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Google Wifi vs Nest Wifi: Which mesh router is better?

Google released its first generation of mesh-capable wireless routers in 2016, dubbing the product Google Wifi. Three years later, the company announced the second generation, Google Nest Wifi.

With several key distinctions between the two, how should you decide between these two mesh routers? Moreover, if you already have a Google Wifi router, is it worth upgrading to Nest Wifi? Read this Google Wifi vs Nest Wifi comparison to find out all the crucial details.

Google Wifi vs Nest Wifi – Product Intro

Feature ComparisonGoogle WifiNest Wifi
Wi-Fi StandardWi-Fi 5Wi-Fi 5
Speed RatingAC1200AC2200
Range1,500 sq ft per point1,600 sq ft per point and 2,200 sq ft per router
Security StandardWPA2/WPA3WPA2/WPA3
Number of Antennas2×24×4
Built-in SpeakersNoYes
Built-in MicrophoneNoYes
MSRP$99 for Single Router, $199 for Three-Piece System$169 for Nest Wifi Router, $149 for Nest Wifi Point, Systems Starting at $269
Current PriceCheck Price on AmazonCheck Price on Amazon

Google Wifi

Google Wifi System 3 Pack
Google Wifi System 3 Pack

Google Wifi is one of the first modern mesh routers, which was released in 2016. It’s a simple, easy-to-use, and convenient device. Google relaunched this model in 2020, with some minor changes and a more affordable price. Here are the biggest pros and cons of Google Wifi:

Pros:

  • Simple to set up
  • Strong Wi-Fi coverage
  • Beautiful and minimalistic design
  • Great value with an excellent price tag

Cons:

  • Lower wireless transfer speeds
  • No capacitive touch controls

Nest Wifi

Google Nest WiFi 3 Pack
Nest Wifi 3 Pack

Internally, the 2019 Nest Wifi mesh router doesn’t significantly differ from its predecessor. However, with the inclusion of an add-on point, Nest Wifi introduces more user control options and some useful accessories like built-in speakers. Here’s a close look at the most significant advantages and drawbacks of Nest Wifi:

Pros:

  • Large combined network throughput
  • Outstanding coverage
  • WPA3 security standard
  • Points come with capacitive touch controls

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Two apps needed for advanced customization

Features Face to Face

Google Wifi vs Nest Wifi Features Comparison
Google Wifi vs Nest Wifi Features Comparison

Design

Google Wifi and Nest Wifi have a similar, cylindrical design. That said, the second-generation Nest Wifi mesh router has a more subtle look. It features slightly softer edges and doesn’t include the blue LED lights that encircle Google Wifi’s midpoint. 

The Google Wifi router is only available in the “Snow” color. The Nest Wifi router is also only available in “Snow,” while the Nest Wifi point comes in “Snow,” “Mist,” and “Sand.” Both mesh routers are incredibly lightweight, considering their features and capabilities. Google Wifi weighs just 340g. In comparison, the Nest Wifi router weighs 380g, and the Nest Wifi point weighs 350g.

Both mesh routers also use a significant percentage of sustainable materials in their builds. 49% of Google Wifi’s plastic part weight is made with recycled material. In comparison, the Nest Wifi router is made of 45% recycled plastic, while the Nest Wifi point is made from 40% recycled plastic.

Speed

As we’ve listed in the table at the beginning of this article, Google Wifi and Nest Wifi have different speed classifications. Google Wifi has an AC1200 speed rating, while Nest Wifi has an AC2200 rating. In simple words, routers with the AC1200 classification can reach maximum speeds of 1200 Mbps while devices with the latter rating can reach speeds up to 2200 Mbps. Because of this, Nest Wifi offers almost twice the performance.

These numbers mean that the combined throughput of all connected devices on the router can add up to the said speed. Meaning if you plan to connect several devices on your new router, it’s always better to go with the device that supports the higher number. Additionally, it’s also crucial to remember that these are “optimal advertised speeds” that Google lists. That is to say, they are rarely achievable in real-life situations.

Performance and Range

Apart from pure network speed, it’s also crucial to consider the overall range and performance stability across different ranges. If you have a big house, you’ll need more add-on points to ensure network stability and optimal performance in every corner of your home. With that in mind, here’s a Google Wifi vs Nest Wifi performance and range comparison table:

Google WifiNest Wifi
One Google Wifi PointUp to 1,500 sq ftNest Wifi Standalone RouterUp to 2,200 sq ft
Two Google Wifi PointsUp to 3,000 sq ftNest Wifi Router + PointUp to 3,800 sq ft
Three Google Wifi PointsUp to 4,500 sq ftNest Wifi Router + Two PointsUp to 5,400 sq ft
One Google Wifi PointsUp to 6,000 sq ftNest Wifi Router + Three PointsUp to 7,000 sq ft

As you can see in the table above, Nest Wifi generally offers wider coverage across the four most popular configurations. Additionally, each Nest Wifi point can cover a slightly wider range, up to 1,600 sq ft, compared to the 1,500 sq ft each Google Wifi point can cover.

Google Nest Wifi Coverage
Google Nest Wifi Coverage

We should mention that Google recommends adding a maximum of five Wi-Fi points in a single network. Adding more than five Google Wifi or Nest Wifi points may be detrimental and lead to diminishing returns in terms of overall range coverage.

Hardware

Besides comparing the speed and range properties of these two mesh routers, we also need to take a closer look at their hardware properties. For starters, each Google Wifi device is identical, as any of them can serve as your router, while others function as range extenders. Nest Wifi has a different approach, as you purchase a dedicated router and smaller points that act as range extenders.

Google Wifi and Nest Wifi both come with a quad-core ARM processor and use a 15 W power adaptor to supply enough power. The Google Wifi router comes with 512 MB of RAM and 4GB flash memory. In comparison, Nest Wifi has the same amount of flash memory but twice as much RAM. Additionally, the Nest Wifi points have 768 MB RAM and 512 MB flash memory.

Ethernet Ports

Google Wifi and Nest Wifi routers are identical in terms of their Ethernet port support. More specifically, both routers possess dual Gigabit Ethernet ports. Additionally, they also feature a barrel jack power connector for the power supply. The Nest Wifi points don’t feature any Ethernet ports and only have a barrel jack power connector.

Google Wifi Ports
Google Wifi Ports

Connectivity

Both devices support the same 2.4 GHz/5 GHz Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac technical standard. Additionally, Nest Wifi’s smart home connectivity features include the IEEE 802.15.4 technical standard. That said, Google hasn’t made this connectivity property available as of writing this Google Wifi vs Nest Wifi comparison article. Google Wifi and Nest Wifi devices also use low-energy Bluetooth.

Speakers / Voice Command

Nest Wifi speakers
Nest Wifi speakers

Nest Wifi has a big advantage over Google Wifi in voice command support. As its points come with far-field microphones for the Google Assistant, you can take advantage of the full power of Google Assistant voice control. For example, you can play music, turn on or off other devices on the same Google Home network, and even request the assistant to run a quick network speed test.

Moreover, Nest Wifi points also include small built-in speakers that deliver 360-degree sound. When it comes to the sound quality of these built-in speakers, Nest Wifi points sound like a solid Google Home Mini wireless speaker. This is no coincidence, as the speaker is nearly identical to a Google Home Mini, only in this case, slightly bigger and with a downward-facing design.

App and Compatibility

The two devices also differ in terms of app support/compatibility. Google Wifi has a dedicated control app that includes a good selection of basic functions. It’s perfect for a beginner but might not be comprehensive enough for a more tech-savvy consumer looking for many advanced network settings. That said, Google also allows Google Wifi users to migrate this mesh router to the Google Home app.

Google Home App
Google Home App

By comparison, Nest Wifi works with the Google Home app. In other words, you can conveniently use it from the same interface you use for all other compatible smart home devices. 

This enables it to utilize helpful tools and user-friendly features like parental control. More importantly, it’s more streamlined and straightforward to use. That said, you can also take advantage of all Google Wifi controls. This native-supported versatility makes Nest Wifi a better performer in this category

Setup

Google Wifi and Nest Wifi are very simple to set up. Even if you’re not a tech-head, you shouldn’t have much trouble setting up either mesh router, especially as Google provides detailed setup instructions for both products. Some setup steps might differ depending on which product you buy, but a few setup conditions apply to both mesh routers.

Google Wifi Setup
Google Wifi Setup

To begin with, you’ll need an Android phone or tablet running software version 6.0 or later or an iPhone or iPad with iOS 14.0 or later. You’ll also need the latest Google Home app version from Google Play/Apple Store. 

Google also recommends purchasing your Google Wifi/Nest Wifi device from the country you’ll be using it. If you don’t do so, you might experience compatibility issues. Moreover, if you’re creating a mesh network, you should purchase all Wi-Fi points in the same country.

Security

Lastly, when comparing the Google Wifi vs Nest Wifi features face to face, it’s essential to go over these two mesh routers’ security features. By default, both routers use the WPA2 protocol to maximize compatibility with all connected devices. Neither mesh router supports the WAP or WEP protocols. You can also turn on WPA3 in the Google Home app if you want to increase your network’s security.

Additionally, all communication between Google Wifi/Nest Wifi and Google is secured by TLS (Transports Layer Security). This is a secure protocol that protects the data exchanged between the device and server, ensuring no snooping third parties access it. Lastly, both mesh routers automatically update their software to ensure your network is always in line with the latest security features.

Standout Features

Since both devices are pretty similar to each other, there aren’t any glaring standout features in either mesh router. That said, Nest Wifi has one standout characteristic you can’t find in Google Wifi. More precisely, Nest Wifi points come with capacitive touch controls

Google Nest Wifi Points
Google Nest Wifi Points

These touch controls allow you to turn the volume up or down, play or stop media, or stop a ringing timer, among other actions. This isn’t a huge advantage over Google Wifi, but it still provides an added level of convenience.

Price

Comparing the prices listed in Google Store, we can see that Google Wifi comes with a more affordable price tag. This is perfectly understandable, as it is the older of the two models. If you decide to get this model, you can choose between a one-pack and three-pack deal. A single Google Wifi point costs $99.99, while the three-pack option will cost you $199.99

In comparison, the Nest Wifi is a bit more expensive and offers you more options to pick from. This is because you can customize your options and get just a Nest Wifi router, a Nest Wifi point, or combine both. 

Looking into the numbers, a Nest Wifi router costs $169, while the Nest Wifi point is $149. You can save a bit of money by purchasing a Nest Wifi router and point package, which costs $269. Additionally, Google also offers a package comprising the Nest Wifi router and two points, which costs $349.

Conclusion

As Google’s first mesh router, Google Wifi has proven to be one of the best in the market. And, since half a decade has already passed since its release, this top-quality device is now available at very affordable prices. It’s an excellent mesh router for most users, albeit those who don’t have too many devices connected to the same network.

However, Nest Wifi is the clear winner of this Google Wifi vs Nest Wifi comparison. It costs a bit more than the Google Wifi mesh router but offers plenty for the price difference. Nest Wifi supports stronger, faster connections with a broader network range. Plus, with built-in microphones and speakers, you gain great Google Assistant voice control support.

About Nathan

Hello! I'm Nate. I work for an internet company during the week, so you'll probably see me on here jabbering about the internet and building websites, which is my main side hobby.

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