU had a throughput of 75.3Mbps in this test.
If you’re looking for a router solution that will blanket your home with Wi-Fi and control your home-automation devices, the Securifi Almond 3 Smart Home Wi-Fi System is worth considering. It’s a breeze to install and offers seamless wireless connectivity throughout the house, but it doesn’t provide the kind of performance that you see with the Google Wi-Fi, the Ubiquity Amplifi HD, and the Netgear Orbi systems. Moreover, it lacks the robust parental controls that you get with the Eero and Luma systems, and it doesn’t offer band-steering, although Securifi says it will be added in the future. That said, each node has three LAN ports and a USB port, which means you can connect to set-top boxes, gaming consoles, and external hard drives.
If speedy, whole-house Wi-Fi is what you crave, check out our Editors’ Choice, the Netgear Orbi. It not only delivered the highest throughput scores in our testing but it supports Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output (MU-MIMO) technology, which streams data to clients simultaneously rather than sequentially. If you want full control over your network, consider a traditional router such as the Trendnet TEW-827DRU. It costs around $200 less than the Almond 3 and offers excellent throughput on both bands, as well as USB 3.0 connectivity and MU-MIMO streaming. You can pair it with a TP-Link AC1750 Wi-Fi Range Extender (RE450) if you live in a large house, although you won’t get seamless roaming over a single network with this solution.