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The creation and evolution of the internet have taken the world by storm and changed it in a multitude of different ways. We use WiFi in our homes and offices for online shopping, banking, research, communication, and so much more.
Individual routers alone can allow a device to connect to the internet, although their range is quite limited in terms of reach. This is where mesh routers can come in handy.
Mesh routers consist of multiple devices, which are all connected to the same network, offering hotspots and signals in different parts of the same space. This space can be your work environment, home, or building. Mesh routers can help you receive a strong, dependable signal no matter where you are in a designated place.
These devices are becoming increasingly popular, and some of the most popular and best routers include Google WiFi and Nest WiFi. Many customers find themselves struggling to pick between these two highly rated mesh router systems, as they are both manufactured by Google. But they have some fundamental differences.
Within this article, we will go in-depth and take a far closer look into what Google WiFi and Nest WiFi routers can offer and bring to the table. We will access each model in an array of different aspects, such as the speed, range, design, and price, for you to make the most informed decision possible for your personal needs.
Google WiFi vs. Nest WiFi At a Glance
Google launched the Google WiFi mesh router back in 2016, and it quickly became a favorite within the community. Offering quick and convenient setup using app-based controls, smart home features, and great WiFi signal, it is now fundamental in many households across the globe.
Soon after the Google WiFi mesh router system’s success, they released a new mesh system under the brand name Nest. The company’s Nest WiFi improved upon many of the features the Google WiFi system offered.
Despite the new Nest WiFi Pro being released, both the Google WiFi and Nest WiFi mesh route systems would make the perfect upgrade for any household. They are both perfect for any larger household that requires more WiFi coverage, a better internet connection, and wishes to have no dead spots.
Google WiFi vs. Nest WiFi: Overall Specs
- Google WiFi: $99 (single) or $199 (3 units)
- Nest WiFi: $169 (single), $269 (with 1 access point), or $349 (with 2 access points)
- Google WiFi: 2016
- Nest WiFi: 2019
- Google Wifi: 802.11ac/Dual Band
- Nest Wifi: 802.11ac/Dual Band
802.11 ac Type:
- Google Wifi: AC1200 MU-MIMO
- Nest WiFi: AC2200 (router)
Number of Antennas:
- Google WiFi: 4
- Nest WiFi: 4
- Google WiFi: 2x 1Gbps LAN, USB-C for power
- Nest Wifi: (Router) 2x 1Gbps LAN power; (Extension) None
- Google WiFi: Quad-core 710MHz
- Nest WiFi: Quad-core 1.4GHz
- Google WiFi: 512MB/4GB
- Nest WiFi: (Router) 1GB/4GB; (Extension) 768MB/512MB
- Google WiFi: Qualcomm IPQ4019
- Nest WiFi: Qualcomm QCS 400
- Google Wifi: 4.1 x 4.1 x 2.7 inches
- Nest Wifi: (Router) 4.3 x 4.3 x 4.6 inches; (Extension) 4.0 x 4.0 x 3.4 inches
- Google WiFi: Snow
- Nest WiFi: Mist, Sand, and Snow
Which One Should You Choose?
When deciding which mesh router will best suit your needs, it’s important to first have an idea of how you use WiFi. Some people merely wish to just increase their internet speed rating and range, whereas others focus on other additional factors. These factors are smart home capabilities and unique features that upgrade their homes or personal spaces.
Editor’s choice: Google WiFi is a solid and affordable choice for those with standard needs. However, the editor’s choice is a Nest WiFi router with supercharged performance that you can’t beat.
Google WiFi vs. Nest WiFi: In-Depth Review
The most obvious difference between the Google WiFi and Nest WiFi routers is the physical difference between the two. The earlier design, Google WiFi, has a collection of interchangeable units, referred to as points, which are all identical. They are capable of connecting up to one another to create a seamless mesh network.
There is only one Google WiFi point that connects to your modem, which serves as your sole router. The others act as your mesh extensions throughout your chosen space. It matters not which you choose to be the main router, as they are all identical to one another.
With a stout, cylindrical design made up of a white plastic body and a classic LED stripe wrapped around the center of each device, the Google WiFi is slightly outdated in design but clean and practical.
The newer Nest WiFi improves upon the original design of the Google WiFi, keeping the cylindrical shape but with softened corners to make it appear less harsh. The distinct LED strip has also been removed with more colorways beyond regular white introduced to cater to more home styles.
Easily the biggest design difference between the two mesh router systems, introduced with the Nest WiFi, is the interchangeable points to a system that uses one as the designated sole router.
The router and points also differ slightly when it comes to their physical appearance and key features, and they are not interchangeable in the way in which the Google WiFi points were.
Google WiFi offered a multitude of advanced features at launch in 2016, with simple mesh networking and 802.11ac connectivity, which was world-class when the system was introduced.
The Google WiFi routers each include an Ethernet WAN port and a separate Ethernet LAN port. This gives you the option of a direct, wired connection to any Google WiFi in your designated space. It also lets you wire your Google WiFi points together for better speeds.
You can also connect other devices over Ethernet to the satellites throughout your chosen space, whether that be your home or office. The Nest WiFi router features those same two Ethernet jacks, but the Nest WiFi Points don’t include Ethernet jacks whatsoever.
The best feature, back in 2016, when Google WiFi was first introduced, was how easy the setup process was. By using the Google WiFi App (now known as the Google Home app), you could set up each Google WiFi router by scanning a QR code on the base of the unit, taking less than five minutes per unit to set up entirely.
Smart Home Functions
The Google WiFi mesh router system was also known for its early smart home capabilities, which included IFTTT functionality. In 2019, with the introduction of Nest WiFi, Google updated this feature with a multitude of new functions.
Smart home features were a focus for Google with the updated mesh system with the Nest WiFi mesh router system. Besides network app improvements, smart locks, smart plugs, and lights were now incorporated into the Nest WiFi and easily controllable with the click of a button or simple command.
The biggest feature change to come with Nest WiFi was integrated smart speaker technology, putting a Google Home smart speaker in every router point. This technology allows for the usage of a Google Assistant, which is fully capable of intelligence and is only one voice command away.
In addition to giving you complete control over the router’s feature through simple voice activation, you can ask questions such as “What is the weather forecast today?” It can also play specific music and control other devices in your environment in a matter of seconds.
You can also use the multiple Google Home-equipped WiFi points as an intercom system between rooms.
The one area where we didn’t see any improvements was with the WiFi standards. Nest WiFi still uses 802.11ac instead of the newer WiFi 6 (802.11ax) protocol.
Price and Availability
If today, say, you headed over to your nearest Google Store, you would be able to find Google WiFi priced at an affordable $99 for a single unit. For a trio of interchangeable units, it would cost you $199, which is still relatively affordable. If you need more units for your system, you would need to purchase them each individually furthermore.
The 2020 relaunch of Google WiFi brought some minor technical changes along with a lower starting price. While the hardware is practically identical, the power connector has changed from a USB-C to a standard barrel connector. The Google “G” logo has also changed from a simple sticker to a letter molded into the plastic of the router’s housing case.
The original models can still be found on Amazon, selling for different prices when compared to the 2020 version sold directly by Google.
Now discussing the Nest WiFi, it can be purchased in single units and in packs of two or three. A single router sells for $169 or for $269 when bundled with a WiFi point or $349 for two points. You can also purchase individual WiFi points for $149 each.
Google recommends adding no more than five points to a single network for a total of six units (1 router plus 5 points).
If you already own a Google WiFi unit and want to upgrade to the company’s newer Nest WiFi, your older Google WiFi points will still work with the newer Nest WiFi hardware. This gives you additional expansion points for even more area coverage and lets you still use your older hardware.
While the performance may not be as great on these older devices, it’s a simple way to upgrade without spending too much.
There are major differences between the Google WiFi and the Nest WiFi systems in terms of performance, range, and overall speed. The newer Nest WiFi offers far faster input and output capabilities whilst covering more area.
The Google WiFi offered maximum throughput of 464.4 Mbps which is fairly impressive considering the affordable price point. The Nest WiFi improved upon that figure though substantially, with a top throughput of 653.2Mbps.
Area Coverage per Unit:
- Google WiFi: Up to 1500 sq ft
- Nest WiFi: Up to 2200 sq ft
- Google WiFi: Up to 3000 sq ft
- Nest WiFi: Up to 3800 sq ft
- Google WiFi: Up to 4500 sq ft
- Nest WiFi: Up to 5400 sq ft
Since the first Google WiFi was released, Google has always built security features into its mesh WiFi products.
The 2016 Google WiFi has an Infineon Trusted Platform Module (TPM) that encrypts network traffic and verifies firmware installations to protect the entire network system you have set up. You can also pause the internet connection to specific devices in your designated space.
Unfortunately, Google WiFi lacks any built-in malware protections and doesn’t offer any useful parental controls, such as content filtering.
The Nest WiFi adds exactly the type of features that Google WiFi was lacking and improves upon the already existing features. It kept the TPM-based encryption and upgraded to the WPA 3 (WiFi Protected Access) security protocol, which was later also added to the 2020 version of Google WiFi.
The Nest WiFi also gets better parental controls. The ability to pause WiFi access is improved upon with the ability to schedule internet time-outs or set routines to disconnect their children’s devices for activities such as homework, studying, enrichment or bedtime.
Parents can also filter content by site, applying Google SafeSearch to block infinite inappropriate adult and dangerous websites.
Both the Google WiFi and the Nest WiFi systems are highly capable devices with reasonable prices and decent specs that would satisfy any needs a customer could possibly want.
However, if you are in the market for the best state-of-the-art at-home mesh network system, then the Nest WiFi is the clear standout winner. It offers more comprehensive features, is smart home compatible, and has superior parental controls.
It has a far better performance score, with better range and top-notch speeds to ensure your internet is running at its best. The Google Assistant is also a great additional feature that any household or business could greatly benefit from having. It also acts as a smart speaker, which is great if you’re a person who likes constant background noise or music.
That being said, Google WiFi is still a perfectly great choice if you’re on a tighter budget. It is quite capable in its own right. Its performance is good, and if the range is not a great concern of yours, then this would be a fantastic option for you.
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