Google and Amazon each released new mesh router systems late last year: The Google Assistant-equippedand the new . Both are new versions of existing mesh systems that have tested well here at CNET, and they arrive at a time when multipoint mesh router setups seem to be gaining traction with people fed up with the dead spots in their home Wi-Fi networks.
We’ve tested and reviewed each system, and each one currently has a place on. But how do you choose between the two?
Glad you asked. Let’s take a look at the finer points separating each system in order to help you pick one out.
Google’s Nest Wifi is a refreshed, second-gen version of the Google Wifi mesh system that came before it. Available now, the rebranded Nest version adds in a new, marshmallowy design in your choice of three colors, faster top speeds and, most interestingly, microphones and speakers in each of the range-extending Nest Wifi Points.
The built-in audio hardware lets you use each of those Wifi Points, just like any of Google’s other smart speakers, so you’ll spread the Google Assistant’s footprint throughout your home as you spread a stronger Wi-Fi signal with it. Along with the full range of Google Assistant commands, you’ll also be able to ask the mesh system to run a quick speed test, or to pause the Wi-Fi for a device or group of devices on your network, which might come in handy for the parents of unruly children.
The Nest Wifi is an AC2200 mesh router system. The “2200” part tells you the combined speed of each of the router’s bands, which comes in at about 2,200 megabits a second. Your actual connection will be a lot lower than that since you can only connect to one band at a time. Still, it’s a noticeable top speed improvement over Google Wifi from three years ago — that system was an AC1200 router.
The unchanged “AC” part merits a mention, too. That’s short for 802.11ac, the technical name for current-gen Wi-Fi 5 connections. The new, speedier version of Wi-Fi, 802.11ax, is just starting to hit the market under “Wi-Fi 6” branding, but Google decided to stick with Wi-Fi 5 to keep costs down. Then again, so did Eero. Now, in 2020, a number of new, similarly priced competitors offer full support for Wi-Fi 6 — you can read about all of them in my best mesh routers rundown.
Google did increase the number of antennas inside of the Nest Wifi router to four, though, which allows it to support 4×4 MIMO connections on the 5GHz band. If you’re using a device with multiple antennas of its own, like the 3×3 MIMO MacBook Pro, you’ll be able to receive data from the router on multiple antennas at once. The new version of Eero sticks with a more limited 2×2 MIMO design, so give Google a point here.
As for speeds, when we wired the Nest Wifi router to a local server and then downloaded data from that server onto our test laptop, we clocked the top transfer speeds at close range and with minimal interference at 612Mbps. Eero’s number was lower — 488Mbps — and speeds fell off considerably more at range than we saw with Nest.
That said, your actual speeds will depend on the layout of your home, the devices you’re using, and the speed of your incoming internet connection. In my 1,300 sq. ft. home, where I pay for ISP speeds of up to 300Mbps, a two-piece Nest Wifi setup yielded average download speeds of 222Mbps when I tested it across five rooms at varying distances from the router and averaged everything together. Eero’s average was slightly slower at 204Mbps. Eero also saw more of a speed dip at range, with download speeds in the back of my house that were about 60% slower than speeds in the front, where the router was located. With Nest, that drop-off was only 40%.
The Nest Wifi Router is available as a standalone device for $169 (£149, AU$269), but you’ll almost certainly want to get it with at least one Nest Wifi Point to extend the range and take advantage of the smart speaker functionality. Google offers a starter kit with the Nest Wifi Router and a single Wifi Point for $269 (£239, AU$399), and claims that the duo is capable of covering homes of up to 3,800 square feet. Additional Wifi Points cost $149 (£129, AU$229) each. And note that sales on Nest Wifi aren’t too hard to come by in 2020, which is likely thanks to all of the new competition.
- Colleges That Require Coronavirus Screening Tech Struggle to Say Whether It Works – The New York Times
- Colleges That Require Virus-Screening Tech Struggle to Say Whether It Works – The New York Times
- Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities Expands to DC to Diversify the Tech Ecosystem – Yahoo Finance
- Turkey Widens War Tech Hunt by Tapping Pakistan’s China Ties – Bloomberg
- Tech recruiting lessons in the Covid-19 era – Information Age
- Virtual tech event highlights local STEM professionals during WHAT I CAN BE! Tech Career Showcase – Herald-Mail Media
- Accenture’s Tech Push Makes It World’s Most Acquisitive Company – Bloomberg
- Tech Hosts Duke for Senior Night – Men’s Basketball — Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets – Georgia Tech Official Athletic Site
- No. 22/19 Tech set for final home game, takes on Cards – VT hokiesports.com