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When we reviewed the original Gryphon Smart Wi-Fi kit in January 2019, the mesh Wi-Fi system earned high marks for its performance, comprehensive parental controls, and user-friendly app, but we thought its $400 price was a bit over the top. The company’s latest offering, the Gryphon Guardian ($119 for one node, $299 for the three-pack version we tested), is a bit more affordable than its predecessor and uses smaller, low-profile nodes. It comes with the same excellent parental controls and intuitive mobile app, and it’s very easy to install and configure, but you get free malware protection for only 60 days. (The original system provided one year of free coverage.) While the Guardian’s close-range throughput performance was respectable in our tests, it wasn’t nearly as fast as our Editors’ Choice for Wi-Fi mesh kits, the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus, which offers three years of malware blocking and parental controls for a comparable price.

Little White Boxes

Measuring 2 by 4 by 4 inches, the Gryphon Guardian AC1200 nodes offer a much lower profile than the 9.3-inch-tall nodes of the original Gryphon AC3000 system. The three-pack promises 5,000 square feet of secure Wi-Fi coverage. (A single node covers 1,800 square feet.) You can also add Guardian nodes to an existing Gryphon tower system. Each node has a small LED indicator that glows white when connected and flashes amber during startup. Around back are two Gigabit LAN ports, a reset button, and a power jack. There are no USB ports.

The Guardian is a dual-band AC1200 system that can hit maximum data rates of up to 300Mbps on the 2.4GHz band and up to 867Mbps on the 5GHz band. Each node is powered by a quad-core CPU, 512MB of RAM, and 512MB of flash memory and is equipped with two internal antennas. The system supports MU-MIMO simultaneous data streaming, direct to client signal beamforming, wired backhaul, and automatic band steering.

Gryphon Guardian angle

Like the original Gryphon system, the Guardian kit offers excellent parental controls that allow you to create user profiles for each family member, assign age-appropriate web filters, and have those filters apply to all of the user’s devices. Age groups include Toddler, Elementary, Middle School, High School, Adult (18+), and Unfiltered (unrestricted):

Gryphon Guardian new user

Additionally, you can set Screen Time Management parameters to schedule each user’s internet access and suspend it during bedtime and homework time, and you can use the Apps Control to specify which apps can be accessed and when. Enable the Safe Search feature to filter out search results that contain adult content and the Store Browsing History feature to view your child’s viewing history.

Gryphon Guardian parental controls

The Guardian comes with a 60-day free trial of Advanced Network Protection powered by ESET Technology, which uses active scanning and intrusion detection technology to protect your network and all your clients from hackers, unwanted ads, and malware infections. Once the trial period expires, you can pay $79 for a one-year subscription, $149 for three years, or $199 for three years with an additional two-year hardware warranty. (The system comes with a one-year warranty.) You also get a 90-day free trial of Gryphon’s HomeBound mobile app which gives you all the parental controls and network protection that you get when connected to the Guardian network even when you’re out and about using cellular data or a public hotspot. Once that trial expires, HomeBound coverage will cost you $4.99 per month for up to five mobile devices.

The Guardian is controlled using a mobile app that opens to a Dashboard screen. At the top of the screen is a Suspend button which lets you disable or resume internet access for all clients with the exception of smart home devices such as lights, thermostats, cameras, and smart plugs. Below the button is a tab that tells you the current internet status (on for all devices, suspended for all devices, suspended for some devices), and below that are tabs for Managed Devices, Unmanaged Devices, Things, and TV & Entertainment.

Gryphon Guardian user settings

Managed devices are those that have been assigned to a user and can be configured with parental controls, and Unmanaged devices are unassigned. Tap any device to view stats such as manufacturer, MAC and IP addresses, device type (phone, computer, doorbell, or whatever), and the assigned user. If no user is assigned, you can assign one by tapping the Assigned User tab. Here you can also enable and configure port forwarding.

The Things tab is where you’ll find all of your connected smart devices such as doorbells, security cameras, lights, and sensors, and the TV & Entertainment tab is where you’ll find connected smart TVs and streaming components such as Roku and Amazon Fire Stick devices.

At the bottom of the Dashboard screen are Notifications, Users, Home, Network, and Settings buttons. Use the Notifications button to see a list of all unmanaged devices with the date and time that they joined the network. Here you can choose to manage any device by assigning it to a user and configuring parental controls. The Users button takes you to a screen where you can view all users, their assigned devices, and any assigned access schedules. Tap the plus sign in the upper right corner to add a new user.

The Home button takes you back to the Dashboard screen, and the Network button takes you to a screen where you can run an internet speed test and view the latest results, see which network node your devices are currently connected to, and view any network security issues. Here you can also give clients bandwidth priority.

Gryphon Guardian network speeds

Use the Settings button to disable the LED indicator, add another node, subscribe to an Advanced Network Protection plan, subscribe to HomeBound, and configure malware protection settings. Additional settings allow you to block new devices from joining your network, create a secondary administrator account, and configure two-factor authentication.

Installation and Performance

Installing the Guardian system was quick and easy. I downloaded the mobile app, created an account, and verified my address. Next, I used my phone’s camera to scan the QR code on the base of the node being used as the main router. I then followed the instructions to plug in the Guardian router and connect it to my modem using the included LAN cable. I waited about 30 seconds for the LED to begin flashing, tapped Next, and used my phone’s Wi-Fi settings to connect to the node.

After another 30 seconds or so, the router was paired with the app and I created a network name and password. Once the router was set up, I tapped the Settings button and Add Mesh Repeater to add the other two nodes. Pairing the nodes was nearly identical to the router pairing process but it took around three minutes for each node to be configured.

The Guardian delivered mixed results in our throughput performance tests…

Gryphon Guardian (Router Throughput Test)

The router node’s score of 465Mbps on the close proximity (same room) test was faster than the Netgear Orbi RBK13 and Eero 3-Pack (2019) routers, but couldn’t touch our leader, the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus. The Guardian router’s score of 179Mbps in the 30-foot test was the lowest of the bunch. The TP-Link router led with a score of 230Mbps.

The Guardian satellite node also did well on the close proximity test, scoring 225Mbps:

Gryphon Guardian (Satellite Throughput Test)

That’s faster than the Eero and Netgear satellite nodes, but not nearly as speedy as the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus node. In the 30-foot test, the Guardian satellite node scored 158Mbps, beating the Orbi RBK13 satellite by 11Mbps and trailing the Eero satellite by 9Mbps. Once again the TP-Link satellite node dominated with a score of 330Mbps.

Stylish and Simple

The Gryphon Guardian is a good fit for users looking to protect their network and client devices while providing Wi-Fi coverage to every room in the house. The system’s low-profile nodes are unobtrusive and very easy to install and configure, and come with Gryphon’s excellent parental controls. The kit also comes with malware protection, but you’ll have to pay for an annual subscription once the 60-day trial period expires.

The Guardian delivered solid close-range throughput in testing, but its long-range performance was merely average. Our Editors’ Choice for mesh systems, the TP-Link Deco M9 Plus, offers better performance and comes with a three-year subscription to TP-Link’s Homecare service, which offers rich parental controls and malware protection. It also pulls double duty as a home-automation hub.

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