Nest Wifi vs. Google Wifi: How are the 2 mesh routers totally different?


James Martin/CNET

In 2016, Google made its first foray into mesh networking with Google Wifi, a puckish, three-piece mesh router system. Like different mesh routers, you join one Google Wifi machine to your modem after which scatter the others all through your property to unfold a speedy Wi-Fi sign from room to room. The $300 system examined properly and rapidly earned a spot as one in all CNET’s high really useful routers.

Then, on the finish of 2019, Google unveiled a follow-up. Quite than calling it Google Wifi 2, Google known as the system Nest Wifi, which matched the corporate’s efforts to rebrand the Google Residence Mini good speaker and Google Residence Hub good show because the Nest Mini and Nest Hub.

However do not let that idiot you into considering it is simply the identical system with a distinct identify. Although they each make the identical fundamental pitch — regular, dependable, whole-home Wi-Fi — Google Wifi and Nest Wifi include some key variations. And, with each presently accessible from main retailers, you will need to ensure you perceive these variations before you purchase in. Let’s run by them:

Google Nest Wifi

Nest Wifi contains a devoted router (proper) and smaller range-extending units known as Factors. The router solely is available in white, however the Factors are available white, blue, or coral — and so they additionally function built-in good audio system.

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A brand new, Nesty design

With stout, cylindrical units that pair collectively wirelessly, Google Wifi and Nest Wifi each take the identical fundamental method to design — however that does not imply that Google did not spruce issues up for technology 2.

For starters, Nest Wifi softened the sides and ditched the blue LED lights to present the system a gentler look that is meant to higher mix into your property’s decor (and sure, they appear loads like marshmallows). And whereas the Nest Wifi router is just accessible in white, the range-extending Nest Wifi Factors are available your alternative of three colours — white, blue, or coral.

Google Wifi units are all equivalent, so you should use any of them as your system’s router. None of them embody built-in good audio system.

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That brings up one other key {hardware} distinction. With Google Wifi, every machine is equivalent. You’ll be able to join any of them to your modem to function your community’s router, and you should use any of them as vary extenders in different rooms of your home. That is not the case with Nest Wifi, which contains a devoted router and smaller, separate vary extenders — these Nest Wifi Factors.

Google Wifi units every embody an Ethernet WAN port and a separate Ethernet LAN port. That offers you the choice of a direct, wired connection to any Google Wifi machine in your house, and it permits you to wire your Google Wifi units collectively for quicker speeds, too. The Nest Wifi router options those self same two Ethernet jacks, however the Nest Wifi Factors do not embody Ethernet jacks in any respect.

Oh, and talking of these Nest Wifi Factors, Google constructed a microphone and a speaker into each. That allows you to use the issues like good audio system, with the total intelligence of the Google Assistant only a fast voice command away. 

Together with the standard voice-assistant staples like asking for the climate, enjoying music and turning good house devices on and off, you may also ask the Google Assistant to run a fast pace take a look at in your community, or to pause the Wi-Fi for a tool or group of units. Google additionally constructed contact controls into the highest of every Level, which helps you to pause playback or alter the quantity with a fast faucet. And, should you’d quite disable the voice controls altogether, you may flip a bodily swap to show the microphone off.

Google Wifi vs. Nest Wifi

Google Wifi Nest Wifi
Pace ranking AC1200 AC2200
Wi-Fi normal Wi-Fi 5 Wi-Fi 5
Vary 1,500 sq. toes per level 2,200 sq. toes per router, 1,600 sq. toes per level
Safety normal WPA2 WPA3
Constructed-in good audio system No Sure (Factors solely)
Capacitive contact controls No Sure (Factors solely)
Antennas 2X2 4X4
High wi-fi switch pace, 5 toes (router solely) 451 Mbps 612 Mbps
High wi-fi switch pace, 75 toes (router solely) 201 Mbps 431 Mbps
Single router worth $99 $149
Extra extender worth $99 $129
3-piece mesh system worth $259 $299

Speeds and specs

With three years of improvement separating them, Google Wifi and Nest Wifi include totally different {hardware} capabilities. For starters, Google Wifi is an AC1200 mesh system, which implies that the mixed high speeds of its 2.four and 5GHz bands is 1,200 Mbps. With Nest Wifi, that pace ranking jumps as much as AC2200, so between the two.four and 5GHz bands, you are getting a extra succesful entry level.

Simply keep in mind that your router can solely join you to 1 band at a time — although each Google Wifi and Nest Wifi will routinely steer your connection between the 2 bands to optimize pace and sign energy. That band-steering labored significantly properly after we examined each programs, so this appears to be one in all Google’s sturdy fits.

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Like with all routers, these AC1200 and AC2200 pace scores are derived from optimized, lab-based pace assessments that do not take components like distance, obstructions and interference under consideration, so your precise high speeds will probably be loads decrease. In our personal lab, we clocked Google Wifi with high wi-fi switch charges of 451Mbps at shut vary and 201Mbps at a distance of 75 toes. With the extra succesful Nest Wifi, these numbers soar to 612 and 431Mbps, which is spectacular for an AC mesh router.

That AC bit tells you that each Google Wifi and Nest Wifi help Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), which has been the go-to model of Wi-Fi for the previous a number of years. A brand new, quicker, AX model of Wi-Fi known as Wi-Fi 6 simply began rolling out final 12 months (802.11ax), however Google opted to not embody help for it with Nest Wifi.

Nonetheless, Google did improve the antennas with Nest Wifi, boosting it as much as a 4X4 configuration that is able to simultaneous MU-MIMO transmissions which can be extra strong than the 2X2 Google Wifi. Nest Wifi additionally helps the latest WPA3 encryption requirements — Google Wifi does not.

You’ll be able to run a fast Nest Wifi pace take a look at straight from the Google Residence app.

Screenshots by Ry Crist/CNET

App controls

Google Wifi comes with its personal, devoted management app that does an excellent job of strolling you thru setup and providing fundamental controls. It does not supply as many superior options as one thing like a gaming router will, so it is not ideally suited should you like having a lot of superior community settings at your fingertips.

Nest Wifi relocated the controls into the Google Residence app, so you will management your router alongside issues like Google Assistant good audio system and suitable good house devices. Together with parental controls and different user-friendly options, you may run a fast pace take a look at from the app, and you may group units collectively to rapidly flip their Wi-Fi entry on and off. It is extra streamlined and simplified than the controls within the authentic Google Wifi app, however you may nonetheless use these Google Wifi controls with Nest Wifi should you so select.


Not within the a number of colours or the Google Assistant voice controls that include Nest Wifi factors? It can save you a couple of dollars through the use of Google Wifi Factors, as an alternative — however your system will not be fairly as quick at vary.

James Martin/CNET

The underside line

Google Wifi had an excellent run as one of many high mesh programs of the previous few years, and it is nonetheless on sale at some retailers. If you happen to spot it on the shelf and see the strong evaluations on-line, you could be tempted to purchase in.

For nearly everybody, I feel the brand new Nest Wifi is the significantly better mesh system. It prices a bit greater than Google Wifi does at this level, however not by a lot — and for the additional cash, you are getting quicker high speeds, stronger connections, and entry to the most recent encryption requirements, which is nice for future-proofing. The dearth of Wi-Fi 6 help is somewhat disappointing, however not as disappointing as you would possibly assume — particularly should you’re holding out for the arrival of Wi-Fi 6E routers in 2021.

The most effective argument for Google Wifi at this level is that it really works with Nest Wifi in full, backward-compatible vogue. If you happen to’ve already received a Nest Wifi router and also you need to prolong its vary to a again room in your home, it can save you somewhat cash and get the job completed with a Google Wifi Level as an alternative of a Nest Wifi Level. It will not be fairly as quick, but it surely’ll prevent a couple of dollars, and could be the best way to go should you aren’t within the Google Assistant voice controls that include Nest Wifi Factors. Except for that, I might advocate that most individuals follow Nest Wifi units for a community that is totally on top of things.

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